December 10, 1996         HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS          Vol. XLIII  No. 50

 


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Before we begin the routine proceeding of the day the Chair would like to welcome to the House today, sitting in the Speaker's gallery, the President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Fire Chiefs and Fire Fighters, Mr. Wilson Wiseman; Wayne Power, Director of Region 1; Jim Anderson, Director of Region 5; and Dave Masse, Director of Region 6.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East and Bell Island.

MR. WALSH: Mr. Speaker, I ask leave of the House to speak momentarily about an incident that has taken place which I believe is of significant importance to the Province in a matter that took place in Ottawa in the last twenty-four hours.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave, the hon. the Member for Conception Bay East and Bell Island.

MR. WALSH: Mr. Speaker, I stand today to offer congratulations to a colleague who sits in the Federal House of Commons, and in particular I am referring to Member Gerry Byrne for Humber St. Barbe - Baie Verte.

Mr. Speaker, for some twenty years, on a personal basis myself, having been a founding member of Hospitality Newfoundland, a Past President of that organization, and indeed having served as the Minister of Tourism of the Province for some two years, he has accomplished in nine short months something that I and a large group of people have not been able to do for twenty years. Indeed, no Minister of Tourism for the Province has been able to accomplish it, no Premier since 1949 has been able to accomplish it, and indeed no Member of Parliament has been able to accomplish it.

Last fall this House adopted unanimously a resolution that called upon Marine Atlantic to recognize the service between Port aux Basques and North Sydney as an essential service. Last night history was set in the House of Commons when M.P. Gerry Byrne convinced the HRD committee, concerning Bill C-66, An Act To Amend The Canada Labour Code, when he was able to accomplish having an amendment approved at Committee level to declare the service between Port aux Basques and North Sydney an essential service for Newfoundland.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WALSH: Mr. Speaker, I had a chance to speak to Gerry a little earlier. I asked Gerry how old he was, and he said, thirty. I said: Gerry, you were ten years old, and I remember the fight that myself and a number of other people in the industry started out to accomplish. No one has been able to accomplish that. I ask all members of the House of Assembly now to join with me in offering support to Gerry, but indeed to make sure that Minister Gagliano is reminded of that need to keep that in the main body of the legislation that will come back to the House very soon.

Mr. Speaker, Gerry is to be congratulated for his efforts in accomplishing something that we have been trying to get since 1949, and he has been able to do that after sitting in the House of Commons for nine short months. I want to go on record as congratulating him and ask all members to support me in that effort.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I must say it is fantastic news. I thought he was going to indicate a fixed-link to Nova Scotia. It was fantastic news and something Mr. Burn's predecessor could not accomplish. That must be quite an accomplishment, I say to the minister.

My colleague for St. John's South asked the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation just recently about that. We have asked the question numerous times. I called for it in Corner Brook when I spoke to the Chamber of Commerce, that we want to see an essential service from Port aux Basque to North Sydney, and certainly, I think, the minister would like to see it. It is a step in the right direction and I certainly pass on, I say to the member, my congratulations for getting this step, and when we get the final step that is an essential service here, then I will give him a letter of congratulations I say to the member.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, with leave I simply wanted to say that there is no question that when it comes to this matter the West Coast of Newfoundland and Northern Newfoundland is now better served in the House of Commons than ever before, and let me go on record as saying that.

Mr. Speaker, I want to join with the Leader of the Opposition in saying that just like the Leader of the Opposition I called for it, the Leader of the Opposition called for it, the former minister called for it, the current minister called for it, 575,000 souls called for it, but Gerry Byrne delivered it. Congratulations Gerry Byrne.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Is the hon. Minister of Environment and Labour speaking to the member's statement? Well, now that we have disposed of member's statements, Statements by Ministers.

Statements by Ministers

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

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

It gives me great pleasure to stand in the House of Assembly today to recognize an important event in the history of human rights. Today, December 10, marks forty-eight years since the first signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. In 1948, the United Nations unanimously adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and for all nations.

Mr. Speaker, in honour of this universal declaration, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador proclaimed the Human Rights Code along with other jurisdictions in Canada and other nations who have proclaimed human rights legislation. The provincial Human Rights Code, which is enforced by the Human Rights Commission, prohibits discrimination in the areas of employment, services, publications and accommodations on the basis of race, religion, religious creed, political opinion, colour or ethnic, national or social origin, sex, marital status, physical disability or mental disability. Age is protected in employment. Harassment on the above-noted grounds and sexual solicitation is also prohibited under the Code. Also, Mr. Speaker, the Human Rights Code requires employers to pay equal wages to males and females who perform the same or similar work.

Mr. Speaker, the Human Rights Commission was established to administer and enforce the Human Rights Code. In doing so, complaints are investigated and attempts are made to bring about settlements. To date this year, the Commission has accepted fifty-two complaints for investigation. As well, the Commission is currently undertaking a review of the Human Rights Code to ascertain whether it adequately addresses the needs of the people of the Province. The last amendment to the Code was in 1988. I have also asked the Commission, Mr. Speaker, to consider in this review the Recommendation of the Human Rights Association, recommendations which were submitted to me in September of this year.

Mr. Speaker, earlier this year, I announced government's intention to introduce at the appropriate time, legislation to address the issue of "sexual orientation" as prohibited grounds for discrimination into the Human Rights Code. This matter is currently under very active analysis and consideration. I hope to be in a position soon to make a more definitive statement with regard to this issue.

Mr. Speaker, I encourage all members of the House of Assembly and the citizens of our Province to actively promote the observance of Human Rights as a shared responsibility and to re-affirm our commitment to eliminate discrimination in all of its forms. I am pleased to bring to the attention of hon. members that today is the forty-eighth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Representing members on this side of the House, we join with the government in the celebration, Mr. Speaker, of forty-eight years since the first signing of the universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. I would like to point out that Canada is also an important signatory with respect to the United Nations convention on refugees. Canada is one of the leading Western countries, Mr. Speaker, in accepting refugees worldwide who face persecution on the basis of race, or religious beliefs, nationality, political opinion, and I believe the fifth category is membership in a particular social group. So Canada has played a leading role, I would say, with respect to movements concerning the protection of human rights and the protection of rights dealing with both persecution and discrimination.

The Ministerial Statement makes an important comment, I would think, Mr. Speaker, when it states that "the observance of human rights as a shared responsibility" is being reaffirmed by "our commitment to eliminate discrimination in all its forms." We support that statement, and I stand to join with government in the celebration of this important date.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave!

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wish to join with the minister and the Member for St. John's East in acknowledging the anniversary of the fist signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In doing so, I obviously have to underline the importance of human rights in all of our activities, particularly that of government. In particular, our own Human Rights Code has been in effect for some time, amended most recently in 1992 with a minor amendment, and previously in 1988.

I have to say, Mr. Speaker, this government has been dragging its heels, as had the previous government, on amending the Human Rights Code to include prohibition for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. It is the third time now the minister has made this announcement, and we have yet to see the legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: I ask him to bring it forward immediately, as he had indicated earlier this year it was already in draft form.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to question the Minister of Mines and Energy, certainly, a follow-up on yesterday. Yesterday the minister claimed he did not interfere in problems between Come by Chance and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Will the minister admit that asking Hydro to hold off on collections is interference?

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

DR. GIBBONS: No, Mr. Speaker, we did not interfere. We have worked with Hydro and N.A.R.L., Come by Chance refinery relative to their problems in a meeting that we had, but we did not interfere.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the minister: Was he involved in asking Hydro to hold off on collections during an interim period?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, the company asked to have a meeting with us, and I asked Hydro in the interim, until the meeting with us was completed, that they not take any further action until that meeting was held.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister now admits he did ask them to hold off for a period of time.

Many companies in this Province need reliable energy. However, there is no guarantee of twenty-four hour power. Now, I have spoken with people out in the manufacturing industry, I have spoken with people in the broadcasting industry and people in numerous other businesses, and those businesses that experience tremendous losses when there is a power outage -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, in light of the fact that numerous businesses have spent thousands, in fact hundreds of thousands of dollars for back-up generation, I ask the minister, what type of precedent is he setting by installing equipment to guarantee that only Come By Chance has uninterrupted electricity?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, the equipment that hydro has agreed to install in its automatic system over at the headquarters to redirect power to the west will not only be to the benefit of Come By Chance, I would think that such an investment will also be to the benefit of others that are to the west of Holyrood. If power is redirected in that direction after the lines to the west coming from Bay d'Espoir towards the Avalon go down for any particular reason, whether it is lightening or a sleet storm or for any other reason, by having this automated system, which is targeted at Come By Chance, to ensure that they do not have more than a two-minute break if there is a lightening strike on these two lines from Bay d'Espoir, there is a lot more flexibility in the line by being able to move power around on that system.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Obviously, backup equipment is not going to be able to supply all areas. It is not going to be sufficient. If that is the case, is there going to be a certain selection process in who gets the rationed power in case of a backup?

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

DR. GIBBONS: We are not talking about new power here. We are talking about the redirection of power and there are certain priorities that the Hydro Corporation has in a direction of power to those who have the greatest need. For example, hospitals are at the top of the list. Very frequently, when we have an outage in the city, you will find that the area around a hospital has electricity because it gets targeted to the hospital sector, it has the greatest need. Also there are others that are going to have some priority above some that have a lower priority. In this particular case, as an industrial operator, Come By Chance will have the top priority as an industrial operator.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. That is what I asked the minister, in the rationing will there be a certain selective process of which businesses will have priority over others? I think the minister has answered that and said that Come By Chance would have a top priority basically, I understand, if the minister said that correctly.

With reference to a statement that North Atlantic Refinery made recently that they could be paying their bill by a future shipment of oil, I ask the minister if he supports bartering as a method of payment for any negligent accounts? And would Hydro need Public Utilities Board approval in order to enter into that type of agreement?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, the corporation has acknowledged, the hon. member has said - he has read it in the paper as well - that they will be paying their bill. The representative of the refinery said that one possibility might be, instead of dollars, they would provide oil.

Well, Hydro normally goes to public tender for its oil, and it picks the winner of a public tender process. So I am sure that Hydro is going to ensure that it gets the best deal possible for the oil that is provided to it. If Come By Chance wins such a tender, well and good for them; let them win such a tender.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Would the minister confirm, then, that if a printing company like Robinson-Blackmore wins a tender for printing that they can apply that to their bill? Or that broadcasting media, on advertising, can apply that to their bill? Or a local manufacturer of furniture can then apply that to their bill? Is that what the minister is saying?

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

DR. GIBBONS: No, Mr. Speaker, I am not saying that. I am saying: Let the Hydro Corporation and the Come By Chance refinery deal in a normal business manner to satisfy the outstanding bills between them. If there is some other way that they wish to make a business arrangement that is going to be in the interest of both, and satisfies all the laws of this Province, that may be well and good too.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will only indicate that the same opportunities for other businesses to make payment in similar manners is what I am indicating should be an equal opportunity, and the minister has not confirmed that.

I ask the Premier if he would investigate the dealings between the minister, Hydro, and Come By Chance, with an eye to conflict and possible court repercussions in the future as other provincial companies require their fair or known share.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, let me say to begin with, in response to the question from the Leader of the Opposition, that I have, and I think the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have, the greatest of confidence in the Minister of Mines and Energy and the job he has done.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Let me say secondly to the Leader of the Opposition, it is quite normal, and indeed appropriate, for the Leader of the Opposition to be asking questions about the matter that has been raised, the question of whether or not bills have been paid. There is nothing wrong with that. What is a little bit puzzling is the nature of the questions that are being asked by the Leader of the Opposition, which somehow suggest that if there is a dispute between the refinery and Hydro - and there has been a dispute - that the government should cause an action to occur that would cause the refinery to shut down and lay all the workers off. The Leader of the Opposition is really saying that should be our first course of action.

I say to the Leader of the Opposition, with respect, looking at the number of jobs involved, the appropriate course of action for government, to the extent we become involved at all in a dispute between Hydro and one of Hydro's customers, is to ascertain the nature of the dispute, to encourage the party, in this case Come by Chance, to pay its bills as soon as possible. The Minister of Mines and Energy, by the way, did that. I should tell the Leader of the Opposition, so did I when I met the principals of the refinery and told them to pay their bill.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions this afternoon are for the hon. Minister of Education. Will the Minister of Education please explain what happened to the referendum promise of redirecting monies from efficiencies attained in the education reform back into the classrooms?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the question, and I'm glad that the hon. member listened to the radio this morning so he would have something to bring up in the Legislature this afternoon.

However, we shouldn't try to get confused or distracted, or to mix two completely separate issues. What we are dealing with in the Legislature, dealt with yesterday and we have been dealing with for some time, is a very important and necessary reform process, supported by the two bills that received second reading yesterday. We did appreciate the commentary and input of the Opposition members in the debate. It was very useful, and it has been a very good debate through the whole process.

There is another process that everybody understands is going on in all of government dealing with the fiscal realities of the Province. In the Budget last year this particular government, under the leadership and direction of the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board and the Premier, produced a budget that indicated we were only in a position to have one departmental budget in all of government free from any cuts. That was health care. After all the examination and all the efforts with all of us trying our best to rationalize and make sure we are making the best use of the people's money, there had to be some reductions in education and in all of the other departments except health care.

The program review process, the budget process, is continuing. It is separate and removed from anything to do with reform. At this point in time the statements linking monies to a reform process were of a general nature, saying: The wish and the intent, not only of the government but of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, is that to the maximum extent possible, savings and efficiencies in education be retained in education if at all possible for the better educational opportunity of the students. That was the commentary during the referendum debate. That has been the commentary during the whole of the reform process. That is still the agenda and the hope and wish -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. GRIMES: - for the government on behalf of the people of the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: I ask the hon. member to finish his answer.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to correct the minister, and confirm for him that in a government paper, which was a part of a government package which was distributed to Senators and Members of Parliament in Ottawa, it states clearly, and I quote: The proposed reforms will provide the opportunity to redirect these savings to the classroom level for the benefit of our students. This is a government document, I say to the minister. Where is the commitment?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again, I can only provide the same information. The whole debate during that period of time certainly contained an element of that. It was raised again in all nineteen of our public consultation meetings. People in the general public came forward indicating that through the whole of the referendum debate, and so on, they had understood that one of the goals - and note, very important now - and in the meetings, in the very sensible, well run and well organized, because the people themselves conducted themselves so well in the meetings, in those nineteen meetings, when we engaged in that dialogue, the people who came forward said they understood that it was a goal and an objective of the government. They never ever portrayed it as a promise. Because we used to say: We don't want this to become a political debate. We don't want to be standing out here Mr. Minister, saying you as the government promised this and now you are breaking your promise. Those people at the nineteen public meetings refused, Mr. Speaker, to use that kind of language. The only place it has been used to date is by the media on one local source in some programming this morning where they used the language that the government broke a promise and used an introduction saying the minister admitted that the government broke a promise. No such language was used. We talked again yesterday, Mr. Speaker, about the issues of a general policy objective -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the minister to finish his answer quickly.

MR. GRIMES: - of trying to commit to a better educational opportunity for students. That is still the objective of the government, but whether money is spent in any one year, in any department of government, is always subject to the whole of the budgetary review process.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, I have to state, for the benefit of the minister, it is quite clear, it is in black and white what this government had said and the commitment that this government made to the children of this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Speaker, in view of this commitment, I ask the minister, on behalf of his government, will he commit to taking royalties from Voisey's Bay and directing a portion of those royalties into education and unfunded pension liabilities to truly ensure a quality education which is affordable, sustainable and progressive?

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

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

I think the real crux of the matter is that in the reform process so far, some of it done by agreement with the denominational partners in education, some now being done as a result of the two bills that received second reading yesterday, we have made some great progress. We have created some real efficiencies in the education system. A prime example going from twenty-seven school boards to ten. I believe everybody in the Province, Mr. Speaker, including everybody in this Legislature, would agree that that is worth doing, it is the right thing to do, it should be done, it is better for the education system. Whether it saves five cents or not, it is the right thing to do.

The same issue, Mr. Speaker, with respect to establishing a single construction board so that capital construction, maintenance and so on, buildings in the Province for school facilities, can be done on the basis of need instead of prorated on the basis of per capita population by denomination. Everybody believes that the major portions of education reform should be done regardless of whether we saved a penney or created an efficiency or not. So, at the end of the day, Mr. Speaker, the budget process, separate or removed, which is what we discussed yesterday at the press briefing, will determine and decide in any one of the government's expenditure areas, whether or not we can maintain a budget at a previous year's level or not, we will enter into that debate very soon. All we did yesterday is honestly answer two questions; Did we maintain the full budget for education in this fiscal year? Everybody in the Province knows we did not. Are we going to be able to do it next year? I answered yesterday and answer today, I don't know. That is part of the budgetary process that we will go through. The answers will be clear when we come to the latter part of February or early part of March when we introduce a budget again in this Legislature.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Will the minister inform the House what he will be suggesting to Ottawa as a harvesting quota for both harp and hood seals for this hunting season?

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

MR. EFFORD: What the market demands, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, existing sealing and hunting regulations prevent the sale on marketing of young hood seals, known as blue backs, until they shed their first coat which takes, sometimes in excess of fourteen months. When this seal is in the water it is impossible to distinguish between a blue back and an adult hood. Will the minister inform the House if he is presently consulting with the Federal Government to change these regulations so that the blue back might be allowed to be harvested and marketed after the normal whelping period?

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

MR. EFFORD: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we have had extensive talks with the minister and we will continue until we get the regulation changed.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I know the minister is concerned about conservation and making sure that a revitalized seal hunt is carried out in a humane and professional manner, as we do here on this side. The current regulations do not prohibit the killing of blue back seals, Mr. Speaker, but prohibit the sale of this particular seal. I would like to ask the minister: Does he think it is in the best interest of conservation to allow those seals to be left in the water or to be marketed and provide employment to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians?

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

MR. EFFORD: No, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today, Mr. Speaker, are for the Minister of Health. In recent times we have heard that the Health Care Corporation have been charged with the saving of money and are doing everything in their power to see that money is saved. Can the minister confirm whether or not the kitchen at the Miller Centre is now closed and that employees are now going to be forced to buy their lunch, I guess, from a sandwich machine? Will he also confirm that they did not have any problem finding the extra money to bring in an extra cook when the Health Care Corporation decided to hold their salmon dinner?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The running of the kitchen and all the facilities under the Health Care Corporation comes under the jurisdiction and the capable management of the corporate team over there. I will check to see if the kitchen is open and let him know.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Is the minister aware that the food that is going to be served to the staff in the area hospitals for their Christmas dinner this year will be imported from outside this Province, and that it certainly will not be turkey this Christmas, not by a long shot?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am not sure, but I certainly hope not, because they have invited me to their Christmas dinner on the 19th and I want a Newfoundland cooked meal.

AN HON. MEMBER: Well, you are not going to get it.

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

MR. FRENCH: Might I say to the minister that if he is eating with the Health Care Corporation alone he may get that, but if he is going to eat with the employees he certainly will not be getting that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Is the minister aware of a plan to now have meals prepared at a site, maybe at Donovan's Industrial Park, and shipped to the hospitals around this city, and does he agree with this particular plan?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: The Health Care Corporation made it quite clear a couple of months ago, when they were announcing some staff adjustments, that one of the areas where they would be moving in terms of food preparations in the future, would be in the area of consolidating dietary operations within their jurisdiction. It is a move that is not uncommon to occur in terms of health preparation in other areas where food has to be prepared in large quantities. Simply put, with today's technology, Mr. Speaker, and with the close proximity of all of the facilities in the St. John's area, it is deemed to be entirely doable and appropriate to consolidate food preparation into as small a configuration as you can, and if it means putting it on one site as opposed to seven or eight sites and still delivering a quality product, then we will absolutely be moving in that direction.

Clearly, the direction he alludes to is the one that the Health Care Corporation has embarked upon, and surely to goodness, when we talk about food preparations, if airlines can prepare food in Toronto and take it to London, and serve it to you on the way back in reasonably good shape, then certainly we should be able to get it from Donovan's Industrial Park out to the Miller Centre and to all of our other facilities, and provide a quality product.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the minister to take his seat.

MR. MATTHEWS: At the end of the day we will be providing good food to the people who work in, and who are patients in our hospitals.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Social Services who tabled in the House on November 28 answers to my questions on the Order Paper in which she acknowledged that there were in excess of fifteen separate changes to the Social Services programs and regulations resulting in reductions, one of which was the reduction in the home support program to a limit of $3000 for all new approvals.

Will the minister acknowledge that this policy, in addition to providing great hardships on individuals in their own homes, is also costing the government extra money? Will she acknowledge that this policy is applied to an individual who may have been on home support, went to the hospital, and then, when declared to go home is treated as a new applicant, and instead of being able to go home and be supported in their own home, are forced to stay in hospital at the cost of an incredible amount of money to another department, not her own, but at a great cost to the public purse, Mr. Speaker?

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

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

In response to your first question, the $3000 service limit was put in place as part of a procedure to allow a lot more people to enter into the program to allow them to avail of home support services. All monies that have been realized from that program have been put back in to allow new people to enter into the program. It does not affect any existing clients, it only affects new clients, we work in consultation with those clients and through consultation we try to set them up in alternate styles of living with their consultation and to date we believe it is working very well.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, obviously the minister, and perhaps she could tell us whether she is aware that, an individual receiving home care was hospitalized for a brief period, was treated as a new applicant when he was required to go home, and social services paid for the apartment for the six months while the individual was supposed to go home, medically discharged and at a cost of $500 to $700 a month from the health care budget was kept in hospital from the middle of September and is there to this day at an incredible cost instead of receiving home care and being able to live in his own home. Is the minister aware of that and will she acknowledge that that is a travesty not only to the individual but to the public finance?

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

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

I have to be honest, I am not intimately familiar with the 790 cases that are currently receiving benefits from the home support program, but I will certainly check if you would like to give the name of the person to whom you refer to me, I will follow up with my department. I know that with the 3,000 service limit, we have been able to accommodate new clients into the program with their support. Perhaps they are not living in individualized living arrangements, some to the cost of $10,000 to $11,000 a month, but we are accommodating new people. We have admitted new people into the program and we believe as do many of the people who are working with us that this is a program that is working and is needed to present more options to people and allowed more to enter into the program.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, why is the minister's department allowing people to stay in hospital at a cost to government between $15,000 and $20,000 a month to enforce a policy that imposes hardship on individuals who are trying to live in their own homes?

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

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

Our department is not responsible for discharged planning for people who leave the hospital to go into the home.

When a person is discharged from a hospital or an institution to go into a home, there is a procedure that is set in place with the appropriate social workers and other support workers to allow an appropriate living environment to occur. That is the process that we have in place; that is the process we have put in place so that it can work and we will continue to use that process.

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

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

My question is also for the Minister of Social Services and the follow-up on a series of questions I was asking a few days ago relative to adoption procedures in the Province.

The minister knows the family medical history and other information about birth parents are often very difficult to access by adoptees, and I want to ask the minister, why does it take so long for adoptees to be able to access post-adoption services and what she proposes to do about the backlog that is now in place in her department?

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

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

As I mentioned to a very similar question one day last week concerning adoption, we have a number of priorities in the child welfare department, post-adoption services is certainly a very important area but in terms of providing child protection, that has been prioritized over post-adoption services.

As I said perviously, and I will say again today, we are concerned about the backlog. We were concerned to the point that we did put people there in a temporary position over the summer to try to help address the backlog, and as we go through our program review and look at adoption and how we deliver the services of adoption, we will be looking more closely in trying to meet the needs of people who have extended periods of waiting time to try to find their birth parents.

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

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

I have in my hand a letter from the lady who was born in 1969. She had her non-identifying information from the department in 1989 after waiting for some time. She has been told recently that it would be another five years before she can access post-adoption services. This lady is now twenty-seven years old, wants to begin her family and needs medical and other information. Why Madam Minister -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. H. HODDER: - does it take twelve years for this young lady to be able to access the services that she needs to be able to make decisions about her family and her personal life?

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

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

We have almost 2,000 registered adoptees who are waiting to find their birth parents. As I have said previously, we have made a decision based on the needs of our department to try to deal with active child welfare cases in the short term, and I will say to my hon. colleague that through the process of program review, and through the ongoing processes where we are looking at how we structure our department, we are looking very clearly at trying to find a more appropriate and reasonable and more efficient way of dealing with those needs that you have identified through post-adoption search.

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

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

Madam Minister admits that the laws governing adoption are archaic and out of touch with societal values in the nineties. I asked her last week if she would do something to make sure that the bureaucracies and legal systems kind of catch up to modern and more recent thinking. I asked her at that time if she would give some consideration to a White Paper on the whole adoption procedure so that people like the lady I mentioned here can have some input into the changes that are necessary. Will Madam Minister commit to two things: (a) a White Paper on adoption legislation; and, (b) will she commit herself to bringing in that legislation to make those changes in the spring session?

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, thank you.

I will commit to bringing in the legislation when it is ready. We are in the process of going through a review of our child welfare legislation and our adoption legislation, as I have mentioned. When it is ready, when we have consulted with the necessary groups and people, as we are in the process of doing, we will bring forward a piece of legislation in a normal course.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to ask the Minister of Mines and Energy if he could tell the House how long the negotiations have been going on with a Chilean company with respect to a copper smelter in this Province; and can he update us on the status of those talks?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, there are no negotiations going on with a Chilean company, as far as I know, but if there is a Chilean company that wants to come to Newfoundland and Labrador and consider putting a smelter in this Province, come on over and we will talk.

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

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

Well, I suggest that the minister talk to the Premier. One of them should know if they have been talking to a Chilean company or not -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SHELLEY: - as the Premier has reported it some two weeks ago, and he said it again in the House while he stood next to the minister yesterday. Now, would you call them negotiations or talks? Can the minister then confirm if there are talks going on with a Chilean company with respect to a copper refinery?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I understand that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology was recently in South America. He visited Chile and talked with some people who have an interest in copper. They may or may not have an interest in building a smelter in this Province; I do not know.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I hereby table six copies of an Order in Council to meet the requirements of section 26(4) of the Financial Administration Act. Each of these pertain to authorizations for the Department of Education to purchase or to enter into agreement to purchase and develop publications for senior high math textbooks and resource materials. Those represent amounts of $393,000 in the 1998-1999 fiscal year, a further $393,000 in the 1999-2000 fiscal year for grade XI, and $487,000 in the 2000-2001 fiscal year for grade XII implementation.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Petitions

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

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

About ten days ago in the House, I asked a question of the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal dealing with what we felt and what people in the industry feel is discrimination against local construction workers in this Province. The minister at that time committed to referring the matter to the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board, but we have not heard back from government on that issue yet.

I stand today to present a petition from yet more people. Last week there was a 5,500-name petition. There are more coming in daily over the faxes dealing with this specific issue. Essentially what is happening is that, because of loopholes within the agreement between the Hibernia management employers association and the oil development council and the labour regime that effectively and essentially governs the Hibernia work site, in particular, the employment aspect of it, we have allowed contractors to come into this Province, bringing workers from outside the Province while local qualified tradespeople exist here. That is not supposed to happen with this development or any other development, I say, and I submit that to government.

The petition today acknowledges first and foremost the quality of the workforce dealing at the Hibernia site and the quality of the tradespeople who are there, both men and women. It has asked government to investigate what is happening now, which the minister committed to and she said that she was. It calls upon government to insist that development companies coming here to assist or exploit resources for the benefit of everybody, it asks this government to demand of development companies to submit a much more detailed and transparent employment training plan for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to reduce the need for so-called specialists, and where specialists are needed, that appropriate technology and employment transfer takes place that at some point in the future we will not need those so-called specialists, and we ourselves can become those specialists and export our expertise and our know-how to the rest of the world.

Most importantly, it calls for what does not exist today. It calls for a true and enforceable regulation, it calls for enforceable regulations that are needed to protect our construction workers from being treated as second-class citizens in our own Province. It calls also for an effective mechanism I guess for dispute resolution, that where a dispute exists, that where there is disagreement in the labour regime that governs that site, or any other potential offshore development site, or on-site, specifically dealing with Voisey's Bay, that there is an effective mechanism in place that will see disputes solved immediately and quickly to the benefit of both the employer and the employee associations. So that Newfoundlanders who are qualified, both men and women who have the skills, who can move forward, who can demand and earn a living in this Province, can do so without fear that companies from outside of this Province can come here, bring workers with no more skills than what exist in this Province, and essentially put people out of work who should have the right, and the first right, to work in this Province when it comes to our resources. This petition I present on behalf of - and I add, I guess, about 150 people, Mr. Speaker, and add that to the petition I presented in the House last week, of some 5,500. And I ask the minister today: If she has met with the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board, have they reported back yet? What is taking so long to resolve this matter? People right now are waiting for work and we have an opportunity, I say to the minister and I say to government, that we have an opportunity today to put at least sixty-five local qualified trades people back to work if we can move and if government will move on this very important issue, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to support the petition as put forward by my friend and colleague, the Member for Kilbride.

Mr. Speaker, this is nothing new in this Legislature. In fact, this same issue was brought forward to the former Minister of Employment and Labour and it was concerning the very same company. The company that the member was referring to is Kenonic Controls. Kenonic Controls, an Alberta-based company working out at the Hibernia site. I understand, at this particular site today, there is something like 145 tradesmen from the Province of Alberta while nine Newfoundlanders are employed at this particular job site performing this particular occupation in mating the topsides with the gravity based structure.

Mr. Speaker, in the very beginning I think there was a general agreement between Hibernia management and the unions at this particular site that people from outside the Province, contractors, would be allowed to bring in their supervisory personnel and Newfoundlanders would fill all other jobs, qualified well-trained Newfoundlanders. Mr. Speaker, this seems to be gone by the wayside. Our own local people today are being issued lay-off notices and on their way out through the gate they meet people from Alberta coming in to take their jobs. Members opposite shout and say what are you complaining about? There were 5,000 Newfoundlanders employed out on that particular job site. Mr. Speaker, there may have been 5,000 Newfoundlanders employed there but that is no consolation to the other 30,000 who are unemployed. That is no consolation, Mr. Speaker, to the union halls down on Duckworth Street and down on Water Street filled with qualified Newfoundlanders who should be out there doing this work today. It would not happen anywhere else, in any other jurisdiction across this country, and I know, because I have worked in many of them.

Mr. Speaker, if you go away and go to work on a job site, the first people to get laid off are the people from outside that particular province. You do not see Newfoundlanders working up at the Tar Sands, Mr. Speaker, or working on the CN Tower in Toronto when it was under construction and see people from Ontario laid off. It did not happen. But we, here in Newfoundland, seem to have very little faith in our own people, Mr. Speaker. We look at them as second class citizens obviously if we are not going to allow them to go out and do hands-on work. Mr. Speaker, nobody has a qualm with a contractor bringing in supervisory personnel, that is needed. It is needed in order for the job to be a success, Mr. Speaker, but what we are talking about here is skilled labour that is available in our union halls right across this Province and our own native Newfoundlanders are going to the unemployment insurance office while those people are working right here on a construction site in this Province and it is shameful.

I call on the minister not to wait any longer, to react to this particular situation and allow our Newfoundlanders, our qualified Newfoundlanders to be able to go back to work and put bread and butter on the table, because that is what this is, a bread and butter issue, Mr. Speaker. The most honest thing a person can do today is to look for a job. I think it is incumbent upon this government and upon this minister to make sure that those well-trained Newfoundlanders are given an opportunity to be able to work at a trade and put the skills forward for which they have been trained and made quite capable of doing the work.

Mr. Speaker, I referred the other day to the fixed link between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. There is a gentleman from my district who is one of the chief engineers there. I would suggest, if that same fixed link were between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia that he probably would not be deemed qualified for the job, because we have no faith in our own people. So I call on the minister to listen to the pleas from the people who are signing these petitions and to react immediately and allow them to go back to work at this site and continue to provide for their families and do what they were trained for in the education system in this Province.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to thank the members opposite for bringing the petition to the floor of the House. Clearly, just as they recognize the value of ensuring that we provide employment opportunities for the people in our Province, this government also recognizes the importance of doing that.

It is because of that, in fact, that I have asked the C-NOPB to look into this issue that has been raised particularly by the IBEW of the ODC. We wanted to make sure, first of all, that there was a thorough investigation done of the complaints that have been raised. I had hoped to have had that report the middle of last week. In fact, it was brought to my office on Friday. I have had a cursory look at it, but before discussing the content of the report, I want to share the content with the IBEW, because I think there are a number of issues that have been raised there to which I want to get their reaction.

I have to say at the outset that HMDC has been forthcoming. They have certainly been co-operative in this undertaking, which I am really pleased to report. They have provided their employment records to the C-NOPB as they did their investigation, so there was no way that there was any kind of hinderance at all in terms of the C-NOPB doing what they were asked to do.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS FOOTE: No, no, of course not. I just wanted to put that on the record, that the company has certainly been forthcoming.

Having said that, we do have a report back now that we will be discussing with the IBEW, and my office staff is attempting to set up a meeting with the IBEW to have a look at that and to present the findings of the report before we discuss anything further on that in the public venue, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, before calling Orders of the Day, I would like to move that this House not adjourn at 5:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion, that the House not adjourn at 5:00 p.m.

All those in favour, please say `aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: Those against, `Nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

Motion carried.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order No. 21, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Provide Fire-Fighters With Protection From Personal Liability", (Bill No. 43).

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Provide Fire-Fighters With Protection From Personal Liability". (Bill No. 43)

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. REID: Mr. Speaker, I will be honest and say quite readily here, even though my friends are in the Speaker's Gallery, I think most of us on both sides of the House realize that this piece of legislation is probably one of the most important pieces of legislation that has come to the House, as it relates to public health and safety, for a number of years. I am honoured to be the minister at the time, to be able to say finally, after ten years or so of trying to get something done with this particular question, that I am able to stand in the House today with the Association of Fire Chiefs and Fire-Fighters representatives sitting in the gallery. It makes me feel good to be able to do it.

If you will allow me, Mr. Speaker, I have some written notes here. I am going to use the written notes to help me through. I want to do a brief explanation of what exactly is in this particular bill, and in using my notes, I think it will make things a lot clearer.

Mr. Speaker, the proposed legislation provides that no action for damages shall be instituted against a fire-fighter for an act done in good faith in the execution of a fire-fighter's duty or for any neglect or default in the execution in good faith of his or her duty.

Now, this legislation - I suppose two years ago when the question of liability arose with an incident in Wabana, or on Bell Island, a lot of fire departments, volunteer as well as paid fire departments around this Province, and councils, all of a sudden stood up and said: Now, what is going to happen here, and what will be the repercussions if a magistrate or a judge in the Province finds this case against the fire-fighter and the municipality?

I suppose justice, at the end of the day, won out in the fact that it was dismissed and the judge ultimately said that there was no liability, but at that particular point in time, we all realized that even though that one case on Bell Island was heard and dismissed, there could be others. That is why, today, we are introducing this piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, the legislation provides that fire-fighters will be indemnified or paid for reasonable legal cost by their respective municipality or local service district committee, and that basically means that the responsibility for fire-fighters, their actions and their liabilities rest now with the town council or the local service district or council that they come from, and this provides direct indemnity for defence against the civil action if a fire-fighter is not liable, defence of a criminal action if a fire-fighter is found not guilty and, of course, any other proceeding in which the fire-fighter's execution of his or her duties is an issue if the fire-fighter acted, and it is proved that he or she has acted, in good faith.

Mr. Speaker, this puts a serious onus on municipalities in the Province, and the onus, of course, is for municipalities to make sure that they have good, trained, able fire-fighters. And without good, trained, able fire-fighters, then municipalities may find themselves in situations where they could become liable for damages incurred. Now, when I say municipalities could be become liable, that is exactly what I mean. It is very important, when this piece of legislation goes through, and I have no doubt that it will, municipalities then will be forced into making sure that their fire-fighters are properly trained, because the onus rests on the municipality. So it will be very important to municipalities to make sure that they are properly trained, and not only properly trained, as we were talking about this morning, also properly equipped. And equipment, of course, in the case of equipment for fire-fighters, I mean coats and jackets and boots and shields and any other equipment that they need to use to fight a fire and also, Mr. Speaker, to answer to a second response or second-level call for any other emergency.

Now, what is another emergency? If we remember, some two years ago we had a gentleman who, from what I could gather from the media, had a heart attack in the west end of St. John's, in the Goulds area, and the ambulance was a little delayed in picking up the gentleman. At the time, there were fire-fighters in the area who could have at least administered CPR to the gentleman but, of course, there was no legislation and no protection to assist the fire-fighters at that particular point in time, so they were not called. The 911 service did not call them because legally they did not have the liability insurance or the legal right to go and answer a call for somebody in a medical situation.

This legislation, Mr. Speaker, will allow trained fire-fighters and when I say `trained', I mean they will have to be trained in proper courses outlined and approved by the government, both the Departments of Health and Municipal and Provincial Affairs. Their training will consist of a number of courses, and when that training is completed and the government is satisfied that these individuals have the training, then the fire department in which those people will operate will be certified to respond to other than fire calls.

I think, to be quite honest about it, Mr. Speaker, that it is a good idea, especially in a lot of the rural areas of the Province. We are not all gifted, I suppose, in rural Newfoundland to have the services that are provided to the St. John's and Mount Pearl areas or the Corner Brook and Gander areas. A lot of us live in small, rural communities and the nearest ambulance is often quite far away from some of our homes. If there is a volunteer fireman living next door to me or living in my community and I know that that person is trained in certain medical procedures, I know that everyone including myself will be only too glad for someone like that to come in and assist my father or mother or child or whomever, even myself, while I am waiting for an ambulance to come or a doctor to come and attend to me. So that makes it that much greater, I suppose, for rural Newfoundland than it does for the urban parts of Newfoundland and Labrador.

So, Mr. Speaker, I want to say that, in seeking out legislation, we went to Ontario. The Ontario model was the best model - that suited us the best, at least, and that is the one we have gone under. l am very pleased to be able to say that this legislation will bring forward something that the Fire-Fighters Association and a number of people in the Province have been asking for for a long time.

In addition to this legislation, amendments have already been tabled in the House under the Municipalities Act, The City of St. John's Act and The City of Corner Brook Act, to authorize municipalities and local service district fire departments to respond to medical and other emergencies. These are also being considered during the current session. Those bills are already on the Order Paper and up for third reading, I think, when we are ready to do third reading. That will basically allow all the other agencies, the City of St. John's, Mount Pearl, and so on, to adopt the same legislation, if and when we get this piece of legislation through the House.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to say that in consultation with the Opposition House Leader - and I do not think I can say that his side of the House supports this wholeheartedly, but from his personal point of view, this is something that he and I, and I say that quite honestly, have been working as members of the Federation of Municipalities for some time to get, and quite honestly it is an honour for me to move second reading today on this piece of very important legislation.

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

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

I am also very pleased to stand in my place today and say a few words on this Bill 43, referred to as the Fire-fighters Protection Act, and I want to compliment the minister on bringing Bill 43 before the House. I agree, and I think almost everybody on this side of the House will agree that it is probably one of the most important pieces of legislation with respect to health and safety that has been brought forth in this House, certainly since I have been here.

It is good to see the Fire Chiefs here, and, I believe, the Fire Commissioner is up in the gallery, Mr. Speaker, to see what happens with respect to this piece of legislation. Basically, as the minister stated, this Act provides fire-fighters with protection for personal liability for their actions, or alleged neglect in carrying out their duties.

Our caucus called for this back in April 1995 when we saw it was becoming a very important issue to the people in municipalities in this Province. The minister mentioned a situation on Bell Island where a fire-fighter was sued and there was great concern in the municipalities across this Province with respect, in particular, to the volunteer fire-department, where there was fear that they might lose volunteers, or some members of the department. But in fact, this bill deals with paid fire-fighters, so it is all-inclusive and certainly, from my perspective, a good piece of legislation.

I would say to the minister that section 4 may have to be amended to clarify the indemnity for reasonable legal costs. It says it will apply only to those legal proceedings "in which the fire-fighter's execution of his or her duties is an issue..." It is not quite clear. Maybe it should be worded as it does not state clearly that only those civil actions and criminal prosecutions related to the execution of fire-fighting duties are covered by an indemnity clause. I do not know if it is quite clear there but I am sure that is what is meant in the intent. Maybe that is something the minister might like to look at.

Also, Mr. Speaker, there has been some concern expressed that the Province may wish fire-fighters to assume responsibilities that are now taken by ambulance operators, namely, emergency response and paramedic duties. This legislation certainly, once it is decided upon that the fire-fighters are properly trained, as the minister stated earlier, and they do become certified, that this Act will cover them for those actions also.

The bill itself, as I said earlier, is long overdue and it is certainly welcome on this side of the House. Really, the thing you have to look at, I suppose, is - I do not want to set aside the situation with respect to the paid fire-fighters in the Province because they have their insurances, their health insurances and that type of thing. But I think the real concern out there is with respect to the volunteer fire departments in not getting volunteers to come forward if the fear was there that they could be sued. This takes away that concern, Mr. Speaker, especially if they were going to be sued in doing something in an act of good faith. It is something that really did need to be dealt with.

The concern, too, now I suppose - I don't know if it a concern. I don't know what impact it would have on the municipalities themselves. They were always open, I would say to the minister, to be sued anyway if their fire department responded, or if there were some act of neglect, or they did not respond properly to a given situation. Now it really puts the responsibility itself on the municipalities or the local service districts to see that their fire-fighters are properly trained, as the minister stated, to see that the fire departments do have the proper equipment. It doesn't alter the fact, I suppose, that a person can still be sued. But if he or she is sued and they are found not guilty, well, then, of course, they do not have to pay the legal cost. The municipality would be responsible for the legal cost in that given situation.

As I know it, as I understand, once a person decides to take legal action, they would name anybody associated with a given situation, which in this case would be the fire-fighter and the municipality, it could be a council, a councillor, or what have you. This now really would put it upon the shoulders of the municipality to foot the bill, I suppose, in particular when the person is found innocent of any charge that may be laid against him. Of course, only rightly so, if a person is found guilty of a criminal action, there is no reason why a municipality should have to pay the legal cost for that.

All in all - I am not going to take up a lot of time - I have to say that I am pleased to see the bill. Again, I compliment the minister. Hopefully, it will put a lot of fire-fighters in this Province at ease as soon as this legislation gets the signature of the Lieutenant-Governor, Mr. Speaker. With that I think I will just pass it on. Maybe someone else might like to say a few words.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to support Bill 43 at this stage in second reading. In doing so, I cannot do much more in terms of the principle than support what has been said by the minister and the Member for Cape St. Francis, in that it is important, particularly when it comes to the volunteer fire forces throughout the Province, that this bill be passed. Those in the full-time fire-fighting forces, in addition to other aspects of their job, and (inaudible) been pointed out, also have collective agreements, and the collective agreements provide for indemnification for things arising out of their activities. So it is not as important a provision for them, although it certainly clarifies that if someone wants to take an action for neglect or for something that has taken place in the course of a fire-fighter undertaking his duties, that the action should be against the employer or the municipal corporation, or in this case, the local service district, each of which is ordinarily required and, by prudent good business sense, will have insurance to cover that type of activity.

I think we do have that for - the emergency medical aid Act provides for doctors and for other medical professionals to give them a certain amount of protection when responding to emergencies. It is only fair and just that the same kind of protection should be provided to fire-fighters when they are fighting a fire or responding to an emergency in addition to a fire, and that this Act is appropriate for those purposes.

I will say to the minister, and I hope he is listening, that there are a number of problems with the way the Act is worded. It is open to all kinds of contradictory interpretation, and I would suspect, would not stand up to a very rigorous analysis. I would urge the minister, rather than us trying to amend this on the floor of the House at third reading that the minister seek the assistance of the law clerks or the Department of Justice or the Clerk's Office to see to the rewording of the bill, particularly article 4 which seems to provide an indemnity for any criminal prosecution that might be taken against a fire-fighter, presumably in any capacity, although I am sure that is not the intent.

The wording is very ambiguous and unclear. I think the intention is, obviously, that where a fire-fighter is the subject of a legal proceeding whether civil or criminal arising out of the execution of his or her duties, when the fire-fighter is acting in good faith then the indemnity applies. If one looks at section 4, in particular article 1 of it, that is not at all clear that that particular qualification applies to all of those circumstances set out in article 1: that is, (a), (b) and (c). So it is rather unclear.

It is also, I suppose, a bit unclear as to why there needs to be an indemnity for defending a civil action if a proceeding instituted against a fire-fighter for an act done in good faith is not even permitted to be instituted - why there is a need for an indemnity for reasonable expenses incurred under that. I suppose if someone were to make a civil suit against a fire-fighter and allege that the fire-fighter were acting in bad faith, then the action would have to be defended. If it turns out that the fire-fighter is not liable for bad faith and is found to be acting in good faith, then he is entitled to an indemnity. If in fact they are found to be acting in bad faith, then I presume the indemnity does not apply.

With respect to criminal prosecutions, I suspect that the kind of criminal prosecutions they are talking about might be a case of criminal negligence or some other activity that might be related to a prosecution against a fire-fighter. Who knows, it might be a charge of impaired driving if the volunteer fire-fighter responds to a call and drives a vehicle in a condition that he or she shouldn't be operating in. I am assuming that the only kind of criminal prosecutions for which an indemnity might be available is one that arises out of the execution of their duty. I don't know whether the good faith issue is one that applies in a case of negligence or in a case of impaired driving or something like that.

As I said, I raise this because it appears to be a very confusing section of the Act and open to all sorts of interpretation. I would urge the minister in having the approval in principle of, I suspect, all members of the House for this legislation, that he have the law clerks look at section 4 and see whether the drafting in fact does accomplish what the minister is trying to accomplish. Because it is not clear that (a) and (b) only apply to actions that are involved where the execution of the duties of a fire-fighter is an issue. I think that needs to be looked at to see whether in fact it does what the minister intends to have happen. I've already advised the Legislative Council and the Clerk of the problems with it, and I think it does need to be looked at to see whether or not it is appropriate to clarify the wording so that it is not open to misinterpretation, and in fact will accomplish the objects that the minister is attempting here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Yes, and the reason I am suggesting it, Mr. Speaker, is that rather than us trying to amend it on the floor and maybe making it worse, the Legislative Council could probably come up with a proper wording and interpretation and so that will be here accomplishing the object that the minister set out.

The object itself, the principle of the bill, is one that I support. It is certainly appropriate that we do everything that we can to encourage people to participate in volunteer fire brigades across the Province where it is impossible for a municipality to afford a professional, full-time, paid, fire-fighting service, and this is one area where I think we have run into problems in the past.

I do not have any problem with a municipality taking legal responsibility through their insurers for individual property damage if that results from the inappropriate proper legal case against the municipality, but to hold fire-fighters individually liable and expect them to pay for their own defence without any indemnification would be a rather harsh thing. It would certainly discourage people from participating in volunteer fire-fighting activities and, perhaps more importantly in some cases, particularly in responding to emergencies, would discourage people from responding to calls, or prevent them from responding to calls, because they do not have the kind of protection that other professionals have in responding to emergencies, such as doctors and nurses, under the Emergency Medical Aid Act, which provides for special relief from ordinary negligence, I guess lawyers would call it, for people engaged in responding to an emergency who have specialized medical training.

I agree with the principle of the bill and, in doing so, thank hon. members for their time in listening to my remarks.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would just like to take a couple of minutes this afternoon to say a few words in support of this particular piece of legislation. I guess if the minister said one thing right it was certainly that this particular bill is long overdue. It is certainly of benefit to fire-fighters throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, especially those who are of a volunteer nature.

In my particular district, the District of Conception Bay South, I have two volunteer fire departments: one in Holyrood and the other one in Conception Bay South, which is partially paid and then at night time and on weekends, of course, it is the same as the one in Holyrood; it is strictly done on a volunteer basis.

I would like to applaud the minister for this particular bill today. I am sure it gives some relief to fire-fighters throughout this Province, and people who give freely of their time, night and day, to tend to the needs of citizens throughout this Province. I think it is a great piece of legislation. It should certainly easy their mind as it comes to lawsuits, and things of that nature. We have seen what happened on Bell Island.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that I certainly support this bill. It has certainly been long overdue, and I am sure the fire-fighters of this Province will certainly appreciate it.

Thank you.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand today to say a few words on Bill 43, "An Act To Provide Fire-Fighters With Protection From Personal Liability". I can go on, I suppose, and take up the time of the House and tell about the eleven years that I spent as a fire department member back in my own home town. I am not going to do that, although I can fully understand why this piece of legislation was brought about, especially in areas where fire departments were formed being a new organization, I suppose, if you would, in that particular community. No matter what you brought in, in some rural areas, it was not always agreed to by everybody in the community, and when volunteer firemen went out to respond to a fire it was always a situation where somebody would say: You destroyed too much of my house; or, you used too much water; or, You should have had the fire out quicker; or, You were driving too fast going through the community. Those are all common complaints that you have to live with, especially in rural areas where somehow we still do not accept that our volunteer firemen, because they work as volunteers, are as well trained or as knowledgable about their equipment as probably somebody in St. John's or Corner Brook.

I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that is not the case. Many people, in fact 99.9 per cent of the people out in rural Newfoundland who are volunteer firemen, are well trained, and they are very familiar with their water pumps, and how to hook up a y valve, and how to get a mist on your nozzle, and what pressures to use, and how you should (inaudible) a pump, and all these kinds of things. They are very, very knowledgable about that, but the one thing they were lacking was protection, and this bill provides that.

I would like to call the minister to this particular section of the bill, because I need clarification on it myself. I always go back to one fire department in my particular constituency, Mr. Speaker, which had the initiative to see a need and even though there was no town council or no other form of local government, went out - and through the sale of cold plates, through putting off concerts and selling tickets, taking part in raffles - went out and purchased not one fire truck, Mr. Speaker, but two fire trucks. Purchased their equipment and paid for it completely themselves and I am talking about the fire department in Lethbridge, Mr. Speaker.

The minister stood here the other day and said that there was going to be a piece of legislation that was going to be brought forward that would provide those fire-fighters with a degree of protection as well. I would imagine that what he was talking about was workmen's compensation. I would imagine or I would hope because those particular firemen, those particular groups of volunteers, Mr. Speaker, don't have the protection of workmen's compensation. The reason they don't have it is for the simple fact that they don't belong to a municipality and to me that is wrong. If you are going out and exposing yourself to the same risk that people in other areas are exposing themselves to, Mr. Speaker, then the government should respond to the action of volunteers and provide them with protection. Now if the minister would, maybe he can address this now or he can respond to it when he gets up to close debate.

In the third paragraph, Mr. Speaker, Section 2(a), it says, "In this Act "fire department" means a fire department organized under the Municipalities Act, the City of St. John's Act or the City of Corner Brook Act and includes a fire department established in an unincorporated area of the province." It is very clear. Turn the page, Mr. Speaker, and go on over to Section 4(2), it talks about indemnification. It says, "Indemnification under subsection (1) shall be made, in the case of a fire-fighter in a municipal fire department or local service district fire department, by that municipal corporation or local service district committee." So I say to the minister, who is going to be responsible for paying indemnification to a fire-fighter if he is liable in an unincorporated community?

MR. A. REID: Other than a local service district. A local service district is not incorporated.

MR. FITZGERALD: Other than a local service district - is not incorporated. So in this particular area that I am referring to, in the one area you talk about unincorporated communities so I guess you include local service districts there. You go on to mention that as well but in this particular instance I am talking about the Lethbridge fire department in particular, what and who is going to be responsible for the indemnification if one of those twenty-eight volunteer firemen, should they be proved or should they be taken to court and have to prove that they are not liable for - yes, I say to the hon. member I still can.

So I ask the minister if he would provide me with some clarification on that particular item because that is of great concern to me. When I go out and speak to local volunteer firemen - and those people are your true volunteers in the community, as important as church organizations, Mr. Speaker, as important as Lions Clubs, Kinsmen Clubs and Knights of Columbus. Those people all go out and get involved in an association or an organization and it is all done on a schedule. They plan their nights, the nights that they meet. They plan when they are going to have their socials and everything is done towards planning. Mr. Speaker, a volunteer firemen does not have that luxury. In fact, it is not uncommon to see a volunteer firemen sitting beside you in church on Sunday morning or to be out to another function in the community and all of a sudden you hear a beeper going off and the gentleman runs and exits through the door. He does not go home to change, I suggest to the members opposite and take off his white shirt or his new suit. He goes, Mr. Speaker, and responds to an emergency. If there is anybody in this Province - and the minister, the Premier spoke about bringing in a volunteer medal that would look at and recognize the services of volunteers across this Province, and if there is anybody in this Province today who would be deserving of recognition for such a medal as a volunteer service medal, then I would suggest you will find them in the fire-fighting services, and those are the people who should be recognized and I commend the minister for bringing forward this piece of legislation. It is certainly, badly needed.

We have seen a couple of incidents already where, firemen have had to go to court. It is not enough for them to go out and risk their lives for other people, strangers in most cases, Mr. Speaker, other people to protect lives or to protect property. Mr. Speaker, it is about time that we started putting something back and protecting firemen themselves. This is a step towards that, but I say to the minister that I look forward with anticipation when he introduces the other piece of legislation here that would deal with workmen's compensation as it relates to volunteer firemen who are enlisted in the service in unincorporated communities, not only local service districts but other communities out there today, who saw need, responded to it and provide a human service in this Province.

So I ask the minister, when he stands in his place, if he would address my concern with this piece of legislation here because it is something that I want to take back to my constituents and say: Here is a piece of legislation that was passed in the House and I would like to be able to get up and say what it entails, what protection it is going to give them rather than just guess at it and say that should have been brought up in the House. So, Mr. Speaker, I think another colleague on this side may want to address this piece of legislation, not belabour it but congratulate the minister for bringing forward a piece of legislation that is going to affect volunteers out there today who need to be recognized and need to be protected.

Thank you.

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

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

I just wanted to rise to say to the minister that this is a piece of legislation that we have been looking forward to for some time. He had talked about it last session and it is rare that, all of us on this side of the House can get up and congratulate any member of the government, but today we have, each in our own turn, been able to stand and say that this is a great piece of legislation. We almost did it yesterday until we read the fine print, when the Minister of Education was tabling Bills 48 and 27, but today, on tabling this particular piece of legislation, we do not believe that the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs has any hidden agenda here, that he has analyzed the language with the exceptions that have been noted by my hon. colleagues here.

I am not going to give the minister my long involvement in a volunteer fire department. I had some involvement in a volunteer fire department but then the powers that be of the time that we were involved in that particular exercise decided that that would cease to be an operation and they took away the Mount Pearl Fire Department and said that we should be part of the regional system. So, Mr. Speaker, I just want to say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, that his actions today give great comfort to volunteer firemen throughout this entire Province and my colleagues have all noted the incident and in particular the incident dealing with Bell Island a couple of years ago and what happened over there and the kind of trauma that brought to the fire-fighter involved.

So, Mr. Speaker. with these few comments I do believe that maybe one more of my colleagues might want to have a few words on this particular bill, but if not, then we will await the minister's concluding comments.

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

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

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

My hon. colleague from Bonavista - look at Section 3. Now, I am going to have to do this. Quite honestly, I am going to have to look over your shoulder every now and then to make sure what I am saying is correct because I am not 100 per cent sure. John Moore is in the gallery and I am going to look at him every now and then, and if he is continually doing that I am okay, I will keep talking.

You asked about a community that is a non-incorporated community and not a local service district. Section 3 will protect those fire-fighters. The action or other proceedings for damage shall not be instituted against a fire-fighter for an act done in good faith - and those are the main words there, in the execution or intended execution of his or her duty, or for any neglect, or for any alleged neglect or default in the execution of good faith in his or her duty, so they are protected. They cannot be charged for anything they are doing in the act of good faith.

Now, if they go out and catch a place on fire and burn it to the ground, anybody is going to be found negligent in that particular case, but if they are going in response to a call from a resident who is saying their house is on fire and they want the fire department to come, they are protected. The only problem with it is this, there is nobody to pay the bill, so, I suppose, ultimately the fire departments themselves will have to come together and pay the bill as a joint group, or the person who is charged. If he is found not guilty and the magistrate does not award charges to somebody else, and I do not know who somebody will, unless it is the person who complained, then the person himself would have to pay the legal charges.

MR. FITZGERALD: Then the protection is still not there for this group of volunteer firemen.

MR. A. REID: Oh, no, it only goes half way.

MR. FITZGERALD: (inaudible) the liability but still there is a cost incurred and the fire department has to be willing to (inaudible)

MR. A. REID: That's right, to pay for it, but we have been talking to some of them and even half-way to them means a lot, because right now they are protected anyway. They are not protected financially but they are protected from any court action whereby one of them is going to end up going through the embarrassing situation that buddy on Bell Island went through, so a lot of them are satisfied with that. Someday down the road maybe we will find some way to bring in legislation, I suppose, and maybe government will pay for it, or something like that, but I will address that.

MR. FITZGERALD: Maybe the Department of Municipal Affairs (inaudible) responsible for any indemnity-

MR. A. REID: I will address that question. That is an interesting question and maybe we should look at it based on the number of fire departments we have in the Province like that.

MR. FITZGERALD: I would not say there is a lot, Mr. Minister.

MR. A. REID: There is only one in the whole Province.

So, Mr. Speaker, I pay particular attention to the comment my hon. friend for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi made in regards to the wording in Section 4. We are going to ask the table to look at that again, and if we need to make any changes then we can do that in committee or third reading.

Mr. Speaker, thank you very much, to the House, to my hon. colleagues across the way, and to my own supporters on this side. This was a big day. They were in today to make their annual presentation to me, anyway. I asked the hon. House Leader, and he had to ask your House Leader over there, if I could do this today with them present, and I appreciate the fact that all those people who are out there, 6500 volunteers in the Province, 300 fire departments, we all know what they are doing. We know what they are doing in the coves and inlets, in the bays and towns, especially in rural Newfoundland. We know what they are doing. They are doing a darn good job, and thank you very much for the opportunity. I thank my colleagues in the House and I now move second reading.

MR. FITZGERALD: If you were to bring that in and make the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs responsible for the indemnity (inaudible) or could it be done under regulations?

AN HON. MEMBER: Get your answer from the gallery.

MR. A. REID: I do not know and he does not know either. Leave it alone and I will find out what the pros and cons of it are. You will still have a chance to do it if you need to. If you want to move an amendment in committee, do it in committee. Let second reading go through and I will get the information for you, okay? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Provide Fire-fighters With Protection From Personal Liability," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 43)

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order No. 24, second reading of a bill, An Act Respecting A Provincial College, Bill No. 47.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting A Provincial College". (Bill No. 47)

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just a few brief comments by way of introduction for Bill No. 47, An Act Respecting A Provincial College. There are a couple of things I want to point out and bring to the attention of hon. members that are contained in the bill that may not be overly obvious or may not be seen to be overly significant from a first reading.

We have had the bill in the Legislature now for some time, since almost the opening of this session. There is a little bit of a history to the development of the college system in the Province. We sort of have gone almost completely round the circle over a period of time from having a provincial college system to having some regional colleges, to going back to five colleges. A few years ago there was a white paper established. It is probably fair to say there has been as much change in the college system in the Province in the last decade as there has been in anything, as we have tried several models.

In the budgetary process last spring we made the announcement, made the provisions for and provided the money for a single college system. Because we had debated for some time, while there was merit and worth to having local concerns, local priorities addressed through what is still the current legal structure of a Labrador college, a West Viking college, a Central Newfoundland regional college, an Eastern College and Cabot College, and while they had different priorities for programming and so on, they have been saying repeatedly for several years that there were a number of administrative tasks that they could perform together. That they might not necessarily need five separate payroll divisions, they might not necessarily need five separate human resource divisions, they might not necessarily need five different computer systems to serve their needs.

At the end of the piece, because that whole process had stalled over the last two or three years, I guess with a little push from the government in the Budget process we put enough money into the Budget for one administrative structure instead of five. In short order after that budgetary decision

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. GRIMES: - when we were in a position to create a single college board where there used to be five - the phrase we used I think most repeatedly was a gentle nudge. We gave the system a gentle nudge through the budgetary process.

As a result we do have currently today a single college board that has been in place since early in the summer. It has been working well, it has a lot of work done. However, technically and by law in the Province we still have acts that provide for separate colleges. This piece of legislation, Bill No. 47, gives legislative effect to the single board that has actually been in place. We found a technical legal manoeuvre to put a single board in place. What it amounts to is that the current chairman of the college board, to serve the purposes of present day legislation, has been appointed to chair the Labrador board, the West Viking board, the Central Newfoundland board, the Eastern board and the Cabot board. So technically he is chairing five boards, but they are running them all as if they are one, because they were taking government direction from the Budget process of last spring.

So now to give legal status to the single board which is in practice now working, this changes the language. The language before in the separate college acts said there will be a president for each of the colleges. This says there will be a president for the college. So we have now gone from five presidents to one president. They are organizing their staff. Everything is in place and working well.

What I wanted to point out, the two things I would draw to members' attention, is that there is one policy shift in Bill No. 47. What it does, consistent with the schools legislation from yesterday, it does provide for an increased level of autonomy for the board itself, and less direct decision making through the minister's office and the Department of Education. That is a policy shift. We discussed it with the new board. It asked to be given the opportunity to make more of the decisions relating to programming, campus openings and closings and those types of issues, than it previously had. There were a number of references in the previous legislation that gave the college the right to make recommendations to the minister on issues like that. This piece of legislation now says that it can make the decision. It doesn't have to refer to the minister. It is actually empowered to make the decisions, and the government reserves the right, if we think they have gone astray in terms of abandoning a public policy issue with respect to the provision of post-secondary education through the college system, there is a reservation right in one of the clauses for the minister to meet with the board and intervene and suggest a different direction if he thinks they have gone completely off the track with respect to public policy.

That issue is there and we are very proud, on page 6, section 10.(5) that we found an opportunity in this piece of legislation - and I point it out so that members might look for it in other pieces of legislation - we tried to give a signal in this bill that we are taking very seriously the matter of gender equity with respect to appointed boards. We did not have a very good gender balance on the interim boards for the K-XII system. We have gender balance with respect to the college board because we appointed five males and five females to the ten board position. There is a male Chair, so it is six to five in reality.

When we had those appointments totally at the discretion of the government we achieved gender balance, but there are provisions for the faculty and for the student council to appoint representatives and, as was the case with this board, they had the right of appointment and they nominated males. So again it started to throw out of balance what the government had accomplished in the original ten. It ended up being dominated again by males.

The provision in section 10.(5) shows that when others have the right to name people to a board, as in this case - and there are several examples of this all through government - that it asks those people to name and put forward a male and a female so that the government, in making the final selection, will be able to live true to our commitment of gender equity on the boards to the greatest extent possible.

In many instances, organizations that have a right to appoint by virtue of their position have sent in a list of names many times dominated by males, and it often times throws out of kilter the efforts of the government to try to have a gender balance on the board.

I wanted to point out those two issues that are not directly related and not critically important to the functioning of the new single college, but they are important signals in Bill 47, and I look forward to commentary in the debate from members opposite with respect to their study of the bill that they have looked at over the past couple of weeks in preparation for this debate today.

Without further ado, Mr. Speaker, I look forward to the comments that will be made. Again, as with all bills, if there are major areas of concern we can look at them in committee stage clause-by-clause as to whether or not there needs to be some adjustments to make the bill better meet the needs that are designed to be accomplished and met in this piece of legislation.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, how smooth is this minister? How smooth does he believe himself to be, when he stands up in this Legislature and says that back in April when we completely restructured the community college structure, we took a heavy-handed approach, we closed down campuses, we did not consult, and say: What we did was that we gave a little nudge to the process, a small nudge.

Members in this House who had community colleges restructured - I attended meetings in Clarenville and Carbonear. People were very concerned. They had no consultation. First-year university courses - Lewisporte -

MR. J. BYRNE: Bell Island.

MR. E. BYRNE: Bell Island.

First-year university courses completely eliminated in many centres, and the minister stands up today and introduces a piece of legislation which actually confirms what government has already done. The debate from that point of view is over. It gives us, as an Opposition, and as members of the House, to have another say, but says that after taking the high-handed, uneven-handed, hobnailed boots sort of approach to post-secondary education in this Province, that what government actually decided to do - a new government at the time - was give the structure a little push, a little nudge, in a direction that they thought would bring significant gains.

MR. J. BYRNE: A legal manoeuvre, he said.

MR. E. BYRNE: A legal manoeuvre? It was a manoeuvre, no question about that but I could not help but make that comment after listening to the minister's statements. I mean, it caused significant concern to many people in many areas and legitimately.

We have spent the last twenty-five years in this Province dealing with post-secondary education to ensure a number of things. One, that equality of opportunity exists, that young people coming from the high school systems had an opportunity to either attend Memorial University, to attend a post-secondary institute such as Cabot, such as Eastern Community College, Central Community College and, Mr. Speaker, recognizing that, that was a foundation and a principle that each and every one of us in this Legislature now and each and every former elected member wanted to go and where they wanted to go, the community college structure was set up about fifteen years ago to do exactly that, to provide opportunity to rural students in this Province so that they would better be able to put themselves in a more employable situation to access skills.

Now along the way, Mr. Speaker, what was decided not so long ago by a Liberal Administration under the former Premier was that - along the way, the Premier of the day made commitments that first year university courses would be made accessible as well in these community colleges and for very good reason, again based upon certain tenets that students who were coming out of the high school system would have an opportunity in their first year to access first year university programs to meet requirements by departments and faculties above and beyond first year but more importantly, they would be able to do so as close to their homes as possible. Now this was a philosophy that was paramount and was evident in everything that government of the day did throughout the 80s and the early 90s and, Mr. Speaker, what we are seeing now and what we saw back in April, was a lack of consultation, very much a lack of consultation very similar to the new HST piece of legislation that is before us.

I attended a press conference by the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board and he said: Consultation is absolutely open. People can comment on this during our next budgetary review and budgetary consultations across the Province. I said it then and I will say again now: When you make a decision, a policy decision, a major policy initiative that locks the people of this Province into a four-year commitment, and then purport that the people of the Province can consult on it after, is too late. The horse and the animals have left the barn, I say, Mr. Speaker, it is too late and that is what happened when we talked about the community college, or the structure of the community colleges.

But more, Mr. Speaker, to the point in terms of the bill before us. Outside of government's approach and outside of what they have done, this bill in many ways shapes and forms, as I have indicated, essentially proclaims and makes legal what government has already done. Now there are parts of this piece of legislation that I support wholeheartedly.

For example, one of the inherent problems that became evident in the old college system was that the Central Community College may be producing a number of graduates in certain areas. The Eastern Community College started to produce graduates in certain areas, the Western Community College, West Viking, began to produce graduates in certain training areas but what happened along the way was that a competitive process began to be initiated. Community colleges got into accessing HRD funding, they became corporations unto themselves and what we began doing, and what we lacked and I think what this will correct is that, we began producing graduates say, in a particular area, it could be mechanics.

We began producing more graduates than what the employment opportunities existed for. There were actual cases where we produced 1,100, 1,200 and 1,300 graduates for what the market said and what all market surveys and employment surveys said that what existed next year was possibly jobs for 200 people. So it came off the rails and it came off the rails for a number of reasons, not the least of which it was not under one central administration. I support that. I think that is a solid move and I think it is a good move. In the legislation it clearly says that one of the responsibilities by law - not by regulation, not by a minute of the new board but by law, that this new college structure must identify the education and training requirements of the labour market in the Province and provide courses or programs itself or in cooperation with other educational institutions operating under an act to the Province and other provinces of Canada to meet those requirements.

Essentially what that section says, Mr. Speaker, is that we can no longer justify producing 1200, 1400 and 1600 graduates in a particular area when the labour market does not demand them. On the other side of the coin, with the opportunities that exist in terms of a very strong - what seems to be and what all indications are, are going to be a very strong offshore development industry over the next twenty-five to thirty years, then our task relating to this piece of legislation, our task is to identify those opportunities that will exist, to identify those new skills that will exist, to put courses and instructions of courses and degree programs, technology programs, diploma programs that do not yet exist but will so that we can train Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, men and women coming up through the system, so that they will be able to meet those job opportunities.

It never should have happened, Mr. Speaker, in an industry like the offshore oil and gas industry which is at its - what most would agree - embryonic stage, it is just beginning. The Hibernia site was but a first baby step, a huge one but yet a baby step. It should never happen, ten years from now we should not be in a position where qualified Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, number one, are not getting jobs where jobs exist for them because people from outside the Province are coming in. Number two, where we see opportunities in the future for employment and where those skills do not exist in the Province today than we have to act with more foresight. We have to ensure that those programs are available throughout our post-secondary division. We have to train people right now so our reliance as a society and our reliance on an industry will not depend on specialists from outside this Province.

Now there will always be a need to some extent, I suppose, Mr. Speaker, for specialist, for people to come in and assist us with industry developments or our social initiatives. Specialists that by their own renown and background academic and life experience where we can learn from them but we should try to limit that to the greatest extent possible. Limit it so that people in this Province can become a specialist; people in this Province can travel to Norwegian countries and talk about offshore oil development; that people in this Province can go to the Gulf of Mexico and talk about how to build the best gravity based platforms; how to build the best floating based platforms; how to build those sorts of developments with the greatest technology, with the most experience but that begins here, Mr. Speaker. It does not begin with our reliance on somebody else, from another part of the world, coming in and showing us how to do it. If we do not prepare ourselves who will prepare us for those advantages? Nobody.

Mr. Speaker, again, I am not going to belabour the point because for the most part single administration - which is the greatest initiative here - a single administration allows for single control, which is important. It allows for one administration to make decisions on where best to offer programs, at what time and when. It may very well be that in Lewisporte for example, the opportunities that exist in that region, it may be that in terms of marine and our marine initiatives in terms of our program, it may be that the administration may say that is a better place to deliver our programs than any other place. That may be, I am just using a hypothetical situation. If a place exists where we see a program can be delivered and that right on our doorstep there are industries that are operating, for example like Marystown in terms of the Shipyard and shipbuilding industry there, then why shouldn't we offer programs in that area? Because students can leave and go across the street and access the tangible experience which more and more the labour market is demanding. More than ever before.

I can't leave without saying to the minister again that I look forward to more descriptions of government initiatives in terms of giving certain initiatives a gentle nudge this way or a little push this way. Because I'm sure many members in the House, including the Speaker who is now sitting in the Chair, certainly considered it more than a gentle nudge. I'm convinced, and I know, that many people in his area certainly, when he got called - I don't know if he would describe the calls that he got or the meetings that he had that people were nudging him in a gentle and very fond-like fashion. I sincerely doubt it.

On the whole, Mr. Speaker, this piece of legislation which is introduced as I see it is housekeeping. It incorporates much of what already exists under other pieces of legislation. It really identifies and puts into play legally what already exists, and I look forward to some comments in the clause-by-clause debate, but I expect very few. With that I will sit down. Thank you.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. After the presentation given by my colleague the Member for Kilbride there is really very little to add. He has essentially said it all with respect to this piece of legislation which is before us now, Bill No. 47, An Act Respecting A Provincial College. He speaks of the development of this legislation. Having sat in the former House of Assembly he is familiar with the development and discussions which took place concerning the formation of a provincial college here in this Province.

This is essentially what can be referred to as retroactive legislation. There is really nothing new in Bill No. 47. What this bill does is essentially incorporate the changes that have been taken thus far in the reorganization and the unification of a provincial college system here in this Province. Changes of significance with respect to the provincial colleges have been taking place essentially since this government has taken office. We see it with consolidation after consolidation, when and where possible, and we see it in the naming of the provincial headquarters.

I had some difficulty with that choice, because obviously as individual members of this House we each come to this House as representatives of a particular constituency. Of course, each of us would like to see an administrative facility such as the headquarters of this college within our own constituency, or certainly within the region adjacent to the constituency that we represent. Obviously, looking at it simply as a member of this House for a St. John's riding, there was some disappointment that this particular locale was not selected.

However, I guess at times, regardless of our constituency, we sometimes have to look at the broad strokes, we have to look at the benefits which may accrue to the Province generally. It seems to be that - and I can only hope - the choice and the selection which was made was done for fiscal reasons, and was done taking into account what was in the best interest of the people of this Province generally.

We see in clause 3 that Cabinet will choose the headquarters site, so it is quite an authority and power which is given to Cabinet. Obviously this can change from year to year, or certainly perhaps from term to term. However, I would think that once a site is chosen that again, from a fiscal point of view, Cabinet will do the wise and appropriate thing and ensure that for financial reasons there isn't a change made in the location of this site for arbitrary reasons.

Also, in clause 7, it lets Cabinet appoint a president, as was the case in the former section 10, with some change. The board no longer submits a list of potential candidates. So, again, the Cabinet is given significant power and authority in the selection of a president of this new college.

I would like to refer also briefly to clause 20, which corresponds to the former clause 23 and which allows for borrowing. I can only hope and advise that obviously this be done carefully and prudently to ensure that yes, immediately, it is in the best interest of the college and its board and staff and personnel and so on, but again indirectly, this will have benefits for the people of this Province. So the exercise of authority and discretion in its borrowing powers has to be carried out very, very carefully.

Clause 27 on regulations, being similar to the former clause 30, these are regulations which Cabinet are allowed to make, which is not unusual, which would be similar to any power given pursuant to an Act with respect to subordinate legislation. These regulations, unlike those in 1991, emphasize instructor certification and high standards, so there is some recognition being given to the issue of standardization and to the increased demand in our society in our post-secondary educational level that standards be high, standards be accredited, and they be recognized as standards with credibility in our provincial institutions.

Mr. Speaker, I will now conclude. There is really very little extra that I have to say in support of this legislation. It is essentially a housekeeping bill. It is essentially retroactive. It simply formalizes decisions that this government and its Cabinet have previously made.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: If the minister speaks now he will close the debate. The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, for being a little tardy in rising.

I appreciate the comments made in the debate, recognizing again, as the hon. member has pointed out, despite some language that was used to try to suggest that things were done in a certain way, the reality is that we are formalizing here something that is already in effect in the Province and that I believe most people believe would be an improvement in the system in the long haul.

Again I expect, as I said in the introductory comments, if there are areas of major concern that remain, we will deal with them in Committee stage and consider any amendments that are needed to make it a better piece of legislation.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to move second reading of Bill 47.

Thank you.

On motion, a bill, "An Act Respecting A Provincial College", read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 47)

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to move to motion 25, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Dental Act". (Bill No. 31)

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Dental Act". (Bill No. 31)

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have just a few comments about the amendments to the Dental Act, an introduction of some amendments here. None of the amendments are what I would characterize as being substantive but are more of a housekeeping nature. They are not really something to get your teeth into in a serious way, but they need to be attended to by way of some legislative changes.

The first issue being addressed in the amendments to the Dental Act is to recognize the new level of -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. members would be quiet for a minute I have something they can get their teeth into, I tell them.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: And two tongues hung in the middle.

In any event, Mr. Speaker, the Dental Act needs to be amended to take care of a couple of issues. First of all, there has been the introduction into the dental profession, as a paraprofessional, I guess, the designation of a person known as a dental assistant; and in order to ensure that the practice of being a dental assistant is recognized within their profession, we need to amend the Act to do that. As a result of dental assistants becoming a part of the operation of a dentist's office in the normal course of events, there needs to be provision made in the Dental Act to ensure that they can sit on the dental board, and in order to accomplish that we have to amend the Act to make provision for it.

Thirdly, of course, as a result of adding dental assistants to the dental board, we need to adjust the number of dentists who sit on the board so that there is not a disproportionate number of others, I suppose, to dentists, as professions on that board. Clause 3 of the bill is being amended to ensure that dentists are required to undergo specific education training, or retraining, as the board deems appropriate.

As well, hon. members would know that professionally regulated bodies, or self-governing - in order to ensure that dentists, like all other professionals, continue to be fully qualified to practice their trade, ongoing educational training is required. This amendment to the Act under Clause 3, Section 26 (4) of the Act ensures that the board has the appropriate authority to enforce educational enhancements for their members.

Sections 7, 8, and 9 of the act are being amended as well to ensure that dentists, in cases where they have to go through disciplinary hearings with members, can recover the costs that are incurred in those disciplinary hearings. We need to ensure that they have the ability not only to have the hearings and to enforce discipline, but that they also have the ability to recover appropriate costs, which sometimes can be considerable when going into those situations.

The last area that needs to be mentioned is subsection 9. It is being added to ensure that proceedings that may be taken against a person who is formally licensed under the Act - and this provision ensures that a practitioner may not escape responsibility for wrongdoing simply by giving up his registration. Heretofore, Mr. Speaker, there was the possibility that if somebody were being charged for disciplinary reasons and brought to task by the board, he could simply surrender his license and walk away, and that is not certainly appropriate in terms of the public interest. The public need to know that they are protected and that those who have possibly not been practising professionally or ethically cannot simply just walk away by giving up their license, but that the board has the power to deal with them and ensure that appropriate action is taken on their account.

These are basically the description of the minor housekeeping items that are being proposed under the Dental Act amendments, and I move second reading.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I want, on behalf of my colleague, the Member for Conception Bay South, to offer a few comments. Due to a prior engagement he was not able to continue to be with us in the House this afternoon. We have spoken with the Newfoundland Dental Board, which is the governing body affected by the changes that have been introduced by this amendment to Bill 31. They have informed us that they have been indeed consulted on this bill and that the changes to the Act are the changes that they themselves wanted to see implemented.

Mr. Speaker, we do have a couple of things we want to make note of and I guess the primary section we want to talk about would be section 4, subsections (7), (8) and (9). We do agree with the minister on subsection (9) that, where a practitioner has been ordered to pay expenses and costs under subsection (7) and that person, he or she, fails to pay them and then they give up their licenses to practice without accepting responsibility, then we agree that the minister and the authority should have the power to say to that member, it is not sufficient that you give up your licence and then move on to another province or indeed retire or whatever the person chooses to do, without having due regard for the consequences of the action of the particular practitioner.

So we agree with the minister that, that indeed is a good section and we agree that it might be a housekeeping matter for the dental board but, at the same time, it does say to all of the practitioners that that particular copping out that has occurred in some cases is not going to be accepted by either the dental board or by the Department of Health and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

We wanted to say that in general, all of the the amendments to Bill 31 are, shall we say, in keeping with our particular philosophy of governance. We also want to mention section 3, and that would, in essence, say that all practitioners would have to buy malpractice insurance. I am surprised that that was not a requirement of the law before. As the minister knows, medical practitioners and others in the Province in other self-governing organizations, the legal community, that you have to buy malpractice insurance and I am surprised it is only now that the dental board is requiring dentists in this Province to make sure that they do have adequate insurance to cover malpractice. And with greater numbers in the Province, we know that obviously, this can be more of a problem in the future. Those of us who know how various self-governing boards govern themselves, we are pleased to see that the dental board has now caught up to the rest of the self-governing boards in the Province and are requiring their members to buy malpractice insurance as well.

Mr. Speaker, with those general comments we want to say that we support the general thrust of it, but we would like to note, however, in section (7) that we would like to see probably more detail from the minister, given the fact that other actions in this bill - and I will just refer to subsection (7) for a moment. It says: The board may order a practitioner who has been found guilty of professional misconduct, malpractice or conduct unbecoming a practitioner or who the board has determined would, by continuing in the practice of dentistry or dental surgery, constitute a danger to the public or a person to pay all or a part of the expenses and costs associated with the disciplinary proceeding against the practitioner and, where ordered to do so, the practitioner shall pay those expenses and costs".

We would want to say to the minister, he may want to give us a little more detail, given the fact that other actions described under the act include expulsion, suspension and fines of limitations. It is wise perhaps to have the new option that is here, spelled out in the disciplinary procedures, a little more clearly defined. For example, in what circumstances would the dental board be able to order retraining? For example the medical association can, when one of their members is found to be, shall we say, not practising in an ethical manner, they can order that person to go back to medical school for up to a year. They can order retraining as an option. Maybe the dental board might want to, in consultation with the minister, more clearly define what they really mean by subsection (7) what other options are to be at the disposal of the dental board in considering sanctions against members who have been found guilty of professional misconduct and spell it out in more precise language.

Mr. Speaker, with these few comments I will ask my colleagues if they have any further commentaries on Bill No. 31 and if not we will return the debate to the hon. the minister.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the comments offered and the questions asked by the Opposition House Leader. I was having some difficulty, I must confess, following what he was saying, not because he was not speaking clearly but because his colleague from Kilbride was standing in front of me having an informal discussion with my colleague from Grand Bank. So I did not get the tenor of all of the questions you were asking and the comments you were making. Suffice then I think it would be to say that if there is any clarification beyond what is already obvious in the bill I would be happy to provide them when the bill is in committee stage. I move second reading of the bill.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Dental Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 31)

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order 26, I believe we are moving right along here, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Physiotherapy Act." (Bill No. 49)

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Physiotherapy Act". (Bill No. 49)

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The amendment being proposed to the physiotherapy act is a one issue amendment and it is a singular amendment. It is basically, Mr. Speaker, an amendment to make provision -

AN HON. MEMBER: A singular amendment?

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, as opposed to a (inaudible) amendment. The hon. the Member for Terra Nova did not pick that up and I would ask my colleague the Minister of Education to bring it to his attention that there is another investigative matter on his plate.

So it is a singular amendment and the amendment has to do with making provision so that a person who is subject to a disciplinary hearing under the act, may be required to pay the expenses associated with the proceeding. Simply put, Mr. Speaker, this amendment will allow the physiotherapists, through their professional body, to collect expenses as a result of a disciplinary hearing. Again, a situation has arisen in one specific instance where substantial costs were incurred because of a disciplinary matter having to be dealt with and there was no provision or ability by the association to collect costs. This quite clearly inhibits and restricts the ability of the body to govern its members who are professionals in a manner that will ensure public safety and satisfy the concerns of the public.

So I move, Mr. Speaker, that second reading of the bill be (inaudible) at this point as a result of that simple explanation.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I rise again on behalf of my colleague the critic for the Department of Health to make a few comments on Bill No. 49, An Act To Amend The Physiotherapy Act.

We wanted to draw reference to the main section of the act which is 13.1(1) where it says: "The council may, in addition to dealing with a person under section 13, order the person pay the expenses or a portion of the expenses of the council arising out of an investigation and hearing under section 13, and in the time fixed by the council."

We wanted the minister to note the expression "dealing with." It is one of our major concerns, Mr. Minister, in that section. Because the expression, "The council may, in addition to dealing with a person under section 13...," that expression "dealing with a person" is a very loose term. We wanted to have that expression more clearly defined. It could mean merely investigating, it could mean penalizing a party found guilty, or it might mean merely having some dialogue that might be relatively informal but very significant. What we are saying is that shouldn't the council itself be able to order expenses against a member only when that person is found guilty? If they are dealing with a person, that person may not indeed be found guilty of anything. It may be just that they are dealing with the person. Why should that person have to pay the expenses in that kind of situation?

We wanted the minister to consider having more clearly defined language that might again be protective of the persons involved because we do have some concern. We say to the minister: Should the council have the leeway to order expenses against the member when no guilt has been determined, or when the enquiry hasn't even been concluded? For example, nothing in this section says that the matter has to be concluded before the council is able to order expenses to be paid by the member involved.

I say to the minister, shouldn't the clause clearly state that the establishment of guilt is a prerequisite to ordering a member to pay expenses of the council to investigate a complaint or an allegation? What we are saying to the minister is if someone comes in and makes an allegation against a particular member, or someone issues a complaint against a particular member - and in the practice of physiotherapy any number of things can happen - why should that member, that practitioner, be required to pay those expenses when the allegation might be frivolous, it might be simply that somebody has a grudge against a particular practitioner? Why should that practitioner have to pay that? If we get to the point where guilt has been established then we can say: Yes, the member has now been found guilty by a council of his or her peers, and it is now appropriate that the member who has been found guilty will pay some of the expenses.

The section doesn't require the establishment of any guilt by the member before the council is able to have the member made liable for the payment of the expenses of the council.

Under this matter as well, we want to say that in section 3 it says: Expenses ordered by the council under this section (inaudible), or due the council, may be recovered by the council in a civil action.

We want to have a few comments on that as well, but in this case should the dental board or the dental council be able to suspend a member for failing to pay expenses that were applied unfairly? Again, we are saying: Wait until the civil action is over before you start to apportion the expenditures to the member himself or herself.

If the council was wrong, for example, in ordering an enquiry, or was unable to establish guilt, then should not the expense of the council be borne by the council itself and not by the member being investigated? We are saying here that we want to see a procedure that does not give anybody, including the council, the ability to be able to act frivolously, to be able to say to anybody practising physiotherapy: Watch out, because if someone makes an allegation that is not borne out to be successful in the court of law, or by a judgement of one's peers, that the council is then going to make you pay for it anyway. So we are saying to the minister: We know the intent of the section, and we agree with the intent; however, what we are saying is that the law as it is now written may not do what the minister or the council intends. Therefore, rather than coming back down the road in some future session of this House to have it amended, we wanted to maybe put in some protection there for the physiotherapists so that we do not end up having that person being, shall we say, unnecessarily financially liable for allegations that may have no merit in law, or for liability for civil action that may, in fact, be an unsuccessful action.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to ask the minister as well, because we did not get an opportunity prior to coming to the House today to contact the Newfoundland and Labrador College of Physiotherapy to find out whether or not this particular amendment that we have here has been indeed sanctioned by the College of Physiotherapy, and we wonder if the minister could comment on that when he is giving his concluding comments in a few seconds.

Mr. Speaker, with these particular comments - we will ask the same questions when we get to the Committee stage - I would ask my colleagues if they wish to have any comments. If not, I would ask the minister to comment on some of these sections. If he does not have the answers now, then we will wait for his comments at Committee stage.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the last question that was raised by the hon. the Opposition House Leader, the answer is: Yes, we not only consulted with the physiotherapists, but rather the amendment arises out of a request from the physiotherapists to have this put in place.

What the paper and what the amendment really does is permit primarily people who have been found guilty as a result of disciplinary hearings -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: No, but that is the intent, and the operative word throughout the amendment is the word `may'. I suppose we have to understand that physiotherapists, like other self-regulating, professional bodies, have an obligation to act in a responsible manner.

In the first instance, these bodies do not likely institute disciplinary action against their members but where they have reasonable and probable grounds to believe that a violation has occurred and where they have reasonable and probable grounds to believe that disciplinary action is appropriate then they move forward to initiate such action. So the likelihood of frivolous allegations or frivolous issues being brought before a disciplinary tribunal are very, very minimal because, as I say, they are self-governing. They are not interested in prosecuting unduly members of their own organization but neither are they prepared to permit indiscretions or unprofessional behaviour to continue to happen because of the concern that they would have for public confidence, public safety and professionality of the profession that they practice.

So the spirit of the amendment, Mr. Speaker - to clarify it for the hon. member - is simply to ensure that, for the most part and in the main, after a guilty position has been arrived at by way of a hearing, that the board may - and even then only may - want to institute the collection of costs that have been assessed as the result of hearings. So I have every confidence, as I am sure the hon. member does, that physiotherapists will act responsibility given this new and additional latitude within their act to recover costs that might otherwise, if it were not provided for, disenable them in terms of being able to move forward with disciplinary action.

I think in one recent incident, Mr. Speaker, I would conclude by pointing out that there was a $15,000 cost attached to a hearing. A member of their organization was found to be in violation of disciplinary or professional code and conduct. While all of that is well and good, it pretty well crippled the organization in terms of being able to move forward to continue to be a self regulating body because of the high expenses that they incurred and that it would seem to have been appropriate to have been able to collect back. So the amendment provides that in the future they will be able to do business with the comfort and knowledge of knowing that, where it is appropriate, they will be able to attempt to recover costs as outlined in the amendment.

I move second reading, Mr. Speaker.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Physiotherapy Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 49)

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order No. 27, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act And The Liquor Corporation Act". (Bill No. 50)

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act And The Liquor Corporation Act". (Bill No. 50)

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this is a fairly straightforward amendment to the Liquor Control Act And The Liquor Corporation Act. Essentially what it does is it combines two boards that now exist under two separate acts. Essentially what they are known to most people as the Liquor Licensing Board which exercise the jurisdiction to decide which licenses to issue in the Province, which establishments should have them, where they should be located and so on. Most members, I am sure at one point or another, may have had some recourse from their constituents about the problems that arise from time to time. We looked at the operations of the two distinct boards and came to the conclusion, Mr. Speaker, that it was unnecessary to maintain both and was an additional cost to the taxpayers. What the act therefore does is it combines the two authorities into one new board which will be comprised of seven people.

The second thing it does is that it allows for more outside involvement by the new board with less civil servants sitting on them. In the past it has been the practise of government to have the present liquor corporation and as many as two civil servants sit on that board on the understanding that one of its main purposes was to raise revenue for government. What we wanted to do with this is give it more character that is more in keeping with what we believe government boards should be and that is to play an advisory role to government rather than to be there at the instrumentation of government.

So what we are doing, Mr. speaker, is moving to a seven person board vesting the liquor licensing jurisdiction in the new board and what that board will then do and be comprised mostly is one person being the president of the liquor corporation and six outside members. We expect and hope that this board will receive as always, the unanimous approval and endorsement of the House particularly from members opposite and we look forward to hearing from them on the issues.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I was waiting to find out, you know, the intent and the whole story here from the minister, he has kept it pretty brief.

The minister has indicated we are going to combine I guess The Liquor Control Act, the same board to administer, and The Liquor Corporation Act. Now, we are going to take the licensing of that out there and the inspections and the grants and the possessions and the sales and delivery I guess will come under the Control Act and we are going to take that and we are going to combine that now with the same board basically that is going to look after the profits and the marketing and the business plan and regulating the stores I guess, is what it is saying.

In other words, what we are looking at, liquor sales and liquor regulation now are going to come under the one board, so something like drinking and driving come under the one thing if you want to look at a comparison. So the minister is going to let the people in the sales and so on now, get involved with other aspects, but I think there certainly needs to be some controls from government responsibility if we are going to ensure that we are not going to have the people out promoting and marketing and saying here is what revenue we are going to get out of here, are the same ones who are out there controlling who gets a licence, going to control the sale of it, the delivery of it, the transportation of it and so on because anyone who wants to consume it and drive, the transportation of that I guess, is now regulated under two specific arms of the corporation and maybe, before the minister runs off, if he is planning on privatizing, would that be an aspect in terms of privatizing the corporation and then put it all under the one board?

The minister does not want to listen to this one at all and one of my colleagues asks: does that include wine? I would assume it includes all liquor, wine, domestic, imported, home-made -

MR. TULK: Fruit juice.

MR. SULLIVAN: Not necessarily. So maybe when the minister gets up -

MR. TULK: Loyola, I am talking about the kind of fruit juice that I would drink.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. What does the minister drink? So I hope the minister, when he gets up, before he closes debate on the bill, that he will explain if this is a step in the process by having outsiders on the board, is not necessarily bad I say to the minister but is this a step in moving it away into the privatization aspect then what controls, if it is to be governed, I say to the minister, what controls are we going to have or, if it is a Crown Corporation, in ensuring that the objectives on the sales or marketing and a taxation level are going to be carried out. That is one aspect I say to the minister and, is it the intent, I say to the minister, to move it right out into the public forum, the one board carrying out both of these responsibilities and if it is privatized and if it is determined that privatization is an economical process, going to maintain government revenues, going to serve the functions it is intended to serve, what regulations then and what control would the board have then to govern, to control the particular marketing, the sales, the return, the licence and distribution of that particular agency? I think they are important things we need to know and this could be a camouflage or a move in the direction to get a privatization without an explanation to the process, and I see his assistant is nodding his head saying: no, that is not it all, so I am sure the minister when he stands, will clarify those couple of points there and let us know -

AN HON. MEMBER: Which one?

MR. SULLIVAN: The point? What happens if the Liquor Corporation is privatized, what steps are in place to ensure that two different functions of that liquor corporation, under the Corporation Act that looks at profits, marketing, their business plans, regulating their stores is one wing and the other aspect now that is under the Liquor Control Act and I refer to them like license inspections, grants, possession, sale, delivery of alcohol beverages, that they are going to be compatible, and how are we going to ensure that government is going to have the regular mechanisms in place to control it, because government does still need to have control mechanisms in place, and regulations, and of course maybe a Crown agency that this would report to, a smaller streamlined aspect. If that is the intent then I am sure the minister would like to comment on that. I am quite sure that is not his intent here, as his colleagues said, but I am sure the minister can speak for himself when he gets up.

With these words I do not think we should rush through. We will get a chance in committee, certainly, to address a couple of the points to the minister, and who knows, maybe a few important amendments to be able to deal with the specific controls that are necessary for government to exercise in this particular bill.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Some of the points made by the Leader of the Opposition are valid, but I am not sure that what we are attempting to do makes sense if the Liquor Corporation will remain a corporation. The reality is that a control division on the one end, which is in control of -

MR. TULK: I say get (inaudible)

MR. E. BYRNE: Well, that is the question. This legislation under normal circumstances would not really be a question if it remains under Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, but the question is what about privatization because I think that is what is coming.

AN HON. MEMBER: What?

MR. E. BYRNE: I believe what we are seeing here is the amalgamation of a couple of boards, two separate boards into one, getting a corporation leaner and meaner, and if that is what is coming then let us debate privatization of the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation. Clear it up, and lets debate it.

MR. TULK: (inaudible)

MR. E. BYRNE: I am sure when government is ready they will bring it in. The Liquor Control Division which is responsible for licensing, inspections, grants, possession, sale, and delivery of alcohol beverages, in my opinion, should not be mixed necessarily with the corporation's agenda to make profits in marketing, etc. Drinking and driving does not mix I say to the minister, and we all know that.

MR. TULK: You would be surprised how people have come to realize that over the past five or six years.

MR. E. BYRNE: I agree with the legislation that was brought in before, and I would make the same assertion that neither do liquor sales and liquor regulation, and that is what we have to be careful of in what is coming here. That is what I would submit to the Government House Leader. The regulation of the liquor industry solely belongs to the people of the Province through their institutions, which is this place here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: The regulation of it. Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Liquor sales now, a completely different issue. I believe a strong argument can be made for the privatization of the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, and fair enough. At the same time, I believe what we are seeing here - the minister did not get into it too much, nor did I expect him to, because this is a regulatory change that is potentially wrought - potentially, I say, Mr. Speaker - with some difficulties.

Clearly, as I see it, there are two agendas, and mixing them under a Crown authority may be acceptable. It may be acceptable, mixing two authorities under one Crown division, but I am not convinced that mixing those two authorities together under a private entity, if at the end of the day that is what we are going to end up with, is exactly what the people of the Province want, or if it is exactly what we should be doing.

I will say it again for the record, we all know drinking and driving do not mix, and I do not believe that liquor regulation and liquor sales should mix either.

I say to the government, if privatization of the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation is on the agenda, and this is just a paving of the way for that particular piece of legislation -

MR. J. BYRNE: Just a nudging.

MR. E. BYRNE: A slight nudge, as the Minister of Education said earlier, in terms of what government's initiatives were with the post-secondary, private colleges. What they tried to do, he said, was give it a slight nudge to move it in a certain direction. Well, this can be also described as a slight nudge.

What we have seen also, in amalgamating two authorities recently, and there is some danger with it, in another area of government, the fisheries loan board and the farm loan board at one time were two separate entities. Two years ago, I believe, in the last budget, they were amalgamated to become the Fisheries and Farm Loan Board under ENL. Today there is no such animal. After last year's budget, a dairy farmer in this Province today cannot go to a provincial body to look to reconsolidate because there is no more farm loan board; there is no fisheries loan board. It has been collapsed and it has gone into ENL.

Essentially, what we are doing here is taking two authorities. While on face value what the minister said in introducing the bill seems valid, if it remains under a Crown entity would be valid, but again, if what we are doing is positioning internally, and taking care of internal matters within the Liquor Corporation for the eventual sale and privatization of the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, then we have some serious concerns with this piece of legislation. Because while it may appear to be a housekeeping measure, the impact of it in the long run, under a private entity, I would submit, would have severe and long-lasting consequences.

With respect to the privatization of the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, before any judgement is passed on a privatization initiative in this Province, I think that each privatization initiative should be looked at upon its own merit. What value will it have at the end of the day for the people of the Province? What will be the net job loss, or what will be the net job gain as a result of privatization? Those are serious issues.

Financially, what will government accrue in terms of the sale of the asset? Will it, at the end of the day, reap benefits in terms of monetary and financial benefits that it should have reaped? When it came to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, we were prepared to sell a Crown entity with assets of $1.5 million to $1.6 million for $350 million. It would only have solved one year. It would only have taken care of last year's budget crunch if we had done it, and today we would not have been in control of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and reaping benefits, financial, each and every year thereafter.

Back to the privatization of the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, I think that is what is coming. I think this bill is positioning internally to make it more attractive to the marketplace, but we have to be careful because the regulation of that industry must belong here, has to belong here, and must remain here, because if it does not what will happen in the marketplace out there? That is the question that we must ask.

Mr. Speaker, I will conclude by saying that I am not sure government is being totally upfront with this piece of legislation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Is that right?

I think what is happening is that the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation is being streamlined internally to make it more attractive for the private sector.

MR. WALSH: That is not (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No?

MR. WALSH: It just makes good business (inaudible). I don't think (inaudible) two of them together.

MR. E. BYRNE: I say to the Member for Conception Bay East and Bell Island, I am fearful of that and I will tell you why. I just said it and I will say it again. The minister was not listening at the time. Two years ago it made good business sense to amalgamate the fisheries loan board and the farm loan board. Two years after, there is no fisheries and farm loan board in this Province anymore, is there?

AN HON. MEMBER: Pardon?

MR. E. BYRNE: There is no farm loan board in this Province anymore. There is no entity that farmers can go to, other than the federal entity, the Farm Credit Corporation; but two years ago it made good sense to be under one administration, fisheries and farm loans, and now, two years later, there is no farm loan board. Where does it stop?

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: But what did it have to do with?

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, and why did it go? The question is: because it was taken out of the department - farm loans were taken out of the Department of Agriculture's hands and put under ENL. So was fisheries taken out of the Department of Fisheries hands and put under ENL. Then, within the bureaucracy strong arguments were made, obviously which had to be brought by Cabinet, that came back to ENL and they collapsed the entire structure in the ENL. Now a farmer in this Province today cannot go and get a loan because he is not a new business or she is not a new business. Go ahead.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: But you will have to agree, I say to the member, that consolidating regulation of a liquor industry and the board responsible for it and the other part of the corporation in terms of its sales, marketing, et cetera and incorporating them into one board, there is potentially some very serious conflict here. The member would have to agree with that.

MR. WALSH: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: How so? I will give you leave for a few minutes if you want to explain it. Okay, go ahead.

MR. WALSH: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. member wish his comments to be recorded by Hansard?

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island.

MR. WALSH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

At the end of the day, if you were to stretch it to its nth degree with the argument that you are using and the argument is plausible but the government is going to administer it regardless of how it is being done today anyway. If you were to take it to the nth degree the Department of Health should suggest that we should not be collecting sales tax on tobacco because tobacco should not exist. If you were to take it to its nth degree we should not be selling alcohol at all because it interferes both with Work, Services and Transportation and accidents and all the rest of it. So if you want to stretch it to an nth degree you can come up with any conclusion but that is not what is happening here.

This is a continuation more than anything else of a program that was put in place in the '80s and a good program that was put in place in the '80s to reach out into rural Newfoundland with the stores that were put in other places but the concept of bringing in - and I don't know the exact number but twelve people on one board to make decisions so they can report to a management committee on yet another board that comes in two days later, it doesn't make sense.

If you consolidate in any business - and today people are looking for fair return on their dollar, as the taxpayer is too in this situation - if you have one group of people who are administering one section of it, you know and I know that at the end of the day, with the employees that exist within the corporation, there is tremendous overlap for the same responsibilities, reporting or getting direction from two different entities. At the end of the day it really doesn't make sense. This really is nothing more than bringing together those two bodies to set a direction, and a strong direction, for the future. That is really what the bill is all about.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Maybe the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island should be the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, because how he described what that bill was all about was certainly in a lot more detail than what the minister talked about.

The reality is that we could take anything, I say to the member, to the nth degree. Fair enough. The argument I put forward I believe is plausible. Because what we are talking about is something that may happen. That there is a philosophy and an understanding in some circles within government, and some circles within Cabinet I suppose and within members here, that should happen, and that is privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation.

You are probably right that 80 per cent of the time the administrative structures don't work, that they are cumbersome, but the minute that something breaks down, the minute that regulation gets confused with sales, we could have trouble. It is just a cautionary note. I send up the flag on it. I believe we could have trouble. Mr. Speaker, with those few comments I will sit down. I know there are other members who would like to speak to it as well. Thank you.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to address the House briefly. I have a few points on Bill 50, "An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act And The Liquor Corporation Act." I am of two minds about this bill. I am always suspicious of this government when it comes to government corporations and government assets, this government and the previous Liberal government. You always have to watch for the hidden agenda.

I remember one time the former Minister of Finance, the former President of Treasury Board, brought in a piece of legislation which he was calling one thing. He was calling it, an act to amend the financial institutions' capital tax act, and we found out after close examination that it was really called the Fortis act, and it was designed solely to give a tax break to Fortis.

Then we had legislation coming in that was alleged to be about the regulation of hydro power in the Province and it was really the pre-privatization act. The pre-privatization act was brought before the House and it was pretended to be something else. It took us about four or five months of battering the government around on the issue of privatization for the premier of the day to come out on t.v. and tell the people what he was really up to. That was the previous premier. Now, there are a lot of faces over there. Some of them were in the premier's office. Some of them were not in the House, they were in the premier's office, and now they are in the House. So, we have the same crew. There might be a different captain of the ship, but we have the same crew, and the Minister of Finance was part of the crew.

MR. TULK: Don't cast innuendo and smear, name the person.

MR. HARRIS: Name names. You know who you are, I say. I say to the hon. members, you know who you are, the ones who were in the premier's office and are now in this House, the ones who were in other minister's offices and are now in this House, and the ones who sat at the ministers' desks and are now sitting at their own desks in this House. The same crew, not quite a different ship, a different captain but the same crew.

So, what are they up to here? That is what I ask myself. What are they up to here? One could look at this act - I mean, there are possibilities here - and say: Well, if you were going to privatize the Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro Corporation, why would you give the board of the Hydro Corporation the power to control liquor licensing? A good question. I am surprised the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island did not think of it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Want a break?

MR. HARRIS: Sure, we have all night. The House is not closing at five o'clock. There was a motion a little earlier today.

One could say, if you look at the act: Well, if the government were intending to privatize the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, why would they give the board the power to control liquor licensing? Why would they do that, because if you were going to sell it, presumably you wouldn't let a private corporation have control over who has licenses, because that would be an obvious disaster.

On the other hand, the Member for Kilbride has a very good warning to pass out to government, that there may be problems anyway even if you have the provincial corporation having both powers, the same board having both powers to grant liquor licenses and also to sell or not sell the liquor, because there is a conflict perhaps in the regulation side of things and in the marketing side of things. Your bottom line might want you to market things in places where your control function might not want them to be. So there is probably a conflict there.

Now, I am a little worried that government could then use this: Oh, we have a real problem here, we have a very big problem. This board shouldn't have both those powers. The best thing to do is to get rid of the marketing, put that out there and give it to someone else, put that out there in the private sector. Because, of course, the philosophy of the Thomas (inaudible) age - and the government has sort of jumped on board, I think, with its documentation. I think there is documentation on commercializing government operations. I have a document here about commercializing government operations, The Canadian Examples and Experiences, authored by, among others, very important and powerful people in this Province, and there will be more about that later in this House.

I am a little concerned, Mr. Speaker, that this is a bit of a set up for future action of this government. Now, I have spoken in this House about it before. I asked the minister - now, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs is pointing at his watch. I think he was the one who supported the motion an hour and a half ago that the House sit beyond five o'clock. He voted in favour of it, Mr. Speaker. I don't know if there was a Division, so we cannot look at Hansard, but he voted in favour of not closing the House at five o'clock, so we are here now, until whenever people are finished and satisfied, to debate this issue, the legislation that is before the House, the pre-privatization of the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation.

I have a concern, Mr. Speaker, that this government has an agenda here. When I asked the Minister of Finance in this House, a few days ago, whether or not it was government's intention to sell the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, he basically repeated what he was reported to have said before, that they haven't made a decision but they are looking at it. There are people from this Province, with the Liquor Corporation, out in Alberta getting hints and clues from Ralph Klein as to how to privatize the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation. That is what he is there for.

AN HON. MEMBER: Name them.

MR. HARRIS: I don't know their names, but I tell you they are out there at the expense of the Newfoundland people, indirectly, through the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation. They are out there trying to figure out and advise this government on how to privatize the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation.

MR. TULK: You mean, we have people sent out that way?

MR. HARRIS: You have people sent out there. They have been out there talking to Ralph Klein and his people about the privatization of the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation.

We have this piece of legislation here which is no doubt part of that scheme. I don't know what the scheme is yet, because sometimes you have to poke and prod and raise questions in the House and turn over rocks and see what is underneath them - the night crawler is not here anymore - to see if there are any night crawlers underneath them, and see if there is anything going on. Lo and behold, sometimes after awhile, when you poke and prod and try and figure out what is in a piece of legislation -

AN HON. MEMBER: The last one who said that, it was out (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Oh, I don't know about that. The Minister of Fisheries knew an awful lot about night crawlers when he was over on this side of the House. I wasn't here then, I heard about it.

Mr. Speaker, the question here is: Is the government intending to privatize the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation. I want to talk about that a little bit because I know the Member for Kilbride is not so such whether it should be privatized or whether it shouldn't. The Leader of the Opposition is a little more sure. I think he is pretty sure it should be. The government is trying to pretend that they don't know what they are going to do, but they really, I think, have a plan in their minds. Otherwise, they wouldn't have allowed the Liquor Corporation to send people out to Alberta to determine issues of privatization.

By what right would the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation, I ask hon. members, of its own accord spend money to send people out to Alberta to discuss the issue of privatization?

MR. TULK: Did they do that?

MR. HARRIS: Why would they do that? They would do that, I would suspect, Mr. Speaker, only at the direction of the Minister of Finance. What right, otherwise, would the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation have to go out to Alberta to look at the policy issues that have nothing to do with the operation of the corporation, the selling and marketing and distribution of alcoholic liquors in the Province; but rather something to do with government policy as to what to do with the corporation?

That had to come from the Minister of Finance issuing a directive to the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation to investigate the issue of privatization and report back to him. That is going on, Mr. Speaker, while this legislation has passed through Cabinet and is now before this House as part of a strategy, I would suspect, Mr. Speaker, that is going to lead to a decision in the not too distant future of government to - they might not call it privatization, they might call it commercialize. That seems to be the favoured word today. That seems to be a less scary word. We are just going to commercialize it, you know, like we were going to commercialize the Queen's Printer, for example, commercial government printing services. The next time they try to privatize Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, it wouldn't be privatizing, it will just be commercializing. (Inaudible) making it operate like the eventual legislation that was passed here. It told Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to operate along commercial lines, to act like a private corporation. Then they put a man in charge of that corporation who came right out of the private sector, having operated as a vice-president of FPI for many years. A man whose total experience in the corporate world, in the business world, was not with public corporations but with private corporations, is now running Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

Mr. Speaker, this is part of a trend. The reform party does most of this work in other parts of the country in terms of promoting it. This government calls it something else, by slow degrees intends (inaudible). Program review, I suppose, is another name for the same kind of thing, to make government smaller, to follow the reform party agenda under the guise of program review, to commercialize operations, to commercialize particular aspects of government services and eventually to disassociate itself from them and pass them over to the public.

Mr. Speaker, they have even got the home support monies, the $3,000, for example, that are now limited to home support. Included in that $3,000 is an amount to cover the cost of bookkeeping services, so that they can pretend to be employers, so that the people receiving home support can pretend to be employers and can hire bookkeepers to file out the forms for Revenue Canada, so that they can pretend to be employers and pretend to have a commercial service operating in the own homes where they are hiring people, where they are the employer and the people who are working for them are their employees, even though we all know that the government is the employer of these people, the government is providing the service.

Mr. Speaker, this is the kind of thing that is going on behind the scenes in some cases and upfront in others. Mr. Speaker, sometimes it takes putting questions on the Order Paper to get the government to even tell the public what it is they are doing in particular policy areas.

I want someone, on behalf of the Minister of Finance, to tell us what is really behind the bill. I don't know, maybe the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island is acting in his capacity as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance today, and maybe he will speak to the debate and tell us what the government is really up to. I don't know if he is in on all the - are you in the loop?

AN HON. MEMBER: If there is liquor involved, (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I am wondering whether the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island is in the loop or is he not. He says, if there is liquor involved he is in the loop. I can accept that, coming from the hon. member.

Mr. Speaker, with those remarks, I would say that there may well be good reason to have the same board, the board of the corporation, also making decisions about licensing establishments. That may be a good idea, although I wonder what kind of conflicts might arise between the marketing and the control arms of the corporation. I wonder what the government's real intention is, with respect to the potential privatization of the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation.

I want to remind hon. members, that when the Alberta government privatized its liquor stores, prices went up. I know the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island might be interested in this aspect of it. The prices of the product went up in the liquor stores, the wages of employees went down by an average, I think, of $7,000 or $8,000. The wages of people who worked in the liquor sale business went down by $7,000 or $8,000. The selection also went down.

So, the privatization accomplished three things, Mr. Speaker. I don't think it made any more money for the government. I think it was a loss as far as government revenues are concerned. Mr. Speaker, importantly, the selection went down, importantly, the wages of employees went down, and the prices went up. That was what was accomplished there, Mr. Speaker.

I want to remind hon. members - and I brought this up in the House before - that people who work for the Liquor Corporation, in sales in particular, don't make a lot of money. They may make eight, nine or ten dollars an hour.

I had a constituent - it wasn't a constituent of mine, a constituent of some other member opposite - who wasn't apparently getting satisfaction from his own member and called my office. He was complaining about the fact that they had to go to a food bank to feed their family, even though the father of the family worked for the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation, full time. They had subsidized housing, living in a Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation house, and they had three children. They were not making sufficient income to feed their family without going to a food bank.

So, Mr. Speaker, when we are talking about changing from a situation where people are working in a unionized job in a liquor corporation outlet to a non-unionized job with lower wages, we are talking about serious consequences to individuals. So, there is an important element there of having public jobs with standards, with union contracts, with collective bargaining, the alternative being even lower wage jobs, often in unprotected environments where a minimum wage or slightly better is the rule, part-time work is the rule rather than the exception, and low wages are universal. So, it is a serious problem, Mr. Speaker, and I don't think that we ought to let those standards slip further and further, because it is going to further exacerbate the dichotomy in society between people who have permanent, full time, decent jobs and those who are on the fringes and marginalized by government policy, by corporate policy, and by the indifference, in many cases, of Legislatures.

Now, I know hon. members here like to see themselves as being concerned about the effect that policies have on people. If that the case, Mr. Speaker, I think they should pay a lot of attention to the possible consequences of the privatization of the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, Mr. Speaker, because the consequences of that would be devastating to the employees and would also result in nothing but higher prices, lower wages and a poorer selection in the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation stores.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, before I move second reading - I don't think there is anybody else over there who wants to speak - I want to say to the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi, that if he manages to catch us in committee, we have taken notes and tomorrow I will spend a half an hour reading Hansard to the Minister of Finance and pointing out to him the concerns of the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi, and if he -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: What are you bawling about? You are shouting out again.

If he is so inclined and if we can get the hon. member to be around at the right and appropriate time in committee, then he will get the chance. I am not going to tell him when that is. I can't be at that. I can tell him that his points will be considered, and if they make any sense at all, which will be somewhat unusual, then they will be included as an amendment.

Mr. Speaker, having said all that, I want to be kind again today to the Opposition. I want to congratulate them again. They are moving in an appropriate manner. I suspect, Mr. Speaker, that we are reaching a point here where they will soon turn nasty on me again and try to keep me here all night long and all day along and try to force me into closure. I hope they will continue in the good spirit they have been and see that the business of this Province is well carried out and carried out for the benefit of the people of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to move second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act And The Liquor Corporation Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 50)

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow is Private Members' Day, and unless there are great changes to take place tomorrow - (inaudible) like Ed Roberts, my mentor - we will be debating the Private Members' Resolution put forward by the Member for Port au Port.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: You caught that did you, Ed?

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House adjourn until tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. at which time we will again do great things.

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