November 20, 1997         HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS          Vol. XLIII  No. 34


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

The Chair would like to welcome to the gallery today on behalf of all the members, seven students from I. J. Samson Junior High School in the District of St. John's Centre. These students are accompanied by teachers: Ms Iris Goulding, Ms Myrtle Guinchard and Parents: Ms Hilda Senior and Ms Susan Hatcher.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. CANNING: Mr. Speaker, I ask leave to read a statement. Do I have leave?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. CANNING: Members and colleagues, I wish to advise you that on October 4, 1997, during recess of this hon. House, Mary Hodder, MHA for Burin Placentia - West was awarded the prestigious Adrian Badcock Achievement Award.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CANNING: This is the highest award presented by the Canadian Paraplegic Association and honours Adrian G. Badcock, the first quadriplegic lawyer in North America. He was also a past Chairman of the CPA and an officer in the Canadian Armed Forces. The award celebrates life achievements and significant contributions to individuals for working toward their community by leading through example.

As we know, Mary has given endlessly of her time and talents in helping others and has overcome the challenges of living with spina bifida; she has also been diagnosed twice in her life with cancer, fought the battle and twice defeated it. She is an inspiration to all those who know her and we extend our sincere congratulations to her for having received this very auspicious award.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

It is a distinct pleasure of mine to be able to stand today and to share with all members of this House the congratulations that are passed along to Mary. I have known Mary, and I call her by first name because of our family connection, and I have known of her great work in Marystown and throughout all of the Burin Peninsula. If you want to know what this lady stands for, you only have to go by the Health Sciences Centre when someone from her district is there, and you can know that she is not only a person who, shall we say, represents her constituents when she is in here in the House, but can find her around, not only in the community, but also in this greater area in St. John's when the cause is needed.

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure and I say from my family, which is also her family, this distinction gives us great family pride and it is very well deserved.

 

Statements by Ministers

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Human Resources and Employment.

MS BETTNEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to ask hon. members to join with me in celebrating National Child Day.

Today is a special opportunity for governments, community groups, teachers, parents and children to work together to create environments where all children can grow and develop to their fullest potential.

On this day in 1989, the United Nations adopted the convention on the rights of the child. The convention is important because it addresses various aspects in the lives of children and youth.

Children deserve to live in a healthy happy environment. Mr. Speaker, we are working with all of our partners to ensure that the children of our Province have access to all of the things that will give them a promising start in life.

I am pleased to update hon. members on the Provincial School Nutrition Fund announced one year ago today. Since the program was launched, twenty school nutrition programs received assistance, ten of which were new programs. Altogether, almost 2,000 children have been fed one nutritious meal a day on a daily basis as a result of this initiative.

Mr. Speaker, because of the continued need of children and the tremendous success of this program, I am very pleased to have been able to announce earlier today, that my department will be contributing an additional $125,000 to the Provincial School Nutrition Fund.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, this will enable even more children to take part in having a nutritious meal each day directly through this initiative.

In making this announcement, I want to acknowledge the efforts of the School Children's Food Foundation, Petro Canada and the many volunteers throughout communities and other groups and organizations that have made contributions to this program and I would like to note that Susan Green, the executive director of the foundation and Barbara Hopkins, the acting chair, are in the gallery today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to share this information with the members of the House of Assembly today in observation of National Child Day.

I am very optimistic about the future of programs and services available to our young people. In the new year, I will be introducing the new Child, Youth and Family Services Bill in the House of Assembly and this will replace the current Child Welfare Act. This new legislation will allow a transition from a crisis-based model to one which balances prevention and early intervention with protective services and crisis intervention. A continuum of services for children and families is now being developed in partnership with the community.

The National Child Benefit, Mr. Speaker, is another ongoing initiative which will greatly improve the services for our children. In Newfoundland and Labrador, between $10 million and $12 million annually will be earmarked to help children in low income families. With this funding, we will be introducing a number of programs aimed at assisting children and families. Our first priority is child care services. Specifically, my department is looking to expand regulated child care services to include infants ages zero to two.

Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge all of the groups and organizations that worked on this year's National Child Day activities. I extend a special thank-you to the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, Newfoundland and Labrador Chapter, Canadian Heritage, the Community Services Council, the City of Mount Pearl Parks and Recreation Department, LISTEN Inc., the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Association, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I would ask now that I have distributed these blue ribbons which you see me wearing here today. I just came from a luncheon where people were gathered to honour children, and I would ask members of the House to join me in wearing a ribbon today to help celebrate and honour National Child Day.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS S. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I welcome the statement by the minister today. I love the colour of the ribbons.

While I and my colleagues on this side are pleased to join with the government in celebrating National Child Day, I am still disturbed by the plight of children in our Province today, and by the decisions of this government affecting children.

I do welcome the statements that the minister has made. I cannot tell you how necessary they are, and how expeditiously I hope they are implemented.

Yesterday we witnessed the Minister of Human Resources and Employment, speaking for herself and her colleagues in health and education, effectively dismissing the concept of a universal school lunch program even though we know there are children in Newfoundland and Labrador today going to school hungry. I talked about the fact recorded in the Williams Royal Commission report and the Canning Special Matters report that 40,000 children in this Province live below the poverty line, and many more live very near to the poverty line.

No matter which department of the government we look at, the concerns and best interests of children are not the main priority. In Education we see cuts in the classroom, cuts to extra-curricular activities, cuts to programs, and the closing of schools. In Human Resources and Employment we see the claw-back of the child tax credit from the poorest of our poor, and once again, with absolutely no consideration of the impact of this action on the children.

The problem with this government is the lack of focus. The House of Assembly Select Committee on Children's Interest recommended last year in a comprehensive report that the government establish one office to refocus attention on our children. Where is the legislation setting up the office of the child advocate? Where is the action on the Select Committee's recommendations? Who is minding the children?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

Does the hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am happy to join with the minister and the Member for St. John's West in recognizing National Child Day and the anniversary of the international Convention on the rights of the child.

It is very disturbing to note as well on this day that child poverty in this Province has increased by 50 per cent since 1989. The responses the minister outlined are totally inadequate. The additional $125,000 for the school lunch program will not do anything to change it from a pilot project and rather tentative program. There are still only thirty-two of over 400 schools that have a school lunch program in this Province.

There are, as the Member for St. John's West pointed out, 40,000 children in this Province living below the poverty line: by definition, not receiving an adequate diet. The Newfoundland Dietitians Association has pointed out that people on social assistance cannot possibly afford to have a nutritious diet.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, rather than heckling from over there, if this ministry and this government are serious about child poverty and children's issues, we will hear more from them than what we are hearing so far.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

For the past decade or more the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the sealing industry have focused efforts on the rebuilding of our seal fishery. We have made considerable progress in revitalizing the industry to the point where the export value of the 1997 harvest approximated $20 million. This success has been made possible by dedicated efforts to identify new markets for a wide range of products based on our policy that there must be full utilization of the animal.

The Province remains fully committed to a revitalized seal fishery based around three key principles: i) a sustainable seal harvest based around solid science, ii) full utilization of the animal; and iii) humane harvest practices with zero tolerance for inappropriate harvesting practices. Our overall objective is to ensure that the seal resource is fully developed for the benefit of sealers, other industry workers, and communities with a dependence on this important economic activity.

Apart from this, Mr. Speaker, we also fully recognize that seals are having a major impact on the recovery of our Northern cod stock and other fish stocks. From this perspective, seals have to be managed as an integral part of the marine ecosystem and not in isolation from well-defined predator-prey relationships.

It was only this June past that the Scientific Council of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization concluded that the harp seal population is consuming approximately 110,000 tonnes of Northern cod annually, the greater percentage of which is juvenile cod less than 40 centimetres in length. The Council concluded that the expanding seal populations may be hindering the recovery of the Northern cod stock.

In recent weeks, Mr. Speaker, the International Fund for Animal Welfare began its annual propaganda circus against the seal fishery. This campaign is based on misrepresentations of the facts, and as in previous years is grossly misleading.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: That is what I said.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Typical, Mr. Speaker, of the Opposition.

In recent weeks, Mr. Speaker, my department, in concert with the Canadian Sealers Association and the sealing industry at large, is closely monitoring the activities of the IFAW. Already, we have made representation to the media and such advertising governing bodies as the Telecaster Committee of Canada to have misleading ads cancelled.

However, we have no intention of giving the IFAW a publicity platform around which its propaganda campaign will be given any legitimacy whatsoever.

Mr. Speaker, the Province, in its continuing efforts to revitalize the seal fishery, will not be side-tracked by the mischievous actions of some organization whose stated objective is to end the commercial seal harvest.

We fully intend to continue expanding solid market opportunities so we can increase the economic benefits from the seal fishery. Such efforts include my recent mission to Asia, a significant portion of which was devoted to developing markets for seal products.

I am happy to report to the House that as a result of our discussions in Korea, their importing restrictions on seal products may be changed. In fact, changes may be made to allow shipment of seal oil to Korea as early as January coming.

The market for our seal products in China is exceptionally promising. Since I came back just a few days ago, one major company we met with has already sent me a proposal for discussion purposes. Considering the enormous population of China, and the fact that we have already made some inroads there with our seal products, further expansion of our market share there will be a tremendous boost for our seal industry. In Japan, we have also had very encouraging interest from companies exploring market opportunities with us, particularly for seal oil importation.

At the same time, Mr. Speaker, we continue to address the issue of misinformation spread by the multi-million dollar advertising campaign of the IFAW. I have written publications such as The Globe and Mail newspaper, and TIME and Maclean's magazines, and am arranging for speaking engagements outside the Province both to correct the glaring inaccuracies in the IFAW ads and to present an accurate portrayal of our seal fishery and what it means to our coastal residents and the economy in those communities.

Next week, both the Premier and I will be speaking at the International Conference on Sealing here in St. John's. We are proud to host this conference and avail of this opportunity to focus attention on one of the healthiest mammal populations in the world, and how this vast renewable resource allows people in our coastal communities to continue to pursue their livelihoods with dignity.

I have asked my federal counterpart to ensure that his department acts in a timely fashion to provide current and accurate information on the sealing industry to its embassies, news media, and other audiences. For its part, government, and my department in particular, will, whenever necessary, challenge the IFAW campaign to ensure that there is a balanced perspective on the seal fishery.

The industry is expanding and is providing a measure of hope to individuals who have seen their lives shattered by the collapse of the groundfish sector. Our objective is to work with the Federal Government and all sectors of the industry to ensure that its full economic potential is realized. Mr. Speaker, the misguided activities of the IFAW will not weaken this resolve.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We, over here, welcome the minister's press release today, and I compliment the minister for taking the initiative to go to places like China and Japan and Korea. Korea is a place to which we were not allowed to ship any seal products up until now. There is a little bit of hope there that we may be able to get into that particular market.

The minister has already proven that he is a born salesman in his other life. Mr. Speaker, when he came on t.v. a few short weeks ago and he took a few seal capsules, he created a run on seal oil capsules comparable to Voisey's Bay, I say to the minister. The reason that was created was because people realized that it is a good product and it has the capabilities of employing Newfoundlanders. In my own particular district, there is activity going on right now where there are some good things happening in the seal industry. There is optimism, and hopefully, that will continue.

Mr. Speaker, the minister talked about the seals consuming 110,000 metric tonnes, that is, 243 million pounds, of fish, I say to members opposite. I tell you, the plant in Port Union would love to have part of that, so that people could get back to work.

I have heard the minister on radio talking to people in the IFAW, saying that they should be ashamed of themselves and counteracting the arguments that they have been putting forward, and this needs to be done, because if there was ever a slur campaign against Newfoundlanders, it is happening with the IFAW. So, I urge everybody to take part in that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: But the one thought I would like to leave with members opposite, is to look inside yourselves and see if it is conscionable to accept money from the IFAW, for political campaigns, like your cousins up in Ottawa did. Shame! This should never be allowed to happen and we should never accept money from a disgraceful organization like the IFAW.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

Further statements by ministers.

The hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods.

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

On behalf of my colleagues, the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, it gives me great pleasure today to inform the members of the House of Assembly and the citizens of our Province of a national award that has been bestowed upon the Newfoundland and Labrador Special Olympics.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Special Olympics has been awarded the distinction for having the top per capita Law Enforcement Torch Run in the world. The 1997 torch run raised $117,500 for the Newfoundland and Labrador association. This award was recently presented to our provincial association at a ceremony in Portland, Oregon, in the USA.

Mr. Speaker, this award is a major accomplishment, not only for the athletes in the Newfoundland and Labrador Special Olympics, but for members of our provincial civil service who assisted in the organization of the event and ran in the torch run. This includes the conservation officers of my department, members of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, wardens of Her Majesty's Penitentiary, Provincial High Sheriff's Office, Highway Enforcement Officers of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, as well as officers of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Military Police and Parks Canada.

Mr. Speaker, these funds will greatly assist the Special Olympics organization to continue to provide quality sport and fitness programs to the Province's athletes who have a mental handicap.

As Canadians, we are to be doubly proud of having two provinces take first and second place in this honour. I would also like to congratulate the Province of Ontario, which placed second in this event, and the United Kingdom for receiving third place.

The contribution that these employees, our employees in the civil service, have made to Special Olympics certainly shows their dedication and commitment to the athletes and to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, this torch run commenced on June 8, 1997 in Port aux Basques and concluded June 13, 1997 at the opening of the Provincial Summer Games in St. John's. In addition to this, there were several torch runs held in other areas of the Province; Labrador West, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Nain and on the Burin Peninsula, to name a few. This entire effort is a great accomplishment for all who have contributed to the event.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all members of this House to pass on their congratulations to the Newfoundland and Labrador Special Olympics and the provincial employees in our civil service, who deserve a great deal of praise for getting involved in this event.

Today, in the House, we have Mr. Mike Walsh, executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Special Olympics, and Mr. Doug Noseworthy of the Newfoundland and Labrador Special Olympics. They are here in the gallery today.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to say to the minister, we did not receive a copy of his statement. We wish we had. But I, too, would like to join with the minister in congratulating the group for doing the torch relay, and for the work that I know a lot of the wardens and a lot of the police officers in this Province put into such an event.

When you have people with special needs and you are able to assist those people... and my friend from Labrador, when they host their Winter Games - I am sure there will be provisions made for these very special people as well, as we did in Conception Bay South when we hosted the Newfoundland and Labrador Summer Games, as they did in Harbour Grace and as they did in Mount Pearl.

We too, Sir, would like to join with you today in congratulating the people in our Province, the various associations, who make these things possible. Hopefully, we will always be able to support such initiatives. Thank you.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to join with the minister and the Member for Conception Bay South in commending the organizers and individuals, almost all public servants, mentioned by the minister, who gave of their time to make this event successful. It is important to recognize the work that is done by public employees above and beyond the call of duty and in their time. We have a very fine public service, and their efforts in this particular regard being recognized internationally is a wonderful commendation by itself. I would like to join in commending them to Members of the House and to the public.

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

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, as I announced last week in a joint presentation with Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, our Province has just experienced what is undoubtedly its most successful tourism year on record.

On the strength of our Cabot 500 Anniversary Celebrations, 1997 has become a benchmark year in terms of future tourism growth. The success of this year goes beyond traditional yardsticks of non-resident visitation and tourism expenditure, in that we have also achieved unprecedented awareness of Newfoundland and Labrador throughout the world.

But, as we have all experienced this year, the Cabot celebrations were really about spirit and pride in our Province, our culture, our heritage, and ourselves. In celebration of this wonderful anniversary year, last Saturday night at Corner Brook's spectacular new Canada Games Centre a multi-act program of entertainment and special effects was staged in true Newfoundland and Labrador style.

It was called "The Fire Still Burns," after the finale song written by Ged Blackmore of the Folk of the Sea, and the evening featured performers from throughout our Province, such as The Ennis Sisters, the Blues Brothers, Meshikamu from Sheshatshiu, Labrador, and 500 young people from the Five Hundred More Youth Congress and the Provincial Student Leadership conference; and 3,000 enthusiastic concert-goers.

Mr. Speaker, it was a wonderful finale to our Cabot 500 Anniversary year, and a highlight of what we have to celebrate in the very near future, such as the 1999 Canada Winter Games, our 50th Anniversary of Confederation with Canada, and the Viking Millennium.

Thanks to the sponsorship of NewTel Communications, PetroCanada, and CBC Television, the program will be presented tonight in a two-hour feature concert on CBC all throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. The show will begin at 7:30 p.m. Newfoundland time, 7:00 p.m. in Labrador.

I encourage all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to tune into this special program tonight. Thank you.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all, I would like to thank the minister for a copy of her statement. I appreciate that, Minister.

I would like to, first of all, congratulate the people who made the Cabot celebrations the success they were. I am sure the minister will agree that these celebrations were certainly successful, and over and above, I guess, any area where the Matthew went, the celebrations were tremendous. In areas where they were not, I do not think we had the desired effect that maybe we all would have liked.

I can only say to the minister that I trust that your department, Minister, will build on what we have created in 1997 and that your government will realize the tremendous benefit of what we can do in this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador when we put forward our own Province and we bring people in here that we can send out of here at the end of the day with fond memories of what this Province could do.

Also, Mr. Speaker, while I am on my feet, not only do I wish to thank the many corporate sponsors because - as the minister well knows and I certainly well know of - without any event in this Province, without the backing of good corporate sponsors, then, in this Province I think all of us, in any sport or any endeavour in this Province would be truly lost.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FRENCH: So I would like to congratulate - if I might just have a minute, Mr. Speaker?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. FRENCH: I would like to congratulate the many thousands and thousands of volunteers in this Province who gave so freely of their time this summer. I am sure, Minister, as we get on to the Canada Winter Games and to the city of Corner Brook, they have built a tremendous facility over there and I am sure at the end of the day when we host that very prestigious event, that building will certainly be used and it will be of great benefit to the West Coast of this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Human Resources and Employment.

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce today a change in policy for persons who were receiving a social assistance supplement to earnings immediately prior to a labour dispute.

For more than twenty years - actually since legislation was passed in 1975 - social assistance has not been provided to individuals, who voluntarily and collectively withdrew their services from the workforce through strike action. This policy has included individuals who had been locked out by their employer through negotiations, and also clients who had received a social assistance supplement to earnings.

After reviewing this policy, I am announcing today a change with respect to clients who receive these earning supplements. These individuals will now continue to be eligible to receive social assistance supplements. This is consistent with this government's current policy of encouraging individuals to seek employment and to reduce their dependency on social assistance.

Mr. Speaker, in announcing this change in policy, I want to reinforce that government will not be making up for income lost due to strike action for those individuals who were not receiving social assistance prior to the strike action. This change in policy only affects those who are receiving social assistance supplement to earnings prior to the strike action.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: I applaud the minister for responding so swiftly to an article that appeared in the Evening Telegram today. Up until 1:45 today, officials in her department could not confirm that this policy change was going to take place. The article in the Evening Telegram today, and I am responding because the individual involved in the article certainly is a constituent of mine. What I can say to the minister clearly is this, that you have responded quickly. You should be congratulated for responding quickly, and hopefully the message today gets out; and please, Minister, once Question Period of the House sits, ensure that this policy is communicated directly to all people within your department so that anybody who finds himself in this situation will not have to go through the stress and strain that a constituent of mine had to go through within the last week to ten days.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

Oral Questions

 

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Minister of Health. On May 14, the health minister in the House announced a plan to reduce the wait list for cardiac surgery by sending fifty people to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, at a rate of two per week from June to December. Now, I ask the minister, how many people have been accommodated to date? Where have the surgeries been performed and what is the total cost?

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

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

As was announced, we were going to send forty people out of the Province. To date we have sent twelve to Halifax and thirteen to New Brunswick. Nova Scotia, similar to Newfoundland, are experiencing difficulties with keeping up with the number of cardiac surgeries that are required. They have encountered some difficulty. In a response to keeping the commitment we made, we then contacted a hospital in Ottawa, the Ottawa Heart Institute, where we have made arrangements for patients to travel out of the Province to go there, doing two a week. We had one done Tuesday and another done today, and we will be meeting our deadline and numbers as we have indicated.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I informed the minister that there have been thirty done to date, and two per week for the next month in Ottawa, which would give us thirty-eight in total.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: I say to the minister, that is not fifty unless it is a new form of math.

When the Minister of Health -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I will get to that shortly, I say to the hon. member.

When the Minister of Health made her announcement last spring, there were 220 people on the wait list. Today, it has grown to 240 people. Obviously, the Minister of Health's initiative has failed to reduce the numbers.

Now, will the minister admit that the wait list today is at an all-time high, and that we are falling further and further behind, while we are sending two people a week to Ottawa; and, I might add, exporting expensive health care jobs to Ontario, we are, in this Province, cancelling two a week on average because there are no ICU beds to accommodate these people. That does not make sense, I say to the minister.

When is the minister going to provide a permanent solution to the problem we are facing today?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS J. M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, we are working on the commitment that we gave. I think we need to look at it very realistically. My hon. colleague speaks about giving jobs away. You cannot have it both ways. Right now, if we are trying to address the issue in the short term, we made a commitment to send the people out of the Province and we are doing that. When we approached Nova Scotia, who did the first numbers that we asked them to do, they did them quite agreeably, but they, too, have had difficulties, because they are having the same challenges as the whole country is having in maintaining surgeries and keeping up with the numbers that are going on the list every week.

I think it is a credit in many ways to the medical profession and to the advancements that we have made that cardiac patients are being diagnosed much sooner than they were before, and they are being put on a waiting list for surgery. Many of the patients on the waiting list are elective. To date we have 200 patients on the waiting list. We are putting an average of eleven on a week and, as my hon. colleague knows, we are working on making renovations complete at the Health Sciences Centre. They are on target. This is not new.

I know this is the usual fall issue that comes up with my hon. colleague, but we have not changed our direction. We committed to send the people out of the Province, and we will send the people out of the Province to have the surgery done. Our goal is to do them in-Province. We have renovations that are ongoing and will be completed on schedule. We will increase the number of surgeries after Christmas.

We made commitments and we will continue to pursue those commitments when we look at dedicated beds at the Health Sciences Centre, but neither my colleague nor I do triage for cardiac surgery patients, and the day it comes into this House, when we cannot count on physicians to do the type of triage, we are all in big trouble.

I trust the physicians; I trust the triage. We are putting the money in place. We are making the changes to ICU, and there will be added beds available after Christmas, as indicated.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I spoke with an individual today who has been driven out of this Province at his own expense, and he had to make his own private arrangements in another part of this country. It is a sad commentary on equal access to health care, when an individual has to make arrangements on his own because he is afraid that he will have another heart attack if he has to wait for government to do something about it.

I ask the minister: With cancellations in this Province last year, last month, this Fall, there has been an average of less than nine done per week. That information is provided to me by the Health Care Corporation, and I receive it on an ongoing basis. At the same time in this Province, I say to the minister -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I want to remind the hon. member that he is on a supplementary and there should be no preamble needed. I ask him to get to his question.

MR. SULLIVAN: While there are less than nine being done per week, and the list is growing at eleven per week, I say to the minister, how do you plan on reducing the waiting list when it is growing faster than the number of surgeries being performed?

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

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

I would like to respond to some of the comments before my colleague got to the question.

With respect to public funding, Mr. Speaker, as long as we live in a publicly-funded health care system in this country, we will always have waiting lists. It is a function of public funding. It does not matter, Mr. Speaker, if you live in Newfoundland or if you live in British Columbia, there will always be waiting lists and the day we lose our waiting list, Mr. Speaker, is the day we come into a privately-funded health care system, and God help us all at that point.

The next point I would like to make, Mr. Speaker, is that, politicians do not triage, physicians triage, and if somebody comes into the hospital with a head injury and is dying, certainly the person who is waiting for an elective surgery would be cancelled to meet those needs. I would not interfere with those types of triage arrangements and neither should this person across the House. We are working to meet our guidelines; we are working very, very hard with the Health Care Corporation as a tertiary-care centre in the Province doing cardiac surgery.

We are, certainly, as I have said, reached the point in health care where we have such capabilities. We are doing much early diagnosis, and that is good, Mr. Speaker, but I can say right now, anyone in this Province who wants to go outside to have heart surgery can do it, but unfortunately, it is at great cost and in this country we have waiting lists because we are in a publicly-funded system, and God help the day when we lose it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Four years ago, the list was 100, today, it is 240. There is a cap on physicians spending, there is a cap on expenditure in health care, the list has gone up from 100 to 240 in four years, Minister. The government is not putting enough money to address the problem.

Now, I get calls, numerous calls from people in their late 30s and early 40s and the problem -

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: The hon. gentleman has been warned a number of times by the Speaker that he is not to engage in debate when he is putting a supplementary question but rather, to put the question. I ask, Mr. Speaker, that you bring him to order or name him.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To that point or order, again, I want to remind all hon. members of the House that, Question Period is not a period for debate and I refer hon. members to Beauchesne, section 409, paragraph 1 which says: "A question must not be an expression of an opinion, a representation, an argument, nor debate.

"The question must be brief. A preamble need not exceed one carefully drawn sentence. A long preamble on a long question takes an unfair share of time and provokes the same sort of reply. A supplementary question should need no preamble." I ask hon. members to keep this in mind when they are presenting questions.

The Chair said, and I quoted from Beauchesne, if the hon. member was listening, that a long preamble on a long question takes an unfair share of time and provokes the same sort of reply, so I ask hon. members again, to keep this in mind when they are presenting questions and answers in the House.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the Minister of Health: What does she propose to do for a person whose sick benefits have run out, whose EI has expired, who cannot get Canada Pension disability. The problem can be corrected, but he cannot get surgery because the Province will not permit it, he is too far down the list. People suffering from stress from their illness and from the shortage of money - what does the minister propose to do, and say to those people here in the Province today?

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

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

I would like to ask the member across the House a question. Is he proposing I interfere with the list? Is that what you are proposing?

I do not triage cardiac-surgery patients. It is the question, Mr. Speaker, he is asking: what am I going to do? I am not a doctor, I do not triage cardiac-surgery patients and the day a politician triages cardiac-surgery patients, Mr. Speaker, we have lost it.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will tell the minister what I propose, with leave of the House, before I move to my questions.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: The same as I told the previous (inaudible) minister and the same as cardiac people who fought you for the past several years.

There are twenty-five people in the hospital today waiting for heart surgery, people who are too sick to go home and another 215 waiting for a call that may never come.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SULLIVAN: Yesterday -

AN HON. MEMBER: Mr. Speaker. (Inaudible).

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SULLIVAN: Come on. (Inaudible)!

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

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

MR. SULLIVAN: What is the minister going to say to the person that I spoke with, who said in mid-September that they were told they would have to have their surgery in two weeks, who is still waiting today? That person is not one of the twenty-five who is in hospital too sick to go home. I ask the minister: What is she going to do to deal with a problem that is running out of control here in this Province?

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

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

Let me refer for my hon. colleague to what we are doing with respect to cardiac surgery in the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MS J. M. AYLWARD: Well, if you knew what I was doing, why are you asking the question? I would like to answer the question if I could.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

We have put money into the Corporation to allow for renovations from fourteen to seventeen beds, which will be made available in January. There is an additional - of the $30 million to the Health Care Corporation, which the Opposition on the side of the House criticized, $5 million of that is going for cardiac surgery. In addition to that there will be two extra cases done. I would like to compliment the medical community which has increased its expertise in diagnosing the cases for which cardiac surgery are required.

I have outlined what we have done. We have sent patients out of the Province but I will reiterate, I do not triage. Physicians will triage based on need, and they set the priorities for surgery as they see fit.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to conclude her answer.

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

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

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

For some time, the Opposition and the critics have talked about the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board and its lack of action in enforcing the principles outlined in the Atlantic Accord, with respect to the protection of jobs and the elimination of importing people to this Province where skills already exist.

I ask the Minister of Mines and Energy today: Can he, as the minister, taking the initiative and the lead on behalf of government, confirm that they are about to appoint new members to the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board, with a mandate to ensure that local preference policies are enshrined and protected? Can he confirm that?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FUREY: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the lack of action, not only by the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board, but the lack of action by this government, is paramount and evident. In the Terra Nova assessment panel's recommendations, I asked in this House last year, prior to those recommendations coming out, this question, which I will ask of the minister. Has government moved to put together a list that would show clearly what jobs are required, what skills presently exist, and the most important question, what skills do not exist? Are we putting training programs in place so that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can take advantage of those opportunities? Can the minister respond to that, please?

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

MR. FUREY: Yes, Mr. Speaker, that is ongoing amongst a number of departments, Education, Human Resources and Employment, and my department.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, it is very odd that the minister today says it is ongoing without providing any details, when last Spring in this House of Assembly, he laughed at the very suggestion. So let me ask him again - more detailed: If you say a number of departments are going on, what is going on? When will the time frame be put in place? In view of the fact that you are enjoying making public announcements lately, can you announce the time frame for such action, and when will that be made public?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, if I did not know any better I would think the hon. member was running for something in the next number of... He can stand in his place and simulate outrage and pretend to be angry, but we have answered these questions clearly in the House many times.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Mines and Energy is clearly out of touch when he talks about simulating outrage. Last year 150 electrical instrumentation personnel came in from Calgary, while 150 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who were skilled, who were ready to go to work, did not get a chance.

Let me ask you once again. What will government tangibly do to ensure that the principles of the Atlantic Accord are protected, and that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians get first bang, not only at the jobs, but at the industrial benefits that should be associated with the resource that belongs to us?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, the record is quite clear. There were millions and millions of person hours at the Hibernia site. Newfoundland -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Yes, and I thank John Crosbie. John Crosbie did a superb job when he was in Ottawa constructing the funding to do it and I give credit where is it deserved and he deserves some credit in that regard.

But, Mr. Speaker, Newfoundlanders got tremendous opportunities. I think the hon. member is down-playing it. He should be very proud of the workforce and the terrific construction activity at Bull Arm. Millions and millions of person hours of work were given to Newfoundlanders. Hundreds of contracts were given to Newfoundland companies. Tremendous technology transfer happened. So, I say to the hon. member, he is engaging in simulated outrage. He is an angry young man and he wants to be leader.

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Minister of Environment and Labour.

Mr. Speaker, as we all know, the Atlantic Cartier was charged with eight charges today. Last year, approximately 2,500 oily sea birds were washed up off Newfoundland shores and an estimated 25,000 others were damaged by surface oil that almost certainly came from bilges of ships, which were going through Canadian waters, the shipping lanes just off Newfoundland. This year we have seen more of the same and we are pleased to see that the Canadian Coast Guard has charged the Atlantic Cartier.

I ask the minister, in view of the critical importance of our environment to our world-renowned seabird sanctuary, to our tourism and fishery industries, that we stop these events from happening in the first place.

What measures is the minister proposing to his Federal Government counterparts that will protect us from oil leaks, oil spills and illegal bilge pumping?

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

MR LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There is no doubt about it, that many of the ships that go up and down the Newfoundland coast do discharge the oil, but it is very difficult in a sense, I guess, for anyone to be able to pinpoint the number of ships - there are hundreds of them that go up and down the coast - to be able to say which one did or did not do it.

Obviously, we are working with the Canadian Coast Guard and Environment Canada to see what we can do to monitor it more closely, but it is a practical impossibility to pinpoint who does this from time to time.

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to see that the Canadian Government arrested the Atlantic Cartier, Mr. Speaker, for the offences of this nature and I trust that the minister will urge the Federal Government to enforce the highest possible fines.

I believe we must look for new ways to stop these offences from happening in the first place, and the risk of a high fine may not be enough.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The risk of a high fine may not be enough to deter ships from leaking their oil bilges. Will the minister therefore press his federal counterparts to force all shipping companies whose vessels have been convicted of bilge-pumping and all shipping companies whose bilge records are deficient, to report to the Canadian Coast Guard immediately, every time they enter Canadian waters? And will he target the offenders and ask the Federal Government to impose long probation periods, so we can prevent this type of activity from happening in the future?

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

MR LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, we will do that and do it expeditiously, and I will contact the federal minister to see if it is possible to do it.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Make another suggestion, `Tom'. They have not done anything yet.

MR. T. OSBORNE: They have not done anything yet, Mr. Speaker.

Just last year, we saw how disorganized and confused all levels of government were with the oil leak on the South Side in St. John's. With Hibernia, Terra Nova, the transshipment, the Argentia smelter, and so on, the local traffic off our shores is going to increase tremendously in the upcoming months and years. What is the minister going to do, on a provincial level, to kick into high gear the measures we need to ensure that our environment is protected from this type of activity in the future? It is too late once an Exxon Valdez type of situation happens. I ask you what you are going to do to prevent this type of activity from happening in the future.

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

MR LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to tell the member that we are constantly in consultation with the oil companies that will be working in the Placentia Bay area. I have also met a number of times with the North Atlantic Refinery Company. They have a process in place that can be of most help as well.

Obviously, we want to make sure that the utmost is done to protect the environment. The environment is pristine and we want to keep it that way, and we want to impress upon the big oil companies and big industry to work in consultation with us and the feds in a harmonized way to make sure we protect our environment.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Mr. Speaker, I understand by the minister's own admission that he and his entourage just returned from a globe-trotting excursion, visiting companies in Japan, China, and Korea. The minister has indicated that one thing on his agenda was to explore the potential for marketing dried squid.

Would the minister inform Members of the House of Assembly, and the thousands of Newfoundland fishermen who are eagerly waiting to sell their squid, if he was successful in his sales pitch, and, if so, when can they expect to sell the thousands of pounds of squid that are presently sitting in their fishing sheds.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: I should say (inaudible) sit down.

Mr. Speaker, what I did say before I went on the Asian tour was that I would look at and see where the possibilities were, or if there was any market potential for fish products - and, in particular, squid - in Japan, Korea or Asia. I did not say at any time that I would guarantee or sell for any company or any fisherperson in Newfoundland any of the products they had in their sheds. What I did say was that I would look and see if there were market opportunities.

I found out very clearly that there are market opportunities, in particular in Japan, but the one thing that Newfoundland fishermen must do is adhere to quality products, because I tell you, if we continue harvesting and processing the quality of products that we have in the past, the future of the Newfoundland fishery, not only in squid products but in all products, looks very, very dim.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, nobody would disagree with the minister's comments. In fact, I have received suggestions myself that we have a cull on squid which is not present in the sale from fishermen to buyers today.

Would the minister today confirm that while our own Newfoundland fishermen sit idle and unable to sell their squid, foreign countries have been issued licences by his cousins in Ottawa to fish 33,000 metric tons of squid inside our 200-mile limit? Minister, 33,000 metric tons means over 70 million pounds of fish going into the same markets that we would pursue ourselves.

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is wrong in one thing. It is not 33,000 metric tons; it is 35,000 metric tons.

Secondly, he asked me would I confirm it. He must have heard my interview on The Fishermen's Broadcast, because what I said on The Fishermen's Broadcast was about the question he just asked; so he knows very well that I know about the fishing by foreign trawlers in our zone.

We have made representation to DFO to change that. I have said very clearly that of any fish that can be harvested by Newfoundland fishermen, nothing should go outside to any foreigners, whether they are the Japanese, the Faroese or from any country in this world. Newfoundlanders should have the first opportunity where they have the ability to harvest.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister confirms that this is happening, even in greater numbers than I have put forward here today.

Mr. Minister, now that you know, would you inform the House what you have done in consulting your federal cousins to stop this practice immediately and allow our own fishermen to enter the markets and sell the squid that they have gone out and caught, dried and have presently in storage? What have you done, Minister?

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

MR. EFFORD: It is quite obvious that the hon. member does not do much research on his questions or in finding out the answers before he asks them. Because while Japan had a quota this year of 35,000 tonnes, they did not harvest any squid in Canadian waters because they had an over-harvest in their own country. They exported squid from their own country so they did not need to harvest in this country the quotas they had here.

What have I done? I have made very clear representation in writing and in meetings with the federal minister. And it was not - probably the hon. member should also check - it was not our federal cousins in Ottawa who made this rule. Probably you should check back and see if it was your federal cousins who gave away the fish, the hon. John Crosbie.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: I ask the hon. minister: Who increased the quota inside the 200-mile limit? Would the minister answer that question?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. EFFORD: Yes. The first question: Who was there when the shop was sold? The second question: Who was there when the quotas were given to the foreign countries? Our cousins in Ottawa are taking away the foreign quotas as we are Canadianizing the turbot of an Ob area. So we are giving back to Newfoundlanders what Newfoundlanders deserve. We are trying to create an atmosphere where Newfoundlanders have an opportunity, not like his counterparts when they were in government in Ottawa, who gave away everything.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: I ask the minister if he would consult with the Premier of this Province today, who was the federal minister in Ottawa - if he has consulted with him, and ask him to go back to his cousins in Ottawa in order to take away the quota that he increased when he was the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, let me ask the hon. member a question for all the people in Burgeo who are unemployed today: Who gave the quota to Nova Scotia?

AN HON. MEMBER: Nobody over here.

MR. EFFORD: John Crosbie.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

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

My question today is for the Minister of Education.

Mr. Speaker, this was a letter just sent today to the Premier from students of (inaudible) Collegiate, on behalf by the way, of students in Elwood. If anybody has been watching the news lately these students - what none of us want to see - are out of school in the last few days. One of the big concerns, Mr. Speaker, being a former teacher, coach and a person who took part in extracurricular activities in school, is that these students feel betrayed today and are very confused about what is going on in this Province. I would like to ask the minister: What is the status of substitute teacher days? Is it going to be available so that these students can go back to school feeling that their extracurricular will be there for them this year?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Education

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I was very disappointed when I heard a couple of days ago that the students, primarily in the Deer Lake area, had left school over this particular issue. Hon. members in the House might recall that it was a matter of some considerable contention at the opening of school a year ago. In September of 1996, I was travelling the Province on a public consultation and a number of the schools throughout the Province were closed because students were protesting with respect to the fact that some of their teachers were not being released to accompany them on activities, sporting and otherwise, that were a large part of the extracurricular part of their program in the schools.

We had some meetings last year and it was agreed that the budget for substitute teacher days in the Province - in the budget that was announced and became effective April 1, 1997 - would be increased, even though, Mr. Speaker, I think all of us know that again, regrettably there are a little more than 400 fewer teachers in the schools this year. There are more substitute teacher days available this year than there were last year, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to quickly conclude his answer. Question Period has ended.

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker. Not only that, I think the NLTA, its members, the president of the Association, the school board, will all acknowledge that the total numbers of days that are prescribed in the teachers' collective agreement for substitution for extra-curricular activity are fully available -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. GRIMES: - to teachers this year and there is no reason why the students should be out of school. It is most unfortunate.

MR. SPEAKER: Presenting Reports by Standing and Special Committees.

MR. MERCER: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MR. MERCER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today on a question of order. In yesterday's session of this hon. Assembly, in a line of questioning from the hon. the Member for Conception Bay South to the Minister of Health, as recorded in yesterday's edition of Hansard, there are certain statements made which I would like to reiterate and ask for a ruling on from the Chair.

The hon. gentleman opposite has made reference to, in connection with the senior citizens home -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a point of order.

MR. MERCER: The hon. gentleman opposite, in speaking to the construction of a personal care home in the Corner Brook area, has made reference to statements like, and I quote, "blatant, blatant, blatant patronage of $500,000" that was given to two individuals. Then he proceeds to name those individuals. I will not do that because that is, in essence, my point of order.

Not only has the hon. member opposite not yet presented any shred of evidence, any shred of proof to substantiate his claims, he has now dragged into this debate the names of two ladies. Their only offence is that one of them happens to be the wife of a Liberal Party worker in Western Newfoundland. Is that an offence, Mr. Speaker? Can someone who is associated with someone who is involved in political life, just because he or she happens to be the spouse of that individual, be now accused of political patronage?

Therefore, I ask that in accordance with Beauchesne, section 493 (4) that you, as Speaker, caution the member to exercise much greater care in making such statements about persons who are outside of the House and who are unable to reply on their own behalf.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South, to the point of order.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will not take the valuable time of the House to repeat the names. What I said yesterday, I stand by every single word of it. I am really glad that the member from the West Coast finally got off his chair and got up. It clearly shows that he, like the rest of them, does not know what he is talking about. All he has to do is go to Lark Harbour, talk to the lady out there where your buddy was from Ottawa, with Mr. Johnson, when this lady asked for the $500,000.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FRENCH: Call her! Call her yourself, boy, do something as a member for the West Coast.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to take his seat.

MR. FRENCH: (Inaudible) a load of garbage!

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

The hon. member is -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

I asked the hon. member to state his objection on this point of order, and not to debate the issue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair will - is the hon. Opposition House Leader raising a point of order?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair will take the point raised by the hon. the Member for Humber East under advisement and report back to the House.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

I wish to rise on a point of order relative to the administration of the Public Tender Act, section 8(3) and (10). Section 8(3) is regarding an award to someone other than the preferred bidder, and subsection (10) is regarding an award without tender.

There is a requirement in the Act that when there are exemptions to be made to the Public Tender Act, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation has a responsibility to communicate to the House documentation as to why these exemptions were made. I say that the rules are quite clear. It says: If the House of Assembly is then in session, within thirty days after receipt of notification of the awarding of the contract by the government-funded body, or if the House of Assembly is not in session, within thirty days of the opening of the next session. I wish to bring to the attention of the hon. Speaker, the fact that the last report we have of the tabling of the exceptions to the Public Tender Act, was last tabled on March 26, by the former Minister Bettney, and that was for the months of November and December of 1996 and January and February of 1997. I note that Minister Bettney was the minister until May 8, 1997 when Minister Matthews was then appointed to that particular position. We should point out that the House has been opened this session for a great numbers of days and on the last day the House sat in the spring which was May 20, fifty calendar days had passed since the end of March.

The Act states that the heads of government-funded bodies must inform the minister of referred bid or rejects of non-tendered work and presumably to do so without delay and the minister, when the House is in session has thirty days after receiving that information to table it in the House. The former minister was able to table the February exceptions to the Public Tender Act by March 26, just twenty-six calendar days after the end of the month. So why can't the current minister not find himself in position to table the March exemptions within fifty days at the end of March which would have been May 20, and even before the transfer of ministers on May the 8, we note that thirty-seven days had passed with no sign of the tabling of the March exemptions to the Public Tender Act.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that, while we cannot say that the minister has indeed breached the Act with respect to the exemption documents for April, May, June, July and August, in September, since the House is not in session during those months, we have to note that it is still reasonable to conclude that the minister must have received all the information from the department heads about all of those particular months and will, or should have, by this time, compiled that particular information.

The minister had two days in September and so far, four days in November to table these documents in the House, but he has failed to do so. It is reasonable, I say to the minister, to ask: Why these documents have not been tabled as required by law? Were there delays in getting the information from the various Ministers of the Crown or, from the heads of the various departments within the various government agencies? Have the documents been printed and is the minister concerned about the accuracy of the documents, and we want to know, Mr. Speaker, when does the minister expect to release these documents as required by law?

MR. SPEAKER: Is the hon. Minister of Works, Services and Transportation responding to the point raised by the member?

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Okay.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. member is partially correct in asking for these things. In September of course, they were not required. Monday I was out of the House; Tuesday and Wednesday, I was here being crucified unjustly, Thursday I have the documents with me and I hereby table the documents that the member wants, and I not only table, Mr. Speaker, March and April but I also table documents relating to May, June, July and August so you have them in lots of time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: You have until Christmas to table it.

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, but in the interest of sparing the House another long speech by the hon. member asking for things in the future, I want to spare everybody that grief and anguish and I am going to table them early along with those that should have been tabled two days ago.

The hon. Member for Waterford Valley is not entirely wrong; he is only partially right. Here are the documents.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To the point of order, I just want to remind the hon. member that the point that he did raise was really not a point of order and there is no - We are governed by the Standing Orders, Beauchesne and the Common Standing Orders, the administration of a department or an act governing the department is within the jurisdiction of that department and not -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

When the Chair is ruling on a point of order, I expect members to be silent.

The Chair is not responsible for the administration of a department or the act governing that department, so there is no point of order.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I guess, procedurally what you are getting at is that, I should have asked leave of the House to present these because this is not the appropriate time and if that is the complex, then I ask leave that I could table these.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair has call Presenting Reports By Standing and Special Committees, but the hon. member rose on a point of order.

 

Notices of Motion

 

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I hereby give notice that I will on tomorrow table the following private members resolution:

WHEREAS resent scientific estimates suggest that the population of harp seals currently exceed seven million animals;

AND WHEREAS the seal population is known to feed on other fish and marine life in the ocean;

AND WHEREAS scientific research is beginning to demonstrate a link between seal populations and other marine species including cod and caplin;

AND WHEREAS a leakage between the size of seal populations and the reduction of cod stocks is readily apparent;

AND WHEREAS the livelihoods of thousands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians is being challenged by the reduction of cod and other groundfish stocks;

AND WHEREAS the seal population has long reached the size where it can sustain a greater harvest;

AND WHEREAS this industry has the potential to employ hundreds of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who conduct the harvest in a humane fashion, utilizing the seal carcass to the full extent;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Assembly direct the provincial government, to request of Ottawa, an increase in the total allowable harvest of harp seals to a number that can be borne by market opportunities;

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the House of Assembly direct the provincial government to speak up for those who are involved in the seal hunt, as well as all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians by challenging the fallacy put forward by the International Fund For Animal Welfare, rather than passing the responsibility for protecting our interests to the federal government in Ottawa, who have consistently failed Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in this regard.

 

Orders of the Day

 

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

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

CHAIRMAN (Oldford): The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

Last day we were having a very enthusiastic debate on Bill no. 28 and today, we want to return to that because this bill which is supposed to give us information on why the government needed to spend $75,700,000. We have been debating it now for the last two days, this is the second day on it and we certainly have not gotten the kind of answers yet that we should have because the real issues in this Province today are what we have been talking about since this House opened, the issues concerning municipalities, the issues concerning health care.

Today in this House we listened to the Leader of the Opposition put forward questions to the Minister of Health relative to the health care services in this Province. In particular, the comments of the minister relative to cardiac care in this Province were very, very disappointing.

Mr. Chairman, we say to the minister that the people of this Province have established their priorities, and they have said to all of us, both to government members and to members on this side of the House as well, they have grave concerns about their health care system.

Mr. Chairman, I want to say that the doctors who are serving this Province are doing exemplary service, and we compliment them. But all too often when I read reports of what is happening in Bonavista, we find out that if you are living in Bonavista and you want to go to see your family doctor, if you call up Dr. Chris Randell, you will be told, `We are sorry; we cannot take any more patients'. That is happening in all parts of the Province. In fact, the Minister of Health would be surprised - or she should be surprised; she might be just informed - if we were to take a look around this Province and do a list of the communities where you cannot get a family doctor.

Mr. Chairman, I have family members of my own who are practising in rural Newfoundland. A brother of mine is in the medical business, and he practices in rural parts of the Province. I can tell you that rural medicine is not easy to practice because of the tremendous strain it places on doctors. But it is also self-evident and very disappointing that if you live in certain parts of this Province and you have a family member who has need to see a doctor, and you call up to the doctor - you are in Bonavista - and you are told, `No, it is no good for you to come up to our clinic because we are not taking any more patients'. You are told, `Sorry about that. Your nearest access to a doctor might be to drive to Clarenville'. Now, is that satisfactory when you have a small child, you are living on the Bonavista Peninsula, and you are told, `Well, you may go to the clinic or you may go to Clarenville, but there isn't any family doctor who is going to take you on to his patient list because his list is completely full'.

That is the kind of health care service we have in some parts of the Province, and yesterday when we were talking about rural Newfoundland some people on the other side of the House would not even consent to a private member's motion which said we should be concentrating more and helping more by way of giving additional services, additional assistance, to municipalities in the rural parts of the Province.

Mr. Chairman, I say to the Minister of Health, look around this Province. If we were to do a map of this Province and we were just to show those communities where you can get access to a family doctor and those communities where you cannot get access to a family doctor, then perhaps many, many people in this House might be surprised, because in many, many parts of this Province today family doctors are either not there at all because they have moved out and moved to other parts of Canada, or other parts of Newfoundland and Labrador, or if they are there we note that their patient listing is completely full and you cannot get access at all, requiring parents and senior citizens to travel considerable distances to be able to get help for the very simplest of medical problems, anything ranging from an ordinary head cold or some other minor things that beset us from time to time. That is totally unsatisfactory.

When we look at this particular bill, we see here that we are approving about $7.4 million under the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. The explanations the minister gave me as a result of my questions the other day, I want to thank him, because of the twenty questions that we have put forward on the Order Paper thus far and of the questions that I have asked here in the House, the only minister that has given me an answer - and I monitor all of the answers received as a result of the questions placed on the Order Paper and the questions asked - the only minister that has thus far taken the time and directed his staff to forward an answer to a question for which notice was given and which questions were asked, was the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and I thank him for that. I thank the minister for doing that because we have put forward thus far in this session, as of today, we have placed twenty questions on the Order Paper. I have not received - twenty questions on the Order Paper as of today and I say to the Government House Leader we are going to be putting forward questions every single day.

Mr. Chairman, we know that the ministers over there have a political responsibility, a moral responsibility, not necessarily a legal responsibility but they do have a responsibility to be answerable to the people of this Province. So, because we cannot get all of our questions on Question Period, we are putting forward the extra questions we would like to ask by way of putting them on the Order Paper.

Mr. Chairman, I say to the Government House Leader that we will continue to put the questions there and I am hoping that the Government House Leader will see reason to encourage his colleagues in Cabinet to respond to those questions because this is what democracy is all about. When we put the questions forward then we expect, in reasonable time, and I would be the first to say to the Government House Leader that the four days we have had thus far, that really is probably not sufficient time for some of the questions that we have put forward there. It would take several days to have them prepared I am sure because, you know, the minister needs all the time that we could afford him to be able to get his answers ready but we expect the Government House Leader to prepare the answers. Not only that, we look forward to the fact that these answers will be typed in and form part of the Hansard. When the answers come there they will all form part of Hansard and we look forward to having these answers in print. So, Mr. Chairman, I say that -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: Well I have written the questions rather slowly to accommodate the Government House Leader because I know he doesn't read very fast.

Mr. Chairman, I want to say to you that we, on this side, have some very serious questions about expenditures. We have serious questions about government priorities. We have serious questions about the strategies that are put out by this government in order to make things, I can't say better, to make things more difficult because I have not heard from one person in months and months who has anything to say positive about what is happening in this Province as the result of the government actions.

In fact, we have ministerial statements that are weeks and weeks old. We have ministers making statements on things that happened forty years ago. As well we have the fact that the Premier likes to have a little positive news. Sometimes he goes out and if he does not have anything positive at all he creates it. He creates the news and hopefully that it will unfold like that, sometimes it does not. Of course we want to talk about - I think it was Lynn Verge who put it quite clearly when she said that the Premier was all fluff and no stuff. We want to see some stuff from the Premier. We have seen all the fluff. We have seen all of the theatrics. We know that the Premier went to his drama classes on a regular basis. We know that he went to his elocution classes and of course he is doing elocution, not only in English, he is also doing elocution in French

One of those days I will arrange for the Member for St. John's East to ask his questions in French so that the Premier can be accommodated and he will be able to practice Canada's other official language. Of course, we do have at least one member on this side who is fluent in the other language.

Of course, the Premier in practising his theatrics, in practising his elocution, in doing his drama, people of this Province are saying: That isn't what we want a premier for. We want a premier for more than the theatre. If you want to get involved in the theatre, then of course you could go down and practice with the LSPU Hall or the Arts and Culture Centre. We want somebody who is going to be around here, and as Lynn Verge said, we want some stuff. We've seen all the fluff, now we want to see some of the stuff.

Consequently we are short on stuff. We have a surplus of fluff, and so between the fluff and the stuff we want to go and say to the government: The people of Newfoundland and Labrador want some real action. They want some real decisions. They want to see the Premier of this Province handle the real issues. As we all saw last night when watching CBC Television, we saw the feature last evening called the brain drain. What was so dramatic was to see the mechanical engineering class at MUN, to see I think 102 students, and then they just began to use the magic of the camera and they began to take their pictures away and to see how many were left in Newfoundland and Labrador. How much more of a reality check do you need?

Of course, then we had people here yesterday in this House who stood up and said: No boy, there are no problems out there, no problems in rural Newfoundland. We aren't even going to stand and say to the government: You had better do something about rural Newfoundland and about rural municipalities. There are no problems. We are in this little catacomb here. We pretend that the real world doesn't exist out there. We have to go and say to the government members: It is time to check reality. Last night when we watched CBC Television we saw some reality. We saw it every night this week, and we are going to see it again tonight in their presentation. That is what is happening in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Consequently I say to the members opposite, while we have some explanation for this $75 million - and we aren't saying that that money was all spent improperly. We aren't saying that at all. What we are saying is that we should start to address the real issues that confront Newfoundlanders and Labradorians every day. Last night we saw, as I said before, the program showing our young people. Many of our rural communities are becoming senior citizens' residences in all too many ways. We see our school population just being decimated year after year because our young people have no choices. They are being obliged to move away.

Almost everybody in this House has nieces, nephews and children who are obliged to move out of this Province. That is very sad. It is a very sad commentary on the way we have handled our resources. It is a sad commentary on our management of our resources. It is a sad commentary on our people policy, our economic policy, our social policy, and to a certain extent on the way in which we have lowered our expectations for ourselves in terms of what we expect from ourselves and from the Province.

I want to, before I just take my seat so the Leader of the Opposition can again share with us in eloquent manner the real realities of his district, the historic District of Ferryland, I should say that the District of Ferryland - yesterday while you were out of the House, some people, this group opposite here, tried to say that Ferryland was not a rural district. They said there were only two rural districts on this side of the House. They mentioned Bonavista South and the District of Baie Verte.

They were saying yesterday I say to my colleague, the Member for Ferryland - members on the other side of the House yesterday pretended that the District of Ferryland is not a rural district and it is one of the districts in this House that is called by that name since 1832; the only district in this House that has not changed its name since we had an elected Assembly is the District of Ferryland. It has been consistently called that in every House since we have had a Parliament and we are in the forty-seventh session of Parliament now and this is the only district that has, since 1832, carried the same name consistently and been represented by some of the very great leaders of our Province and it gives me great pleasure now to be able to let the Member for the District of Ferryland let people know, on that side of the House, that his district, while a small part of it might be urban, the great, great majority of it is rural, and you welcome the chance to tell them the realities of Ferryland district and what is happening in that district and to assure them that in the Ferryland district we do have people who daily try to cope with the trauma that is inflicted upon them by this government opposite.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

MR. EFFORD: When you sit down in your seat in this honourable House of Assembly and you listen or you try to listen to debate on particular bills, this bill, Bill No. 28 is a bill, "An Act For Granting To Her Majesty Certain Sums Of Money For Defraying Certain Additional Expenses Of The Public Service For The Financial Year Ending March 31, 1997 And For Other Purposes Relating To The Public Service.

I just heard the hon. member opposite stand up for ten, fifteen minutes, speaking about a bill of such importance - ten minutes, was it - speaking to a bill and I do not know if he made one reference to what the bill - made representation or one reference to the bill in any manner whatsoever.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) ask any questions?

MR. EFFORD: I do not think he asked one question. I do not think he understands this, the bill, at all but he goes on, he is so full of himself and so caught up in his ability to do things in the House and to be the leader, I think that is it, leader No. 2 focusing on what is going to happen next March. I think that is the idea, focusing on next March. The story is on the street, quite loud and clear of a couple of people who are grasping at the bit, Mr. Chairman -

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

I just want to let the hon. minister know that if I should decide to run, I will call a press conference and do that. If I decide not to run, I will take his example and call a press conference and say: No, I do not intend to run. So, I am weighing all of the information, looking to my good friend over there and one of those days, you might even see a press conference called to say that I am not going to, but you might not see that either.

CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

MR. EFFORD: Did you see the eagle and the buttons bursting when he stood to his feet?

MR. TULK: Who paid any attention to whatever he got?

MR. EFFORD: There you go, who would pay attention?

Mr. Chairman, rural Newfoundland is important as any urban centre in this Province but I do not think any of us should be separating Newfoundland. I get upset when I hear people talking about Canada. I hear people talking about people moving from Newfoundland to Canada, the out-migration of Newfoundlanders. I mean, this country is so small in population but so great a country, I do not know why we should be upset or why there should be a problem in anybody's eyes with people moving to and from this country, at free will to find employment anywhere in this country.

If we had to live, Mr. Chairman, under the conditions that people have to live in other parts of the world and the type of living they have to live, we could not even begin to understand, in the worst case scenario, what those people in other parts of the world have to live compared to the people here in Canada. A great nation of Canada and try to separate, in a small province a population of 550,000, try to push one group of people against another. This migration of people moving to and from this Province has been happening since this Province was first settled. My great-great-great-grandfather went down to the United States to work because of the poor conditions in the fishery in the Province back in those days, in the 1800's. It has been going on and it will continue to go on.

Will rural Newfoundland survive? Yes, Mr. Chairman, rural Newfoundland will survive. Will Newfoundland be here 500 years down the road? Yes, it will be here, but it has to improve and the one thing that has to change in this Province has to be the attitudes of people.

If I have ever seen anything to be an anchor around our necks that is not allowing us to move forward in this Province, is the attitude of the people of this Province. We have to change our attitude. The attitude in particular of what is being displayed from members opposite. People are listening to the type of debate that is going on here in this House of Assembly. People listen to it and how do you expect the people to change and to improve their attitudes when you see it being displayed here day after day.

Mr. Chairman, we have to begin solving the problems, but first we have to admit that we have a problem and I am willing to say that our greatest problem in this Province, as I just said, is the attitude of the population of the populous of this Province. Changing our attitudes, focusing on what the initiatives, the resources are in this Province and developing those resources to the best interest of the Province and the sooner we get down to that, the sooner we move forward into the future, the sooner we will become a `have' Province and not be dependant as we have been for the last 100 years or the last fifty years in particular on the Canadian government. We have a lot of resources and it is time to develop them to a positive step and to move forward and develop the attitudes that we should have here in this Province.

CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I just heard the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture stand in his place and say that the Opposition House Leader did not make one reference to the bill. He did not talk about any questions, any details of it and he stood up himself for ten minutes or whatever and he made not one reference to it himself.

I say for the ministers information, when the bill was introduced I asked the Minister of Finance questions on every single one and other ministers stood in their place. The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, I think, the Minister of Health in one instance, stood in her place and answered questions. The Minister of Finance had to rush off to a commitment and I just about got of them completed except one, but there are some things other then the specifics I ask and where the money was being spent.

Why do we want $10 million up front in a fund? He indicated that $2 million went to entice call centres here. It is tremendous to see business come to our Province. We are lagging far and far behind in getting even high tech industries, even call centres or any type of business to our Province. We have made some progress. We have made some attempts, I will admit it. I must say, in the high tech field, we are started, but call centres - I was at a meeting in Nova Scotia in September and listened to a company, the telephone company in Nova Scotia, whatever - I forget the specific name of it, who mentioned that they had about 3,500 call centre jobs in Nova Scotia. I think we are working on what, 100, a 100 and some. This one is suppose to bring us at peak, up to 180 jobs, we announced here with Bay Portrait Studios, I think it is, starting off and gradually building. I am not sure where they are now, they are probably getting up around 100 now, I am not sure, but they are suppose to get up to 180 at maximum.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, but this one is 180. There is one other, I think, both together would be in that range, but right now there is not that many jobs there. Thirty-five hundred in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick is gone so far ahead, miles ahead.

I mean, we have not had an aggressive - we had a nice looking picture by the Premier, I am not sure with the former minister in The Globe and Mail, $75,000 photo opts, nice pictures in The Globe and Mail. They do not bring business to our Province. Just sticking a picture there.

I was in Washington two years ago, after the former Premier had spoken to a group in Washington and what happened, to speak to the business people, was a hastily call together group that he could speak to and I asked the consulting group there, the person who attended that and said, there was no follow-up, there was no direct after affects, I gave him the name and number of the current Minister of Mines and Energy at the time, that was back a couple of years ago, he was industry, trade and technology. I said, you go in and give a speech and you run off. I said you should be pursuing more directly and focus maybe less - try not to spread yourself over the whole map but zoom in on areas where there is the greatest potential and start to develop and - drive home in there and try to develop an industry getting off the ground.

Other areas, I will use other examples today of what we need to do. There were announcements made - take aquaculture for example, a recent announcement of $4.5 million in three specific areas of research and that is fantastic. There is one mentioned, Bay d'Espoir, the Ocean Science Centre and the Marine Institute I think it was - the other three announcements of $4.5 million into research and aspects of aquaculture so we can put good product out on the market today but where money is needed is in the initial stage. We have out there today I think 110 people with licences for aquaculture. We have numerous other developmental licences out there but we need to put dollars into the person that is starting, is learning the business, who is getting out there. We need to develop it and grow it from the bottom up, not necessarily just a few focused ones. We need to help diversify the industry, not reach too far but reach a certain distance and help build it up and help direct products into the market.

MR. TULK: You are not reading my (inaudible)?

MR. SULLIVAN: No, not at all. I don't have anything that you said on it because if I read what you said on it I would not have anything to read, I say to the minister. I have not seen it. No but actually, anything that comes out over the wire, announcements, when I get them I read all of them. I will do an exam on it if you want me to.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, not at all. If the minister just happens to agree with me in certain instances, I take great pleasure in that I say to the minister. Both of us must be right or both of us must be wrong I guess.

Actually, we need to move it in line with market conditions. It is silly to go out there and throw it out because any product that you are putting on the market today, it is not just a matter of producing that and getting it. There is a matter of meeting the market demands in a realistic fashion and that applies to the sealing industry. The same thing with the sealing industry on markets, growing with market conditions so we can make sure that we have a market for our products, whether it is mussel farming, steelhead trout or whatever it is, there must be proper growth. We are only in the embryonic stage of development in some of those industries out there.

New Brunswick started with just a few million dollars, a salmon farm industry into over $100 million. I am not sure of the exact figure but there are $100-and-some million today to the economy of New Brunswick. Here in our Province I think we are looking at about some $6 million, I think, in the announcement released. A little over $6 million in this Province and if you look at market value probably $8 million. So we are a long, long way from developing but we have a start and it is important that we have to diversify -

MR. TULK: You have not addressed the real problem (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No. Well what is the real problem, I say to the minister? Well one of the problems basically is that we need to develop our research in line with the growth of an industry. That is very important. We have seen what happened with offshore cod here. When the moratorium was announced here in this Province they decided we don't have a fishery now so we don't need to research. That is when you need to research. That is when you need more intensive research, more surveys looking at the ocean, and other methods to try to find out exactly the migratory patterns, to find out the size. They use that as an avenue to chop it. Now when it is vulnerable and it is on its knees, it needs that support, that extra infusion to get it back. The number of jobs in this Province depending on the spin-offs from our basic fishing industry that brought people here to this Province hundreds of years ago, the spin-offs here in the urban area is unbelievable, supply companies for plastics, for packaging, for cardboard, the supply of nets and gear and the people working in cities here. Cities grow up, supply bases around fishing here in this Province, as they grew up around farming communities in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba. In this Province they developed around the fishing industry, and tremendous jobs.

We are facing a difficult time, not only from the people directly affected with the change in industry here in the Province, but people who indirectly depend on that for jobs. One less worker in a family. When two worked here in the City, somebody lost their job in a supply company that supplied those industries there. So we have had a shrinking base here in our Province. We have less people employed in our Province than we had in 1989. We had about 208,000 people roughly back then, and 188,000 people, 189,000 people employed now.

We have had drastic numbers of reductions in employment here in our Province, very much so, from a decline in the fishing industry, whose true importance hasn't really been realized because of that tremendous number of spin-off jobs that developed from it, and here in the cities, in the malls, and you name it, all over. It is all a facet of how our primary industries are doing here in our Province.

At the same time, we are seeing a difficult time in rural Newfoundland. We are seeing a tremendous down-loading. People who are struggling to survive in rural Newfoundland with a declining tax base. The businesses have vacated those communities. The people have vacated those communities and then gone elsewhere. In Trepassey, for example, sixty and seventy or more houses closed up. A thriving town. In 1991, stats showed it had nearly 1,400 people. The 1996 stats showed it is down to below 1,000. Today it is about 800 people. Less than 800 people in a town of 1,400 people in seven years, almost a 50 per cent reduction. Houses left vacated, being sold. For $3,000 you can buy a house, $6,000 and $8,000. You can buy a house that would have cost $40,000 or $50,000 just several years ago.

They are the realities of people every day. I spoke with people last week who are moving out for a job in Ontario. I spoke with a person who has moved in this week to a job, fortunately, to land with a job here in the City. There is an exodus; it is going out of those communities every single day. How does a community that had 800 people working in one industry in a town of 1,400 people - they came in from everywhere -, how do they keep the water and the sewer system, the lights going, the fire department? How do they keep their services supplied?

People on social assistance. People have incomes. They can't afford to pay their water bill. The towns don't have dollars to be able to pay their bill. People getting their lights shut off because they don't have dollars. They are the realities every single day. People living in rural Newfoundland particularly, and some in the City. There is a share of problems here in urban parts in the Province, but they are the realities we deal with on the telephones every single day of the week. There isn't a day passes, I say in this House, that we don't deal with anywhere from one to twelve or fourteen really serious cases of people crying out for help of this nature, not counting the whole plethora of other types of problems we are dealing with.

We have municipalities going to be reduced, starting in January, 20 per cent on the budget going into those towns. Another 20 per cent in 1999, another 20 per cent in 2000. We have gone from nearly $50 million - it will be down to about $15 million by the year 2000 given those towns. You take $35 million out of rural Newfoundland towns. What does that mean? It is going to cost more to live in rural Newfoundland to pay for the few services you have than it is to have the full array of services in an urban area.

Where are people going to move? Where are they going to go? They will vacate their properties. They will say: Take it, confiscate it, and they will move on. Because their kids have moved on already and there's no one left. There is no one left in many of these towns. A community in my district, 400-and some people, sixty-four people left in one year. What we have seen on TV in the last few days is only a part of what is happening in Newfoundland and Labrador today. We have lost 16,000 people on the census. That is a net loss of people. Stats Canada says we are going to lose another 40,000 in the next decade, putting us down to close to 500,000 people.

We have turned the clock back in the history of our Province. We have opportunities to move forward and we have passed up on those opportunities. The current government and former governments didn't do what was right to protect the long-term interest of the Province. They did what was politically expedient and the best possible thing to get a result in the Province. They weren't the best decisions, and we are all paying the price dearly.

It is tremendous to see a company, IOC, with hundreds of employees - 1,500 - going to be around for another fifty years, with which the Minister of Mines and Energy was so enlightened this week, but we do not get hardly any return on that iron ore. In jobs, yes; in income tax it is tremendous, but as a resource return to put into royalty revenues... Voisey's Bay, where nothing is earmarked yet, we hope it is going to happen. Hibernia, it is tremendous offshore. We did sacrifice some royalties to get jobs, but we are only going to get $6 million to $10 million a year on that initially. It will increase later on, as you get beyond the cost recovery stage, because of the two-tiered tax, but we are not getting big dollars out on the Hibernia field. We did get a lot of jobs, close to 6,000 at Hibernia, and not all Newfoundland and Labrador jobs, I can assure you. We have been too content in this Province to take jobs at all costs, and to hell with revenues and other things that built Alberta into the Province it is today, not only on jobs but on revenues from royalties, from funds - they have an Alberta Heritage Fund.

We are living in an area that has a wealth of opportunities. We have minerals in this Province. We have fish in our oceans - we did have a large amount - we have less now, but there are other species there that are profitable, that are adding significantly to the employment level here in our Province and to the wealth of our Province. We have forests in the Province. We have a host of minerals. We have water power, and we have water - fresh water. Out in the world today there are eighty - more countries are threatened by a shortage of water. They are facing problems because of a lack of water, and people have the foresight now to go out and try to take water out of Gisborne Lake in this Province, back in a tanker and fill it up, and sail up the St. Lawrence, bottle it somewhere else, ship it away, and what are we going to get for it?

We should demand, in our legislation, like British Columbia did, that no water be shipped out of this Province in bulk, that jobs are going to be provided to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, or we let it flow into the ocean.

The response I heard from government is that it is flowing into the ocean anyway. Well, let it flow. You need one to turn on the tap going to the tanker, one to turn it off on the other end, and that is all you get in the process. It should not happen. I would sooner see nothing done with it, leave it there, than see hundreds of potential jobs lost all over the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) bring it back here, (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Bring it back. These little bottles of Perrier or Evian water, one proposal is calling for the equivalent of 27 billion bottles of that a year - 27 billion bottles. What do you pay for a bottle of that?

AN HON. MEMBER: $1.50.

MR. SULLIVAN: $1.50. Twenty-seven, so that is $40.5 billion a year in that volume.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: How much does our Province take in in taxes in a year? In every revenue source in our Province in a year, about what? $1.9 billion, I believe, approximately. We will soon find out the exact figure here; $1.829 billion.

MR. J. BYRNE: What is that for?

MR. SULLIVAN: Less than $1.9 billion we take in in all revenue sources here, and we are going to ship out the equivalent of tens of billions of dollars of water that is now... The United Nations and the World Bank have commissioned studies to investigate the severe shortage of water in the world that is threatening the health and the economy of many nations today, and we are going to turn on a tap and let it sail out.

Our party has a position on water policy. We have looked at it. We have looked at numerous areas -

AN HON. MEMBER: Okay, what is your suggestion?

MR. SULLIVAN: We have already articulated them in public many times, I say to the member, many times.

AN HON. MEMBER: Say it here in the House.

MR. SULLIVAN: We have said it here in the House. I will say it at the appropriate time. Where is your agenda? Where is the government's agenda? Ours is out there. Government has no policy on it. Oh, they said, the environment - the act governs that. It does not. Government should have a policy on water because it is becoming a very important commodity in the future, and if we don't see the light today we will have it sold before it is too late. Those are the types of decisions we have to be looking at. We have to be looking at decisions that are going to serve the long-term interests of our Province.

At the same time today in this House of Assembly, I talked about health care. The minister tells us we are getting our problem fixed. Now, let's look at it. We are sending two a week to Ottawa, at about twenty grand or more each. We are cancelling two a week here in our Province, there is neither bed to put them in when they have their surgery. The list was 220 before we started to send them away. It is 240 today. The list is getting longer. There were 100 on the list four years ago. There are 140 more people on a waiting list for cardiac surgery, longer. Two and a half times as long as it was four years ago, and what are they doing? Working on it? They have been working on it since I came in this House.

There is one solution. I've said it before, I will say it again. I told the former minister who got fired from the job, and I will tell this minister now who has been put in the job, who will probably end up getting fired again when the heat comes on, the problem is you need a separate intensive care area for cardiac patients. The surgeons are in there waiting to do the work, the nurses who are specialized are there, the staff is there -

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: - and they are not - space to put a person in after they operate, they don't have it.

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: Isn't that a sham?

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

It being 4:00 p.m., I have to announce the questions for the Late Show.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. I will say, Mr. Chairman, I will sit down, and I will get back on this topic again tomorrow. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: The questions for the Late Show are:

I'm dissatisfied with the answer provided by the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs re my question on cutbacks and down loading by the Province that negatively affects municipalities. That is the Member for Waterford Valley.

I'm dissatisfied with the answer provided by the Premier re my question on government's refusal to bring forward a new TAGS program. That is the Member for Bonavista South.

I'm dissatisfied with the answer provided by the Minister of Human Resources and Employment on a comprehensive school lunch program. That is the Member for St. John's West.

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. T. OSBORNE: Yes, nobody on that side is prepared to get up and debate this bill. Mr. Speaker, there are a number of reasons I would like to stand and debate this bill today. Because of the cutbacks in the Budget, the cutbacks to a number of areas in our Province. You can span it over any area, any department, represented by any member of this House. You look at the Department of Health, and there is more coming. Just recently the seniors' home in Gander, the seniors out there had to be humiliated into fighting and doing a petition and setting up a protest outside the home, and blocking traffic even, to fight to get their kitchen reinstated.

Is this the way we as Members of the House of Assembly are going to treat the seniors of our Province, the people who have built our Province, who have made the Province what it is, who fought for us in two wars, put their lives on the line to ensure we had the freedom we enjoy today? Is this the way we are going to reward these people? It isn't the way we on this side of the House would reward the seniors of our Province. If the members on that side of the House could have gotten away with it, that is what they were planning.

The rental rate increases to Newfoundland and Labrador Housing. Just another example. Senior citizens are affected there. Seniors on fixed incomes, on pensions, old age security, forced to give another 5 per cent of their cheque away in rent. That is a 20 per cent increase for some of those seniors. They are forced to give another 5 per cent of their cheque away in rent to Newfoundland and Labrador Housing. Other people on fixed incomes. The working poor, the people who can least afford to pay this rental rate increase, are being forced to pay the rental rate increase because the members on that side of the House have seen fit to put those people on the line.

I mentioned in questions just yesterday that for most of the chartered banks in our country, 30 per cent of your gross income, your gross debt service ratio, 30 per cent is what they calculate your mortgage payments on. That includes your taxes, which people in housing do not have to pay. It also includes your utilities, light and heat, before they look at the other bills that you have, your other commitments - car payments and so on. They will only go to 40 per cent of your gross income; they will go to 40 per cent including your car payments, your credit card payments any other bills you may have. Mr. Chairman, some of the people who have to face this rental rate increase if it goes ahead, will be paying far in excess of 30 per cent for their heat and rent, and that is unacceptable to the people on this side of the House. That is unacceptable.

There is one example - and the minister mentioned yesterday that we did not take into consideration the heat supplement, but we did take into consideration the heat supplement. If those people were on social assistance, Mr. Chairman, they would be given the heat supplement on social assistance, as well. So the heat supplement is taken into consideration, and one example that I have faxed through to the minister, to which he has not responded, shows that this particular family is paying almost 37 per cent of their gross income for utilities and rent, not including their other bills.

As far as the bank would be concerned, they would be high risk, so much so, that the bank probably would refuse to give them a mortgage based on 37 per cent of their gross debt service ratio going out for heat and utilities alone. So the working poor are being forced to either eat less or move out, because in some cases they cannot afford the 5 per cent increase from 25 per cent to 30 per cent of gross income to be paid in rent.

If you look at any area - Municipal Affairs again: just last year I remember they cut $10,000 in the operating grants for Bowring Park, which is a regional park, and they downloaded that on to the City of St. John's, so that the City of St. John's would have to bear the full cost of operating Bowring Park. Mr. Chairman, $10,000 is not a lot of money when you look at the overall provincial budget, but yet, the Provincial Government cut that $10,000 grant to Bowring Park, a grant that had been put in place since the 1930s because of the fact that the Provincial Government at the time, made arrangements with the City of St. John's to operate the park as a regional park.

At the same time they signed that agreement, Mr. Chairman, they are given another $10,000 in lieu of the City of St. John's agreeing to pass over the right to collect for motor vehicle registrations on vehicles that were operated within city limits, the people living within the city of St. John's. And the Province, now, collects far in excess of $10,000 a year. It is multiplied many, many, many times over what the Province collects from motor vehicle registration for people living within the City of St. John's, yet they reneged on that original agreement and cut that $10,000 as well.

Further reduction of municipal grants, Mr. Chairman, which caused the degrading of services operated especially in the smaller municipalities, the Province has even threatened to cut out grants unless the municipalities agreed to pay back some of what they owe. Newfoundland Power, in a couple of cases, has actually cut off street lights and cut off the lights to fire halls, because that municipality owed Newfoundland Power so much money because of the downloading by the Provincial Government on to the municipalities. The municipalities cannot bear the additional costs and the out-migration further decimates the smaller municipalities most especially. I mean, there are areas such as Trepassey which has seen a great reduction in the number of people living in Trepassey over the past year.

You see on the TV program now, all this week: Leaving Home, I believe the program is called, talking about the hardships endured by families throughout this Province, the fact that the Provincial Government is supplying less to the people of the Province, providing very little in the line of job creation and these people have to move out of this Province. We all have relatives who have left Newfoundland in search of gainful employment elsewhere. I have relatives living in British Columbia and in Alberta who have had to leave this Province because they cannot find work here and they call me almost every month and say, `Tom, I cannot wait until you guys get in government, so we can get back home.' They cannot wait for us to get in government so that they will move back home, and that is a fact. I am sure that all the members on this side of the House get phone calls from our relatives living away.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. T. OSBORNE: That is right. There was a suggestion just a couple of nights ago on the program Leaving Home, Mr. Chairman. There was a suggestion that the Provincial Government should get into the manufacturing of U-Haul vehicles, and they would make a fortune, because they are driving people out of the Province; and it is a vicious cycle. The more people that leave the Province, the educated people, especially the brain drain, the educated people who are leaving our Province in search of work elsewhere - the government are driving away the people that are most capable, sometimes, of finding work as engineers or doctors or lawyers or what have you, these people are leaving the Province. The more of those people that leave the Province, the more people that are here that have to rely on social benefits - it is just one big vicious cycle.

The Province cannot afford to keep up the social benefits. They are providing less in operating grants to municipalities. They are providing less services, less subsidies, less job creation. The more people that move away and even the less the Province can afford to provide and the more people that move away, the harder it is for the Province to provide, yet they are not doing their job today. They are not keeping people here right now, they are not providing employment. They are not providing adequate health care. They are not providing adequately for the students, especially those attending first year post-secondary institutions, who cannot afford to attend post-secondary institutions. As a result, some of these students, especially single parents, who have been forced to apply for the maximum student loan before they will qualify for any social benefits to help them get an education and get through, so that they will not have to continue relying on social benefits - the government penalized these people even further last year. You look at the lack of government subsidies to help provide doctors in rural Newfoundland. There are some communities now in rural Newfoundland that do not have adequate medical attention, that do not have enough doctors to provide adequately for the number of people living in those areas. In some cases, the Province is actually subsidizing to have doctors flown in to certain areas, on certain days of the week, because they cannot find a doctor to stay in that area on a regular basis, all year round. Mr. Chairman, they cannot -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. T. OSBORNE: At least they are in my pocket.

Did you find any facts when you were over in Japan? You were on a fact-finding mission. There are not enough facts on that side of the House, you had to go to Japan to find some.

Mr. Chairman, this year the industry department -

AN HON. MEMBER: That's better.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, at least you are starting to notice what we are doing on this side of the House, which is a big improvement, because before you looked at what we were doing on this side of the House, you were in desperate trouble, at least now you are coming up a bit, you are not in so much trouble as you used to be. Although, it will not be long now and we will be over on that side and the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and the Government House Leader will be sitting on this side glary-eyed, looking over at us, wondering how they so quickly and expeditiously got booted out. But, Mr. Chairman, it is precisely what we are talking about on this side of the House, it is precisely what we are talking about here - the out-migration, the cuts in health care, the cuts in municipal grants, the increase in housing rents, eliminating kitchens in seniors' homes, centralizing the cooking for all of the hospitals in St. John's. We heard on media reports just this week, children at the Janeway hospital complaining - children, now, complaining about the quality of food that is provided at the Janeway hospital.

Mr. Chairman, the industry department, over the past year, has spent $700,000. They are talking about not being able to have a kitchen in a seniors' home, or having to put rent up for seniors and for the working poor. They spent over $700,000 in grants to some of the most affluent companies in our Province to send them on trade missions, to send them to trade shows. Some of the wealthiest companies in our Province and they gave them, in grants, $700,000 to send them out of the Province on trade shows, the very companies that can most afford to pay to go.

Yet, you look at small businesses in this Province and this Provincial Government had just as well put the noose around their neck because through the bureaucracy and the red tape they are doing very little to help small business in this Province. Yet, we hear report after report saying that it is small business that is going to be the backbone of our economy in years to come, and this government refuses to help small business. Yet, the large companies that can most afford to go on trade missions are the ones that the government are providing the funding to go. They are providing the most wealthy companies in our Province the money to go out of town, out of Province, on trade shows, and there are children in this Province who are hungry.

There are children who are going to school on a regular, daily basis without enough to eat. And we all know, through the different reports, the Children's Interest report, the Gosse Gilroy report, that the children who are going to school hungry are most affected in their ability to learn because of the lack of nutrition. Yet, this Province is willing to sit back and almost accept the fact that children in this Province, on a regular, daily basis, go to school hungry, because they have not done much to correct it, not yet, anyway. I hope they will. I will be the first one to offer my help to correct that. Because in my district, which is a very diversified district, there are people living there from all economic classes, from people receiving social benefits to the most wealthy people in the Province. So there are people in my district that I know personally, who send their children to school hungry because they cannot afford to give them the proper breakfast. They cannot afford to give them lunch money, or to send them to school with lunch, and to me that is unacceptable. That is unacceptable in this day and age, to have children living in almost Third World conditions. It is unacceptable to me, and it is unacceptable to the people on this side of the House.

Debating this bill is about more than just numbers. It is more than just reading numbers off a page, or asking a particular minister what this number means. It is about real life, real people, real issues in our Province, the things that this government are most ignoring. They spend millions of dollars sending ministers over to Japan, and sending ministers over to Korea, and sending ministers down to Chile, where they can afford to pick up their government-paid cellular phone and call an Open Line show to boast about how they are driving around in the back of a taxicab down in Chile. Yet, what have they brought to our Province as a result of it? What benefits has our Province seen as a result, over the last seven or eight years, of the millions of dollars spent sending ministers all over the world. The only thing, Mr. Chairman, that they have brought to this Province is probably the highest number of air miles accumulated of any of the ministers in Canada because they have not set up industry here. They have not created economic wealth here, I can tell you and so can the thousands and thousands of people who leave this Province on a monthly basis. Mr. Chairman, the people who are leaving this Province every year that don't want to leave, who say they don't want to leave, who have family here, who have roots here but yet they are leaving our Province to look for work elsewhere. Yet that government over there has the gall to sit there and look at us after spending millions of dollars travelling the globe without providing much of any benefit as a result.

You would think that the Lower Churchill would be set up and all ready to go because there would be so much industry just waiting, begging for the power to plug into because of all the trade shows and all of the travelling that that government over there has done in the last seven or eight years. They would be begging for the power in the Lower Churchill. We would not even have to sell it to the States. There would be companies lined up ready to come here, ready to use the power, willing to use the power, looking for power to plug into but yet not only are there people moving away, Mr. Chairman, there are companies closing its doors, putting people out of work, creating more unemployment, causing more people to leave this Province. Mr. Chairman, out-migration is one of the biggest problems that we are facing in this Province today and it is as a result of the lack of opportunity provided by the government sitting on the other side of the House.

Mr. Chairman, I had a meeting last night to discuss the Calgary Declaration. I say my district association came to all of my meetings, most of the members of my district association come to all of my meetings. Over and above my district association there were two people who showed up and do you know what those people told me, Mr. Chairman? Unity in Newfoundland and Labrador should be more important than Canadian unity to our Premier because you have people in Labrador who are rebelling against the people living on the island. There has been talks over the last year or so, Mr. Chairman, of Labrador becoming a sovereign province, of Labrador leaving the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Provincial unity should be an emphasis here and, Mr. Chairman, they told me that creation of jobs should be a priority.

We are calling meetings to discuss the Calgary Declaration. We are going to debate the Calgary Declaration here in this House in the upcoming weeks and the people of the Province are sending a clear message to the members of this House of Assembly, that to us the creation of employment, attacking the problem of out-migration, creating business opportunities here and the development of our resources should be the most important issues in this House but yet the Premier wants to travel Canada, Captain Canada, he wants to travel Canada developing his profile to run for the top job of the country when he should be doing his job here in this House!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. T. OSBORNE: And, Mr. Chairman, he is spending less importance, less initiative here in our own Province than he is in developing his own profile. I hope he does develop a profile, Mr. Chairman, to run nationally because at least we would be clear of him and we would probably accomplish more!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. T. OSBORNE: I am glad he is developing a national profile because the quicker he leaves this Province maybe the quicker we will stop the out-migration problem; the faster we will be able to bring people back home; the faster we will be able to create employment and develop our natural resources.

The gall of that government over there, to even consider allowing a company from Montreal or from the United States to bottle our water or to ship it out on a tanker from Gisborne Lake to be bottled somewhere else, when we have people here crying out for jobs, when we have people here looking for employment, when we have the natural resource, it is our resource and if there is a market in the world for our fresh water, we should be the people to develop our resource. We should be the people to bottle our resource, not someone in Montreal or not someone down in the States. It should be done right here in our Province, to create employment for our Province. To do the secondary processing right here, to create economic wealth right here.

We learned from the mistakes of the previous administrations here, be they on that side of the House or on this side. You are talking example, Mr. Minister -

CHAIRMAN (Penney): Order, please!

MR. T. OSBORNE: - you're taking example by sending our natural resources away to be developed elsewhere.

CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Chairman, that is unacceptable to the people of this Province that are leaving our Province to look for work elsewhere. That is unacceptable. We have our resources and we should manage our resources. We should develop our resources and create the wealth here, create the economic wealth and the jobs here.

What is sickening is the fact that that government over there is giving Newfoundland businesses little, if any, opportunity to grow. As a matter of fact, they are stifling their growth. The people that create juice here, our juice bottlers right here in our Province cannot even sell juice in our own cafeteria because of the deals that that government made to have larger companies purchase from Mainland juice companies. We cannot even sell locally manufactured juice in our Confederation Building. That is sickening, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not right, is it?

MR. T. OSBORNE: The Newfoundland Tea Company use to provide tea bags and coffee to the seniors home in Gander and when they made their arrangement out there to purchase from larger national companies, our own manufacture of tea right here in our Province cannot even sell the provincial buildings, to our hospitals, to our schools, to our provincially run departments or office buildings. Mr. Chairman, that is sickening.

There is a reason people are leaving this Province and it is one word, Liberal. They cannot wait for the government to change. They voted the Liberals in because of the Premier. He professed that he was going to bring life back to every community in this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: A better tomorrow.

MR. T. OSBORNE: A better tomorrow, he preached. A smelter in fifteen different communities. It is sickening. He came back and campaigned on prosperity, economic wealth, a better tomorrow and the people are leaving this Province in droves because they realize that that campaign slogan was not true. They realized that that campaign slogan is not coming to fruition and further more, they realized that he is no saviour at all. They are hoping that he will go back to Ottawa, as are we. We are hoping that he will go back to Ottawa somewhere because the people of this Province cannot wait to get clear of him. As a matter of fact, it might be better if he stays in the Premiers chair until the next election because then we will know for sure that he is going back to Ottawa because if he is lucky enough to keep his seat, he will not have the gall to sit over in the opposition and watch us do what he should have done. To watch us put in place the policies that he should have put in place, to watch us develop Gisborne Lake the way it should be, to create employment here, to develop our natural resources right here, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Order, please!

It being Thursday and 4:30 p.m., I will call on the hon. Member for-

MR. T. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. They are lucky, they are lucky, you saved them.

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

It is required that somebody adjourn debate before I can go into the Late Show.

MR. T. OSBORNE: I adjourn debate, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Thank you.

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 Lewisporte.

MR. PENNEY: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole House on Supply has considered the matters to them referred, has directed me to report progress and ask leave to sit again.

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

MR. SPEAKER: It being past 4:30, we now move on to the adjournment debate and the first question I believe is from the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

 

Debate on the Adjournment

[Late Show]

 

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

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

I want to rise to again bring to the attention of the government, and in particular, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs the impact that the drastic cuts inflicted by this government is having on municipalities in this Province and I asked the minister a question a few days ago and he kind of sloughed it off and as a matter of fact, he said yesterday that municipalities are better off than they were before. In fact, what he said was: For every dollar we have cut back, we have given them back three dollars. So I called a number of municipalities today to find out if they had their cheque from the minister and to inform them that for every dollar that they were cut back, they would be getting three dollars from the government but, they have not heard tell of it.

Mr. Speaker, if you look at the reductions in the municipal operating grants as contained in the task force of municipal regionalization the final report, you will find that from 1991 when $45,101,210 was paid to the municipalities in MOGs, that they had a 2.57 per cent decrease in 1992; a 5.56 per cent decrease in 1993; they remained stable in 1994 and in 1995 but in 1996, this government cut the municipal operating grants by 23.25 per cent and in 1997, they cut them again by 11.68 per cent.

Now, Mr. Speaker, when we look at that and we look at the 37.63 per cent cut that has occurred to the MOGs from 1991 until 1997, we have to ask: where is the commitment to the municipal structure of government by this particular administration? In addition to that, we have to look at the elimination of planning services. A few years ago, we had a full-fledged planning department; today, we have no full-fledged planning department in the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. A few years ago, we had an arena-heating subsidy that is no longer available to municipalities. They have eliminated funding for emergency response equipment. They have eliminated snow clearing for some municipalities, and made municipalities assume responsibility for roads for which a few years ago they did not have to take responsibility. They have gone to a full cost recovery in municipal assessments. They have reduced the provincial share of road paving. They have had cutbacks in municipal capital works. In addition to that, then they structured the HST in such a way that it would have a tremendous negative effect on municipalities.

Mr. Speaker, when I rose in the House a few days ago to say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs that I was disturbed at the trend and the tendency of this government to cut back on the support they give to municipalities, I was reflecting what the mayors are saying to me. In fact, this very day I talked to three mayors, and they tell me that life has never been so bad in the mayor's chair in their municipality as it is right now. They did not have one positive thing to say.

I talked to a municipal clerk about 12:30 today, and I mentioned to him that the minister said yesterday that for every dollar they are cutting back they are going to give back $3, and he was delighted. He said, "That can't be true". I said, "Well, that is what the minister said". And I am going to forward off the commentary from Hansard to let them know. But, of course, we know that the minister was playing with words. It was a case of where he was doing some verbal gymnastics, as the minister is apt to do from time to time.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. H. HODDER: So, Mr. Speaker, I ask the basic question: How can municipalities go on in this Province when they have to cope all day and each year with the kind of cutbacks inflicted upon them by this government?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, is on Her Majesty's business so I will certainly attempt to address the question as fully as it can possibly be addressed. In order to do that I am going to have to take members back some years, to the year 1989.

In the year 1989, when the people of the Province came to their senses and booted out the Progressive Conservative administration, it was in the nick of time. It was in the nick of time when it was done. I was part of the administration, and we opened the books, and when we opened the books and saw the mess in which the previous administration had left this Province, it was enough to turn your stomach: $25 million to pay off the Sprung fiasco; $70 million to pay out to Baie Verte; $40 odd million at that time, and everywhere we looked, every account, came up in the red. Every account was in the red. The Province was on the brink of bankruptcy - almost.

To go back to the former premier, Premier Peckford, who said before he resigned, `It's the 1930s all over again', and that was absolutely right. That is the setting -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. DECKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That is the setting in which we found ourselves.

MR. J. BYRNE: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis on a point of order.

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

The Member for Waterford Valley got up and asked a legitimate question today, and the minister over there got up and is responding with something that we are sick and tired of hearing year after year -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. J. BYRNE: It is something that we are sick and tired of hearing year after year, the same answer over and over again, the same old speech.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order. The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. DECKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am just setting the background. I am just giving the background.

Mr. Speaker, the Province was on the very verge of bankruptcy, as the hon. members all know. Now, in order to address that impending bankruptcy, the Province, the government of the day, quite wisely

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DECKER: - had to take some action, had to take some measures.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is trying to address the question asked. I think the hon. Opposition House Leader was uninterrupted in asking his question so I believe the same courtesy should be extended to the hon. Minister of Justice.

MR. DECKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. They can't take the heat, Mr. Speaker, I am getting near the bone.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the government had to bring in cost saving measures. Everybody in the Province had to share in these cost saving measures. Members of this House of Assembly saw their salaries frozen since 1992. Every employee of the provincial government saw their salaries frozen, Mr. Speaker. Now the municipalities, like other agencies, like the government agencies, like Crown corporations, the municipalities were quite pleased and happy to share in these cost saving measures. The only message that we had to say to every municipality is that the cost saving measures would be done fairly and reasonably. We would not go out to the municipalities and give preference to those who are Liberal and not deal with the problems in those who were Tory. That was not our - we stood on fairness and balance, Mr. Speaker. The communities are sharing like everybody else. Mr. Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, obviously they don't want the answer. All they want to do is get up and try to make political points and when I try or my colleagues try to give a reasonable answer they get over there and they will not allow me to speak. You cannot have a true democracy unless you are prepared to allow a person to speak, Mr. Speaker. Let us hope that the day will never come when those people get the majority in the House because when they do nobody will be allowed to speak.

Now, Mr. Speaker, if they want the answer to the question I will give it. Give me leave and I will give the answer. If they don't, I will sit down.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS S. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, my question yesterday to the Minister of Human Resources and Development was, "Is the minister pressing her colleagues in education about the importance of developing a comprehensive school lunch program for all students, in all schools so our children will not be trying to learn while they are hungry?" The hon. minister replied, `there is no need to pressure the Minister of Education, he is equally aware and concerned and involved in resolving the issues of poverty and that the government is addressing that issue.' She said, `...they are working in partnership with the National Child Benefit Program and they will look at issues of highest priority.' She spoke of a major consultation process with the stakeholders. Well, Mr. Speaker, we have the Canning Special Matters report, we have the Williams' Royal Commission, both good reports, both saying the same thing, `children are going to school hungry, hungry children cannot learn.'

In her ministerial statement today on National Child Day the minister shared with us the fact that 2,000 children have been fed one nutritious meal a day as the result of the provincial school nutrition fund. Well that leaves 38,000 to be fed doesn't it? 38,000 children who are not getting a nutritious meal. I ask the hon. minister, if you won't feed them because of the link between the lack of nutrition and poor learning then will you please, out of compassion, set up a comprehensive school lunch program so all children will get a nutritious meal into their bodies without discrimination and without embarrassment? Thank you.

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

MS KELLY: I stand to reply to the question, Mr. Speaker, today and to inform the hon. member that while you may be giving the impression that there are 38,000 children to be fed, many children go home for lunch. Many schools have already looked at the need for a school lunch program. Many parents have expressed the wish that the lunch their child brings to school is an adequate lunch and I have to tell you that in conjunction with the Ministry of Education and the new child -

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

Is the hon. member on a point of order?

MS S. OSBORNE: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member for St. John's West, would she get to the point of order, please?

MS S. OSBORNE: Thank you. Yes, the hon. member said that a lot of these children go home to be fed. Statistics have shown, the food banks have shown 40,000 of our children are living in poverty.

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

The hon. member ought to know that if she is standing on a point of order she should state the point of order, or the Standing Order that is relevant to the point of order she is raising. Unless she has that, there is no point of order.

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

MS KELLY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I feel very comfortable in saying today that this government, more so than any other government that has been in place, is addressing the needs of children, working very hard, and working with corporations, with the school lunch foundation throughout this Province, and with other groups, with parents, with schools, to put adequate lunch programs in place. As proposals come forward we address them immediately. Thank you.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to put forward my question for the second time to, I guess, the hon. Government House Leader. Back on November 17 I asked the Premier a question as to what was being put in place to continue with the TAGS program, or to respond to the need once the TAGS program has expired.

Back in 1994 the government of the day, under the directorship of our now-Premier, who was in Ottawa as the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, introduced a program for $1.9 billion to deal with the moratorium of the northern cod in the Atlantic region, hopefully to give people an income from that date until May 1999. Then there was a problem whereby the program was shortened by a year. Instead of being extended for five years, it was reduced to four years. At that particular time, when it was reduced to four years, which happened about a year ago, there was an indication that if people accessed other forms of income, such as employment or EI, then maybe the program would be able to continue beyond May into June or July, or maybe it might even go the full year. It would be looked at. Nobody has been giving us any indication that there is going to be anything after May.

Now all of a sudden there is a committee structured, a standing federal fisheries committee in the House of Commons, to come here to Newfoundland to look at the whole scenario of what happened to our fishery, the problems that we have that we have experienced as well as the TAGS Program if something should follow or if we are going to commit ourselves to any more funding once this program runs out of money.

My concern is, that the provincial government seems to have sloughed off their responsibility and put it in the hands of a now, appointed committee, again up in Ottawa, and I say to the Government House Leader, that, this government should be the government to take the initiative and to lead and to put forward suggestions and proposals, not George Baker, Mr. Speaker, not the Standing Committee in Ottawa, we, should be going and demanding a meeting with the Prime Minister, demanding a meeting with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, demanding a meeting with the Minister of Human Resources and Development.

We can all talk about doing away with TAGS and we should have a fishery and I am the first one to agree with that. In fact, Mr. Speaker, I think we should have an in-shore fishery right now and I think the stocks are such that they can support that but, maybe I am wrong and I stand to be corrected on that but that is what I am hearing and that is what people are telling me, but until that happens, we have to put some form of income in place to look after the 18,000 people who are out there now drawing a TAGS cheque and I do not think we should just say that George Baker should come and we should get out and listen to him and allow him to go back to Ottawa.

I think this government should put together a proposal themselves, whether it is done as a joint committee of the House of Assembly where we can go out and hold public consultations, whether it is a committee of the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal, the Premier, the Minister of Human Resources and Employment, whether it is those three ministers and the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture naturally, be a part of it or a committee of the House, government should take the initiative to look after our own. We continually go back and say it is Ottawa's fault, it is Ottawa's responsibility but that is not good enough, Mr. Speaker.

In two or three years time, when members opposite go around knocking on their constituents door looking for support, in three years time, they are going to be held accountable and it is not going to be enough then to say that: that was George Baker who decided that, that should not happen or that was the Prime Minister of Canada. I think this government itself should take the initiative, put together some proposals, take it to Ottawa to look after the people in this Province, and until that is done, Mr. Speaker, I think this government has been shirking their responsibility.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, let me try very quickly to answer the hon. gentleman's question and not waste any more time of the House. Before I answer it, though, I have to say that I am surprised at the hon. gentleman on the other side of the House standing up - and I want all my colleagues to hear this: the hon. gentleman from Bonavista South just stood up and said that this is not a federal responsibility, it is a provincial responsibility. The TAGS program, he said, is a provincial responsibility; a replacement for TAGS is a provincial responsibility. He said the Provincial Government are the people who are responsible for a program to replace TAGS. That is exactly - now, Mr. Speaker, he can stand up -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South, on a point of order.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, what I said was it was not only a federal responsibility.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

No point of order.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, the truth of the matter is that he wants to lay, he is now prepared to lay the blame, the responsibility for the destruction of the 2J, 3KL fish at the feet of the taxpayers of this Province and ask them to support the 20,000 or so people, who are next Spring going to find themselves without an income. That is what he is now prepared to do. He is the first politician to ever walk into this Legislature and stand up over there and say that this is not a responsibility, a total responsibility of the Federal Government. We know who managed those stocks. We know what was done on the Hamilton Banks in January, February and March. We know who allowed it to go on. It was a Federal Government, and regardless of whether that government was Tory or Liberal, that makes it a national responsibility; and that is the first item we must establish. Otherwise, you will be standing up like your former Premier and accusing us of selling the shop again.

Now, what he would like to do is make a few brownie points. He is prepared to take the responsibility for what has happened to our people in this Province away from the Federal Government, just so he can make a few brownie points down here, politically. That, I say to the Member for Bonavista South, is a little beneath him, but I want him to be on the record. I want it to be clear, that he says the responsibility for this, for the new program, lies with the Provincial Government.

Let me just say to the hon. gentleman, on a very serious matter, that we are looking, in this Province, come next May, at one of the worst problems to ever hit this Province, and it was caused by the mismanagement of fish stocks off the coast of this Province, the harvesting of fish stocks. Now, I say to him that the former PC government in this Province boosted up the processing side of the industry as well. That is correct, he is right on that, but in terms of harvesting it belongs to the Federal Government. Therefore, the Federal Government is responsible for seeing that the people along the Northeast Coast, the East Coast, the Northern Peninsula and the Labrador Coast, as well as along the South Coast, are taken care of.

Mr. Speaker, having established that, let me also say to him that for some three or four months there has been a group of senior civil servants and a group called The Rural Revitalization Committee in this Province actively looking at problems, putting information together, so that when the Federal Government decides to live up to its responsibility, I say to him - and that is what George Baker and his committee should establish, that it is a responsibility of the Federal Government; as soon as that is done, let me say to the hon. gentleman, we have all kinds of information that would educate even him.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Friday, at 9:00 a.m.