November 29, 1996          HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS         Vol. XLIII  No. 43

 


The House met at 9:00 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Before we begin I would like to welcome twelve business management students from Keyin Technical College in St. John's, with instructor Bill Norman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: Be a gentleman on a Friday morning.

MR. MATTHEWS: Absolutely. Every morning. Why only Friday morning?

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Over the past several days, concerns have been raised about the management and delivery of health care services in the Burin, Bonavista and Clarenville regions. As I reported at the time, a review process was put in place by the board to look into the concerns raised by the medical staff. Today I would like to inform hon. members of the House that the review committee presented the final report to the executive of the Peninsulas Health Care Corporation Board last night. The full board will be meeting this weekend to decide upon an appropriate course of action. Now that the committee has finished its work, I am confident that the board will work toward a speedy resolution of the issues and concerns brought to their attention.

I've asked the board to follow up with the names of the individuals supplied to me earlier this week by the Opposition. The board will review each of these circumstances and respond to the specific concerns in a timely fashion.

I feel it incumbent upon me as Minister of Health to address safety concerns regarding equipment maintenance raised in the House over the past week. I have been informed that preventative maintenance checks were not carried out on all equipment in a timely manner due to an organizational review of external service contracts. Once the issue was brought to the board's attention, immediate steps were undertaken to correct the problem. All equipment has been checked and all service contracts are now in place. I am confident that this issue has now been resolved.

Further, I wish to add that follow-up with the private ambulance service in the Bonavista region determined that ambulance attendants ensure that patients arrive safely to the hospital and are not involved in any further treatment of a patient. There is a treatment room in the Bonavista hospital where patients are often delivered by the attendant; however there are no surgical procedures carried out in that facility.

Mr. Speaker, I am confident that the Peninsulas Health Care Corporation will work diligently over the next few weeks in resolving issues of concern to staff of the Corporation and to residents of the Burin, Bonavista and Clarenville regions. I would also like to thank all review committee members for their efforts over the past week in preparing this report.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Well the minister has admitted today that my concerns are well-founded. The minister was in a state of denial, I say to the minister, and it is not only the last several days, but I raised concerns over one month ago in a public forum on the area. He has admitted that equipment checks were not done and it should not have to be the responsibility of an opposition to have to reveal when equipment and service contracts are not renewed. It is jeopardizing the lives of people in the area. It is the minister's responsibility and the hospital board, the administrator, to see that regular maintenance checks are done to ensure that people have access to the best possible health care. I can assure the minister that I have other names which have come forward since. There are many instances I say to the minister, many names since who were inconvenienced and severe problems resulted from malfunctioning equipment and lack of service in that area. All the concerns that are brought forward are substantiated I say to the minister, there is an admission in this and what I want to see now is some action on it to ensure that something like this never happens again.

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you. Good morning, Mr. Speaker.

I beg the indulgence of the House today. This statement was to be read yesterday but because of all the good news and the number of statements, we deferred it to this morning.

Mr. Speaker, I represented Newfoundland and Labrador at the first meeting of the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministerial Council on Social Policy Renewal in Toronto on Wednesday, November 27.

This Council was formed after the 1996 Annual Premiers' Conference to build upon the provincial/territorial Ministerial Council Report on Social Policy Reform and Renewal presented to the Prime Minister by Premier Tobin, on behalf of Premiers, for discussion at the First Ministers' Meeting last June. Through the Council, governments are working together in a new partnership to renew Canada's social safety net.

The Ministerial Council is co-chaired by the hon. Stockwell Day, Alberta's Minister of Family and Social Services, and the hon. Pierre Pettigrew, Minister of Human Resources Development Canada. In addition to the federal minister, the Council includes ministers representing nine provinces and the two territories. Although the Province of Quebec has chosen not to join the Council, there are observers from Quebec present at all meetings.

I am pleased to report to hon. members that this first meeting of the Council took place in a spirit of trust, openness and mutual respect. I am confident that the co-operative partnership approach evident on Wednesday will allow our national social programs to be renewed in a way that better meets the needs of all Canadians, in all regions of our country.

Canadians value their social safety net. It is a defining feature of our nation. First Ministers attach great importance to the renewal of Canada's social programs. They are looking to the Council to co-ordinate an approach that supports and enhances the efforts of sectoral ministers in such areas as social services, health, and labour market matters, to develop practical solutions in specific areas of priority. Federal, provincial, and territorial ministers in these and other sectors are preparing proposals to bring forward to First Ministers with the help of the Council.

Mr. Speaker, at our meeting on Wednesday we reviewed the progress of work done by federal/provincial/territorial working groups on two of the First Ministers' highest priorities: the development of a national child benefit; and the harmonization of programs for persons with disabilities, including income support.

As Minister of Social Services, and this year's Chair of the Provincial/Territorial Forum of Social Services Ministers, I take particular interest in the progress of these efforts.

Child poverty is a serious problem in this country, and together governments must ensure a bright future for all Canadian children. To help make that possible, Social Services Ministers will, within the next several weeks, review program and delivery options for integrating and enhancing child benefits. The Council noted that tackling child poverty will require an approach that involves both income support and child development services.

Both orders of government offer a variety of services to disabled persons. I look forward to the response of the federal government to the recommendations of the Scott Task Force, and I am hopeful that together we can improve the ability of disabled persons to participate more fully in society.

The Ministerial Council also heard reports yesterday on issues related to health, labour market matters, services to Aboriginal Peoples, financial arrangements, and options for intergovernmental mechanisms and processes to develop and promote adherence to national principles and standards.

Mr. Speaker, by continuing the spirit of effective co-operation shown in Wednesday's meeting of the Ministerial Council, I believe we can design and deliver renewed social programs that meet the needs of all Canadians.

Each government on the Council brings to the table unique perspectives and experience. Each government has an important role to play.

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador believes that all provinces should have the flexibility and the capacity to meet provincially determined needs and priorities within the context of national principles and standards.

The Government of Canada has a key role in making that possible. The Government of Canada is uniquely positioned to ensure that all provinces have the resources to provide all Canadians in need with equal opportunity and equitable access to national quality and social programs. Mr. Speaker, we are not there yet but I sense that it is the will of the council to take us in the right direction.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I want to thank the hon. the minister for forwarding a copy of her Ministerial Statement in plenty of time. I would like to say to the minister that this social policy reform and renewal process is a good thing. It is a national objective. I would draw to the minister's attention, however, that it gives me some concern that I do not see the Chair or the Vice-Chair being a person from Atlantic Canada because this where the social policy and the social reforms are going to have the greatest impact. I am sure, however, that the Madam Minister will be

AN HON. MEMBER: She is the Chair for Social Services.

MR. H. HODDER: It does not say that here.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, but she is.

MR. H. HODDER: Well, I am pleased to hear that. We are getting an immediate response to a concern raised by the Opposition.

I would like to draw to the attention of Madam Minister as well something that was begun here in this Legislature by the former Minister of Justice, and that is an initiative to have the income support for - shall we say, primarily by fathers who are removed from the family setting, have a national registry so that we end up not having cases where we are trying to claw back money from people living, say, in Alberta. There are initiatives in that area, and I would like to recommend to the minister that she push as much as she can to make sure that we have a national registry and a way by which we can have all fathers, primarily fathers, but in some cases mothers, wherever they are in Canada, if they are earning money to make sure they pay their child support payments promptly, and that there is a system whereby we do not have this run-around that occurs now.

I admit there is some co-operation in most provinces but in some cases we would like to have more co-operation, and there are initiatives in that area that I would highly recommend to Madam Minister. There have been some discussions in this House and I am sure she is well aware of what I am talking about.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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 Health. I want to ask the minister if he is prepared to table that report on emergency investigation of the Peninsula's health care board?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

No, I am not prepared to table it at all. As a matter of fact, it is not a report that I commissioned, it is a report that was commissioned by the Peninsula's Health Care Board. The full board has not yet had an opportunity to even see it. The executive of the board received it last night, as I reported, and it would be most inappropriate for me or anybody else to table it today. The question really should be put to the Chair of the Health Care Corporation or the Peninsula's Health Care Corporation Board after they have done due diligence to the examination of the recommendations.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I did not ask the minister if he would table it today. I asked him would he table that report.

Now, I would like to ask the minister if he will inform the House, at some point in the near future, and members of a very anxious public, what the vital findings are in that report - and as minister, you are responsible.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, I say to the hon. member that the report is in the hands of the executive of the Peninsula's Health Care Board. They will be meeting over the weekend to review the findings of the board and to address the recommendations that are in the board. I have every confidence, Mr. Speaker, that the Peninsula's Health Care Corporation Board of Trustees will do what is right and appropriate in terms of the addressing of the recommendations that have come forward and in terms of whether or not all or part of the report and/or the recommendation should be released publicly or to those who have a substantial interest in it, particularly the medical staff who brought the concerns forward.

I do know, and I can tell the House in addition to what I have already shared with the Opposition Leader that they will, as part of the process of reviewing the report and working towards its implementation, I presume, also be meeting, of course, with the medical staff in the very near future.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, and only a week ago my statements were innuendo, they were nonsense, they were political grandstanding and we saw an admission here today.

Can the minister tell us whether the administrator is on vacation still, or has the administrator been suspended as of now?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: No, there is no change in the status of the CEO of that corporation. I reported earlier this week that he was on two weeks vacation leave and that is the situation today. If anything further develops over the weekend as a result of the meetings of the Peninsula's board, then that will be revealed, as my hon. colleague, the Member for The Straits and White Bay North says, in the fullness of time.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health, a supplementary. I am sorry - the hon. the Leader of the Opposition, a supplementary.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We would get some action here in this Province, maybe, if I was.

Could the minister confirm why his colleagues have dumped the planned and promised essential 911 expansion program to rural Newfoundland and Labrador?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, the Province has in place at the moment a couple of 911 systems, as I understand it. The responsibility, of course, for that service, and the jurisdiction that answers questions on that would be my colleague who happens not to be here, the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

We are continuing to review all that we do in government in terms of all types of public services. In case the hon. member has not heard, there was a process in place called Program Review, and we will be dealing with all issues of importance, vis--vis programs that programs delivers, within the next two or three months in a substantial way.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: I am surprised, Mr. Speaker, that an expansion to 911 that would greatly enhance the service in rural Newfoundland has now been dumped.

Minister, you have decimated the ambulance service in Newfoundland and Labrador, you have put the hospitals into disarray, and now you are telling us that rural Newfoundland and Labrador is not worth the cash to put an essential emergency service in place.

Should we tell the people of the Province to call 745-8832 when there is an emergency? When are you going to stop cutting the guts out of health care in rural Newfoundland and Labrador?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I am really happy for the Leader of the Opposition that Friday has come because it must be tough bearing the burden of a large, black cloud that follows him everywhere he goes all week long when the House is open.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is, we have had a report this morning from the Minister of Health that is absolutely consistent with what the Minister of Health has been saying for the last number of days, that there is a report, there is a review being done of the problems that have been raised about the Burin, Bonavista and Clarenville regions, that when the report was finished it would be presented to the health care board in question, that the board in question would review the findings, take remedial measures, and that the people of the area affected, those who care about health care - and I hope all of us in this House care about health care - would be reassured that appropriate steps are being taken.

Mr. Speaker, that is called due process. Standing in the House, merely raising a problem, inflaming the situation, suggesting that all is lost, that rural Newfoundland is being abandoned, is not responsible. The fact is, this government has put in place a new Department of Development and Rural Renewal. It has a minister who is acting, I say, with all swiftness and due diligence to restore some confidence to rural Newfoundland, to make sure that rural Newfoundland is part and parcel of every Cabinet deliberation and, may I say, there are some signs of confidence in what the government has been doing out there in recent days.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of topics this morning for two ministers. On the first topic, I would like to address my question to the hon. the Minister of Justice.

The Minister of Finance announced yesterday that the Province's economic and fiscal position is better than expected, and today we will hear this much anticipated announcement about the construction of a smelter refinery complex, putting this Province in an even better revenue position.

My question to the minister is this: Is this not a good time for this government to do something more than simply admit its shared liability for abuses against Mount Cashel residents, and to actually cut these victims - all of these victims - a cheque, instead of making them wait any longer?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I am not a lawyer, but if I were one, I would certainly know the impropriety of trying to discuss a case which is about to go before the courts. Even an ignorant non-lawyer like me knows the difference of that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DECKER: As for spending the money that the Minister of Finance is talking about, we are not going to fall into the trap that the Peckford Administration fell into when they spent like a bunch of people who thought -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DECKER: - when they were going around arguing, `some day the sun will shine and have not will be no more' -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DECKER: - spending as if we were a `have' province, Mr. Speaker. We will continue with prudent management, as we have done for the last number of years. The people of this Province, as was shown yesterday in the most recent poll, want prudent management, and we will continue with that, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Speaker, all I can say is that was an inconsiderate and heartless response to a very serious issue. As Minister of Justice and Attorney General, this individual can take a leadership role in concluding and resolving this matter. I ask, in view of the incomprehensible pain these individuals have suffered, and the long years they have been waiting for justice, will this government consider providing these individuals with full restitution now to all victims on a compassionate basis to let them get on with building their shattered lives, and not months or years down this road?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, nobody has more compassion for the victims of Mount Cashel than I do. We understand them.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DECKER: But it is not in the best interest of the victims of Mount Cashel to negotiate this issue in public. There are lawyers representing the Mount Cashel victims and there are lawyers who are representing government in this issue. I can assure you that it is the will of this government that every victim of Mount Cashel be treated compassionately, and we will ensure that is done, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I simply ask the minister: How much longer? The people of this Province have had enough, and believe me, the victims of abuse, the former residents of Mount Cashel, have had enough. They want to see an answer and a conclusion to this issue. Many Mount Cashel victims today, like other victims of abuse, are living with debilitating nightmares and despair, alcoholism, HIV, joblessness and poverty. How much longer will these victims of Provincial Government abuse have to continue to endure victimization by cold and callous bureaucracies, and why does not the minister today agree to cut them all a check?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman asks how much longer. I wish it were solved five years ago. I wish it had never happened. But the reality is, we have to deal with this in the appropriate manner. Surely to goodness, the hon. member is not suggesting that we negotiate this and try to make political points out of the victims of Mount Cashel? I think it is utterly disgraceful, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

My question this morning is for the Minister of Education. Recently, in a daily paper, the Vice-President Academic of the University indicated that he wasn't sure if rising tuition costs over the last seven years, which have risen by some 120 per cent to 130 per cent, really impacted upon students not going to University. I contend that it does. Does the minister share the Vice-President Academic's point of view that rising tuition costs have nothing to do with people having accessibility to post-secondary education?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I do not think it is my role to suggest that an opinion held by the Vice-President of the University is either accurate or inaccurate -it is his opinion.

In fact, the whole issue of tuition - it is interesting, actually, to have a debate from time to time with respect to tuition rates in the Province. The issue is not whether or not there should be higher or lower tuition. The issue that all of the governments in the country, and a large part of the lead being taken by our Premier at the First Ministers meeting in Jasper, is the issue of student debt for students throughout the country, students in Newfoundland and Labrador, not only at the University but in all post-secondary institutions, not only in the public sector, but also in private schools.

The governments, federal, provincial and territorial, are concerned about increasing levels of student debt. There are some initiatives underway and some discussions going on between the different provincial and territorial governments and the federal government as to ways we might be able to more creatively approach the issue of student debt to the benefit of students in the Province in the not-too-distant future.

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

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

I am still not sure what the minister said. Does he share the view that when tuition costs rise, it decreases accessibility to university? He did not answer the question but that is fair enough.

The minister indicated that there are some initiative dealings underway, federal/provincial initiatives, dealing with the rising student debt which has risen or almost doubled for just an average graduate or post-graduate degree. Can the minister enlighten the House on what those initiatives are? Are we looking at for example, government both federally and provincially, looking at lowering tuition costs or initiatives aimed at lowering tuition costs which, as an end result, will see less student debt? Is that happening? What initiatives are underway and, can he enlighten the House today on any or all of those initiatives?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just briefly, on a couple of issues with respect to some background. Recently I think, and as the hon. member knows and all members of the House know, there were some changes made with respect to tuition at post-secondary institutions in our Province, particularly at the University and in response to that, immediately the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, through the Student Aid Division provided for some increases in the level of Student Aid, that students could actually access in Newfoundland and Labrador, so that we are now at the maximum limits provided under the Canada Student Loan Agreement between the Province and the federal government.

The issue as well was raised as I indicated in answer to the previous question, Mr. Speaker, by the Premier at the First Minister's meeting because of the fact that all of us are concerned about increasing levels of student debt. There is an initiative by the way, in this Province that is being used as a model for the rest of the country and we are trying to get the federal government to buy into as well from their portion of the Canada Student Loan Program because I think all members know that the Province pays a certain part or there are allowances for a certain part. The federal government provides for an allowance for a certain part and then there is a combined student loan.

On the provincial portion, we have a program, Mr. Speaker, that the former Minister of Education piloted and led in this Province of the idea of remission of debt once it goes beyond a certain level and our Premier, at the First Ministers' meeting impressed upon the First Ministers' from the rest of the country, Mr. Speaker, as to why that remission component should also be added to the federal portion of the loan so that there would be some real relief and some real limits in terms of the total amount of debt that a student might be expected to incur in getting a certificate, a diploma or a degree at a post-secondary institution in our Province or in some other institution in the country. So in fact, Mr. Speaker, those initiatives have been ongoing, we are still in discussions. Last week, actually before we left to go to Gander last Friday, I met with one of the federal ministers -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to conclude his answer.

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am trying to conclude but it is difficult to conclude when there is so much to tell, but the fact is that probably, Mr. Speaker, there would be a further supplementary and I could add some more information at that time.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I am sure there are about 10,000 post-secondary institutions or students in the Province who would also agree with the minister, that it is difficult to conclude a degree because of rising tuition costs. It is difficult to conclude a degree because at the end of it, you come out owing $40,000 or $50,000 and the initiatives that you have outlined simply mean nothing.

Let me ask him this question: Recently the Chairman of Newfoundland Tel, Mr. Vince Withers, indicated that on a trip to Ireland he saw that free tuition over the last three years which has been phased in over a period of the last three years in Ireland, was a very positive thing and that it contributed greatly to the growing economy of Ireland. Does the minister share a view that free tuition is an idea that government should look at, that it is something worth proceeding with and that at the end of the day, it is a worthwhile initiative and will produce concrete economic results for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am delighted as well that the hon. member referenced the comments of one of the participants in the recent trip to Ireland, which was a very productive trip in terms of the Memorandum Of Understanding that was signed and the involvement of representatives of the business community who went, and found out such things as were referenced in the question put by the hon. member, Mr. Speaker.

The reality of it is that, that whole issue again is under review in Ireland because it is in its early stages having just been phased in.

There is a debate in the country, and I have also been party and partial to some information that reflects that the debate is raging completely in Ireland. There are already groups out saying that there is not a direct connection between the tuition decisions taken and the economic development that has occurred in Ireland. There are a whole range of factors and many people are now suggesting, the least of which might have been the connection to free tuition, because there were so many other initiatives that were taken that those members of the business community witnessed and saw, and experienced on the recent trip when they joined the Premier and the Minister of Finance in going to Ireland to sign the Memorandum of Understanding.

The issue, Mr. Speaker, is clearly this. There are other initiatives that I was mentioning in answer to the previous question. Looking at, again, job opportunities for students on an increasing level through their off seasons when they are not in school through the summer session, and other sessions and semesters when they are not studying, the whole notion of an expanded version of the graduate employment program where there are some subsidies to make sure that those people who have certificates, degrees, and diplomas, get an opportunity to get that first job because they all get caught into the whole web of: I am qualified but I do not have any experience.

There are initiatives that everybody is continuing to work at. The whole notion of tuition is one small part of the piece. We still happen to be very fortunate in being in a Province where tuition fees remain amongst the lowest in the country.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to answer.

MR. GRIMES: We are very proud of that and we hope that is the circumstance for the near future.

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

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

I just have one quick question for the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal. Last week I raised the question about commissioning work at the Hibernia site and she indicated that she had sent the issue to the C-NOPB, the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board for a decision. I wonder if the minister could update the House on if the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board has reached a decision and if they have enlightened the minister on it?

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, when we met with the Union and with the ODC, and with the company, we then followed up with C-NOPB and asked them to look into it within a matter of ten days or so. I have checked with the C-NOPB yesterday and expect to have a report back to me by the middle of next week.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Now, that the caplin fishery is long finished, I wonder if you would inform the House as to what your department analysis indicated as far as the plant quota system worked, and would you inform us if it was a success?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if the hon. member is asking if the caplin season was a success or were the plant quotas.

MR. FITZGERALD: The plant quotas.

MR. EFFORD: I guess the simplest way of answering that is, it was for some and it wasn't for others. We will be analyzing that over the next several weeks when we make a determination on how the processing industry is going to be operated in the future, what kind of an industry it is going to be, and how many plants there are going to be. We will then make a decision on where we will be going in the future with production quotas.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: I ask the minister if he would inform the House as to the amount of caplin, both male and female, that were dumped last year due to this experiment, and what he is going to be doing to correct the situation in the future?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, last year there was a quota of 40,000 tons and there were approximately 20,000 tons harvested last year, male and female. We had worked with the industry last year and asked them not to dump as much caplin and to process as much of the male caplin as possible. In 1997 we are going to be insisting on not dumping caplin and wherever they can possibly be processed for fish food or for human consumption it is going to be done.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to ask the minister if he is considering issuing plant quotas for other species as well in 1997?

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

MR. EFFORD: I am not going to tell the member or anybody else what we intend to do in 1997 until Cabinet has the time to look at the whole processing industry, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are for the Minister of Social Services. Will the minister confirm that most if not all home care workers in this Province do not qualify for Workers' Compensation benefits? Will the minister also confirm that most home care workers have no sick leave provisions?

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The arrangement that we have for providing home care services in the Province for the most part is a self-managed care model that allows each individual to be the employer. They set up the working relationship with each of the people they hire to provide those services.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Given the nature of the help required in most cases of home care, and I refer specifically to the lifting of patients, will the minister confirm that home care workers run a great risk of workplace injury?

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Whenever anybody works in any industry which requires skill and effort there is always an element of danger. I think in most cases people have to be aware of the proper way to do lifting, people have to be aware of the proper care that needs to be given. So that risk is there for any person who is involved in that type of industry.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Given the fact that most home care workers are female, does the minister not see the lack of sick leave and the high level of non-participation in Workers' Compensation programs as an issue affecting the rights of women in the workplace, and therefore the current practice is very regressive? Let's put it this way. Madam Minister, male workers would not accept this type of treatment. Why are you willing to see female workers who are paid from funds from your department denied access to such a fundamental program as Workers' Compensation? Madam Minister, you pay the piper, it is time that you began to call the tune.

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I mentioned earlier, we have the funds set out in our Social Services regulations. We identify the amount of money that is paid. The people who actually hire the workers are the employers, and they provide the services, and they pay for the services that are provided. They set those standards.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. Many municipalities in the Province are still concerned about the possible lack of accommodations in certain areas of the Province in light of the Cabot 500 celebrations. I ask the minister if she is confident that there is no problem with accommodations in any area of the Province in respect to the Cabot 500 celebrations.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and recreation.

MS KELLY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We have been working very closely with Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador to ensure that we have programs in place in case our accommodations - most of our hotels, motels and camp grounds - should be full. At this time we do not have a concern that our accommodations are anywhere close to full. Our park statistics are in, and of course our occupancy rates are fairly low in our parks. We have instituted in areas of the Province where we have a concern that we will need a back-up program, and we may very well need one, that we are putting one in place, in particular in the Bonavista Peninsula area. There is a Home Stay program being instituted in cooperation with the industry.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. OSBORNE: It is good that the minister is not concerned. However, there is still a concern amongst municipalities in the Province. Other than the Bonavista area where you are putting in a Home Stay program, I ask the minister what she intends to do in other areas of the Province where there is expected to be a lack of accommodations?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware at all of why you would ever think that I am not concerned about this. This is something, as a department, that we have been working very, very closely with Cabot Celebration Committees, with municipalities, with the Hospitality Association, with anyone who are concerned about this. There certainly is every indication that there are back up plans in communities and we are working very closely with any municipalities who are concerned about this. We have to recognize that the celebrations are lasting for a complete year so many of the groups who are concerned, it is all spread throughout the year. It is not that the celebrations are all occurring on one day or during one week. So we, through Labrador of course, will be having the focus of the celebrations in March. In the western region, many of it is happening in February. So there is not one time that we expect 100,000 extra people in the Province. So we are working very closely with the airlines, we are working very closely with Marine Atlantic and we are working very closely with the accommodation sector and I can assure you that we are very concerned and are staying on top of accommodations for next year. We want next year to be a total success and next year we are viewing it as to being our launching pad for an enhanced tourism industry for the future.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. CANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CANNING: Mr. Speaker, in light of the resolution that we passed the other day by this hon. House, accepting and applauding the work of the government, in terms of the Churchill Falls contract, despite the opposition by the official Opposition against our stand on the contract called CF(L) Co. could the Premier stand and tell us how and what we are doing to renegotiate the Churchill Falls deal?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is ten seconds left in Question Period if the hon. Premier wants to go on with his answer in that length of time, he may try.

PREMIER TOBIN: Well, Mr. Speaker, in light of the fact that we have been able to attract and I quote, `SNC Lavalin supports the Newfoundland Government in their efforts to address and resolve these inequities.' In light of the fact that we can attract a measure of support in the Province of Quebec, we are going to remove that motion soon and see whether we can get the Conservative Party to come to its senses and support the efforts to renegotiate the Churchill Falls Power contract!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act Respecting The Pensions Act", Bill No. 46.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Petitions

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Earlier this week I presented a couple of petitions concerning the Newfoundland Dockyard. I have been given another petition to present. I shall read the prayer of the petition:

We, the employees of the Newfoundland Dockyard, wish to petition the House of Assembly to voice our concerns over the closure, and the lack of action over the closure, of the Newfoundland Dockyard. We are asking the provincial government to take an active stand with the federal government and Marine Atlantic to reopen this vital industry supplying hundreds of needed jobs to the Newfoundland economy.

After the questions on Wednesday in the House, myself and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, and my colleague from Kilbride, met a number of employees of the Newfoundland Dockyard, and I feel that meeting was progressive. We have assurances from the industry minister that he is going to actually lobby the federal government and Marine Atlantic to ensure that the Newfoundland Dockyard will reopen, and that the two bids that are on the table will be actively pursued, and that the suitable bidder will have every opportunity to reopen the Newfoundland Dockyard.

I was relatively pleased with the outcome of the meeting, and I anxiously await any results coming from Marine Atlantic or the federal government on behalf of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the petition put forward by my colleague from St. John's South in his wish to bring to the House again the circumstances and the difficulties surrounding the St. John's dockyard.

Mr. Speaker, we want to continue to put this before the House. We acknowledge that there have been some initiatives; however, a few days ago we saw all of the workers here. They have great concerns about their future, great concerns about the dockyard itself. There is some evidence that others may be wanting to make sure that it is closed down permanently. We would like to see it open, like to see it continue. It is a major employer in the greater St. John's area, in the District of Waterford Valley. Over 100 of the workers at the St. John's dockyard live in my district, and I certainly would want to do all that we can do to make sure that dockyard continues to operate. We want to say to the minister responsible that we need to again, as he said one time: sharpen our pencils, get out there, and do all we can to make sure that this dockyard is given the best chance it can have in the environment in which we now operate.

I acknowledge that the minister has begun some initiatives; however, the tragedy for this region will be that if that dockyard is permanently closed it will take such a great effort to find another employer that would be able to employ 500 or 600 people.

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the employees down there, we want to again bring to the attention of the House the circumstances, and say to the minister: Let's get at it. Let's make sure that the negotiations you are involved in are indeed a success. Thank you very much.

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, just for the record let me correct something that the Opposition House Leader said. He said that I was responsible for Marine Atlantic and the dockyard, I am not responsible for the dockyard. I am responsible for the shipyard at Marystown and I think we have done some things right there to put the shipyard in the right direction.

What I am doing is participating, as I should, as a provincial Minister of Industry, to help wherever I can to make this a successful transition. This is governed exclusively by the federal government. The Province has offered to participate, we are participating, we are doing everything in our power to see a successful transition into the private sector and we will do what we can to help build that bridge. In fact, I have already talked about a number of issues, wherever we can be creative on EDGE, wherever we can be creative with respect to the debenture that is outstanding to the Province and any other creative areas in which we can participate but let me say to the Member for Waterford - Kenmount, that the Province is not responsible for the dockyard. We accept that we should be responsible for attracting investment and industry and it is in that sense that we are participating.

The Member for Kilbride wanted to make a point?

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Yes, I should say - I have had a number of discussions, not with the federal minister but with the local member, the Member for St. John's West. In fact, I met with her in Ottawa on that issue.

Anyway, look the prayer of the petition, I wanted to let the Member for St. John's South know that we endorse and fully support the prayer of the petition. Of course we want to see the dockyard reopened and we will do everything, as a provincial government, that we can do within the law and within our fiscal capacity to help.

Orders of the Day

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Motion No. 2

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board to introduce a bill, "An Act To Implement the Comprehensive Integrated Tax Coordination Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador," carried. (Bill No. 45)

On motion, Bill No. 45 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow, by leave.

MR. TULK: Order No. 5, Mr. Speaker, "An Act To Amend The Lands Act". (Bill No. 22)

The minister obviously is not here, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, in absence of the Minister of Government Services and Lands, I will take it upon myself to introduce this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Order No. 5, this is second reading?

MR. TULK: Order No. 5, second reading of the bill.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Lands Act". (Bill No. 22).

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I think the explanatory notes are quite straightforward as to what the purpose of this bill is -

AN HON. MEMBER: There he is, look, Mr. Speaker!

MR. TULK: - and if the hon. gentleman would wish I would defer to the minister to introduce his bill.

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

MR. McLEAN: Mr. Speaker, Bill 22, "An Act To Amend The Lands Act." There are a number of minor changes to the act itself. Section 2 in the definitions, we are basically changing the section to reflect the changes in the government since February 22. Also, to prescribe that under section 6, there are changes to allow the minister to issue licences for occupancy for land that exceeds between twenty hectares and 100 hectares which currently now, has to go through Cabinet, and is part of the regulatory reform to tie that in the act to allow this to take place on a much more timely basis. I think that is basically it, Mr. Speaker, for the changes to the act.

Those are the two basic amendments that will be made to the "Lands Act", (Bill No. 22).

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

Mr. Speaker, I am going to say a few words on Bill 22, "An Act To Amend The Lands Act."

The minister says a few minor changes to this act, they may be minor in writing but major in what actually will happen, Mr. Speaker. The Government House Leader stood in his place and he also made a statement when he thought it would be some minor changes, I believe those were his words because the minister was not ready to present the bill. I would like to thank the minister for his long introduction of the changes to the bill but, Mr. Speaker, that is being a bit sarcastic I suppose.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is far-reaching again and it goes right in line with what is happening in this sitting in the House of Assembly. We see that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is trying to get more authority and take away the authority of the Cabinet and basically give more discretionary powers to the minister. We have this bill, "An Act To Amend The Lands Act" which is doing basically the exact, same thing, taking authority away from Cabinet and putting it in the hands of the Minister.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that could all be well and good in any given situation. For instance, if a member from this side of the House was a minister, of course it would be a grand idea, they could handle it but, basically, what I am getting at I suppose, it depends on the minister of the day and the authority and what the minister would want to try and accomplish or any change he might wish to make to the act or, the big fear I suppose is the abuse of power.

Now we know that a few years ago, the previous Premier made some changes to the Crown Lands Act which was a very major change, because traditionally, over the years, Mr. Speaker, the people in this Province always had the right to travel around lakes, ponds and rivers. Initially starting out, Mr. Speaker, there was a thirty-three-foot reservation on lakes and ponds, then Canada went metric and they changed that to ten metres and eventually to a fifteen-metre reservation which, fifteen metres worked out to be approximately fifty feet and ten metres of course, around to thirty-three feet. I am not getting into the decimal points.

Now, Mr. Speaker, legislation was brought in that the government or Cabinet could actually lease lands right to the water's edge in any given situation especially with respect to commercial developments. Now we often times see advertisements in the paper by the Department of Government Services and Lands advertising sections of land to the water's edge, and in actual fact would stop people from travelling around any given pond, depending on the pond or the river, I suppose, or the lake.

At that time there were some concerns of course that people were losing their rights and traditions and what have you. It further came out later on in the Hydro debate that there was some kind of a scheme back then that the premier was actually planning this, the privatization of Hydro, that far back, and he was going to utilize this situation when, I suppose, we would have given the power - so if you privatize Hydro, the rights of way or around these ponds and lakes and rivers, to whomever the company was successful in purchasing or acquiring the rights to Newfoundland Hydro. So there seems to be some sort of a plan afoot, especially in light of the Crown lands.

The minister stood and said that these notes were explanatory, and that it is a minor, basically housekeeping situation. Mr. Speaker, it goes much further than that, and I'm going to get into some specifics with respect to this bill. Clause 1, paragraph 2(c) is repealed. The use of the term "department" within the Lands Act will no longer refer specifically to the Department of Environment and Lands but will be redefined to refer to the department presided over by the minister. The minister, according to this, can preside over the Department of Government Services and Lands, or Municipal and Provincial Affairs, or whatever the case may be. What exactly does that mean, I would ask the minister?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Say that again. I couldn't hear.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: (Inaudible) Government Services and Lands. So that in itself there is a minor housekeeping thing, just to change the name? Okay, that is fine. Paragraph 2 of the act is repealed. Use of the term "minister" within this act will no longer refer to the Minister of Environment and Lands, but rather to the minister appointed under Executive Council Act to administer the act.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Minister of Government Services and Lands.

MR. J. BYRNE: The Minister of Government Services and Lands will handle now this - because of course Lands is now under Government Services. No problem there.

Mr. Speaker, what is the problem, and what is coming to light, are the changes in the authority and the responsibilities given to the Minister. I worked with Crown lands for seven years, and was quite familiar with the goings-on. We all know now in the past seven or eight years the rates have increased dramatically to basically occupy Crown lands for a lease, for a grant. The rate even to make application for Crown land has gone up significantly. All the time it is becoming more and more difficult for ordinary Newfoundlanders to obtain a piece of Crown land.

It says here in this bill that the minister (inaudible) issue a lease to a person of Crown land of any size and to set the conditions, period and terms of the lease. Previous to this amendment, the minister could only issue and set conditions of a lease of Crown land if the area of land being leased did not exceed twenty hectares. Twenty hectares is around fifty acres. Above that I think it would have to go to Cabinet for approval. Minister, I stand to be corrected on that, but it had to go to Cabinet for approval. Now if the minister is permitted to issue leases over and above twenty hectares, I don't believe there is anything in here that would limit the size of a lease that the minister could issue. Would that go up to 100 hectares, 200 hectares, 500 hectares?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: So the minister is saying now that he can basically go to 100 hectares, which is roughly 250 acres. Often times, Mr. Speaker, in the Province, from my experience, people who made application for Crown land - of course the applications that are most received are for cottages. I think next to that would probably be residential. After that would be commercial. But there are a large number of applications for agricultural, and they could be anywhere from ten acres to a hundred acres. A lot of it, of course, people use for pastures. When you get into the larger sites, or the larger blocks of land, they are mostly used for pastures.

Down in my district, and in most districts around the Province I suppose, we have people applying for pasture land. I can name a few down in Torbay and Pouch Cove. In actual fact, the pasture land in Pouch Cove this year got some funding from the Department of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, with which they were quite pleased, which was a real boost. The year before that we had to go to the Department of Forest Resources and Agrifoods to try to fight for I think it was $10,000 that they were going to cut.

When you are saying that the minister can issue a lease for up to 100 hectares, which is 250 acres, is that going to be strictly for agricultural purposes? I ask the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology: That is definitely coming in the new year? You can mark it down now?

AN HON. MEMBER: They will all have one.

MR. J. BYRNE: You will not be as quick as me. I got the draw on you yesterday; let me tell you that, I say to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. It is coming, and rightly so.

MR. FUREY: A shoot-down again.

MR. J. BYRNE: I am up here having a few words on a very serious bill that has been put forth by the Minister of Government Services and Lands. I may as well say this now, I kind of feel for the Minister of Government Services and Lands, because yesterday when I was asking him a question - and he is in Cabinet, of course, because the Premier had to appoint somebody from Labrador.

MR. FUREY: I bet you got a holster set for Christmas.

MR. J. BYRNE: All the time, every year. I beg for it every year.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, and I love the nice shine - with the white handles.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Oh, definitely.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I have to wear a cap in the wintertime now.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) caps.

MR. J. BYRNE: I know what you are talking about; I am playing on words here now. Jump with me.

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible) `Roger' is going to give a speech. The Minister of Fisheries never wanted to play cowboys and indians, never wanted a tackle trunk, never wanted a set of holsters; all he wanted to be was Minister of Fisheries. He used to say to his mother: Mom, please, for Christmas I want to be Minister of Fisheries.

MR. J. BYRNE: Okay, now you have to get up and say that in a few minutes.

Back to the Minister of Government Services and Lands, I kind of feel sorry for him because we know he is in Cabinet because the Premier had to put a man or woman in Cabinet from Labrador. So what did he do? He picked the Member for - what district is he in?

MR. TULK: If you don't know, you will never find out (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: It is not too hard to figure out, I would say. Lake Melville. You don't even know yourself.

Now, when the minister is being asked questions, the Member for Labrador West is over in his ear trying to coach him on and tell him what to say, and read from this and read from that, that type of thing. The sad part about it - the man is doing the best he can, but the Member for Labrador West, who knows there is going to be a member in Cabinet from Labrador, is after his job. He should watch his back, I say to the Minister of Government Services and Lands, because the Member for Labrador West -

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh my, oh my, oh my!

MR. J. BYRNE: You can see that fellow; he is a preacher. He preaches all the time.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) over there.

MR. J. BYRNE: Who?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: No, the only people who turn on anybody are not on this side; they are on that side. I don't want to get into naming names or anything. We all know who they are, so I won't get into names.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to this bill again, the minister wants the authority to be able to issue leases up to 250 acres, which is 100 hectares. Normally, as I was saying, many of these larger tracks of land are utilized for agricultural purposes, mostly pasture land. Some people do get into root crops and what have you around here - I have some down in my district I can name. But the problem with this is that if he can issue a lease for 250 acres on his signature alone, without going to Cabinet, what are the leases going to be issued for in the future? Are we going to get businesses coming in here and making presentations to start up some kind of an industry and they are going to be given 250 acres of land under the EDGE program? I am still waiting to see the results of the positive talk from the Premier with respect to 1,100 jobs. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology talked about 300.

MR. FUREY: You don't understand (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I know that you said 300, and I know that the Premier said 1,100, and the difference is 800, so which is correct? Do you understand that? Are we talking about jobs that are there now? Are we talking about potential jobs? Are we talking about jobs somewhere down the road? What are we talking about?

MR. FUREY: You have a wonderful set of ears but you cannot listen.

MR. J. BYRNE: I have great ears.

MR. FUREY: You have big, lovely ears.

MR. J. BYRNE: I do - you like them?

MR. WISEMAN: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Now, `the legal beagle' is giving advice again. If you want to say something go sit in your own seat I say to the legal beagle from Topsail.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. J. BYRNE: I am up here trying to say a few words on this bill and I am being interrupted by people on the opposite side. They are talking about my physical features and that is pretty low, when people have to attack the physical features of an individual. If you want to stick to the facts and to the figures of what I am putting forward then tell me the difference between 300 and 1,100 jobs, which is 800.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: The answer is very simple. The business plans that are tabled by the companies that have been approved for EDGE show a potential investment of $178 million with 1,280 jobs. If these business plans are executed and followed through this is what will be created. What has been created to date in real jobs is 370 jobs with an investment of $27 million, so there is a clear difference between what has been achieved and what is purported to be achieved.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

Well, that clarifies the situation. In actual fact, what the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology says is that there are somewhere around 300 jobs that have been created and there is potential for 1,200 to be created overall if the programs and the plans that are put in place are successful and are followed through. We have 300 jobs basically created at this point in time from all the efforts and all the travelling of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and all the travelling of the Premier of the Province. We have 300 jobs created and maybe if we took the money that was spent on all the travel of the Premier and the travel of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology we could have created 600 jobs in the Province and not 300.

That is what I have to say today, but back to the point of the minister being permitted to give out leases for 250 acres, Mr. Speaker, my point is this. If the minister has the authority to do that, which he does not have now, I have to ask the question: Why is it happening that the minister in this department is getting this extra authority? Why is the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture getting extra authority? And I believe in some of the other bills that are coming through, the ministers are looking for extra authority? The legal beagle from Topsail is calling out for efficiency, and now we have the Department of Government Services and Lands putting the former Premier basically saying that they would put together one-stop shopping in the Province and set up outlets in different areas of the Province, and what do we see?

We had people from Crown lands go there, we had people from Health go there who did inspections, and people from Environment go there. If somebody made application they were supposed to go in, make their application, and it was all handled, but that is not what happened, Mr. Speaker. and that was all in the name of efficiency. It did not speed up the person's application in any way, shape or form for a building permit in a town. It did not in any way speed up anybody's application when they went to the Department of Health to have their land inspected. It did not speed up the inspection from the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Works, Services and Transportation.

All of these had to be separately contacted again to have it done, so there was no efficiency there. As a matter of fact, from what I have been told, some of the people who went into these outlets were, in actual fact, sent back to the offices they had come from, and that can be proven. I can get names and tell you who they were, where they came from, and where they went, Mr. Speaker. To say it is in the name of efficiency is a misnomer, or whatever you want to call it. It is a red herring.

With respect to the 250 acres, I have to get back to that, and the minister getting extra authority. I really don't understand why it is necessary. The minister can say it is efficiency, but things have been working with respect to fifty acres. I am not trying to cast a shadow on the present Minister of Government Services and Lands, but we all know that politics sometimes is not as straightforward as we would like it to be. People have a tendency to get certain things done when they know people, when they have connections. I can name locations now where that is happening today. Someone may come in and apply for 100 acres of land and another man may come in and apply for 100 next to him. But for some reason or other, the first person or second person may end up with the 200 instead of 100 acres if one individual has the authority to say that. That may never happen with this minister, it may not happen with the next minister, but it may happen two or three or four years down the road. Who knows? I think when we are taking away authority of Cabinet to make decisions we are treading on dangerous ground.

That is with respect to the issuing of Crown land leases. In actual fact, then, these leases can be converted to grants in due course. Any of these leases can be converted to grants. So one individual or a company or what have you may end up with large tracts of land in any given area.

MR. WOODFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: What do you mean? That's not right?

MR. WOODFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to the Member for Humber Valley, I can't hear what you are saying.

MR. WOODFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Oh yes, I agree to that. But what is happening now, if we can issue a lease for 250 acres, it doesn't say here it is restricted to agriculture. It could be for a commercial lease. You can get a grant for a commercial lease. It is going to depend on the location. We have the smelter now that is coming here, the smelter that is going to be announced - it is probably announced by now. Out -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Argentia?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Okay. So the smelter is going in Argentia, we have a transshipment site that is supposed to be built here, we have the sites in Labrador - we are going to have a facility in Labrador, apparently, for 450 workers. If one had a devious mind or was a bit cynical at all, they could say that this is being geared for certain people, or for certain companies. That is what we are here to point out and to criticize and to pick up and say the potential problems that can arise.

MR. WISEMAN: Criticize.

MR. J. BYRNE: Constructive criticism, I say to `the legal beagle'. That is constructive criticism.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) grandstanding.

MR. J. BYRNE: It isn't. If we can point out something here that is a flaw, and can be corrected, that is what we are here for. We are here to propose amendments to any flaws in legislation. That is it. The members on that side of the House have been on this side of the House. It is all well and good saying now you are sitting on the government side of the House, I say to the Member for Topsail, who isn't in his seat. But you are looking at it from one perspective. Members on that side of the House who have sat in Opposition, I would say were much more critical on a lot of occasions than we are on this side of the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) more constructive (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: That is what I am about here now, constructive criticism.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to the Member for Topsail, if he wants to get up and speak on this bill, and if he wants me to send over a few notes so he can understand what is going on in the bill, I will do it. He can have them. I'm sure he didn't even look at the bill yet. I imagine he doesn't even know what the impacts are or the -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. J. BYRNE: I don't need my seat padded, let me tell you. I don't need the chair padded, I can guarantee you that, I say to the Member for Terra Nova.

Mr. Speaker, do you have any idea what time I have left?

MR. LUSH: You have an hour.

MR. J. BYRNE: I had an hour?

MR. LUSH: You are doing a good job.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, I say to the Member for Terra Nova. The Member for Terra Nova tells me I am doing a good job, pointing out these flaws and giving some good constructive criticism, although that is contrary to what the Member for Topsail says. But in the meantime, we can't please everybody, I suppose, I say to that, Mr. Speaker.

 

Paragraphs 41(a), (b), (c), (d) and (f) of this Act are repealed. It was these subsections which gave the Lieutenant-Governor in Council authority to make regulation pertaining to the prescribing of fees. The forms and methods of applications for grants, leases and easements, the standards for a structure required to be -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. J. BYRNE: I say for the people in Hansard, that round of applause was not for me, it was for the Member for Placentia - St. Mary's. He got the smelter in Argentia. Mr. Speaker, with that kerfuffle over and the Member for Labrador West over throwing his hands up in the air, almost in tears because he did not get this smelter, almost in tears. He should be congratulating the Member for Placentia - St. Mary's.

Now, with respect to that, the real story starts now doesn't it? Look at the environmental issues. That is what the real story is in due course.

MR. WISEMAN: You want to destroy all the bogs in Newfoundland. (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I will just wait and see what the results are. I will be there - what is this `the legal beagle' is saying again now?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to `the legal beagle' from Topsail that it is too bad -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I have to remind the hon. gentleman from Cape St. Francis that we refer to members in this House as honourable members.

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

I say to the hon. the Member for Topsail, who is not in his seat, that it is too bad he has not been out there in some of those bogs up to his waist.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I was on a very serious point here and that is with respect to the authority given to the minister with respect to the prescribing of fees, `the forms and methods of applications for grants, leases and easements, the standards for a structure required to be erected on that land, leased under the section (inaudible) and the surveying of lands, in respect of which application has been made to the Crown and the conditions under which the grants, leases, licenses and easements may be issued under this part. As such, the power of Cabinet is being reduced' -this is very important - `as such the power of Cabinet is being reduced while the ability of the minister to regulate is being increased.' As I said earlier, the ministers, for some reason or other, in this sitting of the House, are looking for more power. Now what is happening is we are going to have the Minister of Government Services and Lands, given the power to increase fees, licenses and what have you.

What did we see happen, Mr. Speaker, this past summer? This summer, back in May, the minister came out with a press release that was totally confusing, totally confusing to himself. He was asked questions in the House - and he could not answer them - related to the amount or the fees that would be charged for leases and grants. It was about a new pricing policy that the minister could not explain. He came out with three different releases, each one more confusing than the previous one. He went to a public meeting and could not answer questions, and now we are going to give a minister the authority to set the prescribing of fees and the methods for application for grants and leases, Mr. Speaker.

This is a very serious issue here and I want to say a few words on that. Now, the minister will be setting fees in the future - not Cabinet, the minister. Now, what will we see happen here? As we saw happen this past year, the government needed x number of dollars to balance their Budget. They came out and made a statement that they were going to take in $6.2 million from their new program on the Crown land pricing policy but when you sat down and looked at the number of recreational cottage leases, commercial leases and residential together and you took the figure that you set aside, per lease, averaged it out, give it a reasonable amount of money, the amount of money that would have - the potential, it was closer to $20 million and this government led people to think that is would be $6.2 million. Now we know that is not correct, it is well up, closer to $15 million so we are a long, long way to help balance the budget. So now, Mr. Speaker, what happens next year - I brought this up in the House of Assembly before - once these leases are converted to grants, the yearly income that government was having, Government Services and Lands which was previously Environment and Lands which was previously Forest Resources and Lands, and previous to that, Forestry and Lands, the revenues that were coming in each year from those leases which are commercial leases, residential leases and the cottage leases will now not be coming in because the government took it in one lump sum.

I brought this up before and was laughed at in this House by the members opposite and it was brought up outside this House, Mr. Speaker, in a very serious nature, it was brought up on the open line shows, it was brought up at public meetings that now, once this revenue was decreased and you do not have it coming in every year, what will happen? Are we going to see next year or the year after, that the government is in a crunch again to balance the budget. Now, Mr. Minister of Government Services and Lands, where are we going to get some money in your department? Tell me where we are going to get it?

Oh, I have a fantastic idea, Mr. Premier, I can tell you. I can tell the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board where he can get it. All these cottages that we converted to grants, now, what we can do, let us tax them, let us have a recreation tax on them. Let us charge them $100 a year and we have 100 times 5,000 or 10,000 leases and way to go, more money. Let me tell you, I brought that up, the minister made a joke of it and a few other people on the other side made a joke of it but they are not laughing now because they know, they can tell and you can see it on their faces, that is what is coming down the tubes and I wonder what the Member for Labrador West is going to say when the people in his area who have permits to occupy and people who have leases and what have you, are going to be - they are going to be upset with you enough anyway, I will say to the Member for Labrador West. They are going to be upset with him now and I doubt if he will go home the weekend, they are going to be pretty upset, let me tell you.

That is one instance where there is more revenues coming to the government, okay? Then what happens if they say: Okay now, Mr. Minister of Government Services and Lands, we need more money out of your department; where are we going to get it now aside from that? Well, Mr. Premier, Mr. Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, I think I have a good idea. That is what he is going to say because he will be told by the civil servants, we have hundreds and thousands of people going into our forests every year, hundreds and thousands of them picking berries. Now, let us get them to get a licence to pick berries, that is more money for us, look at all those people. If we have 40,000 people going into the woods and we charge them five dollars a year, look at the money, Mr. Speaker.

Now, Mr. Premier, we have people going in this Province going in the woods on trails. Well that is a schemozzle already, the ATV trails, but we have people going in the woods trouting. Newfoundlanders could always go in and do a bit of trouting when ever they wanted to. Maybe we should look at something here, Mr. Premier, maybe we can get a few extra bucks here because the ministers are given all the authority now. It is not going back to Cabinet anymore for discussion, it is up to the minister of the day to say such and such, Mr. Speaker.

Then we have the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, in due course when the time comes out and say: Okay, the fishery is back and we have a food fishery, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture may say: Well, maybe we should charge now -

MR. EFFORD: Why shouldn't we?

MR. J. BYRNE: Do you believe in history, do you believe in tradition, do you know why we are here in the first place, I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture?

MR. FUREY: Did you ever get a set of caps and gloves for Christmas when you were a little boy?

MR. J. BYRNE: More than once. More than once and proud of it, no problem whatsoever.

Now the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology -

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: That is what happened to me. The cowboy hat was too tight. That is where my hair went, the Indians got me. I say to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology I used to play Cowboys and Indians and one day the Indians got me.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Did you listen to me, do I have to repeat that again?

AN HON. MEMBER: Say it again.

MR. J. BYRNE: No. Get Hansard and find out what I said.

Now the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology - I said, when I was a young guy - of course, we did not have large televisions and all the stuff you have today. There would be a bunch of us down in the woods playing Cowboys and Indians and I was always the cowboy and the Indians got me one day. So there!

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, is trying to make light of a Private Members resolution that I put before this House yesterday. It is serious and it is about the first time that I know of, that a politician came out in support of the RNC and their stand. It is about time and I hope that when I bring this resolution to this House and debate it, and speak in favour of it, and tell you the reasons why I believe they should be - they are a professional association - I hope every member in this House has the guts to stand up and support it, I say to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where do you (inaudible)?

MR. J. BYRNE: Where do I...? The member is joking around again.

AN HON. MEMBER: Were you in John Ottenheimer's class at Gonzaga?

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: What goes around comes around. Good things float to the top.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) St. John's harbour (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: And whose district is that in, I say to the member?

AN HON. MEMBER: That is just outside the district.

MR. J. BYRNE: Oh, yes, sure, sure. There is nothing from my district floating in St. John's harbour. That is not quite true; there is a little bit.

MR. TULK: Don't you flush the toilet when you're here?

MR. J. BYRNE: A good point. I try not to. I try to go to your government offices and use your facilities.

MR. TULK: It is still the same thing. It is still from your district going out in the harbour.

MR. J. BYRNE: There is, actually. There is a part of my district in St. John's, so they contribute to it, but not to the same extent as the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. TULK: The substance of this debate is going down the drain.

MR. J. BYRNE: To get back to Bill 22 -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I am here for the day. I am here for the duration, I say to the Government House Leader.

Again, I have to emphasize: Why is this government trying to create a group of mini dictators - that is a strong word, but - a group of mini dictators in each department? Cabinet is elected, and the Government and the Opposition are elected, to represent the views of the people. Yet, what we see now when government is formed, and I congratulate them for getting elected - a lot of them got elected, obviously, on the coat tails of the Premier, but they are there - and now we have a Cabinet formed that is supposed to look at the best interests of the people of the Province, and make decisions based on a consultative process. But we now see that is starting to dissipate and that the Premier - and I am sure the previous Premier would not allow this to happen, but this Premier - is allowing the ministers to become little emperors of little empires. They act like they are becoming all powerful. It is becoming scary, and the people of the Province are starting to wonder why -

MR. TULK: The last time around you were calling them vegetables.

MR. J. BYRNE: Calling you a vegetable?

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: If I did, it certainly must have applied. It must have been well applicable if I did call you a vegetable. I don't know what I would call you, yourself, Government House Leader.

Mr. Speaker, what else do I have to say on this bill? I suppose, as the minister said in his long introduction of the bill, there are minor changes to it. I said before, when you look at it up front, it is not a lot of text, let me tell you, but a minimum amount of text carries a lot of weight. There is a lot of weight given to the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

Back to the setting of fees, I believe the rate now for a lease is $75 a year. I ask the Minister of Government Services and Lands, if he is paying attention, if he would confirm that. The rate for a residential lease now, or a cottage lease, is it $75 a year? Do you know? You are not sure? I am just curious.

The reason I referred to that was because again - pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) new policy.

MR. J. BYRNE: No, no. Under the new policy, the pricing policy, is what you are going to pay to convert from a lease to a grant. But if a person goes in and makes application for a lease of Crown land to build a house, say, in a town, the lease rate itself will be set by the appraised value within the municipality; is that not correct?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: So if a person goes out now and applies for a cottage lease, and it is not within a municipality, it is set at $3,000 and $2,500 depending on where it is located, on a pond or not.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) five-year lease.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) $500 a year.

MR. J. BYRNE: Or $600 a year, depending on the location.

I do not know what kind of impact that will have on people making applications for Crown land leases in the future. If it will be restrictive, I suppose would be my concern, with respect to people having access to Crown lands to build cabins.

I know I've gotten calls from a number of people, let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, who are finding it very difficult to maintain their cabins. I brought this up before. It is along the lines of this, and I think it is relevant, because it all goes back to the minister having the authority to do what he wants, and it is what happens with respect to the Crown land pricing policy. I know people who had to go out and borrow - they couldn't come up with the $500 or $600 a month the minister wanted. If they didn't take advantage of the program, they would have had to pay $500 and $600 a year for their lease, and they couldn't afford to pay that. In actual fact they were forced to go and borrow the $2,500 or $3,000 and pay back a bank interest on a cabin that they took maybe ten, fifteen, twenty years to build.

To me it was a breach, certainly a moral breach of a contract they had with the government. The government can come out and say it was a great deal, it got 87 per cent of applications under the cottage, what was available under cottage, under the cottage numbers. In fact, that doesn't say a lot. It just says that 87 per cent of people were forced to do something they really did not want to do. That is what that says. It brought in a great amount of money to the government.

People have told me that. People told me that they took years to build their cabins. They scrimped and scraped and did bit by bit, year by year, and got their cabins. They are mostly modest, homey little cabins. There are some great nice elaborate cabins in some of the bigger areas, yes, no doubt about it, and it wasn't a big lot of money for some people to come up with. But there are certain areas if you go into them in this Province and people have cabins maybe sixteen by twenty or twelve by twenty or sixteen by twenty-four. They built it themselves and they lugged stuff in in wintertime to be able to build a cabin, had their buddies help them out, and went and borrowed and got loans of maybe some furnishings to be able to put it in their cabins to be able to utilize their cabins, and all of a sudden they are hit with this.

That comes back to the point of the abuse that a minister may be able to make in the future with respect to these cabins. For instance, I may have a little cabin. I don't, I wish I did. Say an individual had a cabin and he had it for six or eight or ten years and he put it together and he was paying $75 a year, and all of a sudden he has to come up with $3,000, and his cabin was completed. That in effect will stop him maybe for three or four or five years from completing his cabin. That isn't right, I say to the minister, by any stretch of the imagination. People are genuinely in hardship cases trying to put their cabins together. A lot of people believe if you have a home and you have a cabin you have everything. These are really areas that people like to go to to escape, and they aren't elaborate. By any stretch of the imagination, most of the cabins aren't elaborate.

Now what may happen, and I mentioned it earlier it could very well happen, is they could be taxed a luxury tax or a cottage tax in the future because the minister of the day may decide: We need a few extra bucks to balance the budget, so we are going to charge them $100 a year as a luxury tax for using our land, for having access to the ponds, for being in the woods picking berries, for going out in the woods setting a few snares, or whatever the case may be. So now, will they come on and justify it in their minds. You can rationalize anything. They can rationalize anything. So they come out and say: Now we will have to charge these people that to maintain and get some extra funds

That is a real concern and the real threat, I say to you, Mr. Speaker. That is why I can't support a bill that is going to give far-reaching authority to a minister, far beyond what he or she has today.

I can go on, but there are other people here too.

AN HON. MEMBER: (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: What? No, no support.

Mr. Speaker, my time is running down, my throat is wearing thin. I think the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I'm not thin? Did somebody say that? I could lose a few pounds, I say, like most of us in this House. Like most, except one or two I would assume, and I won't point fingers.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to say again that - and I will repeat myself, I don't mind repeating myself - the minister should not have the authority, the (inaudible) authority that he can come and make up whatever regulations he or she pleases that has a major affect on the people of the Province and that applies to any department. The nature of this is, anything that hits at the pocketbooks of the people of the Province should be done in conjunction with a number of people. It should be done basically through Cabinet. There should be discussions around the Cabinet table, from my perspective and a lot of points of views heard. We know that there are certain ministers who believe that whatever he says, goes, and that what he says is all right. It is never - in any situation where he believes that he can be questioned or believes that he is all knowing. I will not name who that minister is but we were discussing a piece of legislation this week, along this very nature, given a minister, any minister extra authority over and above what he had in the first place coming into this sitting of the House and maybe from that perspective, maybe the minister has too much authority anyway, let alone increase it, Mr. Speaker.

I wonder if anybody on the other side of the House is going to speak to this bill, other than the minister? I wonder if anybody on the other side of the House has actually read the bill? I know it was handed out to them but, Mr. Speaker, I wonder if they read it. I wonder if they understand the consequences of this bill? I don't know if they do or not. I hope they do. I am sure they are going to be voting in favour of it. I don't know if they have the gall or the gumption to get up and say no, that they don't support it because everything that seems to come forward from the ministers over there or from the Premier or the Government House Leader is automatically it seems to be perfect, no problems. I would like to point out one example where it was not perfect and there were major problems of course, was in the bill that was being put through this House on the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Everybody on that side of the House, Mr. Speaker, I believe - there may be one over there, I think, who is having serious doubts about it. I stand to be corrected on that but I think there was one.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who was that?

MR. J. BYRNE: The Member for Virginia Waters.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Strait of Belle Island.

MR. J. BYRNE: Did you have some doubts about the hydro bill? Did you have some doubts about the hydro bill when it was going through in the last - a couple of years ago?

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh yes, he didn't have no

MR. J. BYRNE: So I cannot say that they always, all of them, automatically support because every now and then you get one who kind of stands out but then normally that person who stands out and does not toe the line is kind of penalized because I really thought, in this sitting, that the Member for Virginia Waters was going to become a Cabinet minister. I really thought he was. I could certainly put him in a couple of places over there that could be - ministers that could be easily replaced, I tell you that, Mr. Speaker, but it is not likely to happen. The man is too independent. It won't happen, is not going to happen. That's all I can do for you. That is all I can say, to try to give you a bit of support every now and then and see what we can do but I do know that the Minister of Government Services and Lands better be careful. I am telling you that right now, he should be very careful when he has a fellow from Labrador - the Member for Labrador West is down coaching him on his answers and doing it in the very view of the Premier so the Premier can see him doing it. Oh, he is doing it and letting the Premier see him over coaching. I don't know if that is supporting my colleague or not, I say to the Member for Labrador West. I think that is thinking about myself, I say to the Member for Labrador West but I suppose when it all boils down most people, most people, are out to take care of themselves. I cannot include myself in that group, I have to say to the Member for Labrador West, but most people are out to take care of themselves. Now, Mr. Speaker -

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. CANNING: I rise on a point of order just to express to the House, openly to you all, of my travel plans this evening, I will be travelling back to my riding this evening.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

MR. J. BYRNE: Now, Mr. Speaker, I have been in this House just over three years and I have seen people stand in this House on points of order that were not points of order. I saw the Government House Leader doing it three times in one afternoon, but to see the Member for Labrador West stand in his place and take the time of this House, waste the time of this House, to tell us he is going back to his district, what an utter waste of time, I have to say.

AN HON. MEMBER: He should go back to his district.

MR. J. BYRNE: He has no choice but to go back. I mean, you have to have the face to do it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (inaudible) with a bag over his head.

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, I cannot say that. That analogy can be used in other ways so I do not want to put that on him.

MR. TULK: Be relevant.

MR. J. BYRNE: I am being relative. I am talking about money in this Province and about Bill 22 that gives authority to the minister to increase rates and license fees whenever he or she decides to do it. I am talking about a bill that affects Labrador West and that affects every district in this Province by giving the Minister of Government Services and Lands the authority to increase the lot size, or the area size, of leases that are going to be going out. He has the authority to do twenty hectares. If you take twenty hectares and multiply it by 2.4710 you will get the number of acres so that is roughly fifty acres, so 100 hectares is roughly 250 acres that the minister now has the authority to issue. Now, not Cabinet but the minister, and the minister can also set the rates for that. That is the problem with this.

MR. TULK: You are foolish if you believe that a minister can make that kind of change without first going to Cabinet.

MR. J. BYRNE: Did you read the bill?

MR. TULK: How silly can you get?

MR. J. BYRNE: Here, I will read it for you. Section 3 (3), the minister may issue, not the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, the minister may issue a lease to a person for an area of Crown land for the period, and upon those terms and conditions, and subject to the payment of those rents, loyalties or other changes that the minister may set out in the lease. Not the Lieutenant-Governor in Cabinet, not Cabinet, not two or three ministers, but the minister. Mr. Speaker, those are my concerns, and with that, I think, I have made my points on this bill.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TULK: I was going to close debate. Do you want to say a few words?

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to make a few comments on Bill 22, An Act To Amend The Lands Act, after hearing my colleague for Cape St. Francis put forward some points as to why he had grave concerns about the minister having power. I have to say to him that I do not have those concerns with this particular minister. In fact my concerns with the bill, I say to the Government House Leader, is that probably the Cabinet might be a deterrent to him, that probably the Cabinet in this case might be a deterrent to the minister. That is the way I read this particular bill and this particular minister, because I saw what happened when this minister, the Minister of Government Services and Lands tried to correct an injustice that was done in the past.

When a former Minister of Works, Services and Transportation went forward, I saw what this minister tried to do, and I am sure he made representation to Cabinet, to try to change the Vehicle Inspection Act. I suppose it was a prime example of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, being the type of strong willed person, if you would, the bully, coming out on top and allowing this particular act, the Vehicle Inspection Act, to continue to be done away with. We all know the concerns that are out there. We know the concerns of the general public, and I feel 100 per cent sure that if this minister of Government Services and Lands had his way he would have convinced the Cabinet of the day to bring back the Vehicle Inspection Act, and I think that is so very, very important.

The only comments I have to make as far as this act is concerned is, I suppose reverting back to the rules and regulations or a piece of legislation that the minister introduced in this House a few short months ago as it relates to cottages being purchased, and not being allowed to continue to do as they have done in the past, to pay their $75 a year and lease the property rather than buy it outright. There is nothing wrong with people having an option to buy their land, but there is a lot wrong when somebody says: You must buy your land.

I know of one particular person, one particular constituent of mine, a senior citizen, who has a cottage and has had it for years and years, paying his $75 a year, living on a fixed income, and he and his wife have not spent a night in that cottage for probably the past ten years, but they enjoyed going up there on an outing on a Sunday afternoon, or a Monday evening, and putting on a fire and boiling the kettle, and having a meal there. They enjoyed that. Now what we have done is taken that opportunity away from them. We have gone back and said: Now if you want to buy this particular piece of property it will cost you $3,000.

He cannot afford $3,000. This was this particular family's getaway. This was a place they enjoyed going to, a lot of memories brought back of times when their family used to gather there together. Now because the government of the day, in their wisdom, says that you must buy this particular piece of property, he has to look at it and say: I am sorry, but it has to go back to the Crown because I cannot afford to pay $3,000 for this piece of property to go and boil up, to have a meal there, two or three times a year. That, to me, is wrong. He should have been given the option to continue to pay his $75 a year, as it was in the past.

Then there was some confusion about what we considered remote and what we considered accessible. I called somebody at the department and they said: Boy, if the road leading to the cottage is not kept open year round then it is a remote cottage, so things can stay the way they were. Then, apparently somebody looked at it and said: Well, now we are talking about a lot of cottages here. This could probably be half the cottages in Newfoundland that would fall under this category, so we have to change that. Now they have come back and said, if you can drive to your cabin or your cottage any time during the year.

Mr. Speaker, as you know, with the weather conditions that we experience here, a lot of people's cottages should be considered remote for probably at least six months of the year because they have no way of getting to and from them unless they go by an all-terrain vehicle or a skidoo, because the roads leading to those particular areas about which we are talking are certainly not maintained or kept open.

Then, when people have to go and pay for their property, they have to start at another little swell, if you would, another little uprising, by people saying: Well, if we have to pay for our cottage, then how about the person out in the gravel pit with his trailer? That is another problem that we are seeing now. Lots of times you drive down through my district, and other districts - in fact, you see a lot of it along the Trans-Canada Highway - people have developed little pits, if you would, gravel-pit camping, and it is not uncommon to see fifteen or twenty trailers, flags flying, and little bridges, little verandas built around them, where people would go and enjoy the weekend. This was their trip down to Florida; this was their trip to Prince Edward Island. This was their holiday, I say to members opposite. Now we are going to deprive those people of that as well.

The government of the day says: No, you don't have to move your trailer. You have to take away your steps. You have to take the blocks out from under it, put the wheels back on it, come into Motor Registration and get it licensed, and you can continue to live there. You can continue to leave it there. We might be back tomorrow to change it and tell you that you have to move it. Then we can do that because the trailer is mobile, it is ready to move. We have collected the money off you through Motor Registration, even though you are not going to drive it; you are not going to take it on the highway unless we tell you so. You have your verandah taken down, so you can go to the store and buy a few lawn chairs to put out in front now, but you can only put up a step with no railing or anything like that on it to get into your trailer. What foolish rules and regulations.

This is coming from a government that only a few short years ago was going to bring back legislation, introduce legislation, to cut through the red tape of dealing with government. One-stop shopping, Mr. Speaker. Instead, what we are doing is putting more bureaucracy and red tape into the system than was ever there before.

How about the fellow with the truck camper? You know what I'm talking about. The pick-up truck backs in and you take your camper fully equipped in the back of your truck. A lot of people, particularly in this Province, use that type of equipment to go camping, or that type of accommodation. That is their motor home, with the camper in the box of the truck. Lots of time they go to their favourite fishing hole, they take off the camper, and they leave it there for the summer months. It has happened in lots of cases. It has posts on it or some kind of an attachment where you screw it up and the truck backs away from under it, and it is just left there. They set it up with a bridge so that they can get in and out of the camper.

Now the government in its wisdom says this can't go on any more. You aren't allowed to leave your camper there. Why? What is the difference, I say to the members opposite, in leaving a truck camper somewhere and leaving a trailer somewhere? If the fellow has a pick-up truck and if he maintains a licence, then he can make that particular camper as mobile as the trailer is with a licence on the trailer. They don't say you have to keep a car, they don't say you have to have a truck. All they are saying is that you must licence your trailer. They don't care which way you move it as long as there is a sticker on the licence plate that says it can be moved. What is wrong with the fellow leaving his camper by his favourite fishing hole and maintaining a pick-up truck where he can move it, or at least have access to a truck that will go and move it for him? Those are the kinds of things, the silly things I suppose if you would, that we have to get rid of. Those are the kinds of things that this government or this minister must look at and correct.

I don't know if it just me or if we all feel like it, but everybody who has ever left Newfoundland has always wanted to come home. I've had to leave many times to go and find a job or to go and to go and - well, holidays, I suppose, you know when you are coming back. But when you go away somewhere to work you never know when you are coming back, and you go with a lump in your chest, and you go because you have no other choice, but the first opportunity to come home, you know where you are going.

It isn't because we have such wonderful weather here, or we have such wonderful scenery, or there are so many opportunities here. Because, Mr. Speaker, as you know and I know, for the most cases it is quite the opposite. But we enjoy living here because up until now we have enjoyed a lot of freedoms in this Province. We could go and we could do the things that we enjoyed doing. We could go in and we could throw out a line, wet a line and catch a few trout. We could go in and cut a load of firewood. We could go in and set up our camper. Now what we are doing is saying: We will still allow you to do all those things, but you must come and ask somebody, you must come and get permission from somebody, you must get a licence. If we decide that we are going to issue it, we will; if we don't, we won't.

I don't plan on dragging this particular bill out this morning. I'm going to conclude my few comments by saying to the minister - and it is too bad he isn't here - that I know many people have applied to the minister for time to pay as it relates to the $3,000 that they must pay in order to acquire ownership of their cottage lot. I plead with the minister to allow those people some time. If they are looking for two years or if they are looking for three years, I say to the minister, give them time to pay. I believe the minister will. It is too bad he wasn't here to hear the other few comments that I was putting forward, but he has his speaker turned on, I'm sure.

I believe the minister will. The minister has been trying hard. Minister, I will repeat to you again, be lenient with the people out there who can't pay. Because this Province, this Island of ours, is going through a period of time now like we have never, ever seen before. A lot of people out there enjoy the simple things in life, like being able to go and get away and go to their favourite place and do their favourite thing. It is wrong for this government to say that you can't do that, or to put you through any more red tape than they have already had to go through in order to enjoy those few privileges which they hold dear.

Thank you.

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

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. Minister of Government Services and Lands speaks now, he closes the debate.

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just a few comments on the amendments. I wonder, does the hon. Member for Cape St. Francis want me to tell again the wonderful results of the new program that we brought in on the Crown lands policy?

Mr. Speaker, the first two changes are very, very simple, very straightforward. Mr. Speaker, the amendment we are making to section 6 is a section where we are trying to clean up a little bit, to tidy up a little bit because what we are intent on doing is that when people apply for Crown lands that is within a range of twenty to 100 hectares, currently, they still have to apply through the regular process of attaining Crown land. It is not going to change anything in terms of the requirements that they have. All it does is, it allows the minister to make a decision without the applicant having to wait an extra month or two months for the whole Cabinet process to take place. A very simple change.

As far as section 41, the regulatory process is in the works now where we are changing and reviewing all the regulations that we have so that will be all brought in, in a much more palatable way for people to use in applications for Crown lands. I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that this will improve the whole process of people applying for Crown lands and it will speed up the process, it will take a lot of the red tape away. It won't do anything to affect at least, the people who apply for property, it will not give us any more leverage in terms of having political interference or anything else. People will still have to go through the same process of applying for Crown lands. This is just a change so that the minister can make that decision rather than having to go back through Cabinet which is a process - and I would recommend that the amendments be made to Bill 22.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Lands Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 22).

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Jury Act", (Bill No. 24) Order No. 4, the hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Jury Act," (Bill No. 24).

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, this is just a very minor piece of housekeeping. The explanatory note is all encompassing. The bill would amend the Jury Act which would give, in most cases, the Sheriff, the authority to use discretion when he disburses payment for reasonable expenses of jurors who attend jury.

I move second reading.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just a few comments, Mr. Speaker, on the bill, "An Act To Amend The Jury Act." I agree with the minister that it is, to a large extent just housekeeping but it broadens that particular provision in that, a juror may be paid reasonable travel and other expenses and is not limited to a schedule which is limited to civil servants. It does broaden that particular provision of the Jury Act.

I thought I would make a few comments though with respect to the act generally because there are some very interesting provisions of the Jury Act that perhaps we are not all aware of, in particular the exemptions which are found in the legislation. It is clear that there are various individuals, by reason largely of their profession, who are disqualified from serving as a juror, and I will just cite for the benefit of the members of the House who these individuals are who are disqualified and exempted from serving as jurors in this Province.

They include, Mr. Speaker, a member, an officer, or an employee of the Parliament of Canada or the Privy Council of Canada, a member, officer, or employee of the House of Assembly, or the Executive Council of this Province, a judge of the court of the Provincial Court of Newfoundland, an officer or an employee of the Department of Justice, or of the Solicitor General of the Government of Canada, an officer or employee of the Department of Justice of the government of the Province, a barrister or solicitor, a court official, a sheriff or sheriff's officer, a member of a police force, a justice, a warden, correctional officer, or person employed in a penitentiary, a prison or correctional institution, and a spouse of a person referred to in Paragraphs (a) to (k), so these individuals I have just mentioned are by law exempted from serving as jurors in this Province, and it also includes a spouse of those individuals.

I would perhaps suggest to the minister that he may give some consideration, as he is now in the mind to do some housekeeping, as he puts it, that that particular section, Section 5, Subsection (l) of the act where it says spouse, perhaps for further clarification ought to indicate whether it is spouse as defined under the Family Law Act or whether it will also include what is commonly referred as a common law spouse. That particular provision is not clear and I think it is important in terms of who exactly is exempted from serving as a juror in our Province.

Section 7 of the act indicates that a person may apply to be exempted from serving as a juror on the grounds that serving as a juror may cause serious hardship or loss to that person or others, so that will obviously have to deal with individuals who, out of necessity, must work, and whether it be for health reasons, employment reasons, or family considerations, out of necessity find it impossible to serve.

Section 7 Subsection (2) states that without limiting the generality of Subsection (1) service as a juror shall be considered to cause serious hardship to a person where a person has the sole care during all or part of a day on which the court is in session, of a person who is under the age of seven, so a person may apply for an exemption who essentially has to do babysitting or child care activity, a person who is infirmed or aged, a person who is mentally incompetent, so any individual who has supervisory responsibilities of such a person may very well plead to be exempted or disqualified in acting as a juror.

Section 8 is also interesting, Mr. Speaker. It states that where a person's pastoral or religious duties or beliefs would conflict with his or her service as a juror, that person, shall, on application be exempted from serving as a juror, so it seems to indicate that a formal application has to be made before a court in order to be exempted.

Section 9, a person over the age of sixty-five shall, on application again, be exempted from serving as a juror. So there is an age limitation as well.

Section 10: No more than one member of a family unit, and no more than one member or employee of a firm, shall be liable to serve on a jury at a sitting.

Basically, one family member and one employee of a particular residence only; in other words, there is a restriction on family members and employees of a particular business from serving at the same time in a particular case.

Section 19 indicates that jurors are not liable to serve on a jury more than once every three years. Therefore, if a member of the public is called upon to serve as a juror, and that calling upon occurs a second time within a three-year period, that person is exempted by virtue of section 19 of the Act.

Also, there is provision beginning with section 38 of the Act where a person may receive compensation. In fact, there is an obligation, a legal obligation, on an employer to ensure that the juror is compensated for his or her services in acting as a member of the jury.

So there are some interesting provisions in the Jury Act. The exemptions make it clear exactly who can and cannot serve as a juror. They are described by way of profession, and obviously, anybody involved with the legal profession or law enforcement in this Province is, by virtue of the legislation, automatically exempted.

Getting back to today's amendment, it is essentially minor. It does allow an individual who serves as a juror to be compensated for reasonable expenses. It does not describe exactly what those reasonable expenses are. It appears that it is at the discretion of the minister. I agree with the minister, in his introduction, that it is essentially for housekeeping purposes.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am rather surprised that the minister did not think that his amendment would generate the kind of debate that one would expect in the House on a matter of this nature.

I know the minister is not necessarily as adept as the former Justice critic on this side of the House, now sitting in the back benches over there, in his grasp of -

MR. TULK: Who is that, `Jack'?

MR. HARRIS: The Member for Humber Valley. He was Justice critic over here, and received much praise for his grasp of legal issues.

MR. TULK: So you are saying he did the sensible thing and came over here.

MR. HARRIS: I was not here, but I understand that the Minister of Justice did a bit of a self-appraisal today in terms of his own legal abilities. I do not know if he ranked himself higher than the Member for Humber Valley or not -

MR. DECKER: No, never.

MR. HARRIS: - but I encourage the Minister of Justice to consult with the Member for Humber Valley on legal matters because in a very short period of time he showed himself, on this side of the House at least, to have a very good grasp of legal matters. I suspect that is where this amendment, in fact, comes from; that the amendment to the Jury Act comes from the suggestions of the Member for Humber Valley, now that he is a member of the government caucus and has the inside track, as it were, on amendments to justice bills. In fact, I think he is now chairing a committee under the justice portfolio, dealing with issues of insurance law and insurance matters.

AN HON. MEMBER: Government Services and Lands.

MR. HARRIS: Government Services and Lands, is it? Insurance regulations come under Justice, and Consumer Affairs is and has been a very important part of the justice portfolio for a number of years, although they may have moved it in the last little while.

To the point of the amendment, Mr. Speaker, I support the amendment. It is obviously a matter that has caused some concern in juries. Certain expenses could not be paid, and certain expenses could. Child care, for example, for women who required it, or men, for that matter, who required it, serving on a jury, was open to question, interpretation. I hope the minister has a set of policies and guidelines that would ensure that women who require child care in order to serve on a jury have adequate child care expenses covered to ensure that they have an opportunity to perform their public duty and, at the same time, to have their family obligations looked after, Mr. Speaker. It is not a reasonable thing in this society to limit people's participation in public activities because of family responsibilities of that nature and it in fact ends up treating one class of citizens as different from another.

The Member for St. John's East referred to a number of the exemptions that are there and they attempted to overhaul them a couple of years ago but the government was adamant in keeping some of them there. Members of this House of Assembly, for example, are not allowed to serve on juries, but what about their spouses? There are whole series of examples, some of which are reasonable and some of which are not. There was a time when anybody who was a public servant was not allowed to sit on a jury or was exempted from jury service and that has passed and there is probably room for eliminating a number of the other exemptions. There seems to be, in this Province, a lot more jury trials now then there were even ten years ago, certainly a lot more than there were twenty years ago and this has caused a realignment in the activities which came forth and certainly the need for improvements and refinements in the jury system.

A major overhaul was undertaken, as I mentioned, a few years ago which has resulted in a more streamlined process. I know, the courts themselves now, instead of in panelling, are setting up jury panels for an individual trial, do all the jury panels at once each month for the trials that could take place during that month. So it is not as cumbersome as it once was and people seem to have an opportunity to serve on a jury and to perform their public duty without being as disrupted as they once were and so many people being disrupted with only a few people actually being called to serve as jurors. So the system has improved considerably over the last few years and this modest improvement, I am sure, as suggested by the Member for Humber Valley, is certainly able to be embraced by me. I support the amendment and I look forward to hearing the comments of the Member for Humber Valley on this important justice amendment.

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

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Certainly not an ignorant non-lawyer.

`Harvey', if you were the Minister of Justice you would not describe yourself as an ignorant non-lawyer, would you now?

MR. H. HODDER: Indeed I would not, I can assure you. What an epithet to put on a lengthy career in the Legislature - I mean, to call himself an ignorant - what was it?

Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to say a couple things. Because while we are doing some of those housekeeping things, I want to take the opportunity to comment on some other things that the minister should be addressing. While it is not particular to this particular item, I agree with the change the minister is putting forward, as my colleague has said. But we are wondering when there are going to be some other housekeeping things? For example, we still have the needs in the education legislation, we still do not have well-defined things like the corporal discipline, that kind of thing. These are amendments that are necessary.

Mr. Speaker, I raised, the other day, some other issues pertaining to the court system and children. In particular, I wanted to say to the minister that it is time in this Province that we begin to take a leadership role, so that when we have the children in court we makes sure that when the jurors are there, if there is a jury being used, that we have children prepared to go to court, that we have the situation where, as we have contained in the federal legislation, the court is ready and willing to utilize all the procedures that will ensure that the court system is child-focused, particularly for young children.

We, in this Province, could do a lot more than we are doing when it comes to children and the court system. For example, we have rarely used any type of videotaping of children's testimony that is provided for in federal legislation under Bill C-15. We don't use it in this Province. We have some cases in this Province where even though Bill C-15 says you can use screens to block the child's view of the alleged offender, that has ben refused in some courts in this Province. The judges have let the children be visibly able to view the offender, although provisions of Bill C-15 say that there can be a screen put into the court system. We don't use that.

We say to the Minister of Justice - I take this opportunity to say that there are things that we can be doing. Bill C-15 permits a closed-circuit t.v., permitting children to testify outside of the courtroom. That has not been done in Newfoundland at all. We don't take advantage of these provisions to have our court system more child-centred and child-focused. For example, I have been told that in some cases when a child has need for a simple little thing like a booster seat - now, there is not much difficulty for someone in the court system to go and say: A little child needs to have a booster seat when they are in the witness stand. That is the kind of thing that Bill C-15 says can be done, should be done.

The Minister of Justice should be making sure that in addition to bringing in this minor amendment that he make sure we can have a system of justice that enables young children to participate in the judicial system without being intimidated. We have to remember that children are not thirty-five-year-olds. When we have an aggressive system that we have, an adversarial system, it certainly does not serve the best interests of children.

Some other things that have been suggested, and are permitted under federal legislation, would be things like, for example, allowing a child to bring a toy or a blanket or some item that is dear to the child, into the courtroom, so the child can feel more comfortable, give the child a sense of happiness or comfort or reassurance. But we don't permit that in our court system very often in Newfoundland. I know that some judges are more sensitive than others. I commented here in the House before that the system in Grand Falls has been noted to be far more sensitive than some other courts in this Province. I haven't sat in that court. I have been told by social workers that they have a greater sensitivity in Grand Falls to children's interests than they have in some other courts in this Province. What I am saying is, listen to what is being said in Grand Falls, look at the practices there, examine Bill C-15, which is federal legislation, and see what it permits.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why is it more (inaudible) in Grand Falls?

MR. H. HODDER: Because the judge in Grand Falls is said to be far more sensitive to children than is the practice elsewhere. When we have the adversarial system that we have, then we have to remember that we are exposing children to a system that is foreign to them. Often we have legal people in court representing the father or the mother, and there are people representing the justice system, but very often we have nobody there who really represents the child. This is the kind of thing I want to bring to the attention of the minister this morning.

For example, I have been told that a simple little thing like permitting a child to sit on an adult's knee in the witness stand is often frowned upon. These are common sense things and we would think that we would be facilitating that but we not often encouraging it or doing it.

Now, sometimes we should be saying to the court system: let an adult come into the witness stand with the child. Encourage that kind of participation, but it is not always done. Some of the things are done, and I want to say as well, and acknowledge, that some of our social workers in this Province are very, very supportive of children when they are in the court system. In fact, I should say, they all are, but that is not primarily their job, and often they find they spend long hours in court. Really, they should be giving counselling, but it is not primarily the job of the social worker to be the advocate for the child in the judicial system. Mr. Speaker, what I am saying to the minister is that he should be looking at ways in which we can make a transition from the traditional model of the court system to a newer model.

I just want to say to the minister that when I was in Grand Falls a year or so ago and talked to some social workers there they talked about how the rest of the bureaucracy is gradually coming around to be more sensitive to children. What this young social worker did, a young lady from Botwood, she brought in a dozen eggs. She had them all labelled, and she said, I am going to make you an omelette. She had them all labelled with government departments. She had Education and she went to break the egg, she just touched it and it broke, which showed that the educational system was ready to be child focused because it was easy to break the shell and get around the whole bureaucracy.

She went through the whole dozen eggs and then she came to the one on Justice. She took her knife and tried to break it, she chopped it, but she could not get it through. It was her way of showing that the Justice system is the most resistant to change, very resistant to change. That young social worker, in her demonstration, conveyed a powerful message. She was well prepared, it was well done, and she showed that the justice system is very resistant to change, particularly as it relates to change in laws as they relate to children.

Her message was well received and it contained a powerful message, not only for me but for all the people who were in attendance. I say to the Minister of Justice that we need to see amendments coming forward that will make the court system more child friendly and more child centered. Let us examine what Bill C-15 of federal legislation permits, and also make sure that we try in this Province to have our court system a little bit more child focused and a little bit more child friendly.

Keeping in mind, Mr. Speaker, as well that in Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada - and members of this House may not know what Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada says as it relates to children, but it says the following, `Every school teacher, parent, or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction towards a pupil or a child, as the case may be, who is under his care if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstance.'

Mr. Speaker, we have in this country a legal license for child abuse, and until Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada is changed we cannot pretend in this country to be child centered. I have heard it said by people in the police forces that very often they find that the police forces will run up against this section when they are trying to enforce actions against parents as it applies to child abuse. Often they will use Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada as reasonable excuses for, shall we say, enforcing on their children discipline that is not acceptable.

So I say to the Minister of Justice, he should be trying to make the Newfoundland system more child focused but also we should be trying to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada, which is a license for school teachers, parents, and persons standing in the place of a parent, to use force towards the correction of a child or a pupil who is under their care. This particular piece of legislation has been used by teachers, by babysitters, by parents to justify, shall we say, what we would find in common sense as being unreasonable discipline. We have to say to the Minister of Justice, try to get that section corrected but also the Minister of Justice should know that under Bill C-15, of federal legislation, he can do a lot more to make the court system of Newfoundland and Labrador more child focused and make it a better system and more sensitive to the youngest people, often people who are most at risk when they are going into the court system because there are lawyers for everybody else but there are no lawyers, very often, protecting the interest of children. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank hon. members for all the discussions revolved around this bill. All of the advice they have given will be taken under advisement and will be dealt with in the fullness of time and I would move second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act Respecting Judgment Enforcement," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow, by leave. (Bill No. 44)

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order No. 7 and in the absence of the Minister of Justice I would move second reading of this bill, "An Act To Amend The Portability Of Pensions Act."

AN HON. MEMBER: The Minister of Justice is here.

MR. TULK: I am sorry the Minister of Finance.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Portability Of Pensions Act". (Bill No. 28)

MR. TULK: By way of introduction, Mr. Speaker, let me just say that this is a very minor piece of -

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

MR. TULK: - a very minor piece of housekeeping and if there are any questions to be asked on it I am sure that the Minister of Finance, who is unavoidably absent now, will answer all questions that the Opposition, I suspect, might not put forward in the committee.

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

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

We understand this amendment to the portability of pensions to provide members of the House of Assembly, who elected to transfer his or her pensionable service to the MHAs pension and it does not become eligible for a pension benefit under that plan, may elect to retransfer his service back to the original pension at some future time. Mr. Speaker, we, on this side of the House, agree that this is a housekeeping matter and that it gives the members of the House the same benefits as enjoyed by others in society and so therefore we would concur with the second reading at this time.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, if the minister wants to close debate he is back now.

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I commend the bill to the Legislature for passage -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I commend the bill to the hon. members for passage. I think most people understand the parameters of it and certainly within the policy limits that we set for ourselves from time to time. I move second reading. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Portability Of Pensions Act (No. 2)," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 28)

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. gentlemen opposite want, we can move to either Order 6 or 11. Which do you choose? I give you a choice this morning.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Number 6? Order No. 6, Mr. Speaker, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act". (Bill No. 33)

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act". (Bill No. 33)

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce for debate on second reading, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act". This amendment to the Expropriation Act will establish the Board of Commissioners of the public utilities as the tribunal to adjudicate expropriation claims.

Under the existing legislation, a board of arbitrators is appointed to fix the compensation for expropriated lands when government and an owner cannot agree on that compensation. The board consists of three members: one appointed by government, one by the owner, and a chairman selected by the first two appointees.

This present system of ad hoc boards presents some problems. For example, each board is likely to have different members from any previous board and no experience; therefore, expertise is gained in the interpretation of the act, or in appraisal methods and evaluations. There are no minimum qualifications for members, and each individual board sets its own procedural rules.

Further, the board nominees, being nominees, tend to think of themselves as representing the side that nominated them rather than as needing to work together as members of an impartial and independent tribunal.

While such nominated boards were at one time more common in Canadian jurisdictions, this system now remains only in Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and the Yukon. The Public Utilities Board has, for some years, adjudicated similar claims arising out of expropriations for public utilities. It has in place the expertise, the staff and facilities, to render timely and impartial decisions at a cost that is reasonable to both government and claimants. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I ask all members to support this bill.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to take some time today to make some comments concerning this particular piece of legislation.

AN HON. MEMBER: How long?

AN HON. MEMBER: He is the critic, so he has an hour (inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Yes, I believe so.

In brief, the stated intention of the bill is to have the PUB, not an arbitration board, determine the compensation that is paid to landowners when property is expropriated. But look closely at clauses 5 and 11 of this bill, and six of this bill's changes demand, as far as I am concerned, rethinking.

Number one, the compensation is set by the PUB and not by an arbitration board. Number two, the minister decides whether to refer it to the board. Number three, the landowner no longer has a representative on the decision-making board. Number four, there is no representative when the land is in dispute. Number five, this bill raises the cost of the process and intimidates the landowner into accepting whatever is offered by the minister. Number six, this bill intimidates the landowner even when the minister offers nothing. I will certainly make these points as I go on into this particular piece of legislation.

Compensation is set by the PUB, and not by an arbitration board. Section 2(c) and 19(1) under the old act: The failure of the minister and the landowner to agree on compensation for expropriation of land means an arbitration board is appointed for that particular case.

The minister appoints an arbitrator, the landowner appoints one and the two agree on a third party or the trial judge appoints one. In addition of course, there would be a stenographer. Under this bill, the board is the PUB and the PUB is probably more costly and less swift since it is already bogged down with all kinds of other responsibilities.

Now the minister decides whether to refer to a board. Section 19 (2), Mr. Speaker, under the old act, if the minister and the landowner cannot agree on compensation, then the appointment of an arbitration board becomes automatic. That is under the old act, Mr. Speaker. Under this bill, the minister is given the power to make the application to the board and it therefore stands to reason that he will have the choice of whether and when to refer the matter to the PUB. The landowner has no such power to apply to the PUB.

The landowner also, Mr. Speaker, no longer has a representative on the decision-making board which I think again, Mr. Speaker, is wrong. Section 20, under the old act, one of the three members of the decision-making board is the landowner's arbitrator. The landowner's arbitrator can veto the minister's choice of the third arbitrator, and award decisions of any two arbitrators are final, Mr. Speaker. Under this particular bill, the PUB decides and the landowner has no say in the composition of this particular board which can be a small one, indeed it could be one commissioner nor does the landowner have a representative. Neither does the landowner, Mr. Speaker, have a representative who sits on this particular board.

Must he then hire, he or she, hire and pay for a legal, independent counsel who would go to such a board and represent himself or herself at the PUB hearings? I think, Mr. Speaker, that is wrong. There is no representative when the land is in dispute; section 20.4 is repealed. Under the old act, when ownership of land is in dispute or the owners cannot be found, the minister is obliged to appoint an arbitrator to represent the missing landowner. There is no one on the PUB who represents the missing landowner, so who will make the case for and defend the rights of, the missing or the disputed landowner now? Once we change that act, Mr. Speaker, then we certainly have changed it. This bill as well, Mr. Speaker, raises the cost of the process and intimidates, in my opinion, the landowner into accepting the offer that would come from the minister from whatever department.

Section 34, Mr. Speaker, it is still the case that if the board does not award the landowner more than the minister's offer, the landowner must then pay, Mr. Speaker, all costs; pay all the costs, expenses and fees incurred in the award process, but while the old process involved just three arbitrators and a stenographer, this bill will drive up the cost and I believe, Mr. Speaker, will drive up the cost tremendously. 34 (2) specifies that expenses include cost of counsel, engineering, valuators, stenographers, accountants and other assistance employed by the board as well as the salaries and the expenses of members of the board while employed in and about the hearing. Can you imagine, Mr. Speaker, the cost that could be incurred by the Public Utilities Board? I think these costs could be tremendous.

We have just witnessed a process where the cost is astounding, so the PUB could be frivolous in commissioning more input than is warranted. They could drag this thing out if they wish. They may have no other choice. They certainly will not know the facts of the case, and they certainly can go on for days and days if they so desire.

The government could me mean-spirited commissioning expensive input to increase costs and intimidating land owners who fear they will not get an increase and will have to pay those costs. If that is the case, and that is what this bill is going to do, then, Mr. Speaker, this bill is certainly wrong. The government may spare no expense in beefing up council to convince the PUB not to increase the award while the land owner may not be able to afford to compete in such an arena. If that is the case, Mr. Speaker, this bill is certainly wrong and would certainly be intimidating to land owners who certainly now, if they are not happy with their settlement, then certainly have the right to go forward and do the things they can do under the old legislation, which some of them certainly will not be able to do under this particular piece of legislation.

This bill, Mr. Speaker, intimidates land owners even when the minister offers nothing, even if there is no offer made. Section 34; if the minister has made no award offer prior to referring a claim to the PUB, or decision, the PUB decides which party pays the cost. The minister has the power to send the matter to the PUB without first offering any compensation, any compensation whatsoever. He can just say this is going to the PUB and that's it.

The land owner knows the PUB could award all the costs to him, or her, and he or she could end up with no compensation from the government to offset the expenses. The land owner might be persuaded to accept nothing for the land rather than risk the right of paying the PUB costs and getting nothing. The bottom line here is that the person who owns the property could still end up with nothing except an expense. I think, Mr. Speaker, that certainly is wrong. Again, I think this bill is certainly wrong.

Mr. Speaker, there are a few other things I would like to mention. The important clauses to this particular piece of legislation, and here I will be quoting sections and so on, and for some who probably have not researched it, it may be a little bit confusing. I will try my best to keep it as simple as I can.

Clause 5 repeals sections 19 and 20, and replaces them with a new appeals process with the PUB instead of an arbitration board. Much protection, as I see it, will be eliminated from this particular act.

Clause 11 repeals subsections 34(2), 34(3), and 34(4), and replaces them with new clauses that will cost the person who is doing the appeal a lot more money than they previously had to pay.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who wrote that stuff for you, Bob?

MR. FRENCH: You would be surprised who wrote that.

AN HON. MEMBER: The legal beagle.

MR. FRENCH: You would be surprised who wrote that. Suffice it to say, it was not the member up in the back row because I lost him about twenty minutes ago.

AN HON. MEMBER: I would say (inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Pardon? What was that?

AN HON. MEMBER: I would say it is a good chance you would be surprised too; you probably do not even know.

MR. FRENCH: Don't you kid yourself.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Go on? Oh, yes, but they are gone you see. Some of them are history.

Details on point number one - and this again is further to the specifics on the points raised - to see that the current new section 19, and section 20 under the current act, when the minister and the owner of the land implicated by expropriation cannot agree on compensation, when the owner is in doubt, or the owner is missing - for any reason the minister considers it appropriate - the amount of compensation shall be fixed. There is no more arbitration board, so we now send all of this off to the PUB.

Under the act, when there is a dispute, the compensation is to be fixed and shall be made - shall be made - by the arbitration board. Again, here is where the minister `shall' appoint an arbitrator and shall notify in writing the landowner that the board has appointed. That is current in section 20-3. Under the new Act, an application of fixed compensation shall be made by the minister. The new section is 19(2), and in this case, Mr. Speaker, we are going to refer this information to the PUB. If we do that, and a person is not satisfied with what he has been offered and they lose their case, then the cost of whatever expenses were incurred by the PUB will now become the responsibility of the person who owns that particular piece of property.

So you know, Mr. Speaker, I think here we have to be very, very careful. I think we should give this bill a lot of thought, a lot of consideration, because there are things in here that are certainly going to change once this particular piece of legislation gets passed. You know, Mr. Speaker, under the current Act, the landowner shall appoint an arbitrator who will be a member of the arbitration board, so that the aggrieved person's representative is actually one of the decision-makers, Mr. Speaker, one of the decision-makers.

The new Act says nothing about an arbitrator being appointed on behalf of the aggrieved person, but indicates process will be determined by the PUB. What does the PUB Act say about the appointment of an arbitrator? Who, on the PUB, represents the aggrieved person? Nobody, Mr. Speaker, nobody. Would a person need to seek independent legal counsel when appearing before the PUB? Do they really have to do it? I would suggest that maybe they do.

So, Mr. Speaker, again I have grave concerns, Sir, about people who are going to be made offers on property and in this case maybe the little person, who again is going to be made to suffer. Because once get before the PUB, I wonder how many landowners rather than do that, would certainly be willing to go before the PUB. Does a person need to seek independent legal counsel when appearing before the PUB? According to the Act, the quorum at the PUB hearing can be just, Mr. Speaker, one commissioner. One person has the right to determine how much compensation is to be paid to a particular landowner and I think, Mr. Speaker, that is wrong. Under the current system the aggrieved person's arbitrator has a veto over the appointment of the third arbitrator. And the failure to agree - and a third arbitrator will leave a trial judge to appoint, and that is currently at 20.7. This is significant, Mr. Speaker, since the current 32.3 says the award of any two arbitrators shall be considered to be the award of the board. Under the new Act, the aggrieved person has no say. The aggrieved person has absolutely no say, no representation, no nothing, Mr. Speaker.

So again, under this new Act the aggrieved person has no say directly or indirectly into who composes the board and what the decision is, because in the end, this is done by the Public Utilities Board. So, I think, Mr. Speaker, that this is certainly wrong if a person having land, in some cases land that they may have worked or owned all their lives, may wish to part with this land so that - it is a retirement fund or whatever.

Under the proposed Act, the minister has no obligation, of course, to appoint an arbitrator to represent the landowner, no obligation whatsoever. So the landowner goes in, with absolutely no representation, before this particular board. Mr. Speaker, again this is wrong. Even if the landowner cannot be found, the minister still does not have to appoint anybody to represent this particular individual.

The other protection details, Mr. Speaker, in the current Act, are also removed by this Act. The minister is not obliged to notify the person aggrieved or give thirty days notice to appoint an arbitrator since the current 20.3 will be repealed. So they do not have the right to even a notification under this particular Act. Again, I feel that this is wrong. Probably, in view of the time, I would seek leave to adjourn the debate. I have certainly much more to say.

AN HON. MEMBER: How come you are not saying it?

MR. FRENCH: I will say it when I am ready. It is too bad you were not listening. You would see what this bill might do to some of your constituents, what it might do to some of mine.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I understand that the hon. member is adjourning the debate.

The hon. Government House Leader -

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move, given the lateness of the hour and the fatigue in the faces of the members opposite, and in view of the very hard week that they have had over there, that this House adjourn until Monday, the 32nd of November.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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