March 14, 1997             HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLIII  No. 3


The House met at 9:00 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

 

Statements by Ministers

 

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, as hon. members will surely agree, the unique geography of Coastal Labrador poses challenging constraints to economic growth for the communities along the coast. Government recognizes that these special constraints warrant that special consideration be given to the region so that the coastal communities and economies can grow, and job opportunities can be created.

This is particularly true in the fishery. A shortage of raw material for plants has been a chronic problem, especially in Northern Labrador.

Government recognizes that the blanket fisheries policies do not always work for Labrador. That is why government established, and will continue to maintain, a policy that fish landed in Labrador must be processed in Labrador. The Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture also continues to open up other opportunities to make additional resources available to Labrador plants. Labradorians must be given the opportunity to benefit from marine resources adjacent to them.

Mr. Speaker, today the Premier is in Makkovik to announce yet another initiative that will make additional fish resources available to Labrador. On his behalf, I am happy to inform you that government is leasing the middle-distance vessel the Nain Banker to the Torngat Fish Producers Co-operative.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: This will give the Co-op the flexibility it needs to harvest resources in the region, and improve the economic viability of its operation in Makkovik.

The Nain Banker is ideal for fishing off Coastal Labrador, particularly for northern turbot. In fact, this vessel was one of the two middle-distance vessels that landed northern turbot at Makkovik in 1993 during an experimental project that proved the feasibility of these vessels prosecuting the deep water turbot fishery off Labrador.

Landings from the Nain Banker will supplement the resources that Torngat Fish Producers Co-operative will access elsewhere. This additional volume of raw material will increase the viability of Torngat's operations, decrease the need for operating subsidies, and increase employment incomes for employees.

Mr. Speaker, the Nain Banker is the only one of the six middle-distance vessels still owned by the Province. As hon. members may be aware, the Nain Banker was built as a commercial vessel but was leased on a temporary basis to Memorial University as a research and training vessel. Given the particular suitability of the vessel for the northern turbot fishery and the opportunity for Labradorians to benefit from adjacent marine resources, it has been decided to return the vessel to the commercial fishery. Government will be working closely with Memorial to find a suitable replacement vessel.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the minister for supplying me with a copy of this Ministerial Statement before the House opened. We over here on this side certainly applaud anything positive that is happening on the Labrador Coast.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: We know full well what the people, especially in Coastal Labrador, are going through right now but, I say to the minister, there is not a lot of difference in what every other coastal community that relied on the fishery around Coastal Newfoundland is going through, and I would like to see the Premier - and I ask the minister: When is the Premier going to fly to Port Union to make an announcement on what happened in the fish plant there that employed 1,200 people? When is he going to fly to the Northern Peninsula, or the Southern Shore, to make announcements on the fishery? Because I can assure you that we are going to need lots of announcements, lots of positive things put forward, in order to maintain our rural Newfoundland communities. The only way we are going to maintain them is to put emphasis on the reason why we existed there, and the reason why we went there in the first place and that is the fishery.

I call upon the minister to do whatever he can in order to attract new industries, to get into secondary processing, to add value-added products to the fish that we presently have being landed on our shores so we can create employment -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: - and we would welcome any new announcements and any positive steps such as this.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. the Member for Cartwright - L'Anse-au-Clair have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave, the hon. the Member for Cartwright - L'Anse-au-Clair.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would also like to applaud the government today for recognizing what has been happening within the fishery and on the Coast of Labrador. I think that a few years ago we set an example through the crab fishery of what could be done when we practised adjacency and local control and ownership and management of the resource. We are starting to do it today. I know that with respect to the turbot fishery, the Grand Banker, part of the Middle-Distance Fleet, that went up there, is the only thing that has kept the Labrador Shrimp Company in operation. I am sure the Nain Banker will succeed in doing the same for Torngat Fisheries and the people of the North Coast of Labrador.

I hope that the minister will continue to be interested in the fisheries along the coast of Labrador and practice conservation measures as we look at the shrimp fishery and the allocations that are going to happen there to ensure that we do not have draggers dragging the coast of Labrador in tearing up the stocks that the crab and the turbot are flourishing in now.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MS JONES: Thank you.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I apologize in giving this statement and for not providing a copy to the critic, but I think they will understand why. The Premier, the Minister of Government Services and Lands, a couple of our MHAs for Labrador West and for Torngat were in Happy Valley - Goose Bay trying to go to the coast of Labrador this morning to make those announcements. They are stormed in and they asked that we make the statement in the House, so I will do it very briefly, Mr. Speaker.

Basically, as a follow-up on the Labrador agenda with my colleague the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture in fact one of the major announcements that was to be made in the communities of Nain, Rigolet, and Hopedale today involved education infrastructure and facilities. The announcement basically, Mr. Speaker, is that in Nain because of severe overcrowding in the school and the growth in that area that everybody understands related to the Voisey's Bay development and otherwise, there will be an expansion and extension to the school in Nain which will be tendered immediately, and construction will begin this year.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: The architects and design personnel will determine shortly whether or not actually the expansion can go to the existing building. It is likely that that cannot occur because of the physical structure and the land on which it is located. It is most likely to be a stand alone, separate structure on another piece of land that will accommodate the primary elementary students, and the rest of the student body will stay in the current structure. The overall project is expected to cost $2.5 million, and the expectation is that construction is to begin this season and through two construction seasons. They could be in the school by September 1998 or at the latest by January 1999.

Also, Mr. Speaker, in the community of Rigolet, which has become well known to the people of the Province, a badly needed improvement to a school that is in fact in very bad shape, and also an announcement that the construction again will start in Rigolet this year of a new school.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: And in Rigolet, Mr. Speaker, an actual replacement of the structure that will also include, for the first time in Rigolet, the addition to the building an inclusion of a gymnasium community recreation centre that they have never had in that community before.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: That project as well, Mr. Speaker, will begin this year. Again, the same expectation that if they can meet the construction targets they will enable the project of $2.5 million in that community to be finished, hopefully for September 1998, if not, maybe for January 1999.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, clarification of the announcement in Hopedale where there is a total project that will be just over $5 million cooperative agreement, $4.4 million from provincial sources and the Labrador Native Agreement and so on, kicking in the rest so that they could have a separate native stream of education in the new replacement facility in Hopedale, again that will be constructed this year.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

An announcement such as this can only be welcomed, Mr. Speaker, by members on this side of the House. Clearly, we have communities throughout the island portion of our Province and Labrador which require immediate assistance and clearly the communities of Hopedale, Nain and Rigolet, from an educational point of view, require the sorts of advances that have been mentioned this morning by the hon. minister. I would like to pay tribute to a member opposite, who I believe deserves it, and I am referring to the Liberal Member of Torngat -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OTTENHEIMER: - who, in my view, Mr. Speaker, has worked passionately in an attempt to facilitate the sorts of advances that have been announced this morning by the hon. minister and I saw that first hand when I represented our party at a meeting of the combined councils in Labrador, approximately a month ago.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I say to the hon. minister, do not stop now. We have a construction board whose mandate it is to see to it that we have the appropriate facilities and expansion of schools and I say in particular, Mr. Speaker, let's be mindful of those facilities that presently require immediate assistance. I refer specifically to a school in the district of Bay of Islands, the Premier's own district, where today there are some forty-odd students who require puffers because of poor air quality in that building.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: I say to the hon. minister to address this matter immediately. It is of immediate concern. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave!

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The day is gone when government members should sit around applauding the government for meeting the basic needs of people for education. While we welcome the building of these schools in Nain, Hopedale, and Rigolet, which are so desperately necessary, as has been pointed out by the Member for Torngat Mountains, it is something that ought to have been done a long time ago. This government has been in power, this previous Liberal government, for six or seven years now, and it is time that it recognized this need. I congratulate the Member for Torngat Mountains for bringing it to its senses on this issue and for achieving what has taken so long to achieve. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. the Member for Cartwright - L'Anse au Clair have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave!

MR. SPEAKER: No leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member doesn't have leave.

 

Oral Questions

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

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

The Chair has called Oral Questions.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I had hoped to ask questions of the Premier today, but when the Trans City scandal in the courts ruled that it was guilty he didn't show up in the House for nearly two weeks. I hope to have him back to question him in the near future.

I will ask the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. In light of the report that was tabled in this House yesterday I will ask the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation will she explain why the Cabot 500 Corporation has not been dissolved, in spite of a Cabinet directive to that effect on November 16 1995? Could she give the House the reasons why it isn't currently dissolved?

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

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, I would be most pleased to give an answer to the hon. member's question. The board in essence has been dissolved. I have gone to Cabinet to explain, and there is a Minute on the record of Cabinet, why the legal entity is still there. The legal entity is still there because of the contracts that we have with the Matthew, because of the sponsorship contracts, and because of the merchandising contracts. Other than that all of it has been dissolved and government, as of November, 1995, has assumed the management totally of the Cabot celebrations.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am quite sure legal responsibility for contracts can be transferred and accepted by both parties to other entities; that is not a problem.

Mr. Speaker, in this report the review of the expenditures of the John Cabot 500th Anniversary Corporation that was prepared by the Auditor General, we witness what could be described as a complete abuse of taxpayers' money and a complete disregard for the laws of the Province. Now, the Auditor General has concluded that this corporation was subject to the Public Tender Act, and the department and the corporation in question believe it was not. I ask the minister: Does she intend to obtain a determination of which opinion is accurate?

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

MS KELLY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all, in regard to transferring of contracts, I would like to tell the hon. member that could only be done at very great expense; and that is the reason why leaving the legal entity there was of no particular difficulty - there were legal opinions that said so - and I would assume you would not want us to waste funds, many thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As in regard to the review of expenditures, the review of expenditures will be addressed very clearly in this House. At this time I would like to table the analysis of the Auditor General of Newfoundland's report entitled `Draft Report of the John Cabot 500th Anniversary Corporation'. This is the report that the volunteer board, Miller Ayre and others, publicly put on the public record and was addressed in the public all through, since February 21.

Also, the volunteer board have agreed that yes, they will appear before - gladly appear before - the Public Accounts Committee. Also, in regard to other issues that are referred to in this report in regard to the possible misuse of funds, my department weeks ago, have already referred to the Department of Justice for an assessment. This will be inquired into properly through the Department of Justice.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: The minister would not want to see us agree with the waste of funds. Well, now, that is a hypocritical statement coming from a minister whose own department lacked accountability, did not do their job, and allowed a tremendous abuse of public funds.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: I ask the minister now: Does she agree it is acceptable use of public funds to pay people's personal income tax, spousal trips, and other personal costs that are not related to Cabot 500?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, the comments that the hon. member has just made are casting aspersions on many volunteers, volunteers who were appointed by both the federal government, by the hon. John Crosbie, who we all respect very much, and by the provincial government. The other items you referred to are items I cannot comment on because they were referred weeks ago, as soon as we received this report, the draft copy of this report, to the Department of Justice, and the Department of Justice will be doing the inquiry that is necessary.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I do not care -

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, the hon. gentleman -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has not yet recognized the hon. member.

The hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods on a point of order.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman just used the phrase `hypocritical' in referring to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. I would remind him that is not permissible and he should withdraw it, and I would ask that the Chair ask him to do so now.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair will review Hansard and see exactly the context in which the hon. member had used the statement, and report back to the House.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition on a supplementary.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, I will withdraw the word `hypocritical' if it is a problem and would save the time of making a decision on that.

It does not matter who was appointed, who sits there. I do not care who appointed whom or who sits there. I do not agree with the misuse of public funds in this Province, and I ask the minister now: What have you done up to March 14 to correct the problems in your administration which have been documented by the Auditor General of this Province?

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

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, in regards to the comments about the misuse of public funds, this is the third time I am standing here saying that immediately upon receipt of this knowledge it was referred to the Department of Justice. Also, I should acknowledge that procedural concerns and that were taken care of when the department brought the Cabot celebrations into the department, dissolved the Corporation, and brought the management of the Cabot celebrations into the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation on November 1995. Government's takeover of the Corporation at that time resolved all of the concerns related to legislation and procedures.

The former directors have reviewed the Auditor General's draft report and they provided, as I've just provided to you, and we have all been provided with on February 21, a detailed public response. This was made available to the Auditor General pointing out some of her errors of omission in this.

We should also well note here that my department's response immediately to the Auditor General, in a very expeditious manner, was ignored in the report. This is the first time as far as anyone can ascertain that the Auditor General has left out the departmental response as she tabled her report in the House of Assembly. My department by next week will reissue our detailed response. We could give you the detailed response that we submitted to the Auditor General, but in our first review of this yesterday evening we discovered that some of our detailed response was in fact used by the Auditor General. Some of it was not. Therefore we have to review the whole document line by line before we can give our detailed response to it next week.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, we heard the same story on Trans City, how government was doing things right, when the highest court in this Province said you broke the law, and in this instance too. I ask the minister: In view of the reckless mismanagement and the waste of millions of dollars of public money, and the blatant abuses of public tender revealed by the Auditor General, will the minister, this government, now do the right thing and order a judicial inquiry into the matter to determine what laws were broken, who is responsible, and what should be done about it?

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

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, I think that actually your question is too late. The judicial inquiry, the legal inquiry that you are speaking of, we have already asked the Department of Justice to look into. We have already asked, weeks ago.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. The minister has stated that the reason the government is privatising the provincial parks is to save $1.8 million. However, in the program review dated September 27 1996 it states that nature and eco-tourists have contributed $150 million to our economy in the previous year. Resident tourists have contributed $300 million to our economy. It also states that the revenue that is generated to the Province as a direct or indirect result of the provincial parks program makes the parks affordable. My question is: Why is the minister going to privatise our provincial parks when her own report states that because of the direct and indirect revenues the parks are affordable?

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

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, several of the comments that the hon. member makes are very accurate. We will be saving $1.8 million. The hon. member does not point out that there will be thirteen core parks left in our system. He is also saying that as these parks are privatized or taken over by other operators that there will be no revenues. The revenues that you refer to will still be generated and I believe in this year much more revenue will be brought in because of the Cabot celebrations and the thousands upon extra thousands of visitors. These parks are not being closed. These parks are being privatized. The revenue will still be there, and will be there, I hope, in much greater amounts than you have just outlined to us.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I remind the minister that of the twenty-eight parks up for privatization, only ten are still open.

In the minister's program review it states that the standards of provincial parks are higher than that of the private sector equivalent. It also states that many of the current private park operators are experiencing financial difficulties. My question is: When your review states that the private operators may not have the resources or the desire to implement the standards that are experienced and that are commonplace in the provincial parks, why have you suddenly decided that the private park operators are a better option?

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

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that all through the program review process many, many pieces of research, many - how would I say?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS KELLY: No, I think the way I would like to put it, Mr. Speaker, is that when we were doing the review, we received many, many opinions - opinions from every single employee, right from the very beginning. What you are pointing out today here is one piece out of hundreds and hundreds of pieces of information that we reviewed. I think when you say that public parks don't have the same standards; we could give you a very long list of private parks, public parks, national parks that have very high standards in this Province. You have been all over the media, all over this Province this week talking about our fine parks. Our public parks and our private parks are, indeed, very good. We do, as in any operation, need to have enhanced standards and these are being put in place. The same way as with our B&Bs, we have just recently put a rating service in place, this is being done in our parks also.

I think that many of the employees, the entrepreneurs and the tourism associations that are making proposals about taking over our parks - you are demonstrating very little faith in them. Already we are seeing, by the meetings we are holding and the questions that are coming by telephone, that very experienced, well-educated, good business partnerships are being formed here for the takeover of these parks.

When you say that when the last privatization was done -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the minister to finish her answer quickly, please.

MS KELLY: - not all were offered for privatization.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say the minister is as full of confidence now, as is her report.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is: Why has the minister not consulted with the Mayor of Gambo when he was led to believe that because of celebrations in that area, his park would not be in danger of privatization until at least 1999?

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

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, I met with the town council of Gambo this week.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To consult with the council of Gambo this week is a little late. Mr. Speaker, the minister has insulted the people of our Province by not consulting with them!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, the minister has insulted the park employees by cutting their careers short without notice!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, the minister has insulted the municipalities. I ask the minister: When are you going to do the right thing and reverse your decision and save our parks?

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

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, this decision to save $1.8 million by privatizing some of our parks and leaving thirteen core parks was a program review decision, and it is based on choices, the choices between health care, social programs, and education. We have reviewed all of the services within our department, met our savings targets, and are very, very, confident that these parks will be privatized using employee takeovers, tourism associations, private entrepreneurs and some partnership arrangements between private entrepreneurs, tourism associations and employees.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Minister of Health. They concern Sharon Broderick, a woman who has gone public through national media to tell her story about the mutilation and the neglect she has suffered at the hands of this Province's health care system. I have written the Minister of Justice on two different occasions demanding an inquiry, and twice, of course, the government have said no. Will the Minister of Health now order an inquiry to determine what went wrong in the case, why the system failed Ms Broderick, and why her efforts to have the system redress the wrongdoings have still gone unnoticed and have still gone without a public inquiry?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the first part of the hon. member's question, it is, as he would know, not within the jurisdiction of the Minister of Health to direct or order inquiries of any type, size, or description, when it comes to matters of justice in the Province. That is an issue for the Department of Justice and for the Minister of Justice to so deal with.

To the other broader issue regarding this case that has been significantly aired in a public fashion, let me tell the hon. member that immediately there was representation from Ms Broderick to the former Premier, actually, of the day, and then down to the Minister of Justice and myself as Minister of Health, we immediately took the appropriate steps to deal with her concerns.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: If you would care to listen a second I will tell you. There are two avenues of redress in situations like this. The first is that the individual who feels aggrieved or has a complaint has a right to, and has an avenue through the Newfoundland Medical Board to make representation with respect to the treatment, to the services, to the activities, or otherwise, of physicians in the Province. Ms Broderick was advised that that should be undertaken if she wished and that venue was open to her.

There is one other avenue of redress that a person can always take, which is litigation through the civil courts. In this particular instance, Ms Broderick was advised of that on three separate occasions by correspondence and on one occasion by telephone. The Newfoundland Medical Board, through the offices of Dr. Young, contacted Ms. Broderick, advised her of her rights, advised her that they were prepared to consider any representation she would make, and in the final contact with the individual, the Newfoundland Medical Board took the extraordinary step of offering secretarial services and help to the individual if she so wished to come forward and make a formal complaint.

My latest information, as of this week, is that that type of information has not been laid before the board so they have not been able to act. The individual did, however, initiate action through the courts in a civil suit and that activity is ongoing through the court system and, of course, it would be inappropriate for me, for you, or for anybody else, to speak to that court case inasmuch as it would be most inappropriate and unfortunate if we were to in any way prejudicially affect what she might be putting before the courts and the adjudication they might arrive at as a result of that representation.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, everything has been done to assist this individual from the governmental departmental level. The appropriate channels have been laid open for the individual and the case is now before the courts.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South, a supplementary.

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, I really and truly do not believe what I just heard. It is not the courts whose job it is to set the policy for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, I say to the minister - that is the job of the fifteen Cabinet ministers who sit opposite.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Now, Mr. Speaker, in 1994, Ms Broderick signed documents, I will tell the minister, seeing he talks about an inquiry, for the Health Care Corporation, to ask the Newfoundland Medical Board to investigate - I spoke to Ms Broderick, by the way, minister, as early as this morning. But the Health Care Corporation did absolutely nothing, as they do do. In view of the fact that there are now two other women, and Ms Broderick tells me there are numerous others who are calling her almost on a daily basis, will the minister finally do something to ensure that public health care is being delivered as it should be to the thousands of other people who find themselves at the mercy of the system for which he is responsible?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: I do not know what the hon. member is getting on with this morning talking about `do-do.' To the more substantive part of his question, the Health Care Corporation, in this particular case, has been named in the civil action that has been initiated by Ms Broderick. And because the Health Care Corporation has been named in the civil suit that has been put before the courts, there are restrictions, limitations, that that brings with it.

Simply put again, it would be most inappropriate for anyone named in the suit or anyone otherwise, to be taking or making precipitous decisions or actions that might prejudicially affect the case that the individual has before the courts. The Health Care Corporation has acted appropriately, in my judgement, the Newfoundland Medical Board has acted appropriately, in my judgement, and the courts will render their verdict when it comes to their final judgement on the issues and matters before them.

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

MR. FRENCH: I can only say, again, Mr. Speaker, that I just do not believe that the minister runs a department that spends so much money and knows absolutely nothing about this particular case. I have spoken to the Broderick family on four separate occasions, with my colleague, the critic for Justice, and I have had numerous phone calls, and believe me, Mr. Minister, your story -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the member to get to his question.

MR. FRENCH: - is certainly different from hers. Does this minister like to find out what is going on in his department by reading court decisions or following the coverage in the media? What specifically has he done to ensure that no other person in this Province has to endure the kind of mutilation and neglect that Sharon Broderick has suffered?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Sharon Broderick case and the information that came forward on The Fifth Estate is an instance, and puts forward a very visual and graphic picture, of services that were rendered to her in the health care system. I have to tell you that anyone who saw that incidence or is in any way familiar with the outcome of the treatment that she had, if we were to look at it from what we see publicly, would have great sympathy with that individual. I have great sympathy and compassion and empathy for any individual who goes through a health care system and who has an outcome that they are not entirely happy with.

We have about 15,000 people every day who have interactions with the health care system through their physicians, through their hospitals, and it is a fact of life, most unfortunately, that of those 15,000 interactions every day every one of them does not turn out exactly as people would like, or as the people who are rendering services would like. But that is something that causes us to deal with these things as they come forward.

In the matter of the Sharon Broderick case, I can assure the hon. member that I am intimately and fully and completely and thoroughly familiar with the file in all its aspects, in every respect of the issue. I am as well-versed on the file and on the case as he might ever suspect anyone could be. In the judgement of this minister, and in the judgement of this government, we have taken every appropriate action to ensure that the individual has knowledge of the processes that are in place to deal with her concerns, and we have taken every appropriate action -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the member to complete his answer quickly.

MR. MATTHEWS: - to ensure that she has access to those avenues of redress that are there for her.

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

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

My questions are for the Minister of Social Services. In the Speech from the Throne, on page 13, there is a commitment that: Savings from Program Review - now we know where the money is going to go - and other efficiencies will be used to fund investments in nutrition, adoption, foster care, and family services.

Can the minister today give us more details as to the nature of the programs that are going to be funded, how much money will be used from the savings of program review to fund those initiatives, or is this another wish list and another wishy-washy commitment that will result in another tick in the report card that you plan for next year?

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

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

Yes, I think it will result in another tick in the report card when we do our second Year To Date, but I will not be giving any details until the appropriate time. My hon. colleague knows that the Speech from the Throne lays out the general directions of government, and the initiatives that will be undertaken, and more detail will be given at the appropriate time, be it in the Budget or close to that.

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

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

Madam Minister, the Throne Speech as well notes, on page 15, that the Policy Advisory Committee on the Strategic Social Plan is now in the final stages of completing its report. Will the minister confirm, as was noted in the press this week, that when the Throne Speech was being read on March 11, indeed, the minister already had the report in her possession? And will she announce today, when, where, how, and under what procedures, she will release this report to the public?

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

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

I do not have the report in my possession. The full report has not yet been submitted to government. I think this arm's length committee has heard from over 1,500 participants in over 130 communities. They have received 685 submissions, questionnaires, e-mails, letters and telephone conversations. If I were to say, `pass it in', you would be telling me I was interfering with the process. When that arm's length committee is finished, it will be submitted to government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

What the minister has said is that Judge Hancock, who was a member of the committee, and party to the writing of it, does not know what she is talking about.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to ask another question. This is not the first Strategic Social Plan report to be prepared. Indeed, there was another report prepared in December of 1995. It was whipped back at the last minute, even though it was all printed and ready to go. What assurances do we have that the current Administration is more committed to the Strategic Social Plan report than they were to the one prepared in December of 1995 and printed by the Wells Administration?

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

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

As my colleague knows, I do not have to respond to some of the previous directions not under my complete direction, but I can assure my hon. colleague that this Province is committed; this government is committed, to putting forward a Strategic Social Plan. As we said in our Red Book, we are committed to doing that. We are anxious to get the report from our Social Policy Advisory Committee. We are anxious to start the process and to put forward the most fundamentally bold and original report that this Province has ever seen. We are looking forward to doing that, and as soon as we get that report we will move forward and put that down for this Province and people to see.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

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

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Terra Nova.

MR. LUSH: One of the fundamental principles, Mr. Speaker, on which this House operates, is the respect and civility that we show to each other. There are rules designed to ensure that that takes place, that debate takes place with a degree of moderation.

I refer to the question and answer between the Member for Conception Bay South and the Minister of Health. I believe that after the answer of one question to the Minister of Health that the Member for Conception Bay South said that he did not believe what he just heard. We all know what that means and I would say to hon. members that that is quite unparliamentary. I refer to Beauchesne, page 151, clause 494, with the heading to that particular paragraph, "Acceptance of the word of a Member. It has been formally ruled by Speakers that statements by Members respecting themselves and particularly within their own knowledge must be accepted. It is not unparliamentary temperately to criticize statements made by members as being contrary to the facts; but no imputation of intentional falsehood is permissible." I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that that certainly was the intent of the words given by the Member for Conception Bay South when he said that he did not believe what he heard. I believe if that were allowed to stand, Mr. Speaker, it could have a serious implication for the operation of this House in the future. Mr. Speaker, I would suggest -

AN HON. MEMBER: It's a waste of time.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. LUSH: Anything, Mr. Speaker, with reference to the civility and the decorum that is supposed to take place in this House is not a waste of time and I would suggest to you that if that were allowed to stand it would have serious implication for this House in the future.

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

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

I cannot believe that the member would rise in his place this morning and waste the time of this House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, we come here to do the public's business. Mr. Speaker, I just want to say to the member opposite

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. H. HODDER: I want to say to the member opposite over there, I want to say to him that - Mr. Speaker, it says on page 151, 494, "It is not unparliamentary temperately to criticize statements made by Members as being contrary to the facts." That is what it says, it is not unparliamentary to criticize members and making statements contrary to the facts. The Member for Conception Bay South said, `I cannot accept or I cannot believe what the minister has said is a fact.' He did not say the minister did not believe what he was saying. He did not say the minister was deliberately communicating wrong words to the House. He just said that he could not believe that what the minister was saying was acceptable and consistent with the facts that have been told by the Broderick family. Mr. Speaker, there is nothing unparliamentary about it. It is a disagreement between members and that's it!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Do you know what is going on in your own department, boy? Wake up boy?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is not going to tolerate this kind of exchange in the House. I ask hon. members to come to their senses and let's get on with the business of the House.

Order, please!

I ask the hon. Member for Conception Bay South to constrain himself.

To that point of order, the Chair will take it under advisement and report back to the House on Tuesday.

 

Notices of Motion

 

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce the following Private Members' resolution;

WHEREAS the Province has passed a tax agreement act; and

WHEREAS as a consequence of the implementation of the Harmonized Sales Tax on April 1 the prices of many essential goods and services will increase, and

WHEREAS the increased tax rates on heating fuel, electricity, children's clothing, and many other goods and services will impact most severely on those surviving on small or fixed incomes who comprise of a major portion of the Province's people, and

WHEREAS the chairperson of the Senate of the Canada Committee on Banking, Trade, and Commerce, has publicly urged the participating provinces to enact a provincial rebate system similar to that enacted by the federal government with respect to the goods and services tax,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this hon. House urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to enact a provincial annual income supplement program to help compensate low and fixed income families for the added expenses they will incur as a consequence of the implementation of the HST.

MR. SPEAKER: Further Notices of Motion.

The hon. Member for St. John's South.

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce the following Private Members' Resolution.

WHEREAS the people of our Province own the provincial parks that government is now trying to privatize, and

WHEREAS the people of our Province who own these parks were never consulted by the government about its decision to privatize these parks, and

WHEREAS the people of our Province are expressing loudly and clearly that they do not want their provincial parks privatized, and

WHEREAS government's rash, last minute decision to privatize the people's parks without their prior knowledge or consent is fostering chaos and confusion which puts at risk the Cabot Celebrations and the most important tourism year in our history,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this hon. House urge the provincial government immediately to stop its efforts to privatize the people's provincial parks.

 

Petitions

 

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise again today to present another petition to the House of Assembly regarding the provincial parks. The prayer of the petition reads: we the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador wish to petition the provincial government, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, and the Premier to immediately reverse the decision to privatize the provincial parks as they are the people's resource. We feel that this decision was made in haste without the consultation of the people of our Province, the people who own these parks, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, there have been questions in the House today without substantive answers, and again yesterday regarding the provincial parks. The minister herself states that they have over 300 enquiries regarding the privatization of provincial parks, people interested in the takeover of these parks.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member for Burgeo & LaPoile on a point of order.

MR. RAMSAY: Mr. Speaker, I hesitate, but the wording of the petition, and I am not sure if the House resolved the issue of the wording of petitions so that any petition could be brought forward - I do not want to be a real stickler about it or anything, but it is a concern because I know, in my own district, I always try to make sure that the petitions I bring forward on behalf of constituents are worded appropriately. I think it is important that we know that the petitions are to be worded appropriately to the standards that the House has set for that, or are we to accept petitions other than those worded appropriately? I just wanted to ask the Chair for the information on that.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Opposition House Leader to the point of order.

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, this petition is quite in order. It is entitled: petition to the House of Assembly and it meets all the requirements according to standing procedures we have here. I see nothing wrong with it and I would ask the Chair to rule on it.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair has not seen the petition, but the Chair would like to have a copy of the petition to make a determination.

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It has become quite evident to me -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair would like to have....

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

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

Certainly this petition does not follow the standard and requirements of a petition for the House of Assembly, and I would certainly rule that this petition would not be in order.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. member have leave to present that petition?

AN HON. MEMBER: There is no reason that petition is out of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: There is no reason for it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has ruled that the petition is not in order. The member is asking for leave to present the petition. Does the hon. member have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave!

MR. SPEAKER: Leave.

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I can't believe that the members of this House would turn down a petition presented by the people. How are the people of our Province supposed to know how to word a petition?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. OSBORNE: The people of -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. Member for St. John's South to continue.

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It has become quite evident in this House that the members on the opposite side agree that this is an absurd decision. They are trying to stop petitions by the people of our Province. They are trying to stop the people of our Province from voicing their concern and objection to the privatisation of our provincial parks.

The people of our Province are gravely concerned over the privatisation of provincial parks. In 1995 the government put up for privatisation twenty-eight parks. Of those parks it had serious enquiries on fifteen, and today, two years later, there are only ten of those parks still in operation. That is just not acceptable. The twenty-one parks it is intending to privatise today, and the seven cites, can we expect the same results in two years' time?

The people of our Province have a just right to present this petition in the House of Assembly. As I've said, the people of our Province are not familiar with the way petitions are to be worded. If we are going to turn down every petition that comes in here that is written -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I want if I could to rise on a point of order. I don't want to waste anybody's time when they are in the middle of a petition to do so.

I want to note that the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile was in his right to demand that there be some semblance of order to this petition. The Speaker ruled the petition out of order. I want members to note, please, that there is some semblance of order that should be put to petitions. While we, not wanting to stop the hon. gentleman from presenting this petition today, to present the wishes of the people, wherever they were, I want him also to note that he does know the proper orders for petitions. I suspect that everybody on that side knows the proper orders for petitions. While we give him leave today, I want to make it known that whenever the Speaker rules a petition out of order in this Legislature, this side of the House will no longer give leave to the presentation of that petition.

MR. SPEAKER: To the point of order. Does the hon. member want to speak to that point of order?

The hon. Government House Leader is correct in that the petitions presented to this House should be in their proper order and that all members should be familiar with the process and with the form that the petition should be in.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

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

I remind hon. members that the Chair was giving a ruling on a point of order raised by a member, and that members should sit in their seats and be attentive. There should be silence in this House when the Chair is trying to rule on a point of order.

To the point of order again: Members ought to have petitions presented to this House in the proper form, and the Chair can only grant leave if leave is given by all members of the House. A member who comes into the House with a petition that is not in form is running the risk of not being permitted to have that petition presented.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to support the petition presented by the Member for St. John's South, and to support the prayer of the petition which seeks to have the government of this Province reverse its decision to privatize these parks.

Mr. Speaker, the provincial park system is a system that is designed for a particular purpose. It was paid for by the people of this Province. It was built up over a period of years by an investment of the taxpayers to create a system of wilderness, access points for the general public, and particularly those people who are not wilderness campers; they cannot go into the back woods - the back of beyond, as some people say - and experience the wilderness of this Province. It is an opportunity for people, particularly families, to enjoy outdoor activity in a relatively pristine environment. I say `relatively' because obviously there is some civilization there, and the people who go to provincial parks want to have the advantages of a park warden. They want to have the advantages of a system where there is some sense of security, there is someone to call on in the case of an emergency, there is some opportunity to be able to enjoy the outdoors and, at the same time, enjoy a measure of safety and security.

So these park systems are designed for that purpose, for the recreational uses of the people of this Province, and there is a cost associated with that. Let there be no mistake about it; there is a cost associated with providing that public service to the people of this Province, and that cost includes the cost of paying the salaries of individuals who work in those parks, on a seasonal basis for the most part, to provide those services to the public, and it is a public service that the people of this Province want. They want to have this service, they want to have the opportunity to use these public parks, and they want to have the opportunity to have them operate at a set of public standards that are adopted and that the people have come to expect and to enjoy over the years, and it is not something that the people of this Province want to see taken out of public control and public hands and put into private hands. It is as simple as that.

We have, as part of the heritage of the people of this Province, a system of public parks, and they are part of the commitment that each province is expected to make, to set aside certain parts of its province where there will be no development, where people will have access to the wilderness, to the beauty of nature, to the beauty of this Province that we are all so proud of. That is the purpose of these parks, not to turn them into private use, an opportunity for individuals to exercise their entrepreneurial skills to make a few bucks. There is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with private enterprise seeking to make profit and do things, but not in this particular context. It is not an appropriate use of the Province's resources to turn these particular parks that have been built up over the years at public expense, into private hands.

The only figure the minister wants to talk about is the $1.8 million that she thinks will be saved - she thinks will be saved - by turning these over to private hands. I don't think she has really figured out all the numbers. What I am hearing from the people who work in these parks is that this provides to a family an economic livelihood that is being taken away, and with the way the UI system has been destroyed by their federal counterparts over there, most of these people are not even going to be able to collect EI, and will not be able to have a support for their family from a seasonal job such as this. What we are going to see is these people moving away, or ending up on the social assistance rolls in the not-too-distant future.

What is going to happen if the parks are taken over by entrepreneurs, a family operation or an operation where there is only a handful of people at the most employed at minimum wage jobs, part-time, that kind of thing. That will not replace the economic benefit of the public expenditure that is taking place right now. So we have not really got a full cost benefit analysis of what the government is doing in the first place, not, Mr. Speaker, that that would justify them doing it, given the fact that this is a public investment and a public resource.

We have not heard the minister, not once, say how much public money has gone into these parks since they have been formed. How much public -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand today to present a petition from constituents in my district. Mr. Speaker, it is a `save our Mounties' petition. The prayer of it reads: We, the concerned citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador, are proud to have members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police providing policing services to our communities. We demand that our government consider the impact on the citizens of our Province of further reductions and/or elimination of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. This issue is much too important to be decided by government alone and we would ask that all citizens be consulted before any decisions are made.

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if that prayer is in line with what is required here in the House or not but the intent is certainly very real, and the intent is obvious, Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of the petition as well.

Yesterday we saw a situation whereby the retired members of the RCMP met with the Minister of Justice and Attorney General and presented a petition with in excess of 52,000 names attached to it. I stood here yesterday and presented a petition with in excess of 4,000 names. Mr. Speaker, there is certainly a lot of concern out there in Newfoundland today with some of the statements made by the Minister of Justice prior to Christmas when he went out and talked about his program review, looking at the possibility of doing away with either the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary or the RCMP and having the Province policed by one particular police force.

Mr. Speaker, the residents of my district are not saying that we do not want the RNC to come and police us - that is not the intent at all - but what they are saying is: We would like to know why we should have to lose the present police force that has served us so well these past forty-six years. We would like to know if government, in their review process, is looking at cutting back or reducing the number of RCMP officers by one, by two or by fifteen.

I am not familiar with what is happening in urban areas but you will find that the RCMP policing effort in rural Newfoundland today is reduced to the minimum number that was suggested by a review process conducted by the Department of Justice some years ago, the minimum number of officers that they feel is needed in order to police that particular area.

I know, in my district of Bonavista South, we are policed, for the greater part, by the RCMP detachment in Bonavista. Mr. Speaker, that particular detachment has nine members - nine RCMP members serving in excess of 14,000 residents in thirty-nine communities. We have already seen the highway patrol effort cut to something like thirteen right across the Province of Newfoundland. There are thirteen people now designated as highway patrol officers. All of us, I guess, at times would like to go on the highway and do things where we think we will not have to be bothered with the RCMP or the RNC but I think the very presence of those two forces, either out doing their duties or living in the area or being involved in community work has got a - just their very presence, Mr. Speaker, is a discouragement to people who would want to be outside of the law. People feel very protected when they see those peace officers carrying out their duties.

What the people are asking in my particular district is no different from what they are asking down in Placentia, where I think there was a rally held by some concerned citizens, there was another in Harbour Grace; and they are all saying the same thing. They are all carrying the same message. They are saying: What we want is to be consulted. We want to be advised of what is happening here. Maybe there are places where we can cut and save some money. Maybe, Mr. Speaker, we can do things differently. We are not going to get into a turf war between the RCMP versus the RNC, although I am convinced that is what the minister tried to do when he flicked out the little bit of information. I think he thought that the RNC and the RCMP would come together and get into this big turf war and the effort would be moved away from his department. And the police officers - then he would have to step in and make the big changes and be the hero of the day.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: But that did not happen, nor should it happen.

Mr. Speaker, I have other petitions and I will present them as the days go by. Thank you very much.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to take a few minutes -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, if you would be kind enough to - if we could quieten or muzzle this gentleman over here until I am finished. I will deal with him when I get up to speak later on this morning. If he thought he got something in Question Period he has seen nothing yet.

Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to support this petition. I have RCMP who police part of my district, and I am very fortunate that I also have the RNC in my district. We have two extremely good police forces doing an extremely good job. If there were any one criticism, unfortunately it is that we don't have the manpower so that they can even do their job much better than it is being provided today.

I have attended a meeting in one of the communities, attended by well over 200 people, of a campaign that would support the RCMP in this Province. I do not think we should be drawing police forces into discussion or debate with each other as to who should do this, who should do that. I really and truly believe we should have gone out and negotiated with both police forces. I hope that at the end of the day we see both police forces remain in this Province as they have since Confederation, providing very valuable services to the citizens of this Province.

I have a nephew who serves in the RCMP. It took quite a number of years after he graduated in Edmonton - he had to go to British Columbia, got transferred several times in British Columbia. Eventually, he moved up to the north where he finally served about four years in the north, because they said if you go north you have an opportunity to get back to your own province. He was fortunate about a year-and-a-half ago to get transferred back to Newfoundland, the place that is his home, the place where he was born, and he was only too glad to get back to avail of the hunting and the fishing and so on in his own native Province.

I would hope, Mr. Speaker, there are no cuts to the RCMP in this Province, that it remains the same as it does today. There should be no cuts. If anything, both forces need more manpower to do the job, to provide protection for the people of this Province. Thank you.

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

MR. A. REID: Mr. Speaker, I want to make a few comments about the RCMP, because I guess, like yourself and a lot of others, we have had extensive representations made to us as the members - not as the minister but as the Member for the District of Carbonear - Harbour Grace. We have one of the biggest rural detachments, I suppose, in Harbour Grace right now, one of the biggest in the Province. In fact, I think it is bigger than Gander at the present time.

I can honestly say to you that over the years I have known most of the RCMP officers in Harbour Grace and the Carbonear area. They have provided -

MR. FITZGERALD: (Inaudible) the reason why you have a big detachment out there is because so many people who live there are criminals?

MR. A. REID: After I got elected in 1989, the force went from eleven to nineteen.

MR. FITZGERALD: Is it a reflection of some of the people we see here? (Inaudible). Is that the reason, Minister?

MR. A. REID: I have to say, Mr. Speaker, and I think I am saying this on your behalf as well, because I know that you have been lobbied as the member next door to me, and I know my hon. colleague for Port de Grave has been lobbied as well. We have a detachment in Bay Roberts.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. A. REID: Mr. Speaker, I have to honestly say that the RCMP in my area of the Province, the Conception Bay North and the Trinity South area have provided a valuable service since the early 50s, I guess, when the force came there first and picked up a number of rangers that were in the area. Next door to me, by the way, in Carbonear, in my residence in Carbonear, lived a retired superintendent of the RCMP, Mr. Nelson Forward who passed away just last year. I also support the RNC even thought I have had one speeding ticket in the last five years. One of my friends from the RNC happened to nap me coming across Nagle's Hill one night. I was driving a little too fast and I got a ticket, but I will not hold that against the RNC.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. A. REID: I will say, Mr. Speaker, that when the government dealt with the question of the RNC and the RCMP we did it on the basis of what would be the best service we could provide with the money that was available to us at this particular point in time. I am not in any position to say whether the RCMP will stay or go, but I will say to you that I hope, because the force has served me well, and the residents of my district well, I hope they are around for a long time to come.

They are a symbol of Canadianism, I suppose, one of the few symbols that we have left in the Province, and I do support the RCMP in rural Newfoundland, but I also support the RNC because, I think, there are more people from Carbonear and Harbour Grace in the RNC, certainly more in the RNC than there is in the RCMP, so there is a lot of support coming from this side of the House as it relates to both forces. I am in no position to say that one force is better than the other. I am living in St. John's most of the time during weekdays and my force, the RNC, is doing a commendable job in St. John's, so I have to offer them the same amount of gratitude and praise as I offer the RCMP.

Mr. Speaker, I am not speaking in favour or against the petition. What I am saying is basically, I hope and I think, there are a lot of people in the district of Carbonear - Harbour Grace who hope there will be, after the Budgetary process is announced, there will be a presence of the RCMP, at least for some time to come, in the Conception Bay - Trinity Bay area.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to present a petition that is directed to the hon. House of Assembly of the Province -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Could the hon. member just take his seat for one minute?

I thought the hon. Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi was rising to speak to the petition that was presented by the hon. Member for Bonavista.

MR. TULK: He was the third speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay. I thought he was the second speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: I rise to present a petition to the House of Assembly in the Province of Newfoundland in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador petition the Province to direct the government to establish a universal comprehensive school lunch program for every school in Newfoundland and Labrador to help end child hunger and to give our children a better chance.

These petitioners have identified two issues, two important issues in the area of child poverty in this Province, the need for some government action that is going to help children learn better and have a better chance of overcoming the difficulties they face in this Province and in the world. The second thing they have identified, Mr. Speaker, is the need for a universal program for each and every school in the Province, and not a program that can only happen if there is already a social infrastructure, if there is already a club or a volunteer organization, or a charity base that is going to do this. They have identified the need for a government sponsored program that is universal and comprehensive.

Mr. Speaker, the need has been identified clearly, from an educational perspective by Dr. Patricia Canning in her report which was released last fall. It has also become very evident that in this Province the needs of children and the needs of poor people is a very serious matter that is, in fact, getting worse and not better. These are the unfortunate and sad realities for people in this Province and we can no longer, and government can no longer, pretend that the picture is rosy, as they did in the Throne Speech. You cannot tell hungry children to wait for a better tomorrow. Hungry children need food today. They cannot wait for a better tomorrow. They will not be working at Voisey's Bay. They will not be building smelters in Argentia. They will be going to school tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, for many years to come. Their needs need to be addressed now.

This is a very small program, a small step, a small part of what this government and each and every Government of Canada committed itself to, to end child hunger and child poverty by the year 2000. This is a very small part of that, but a very necessary part and one that is within the capacity of this government to do this year.

Mr. Speaker, we, as a Province, are saving something in the order of $40 million to $50 million in our education system as a result of changes in the school busing system, the consolidation of schools, and the reduction of teachers, because of the decline in enrolment. That kind of money is substantial. They are real dollars that are available for the Province to spend in other ways. What better way to make a start on both ending child hunger and building an opportunity for students to learn better in school than to have a school lunch program that is available to every child in the Province, in every school in the Province, regardless of their income, regardless of their ability to pay. That is what these petitioners call for, Mr. Speaker, and that is what I support and support fully.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I rise again today to support the petition put forward by my colleague to the right, and say that this petition again is reflecting the concerns of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians about their children.

Mr. Speaker, we know there are serious problems in Newfoundland and Labrador as it relates to children. We know that some children will never have an opportunity to finish high school. We need programs that are aimed at intervening at an early age. We need programs that are designed to address the needs of children before they ever enter the school system. We need to show support for family resource centres. We need to let parents know that they are not alone, that we understand their situations. The issue of child hunger is a blight upon all of us.

Mr. Speaker, as we said in the House before, the situation as it relates to children is getting worse. One sad reflection on Canada, on Newfoundland and Labrador, is when we have to say that we have more children in poverty than we had ten years ago. Nearly one-third of the children of Newfoundland and Labrador live in families on social assistance. In other words, every day in the classrooms of this Province we have teachers who face children who cannot concentrate because they have not had anything to eat, and I commend some very worthwhile programs.

I visited a school in Port au Port last year, where every child was offered a breakfast program. Research will show that breakfast is the most important meal of the day for children. I visited schools in the St. John's area where they have a School Lunch Program. I have been down to St. Joseph's School where they prepare the school lunches. The sad reality is and the sad commentary is that these things are necessary.

Mr. Speaker, some members of this House will recall in the 1930s when the Commission of Government found it necessary to have a universal program of food supplements put to every school in this Province. I, as a young student who started school in 1949, I remember getting my hand out of cocoa malt. So therefore I go back to that. In this Province today the sad reflection is that we have children who go to school who would welcome the cocoa malt supplement that was given to them in the '30s and '40s. So what has Confederation done for them? What has modern technology done for them? When will they be able to share in the wealth of our Province? When will they be able to say I have a free and full opportunity? When will we hear the voices of the hungry children? So what my hon. colleague's petition is about is trying to make sure that every child in every part of this Province from Labrador to Cape St. Mary's, from Cape Bonavista to Port aux Basques, every child has an equal opportunity to go to school, an equal opportunity for early intervention and an equal opportunity to get an education.

Just this morning on CBC we heard a commentary about Zone 19, the economic zone. What were the people saying? They were saying that with our high rate of adult illiteracy we cannot compete. If we don't address the issue of child poverty we will merely -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. H. HODDER: - perpetuate the things as they are today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I am very pleased to speak on the petition that was brought forward today and just to share some information with my hon. colleagues, that on National Child Day this year the Province implemented a $125,000 initiative for the provincial nutrition fund which as we know, has been matched by $200,000 from Petro-Canada to make the point that the issue of child poverty is bigger than an issue relevant to government only. It is an issue that has to involve the government, the community and the private sector. The issue of child poverty is a bigger issue than what any one government can do.

I think it is also very important to note that some of my colleague's governments across the country have done some very serious things that would damage the whole issue of supporting children. The three month residency rule in B.C. which prevented the social services residents, the poorest of the poor from having access to services, surely, that is not the view of a kind compassionate government.

Then you have the other governments across the country, Mr. Speaker. Here we are with a National Child Benefit where every government in this country has supported it. Ralph Klein from the PCs, Mike Harris supported it; Premier Binns has come out and supported it as a positive initiative.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, and in addition to that we have the colleague's own governments, Glen Clark and Roy Romanow from Western Canada, participating and supporting the social services ministers right across the country and saying this is the way to go, Mr. Speaker. We are acknowledging that we have money but here, Mr. Speaker, in our Province, with $12 million new money, I have the colleagues across the House saying: Oh, you are clawing back. You are not going to use this money. I say, Mr. Speaker, they are talking about the very programs and services that we, on this side of the House, are trying to implement, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: I ask them, Mr. Speaker, to wake up, rise above their political partisanship and recognize that this is a good program, a chance to meet the needs to help children who are living in poverty and going to school in poverty. Give it a chance to work, and for once, acknowledge a positive step.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

Orders of the Day

 

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Motion No. 1, first reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Tax Agreement Act."

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Tax Agreement Act," carried. (Bill No. 3)

On motion, Bill No. 3 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Committee of Supply, Order No. 2.

On motion, that the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole on Supply, Mr. Speaker left the Chair.

 

Committee of the Whole

 

CHAIR (Barrett): Order, please!

 

Resolution

 

"That it is expedient to introduce a measure to provide for the granting to Her Majesty for defraying certain expenses of the public service for the financial year ending March 31, 1998, the sum of $1,019,465,700."

CHAIR: Shall the resolution carry?

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Chairman.

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to take the time allotted me this morning to again go back to health care issues. I mentioned this morning in Question Period the case of Sharon Broderick. I certainly said that I had difficulty in believing what I heard. I still say that and I maintain it. I believe the Minister of Health kind of indicated that I had no respect for the Chair. Let me assure the Chair that I have nothing but the utmost respect for the Chair. I wish I could say the same in the House for the job that the Minister of Health is doing. Unfortunately, I cannot.

I have had the opportunity to meet with Sharon Broderick and members of the Broderick family on four separate occasions and I have seen what this lady has gone through with health care in this Province. The health care system in this Province has failed and failed miserably. It has certainly failed Sharon Broderick, and has certainly failed her family, her children, her grandchildren, and those others who wish to support her. I would like to certainly add my name as one of the people who wishes to and certainly does support the initiative of this very courageous and fine lady.

I remember one day at the last session, sitting in the House when the Minister of Health said that he and the Minister of Social Services were joined at the hip. I believe the Minister of Social Services jumped up and moved back to her own seat. I would like to say to the Minister of Social Services, because I know of her work in the nursing profession before she got into this profession, that I would certainly urge her - because she knows about the health care of this Province, she knows of the problems that were in it, and I can only imagine that she must know today how much they have multiplied.

I am going to get into some of this in the very limited time I have this morning. I am going to tell you a story about a phone call I received two Saturdays ago. The Minister of Health thinks everything is rosy in the health care system in this Province. Of course, he is living in a dream world.

I got a phone call last Saturday morning - not last Saturday, the Saturday before - at home, from a lady whose husband was in hospital and who had had an operation for a tumour on the brain. On Saturday morning the lady went in to visit her husband. The husband was lying in the bed, covered in urine from the top of his head to the tips of his toes. And the Minister of Health has the gall to stand in this House and tell us that everything is fine in health care; everything is great in health care? People are sitting in waiting rooms for up to nine-and-a-half hours to be admitted. In the case of that man, the lady who phoned my house, her husband - when somebody can sit here and say that there is nothing wrong with health care in this Province; it is a disgrace, an absolute and utter disgrace.

The minister should be ashamed of himself to know that these things are going on. I brought it to his attention last fall about food that was being served at the building, and it was a big joke that we would serve food that was not fit to eat. It was a big joke to the minister. Some joke if he had to eat it, I have to tell you that. Some joke when you go to the Health Sciences Centre to visit and the people who are going around to take the various information from the patients in the hospital look at you and say: Make sure you bring food. Make sure you bring food to the institution.

I do not know if the minister is aware of that or not, but I am. I have had it said to me; bring food so that the people can eat some decent food. Just imagine, that is health care in this Province, and he has the gall to sit in this House -

MR. MATTHEWS: Give me one name.

MR. FRENCH: I will not give you the names of my sources, absolutely not. You get your own sources. You go and find out.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: Is that right? Well, yesterday afternoon, my friend, when my wife was admitted to the Health Sciences Centre, the person who was in her room told me that when I visited my wife I had better bring food because what was in there was not fit to eat! And it is too bad that you were not there, because maybe you should have eaten it. Maybe you should wake up! Stay in Newfoundland! Do not go to Florida five or six times a year! Go in, boy, and see what is going on. See what is happening to the people of this Province!

I am upset over this! I am upset because a man, this Tuesday, got the top of his left finger cut off and waited nine-and-a-half hours at the Health Sciences Centre for medical attention. Do you believe that? Can you comprehend that happening in Newfoundland and Labrador, and that is a great system we have? We allow the health care system in this Province to do that? We allow that to go on in Newfoundland and Labrador and that is great? I do not think it is great.

The lady who called me at home last night - and I will give you that lady's name if you want it, and I will give you her phone number.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: I certainly will. I will send you over a letter this afternoon with that lady's name, her husband's name - the gentleman who lost his finger. I will give you her name and what she called me on last night at my home at about 10:45, to tell me -

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: I will certainly see that you get that lady's name and you can certainly give this lady a call and she will tell you what she told me last night.

Mr. Chairman, that is health care in this Province, and I think it is time that we really got into health care in this Province. People are lining up now on stretchers at the Health Sciences Centre waiting to be seen.

The gentleman who lost his finger told his wife, when she arrived at the Health Sciences Centre, that he must have walked twenty miles because the man was in such pain. I can only imagine the pain that he must have been in, to sit and wait for nine-and-a-half hours. That, to me, is a disgrace.

The call I had from the lady in the Premier's district, concerning her husband who has Alzheimer's disease - the call I had from that lady, and what the department now wanted her to live on, what they wanted her to do with her husband's cheques, who they wanted to sign them over to, and what they would now allow this lady to live on, is an absolute disgrace.

There are many of these incidents. Some, Mr. Chairman, I will certainly get to in Question Period as we go on into this session of the House of Assembly. I will certainly get into a lot of these questions, and I will certainly point out many more incidents of neglect, of what is going on. I will point out to the minister things that are going on in the health care system of this Province. He talks about saving money. I will talk to him about saving money. I will talk to him about the letter I received from the pharmacists of this Province. I will talk to him about the Kirby report concerning the home-owners in this Province, and the meagre amount of money these people are being paid for the service, care and attention that they give to the poorest of the poor people in this Province.

Hopefully, in this session of the House, I will have the opportunity to present those facts and to ask questions of the minister, to point out exactly where we are, where we are going. And, hopefully, this minister will take action to correct these wrongs that are now going on in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. We are still waiting, of course, for the report from the Burin Peninsula.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FRENCH: By leave, Mr. Chairman? Just to wrap up?

CHAIR: Does the hon. member have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave!

MR. FRENCH: I would hope that we would soon receive the report on the Burin Peninsula health care board. We have waited for it since last fall. The minister has a copy of it. Maybe he intends to keep it. Maybe it will never be released. But it must be some report, because it was given out and it was taken back by the members of the health care board. They were not even allowed to have the copy to take it home. It was given out in a meeting, and they went to the people when the meeting was over and took it back. To my knowledge, I have never seen a copy and it has never been released. I think it is time that the people of this Province had that opportunity.

Anyway, I thank you for these few minutes this morning. As I get on I will certainly have more questions and more concerns about health care in this Province. Thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Health.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I rise to participate in the debate because it gives me an opportunity to not only comment upon some things with respect to health care, but also to address very directly some of the comments made by the hon. the Member for Conception Bay South, the Health critic from the Opposition, and to make some observations as to some of the points he made.

I want to say at the outset in my comments that I have no difficulty - as a matter of fact, I commend not only the hon. the Member for Conception Bay South, the health critic, but I commend any member in this House who takes the time and has the initiative to bring forward to me, to government, any instance where he or she feels health care has been either inappropriate, inappropriately rendered, or has been not available on a timely basis, or any other concern that he or she has regarding health care. So I have no difficulty with - as a matter of fact, I look forward to the hon. members, the critic in particular, raising issues of genuine concern with respect to the health care system in this Province, or to treatment that people receive.

It is also, of course, incumbent upon the member to bring forward information that is factual, that is accurate, that can be substantiated, that can be validated, that is transparent in terms of being able to take it up and look at it and see what validity there is in it, and to act in an otherwise honourable, responsible and respectful manner.

When we deal with health care, when we talk about people getting treated in the system, every person who goes to see a doctor or needs health care is an individual. Every individual in this Province deserves the utmost respect, deserves the utmost in courtesy, deserves the highest level of competent care that we can deliver to them. If there is one instance in the 15,000 interactions a day where that does not occur, then we have a responsibility as government, and we take that responsibility very seriously, to address the issues that are raised.

But there is balance and there is fairness that has to be put forward. The hon. member rises in the House and he refers to some things that may be factual in terms of what he was told or what he has seen in the health care system and I have no difficulty with hearing that.

I hear other things as well, Mr. Speaker, from people who go through the health care system. I had a very good friend of mine about three weeks ago, who lives in my area, and one night came down with a serious - what turned out to be a gallstones attack. He was rushed off to the emergency department. After a day or two he happened to be chatting with me and one of the first things he told me was the way in which he was treated at the Health Sciences - in this particular case he went to - and the absolute first class service that he obtained in terms of health care when he went through the system. As a matter of fact, the gentleman was very gratuitous in his comments with respect to the way that he was treated at the emergency department at the health care.

Now I only share this with you because it is something that came to my attention. If I were to indicate who the individual was I would say to my hon. friend from Waterford Valley that he happens to have admitted to me once that in a weaker moment of his life, he even worked for the hon. member in a campaign and voted for him. So while that may, in one sense, cast some question as to whether or not he had all his smarts, on balance, my judgement is that he does have all his smarts and he is a very fine fellow and a good friend of mine.

I was walking through the corridor here the other day and I met an individual just outside the door here, whom if I identified by any greater expansion you might even know who he was. I think it was last Thursday he -

AN HON. MEMBER: Gordon Seabright.

MR. MATTHEWS: I will admit that it was not Gordon Seabright. It was not Gordon Seabright but it was a man that -

AN HON. MEMBER: Judge Wicks, that is who it was.

MR. MATTHEWS: No, it wasn't Judge Wicks, keep on going. It was a man that everybody in this Legislature -

MR. H. HODDER: Your brother campaigned for me.

AN HON. MEMBER: You mean your brother had a gallstone attack?

MR. MATTHEWS: No, he's fine.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) if he campaigned for you it wasn't physical. It wasn't a physical problem he had if he campaigned for you.

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, if my brother campaigned for you I will have to undertake to speak - I can't speak to him about it because obviously he is beyond the point of no return but I will speak to my mother because she has the greater influence in our household. I will urge her, at age 78, to go back to the drawing board and deal with my brother because my brother needs help. My brother needs health care. My brother needs help. He needs help in a desperate fashion. I have no idea, Harvey, why he would, in a weaker moment of his life, have succumb to, have descended to, why he would have otherwise lost and taken leave of his senses and done that hon. thing of working for a politician, otherwise honourable.

AN HON. MEMBER: Your mother only had one wayward son.

MR. MATTHEWS: Well, Mr. Speaker, my mother has four sons, the elder of which is now sharing his thoughts with you. Those who came behind me probably are not as bright, probably the colour -

AN HON. MEMBER: Lloyd, did your mother have any children that lived?

MR. MATTHEWS: My mother had seven children that lived and seven children that still live, all politically active; most of them bearing the colour that the hon. member from the Straits of Belle Isle wears, the very bright colour red. One of them I think -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Anyhow I digress, and my time is running out but I did meet an individual, Mr. Speaker, the other day out here in the corridor. A person that is very well respected by people on the other side of this House I can assure you. I said, `How are things going? Good, haven't seen you for a while.' He said, `I have to tell you something.' I said, `What's that?' He said, `My mother, a couple of days ago, took a heart attack and he said being a mother and being frugal and all that, she would not even call an ambulance to go to hospital. She called a taxi and got herself down there without letting the family know. After two or three days of being there, because of the illness that she had, he said I went to visit her. He said, `Do you know what she said to me?' I said, `No, what did she say?' He said, `I have to share it with you, she said to me that when I get out of here I'm going to do something I never done in my life before.'

What is that? She said, I am going to call the Open Line show and tell them about the marvellous treatment that I received here at this facility in terms of health care. I share with you only what the gentleman shared with me. She said I have been treated wonderfully. I have been treated well. I have been attended to. I am on a course of treatment that will get me back on my feet and I think it is appropriate, she said, that the people of this Province hear some of the good things that are happening in the health care system. Now, that does not take away from the fact that there might be somebody who did not get treated well, but I believe it is incumbent upon the members in the Opposition, as well as everybody else, to at least be fair and balanced in presenting what it is they hear and what it is they see with respect to the health care system.

I have information on my desk, a number of series of polls that have been done over the past two years, and consistently in this Province the people of the Province rate our health care system as satisfactory or better on an average of about 70 per cent when polls are taken. I would have to say to the people who sit on the opposite side that for the most part the people in this Province are getting adequate -

AN HON. MEMBER: There are 25 per cent who are unhappy.

MR. MATTHEWS: That is the bad news, there may be 25 or 30 per cent who are unhappy, and while 70 or 75 per cent may be satisfactorily impressed with, and have been dealt with fairly in their minds of the health care system, we have a responsibility to every person in the Province to ensure that there is, if possible, to attain 100 per cent satisfaction with the health care they receive in this Province.

The hon. members allude to, and talk about, what we are not doing as a Province. If the hon. member would pick up The Evening Telegram today, that he probably has not seen yet, you will see an article there outlining one of the most positive initiatives that have been undertaken in years in my judgement, and in the judgement of the doctors of this Province, with respect to the retention issue. They talk about the bonuses that are being paid out this month as a result of an initiative that, if I might be so modest to say so, that I put forward myself. It was one of the first initiatives that I undertook when I became Minister of Health to my colleagues in Cabinet, and they accepted it. It has been implemented, and it has been successful to a large degree in dealing with the retention of doctors in the Province's bonusing system.

Now, it is not the end of the world, it is not the cure by a long stretch to the difficulties we have with rural doctors, but I point out, Mr. Speaker, to the hon. members of the House, that this government has taken action. This government has taken action that has been received positively. This government has taken action that receives commentary from the President, Dr. Cohen, of the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association, when he says it's a good start.

The point I want to stress and make is it is important to be fair and balanced in acknowledging what good there is about our health care system, to acknowledge what positive things are happening in the health care system, as well as bringing forward the issues that are not of such a positive nature. I can assure the hon. members on the other side of the House, and the people of this Province, that this government is a government that will continue to put forward initiatives that will deal with rural physician problems, and that will deal with problems of programming in our hospitals.

I admit that we are operating a health care system that has very little flexibility left it. A lot of the efficiencies that restructuring was meant to bring about have occurred, but we are taking advantage of those efficiencies. We are living within a flat line budget in the health care system and that creates its own challenges for the system to respond in a way where it can continue to deliver quality services while at the same time maximizing the value of the dollar we spend in health care.

I do want to assure the members of the House, and I do want to assure the people of this Province that our health care system is in the hands of a government that cares, it is in the hands of a government that understands the issues, it is in the hands of a government that is responsive to every individual need and circumstance that is brought forward that might not be representing 100 per cent quality health care, and is in the hands of a government that will continue to maximize every dollar that we have for health care in terms of its expenditure, and will continue to put every dollar that we can find into health care. In terms of what we spend on health care in this Province.

In terms of what we spend in health care in this Province, we are number one as a province in terms of the effort we put into delivering health care as compared to our capacity to do so, vis--vis our GDP and those sorts of measurements. We are spending about 33 per cent of every discretionary dollar that we have as a government on health care in this Province. After allowing for pensions and debt charges we have about -

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. minister's time is up.

MR. MATTHEWS: In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, as I say, of the $2.6 billion or $2.7 billion we have left to spend discretionarily in the Province, we spend a full 33 per cent to 35 per cent of that on health care. And I believe the hon. member, in presenting what he brings forward as concerns regarding health care, has a responsibility also to recognize some of the good things that are happening, some of the quality services that we provide, and above all, in conclusion, I would say in acknowledging the dedicated, the committed and the compassionate services that the health care workers of this Province deliver on a day-to-day basis.

No person who works for the public purse in this Province gives us better value for money spent than people who work in health care. They have worked cooperatively with the boards in the restructuring of the health care system. They have done so on an ongoing basis in a manner that helps us get the job done, and I would pay tribute to the health care workers and to the people who represent them by virtue of their unions and that sort of thing for their cooperation and for their input, and for the service that they render to the people of this Province.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I am only going to take a couple of minutes here cause there is certainly lots to discuss in health care as we go on with this session of the House.

Might I tell the minister that the things I raised were not because of health care workers in this Province. I suggest to the minister that some day when he has an extra hour or so, maybe he should visit some of these institutions and talk to some of the workers, and if the workers are telling him what they are telling me... The workers in this Province, especially in health care, are providing a great service and I have no criticism of the health care workers in this Province. The problem we have in this Province is that there are not enough of them to do the work that is expected of them to do. There are not enough of them.

The lady who called me about her husband who had the operation for the tumour on the brain did not fault the staff but, let me tell you, found a great deal of fault with the system and the fact that there were not enough people to provide the adequate care to this particular gentleman. She had no problem with the people delivering the care. There just were not enough of them to make sure that the care was delivered, and delivered in the proper manner.

Mr. Chairman, I have absolutely no problem with the health care workers in this Province. I have a great deal of difficulty with the Department of Health and the way that it is administered, and the number of people we are losing day in, day out, who should be hired and should be administering health care in the Province.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: It is not the point of hearing it; the point is, are you going to listen? You will find that if you listen sometime you might be a lot better off, I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture; you might learn something. It is not hearing something, it is listening; and you have not done that yet so I hardly expect you to do it this morning.

AN HON. MEMBER: Don't let him sidetrack you.

MR. FITZGERALD: I won't get sidetracked by the minister. I have already told the minister where he should be. I told the minister, with his thoughts and ideas that he should be in the archives out in Carbonear, so people could go and see him and visit him there. That is where he should be.

To revisit health care - it seems that is the topic that is being talked about here this morning - the minister is fully aware of what the member is talking about, and he certainly is very sincere when he puts forward his concerns and his suggestions, and the things he is hearing out there. I can talk about things here this morning that would frighten you, and the minister knows what I could say, but I won't say it here in the House because I know what is happening and I know the process that has taken place.

Mr. Chairman, I say to the Member for Conception Bay South that I find the deputy minister a lot easier to deal with than the minister. Maybe you are going to the wrong fellow. You should see the deputy minister. He is much, much more conciliatory, easier to deal with.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have to be nice to the minister; you might need his help some day.

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes, I may so and I will come looking, and I am sure that the minister hopefully will help me if he can. You will not be helping me, I say to the minister; you will be helping the people in Newfoundland. That is what he was elected to do and that is why he serves in Cabinet.

Mr. Chairman, it was only a couple of days ago - I don't know if the minister heard the interview that was done with a Dr. Mills who was one time at Clarenville and moved outside of the Clarenville area and went to the United States to practice. It was on I think it was Tuesday or Wednesday evening on radio. They carried an extensive interview with her and she talked about the frustrations.

AN HON. MEMBER: What was her first name?

MR. FITZGERALD: Dr. Cindy Mills.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, Dr. Cindy (inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes, I knew her, yes. Talked about the frustrations she faced here in Newfoundland in dealing with the health care system and in trying to get her patients to continue their medical treatment by receiving tests and re-examinations. That was what caused her to move, even though her heart is still back in Clarenville and she enjoyed living here in Newfoundland. She was forced, because of her professional approach to the problems, out of Newfoundland to go south of the border. She didn't want to be there but she had no other choice.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: That is a good question, and that is what we have to start looking at. Because what the minister is proposing, whereby he offers a disincentive for people to practice in urban areas rather than offering an incentive for people to go to rural areas, is not the situation. That isn't solving the problem, I say to the minister. We are facing -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) doctors in St. John's?

MR. FITZGERALD: No, no.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) oversupply (inaudible)?

MR. FITZGERALD: We want doctors in rural Newfoundland. Offering a disincentive for doctors in urban areas rather than an incentive for doctors in rural areas is not the answer to the problem, I say to the minister.

I went to the admission emergency department a year ago with my wife, I say to the Member for Conception Bay South. The doctor suggested I take her to the emergency ward. He said: I will send up an ambulance. I said: No, that is alright, I think she can get aboard the car. I will take her in my car and carry her over to the Health Sciences Centre. Put her aboard the care, carried her over, went into the emergency ward, Mr. Chairman, and she was waiting there, sitting up in a chair, for three hours. Finally I said to her: Come on, that is enough of this, let's go home again. I was there for three hours as well. While I was there -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: She had a horse, I say to the member. She used to keep horses, I say to the minister. Mr. Chairman, while I was there I chatted with some other people who were at the emergency ward. One lady there from Clarenville was there for six hours at that particular time waiting to see a doctor, sitting in the emergency ward. Sent to the emergency ward by her doctor who obviously thought that she had a problem and it should be looked after somewhere else that had the facilities and had the equipment to look after her. Another lady was there with a cut on her leg about that long. Somebody had come out, the admitting nurse or the lady who was looking after the emergency duties there, and suggested that she elevate her leg. She was sitting in that hospital emergency room eight hours up until that time and still hadn't seen a doctor. The reason that she was given is that: There's not much point in having a doctor look at you, we will check with you from time to time, because we don't have a bed to put you in.

That is disgraceful, I say to the minister. It shouldn't be allowed to happen here in the twentieth century in Newfoundland today. When we look at the money that has been wasted, and we look at the things that the Auditor General brought forward there the other day - $290,000. Over a quarter of a million dollars spent on television advertising and pamphlets that were never used. The gentleman who was sitting in the seat there today is part of the responsibility of having some of those people put in those positions whereby taxpayers dollars were wasted, unaccounted for. People put in place to operate arm's length from government, spending millions of dollars of taxpayers money, and we weren't allowed to ask questions? Disgraceful!

I remember trying to get the mandate of the Cabot 500 Corporation. I remember asking questions here of the minister at the time, and all I was asking was if I could receive a copy of the printed mandate of the Cabot 500 Corporation. That is all I was asking - a document paid for by the taxpayers of this Province. No way, you are not allowed to have it. It was a secret document, I say, but I did get it after I raised it enough and asked questions enough.

AN HON. MEMBER: Were you the Roger Fitzgerald that I heard had half a chicken?

MR. FITZGERALD: You heard what?

AN HON. MEMBER: Eating, eating, eating money, eating chicken out of money (inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: You do not make sense.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: You do not make sense in what you are saying. You are in your usual place again now, shouting and hollering, but you do not make sense.

AN HON. MEMBER: I heard you were -

MR. FITZGERALD: Where was this?

AN HON. MEMBER: I heard you were -

MR. FITZGERALD: Where?

MS J. M. AYLWARD: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Oh, absolutely; I support the people in Bonavista who are volunteers, and that was my argument. That was my argument. My argument was: Why should the volunteers be getting slapped on the wrist by people in St. John's who were appointed in high places and paid $50,000 and $60,000 a year when those were the people who should be given direction. That was my argument exactly, I say to the Minister of Social Services.

Then I went to a Newfoundland Telephone dinner one night down in Port Blandford. It had nothing to do with the Cabot 500 Corporation. The Member for Trinity North nods his head; he knows what I am talking about. It had nothing to do with the Cabot 500 Corporation, but because I was asking questions, because I was asking: What is happening here? and saying: This is wrong. This has to be stopped... The Chairman of the Cabot 500 Corporation happened to be there as well. He saw me come in through the door and he immediately walked towards me and threatened me that night out in Port Blandford. His words were: Roger, if you do not get on side, if you do not stop being negative, I will expose you in Bonavista.

I said: What in the so-and-so are you talking about? Get out of my face. Get out of my way and do not speak to me anymore here tonight.

How silly, how foolish! Here was a professional person who was supposed to go out and put Newfoundland in front of the world for 1997. Today we see the results. We see the reason why we should be asking questions. We see what was happening there, when you give people a blank cheque of taxpayers' dollars and allow them to go out and spend it at will - $290,000. I can think of a lot of things that I could do in my district that would help a lot of people if I had $290,000 that I was allowed to spend.

That is only one item. There are lots there, where people were paying for the expenses of their wives to go to Florida, paying their own personal income taxes, even though it was reimbursed.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: How much? I have no idea. There were no names mentioned. But whoever spent the money, I say to the hon. member, it was wrong. It should not have been. The Cabot 500 Committee should never have been set up in that way in the beginning. And the minister, having the gall to come out then and try to support them and say, `But, you know, they did some good things.' I guess they did, after spending $5 million or $6 million. They should have done a few good things.

This is what happens when you allow people to spend like fools, spend taxpayers' dollars. They do not put any value on it. Then we have the minister standing up here today trying to justify the cutbacks in health care. We certainly have our priorities fooled up, and I think it is time we stood back, sat back, and refocused on what we are doing here.

Mr. Chairman, when you look at some of the cutbacks in social services - and this is what hurts me, when you get a call from somebody who is on social services - and they are there not by choice; they are there because they have no other choice, for the most part. They are there because there is not a job for them to go to. You hear them saying, `I only got ten weeks work last year; I only got fifteen weeks work. I need twenty-six in order to qualify for unemployment insurance.' While they were working they paid income tax. Now, at this time of the year, Mr. Chairman, if they have overpaid then they are entitled to a refund. When they get a couple of hundred dollars - $300, $200 or whatever it might be - back, to see the heavy hand of the Minister of Social Services - because of policies implemented by the people on the opposite side - reach out and claw that from the meagre amounts that they are getting now in order to support their families, Mr. Chairman, that is disgraceful. That is disgraceful, I say to members opposite. All the people I know on social services need those few extra dollars in order to pay a bill.

A lady called me last year - everybody knows the time of year that we are into now. It is the time of year, Mr. Chairman, when people are getting ready for their graduation ceremonies. The moms and dads are proud of their son or daughter who is now graduating from high school.

CHAIR (Mr. J. Walsh): Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. FITZGERALD: By leave, Mr. Chairman, just a minute to clue up.

CHAIR: By leave.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Chairman, and the call came in where this lady was getting back $250 - $300, I forget the exact amount but it was somewhere in that range. She was a single parent on social assistance. Her son was graduating. She had gone out and taken that $250 to buy a suit for her son. She was going to buy him a new suit and a shirt and tie. Two days after she had brought the suit, the shirt and the tie, to allow him to go out and appear with his classmates that he went to school with for thirteen years, Mr. Chairman, she had received notification that the Department of Social Services was going to take back that amount of money from her pay cheque. Do you know what she had to do? She had to carry back that suit, carry back that tie and deny her son the opportunity of going to a graduation to celebrate with his friends. Now, who over there on that side would support that? Who over there would support it? Speak up, because you did, I say to Cabinet ministers opposite and I have not heard one other member stand and say it is wrong. So if that is right, if you are going to allow -

CHAIR: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: If you are going to allow that kind of thing to happen and disgrace our people in the rural areas today, Mr. Chairman, that is nothing but disgraceful, and it is a disgrace to all of us. It is unkind. It is a shame. It should never be allowed to happen. Thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I will, just start off like everybody else, I guess, and have a few words to say about health, because I want to make it clear to the Minister of Health - who is not in the Chamber right now, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is there, look.

MR. SHELLEY: Oh, he is hiding. There he is - he is here.

Mr. Chairman, to be quite frank and sincere about it, all of us in the House would applaud the workers at hospitals. We do hear a lot of good stories about workers and nurses and so on who do a tremendous job. I have had family of my own who have been to a hospital and been treated very well. I am sure everybody here has and we can all give a good story on it. But, at the same time, Mr. Chairman, we can also give examples on the other side of the coin.

For example, just last week I was at the hospital in Baie Verte and went in for my regular visit. Mr. Chairman, the nursing assistant there was going to three beds serving lunch to elderly people in the chronic care unit, from bed to bed to bed with a mouthful of food at a time that she was feeding each patient. I stood there and watched her for a few minutes. Then, she finally turned around and said, `This should not be.' That is what she had to do. At the same time, I went out and spoke to another nurse, Mr. Chairman, in the hallway, who said that because there was an emergency at the hospital the other night, it was 12:30 before they got all their patients to bed because it takes two people to move these people and get them ready for bed and so on. It was 12:30 and they had to have a person in the hallway help them put these people to bed.

So, Mr. Chairman, we can go on with these stories and on and on. We all can. Yes, the workers do the jobs that they can do with the resources they have but the point is, Mr. Chairman, when there is an abnormal day, when there is an extra emergency, when things happen in the run of a day, who knows what, that is when the health care system should be able to respond. The point we are making is that under normal circumstances or under an average day the workers are there trying their hardest and most of the time - I do not even know if it is most of the time, but a lot of the time they can handle it, although they are stretched to the limit. But the problem, Mr. Chairman, and I say to the minister, is when you have these emergencies, when you have these situations that arise with health care that people should expect the service, the service that their tax dollars pay for. The service that the biggest chunk of our taxes goes for is the health care system. The first thing you have to do is acknowledge the problem. You can never fix any problem unless, number one, you acknowledge it. That is what we are saying, although the good news stories keep coming out, and I can name twenty of those, and then I can give twenty on the other side, so what I am saying is that the point has to be that the health care system has to be able to maintain the same level of service when the normal situations do not arise and we get into emergencies and different situations that arise at hospitals on any given day.

That is the point, and I think that is the point the Member for Conception Bay was trying to make, that the health care system is not adequate. If we keep hiding our heads in the sand and saying it is, and bragging about it, then it is not right. In order for the government of the day, the people who make the decisions, the Minister of Health, to work on the problem he has to acknowledge it so that is the first step, Mr. Chairman. I commend the workers in the hospitals, from the nursing assistants to the janitors, right on up to the doctors. They are working with what they have and they are doing the best job they can, but what we have to recognize is when we say no cuts to health care that line does not hold water.

Simply put, if you say no cuts to health care, and with the increase in the health care system and so on, and also what the minister has not recognized, I believe, is that every year the technologies change in hospitals we need increased funding to keep up. That is what the problem is, we need increased budgets for health care if we are ever going to have a decent service in this Province so we can get away from the stories we hear day after day in this House.

When the Member for Conception Bay South spoke he spoke with a lot of compassion on different instances that he has come across, and he meant it. I am sure there are members on both sides of the House who could give similar situations, so I say as far as health care we will get into more detail on some other cases as we go on in this debate. The point I would like to make is to say that we have no health care cuts is not good enough. The Budget has to be increased and it has to be number one. It is number one. People say health care and education but actually health care is number one. There is nothing that can touch health care. If you do not have your health you will not need education, you will not need jobs, you will not need anything because you will not be alive. Health care has to be the number one priority, and that is why there has to be some serious changes to the health care system, Mr. Chairman. I commend the workers in the hospitals, from the nurses and doctors right on up.

Mr. Chairman, the next topic I would like to touch on today, and for only a short time here today, but just to touch on three or four topic, the next one is rural Newfoundland. I would like to say this while the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology is in the House because I have heard him speak many times on this subject on rural Newfoundland, and that's technology. Technology in rural Newfoundland is really helping. If he wants to talk positive then I will talk positive. In rural Newfoundland, one of the bright spots they have is technology. I say to the minister that one of the bright spots in my particular district, to give an example, and it is around the Province are the tele-centres.

The tele-centres have turned on entrepreneurs. I have sent people to that tele-centre in Baie Verte and they came away with a business plan, they came away with ideas, they came away rejuvenated and ready to go into the business centre. I have concrete examples of people who have used these resources and come away with some hope and some ideas. I know there is one if Forteau if I am not mistaken and I heard a member there tell me the same thing, that in Forteau we have had young entrepreneurs go into that tele-centre with a concept, an idea, and wanted to try something and the tele-centre helped. What that tele-centre did was give a connection to the big world of business and how to get started.

Mr. Chairman, with technology these days, as the minister alludes to many times, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, that is our breakthrough now. As a Province, through technology, we are not so isolated; we are not so far away in the world. As a matter of fact with a push of one button we can find out what is going on in Italy, Germany, or wherever, and that is a breakthrough that Newfoundland and Labrador needed, and that we use those technologies to advance ourselves to positive things.

Mr. Chairman, I really want to say on record today, with the minister in the House, and the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, that these tele-centres serve a great service. It is a great service to rural Newfoundland especially. Now, there are five but I cannot name them all off right now. There is Forteau, Baie Verte, and three others in the Province if I am not mistaken. Maybe the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology can enlighten me, but I am sure that those centres have served, and I get many stories from each of those, have served their purpose, Mr. Chairman.

As a matter of fact, I would like to see improvements to them to help them out more as, of course, the technology changes. We need those so that the ministers who talk about the young entrepreneurs, and the young people in this Province who have ideas, this gives them the chance to go to something like the tele-centre, get the information, use those, and all of a sudden we see a young man who comes from university, or just got a college degree, or just got a trade, he has a concept, he has an idea, and it does not burn out. What it does, he goes to these places; that gives him the connection, gives him the opportunity to develop his idea, and the people at these centres work so closely with the rural Newfoundland communities.

Now the one in Baie Verte, of course, serves twenty-one communities on the peninsula. Also, it serves people in the other part of my district in the King's Point, Little Bay Islands area. Any of them, when they call me with ideas and want to know how to do up business plans, they want to know about markets, they want to know about certain things, I direct them to the tele-centres and they have been a great help.

The minister says he has been good to the district, and I support - when you talk about being positive -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: There you go. That is right. That is why I am glad to hear the minister say those things, because we are looking at some positive things and tele-centres are a very important part. I hope, when the Budget comes down, not that we just maintain these tele-centres but we improve them and have a good review of them, and listen to the people who work in them so we can give them more opportunities to help people in rural Newfoundland come up with ideas.

I thought I would mention that today. It is very important for rural Newfoundland, because I have spoken to these people recently and the success stories that they tell me, and the help they provide - and the constituents themselves tell me of the experience they have had at these tele-centres. I hope they are here for a long time to come, and I hope they become a part of rural Newfoundland for a long time. I hope there are more tele-centres in other parts. There are only five, as I know right now. If the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal was here she could tell me the difference.

Mr. Chairman, the next thing I would like to mention is the Labrador issues. As of two days ago I also met with the Combined Councils of Labrador. As a matter of fact for a long period of time, for something two-and-a-half, almost three hours, we basically sat and listened to them.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) Minister of Forestry?

MR. SHELLEY: I will get to forestry, I tell the Minister of Forestry. They did not have too much to say about the Minister of Forestry - too much any good anyway, I should say.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Member for Topsail wants to speak.

MR. SHELLEY: The legal beagle wants to speak.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I doubt that.

I would like to make a few comments on the meeting with the Combined Councils and the issues facing Labrador. I was, of course, fortunate, I guess, to have lived in Labrador West for some seven years. I still have family who live there, still have a lot of friends there. I visited the Coast of Labrador several times in the Goose Bay area, especially up through L'Anse-au-Clair and L'Anse-au-Loup, and up through the Cartwright district and I have a few friends there. But after living there you really get a taste of what people in that region of the Province feel, and it was expressed quite well by the member from Labrador the other day when he talked about the issues facing Labrador, because they live there and they know it. I think and I believe and I hope that the government is recognizing that.

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. SHELLEY: My time is up? By leave, just to conclude?

CHAIR: By leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

CHAIR: By leave.

MR. SHELLEY: Just on those Labrador issues - and I will get a chance again to speak, because I want to. I have listened to some things that I want to talk about in debate this time that are very serious, and we have been out of the House for so long, I say to the Government House Leader, that I couldn't wait to get back and talk about these things. Now we are going to be gone again in a few days, so there is lots to talk about.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: The Combined Councils of Labrador - I cannot say I quote that they love the minister. No, I cannot say that. The word `love' was not used at any time to the Minister of Forestry. There were some four-letter words used, but it was not `love'.

AN HON. MEMBER: They showed much affection.

MR. SHELLEY: They showed much affection, yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Order, please!

Are we wrapping up our statements, or are we beginning again?

MR. SHELLEY: I am trying to wrap up, Mr. Chairman. Do you have a muzzle for the Government House Leader?

Mr. Chairman, I am trying to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Look, see this?

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Chairman, I am trying to clue up but the Government House Leader, like a fellow said in my district -

AN HON. MEMBER: He is butting in where you are interrupting.

MR. SHELLEY: The Government House Leader, like a fellow said in my district, got enough lip for about four rows of teeth.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, I am still waiting for a thank you letter from the Premier.

Mr. Chairman, I will clue up by saying this, the Labrador issues are on the forefront now. Yes, there were positive meetings here in Newfoundland with the Premier when he came to St. John's a few days ago. Yes, they believed that the commitment is there at this point but, Mr. Chairman, the point is simple, it is that these people in the poorest part of the Province in Labrador want to see action; lip service will not follow any more. Time is critical and action has to be taken. They are going to be looking for action in those different issues that are facing Labrador and I will speak to them again, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile.

MR. RAMSAY: Mr. Chairman, it gives me pleasure to rise in discussing the Interim Supply Bill. The billion dollar question I support we could say, one-third roughly of our revenues for the year. This could be referred to as a fiscal plan so to speak, along with other initiatives and documents that we have issued. I am just looking here and I see that the Opposition's fiscal plan has been published in the Telegram.

AN HON. MEMBER: What?

MR. RAMSAY: The Opposition's fiscal plan has been published in the Telegram.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not true. What did it say?

MR. RAMSAY: Yes and, Mr. Chairman, it says here that they advocate the attaining of an equitable deal regarding equalization - that's fair - similar to that enjoyed by Quebec when profiting from our Upper Churchill resource. So I take it that this means that all of those over there, they want an equitable deal with equalization to try to get back the money from Churchill Falls rather than doing anything else on Churchill Falls -

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, I thought they were against that.

MR. RAMSAY: Oh, it is hard to determine as to whether they are for it or against it they say.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: It depends.

Also, Mr. Chairman, they say they advocate proper program review. Now I suppose the out on that will be that the program review exercise that we undertook is not proper because we were the ones that did it but they do advocate a proper program review. So that is pretty good. He said: Cuts are not inflicted across the board. Well a program review is just that. It intends not to inflict cuts across the board.

The Opposition says here: We oppose the introduction of a harmonized sales tax. One of the hon. members just stood up there and said that he was for the introduction of a harmonized sales tax but he said not in the way we're doing it. So it would have to be I suppose an Opposition development of a harmonized sales tax that they would support. So it is hard to determine really where they are on some of these issues.

Also, Mr. Chairman, it says here: we advocate decreasing personal taxation through a tax credit system which encourages local investment and increases disposal income. So they want us to start cutting taxes now according to this. So the Opposition's view, on top of the expenditure reductions we have to make as a result of the decreases of federal transfers, the general retraction that the economy has undertaken over the last couple of years, on top of that, the Opposition feels that we should reduce personal income taxes as well through a tax credit system.

So, somehow or other the issue which when the PC Government was in Ottawa and I don't mean to belabour the situation but we did have a certain element of a tax credit system in place. It was called the Northern Allowance Tax Benefit. That Northern Allowance Tax Benefit used to be afforded to certain communities throughout Newfoundland and the whole of Labrador. Those communities now no longer have the Northern Tax Allowance Benefit. Some $5,000 in tax benefits that were provided to each and every person or family per dwelling, per family unit and that was taken away and gradually phased out over three years. So the Opposition now feels that that must have been a mistake and that should be put back in and somehow or other that the Province should now take the tax benefit and put it back in out of provincial revenues with a further downloading onto the Province. So that means that the program review that they advocate would have to cut even further to allow them to implement the tax cut they are speaking of.

Really, it is an eye opener. I know there are Tory governments that are advocating tax cuts. In fact, the government in Ontario has implemented a tax cut. But in this case, Mr. Chairman, we have the Opposition - and granted, we are the highest taxed province I suppose in the country. But to suggest at this stage of our development that we would be able to move into a tax cut now would only mean that you would have to have further program cuts. Some of the things that we had considered, probably they would have to exceed even that: the discussion of elements such as the RCMP-RNC question, the question of closing provincial parks.

If they want us, as they have been saying here this morning, to keep the provincial parks open, that means that we would even have to come up with further cuts elsewhere. They said also that we should save our Mounties, which is something that I must say I have a sympathy for the position taken by people who want policing forces to be as they are now, in most cases. I think the ultimate result will see some melding of the RCMP and RNC services. I don't know any more than anyone else does. Probably the Cabinet ministers know what the decision will be. I would hope that it will be in such a way that people can handle and understand and support the measures that we take.

They note also in their little dossier here: We believe that corporate taxation should better reflect costs of publicly funded corporate services. That sounds like cost recovery to me. Maybe it isn't. Maybe I'm reading it wrong. They believe also that greater success in the collection of business tax provides access to revenue which is there but not yet realized. So this means that if we go out and take extraordinary measures to collect business tax owing, those issues then are justified and the Opposition probably wouldn't then bring them to the House to say that we were heavy-handed in applying the revenue generation and the tax collection measures that they espouse in their document here. I think we should take that under consideration.

They also talk about out-migration, and they say that out-migration is caused by shallow government policy. I think the shallow government policies - the total reason for out-migration, according to the Opposition. Should we believe that? They say that incentives for community service and further employment gain for our youth by not forcing our pensioners back to work through archaic tax measures.

I think this must have been drafted up after the criticism came out in response to the Telegram editorial of March 11. They were burning the midnight oil and very quickly over the course of three days and many late nights up there in the Opposition offices they have crafted this new fiscal plan under the pressure of the media.

They are speaking about advocating decreasing personal taxation, increasing employment, and thereby spreading taxation over an increased working population while decreasing the burden on each individual taxpayer.

Mr. Chairman, the Tories of Newfoundland and Labrador have subscribed to trickle-down economics. They see this trickle-down effect as being the saviour of Newfoundland's economic policy. I would say -

MR. E. BYRNE: Bill, isn't that the same philosophy you used with the Port aux Basques Mariners?

MR. RAMSAY: I ran a $500,000 corporation on a volunteer basis. How many payrolls have you met?

MR. E. BYRNE: I'm only joking. Quite a few, actually.

MR. RAMSAY: On the other hand, Mr. Chairman, we have this government document, one year following the election of this government, showing you that there are many, many initiatives that were taken by this government as a part of our platform which have been met - commitments - and, as some commentators say: this government, despite the criticism, has met its commitments. As the most recently re-elected government in Canada which held fast to the commitments made to the electorate during an election campaign, to be returned with an increased majority, this government would also, I would feel, at some point in the future, be returned for having met the commitments as outlined in the campaign document.

As you can see, we are mostly there. There are a number, I would think, no more than twenty or so items that require any further activity, and maybe even less. Most of them have been checked and have been implemented as such.

As we complete this program review, the program review that we have undertaken in order to determine that we can live within our means, that we can right-size government, that we can effectively make sure that the finances of this Province are set and established over the next three years, we want to make sure that from this point forward we are -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: It is the morning.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: I am not easily rattled, though.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: Save that for number two.

Anyway, Mr. Chairman, I do want to commend the government of which I am proud to be a part, for being so attentive to the issues, for having a fiscal plan, unlike the Opposition, for implementing the program review exercise which, even though there is an element of pain in the review of government expenditures, I want to commend the government on its Record to Date. I think we will have to move on, because once this has been implemented we will have no choice then but to inflict prosperity on the Province, as was said by a former Prime Minister of this country. He wanted to inflict prosperity on Newfoundland and Labrador.

Well, once we have completed the mandate requirements of this government, then we will have nothing left but to inflict prosperity on the Province with a defined and extremely high-energy effort to seek out economic development for this Province and to attract and help develop local business into a force to be reckoned with. The way we can increase the payments required to offset necessary public services is through the creation of new wealth, and the creation of new wealth will be found in new economic development activities.

AN HON. MEMBER: What do you think of health care?

MR. RAMSAY: Health care is something that we will leave to the Health critic and the Health minister. I have an opinion of health care. I had the fortunate, or unfortunate some might say, situation to deal with of dealing with the health care system very regularly, spending weeks in the last number of months with a family situation that arose. I must say that my dealings with the health care system - and I offer it on the public record here - are very favourable. There are a lot of things, as with any large organization that need changing. I used that time, when I had quiet time to sit down with the staff of the different institutions and discuss these issues with them to get a better understanding and to help, through that activity, to have input in the caucus room and other places, through the minister and others, into areas where I thought improvements could be made.

That is my thought on the health care system. Granted, there is always room for improvement. There is always room for better organization and better development of the means by which we deliver the services, but I think we really have to look at the big picture, which at this point will be the program review, an exhaustive exercise undertaken by the government of the day.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

CHAIR: By leave.

MR. RAMSAY: In conclusion, Mr. Chairman - I am giving the Opposition a break here by speaking. Because they are so intent on speaking about their fiscal plan, I want to hear more about the Opposition's fiscal plan.

Take The Evening Telegram because it probably does not exist in any other form, and tell us about your plan for the future. Tell us about how you would spend this $1 billion of government funds on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Tell us how you would do it. Give us the exact implementation of this. We may even be able to provide the resources. So, if they are so intent, the Opposition should certainly use their fiscal plan. Everybody go buy a copy of The Evening Telegram and let us hear more and more about it.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

Before the Chair recognizes the Member for Kilbride I just want to point out that it is Friday morning and the Chair has been rather lenient, but I want to remind members that the galleries are reasonably sparse as well. The leniency has been extended a little beyond the norm simply because we are here, apparently, with ourselves, but should the gallery begin to fill up, I want to remind members, we will call order more often.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Chairman, I am always intense when the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile gets up and talks about what we do or what we do not do, and the Minister of Health says we are on the ropes, beat out, beat up, and everything. The member asks for one little area of what we could do better, and what we could do to put more money into the economy.

Just for a moment I would like to talk about why government last year was able to take $52 million from a Crown corporation in this Province to put directly into the Budget - Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, $52 million directly from that corporation's revenue base, what it made above and beyond put directly into Provincial Government coffers. Now, that is outside of the number of people it employs, that is outside of the indirect benefits as a result of those people being employed, $52 million, and it must be said that that corporation's commitment and direct payment to the Budget process last year and to the revenue of this Province was more than every other corporation in the Province combined. Yet, government seems, at least now, intent on pursuing another type of policy when it comes to hydro development in this Province and it is called -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Hold on. It is more evident now because of the need, the perceived need. Hydro warned government in 1990 that by 1996 -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: One second now - by 1996-1997 there would be an energy crunch. Now, if we had pursued a policy of private hydro development over the past twenty-five years in last year's Budget, and the member knows this full well, Hydro would not have been able to put $52 million directly into the Budget. Why?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Do you think for a moment - the member knows that had all of that development been in the private sector, it would not have contributed nearly as much income tax to the revenue base of this Province.

One example: Thirty years ago, the Bay d'Espoir project cost $150 million to the Province. They floated a bond issue, and four-and-a-half years ago that project was paid off in full. How much do you think that electricity is costing the people of the Province right now? Do you know? What would electricity from that project today be costing the people of the Province if it were developed privately? Would it be the same amount? Not even close. And the reason is, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro developed it. It is owned by us. At the end of the day we paid it off.

Revenue coming into the Province gives us an ability, as a Province, to take what we made for ourselves to put back into the provincial coffers to keep hospital beds open, to keep education and schools open, that gave the Premier today the ability to announce schools in Rigolet, that gave the Premier today the ability to announce construction projects in Nain and other parts of Labrador, and why? Because we generated a public resource, developed it by the public, ownership by the public, and at the end of the day produced significant revenue for the public. That is the type of economics that this party pursues. It is called development of our resources for ourselves, by ourselves. It is not the type of development that we would see turning over to private hands, handing out regulated monopolies so that at the end of the day lakes, streams and rivers in this Province are owned by all of us, not just by some of us. And that is the issue.

The Member for Burgeo & LaPoile wanted an example; there it is. But he could not live with that, so he has left the House. I understand that my colleague for Baie Verte would like to respond as well, but that is just one example.

Now, I understand that my colleague, the Member for Baie Verte, would like to respond to some things that the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile said, so I will sit down and let him respond.

Thanks very much.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, last week, the Leader of the Opposition - and I am sorry he is not here - was on the public -

AN HON. MEMBER: He is here, look, sure, he just spoke.

MR. E. BYRNE: He is back.

MR. TULK: Okay.

He was on the public airwaves of this Province complaining about the fact that he would not have enough time, that there would not be enough time given to him to debate the financial affairs of the Province - in spite of the fact that his own House Leader sat down with me and both of us drew up the schedule for the place together. He was on complaining about the fact that they would not have enough time.

I have not seen a member on that side of the House pick up the bill - to even pick up the bill and look at one figure. And to look over here at a minister, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, and ask: What are you spending $155,700,500 on between now and the last of June? Not the question. The Minister of Environment and Labour -

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Chairman, on a point of order.

MR. TULK: - spending $3,209,700 (inaudible).

CHAIR (Barrett): Order, please! Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

In order to correct an inaccuracy, yesterday when I spoke twice in the House, I referred specifically to a comparison between this year's requirements and last year's requirements. The issue that the member addresses is not correct. We have made direct references. I have asked for the background papers. Again, the Government House Leader is not stating the procedures of the House in a correct manner.

CHAIR: There is no point of order, just a disagreement between two hon. members.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Not one word, not one question, to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation this morning asking: What are you doing spending $155,700,500? What are you doing? Not a question. Not a question on Consolidated Fund Services. Not a question to the Minister of Social Services asking them what they are doing with $117,828,100, what are you doing with that? The Minister of Education, $219,336,500; Tourism, Culture and Recreation, $14,295,400; Forest Resources and Agrifoods - I haven't got the question from the hon. gentleman for Baie Verte. Not up, not up. All he gets up, ballyrags, clothes himself, Mr. Chairman, in a robe of negativity.

AN HON. MEMBER: Tinfoil!

MR. TULK: Tinfoil! They are all going to get struck by lightning one of these days and evaporate, burn up, go up in the air; all going up in the air, Mr. Chairman. Not the word. Nobody has got up and asked: Would you give me some detail? Nobody has got up and asked: Would you tell me how much work you are going to do in silviculture this year?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: They aren't interested, and they aren't concerned.

MR. TULK: No, there is a very good reason. Because if they got up and asked: What are you going to do with silviculture this year? They would get some positive news. We would tell them some positive stuff. They can't stand good, positive news.

MR. MATTHEWS: The gloomers and doomers over there.

MR. TULK: The gloomers and doomers. The Minister of Health is exactly right. The Member for Conception Bay South this morning got beside himself, but did he ask you a specific question? No, not a question. After The Evening Telegram the day before yesterday had an editorial in saying the Opposition doesn't have financial plans for this Province, they ran off and somebody - oh, Loyola Sullivan.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who?

MR. TULK: An author by the name of Loyola Sullivan went out and inspired a headline in the Telegram through a letter to the editor. Panic, panic, panicked approach. That the Opposition does have a fiscal plan. Well, well, well. They also have another problem.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why, the full NDP is back too. The whole caucus walked in.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: I withdraw that, Mr. Chairman. I know I'm not allowed to refer to the hon. gentleman by his first name. I learned that when that gentleman was over there in knickerbockers. He was still in knickerbockers when I learned that little bit of information.

Now, Mr. Chairman, did we get any questions on Industry, Trade and Technology? Any specific questions? Not a question, not a question. Instead of that they get over there and they clothe themselves, as I said, in this cloak of negativity. This cloak of negativity that says everything is bad, there is nothing good. There is nothing happening good in this Province.

Now, Mr. Chairman, the Opposition House Leader - yes, they have one thing in common, they found out yesterday that they have one thing in common with the HST and that is that their leader and the harmonized sales tax is at the same level, 15 per cent. They found that out yesterday.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: They found that out yesterday, 15 per cent in the polls. Last night on public television in this Province, I just got home and I was -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: No, he's about to pass him. Last night I got home and I turned on the television at 11:00 I believe it was and lo and behold I see his nibs from Stephenville, Fenwick and the fellow who wants to be deputy mayor of St. John's and then Mrs. Diddly, `unless it is said my way it is not right.' Here were the three of them. I said to the missus, look out now. We are going to get a smack in the mouth again now. They get on and first of all they said - the two St. John's people, they said, `Well why did they announce this thing on the parks now? Why did they announce this thing on education now?' `Well Andy,' he said, `you know they are trying to give us the bad news before the budget.' `That's their strategy,' said Andy. And lo and behold Peter Fenwick, for the first time in his life, hit it dead on the nail. He said, `You people should realize that this government is being very responsible.' He said, `They are putting this thing out ahead of time so that they can solve the problems. So that they can help school boards solve their problems.'

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TULK: Well, after a moment of silence he said, `The parks, why would they wait to announce that they are going to try and privatize the parks in this Province?' He said, `But they should do it as early as possible.' By the way, he also said that you yet have not taken back his card. The NDP, he pointed out - oh, you still have your card. He made the statement - the other statement that he made, Mr. Chairman, I could not believe this because Peter Fenwick has turned out to be the most conservative of conservatives in Newfoundland. Somebody said to him, `Peter, do you still have your card from the NDP?' `Oh yes,' he said. He still has his card and that shows how desperate the NDP are. They will give a card to anybody. In any case, Mr. Chairman, they went on. By the time Peter was finished I am sitting up in my chair and thinking I had to pay some attention to what they are saying. They are not going to come at us as hard as they did originally, as I thought they would. I figured that his crowd were going to take the slashes and the cuts at the government, and I tell the hon. gentleman opposite it would be the same as if they were there. But, no Sir, to a man and to a woman, to a person, starting with that Deputy Mayor of St. John's, another Conservative

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, I just have to say this: that I will have to come back again and try to shed some more positive light on things in this Province.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. John's South.

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to ask the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation if she is going to spend any of the $14.3 million on keeping the parks as public parks? I have one question and I will leave it to the minister to answer it. This program review, dated September 27, 1996, is this the most recent program review conducted by your department, the more recent official program review?

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

MS KELLY: Is this the most recent review? This was September 27. The review started, I think, in last year's Budget and it is not ended yet. It is still being reviewed. There was a document on the 27th, the 28th, and the 29th. There are documents from every single day of the year.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I ask the minister to table immediately in the next session of the House the documents that pertain to the new review.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I adjourn debate.

On motion, that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again, Mr. Speaker returned to the Chair.

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

MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, the Committee on Supply has considered the matters to it referred, wishes to report some progress, and ask leave to sit again.

On motion, report received and adopted, Committee ordered to sit again on tomorrow.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I would move that the House adjourn until, Tuesday, March 18, at 2:00 p.m.

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