November 16, 1999 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS Vol. XLIV No. 32


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

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

I would like to ask hon. members to join with me today in paying tribute to a man who was the embodiment of Christianity, a humble and selfless man of tremendous character and commitment, who died tragically on October 22 of this year.

Brother Jim McSheffrey was a constituent and a friend of mine. I had the opportunity and the privilege to work with him for some ten years on community issues in our district and indeed issues to do with city-wide concerns, Province-wide concerns, and beyond that. Because Brother Jim was a man of many facets.

He came to Newfoundland some seventeen years ago from central Canada to live in our community and to begin carrying out his life’s mission, which was to work for the people who needed his assistance; to try to teach people how to do more for themselves. He worked primarily through the Jesuit community in St. John’s, the St. Pius X Parish, and Gonzaga High School.

He took up residence on Brophy Place within my district. His house became a community center in the district. It became an outreach house to which everyone who had need was welcomed, and everyone who visited his house was co-opted into helping in his work if they had the capacity to do so.

Brother Jim was unrelenting in his commitment to his fellow man. Indeed, when he died, he was carrying out part of his interest in his fellow man. He died tragically while berry picking on the cliffs surrounding our city, not usually a dangerous pursuit, but a dangerous pursuit when done at the wrong time and when done by such an enthusiastic berry picker as Brother Jim was. In picking berries, he felt that he was gathering the gifts of God to be distributed to his friends on this earth, and he distributed a lot of them. I was the beneficiary of some of his largess from time to time.

Brother Jim did not limit himself to trying to help people in his own neighborhood and his own city. He participated in the peace movement and in the movement for social justice throughout the world. He traveled to various parts of the world to carry out his interests and to help others in need, but he spent most of his time and energy on Brophy Place, and I’m glad to see in the House today some neighbors of his and some fellow participants in the associations that he helped develop there.

Brother Jim was a leader in developing the Tenants Association in the area and in building the community centre which has contributed so much to the area, in conjunction with tremendous help from the congregation of St. Pius X Church.

Those of us who respected Brother Jim so much have begun a trust fund so that his memory may be properly commemorated, so that his presence on this earth may be continued and may inspire other people, generations to come, to realize that society looks up to people who practice such values.

I hope that members of this House and other members of our community will help us make this trust fund a success. Brother Jim would not want us to raise money in his name to spend simply for the glorification of his life on earth and for the glorification of his name, but I am sure he would not object if he realized that we were doing this to ensure that the objectives he worked for will be perpetuated long after his time on this planet.

Other people are looking to do other things to commemorate his presence among us. One of the things being discussed is to rename the area, to rename some streets and things like that. I would simply ask today, Mr. Speaker, that you, on behalf of members of this House, convey our sympathy to his family and our appreciation for the tremendous contribution he made to our community.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

On behalf of my colleague from St. John’s East, who unfortunately could not be here, who was also a personal friend of Brother Jim McSheffrey, I want to associate our caucus with the remarks made by the hon. minister.

I do not need to reiterate, I think, the work that Brother Jim McSheffrey has done for the people not only in Newfoundland and Labrador but the causes that he supported internationally. It is fair to say that, with the loss of Brother Jim McSheffrey, not only our community but our Province has suffered a loss as well.

Certainly, I would like to join with the minister and government in asking the Speaker to send condolences to his family and friends. I agree with the minister that any initiative that would commemorate the objectives of his life’s work, to ensure that the principles on which he stood, the principles of social justice that he practiced every day, every waking minute of his life, that we could demonstrate in some way, form or fashion, obviously is something that we could support wholeheartedly.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to join with the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and the Leader of the Opposition to pay tribute to Brother Jim McSheffrey. His life in Newfoundland was the embodiment of selfless concern and effort on behalf of others. I had the honor of joining with thousands of others in a public tribute to Brother Jim McSheffrey at St. Pius X Church, and his example throughout this community for others is one that we should emulate.

Brother Jim, as was pointed out, had been very active in the international peace movement, social action, and particularly social justice for residents of our community. We can pay tribute in a private way, as was pointed out by the minister, by supporting the individual effort, but in a public way we can pay tribute to Brother Jim McSheffrey by ensuring that the laws that we make here, that the policies that our government adopts, follow the principles of social justice that Brother Jim McSheffrey stood for.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I call ministerial statements, I would just to take this opportunity to introduce to all hon. members the two new pages who have joined us at the House of Assembly. They are, to my left, Mr. Rodney Mercer, and to my right, Mr. Daniel Mercer.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased to provide this House with a mid-year update of the economic and financial position of the Province.

It is within this context, today, that we are able to announce personal income tax reductions for the people of our Province. These reductions are the first initiated by any government of Newfoundland and Labrador since Confederation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, a year ago there was concern about the world economic situation. However, the international recovery has been stronger and faster than anticipated.

Canada has benefitted from export growth and higher commodity prices. National real GDP this year will be about 3.6 per cent. Within Canada, the economy of Ontario has been particularly strong, reflecting its close trade ties to the booming U.S. economy. However, the fastest growing provincial economy in the country is that of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DICKS: Provincial growth is being led by the oil and gas, fishing, tourism and construction industries, and is expected to be greater than 5.0 per cent this year.

Retail sales in the first eight months of this year have grown 6.8 per cent compared to last year. The number of new motor vehicles sales alone has increased to 13.1 per cent. The value of fish landings is expected to rise 30 per cent from last year, have a value of over $900 million and will be the highest value fishery in our history, and will for the first time surpass that of Nova Scotia.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DICKS: Between January and October, 10,500 more people were employed than in the same period last year, an increase of 5.3 per cent.

AN HON. MEMBER: How many people?

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, 208,400 Newfoundland and Labradorians are employed, the highest number ever recorded for this period, and 10,500 more people than last year.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DICKS: Non-resident tourists are expected to exceed 400,000, an 8 per cent gain over last year, and up 32 per cent over 1996 levels.

Oil production is expected to be about 35 million barrels this year, up from 23.8 million in 1998. The Terra Nova project is under development and over 1,300 people were employed on that project at the end of September.

We have every reason to believe that this economic performance will continue. Terra Nova will enter production next year and oil production will increase at Hibernia. Nineteen ninety-nine has been the most active year in a decade for exploration with seven wells drilled on the Grand Banks and two on the West Coast.

Last week, Husky Oil announced details concerning the Whiterose project. From the beginning, Husky Oil will undertake engineering, design and management of the project in Newfoundland and Labrador. This establishes the benchmark by which other projects will be measured. Secondly, Mr. Speaker, Husky disclosed that there is an estimated two trillion cubic feet of potentially recoverable natural gas. The company will undertake drilling of two to four wells in the new year to confirm and to expand the extent of these reserves. Having become an oil producing province, we are optimistic that we will also be a producer of natural gas.

Iron ore production is expected to rebound and a major capital investment program at IOCC will increase capacity and output. Recovering nickel prices may set the stage for moving the Voisey’s Bay Nickel project ahead. However, agreement with Inco will be contingent on the company submitting a plan that will see a finished nickel product produced in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Gull Island Power Project is being negotiated as we speak. Non-resource based industries including manufacturing and information technology will also contribute to economic growth.

In March we projected a budgetary deficit of $33.3 million. Over the past six months it has been necessary for the Province to respond to expenditure pressures. In health care, we have allocated another $7.5 million for the conversion and creation of nursing and support positions, which is in addition to the $47 million extra funding for health care provided in this year’s Budget. Other major expenditure variances include $6.5 million for forest fire suppression during our very dry summer, $3.5 million related to student aid and $1.5 million for additional teaching positions.

Even with these increases in spending, I am pleased to announce that the financial position for this year remains on target.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, in early summer the Premier’s Advisory Council on the Economy and Technology was asked to review taxes in this Province. The council was given a mandate to examine the tax burden on individuals and businesses to ensure that our overall tax regime is fair, competitive and effective, while providing adequate revenues to maintain social programs and a responsible budgetary position. As part of its review, the Council undertook a public consultation process, and earlier this month completed and released its report.

Some of the recommendations focused on reduction and eventual elimination of the payroll tax, as well as increases to the corporate income tax. Over the coming months we will thoroughly review these suggestions to fully evaluate the impacts on businesses employing people in this Province. Decisions on those issues will be made in time for the upcoming budget.

The people of Newfoundland and Labrador believe that personal income taxes are too high, but that tax reductions should not come at the expense of health care and education.

Today is an historic occasion. For the first time in our fifty year history as a province of Canada, indeed since our discovery 500 years ago, a government of this Province has chosen to implement a personal income tax rate reduction.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DICKS: It is, moreover, the second time this government announced and enacted major tax reform.

The implementation of the HST in April, 1997 put approximately $105 million back in the hands of taxpayers. The HST low income tax credit pays $8 million to those most in need, and the first payment of the senior’s benefit in October of this year provided another $5 million to low income seniors. Federal income tax changes in the last two years have resulted in another $30 million in provincial income tax reductions annually. These reductions and credits now total more than $150 million per annum.

Mr. Speaker, we have provided these tax reductions while maintaining a stable fiscal position. Over four successive budgets, we have effectively balanced the books. We are also the first government since Confederation which did not add to the public debt.

Today, I am pleased to announce personal income tax reductions which will see the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador collect $175 million less provincial tax over the next three years.

The government intends to reduce the basic personal income tax rate from 69 per cent to 49 per cent of basic federal tax. As of January 1, 2000, the basic personal rate of tax will be reduced from 69 per cent to 62 per cent. On January, 2001, the Province will likely move to a "Tax on Income" basis; however, the basis rate will be the equivalent of 55 per cent of the basic federal tax. In 2002, the rate will be the equivalent of 49 per cent. We will, therefore, over three years, move our basic tax from 69 per cent to 49 per cent of the federal tax.

To provide for greater equity among taxpayers at the lower income levels and to make this change affordable, we will implement gradually increasing surtaxes each year.

These measures will greatly enhance the competitiveness of our personal income tax regime.

These measures will result in the savings of $30 million in 2000, $60 million in 2001 and $85 million in 2002, and each year thereafter. A total of $175 million will be put in the hands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians over this three year period.

Mr. Speaker, the changes for 2001 and 2002 are contingent on our economy continuing to grow and our spending remaining prudent. We will not fund tax reductions through cuts to social programs or by deficit spending. Income tax reductions must be manageable, acceptable, affordable and sustainable.

Mr. Speaker, this tax reduction program is prudent and within our means. It will not compromise funding for social spending in areas such as health care and education. These measures are in sharp contrast to the desperate promises made by the Opposition during the last election campaign -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DICKS: - which would have drained the public purse of $871 million over five years with large, unconditional reductions to personal income tax, immediate elimination of the payroll tax and large HST credits. These could only be implemented by unacceptable cuts to health care and education combined with unsustainable deficits.

Mr. Speaker, through this tax reduction, workers in Newfoundland and Labrador, whether they are private or public sector workers, are effectively getting a raise in pay. The net impact of this tax reduction by year three is equivalent to almost 2.5 per cent increase in gross pay for a married person earning $40,000.

Mr. Speaker, responsible management of the Province’s finances is paying off. We continue to lead the country in economic growth and are well poised for future prosperity and diversification. That prosperity and success will be shared with those who are most in need in our society, and also with the people who shared the burden of high tax rates for too long a period of time.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, let the record show that the Minister of Mines and Energy is embarrassed and red-faced by the performance of the Minister of Finance.

Let me say, for the record, that it is true that our gross domestic product is improving and that is a positive sign for the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is being driven primarily by the production in oil and gas operating under the Atlantic Accord, an initiative of this Legislature and the federal government; it is being driven primarily by an increase in the fishery, particularly the shell fishery; and it is being driven by -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I am about to get to it. You have had your statement; can I have mine? I am going to get to it. Bear with me, Premier, don’t be impatient. We will get to you.

It is being driven primarily by the three big ticket items and by tourism. Certainly the differential in the dollar has played a big part, Mr. Speaker.

Clearly, to paraphrase the Minister of Finance in a recent telegram article - to paraphrase the Minister of Finance in a recent public article - he said: While GDP is growing, we have a long ways to go to catch up to the rest of the country. It does not mean that the revenues of the Province are going to be such that - in his view - we can take care of all of the problems such as food banks; 14,000 less full-time jobs in the economy this year than there were ten years ago.

Mr. Speaker, it is important that we understand that the economy and the movement in the economy is a positive sign, a sign that consumer confidence, investment in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador is up, but clearly it is also a sign and recognition of where the dividends are and what we will do with them if they come, and continue to come, in the way.

Mr. Speaker, I have one regret today about our Blue Book, and it is that we did not copyright it. Because if we had, the biggest single contributor to the PC Party financial fortunes over the next three years would have been the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: I want to congratulate the Premier and the Minister of Finance on the tax cuts they announced this morning. It will be good for the economy, it will be good for the people of the Province, and it will prove to be good for government revenue, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: He did a good thing. He did a good thing this morning but I’m not sure, and I’m left speechless in some ways - not quite but almost - of why they are so defensive about our Blue Book. All I can say is that we are not offended, sir, that you have cribbed from it. We are glad that you did. All we can say is that if you would like to crib some more from it, go ahead.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, it is clear that they are doing it. It is interesting. It is very clear that they have done it and are going to continue to do it.

For example, I looked at the Orders of the Day, where it says second reading of a bill, "An Act To Provide An Accountability Framework For Public Bodies." Where did they find it? Accountable Government, the Blue Book. Let’s go back to another page, water export.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. E. BYRNE: For the record, we said in the Blue Book, on page 17, that "A PC Government will introduce legislation to ensure all fresh water exported from Newfoundland and Labrador is first fully processed in Newfoundland and Labrador, and to forbid the export in bulk form of fresh water from this province."

It is clear to me and to the people of the Province that the initiative announced this morning is something that we announced back during the election. The feeble attempt to say about compare and contrast - the reality is that what we recommended this government took to heart. They provided required reading for their own Council, their own committee on the economy and technology, and we look forward to this government introducing more of what we suggested over the coming months and coming years in this Legislature, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all, let me say that I am pleased to hear the report on the improvement in our economy. Finally, we have optimistic numbers to show for our record of business and economic growth in this Province. I think that is very satisfactory and very optimistic. What I do not like about the minister’s statement is the self-congratulatory and self-satisfied attitude of the people on both sides of this House, with the exception of the New Democratic Party, about the circumstances that we have in this Province.

If we have $175 million for a tax break that benefits primarily the wealthy, why do we have public service pensioners outside the doors protesting because they cannot get a decent increase so that they can live properly? Why do we have 6.6 per cent of our population, three times the national average, going to food banks? Why do we have 25 per cent of our schoolchildren going to school hungry?

This statement by this minister and this government shows that they are satisfied with the status quo, with the wide distribution of income in this Province, with the lack of services that are being felt strongly by so many people around this Province. What we have done with the tax reform package is cherry picked. The government has cherry picked the recommendations, ignored the call for tax fairness in terms of increasing the corporate tax rate at least to the Canadian average, and has honed in instead on an across the board tax decrease which will put only $4 per week in the hands of the average family earning $30,000 a year.

Even worse than that, for the more than half of working people in this Province earning $15,000 a year it will amount to $30 per year, less than a dollar a week, and that is the result of a Tory tax policy being adopted by a Liberal government. That is what we have in this Province, Tory policies, Liberal government. What we need is tax fairness and social justice.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to advise hon. colleagues of a new Government-Industry Working Group on Fisheries which I announced at a news conference this morning. This new Working Group is part of my department’s new Quality Action Plan that will focus on developing a long-term strategy to achieve and maintain premium quality fish products.

MR. TULK: You should have heard Beothuck Fish praising you up last night.

MR. EFFORD: I know.

Mr. Speaker, this is a joint initiative between government and industry that will concentrate on a number of issues surrounding quality with an initial emphasis on the shrimp fishery. The Working Group includes representatives from FANL, FFAW, the Barry Group, Daley Brothers, Fishery Products International and representatives from my department.

Through a team approach, we want to continue to create an awareness of the importance of producing a top quality product and the importance of the proper handling of species like shrimp through harvesting, offloading, transporting, processing and marketing.

The initial phase of the Quality Action Plan and the first function of the Working Group on Fisheries will be to conduct a series of forums throughout the Province with industry stakeholders to identify areas of concerns as it relates to quality, and pinpoint ways to resolve these issues. The forums will take place over the next couple of months and details of the first education and awareness meeting, which will focus on shrimp, will be announced shortly.

We must be proactive if we want to be number one in the global marketplace. In order to achieve this goal we must become more competitive and we must build on our quality initiatives if we are to meet the competitive realities of the international marketplace.

This new Working Group on Fisheries will build on my department’s existing Quality Assurance Program which has been very effective, and we remain committed to this program. However, our evolving fishery presents may challenges, especially in the shrimp fishery which must be managed carefully if we are to derive the maximum benefits from this valuable resource. The new Working Group will provide and identify expertise in various areas to demonstrate the importance of maintaining a top quality product through all stages in the handling process from harvesting to marketing.

I will be encouraging all industry stakeholders to participate in these meetings which will help us develop a long-term strategy on quality in the fishing industry. It is imperative that we work together to achieve a viable fishing industry for future generations.

Together, Mr. Speaker, we will make a difference.

Thank you.

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 here on this side of the House would certainly welcome any process that will improve the quality of our fish products. I suppose the $900 million value of fish exports in this Province this year is a reflection of probably of how far we have come. We have certainly improved from where we were. I say to the minister that this group is certainly worthwhile, going out and, from my understanding, they will speak to the stakeholders, teach them new techniques, tell what the market demands, and what they demand as processors in order to provide a top quality product to the marketplace.

I say to the minister that even though we have come a long way we still have a long way to go. When I hear of not pounds or packages but tonnes of shrimp being shipped decomposed from this Province to the marketplace, when I hear of court cases now, charges before the courts, of tonnes of shrimp shipped out of this Province today, it makes me wonder how far we have come or where we are going, or where this quality that the minister keeps talking about is going.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture on a point of order.

MR. EFFORD: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

For the hon. member opposite to stand here in this House this afternoon and malign the fishing industry in the way in which he did is unacceptable to anybody in the fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: Secondly, Mr. Speaker, this issue that he is talking about, the shrimp has nothing to do with bad quality shrimp being processed.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

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

MR. EFFORD: It has to do with a new technique that was being learned by a particular fishing company in Labrador! The hon. member knows full well (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has ruled that there was no point of order.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member for Bonavista South on a point of order.

MR. FITZGERALD: Minister, it is not the industry that I’m maligning, it is the minister and his policies.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to congratulate the minister on taking this approach. At one time in most of the industries in this Province, as elsewhere, I guess the quantity was the focus of attention. The quantity that you produced in any sector dictated whether you survived. Today it is quality-focused. Regardless of how many assets you have, if you don’t have the right quality you are not going to make it in today’s workplace.

The teamwork approach that is mentioned here I think is the right way to go. We are past the stage in our history where things can be done unilaterally. The team approach can generate better ideas and come up with better solutions in today’s workplaces, and I congratulate the minister on this approach.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to update my hon. colleagues on some of the exciting initiatives taking place in our advanced technology sector.

Yesterday, I participated in the announcement of the "Mobile Home Care Platform," a project that will enable home health care providers to access patient records and other information electronically. Computers and Communications Ltd. of Deer Lake and Collaborative Network Technologies of St. John’s are two of the innovative companies at the heart of this project.

We also have exciting things happening in our marine information technology industry, both here and across the country. Two hours ago, I participated through video conference in the Marine Information Skyway announcement which took place from Ottawa. This is a $2.5 million investment initiative for the development of commercial opportunities in marine satellite communications applications in our country. The initiative is supported through the Canadian Space Agency, and this Newfoundland based initiative is the first project under the new space program.

I am pleased to inform my hon. colleagues that the Marine Information Skyway project will be facilitated through the Canadian Centre for Marine Communications (CCMC) office right here in our Province. This is a natural fit, given our historic affiliation with the ocean and our well-known marine expertise.

Newfoundland and Labrador is a world leader in marine industrial capability. Over the years, CCMC has furthered this industry’s growth through its innovative and flexible approach to development and its focus on commercial applications. My Department of Industry, Trade and Technology, through membership on its Board of Directors, is pleased to work in partnership with CCMC on projects such as the Marine Information Skyway.

Our partnership approach has contributed to the industrial development of technically advanced marine products and services that are being marketed around the world.

The Marine Information Skyway initiative will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the commercial development of marine satellite communications applications in this Province and across this country. This will also add to the tremendous growth in our IT sector, which last year alone grew by an incredible 25 per cent.

I hope my hon. colleagues will join me in congratulating the Canadian Centre for Marine Communications on this new venture. I look forward to working with CCMC to further develop our marine technology industry in this Province.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We would like to join with the minister as well in congratulating CCMC in their project, and as well to say to the minister that in regards to the mobile health care platform we are always anxious to see new developments in health care, especially as it relates to senior citizens.

I would only say to the minister that I trust now she will talk to the Minister of Health and try and convince her colleague to try and do something now for the home care operators in Newfoundland and Labrador who have suffered under this government since 1989. If the minister ever needs an education on home care or home operators, give me a call someday and I will pick you up and I will take you to twenty-seven homes that are in and around my district. When you come out of it, Minister, you will certainly have a different view. It is not only that we need better information and quicker information to help the patients, but we also need to start doing something to help the homeowners in the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We are always pleased to hear that the technological development in this Province is being enhanced. We have, as members know, provided leadership in marine communications technology for a number of years through private initiatives and innovative technology, with a fair bit of support from the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I hope that this will continue the initiative and make sure that we stay in the lead and that the technology offers employment and innovative opportunities for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians right here in our Province. The minister was a bit vague on the consequences of all this and hopefully we will get more detail as time goes on.

In terms of the technological interests and The Mobile Health Care Platform, it looks like a very interesting project. I would hope that the Centre for Health Information has already worked to sort out how information might or might not be accessed on this before we go ahead and share information widely about patients’ care.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member’s time is up.

Oral Questions

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

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

I first want to thank the Premier for providing the people of Newfoundland and Labrador an update on the Inco situation via Manhattan. I would like to ask him this question today.

In the quote today in The Globe and Mail it talks about how the government has been adamant, and this Legislature, indeed, and all parties in this Province have been adamant, about building a smelter/refinery in the Province before agreeing to formal negotiations. The Premier has been quoted as saying: "I understand that Inco has proposed something along those lines..."

Could the Premier today, after speaking with his Minister of Mines and Energy as he indicated he would, update this House directly, and through this House the people of the Province, on exactly what Inco has proposed for the exploitation and prosecution of Voisey’s Bay ore?

 

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

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I’m delighted that the Leader of the Opposition did get an early copy of The Globe and Mail so he could do some research for the first Question Period in five or six months. I guess there were no other burning issues that he had on his mind, that he does not want to talk about the tax break anymore.

I think most people in the Province are aware that we have tried to maintain ongoing informal contact with representatives of Inco and Voisey’s Bay Nickel Company. Maybe we can hear from the Leader of the Opposition as to whether or not he hopes that the headline is in fact correct, that Inco is blinking - if that is the headline - and that they are ready or about ready to make a proposal that does, in fact, call for the processing of nickel concentrate in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I understand that the Premier issued a press release again sometime today, just an hour or so before the Legislature opened, that maybe the Leader of the Opposition has not seen yet, where they confirm that they would like to present a proposal to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador that includes full and fair benefits for the people of the Province and includes processing of nickel concentrate in Newfoundland and Labrador. We still only hope that they find themselves in a position to do that very soon.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. E. BYRNE: It makes my day that the Minister of Mines and Energy is delighted that I’m doing some research. Let me say to the Minister of Mines and Energy, seeing that the Premier will not stand and answer the question, I will ask the question again to you. What has Inco proposed? The Premier on a trip this weekend indicated that it is his understanding that Inco has proposed a full smelter, a full refinery. Is that what is on the table, Minister? Yes or no.

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is misrepresenting what I was doing in New York. In the words of Minister Furey, who is of an entertainment bent of mind, he said: Start spreading the news. I was down talking about the good news associated with the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador, and pointing out to a meeting of the Canadian Society of New York, including a full room of Wall Street bankers and investors, that Newfoundland and Labrador is indeed a good place in which to do business and a good place in which to invest at this time.

I should say that I think the speech got a good reception. I think there is a high degree of interest in Newfoundland and Labrador today, both because of the current performance of the economy which is moving at double the national rate, 6.2 per cent versus 3.1 per cent -

 

MR. E. BYRNE: Point of order.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

 

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible) stop on Question Period. We are going to ask questions, and according to the Standing Orders of the House we have to ask them.

I did not misrepresent what the Premier was doing in New York. I asked a simple question, which was this: You are quoted today in The Globe and Mail as saying that we are adamant about building a smelter and refinery in the Province. You understand that Inco has moved in that direction. Have they? Have they made that commitment? Yes or no.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to take his seat. There is no point of order.

 

MR. E. BYRNE: I do not want to hear about your travels around the world. I just want to know about the smelter and refinery in New York.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I can well understand why the Leader of the Opposition likes to misrepresent people. He wants to misrepresent the tax cut as his own because it is a good one. The fact is it isn’t his. His is not sustainable, his is not affordable, his would have cost $145 million next year. The Leader of the Opposition is going to be called to account for these amateur attempts to misrepresent government and misrepresent -

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. members to take their seats.

 

MR. E. BYRNE: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

 

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

 

MR. E. BYRNE: I will ask the Premier again. I do not want to hear about tax cuts. We have already talked about that. If you want to talk about it some more, fair enough. I do not want to hear about your travels. I want to hear what you have to say -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. E. BYRNE: What has Inco proposed? A full smelter/refinery? Yes or no.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to take his seat. There is no point of order.

The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Despite these attempts by the Leader of the Opposition to bury discussion of the tax cuts, to bury a discussion of the real growth of Newfoundland and Labrador, to bury an explanation for the work that was done in New York -

 

MR. SPEAKER: I ask the hon. Premier to conclude his answer quickly.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: - promoting the Province, Mr. Speaker, these issues cannot be buried.

The fact is the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador is growing. It is doing well because of sound -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

PREMIER TOBIN: - fiscal management and good negotiations, and that will not change no matter what kind of temper tantrum the Leader of the Opposition is having.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. E. BYRNE: In the spring Legislature sitting, in the dying days of it, the Minister of Mines and Energy speculated publicly about shipping ore out of the Province. He speculated and was hopeful that they would have, through the informal discussions, a proposal from Inco.

I am asking the Premier directly again because he has failed to answer it. He wants to talk about everything else but that. He I think -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

 

MR. E. BYRNE: - on his travels this weekend talked about how he now understands that Inco has come full circle and will participate, and has made a commitment. That is what he says: I’m led to understand, I do understand that a full smelter/refinery complex will be built in the Province.

Mr. Premier, if that is your understanding -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

 

MR. E. BYRNE: - could you made a commitment as to why that is your understanding? What has led you to that understanding? Has Inco made that commitment? If they have, brief the people of the Province, not the people on Wall Street.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, there goes the Leader of the Opposition again. If he does not interrupt he might get a complete answer, but he insists on misrepresenting and then interrupting when his misrepresentation is pointed out. It is a deliberate and frequently repeated technique by the Leader of the Opposition.

The fact is I was on Wall Street yesterday to speak to the financial community about the current prospects for growth and for new investment in Newfoundland and Labrador. That meeting was rather well attended and rather enthusiastically received because Newfoundland and Labrador is indeed seen as a prime location for new investment at this time in North America.

Mr. Speaker, it wasn’t a speech on Inco but there were remarks about the Voisey’s Bay deposit. Indeed, if the Leader of the Opposition reads the newspaper article which he has in his hand, which constitutes his thorough analysis and research prior to Question Period, he will see that I said in Wall Street that we take a Wall Street view of the Voisey’s Bay deposit. I said that if Inco paid too much for that deposit then it is not the people of Newfoundland and Labrador who are going to give up their benefits because Inco paid too much.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

PREMIER TOBIN: He has the paper in his hand and he can read that for himself, unless he wants to misrepresent that as well.

Mr. Speaker, I went on to say that the talks had broken down when the price of nickel was about $1.87 a pound and when a lot of people - including members opposite - suggested that the government was bungling the negotiations. Now that the price is $3.70, and Inco is on the line, yes, we are in the driver’s seat and we think we will drive a good deal or there will be no deal.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. E. BYRNE: This is a tactic. If you are asking a question that government does not want to answer, or the minister does not want to answer, or the Premier does not want to answer, the first thing to do is to attack the person asking the question. Talk about misrepresentation.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. E. BYRNE: No member on this side of the House has ever suggested a policy that would not see full, fair and maximum benefits coming to the people of this Province -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

 

MR. E. BYRNE: - through Voisey’s Bay or any other resource in this Province, I say to the Premier, and that is a misrepresentation.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. E. BYRNE: I am going to ask you the question again so the people in the gallery can see for themselves how this Premier responds to direct questions. I will ask you - you want to talk about reading the paper - it says here, "Mr. Tobin’s government has been equally adamant about getting Inco to commit to building a smelter and refinery..." Fair enough, so have the members on this side of the House. Then you go on to say, "I understand that Inco has proposed something along those lines." Can you inform the House exactly (inaudible) along those lines?

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to take his seat.

I think the hon. member has asked a question.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Ask it again.

 

MR. E. BYRNE: What have they proposed along those lines, Premier?

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is - I can’t figure out why he is in the mood he is in. The Province is growing at double the national rate; we have kept our books in line; we have reduced our taxes, the first time in the history of the Province since Confederation. It is the second major tax decrease after a sales tax decrease. Our prospects are strong.

Inco is coming back to recognize that there will not be a mine/mill development unless there is 100 per cent processing of concentrate in this Province. They are putting on the table a proposal as to how that can be achieved. The Minister of Mines and Energy received that proposal in general form yesterday. The Province, as I have said in the paper - you should read the full article - is going to assess that. We do not know at this stage whether or not that constitutes the basis of a formal negotiation, but if it does - if we come to the conclusion it does - we will announce that.

We are not prepared to commit, based on Sunday’s discussion, without proper examination of what has been put on the table, without both our own expertise inside government and without consulting with experts outside government to fully understand the proposal, we are not prepared to jump up and down and say yes or no. What we are prepared to say is what we have always said: that Voisey’s Bay will only be developed if it is in the long-term best interest of the whole Province.

I would say this to the Leader of the Opposition. He talks about people in the gallery watching and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador listening, and so they should be. The reality is, on these kinds of developments, we ought to be working for the long-term best interest of the Province and not angry because the Province happens to be enjoying a bit of a renaissance economically because we are finally on our feet, because we are finally standing up, we are finally making progress. Let’s celebrate that, not have a temper tantrum -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

 

PREMIER TOBIN: - about the good news of Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. E. BYRNE: A great performance.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There is nobody on this side of the House angry or upset because our Province is doing well. There is nobody angry or upset because our Province is moving in a direction which has been long awaited for. The question I am asking you today, Premier, and I will ask it for the final time: You have led the people of the country, and in particular the people of the Province, to believe, through an interview with The Globe and Mail, that Inco has proposed a full smelter refinery complex. All I am asking you today, Sir, is: In view of the fact that you have indicated that here, could you elaborate -

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, with leave of the House, I will read from the paper. May I have leave?

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary and he would need no preamble.

 

MR. E. BYRNE: Do I have leave to read this?

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. E. BYRNE: It says: Mr. Tobin’s government has been equally adamant about getting Inco to commit to building a smelter refinery in the Province before agreeing to formal negotiations. Fair enough.

"I understand that Inco has proposed something along those lines."

The question I am asking is: What have they proposed along those lines? Have they made a commitment to build a smelter refinery in this Province? That is the issue, Premier.

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, we give him permission to quote from The Globe and Mail and he swallows himself whole, and he is not even smart enough to be embarrassed by the declaration he has just made.

Mr. Speaker, if the Leader of the Opposition were really interested in seeing the right thing being done for Newfoundland and Labrador, what he would be saying to the government opposite is: Government, be careful. Examine whatever has been put on the table with great care, with great caution. Bring in outside experts, people who have expertise not contained within government, to examine what has been put on the table. Before you commit, government, to enter into a formal negotiation, make sure that the requirements of the Province for technology transfer, for the processing of a product to a finished nickel value in the Province, has been accomplished.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the Premier to conclude his answer quickly.

 

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, that is what the Leader of the Opposition should be saying, not trying to score political points on his first day back. Three strikes and you are out, and this is only the first day.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

 

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

My questions are for the Minister of Finance. In the comparative analysis you used earlier today for the multi-year tax reduction program, you say the five point reduction in basic personal taxes proposed by the PC Party in February would cost $44 million annually but the seven point reduction you propose to introduce in January of 2000 will cost only $30 million. How can that be? Mr. Minister, who is getting screwed in this process?

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

 

MR. DICKS: I am glad the hon. member - we don’t often see the hon. member get nostalgic here in the House.

Mr. Speaker, may I just remind the public - at least his memory is not fading. May I just remind the House first of all what the Opposition proposed in last February’s election. First of all, they proposed an immediate reduction in personal income tax from 69 per cent to 64 per cent. Now to put it simply, each point of income tax reduction is worth $8 million. That works out to $40-odd million. In addition to that, they said they would immediately eliminate the payroll tax - $44 million net to the Province - and they would also eliminate the 8 per cent of harmonized sales tax on electricity and telephones. That would have cost $29 million.

In the current fiscal year, that will be a total of $115 million. Next year, if we are on the same rationale and going through the same thing, it would be $145 million.

The difference between what the Opposition proposed and what we are now doing is that we are not eliminating the payroll tax, we are not eliminating the 8 per cent HST on electricity and telephones. What we are doing is, we are reducing the basic tax and we are applying a surtax. The reason we are doing that, Mr. Speaker, is that is what the point of comparison is.

I hear people say - I had a business group in to see me the other day and they said to me: Look, you have to reduce personal income tax in Newfoundland and Labrador because personal income tax in Newfoundland and Labrador are 69 per cent, and comparing you with Ontario they are 39 per cent. I had to point out to them that in Ontario they have surtaxes that kick in at much lower income levels, at 20 per cent and 50 per cent.

What we have done is brought our basic rate down to 62 per cent and we have added in a surtax that this year will be about 7 per cent on the first $10,000 worth of income. As our basic rate goes down, our surtaxes are going up. Why are we doing it? We are doing it because we want to have a valid point of comparison.

It is in our provincial interest, in order to be competitive, that when people look at us and they look at Ontario, they look at other provinces, they see what a valid comparison is. Unless we institute surtaxes and bring our basic rate down, we will not look very good by comparison.

In short answer to the hon. member, our rate is down from 69 per cent to 62 per cent but surtaxes make up the difference. The reason their decreases amounted to $44 million was that they had no surtaxes.

 

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

 

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

First of all, the statements by the minister are inconsistent with the fact sheet that he has provided.

I say to the minister: You say the PC plan to reduce personal income taxes to the national average of 50.4 per cent would, by your calculations done in February, cost $162 million annually when fully implemented, but your plan to reduce the personal income tax payable to the equivalent of 49 per cent of the federal basic tax will only cost the Province $85 million annually. Whose taxes, Mr. Minister, are going to increase to make up that difference?

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Good question.

 

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

 

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will just repeat what I said earlier. The hon. members and the Opposition proposal did not include surtaxes. What they said was that they would reduce personal income tax down to 50.4 per cent from 69 per cent. That would cost a total of $162 million if it were fully implemented.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. DICKS: I am sorry, but the public can read the Blue Book.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Progressivity (inaudible).

 

MR. DICKS: Progressivity.

What we have done is, a surtax will ensure that a greater portion of the tax reductions go to lower income people. At $10,000 worth of income, people at that level will see a real reduction in their income tax of almost 30 per cent; 29 per cent. At higher income levels, when it is fully implemented, they will we reduced by 15 per cent.

It is very progressive, but the hon. member’s - and his party’s - proposition would have cost the taxpayers of the Province $162 million. It would have been disproportionately favorable to high income earners because there was no surtax that, of course, gathers money back from higher income earners.

If the hon. member works through his own figures, the figures will speak for themselves.

 

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

 

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister if he would table the schedule of surtaxes. The figures that you supplied earlier today show that a family with one income earner making $40,000 would realize a provincial tax saving of $563 annually in the third year of the plan. Are these savings for this middle-class family net of the increased surtaxes they will pay, or is it a combination here?

 

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

 

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That is a point of valid comparison. What you have to do is: when you apply a tax, you apply the basic rate and then the surtaxes involved. Yes, that is it. What the hon. member said... For example, in the year 2002, when it is fully implemented, a married individual with one earner in the family will have $563 less in tax to pay, which is a reduction of 15.9 per cent. A single taxpayer will be $667, or small variations, depending. A married family with two earners, which is relatively common, will save $1,334 per annum. So, yes.

 

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

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are to the Minister of Health and Community Services.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Surprise!

 

MR. SULLIVAN: A little surprise doesn’t hurt anybody.

Minister, nursing shortages have been bottlenecking the entire health care system. Back in May of 1997 you, as minister, new in your portfolio, indicated that by January of 1998 you would resolve problems with cardiac surgery, for example, and there would be fifteen done per week. Today, there are less than ten being done per week. That means five life-saving surgeries in cardiac care - cardiac bypass - are not getting done each week; not because of a lack of cardiac surgeons, not because of a lack of profusionists, not because the operating space is not there, not because the ICU space is not there, but simply because of one simple reason: a shortage of nurses dedicated to cardiac care to be able to staff both the operating room and intensive care.

This shortage, Minister, is not only being felt in cardiac care. It is right across every area of specialty in which surgeries are required. On a regular basis we have cancellations in gynecology -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

 

MR. SULLIVAN: - surgeries cancelled by weeks for orthopaedic doctors.

I want to ask the minister: When are you going to address the underlying causes of the nursing shortage?

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

 

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

First, I would like to say - and I think it is important for people to hear - that we, too, are not pleased with the actual success of the implementation of new cardiovascular surgeries. In fact, we have had a meeting with the Health Care Corporation and as late as this afternoon they have put in place a new plan to help address this issue.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is also important to note that there is no one issue that is singularly the cause for this particular issue. Cardiovascular surgery is one - as you will note, we had an article in the paper for information this weekend - that we are very concerned about. It is one that we are trying to work with all the parties to address. It is also important to note, for the people of the Province, that other provinces are experiencing the same issues. In fact, Mr. Speaker, we have in the past been able to send people out to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and also to Ottawa. They, too, now are experiencing difficulties and waiting lists and really are having as much difficulty in many ways as we are, and it is for a number of reasons. It is not only the nursing shortages. It also includes issues around cardiac profusionists as well as other issues around beds.

Mr. Speaker, we are working with the Health Care Corporation. In fact, they have put out a press release just this afternoon identifying a plan to address this issue in conjunction with our department, including a second cardiac operating room which is currently being renovated, the completion of a new cardiovascular ICU to care for eight patients - currently we are providing for six and that will increase to eight - also, a new step-down unit and this will be open in April. As well, two employees -

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MS J.M. AYLWARD: No, Mr. Speaker, it is not a speech. In fact, as the member opposite said, it is about providing very important information to the people of the Province.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to conclude her answer.

 

MS J.M. AYLWARD: In addition, Mr. Speaker, two employees are currently finishing off a profusion program in Toronto and they will be back on staff with us in April. In addition, ongoing efforts are underway to recruit more nurses to work in our cardiovascular areas.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question was about delays overall, in all surgeries. There are no surgeries cancelled over the last few months because of a shortage of ICU space, operating room space, profusionists, cardiac surgeons, or any of these reasons. The single, sole reason - I have been informed by people within the corporation and elsewhere, and by patients being told by their doctors and so on - the reason they are cancelled is because there are no nurses to work in operating rooms and ICU. The problem with profusionists, they can accommodate fifteen a week -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Three surgeons can accommodate five a week each, for fifteen. The step-down rooms have been there since last year. The space is ready.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

 

MR. SULLIVAN: I want to ask the minister: Your failure to address appropriate compensation for nurses has caused this problem. How do you expect nurses to stay when they are paid 25 per cent less here than they are in Nova Scotia, and far less than in other parts of Canada? I ask the minister: Are you going to address this problem before it gets worse and before it is completely too late to do anything about it?

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

 

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I know the member opposite thinks this government is powerful by the fact that we have increased the economic growth of the Province and we are leading the country, but we are not responsible for the nursing shortages right across this country. We, like every other province, are experiencing difficulties in nurses right now. If this is the case, how do you explain that Ontario is looking for 10,000 nurses? Nova Scotia is looking for 100 new nurses. We are looking to fill - and, in fact, we have gone through the process. It is important to note that this year alone the Health Care Corporation in St. John’s alone has gone through 26,200 applications internally to fill the 125 new positions we noted. That is part of the bureaucracy and the union contracts that have prevented us from filling the positions as quickly as we could!

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Twenty-six thousand, five hundred, Mr. Speaker!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A final supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Is she now telling us the problem was her, when she was president of the Nurses’ Union, the very contract she put in place? Is that what she is telling us, that she created the problem?

I can tell you, as Minister of Health, you created a problem of nursing shortages. It is no consolation - in fact, I would say that because they are paid considerably more in the rest of this country, our shortage of nurses becomes more compounded here because elsewhere they are paid more than here in our Province. That is fuel to weaken your argument, not strengthen it.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I want to ask the minister, in light of statements and a letter to her on October 14 by the Chair of Health Labrador Corporation, he said that to avoid the possibility of morale problems, job actions, resignations, government must address three basic things: that all provincial nurses must have a comprehensive -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the minister: Has she responded to the Chair of Health Labrador Corporation on the three issues addressed in that letter: address provincial pay classification for all nurses; secondly, the added cost of living in the Labrador region; and a Labrador benefits package that was being presented to give the Cabinet, that they felt was too weak? Has she appropriately addressed that in response to the October 14 letter?

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

 

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

I know the member opposite is as concerned as we are about the situation around nursing shortages in the country. I would call on the member opposite to work with us, to encourage the union to work with us, as we try to put in place some mechanism to allow us to hire nurses more quickly.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MS J.M. AYLWARD: It does not matter who put it in place. That is not the issue. I would like to say - and I think it is important to say - that in order to fill fifty positions I cannot go - nor can any of the boards in this Province - to recruit one new nursing graduate from the class of 2000. We cannot do it.

We are asking the members opposite and the Nurses Union, particularly in this case, and other unions if it should apply, to work with us because each and every position has to be posted internally.

By virtue of the fact that the Health Care Corporation of St. John’s has gone through 26,200 applications to fill 125 new positions nine months ago and we still have not hired from outside, I think it is important, it is critical, that we urge the people who are really concerned about nursing shortages and other shortages to work with us to try to address this issue -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to conclude her answer.

 

MS J.M. AYLWARD: - for the sake of our publicly-funded health care system.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

 

Notices of Motion

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

 

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Wilderness And Ecological Reserves Act".

 

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

 

MR. LANGDON: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Provide for the Conservation, Protection, Wise Use And Management Of The Water Resources Of The Province" (Bill 31).

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce the following bills:

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Registered Nurses Act".

A bill, "An Act To Revise The Administration Of The Medical Care Insurance".

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Terra Nova.

 

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence and approbation, I shall on tomorrow introduce the following resolution:

WHEREAS Newfoundland Labrador is seeing record tourism numbers in 1999 and these are expected to increase next year for Viking 1000; and

WHEREAS Newfoundland and Labrador requires an efficient Gulf Ferry Service to provide a transportation link to the mainland of Canada, which is enshrined in the Terms of Union; and

WHEREAS the recent provincial government report on the Gulf Ferry Service, "On Deck and Below" made twenty-four recommendation that have yet to be acted upon by the federal government;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that the provincial government continue to demand the federal government to adopt the recommendations of the "On Deck and Below" report immediately so that improvements to this transportation link will bring optimum benefits for all users - residents, non-residents and commercial operators - the objective of which is to create and develop a world class transportation system.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

 

MR. ANDERSEN: Mr. Speaker, I ask to introduce the following Private Member’s Resolution:

WHEREAS Canada Post has recently increased its parcel post rates by up to 27 per cent; and

WHEREAS these rate increases will have a significant, negative impact on commerce and the quality of life in rural and northern communities; and

WHEREAS these rate increases run contrary to the federal government’s philosophy of ensuring basic services are available to all Canadians at reasonable cost, regardless of where they live; and

WHEREAS such a rate increase is particularly objectionable at this time when Canada Post is recording significant profits;

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that members of this hon. House call upon Canada Post to treat the people of rural and northern communities no different than those dwelling in other parts of this country;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that members of this hon. House call upon the federal minister responsible for Canada Post to intervene into this matter so as to ensure that Canada Post treats rural and northern Canadians in a fair and equitable manner.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

 

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

 

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act Respecting The Operation Of Mines And Mills In The Province".

 

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

 

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act, No.2".

I give further notice that I will on tomorrow move that the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole to consider certain resolutions relating to the guaranteeing of certain loans under the Local Authority Guarantee Act, 1957.

I give another notice that I will on tomorrow move that this House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole to consider certain resolutions relating to the advancing or guaranteeing of certain loans made under the Loan and Guarantee Act, 1957.

I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Remove Anomalies And Errors In The Statute Law".

I give further notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Queen’s Council Act".

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

Petitions

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

 

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a 6,000 name petition. The petition reads:

To the hon. House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador in legislative session convened, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador;

WHEREAS the areas of the Province administered by the Peninsula Health Care Corporation do not have dialysis services available and the people in our area who regularly require dialysis services often must relocate permanently to the City of St. John’s and incur the financial and emotional cost of being uprooted to get the health care they need in order live; and

WHEREAS our understanding that working dialysis units are being sent out of this Province to other countries when the local need is great; and

WHEREAS it is a principle of Canada’s medicare system that people should have reasonable access to basic health care services without suffering discrimination on the basis of where they live;

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to approve the stationing of a dialysis unit in the area serviced by the Peninsula Health Care Corporation and also provide staff, training and resources to ensure the regular operation of this dialysis unit;

As in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is a 6,000 name petition provided to me by a dialysis patient, I say to the minister, who has been traveling to St. John’s, leaving his home in Bonavista Bay on a Monday morning, taking his clothes, taking food for himself and his wife for a whole week, traveling in here to St. John’s to stay at the hostel for five days a week, for the last four years. Here is a gentleman who has had a bout with cancer, has had six bypasses done, has had a kidney removed, and his plea is that something should be put in place somewhere within the limits of the Peninsula Health Care Corporation area that they serve, where he can go and access this medical service that he needs in order to live today and be able to return to his home and his family at night.

Mr. Speaker, you might say, "Well, why doesn’t he sell his house and move to St. John’s?" This patient is on a waiting list for a transplant, and hopefully a transplant will become available and he will be able to return back to his home again and once again become a productive person in society.

He has made many attempts to come and see people in the health care department. I must say, the department and the Department of Social Services have been made accessible to him but still find it very difficult to get answers to attend to some of his basic needs. Here is a gentleman who has spent his whole life’s savings. His whole life’s savings have been spent in order to access these services.

I spoke with him as early as today, Mr. Speaker, and he told me that even the money that he had saved for a funeral for himself and his wife he has had to spend in order to access this service because the department of social services, human resource development, have insisted that he spend whatever savings he had before they would help him.

He is not saying that he wants this dialysis machine in Bonavista. He is not saying he wants it put in Clarenville, or he wants it put in Burin. He is saying that he feels, as I feel, that the need is in our area. The need is there to warrant having at least a machine, or two machines, whatever it takes, and the experienced people so they might be able to go and travel to Clarenville, or travel to Bonavista, in order to access this particular service.

This is not cosmetic service, Mr. Speaker. What he is asking for is a service that will allow the man to continue to live. Treatment at home is not an option for this individual. He must come here to St. John’s. He must make the journey five days a week and the journey back to his home again on the weekend. The option of even leaving his clothes or his food here in a room in a hostel in St. John’s is not available to him. If it is, he has to pay the extra cost of what that room would incur for the two days that he is gone.

Mr. Speaker, when I started presenting the petition I outlined the difficulties, the health problems, that this gentleman has experienced. He has gone to human resource development and he has put in a plea and asked if they would be so kind, instead of giving him food vouchers to go down to the cafeteria at the hospital, if they would give him the value of those food vouchers so he might be able to go out and buy food in order to provide the diet that he needs so that he might be able to help his health situation along.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member’s time is up.

 

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, because the department will not provide him with that funding -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member’s time is up.

 

MR. FITZGERALD: By leave, Mr. Speaker?

 

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

 

MR. FITZGERALD: Just a minute, Mr. Speaker?

 

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

 

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

 

MR. FITZGERALD: Because the department will not provide him with the funding in order that he might go out and buy the food that his diet requires, the gentleman is forced to eat in the cafeteria at the hospital and eat the kind of food that is provided there on a regular basis. For the most part, I say to members on both sides of the House, it is not food that is conducive to a particular diet that this gentleman needs.

He is not saying that he needs this money in order to go out and do other things. All he is asking for is, if the money could be provided for him instead of the meal tickets so that he might be able to go out and substitute a few paltry dollars that he gets to provide himself with a diet.

Mr. Speaker, this is a plea that has been coming forward from this side of the House on a number of occasions. When we hear the good news that the Minister of Finance brought forward today, of how well the Province is doing and all the wonderful things that are happening, we all share that joy; but in sharing that joy we have to show some action and show that if we are now moving ahead and progressing and looking after our finances in such a positive way, maybe we can reach out and help some of those people who are disadvantaged.

The gentleman indicated to me that he knows of at least fifteen people from Clarenville to Bonavista, not including the Burin Peninsula, not including Random Island, now either traveling to St. John’s or doing this activity at home in order that they might be able to provide themselves with dialysis. Like I said, using a dialysis machine at home for this individual is not an option. He requires treatment at the hospital, and I ask the minister if she would take this plea into consideration when she looks at the possibility of putting some of those machines in other areas from where they are today.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

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

 

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I, too, want to support my colleague in the petition he presented on behalf of 6,000 people who support the prayer of the petition. What they are looking for basically is fairness in allocating medical equipment in various parts of our Province.

Back in this House, over a couple of years ago, I raised the issue when a young man from Grand Falls had to come in here to St. John’s, away from his family, to undergo dialysis, and had to uproot, away from his job. It disrupted his whole family life. Unfortunately that person is not with us today but I am delighted, as a result of that person’s efforts - and I certainly congratulate that individual who kept up the fight - today there is dialysis service at Grand Falls-Windsor in the Central Newfoundland Regional Health Care Centre.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. SULLIVAN: The member, too, said she wants to be complimented there. I will compliment the member on that. If you remember, we asked in Question Period over two years ago - he came to my office. He was a bit distraught and very concerned. I sat down with him and CBC did numerous follow-ups after. I provided a number where he could be reached here in St. John’s and at home and they did numerous follow-ups. We did result in getting facilities in Central Newfoundland.

I said in this House before, and I asked the minister also on this very same topic in support of that, that we have to look at locating those services that are not highly expensive services. The minister’s response was that it is more than plugging in a machine. I know it is more than plugging in a machine. I spoke with people in the area who would be considered very familiar with the process in that specialty, and I know a little bit about what services are required there. There are numerous people - sixty, seventy people, even from the Carbonear area out to the Bonavista Peninsula - who are driving in here to St. John’s.

I spoke with a couple, two different individuals from the Northern Peninsula, who left their families and came in and had to stay in basement apartments here in the City of St. John’s, far removed, the first time in their lives, that an elderly man had to leave home and come here away from their families and loved ones because they could not get the services anywhere within their region. It is important that those - and we have moved forward. It is now in Corner Brook, Grand Fall-Windsor and in the East. I really feel that we can, within the realms of the budget there, be able to provide those services in a few, at least a few - not every single hospital can have them, but at least in regional areas we can have these facilities here to be able to provide these very, very much-needed services. That is all we are asking.

The costs today to these families, the costs in health care today, are even greater - their personal expenses - in comparison even to their health costs: the cost of relocation, of paying their rent, their food, their transportation, their telephone calls to their families back home, thousands and tens of thousands of dollars are being accumulated with no hope, three times a week, a permanent change of address, just to fight and save their lives.

Home dialysis cannot be done with everybody, and there is a certain amount of home dialysis and more advancements will occur. I am confident in the future there will be more advancements to enable this dialysis to occur on a basis that can be even more easily accommodated within the homes, but we do need a service here. It has to be justified to a certain degree on numbers, but the problem we have here today is that the exorbitant costs incurred by individuals are bankrupting families.

The gentleman my colleague alluded to - I visited that person - has to leave his home in a pickup truck, take a small fridge and put it in the back every Sunday night, drive in here for the week, has to get out of the hostel on a Friday because someone else needs it, go back and put everything back into his truck, drive back home again, get home for the weekend again, a few hours drive - I think it is three hours -

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Three-and-one-half hours.

 

MR. SULLIVAN: A three-and-a-half hour drive to get back home, and back again every week of his life - winter and summer, storms, it does not matter - to be able to get access to dialysis to save his life. Even if he went to Clarenville, he could leave his home in the morning and get back at a reasonable hour that afternoon and have the service.

I feel a service, and I have stated it here before, should be placed in Clarenville to serve even the Peninsula’s region, the Bonavista and the Burin Peninsula. At least the Peninsula’s health care board should have one of these facilities where people under that board could be adequately served. They should not have to come to St. John’s.

We are not talking about cardiac surgery, where there is only one select location in the Province. We are talking about a service that is not highly expensive in terms of provision of services and can give people the opportunity to be able to live, at least with the handicap they have - with dialysis and the inconvenience they go through every single time they go to a hospital for several hours, three times a week - to have some form of dignity among their family and friends. It is not too much to ask. I have asked the minister - and I have asked her before in this House last spring - to look at this situation to see if we can put them in two or three other strategic locations in the Province to give the people - and there are in excess of 100; I have identified at least sixty-some already just in the eastern area alone -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member’s time is up.

 

MR. SULLIVAN: - who have to come into St. John’s to get this particular service.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

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

 

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

I have a petition to present to the House of Assembly today on the export of our water resources. The prayer of the petition reads:

We, the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, wish to petition the House of Assembly, with copies to the House of Commons, to oppose the bulk export of water from this Province. Every major resource, such as Churchill Falls, that has been developed in Newfoundland and Labrador has resulted in the majority of benefits going outside the Province. It is time that we demand our full and fair share.

With water being one of the few resources remaining where we have the opportunity to deliver maximum benefit through jobs, spinoff and secondary processing, as well as royalties, we demand that any water sold must be bottled and processed in this Province.

This petition that I am presenting today is signed by residents of Deer Lake, Howley, Sop’s Arm and so on. We have many other petitions from other areas of the Province to present on this issue, and it is an important issue.

Now we realize the Premier said that he will not allow the bulk export of water - he is going to bring legislation into the House during this sitting - but this is an important issue because this is a resource that is just emerging worldwide. There are some eighty countries throughout the world that do not have an adequate supply of fresh water to meet their daily needs. Even in the United States, we see some of the southern-most states that are running short of water every year and are relying on bottled water or water trucked in from other states.

Mr. Speaker, the reason this issue has caught the heart of many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians is because we have seen the majority of our resources exported elsewhere, to be processed elsewhere.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, we have the Member for Bellevue interrupting here. I would like to say, while I am touched by his involvement in this issue, I don’t think I am going to take his advice on it, seeing how he seems to always be late.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a petition. I ask him to get on with his petition.

 

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

This issue is an important issue to the people of this Province. We have the highest dependency on unemployment insurance in this Province. We have the highest dependency on food banks here in this Province, yet we are one of the wealthiest provinces in Canada resource-wise, the poorest Province in Canada fiscally. The reason for that, Mr. Speaker, is that we have allowed our resources to be exported from this Province to be processed elsewhere.

The government themselves are fully aware of that. A study conducted by the government and results released from the Department of Industry, Trade and Technology in 1997 show that as a result of our resources being exported from this Province - and they took Ontario as one example - they have shown that there are 25,000 jobs created in Ontario as a result of our resources being shipped to Ontario for processing there.

Mr. Speaker, the people of this Province feel that it is time to have our resources processed in this Province. It is time that our resources are processed in this Province to provide the royalties, the spinoff, the jobs in this Province, for the people in this Province. We in this Province are the owners of this resource.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: We in this Province are the owners of this resource, and we in this Province should be the major benefactors of this resource. The people of Grand Le Pierre - the people of every community in this Province - should have the jobs from this resource, the jobs from bottling, processing, labeling and packaging. We should never allow our resources - especially a resource as economical to process as water - to be shipped from this Province to be processed elsewhere.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to present this petition today to the House of Assembly and I hope the members on the other side of the House take note at the large number of people -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member’s time is up.

 

MR. T. OSBORNE: - who have spoken out in favor of our party’s position on this issue.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Placentia & St. Mary’s.

 

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am very pleased today to stand and support the petition put forward by my hon. colleague and to say that I fully support the efforts of the people who have signed the petition, and indeed the efforts of my hon. colleague here who has been part of the team that has lead the fight in this Province to make sure that we do not have bulk water exports.

The hon. Member for St. John’s South has been loud and clear on the message which he has brought forward on behalf of this Party over the past year or so as he sent out the message of the people of this Province. I say that, at least among ourselves, we converse, we talk, and we are familiar with what each of the other members here feel. We bring the concerns of our district to our caucus. If the Member for St. John’s South stands and speaks, he speaks for the voice of us all; much different than the hon. members opposite, much different.

We have the Premier on one radio station in the Province making a statement and we have the hon. the Member for Bellevue on the other radio station making a different statement - totally, totally different from what the Premier was making on one station.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. MANNING: I say that the important issue here -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I want to remind the hon. member that he is now on a petition and his statements should be related to the material allegation that it contains.

 

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, my comments precisely have to do with the petition.

I am very concerned that we have a government now which has just presented legislation, or is in the process of presenting legislation, to talk about bulk water exports, when only a few months ago they were talking about the possibility of shipping it out of this Province. But we have people like the Member for St. John’s South who went out and listened to the concerns of the people.

Mr. Speaker, we are getting a new group on this side now, a new group which is going to be formed, the ‘sandbag’ group. We have the member up in the back who was sandbagged before. We have the Member for Bellevue who got sandbagged recently on this particular issue here. This is a very important issue for the people of this Province. I say it is an issue that we should be discussing with each other because it affects every man, woman and child in this Province.

I was amazed, totally amazed, to hear the hon. Member for Bellevue supposedly putting across his government’s concerns, his Party’s concerns as they relate to bulk water exports in this Province, which were totally different from what the Premier was saying. The state of confusion that this government put along the Province with regards to the bulk water exports, I would say, is no different than the state of confusion they are putting along with many other of their policies.

I ask that over the next few weeks - hopefully over the next few weeks - here in the House we will get, for once, the Premier and the minister responsible on their feet, stating exactly what this government plans on doing, exactly the legislation that they are bringing in, so that everybody in the Province, including the Member for Bellevue, knows what this government is at.

I can understand if somebody down in Grand Le Pierre or some other small community was not aware of what the government was at. I can understand if the mayor of some town who was looking at creating jobs in their town did not know what this government was at. I can understand that, but to think that the Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier did not now. Mr. Speaker, how in the name of God would you say that the Mayor of Grand Le Pierre would know if the Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier didn’t know?

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. MANNING: How embarrassed can that member be? It is a shame. We have a very big concern -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Again, I refer the hon. member to Standing Order 92 where it says: "Every Member offering a petition to the House shall confine himself or herself to the statement of the parties from whom it comes, the number of signatures attached to it and the material allegations it contains."

I ask the hon. member to do that.

 

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, I respectfully say I’m trying my best to bring forward the concerns that people in this Province have with bulk water exports. The issue I am trying to bring forward is the state of confusion as it relates to the government’s policy on this issue. That is what has caused the concern out in the Province, that is what has caused the concern down in Grand Le Pierre, that is what has caused the concern on the South Coast.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member’s time is up.

 

MR. MANNING: It is a state of confusion that this government has put forward, Mr. Speaker.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Bellevue.

 

MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to stand for a few moments and clarify some of the things, or talk to this petition which I do not support. I do not support the petition. I think the petition was misrepresented as the Opposition members over the last period of time on this particular issue have passed out little tidbits of information about this particular project and this particular proposal.

The hon. Member for St. John’s South is going to save the water supplies of Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. BARRETT: The hon. Member for St. John’s South is going to save the water supplies. I would say that the hon. Member for St. John’s South has water on the brain. This government and this party over here represent the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. We do not represent inside the overpass, and I suggest that the hon. Member for St. John’s South sometimes should travel beyond the overpass to see how the other people live.

I did not see him in Fortune Bay during the public consultations that took place on the Gisborne Lake proposal. I did not see him in Fortune Bay or in the communities of Fortune Bay talking with the people who were affected. What we were talking about here was the bulk shipment of water. We are also talking about a bottling plant. We are also talking about a plant to make the bottles themselves. We are talking about 150 jobs in Fortune Bay in my district and I was elected to this House of Assembly to represent the views of my constituent. I have been elected here four times and I plan to come back. I represent the view of my constituents.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. BARRETT: We often heard the expression by those member on that side saying we are all a bunch of trained seals over here. The trained seals are not over here, they are over there.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. BARRETT: I can assure you there are no trained seals here.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. BARRETT: As long as I am elected to this House of Assembly, I will represent the views of my constituents.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Bellevue.

 

MR. BARRETT: We all realize that Canada has 20 per cent of the available water resource in this world. My stand will be proven right in the next ten or fifteen years. We will have no other alternative but to ship bulk water out of this Province. We will have no other choice but to ship bulk water out of this Province, or any other province in Canada for that matter.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. BARRETT: I do not care whose view it is. Look, I say to the hon. Member for Waterford Valley, whose view is it? It is my view. I was elected by the people of the District of Bellevue to present their views. One-third of my district is in favor of Gisborne Lake and two-thirds is against, but I represent the one-third. We talk about representing the minority. I also represent the minority. I’m not like the Member for Waterford Valley. I represent the constituents who put me here. I did not see the hon. members of the Opposition when there was a public consultation on the environmental assessment. They never showed their nose in Fortune Bay. They never showed their face in Fortune Bay. As to the critic on the environment, everybody in Grand Le Pierre were wondering where the Member for St. John’s South was. He was lost in the smokestacks in St. John’s. They could not find him. They said: Where is the Member for St. John’s South? We do not see him here. He is against this particular proposal.

It was your opportunity as part of the environmental assessment to have your say. No opposition members.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. BARRETT: I am not against the government. All the good things that are happening with this government, to be against this government? What I was doing was representing the views of my constituents and the people who elected me to represent their views.

The hon. the Member for Placentia & St. Mary’s -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member’s time is up.

 

Orders of the Day

 

 

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, before I call Second Reading of Order 2 of Bill 1, I had a conversation with the Opposition House Leader.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. TULK: Boy, you are an awful feisty bunch over there again today. Got a job to keep them down.

I understand -

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. TULK: I would ask you fellows to be quiet, if you don’t mind.

We have given notice of motion on a number of bills. I understand that we do have to have leave of the House in order to move to the next stage and the Opposition House Leader has given me the courtesy to do that so that we can pass out the bills. Some of them are not printed, but they are being printed this evening and will be delivered to the offices tomorrow morning, so that you can take Wednesday and get into the minute detail of this heavy legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to call them all together, if you do not mind. I would like to ask for first reading on all the bills that we gave notice of motion on today. Of course, the finance bills are some that have to go through committee and therefore you do not do first reading. Also, I would like to call, if I could, Mr. Speaker, Motion 1 on the Order Paper as well, Bill 9, which is the Securities Act.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Will the Chair take them individually or will we take them all together?

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Wilderness And The Ecological Reserve Act," carried. (Bill 30)

On motion, Bill 30 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour to introduce a bill, "An Act To Provide For The Conservation, Protection, Wise Use And Management Of The Water Resource Of The Province," carried. (Bill 31)

On motion, Bill 31 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the Minister of Health and Community Services to introduce a bill, "An Act To Revise The Administration Of Medical Care Insurance," carried. (Bill 26)

On motion, Bill 26 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Registered Nurses Act", carried. (Bill 27)

On motion, Bill 27 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy to introduce a bill, "An Act Respecting The Operation Of Mines And Mills In The Province", carried. (Bill 28)

On motion, Bill 28 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Coat Of Arms Act", carried. (Bill 29)

On motion, Bill 29 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Finance to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act, No. 2", carried. (Bill 32)

On motion, Bill 32 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Justice to introduce a bill, "An Act To Remove Anomalies And Errors In The Statute Law", carried. (Bill 24)

On motion, Bill 24 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Justice to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Queen’s Council Act", carried. (Bill 25)

On motion, Bill 25 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Securities Act", carried. (Bill 9)

On motion, Bill 9 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Motion 1. Just motion 1?

 

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I didn’t hear whether we did first reading on the MCP act? We did first reading on that, too?

 

MR. SPEAKER: Pardon me? I didn’t get what the hon. member was saying. Which bill was that?

 

MR. TULK: The MCP act. I don’t know what the official title is.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. TULK: We did it? Okay.

 

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

 

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, before I call Orders of the Day, I would like to inform hon. members that I think we have two or three resolutions on the Order Paper, but the resolution we are going to call tomorrow is the one by the Member for Terra Nova on the Gulf Ferry Service.

I call Order 2, "An Act To Revise The Law Respecting Apprenticeship And Occupational Certification". (Bill 1)

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Revise The Law Respecting Apprenticeship And Occupational Certification". (Bill 1)

 

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

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, the Apprenticeship Act was first revised in 1990, and since that time we have seen significant changes occur in this Province, particularly within the field of apprenticeship and certification.

If we look at what is happening in the economy today, Mr. Speaker, you can certainly see the need for major changes in this area. We know of what is happening on the oil and gas sector, that clearly we have to make sure that all of our regulations are there in a way that we can make sure, when people apply for accreditation, that they get the best training possible.

A review of the apprenticeship and training was conducted in 1995 to determine the relevance in light of today’s changing work. Stakeholders, as well as the provincial trades advisory committees throughout the Province, were consulted on a wide range of issues affecting the quality and efficiency of apprenticeship training.

The recommendations arising out of those consultations are documented in a report that was put together by Mervin Andrews, and that report was Apprenticeship Training: Now and the Future. The authority to implement the recommendations is provided for in the revised act.

There are two significant changes that we have to look at. First, the removal of all regulations governing apprenticeship training were taken out under regulatory reform and giving authority to the Provincial Apprenticeship Board to develop policies to achieve the same results. These policies can be amended to reflect changes in the training environment without having to require a change in the legislation.

Clearly, Mr. Speaker, when you look at what is happening in our environment in terms of the changes in the typical type of jobs that we have been doing in the past and the changes that we foresee for the future, it is going to be important to have that flexibility to work without having to come back to the Legislature all the time to upgrade or improve on the regulations.

Since a new act supports the establishment of an accreditation process with the Provincial Apprenticeship Board holding the accreditation and certification of authority, as an accreditation and certification authority, the board is responsible for the accreditation of all provincial apprenticeship training programs offered by private and public training institutions. Accredited apprenticeship programs ensure that the learner, industry, employers and the public that the programs meet or exceed educational industry standards established for those occupations.

The accreditation process provides an auditing mechanism for provincial apprenticeship training programs independent of the education system. Accreditation is a volunteer process and any training institutions wishing to offer apprenticeship training in Newfoundland and Labrador have the opportunity to have their apprenticeship programs accredited by the Provincial Apprenticeship Board.

Apprentices who exit from accredited programs will get full recognition and automatic credit transfer toward their apprenticeship program by the board. Apprentices who exit from non- accredited programs will be evaluated on an individual basis, but it is on a volunteer basis in terms of whether or not they seek accreditation.

The accreditation process is an industry driven process with members of the accreditation team coming from the business and industry sector volunteering their professional services to the apprenticeship board. To date, several programs have been fully accredited by the board and many others at various stages of accreditation.

The apprenticeship system must continue to be dynamic and responsive to the needs of the labour market. The new act provides the authority for the Provincial Apprenticeship Board to set the standards for training and monitoring the institutions and the industrial partners to ensure that they are being met.

New plans for training of apprenticeships and better documentation of competencies learned are just two of the initiatives taken by the board over the past several years to ensure a quality and well-trained work force for the future.

The idea here is to always be up-to-date with our regulations to try and make sure that as the focus on work changes, as we move from one set of rules to another, as we move from different employment opportunities to others, as we look at new employment opportunities that come into this Province, apart from the traditional opportunities, that we do our best to keep up with those and to ensure that the training that is required for those are offered, but it is competent training and it is something that we can be proud of and can ensure that those who have access to it and take advantage of it will, at the end of the day, be fully competent to take advantage of those employment opportunities.

Thank you.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. HEDDERSON: I join with the minister in commenting that this bill to revise the apprenticeship and occupational certification is indeed a very positive step and one that, if you go back to 1995, there was a fair bit of consultation throughout the Province with the stakeholders, enough that a report done up certainly clearly outlined the direction that should be taken into the next century.

Again the concern, perhaps, was that it has taken now, up until 1999, to get it implemented, which is a little bit worrisome. It has been, I understand, on the floor, I suppose, for the last year or so waiting to be passed.

With regard to the apprenticeship, again, we have a long history of apprenticeship in industry in general, and for this bill to continue this tradition is very important. What is particularly important is that it takes into account the job market out there, industry itself, and it is setting the standard of certification that is necessary.

Again, as to the implementation of the directions that are contained in this bill, the only concern that I would have is that they be implemented and they be implemented with the proper resources. It is fine to put a bill forward but it is absolutely imperative that the department, in this case the Department of Education, make sure that in its budget, or whatever, that what is said in the bill is indeed acted upon and that the resources are there to make sure that the intent of the bill is indeed carried out.

I join with the minister in moving this forward and moving it forward indeed in a very positive light.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

MR. SPEAKER (Smith): If the Minister of Education speaks now she will close the debate

The hon. the Minister of Education.

 

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to move second reading of this particular act.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Revise The Law Respecting Apprenticeship And Occupational Certification," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 1).

 

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

 

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Orders of the Day, Order 1, Address in Reply.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order 1, the Address in Reply, commonly known as the Speech from the Throne.

The hon. the Member for...

 

MR. TULK: Humber East.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Humber East.

Thank you, Government House Leader.

 

MR. MERCER: Mr. Speaker, we are going to have to get you a new list.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to have a few words to say on the Speech from the Thorne which was delivered in the spring. I do so with some trepidation because I am only going to talk about good, positive, solid things that have been happening in our Province over the last number of months. I know that the bunch on the other side, the members of the Opposition, do not like to hear good news. As a matter of fact - no, I will not say that, I will save that for another time.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Say what?

 

MR. MERCER: No, I will not say that. Mr. Speaker may not like what I had in mind.

I just want to say a few words today, particularly in relation to an article which was in the recent Globe and Mail - I’m sure no one on the other side has read this yet but I think they do need to be reminded - which said: The Rock’s on a roll. The Globe and Mail has said that based upon a number of indicators the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador has the hottest economy in the country.

I just wanted to say a few words about that because I know some members on the other side have not read this article. I will make reference to those in a little while. It seems that this particular review which was done by the Globe and Mail is a bi-annual affair.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. MERCER: Great friends of Newfoundland. They write nothing but positive things in The Globe and Mail. We can all take heart. When they write this kind of article we know that they are not saying anything -

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) there is only one crowd left, now, to get on side.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. MERCER: Who might that be?

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Over there.

 

MR. MERCER: They will never be on side.

They look at some seven indicators in the national economy and they do an evaluation of each province and come up with a bi-annual review of how each province is performing. It is quite interesting that in the October review The Globe and Mail reported - and this is probably news to some members, at least to one member of the Opposition I am sure it is news - that in five of these seven categories Newfoundland ranked number one and in the other two categories Newfoundland ranked third and second, respectively.

Now just to take a look at some of these indicators, I think it is worthwhile that we would take a look at our position relative to some of the other provinces in Canada. We are quite used to seeing the great Province of Ontario being always number one in whatever indicator you want to take. This time around the Province of Ontario, led by the grand PC government of Mike Harris, dropped a grand total of ten points and dropped out of first place entirely. Newfoundland, which has been perennially around the middle, towards the bottom, rose by an astounding eighteen points to come in at number one. In fact, we scored some sixty-seven points out of a grand total of eighty.

In second and third place - just to refresh the memory of some members opposite - were the neighboring provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, both, I might add, led by Tory governments. So as we can see, in the first four positions Newfoundland came in number one and the other three Tory provinces came in second, third and fourth. I don’t know if there is any connection between the party affiliations there, but if the members of the other side think this is what Newfoundland is destined for, a Tory government, I don’t think these types of indicators would indicate that that is the way we should be looking.

Just taking a look at some of these categories, for argument’s sake in the area of employment, in the last six months The Globe and Mail reports that we grew at the rate of 2.9 per cent, faster than anywhere else in the country. We were told today by the Minister of Finance when he was delivering his good news on income tax reduction that in Newfoundland, over the last twelve months, there has been some 10,500 more people employed than there was last year, an increase of some 5.3 per cent. This is tremendous news in terms of the employment. We now have the largest number of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that work in our Province than at any time before in our history. So that is very good news and clearly we led the country in terms of employment growth.

In terms of the wholesale trade, The Globe and Mail reported that we were up some 13.7 per cent, leading the country. The next highest province was the Province of Nova Scotia at around 9.9 per cent. In the area of manufacture shipments, largely fueled by a buoyant pulp and paper industry, by a saw milling industry and by the fishery of today, the fishery of crab and shrimp, we were reporting manufacturing shipments up a staggering 15.1 per cent. The province closest to Newfoundland in that particular category was Nova Scotia at 5.1 per cent.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Where did you get those figures?

 

MR. MERCER: Out of your favorite newspaper, The Globe and Mail.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Where do you get all your questions?

 

MR. MERCER: The Globe and Mail. Same answer.

Mr. Speaker, these are a couple of the categories. Another one here, for argument’s sake, is capital spending. I will get into that and make some concrete examples in a few minutes. There was a 29.2 per cent increase in the last six months, four times the national average. Clearly, something is happening to the Newfoundland economy. Clearly, as The Globe and Mail has said in this particular article, we are leaving every other province in our dust.

Now to the areas which we came second and third in. We came in number two in housing, but if you look at the record there you will find that we came in at a staggering 32.1 per cent increase in housing starts in the Province in the second six months of this fiscal year.

In respect to retail trade, which has been spoken of before, they found that we were up 4.6 per cent. As the Minister of Finance just recently told us in his statement dealing with the tax reduction, for the first eight months of the year that figure can be operated to something in the order of 6.8 per cent.

In addition to those, quite apart from these indicators, there is another indicator which is traditionally used as an indication that the economy is moving, it is buoyant, people are out spending, and that is dealing with the sale of motor vehicles. Again, as the Minister of Finance just alluded to in his speech, in the Province of Newfoundland we are up some 13.1 per cent in the purchase of new vehicles in this Province. These are all very good numbers and it augurs very well for the economy of Newfoundland and where we are heading.

Now, during the period when the Minister was making his comments dealing with the income tax reduction the members on the other side deemed not to listen. They laughed at one another, they winked, they nodded, but they were not really listening. I suspect that is a large part of their problem. They are not listening to what is happening, they are not seeing what is happening out there in the economy, and they continue to come in here day after day with every dark story that they can find. Purveyors of doom and gloom. That is all we hear from them, day in, day out.

At the same time, we have the national banks saying - the TD Bank, for argument’s sake, continues to say that we will lead the country in GDP growth which I am sure everyone on the other side would indicate is a reasonable measure. It is not the absolute measure, but it is a good measure of growth. All these institutions are saying that Newfoundland’s economy is on fire, we are moving in the right direction. We are not like a former member of the staff of the former government, Premier Peckford I believe his name was. I do not recall his advisor, but he was so afraid that by the infusion of capital into the Province by the development of the offshore, that we would overheat the economy. He was afraid of that. He did everything in his power to dissuade the government of the day from getting involved with signing an offshore deal. He was afraid the economy was going to overheat, afraid that the economy was going to catch on fire and that some people were going to actually get a job and go to work.

That is the record and the legacy of the members opposite. That is the legacy of the party opposite. They did not want to see the economy become overheated. Members on this side, or at least this member, would like to see some heat in the economy; would like to see some more investment, would like to see some more jobs being created. I would like to see it so hot that every volunteer fire department in this Province would have to be called out to quench the flames. Yes, we are proud of the way our economy is moving. We think this is the way it has to be.

I said at the beginning that perhaps all members of the Opposition had not read this article. I am sure that must have picked up a smattering of information along the way, but I think it was a day, maybe two days, after The Globe and Mail had made its report that I tuned into the open line show. I believe it was the morning show with Bill Rowe. It is not a show that I listen to a lot because there is a lot of negativity there, and a lot of the members from the Opposition call in and they bellyache about this and that. So it is not a show that I listen a lot to, but this morning I was glad I listened.

Because I believe the hon. Member for St. John’s West called in to have a few comments about this particular article in The Globe and Mail, and how she really could not understand how the Premier could go around -

 

AN HON. MEMBER: What member was that?

 

MR. MERCER: The Member for St. John’s West. Not east, north or south, but the Member for St. John’s West. The Member for St. John’s West expressed to Bill that perhaps the Premier was being a little bit too rosy in painting the picture of the economic growth in the Province. Perhaps The Globe and Mail had it all out of context. The interesting thing, Mr. Speaker, was that as Mr. Rowe asked her a couple of questions she admitted she had not read the article. She had not read the article, so this kind of perplexed the moderator of the open line show and he asked her a few questions. It was very clear that she had absolutely no knowledge of what was contained in the article.

As the conversation developed, Mr. Rowe at the time asked to the Member for St. John’s West: Would you concede that perhaps we are about ready to turn a corner? Would we be about ready to turn a corner, one of those corners we have always heard about in Newfoundland? Prosperity is around the corner. No, she was not quite prepared to admit that we were about ready to turn the corner. As a matter of fact, she was not even ready to admit that the corner was anywhere in site. This is the kind of informed comments from members of the Opposition when they get on the public airways.

It does not take a great deal of time or knowhow to read an article that is in The Globe and Mail. It is available on every newsstand. It is available in all the local drugstores and so on in this great City of St. John’s, I am sure. But to get on the open line and to talk about how negative things were in the Province, and to say all things on an article that she had not even read a word of?

Anyway, about that time I had to stop the car and go into a store. When I came out there was a local businessman from the grand City of St. John’s. Even though I had missed maybe two or three minutes of the show, it was quite clear to me that he was taking the Member from St. John’s West to task for having come on the open line show, having stated ill-informed opinions, opinions which were not based on fact, and to have admitted that she, in fact, had not read the article. If the hon. Member for St. John’s West has not read the article, all she has to do is give me a call. I have lots of copies on my desk. I’m quite sure we can send her over a copy, and if necessary we will send her an audio tape where she will not necessarily have to read.

 

The Globe and Mail report, I believe, was good news. It was unbiased reporting, because The Globe and Mail, as has been said here many times, is no friend to Newfoundland and Labrador, no friend at all.

I have heard members of the Opposition say: Yes, the indications are good, the indicators are pointing in the right direction, but what about my community? What about all the phone calls I’m receiving: Got no jobs? I heard that here this evening.

No one on this side is suggesting that all across the Province these things being reported by The Globe and Mail and all the indicators are evenly distributed. As a matter of fact, if it was, it would be very ironic. The economic growth in this Province is not evenly distributed. Anyone who would try to suggest otherwise is really not well informed. It is someone who really does not understand the nature of economic development.

We all know, for argument’s sake, that things in Englee are not as they are in St. John’s, or in Bird Cove, or in any other place on the northeast coast, Fleur de Lys for one. Corner Brook could certainly do with a massive infusion of economic growth which it does not have at this time.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. MERCER: Pasadena is doing very well, sir, thank you very much, and it will hopefully do well as it takes advantage of this economic recovery that is going on.

Mr. Speaker, to suggest that anyone on this side - when we talk about the indicators pointing in a positive direction - for anyone to suggest that we are somehow implying that from all communities in the district, from Catalina to King’s Cove to Bonavista to any of the other communities on the peninsula up the northeast coast are all sharing in this growth, you know, no one is implying that, no one is saying that. I think it is somewhat intellectually dishonest to even imply that that is what these indicators are saying.

Having said that I do not profess to have spent a lot of time in the City of St. John’s. Quite to the contrary. I spend most of my time in my district. On occasion this summer I did have to come in and I must say I did wander around the grand city and I did take a look at what was happening in here. In relative terms, what is happening in St. John’s is nothing short of a booming economy. You do not have to look very far. You look at the Holiday Inn just down the street and you will find there are an extra two stories going on. I do not know what the cost of that is. Maybe in the tens of millions of dollars.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. MERCER: The Holiday Inn.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) eight million dollars.

 

MR. MERCER: Eight million dollars, all private sector money, no government money to the best of my knowledge.

Up on the hill you have I believe it is called Chancellor Park there on Portugal Cove Road, a major expansion. All private sector development. There may be some government monies in it but in most projects there are, but it is a private sector led initiative. Go down on Elizabeth Avenue and go by the Canadian Tire. A few weeks ago the stores down there were being knocked down and what do I hear today?

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. MERCER: Is it a story that should be told?

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. MERCER: The time will come when we will be able to tell some more details. The fact of the matter is that there is a major expansion going on at the Canadian Tire store on Elizabeth Avenue. The Government House Leader just tells me that there are six new hotels being planned all across the Province, six new hotels being built.

In addition to that, I was up to the Avalon Mall this summer and I was trying to understand what was going on, what was all this construction about, and I was told there were some twelve to fourteen theatres - a place to go and watch a movie - being built, all in the grand and historic District of St. John’s North, Mr. Speaker.

In addition to that, at the airport, you cannot come into St. John’s until you run headlong into a mishmash in there. Traffic is going everywhere, traffic is intermingling with construction and carpentry work, all signs of economic growth. I am told that up on Kenmount Road a new book store, Chapters - I have seen them on the mainland; this will be the first in Newfoundland - is slated for construction. You go out to Clovelly and there is all kinds of development. St. John’s is a booming economy.

A few weeks ago I sat down to a dinner. I was speaking with some members from HRDC and I happened to express the opinion that in St. John’s the unemployment rate was probably around 9 or 9.5 per cent. He said: Excuse me, it is now close to 8 per cent. Eight per cent unemployment in the grand city of St. John’s. Obviously the City of St. John’s is certainly on the receiving end of a great deal of these economic indicators. It may not be in Fleur de Lys, it may not be in Cox’s Cove, but it is happening and it will ripple outward.

A good friend of mine from Pasadena who works with Newtel had spent his entire summer in St. John’s. I was somewhat perplexed to understand why he had spent all of his summertime in St. John’s. The answer he gave me was very simple. The number of people that Newtel had on staff to do their normal installation type of work were all used up, installing telephones and telephone lines and whatever other equipment they install, and that there were no people in St. John’s able to install this equipment in the new buildings being constructed. Consequently, my friend, together with a group of other people from across the Province, was called into St. John’s. They were here the entire summer doing work that would normally have been done by regular staff.

So let no one from the grand City of St. John’s suggest directly, indirectly or any other way that the economy in St. John’s is not leaving the rest of the Province in its dust. If The Globe and Mail can say that Newfoundland is leaving the rest of the provinces in Canada in its dust, we can say at this point in time that St. John’s is doing likewise to the rest of the Province.

These are all good, positive signs that things are happening but they are not wholly confined to the grand City of St. John’s and to the Avalon Peninsula. When I go out around the bay, out into Conception Bay, out to Bay Roberts, and see the new shipping terminal being built - and every time I go out I see at least two or three oceangoing trawlers coming in offloading their cargos of fish and shrimp for transshipment - everywhere I go in the Conception Bay area I see progress.

If you went up into the St. Anthony area, an area which I am proud to say I have a daughter-in-law and -

 

MR. TULK: A beautiful daughter-in-law.

 

MR. MERCER: Yes, and a beautiful daughter-in-law she is.

 

MR. TULK: She has a great father too.

 

MR. MERCER: And a grandfather (inaudible). Mr. Speaker, the economy in that part of the Province is booming. It is absolutely positive.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

 

MR. MERCER: In St. Anthony the economy all this summer has been booming. In Quirpon, everyone who wanted a job had a job. I cannot say that about every community on the Northern Peninsula because it would not be true but there are parts in this community where things are going very well.

As well, down in the Bonavista North area - I don’t know what Peter Fenwick has called it but he called it some triangle of economic growth.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. MERCER: Pardon?

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. MERCER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. Leader of the Opposition said: What about Humber East? Not as well as the St. John’s area, but I will tell you, the Atlantic Gypsum plant in Corner Brook used to be very proud of being able to have twelve to fourteen weeks of work a year for its entire staff. That was where it was before the Lafarge company came in. Right now they have spent upwards of $12 million on renovating the entire structure. They have four full-time shifts on, twenty-four a day operation, seven days a week. They cannot get enough tractor-trailers to take all the material over to Port aux Basques and when they do get there they run into an inadequate ferry service. So yes, things are happening in the grand and historic District of Humber East. It is not enough but we are starting to find and take some benefit from some of these developments.

Having said all of that, what is happening in the grand and noble City of St. John’s and in the Conception Bay area together, I was somewhat surprised recently when I was reading an article in a Robinson-Blackmore paper, The Compass, one that I read from time to time because I like to keep track of what is going on at home, who is married to who and so forth. It was about the time of our convention in Gander. I believe the hon. the Leader of the Opposition and his friend for Conception Bay South were out to some kind of a convention or some kind of a Tory get-together and they had a little chat about a few things. The hon. the Leader of the Opposition made some reference to the fact that we really had not elected a government in Newfoundland back in February, we had elected a PR firm. I believe the Leader of the Opposition said at the time, as he drove around, that: The Tobin government has been painting such a rosy picture of the economy I expected to see help wanted signs everywhere I went.

Mr. Speaker, let’s talk about help wanted signs. If you go around the City of St. John’s and you look into the stores you will see help wanted signs everywhere you want to look.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) $15 an hour.

 

MR. MERCER: It does not make any difference. Time was, not so very long ago, when there would be lineups for $6 an hour jobs, Mr. Speaker.

As I was going to the airport a few weeks ago in a taxi we were talking about this with the taxi driver, a gentlemen who I never met before in my life. We were talking about the number of jobs in and around the City of St. John’s. What did he say to me? He said to me that in the Tim Horton’s establishment on the corner of Higgins Line and Portugal Cove Road - and again it is not the $15 or $20 an hour jobs, I will admit that - there was a time this summer when that store had to close down in the evenings because they could not find people to go to work. I would say to the hon. Leader of the Opposition that if he wants to find help wanted signs, look around the city, he will find lots of them around the grand city.

I just have a few more words to say because I suspect my time is getting pretty close to the line. We have had the Member for St. John’s West not even reading The Globe and Mail, getting on the open line show and making comments about things which he knows nothing of. We have the Leader of the Opposition out in Conception Bay looking for the help wanted signs when he just came from the grand city where everywhere you wanted to look you could find all kinds of help wanted signs. I am not so sure that the members of the Opposition really understand, or are they looking to see what the heck is going on in this Province. As The Globe and Mail has told us, we are leading the nation, we are leaving the other provinces in our dust.

This is not a flash in the pan, this is not the end of it.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) everywhere, (inaudible).

 

MR. MERCER: Mr. `Gisborne Lake,’ your day will come, and I will speak to you in due course with great pleasure.

Mr. Speaker, let’s talk about some of the things that are happening on the offshore. Everyone knows about what is happening on the offshore. Hibernia is pumping oil at record levels. Terra Nova is coming on-line. I know that the hon. Member for Placentia & St. Mary’s cannot take the good news. The crucifix is up. Dracula is leaving the building.

Whiterose, we heard just the other day, is not just one field, it is two fields. We not only have oil out there, we have massive amounts of gas. We have gas in the same amounts as we have in Sable Island. What does that mean? The proponents are now talking about developing the gas on the Grand Banks. Once the gas comes ashore the petrochemical industry will not be far behind.

In addition to that, on land at Port au Port, the much maligned Port au Port, where unemployment rates are very high, we are now talking about an on-land development for oil. I do not know about the gas, but certainly about oil. I would say from my own limited knowledge of the oil and gas industry that development on the Port au Port Peninsula, as small as it may be relative to the Grand Banks, will probably have a greater impact upon employment opportunities and the social conditions on that peninsula than all of the oil on the Grand Banks. I would say that we are looking forward to grand things in the oil and the gas industry.

Mr. Speaker, what about the Lower Churchill? Things are moving along -

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Do they have water down there?

 

MR. MERCER: It is all going to the sea, just like a Gisborne Lake, flowing into the sea, becoming nothing but briny water.

Mr. Speaker, I will leave that to another day for the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy to update us on what is happening on the Lower Churchill. Again, I am sure it is going to be nothing but positive news. It is going to be good news and it is going to make these people on the other side squirm away looking for the dark corners in which to hide from the sun because they cannot stomach the good news which is coming forward.

Mr. Speaker, Voisey’s Bay. The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member’s time is up.

 

MR. MERCER: By leave, Mr. Speaker? A few minutes to clue up?

 

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

 

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

 

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

 

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

I certainly am going to have a few comments today. I did not plan to; my voice is not full yet from recovering from the flu, but I am going to have a few words because the Member for Humber East inspired me to speak today.

The first thing I had to correct here in my notes - I was not sure if the Member was from Humber East or if he was from St. John’s East, because for the twenty or twenty-five minutes that he spoke - and I am sure Hansard will show it - the member who does not get up a lot in the House, he has been up a scattered time in the House, out of the twenty or twenty-five minutes, the Member for Humber East talked about St. John’s North. The minister even shakes his head in agreement - it is right - because the Member for Humber East was getting up the whole time and talking about St. John’s East, and how excited he was about Holiday Inn, up the road from the Confederation Building, and how excited he was about the theater that is being built at the Avalon Mall.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. SHELLEY: What is it?

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Chancellor Park.

 

MR. SHELLEY: Chancellor Park, and how excited he was about that.

I can tell you today that I will stand for my district of Baie Verte and say I am not that excited about that, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased for them, and I am glad for anybody in business who gets ahead, but I am certainly not going to take the time to talk about St. John’s East or St. John’s North, or anything else.

Personally, I am surprised that the Member for Humber East gets up - the very rare time that he does get up - and spends over half his time, maybe three-quarters of his time, talking about St. John’s East as opposed to Humber East. The other thing is, the Member for Humber East - I do not know if his new job will be paper carrier for The Globe and Mail because today The Globe and Mail is great. I can recall many times in this House when his leader and many other members of his Party and members of this Party have gotten up and not said so many good things about The Globe and Mail. It was the paper of Central Canada, and a lot of times it was calling down Newfoundlanders and our achievements. That is what many of them have said over time. It is all in Hansard -

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. SHELLEY: The Member for Fogo is absolutely right.

All of a sudden it is all great, and that ‘the Rock is on a roll’ I think is the thing he used. I don’t have a problem with any of that. I am glad when I am traveling anywhere in this country and I hear a national paper say something good about Newfoundland. We are all proud of that, Newfoundland and Labrador and the developments in this Province.

What I am surprised about is the convenience of how the member used The Globe and Mail. It is okay today because it supports his whole theory of what he spoke on for twenty minutes. It is about the good news review.

Now I want to talk about the good news review. I have been known publically and I have said it on radio stations, local papers and so on, when there is something positive I talk about it. I talk about it in my paper, and if anybody wants to dispute that you can check anytime. You can check Hansard -

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. SHELLEY: Oh, I am sure it will. I hope the Baie Verte district, the district of Baie Verte-White Bay, or Baie Verte-Green Bay, which it should be called today, will come around. None of us will be in this House or running for political life if we did not have hope of something happening in our districts.

I hope and pray to God that every member here who has been - yes, like a former Premier once said: Once you get elected, a man goes to get re-elected. I hope somewhere in that thought that one of our goals in that the place where we are elected we can see an improvement in the way of life there. That was my whole basis of running in politics in the beginning. Maybe there are all kinds of other things that get mixed in there.

Generally, I really believe that genuinely every member in this House has the bottom premise to their goal of being in politics is to improve the place they live in. That should be it. There is no doubt about it, it was a good news story. In my district I certainly talk about it, and I commend the company, whoever it is, that is providing one jobs, or five jobs, or ten jobs. Even the Minister of Rural Renewal knows that, who was in my district recently about the achievements of the sawmill industry in my district which we all worked very hard on, including with the minister, and I say that here today and I have said that many times before. When a minister needs to be commended if he is doing good work, he so should be that, commended for it, but there is also a time when we always get dubbed with this thing about: the Opposition are always critical and the government is always positive. Well, that is life. That is political life. When the shoe is on the other foot - and, of course, the best example I have ever known in my life was the now sitting Premier when he was in Opposition. That is what he was very good at.

It is a funny one that comes to mind when I think about that. It was the free trade. Even today’s paper talked about free trade and now world trade and how it is going to affect. I remember, as a younger boy, when the now Premier was running for the Member for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte, when the Premier of the day - and I do not have the exact date of The Western Star but I remember it very well -

 

AN HON. MEMBER: That was a long time ago.

 

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, it was a long time ago, free trade. I said I was a young boy, I say to the member.

The now Premier, who was running for the member at the time, came out smashing the free trade all to pieces, and I remember him being in a seniors home in Corner Brook. I remember the paper, and I remember reading the article, where the Premier said to the seniors at the time: If you vote for the Progressive Conservative Party federally this time and free trade comes in, your medical care plan is in danger, all your social programs are gone, you are all finished. You might as well pack it up. You are all finished, Mr. Speaker.

Of course, the now Premier and his government in Ottawa today are riding on that very policy, free trade. Now it is a great thing. That is just an example of the political game that goes on, and as you sit in Opposition or as you sit in government you play that game every day.

I want to get to a very serious point of today, and it even comes right down to today. As a matter of fact, myself and my colleague from Ferryland were just speaking about it. Today alone, as I stacked the messages here on my desk - I just came down from my office before the House opened and my assistant was giving me more and more messages. I know the Member for Twillingate & Fogo was doing the same thing - of people who are looking for work. I am going to tell you that the timing is getting critical and there are two points I want to make.

First of all, because the hours that they worked last year, most of my calls today, ‘I got a week left. I got two weeks left.’ Here is what fueled it all, and it is something I am going to talk on more in this House of Assembly today, the timing. The Minister of Municipal Affairs and the provincial government recently helped out a little bit, a very little bit. I wish it could be more, and I am sure the minister wishes it could be more, in short-term job creation which we try to use and do the best with.

The rural members especially know, when you are told to take $30,000 or $40,000 or $50,000 if you are lucky, and go around to thirty-three - the Member for Bonavista, forty-four - communities and try to tell them...

Do you know what stirred it all up, Mr. Speaker? All the members know over there because they are getting the same calls. I am going to guess on it but I am pretty sure of it. Do you know what stirred it up? Our federal minister. You saw a story in the paper the other day. I had a call from a mayor in my own district who happens to overlap into the minister’s district, the federal district, and he said he was here two months ago - the hon. George Baker was here two months ago - arms flying, smashing the table: You will all be to work in two weeks. Don’t worry about it, you are all going to be to work in two weeks. This is two months later.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

Yes, pointing the fingers, arms waving, hands going this way, hands going this way: You will all be to work in two weeks.

That is what is igniting the whole problem today, that all these people went through that whole motion, and now we have the problem in my district and in a lot of districts around the Province where people are calling me and saying: But, Paul, Mr. Baker told us in two weeks we would all be working. He told us two months ago we were going to be working within two weeks.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. SHELLEY: Not yet. I am warming up now.

Mr. Speaker, that is what is going on. Yes, it is nice to talk about the good news review, and if there is a positive announcement in my district tomorrow I will be there and I will commend the minister if he did a good job on it, and I will talk about the good things, but I am also going to live with the reality, too, that the people around this Province who were lucky enough to get on make-work projects - because you can name it what you like; you can name it FRAM or all kinds of things - it was a make-work project by the provincial and federal governments, while the good news review, and why it is so tough on these people - the people who called me today say they have one week left, or two weeks left, with two or three or four children that they are staring at, they are worried.

When they hear this every day, that the Hibernia oil is flowing and it looks like there is a big announcement on Voisey’s Bay, and that the Rock is rolling in The Globe and Mail, they don’t read that in The Globe and Mail because they cannot afford to buy The Globe and Mail. They do not see The Globe and Mail. They are lucky if they see their own local papers. The truth is that around this Province, in rural Newfoundland and Labrador - and I mean rural Newfoundland; I don’t mean Grand Falls, Gander and Corner Brook, I mean rural Newfoundland - the small communities around this Province, they are not the ones seeing the boom. It has been accelerated and ignited by our own federal minister now in government who is causing a lot of problems around my district, because it is his district. My provincial district overlaps into the minister’s district. He is out there telling them: Don’t worry about it, it is going to flow.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: What are the unemployment figures?

 

MR. SHELLEY: The unemployment figures in my particular district or in his riding?

 

AN HON. MEMBER: In your district.

 

MR. SHELLEY: In my district, it is not - I cannot give you the exact numbers. I don’t like giving them unless I know the current amount.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Eighteen and nineteen per cent.

 

MR. SHELLEY: Eighteen and nineteen per cent in the Green Bay part of it, and it is worse in some other parts of it. But there are some things that are possible to work.

The minister wasn’t listening a few minutes ago when I did say that the sawmill industry - I took it for an example - has gotten a little boost and moved in the right direction. The minister knows, because he was there, and I commended that initiative. We do that all the time. I will work with any minister any day, any colleague or anybody else, if it is going to create one job, two jobs or three jobs.

The other reality is that all of those people who were lucky enough last year to get on a make- work project are at the end of the time again. It is not something we all love. We all know it is not the answer to do another make-work project. We don’t like that. I don’t like it.

I know the members around here hate it when you have to go divvy up money to try and get two or three people work for four and five weeks. I hate doing it. I can’t stand it. I wish I never had to do it. You get people fighting with each other. You get relatives fighting with each other because they have to get on a project. Nobody wants to do that. I hope there is going to come a day in this Province when we never, ever have to get up in this House and ask for a make-work project from provincial or federal government.

That is why, when we get our own federal minister going around with a yahoo every time he stands up and stands in front of ten, fifteen or twenty people, he is always telling them how great it is going to be. It is going to be okay next week. Don’t worry about it.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Who?

 

MR. SHELLEY: The hon. George is who I am talking about, Mr. Baker.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. SHELLEY: You won’t fix anything.

Ask Mr. Baker to come down with them; he will fix it all. He was down in my district. Like I said, that overlaps into my provincial district and that is the problem, slamming the fist on the table, waving his hands, telling everybody to not worry about it, and then he leaves it all behind for the provincial members to cover. He leaves it all behind for the provincial members to take care of, but he knows that he can’t deliver on it. He doesn’t mind saying it because he is on the plane and back to Ottawa. He doesn’t have to worry about how we are going to respond to it. He is going to take care of it himself. That is what it is all about.

All the jobs that he is promising around this Province, all the money that is going to flow, all the new money that he found in ACOA, all of a sudden he comes up with an extra $30 million that he happened to find, that Mr. Mifflin did not use or ACOA did not use. He is coming up with all kinds of funding all of a sudden. It is like the Happy Tree; he is going plucking money off the tree. Well, that doesn’t help anybody.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. SHELLEY: That might be the joke but the sincere part about it is that these people, when he leaves their community, they are all up and buoyant. They are all walking around saying: That’s great. The minister told us that. That must be true. We are going to be working next week. But it does not happen, Mr. Speaker.

 

MR. TULK: Paul, you are a colossal bluff.

 

MR. SHELLEY: Do you have that recorded, Mr. Speaker? Is that alright or what?

 

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair has recognized the hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

 

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, the House Leader can call me what he wants. I am not as big a bluff as he is. I am not a colossal bluff.

Anyway, if the minister agrees, maybe he should get up and speak on this debate some time and tell me if I am wrong. Tell me that I am wrong, that the federal minister is not going around this Province promising everybody they are going to be working in a week or two weeks and maybe he will get some of those calls that we are getting from the people who are looking for a couple - there might be only two people in your district but if there are two, George Baker told them they are going to work next week. If it is ten, they are going to work next week.

 

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

 

MR. SHELLEY: Well, you have to tell it like it is. George Baker always said: Now, make sure you tell it like it is. Mr. Baker said: Make sure you tell it like it is. You should talk to him yourself.

 

MR. TULK: The Berlin Wall would still be up.

 

MR. SHELLEY: Absolutely. Now they are getting excited, Mr. Speaker. It is working again. They are getting excited again.

Anyway, that is the problem. If you had been listening to everything I said you would have understood it but you don’t understand it. The House Leader did not understand it. He does not listen. He is not very good at listening. He likes to say it all but he does not like to listen.

Now I would like for the minister to stand - I can sit down and give him some time - and tell me what he thinks about Mr. Baker and about all the announcements he is making to all these mayors - the mayors that called me and wrote me today - and talk about all the great jobs he is going to create in a very short time.

 

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) Santa Claus.

 

MR. SHELLEY: Santa Claus is here early.

The truth is that all the good news review and everything else does not trickle down quite as fast as the Member for Humber East was talking about. It is not trickling down to rural Newfoundland and Labrador. It is not trickling down to rural Newfoundland and Labrador as fast as everybody seems to think, or some people seem to think.

At the end of the day we make all the jokes we want back and forth in this House of Assembly but there is still a man or woman sitting in Newfoundland or Labrador who is waiting for a call from HRDC or ACOA to tell them they are going to work on a project. You can skate it, chalk it up and write it anyway you want but that is what they are waiting for. They are waiting for a call from the HRDC office telling them they are on a project up the road.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. SHELLEY: I will have to use that later.

 

MR. SULLIVAN: He has another fifteen minutes.

 

MR. SHELLEY: Yes, I will use my next twelve minutes to finish, Mr. Speaker.

It is something that this Province, at this time of the year again - it seems like it always comes at about this time of the year for a simple reason that at this time of the year is when the people in this Province run out of unemployment because of the project they were on the year before. That is the reality of it. People can say what they like.

 

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) see your profile.

 

MR. SHELLEY: It is no trouble to see your profile side on, I say to the Government House Leader.

That is what he is trying to skate around. That is what the minister doesn’t like to talk about. He doesn’t like to talk about the fellow who cannot get work. That is his problem.

 

MR. J. BYRNE: He doesn’t like to hear the truth.

 

MR. SHELLEY: He doesn’t like to hear the truth. He does not like to face up to reality. He would rather come into the House of Assembly, in this little glass dome we have here, this bubble we are in, and look from the inside out. He does not like to be out in the areas, in the real world, in rural Newfoundland and Labrador where people are not reading The Globe and Mail and talking about GDP. A lot of them do not like to talk about the GDP. They do not like to look at The Globe and Mail because they do not see it; they cannot afford to buy it. They do not like it. All of a sudden The Globe and Mail is a great thing.

Then we talked about the natural resources of this Province, and how they can benefit us down the road. We have some very interesting decisions that are going to be made by this government on Voisey’s Bay, Churchill Falls, Gisborne Lake, and all of those in the short term. We are going to see if, at the end of the day, they benefit Newfoundland and Labrador to its fullest or are they going to benefit other provinces like we saw recently in Labrador West when now we have I don’t know how many people employed - maybe the member for Labrador West knows - how many people are employed in Sept-Iles, Quebec, because of pelletizing in Sept-Iles, Quebec. I wonder how many people are working in Quebec today because of a decision -

 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MR. SHELLEY: If the minister had been listening, I talked about it twice already, but he was not listening. He has a hard time listening. He is talking too much to listen. He has to listen more. The sawmill was a good thing, I say, Mr. Speaker.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: He is getting deaf.

 

MR. SHELLEY: He has gone deaf.

As to the national resources in this Province and the benefits to this Province, we are going to see in the next little while when the decisions come out on Voisey’s Bay if we are going to have the thousands of jobs in the Argentia area that he talked about. We are going to see at the end of the day that those jobs benefit people in this Province as opposed to outside this Province.

That is the type of thing that we will be talking about in this session of the House. There are many issues that we will be bringing to the forefront, especially today as we started and saw already my colleague from Ferryland, on many questions on the health care system in this Province. People are still asking about it. I wonder if that is going to part of the good news, that the improvement that we are going to see with all of these benefits - I guess that is the main question that people are asking in the Province. It would be: Okay, if the news is great and if we are really back on track and the government’s budget is on target, then are we going to see the improvements in health care? That is the first question they ask.

The second question is: Are we going to see the improvements that we were promised in education reform when we went through a hard, long process? A lot of people went through a lot of pain, a lot of problems, around this Province. We are going to wonder - and the Member for Harbour Main-Whitbourne brings those questions to the forefront on behalf of people all around this Province - is education reform really happening in this Province? Those are the questions that the people are going to be asking. If the news is so good then we are going to have to find out.

Mr. Speaker, for today I will adjourn debate.

 

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

 

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that we call it at 5:00 p.m. and that the House adjourn until tomorrow at 2:00 p.m., at which time we will discuss the Member for Terra Nova’s private member’s resolution on the Gulf ferry. I know, just as sure as I am sitting here, that there is going to be unanimous consent for us to put forward that resolution.

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