December 13, 1999 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS Vol. XLIV No. 51

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased today to read a statement that stands in the name of the hon. the Premier.

Sir Robert Bond stood in the Colonial Building to announce the construction of the Newfoundland Museum in 1905. It was in 1955 that the hon. Joey Smallwood stood in our former House of Assembly to announce the creation of the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador. It was in 1961 that he stood in the same House of Assembly to announce the creation of the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador.

It is mindful of these historic precedents that I am proud to stand in this House today to announce that, a full ninety-four years after the first announcement and thirty-eight years after the last, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador will construct a new facility to house our three heritage institutions: the Newfoundland Museum, the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: This new building will be constructed at a cost of $40 million and will be financed by the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It will be a state-of-the-art facility which will draw upon the latest technology, while its architecture will be rooted in our vernacular. We have decided to call the building The Rooms in order to reflect the tradition of building our fishing structures close to the water, close to the resources which has sustained Newfoundland and Labrador for centuries.

Mr. Speaker, the existing buildings which house our three institutions are no longer adequate to store and exhibit our heritage treasures. Many of these structures were built prior to the development of modern museum standards and others were never built to serve as heritage institutions. This is placing our natural specimens, our material artifacts, our archival documents, our films and photographs and our work of art in danger of deterioration and loss. This is cheating the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador. They deserve to have these treasures preserved for their children and their grandchildren. They deserve to be better able to enjoy these treasures today.

That is why we have taken this bold step to consolidate all these three heritage institutions into one building. This building will be constructed at Fort Townsend in St. John's on the site of the former military fort. I will draw your attention to one outstanding feature, among many others, and that is the building will have an archaeological dig taking place inside, even after the building is constructed, making it a rare and unique museum in North America for this type of archaeological program.

I would like to offer a special thank you to the Advisory Committee on Cultural Infrastructure, co-chairs Mary Pratt and Robert Jenkins and their dedicated team including Wayne Trask, Dr. Phil Warren, Art May, Robert Thompson, Clyde Granter, and Aileen O'Rafferty. This group consulted widely with the cultural community of this Province and developed the proposal we are announcing today.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are justly proud of their cultural heritage, be they descendants of the Innu, Inuit, Mi'Kmaq, English, French, Irish, Scottish or any other ancestors. What we have in this Province is unique and deserves to be preserved for future generations. It also deserves to be better displayed for our own enjoyment and for the enjoyment of visitors to this Province. We are therefore very proud to continue the tradition begun by Sir Robert Bond and continued by Joey Smallwood of ensuring that we do not forget whence we came, so that we may face the world in full confidence.

This is indeed an historic occasion, and I am certain that all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will rejoice at this announcement.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

This initiative by government today has been some time coming. It was debated when the member who I am looking at right now was the Minister of Tourism and Culture, when the Minister of Mines and Energy was the Minister of Tourism and Culture, and it is something that was committed to and promised to the people of the Province some seven to eight years ago.

I want to congratulate government in this context. There is no question that any society that does not put emphasis on not only its cultural heritage in terms of the past, its present but also its future, is doomed to be lost. The initiative today hopefully will go a long way in putting the infrastructure in place to capitalize on the growing cultural industry and what it will mean in economic terms, job spinoffs, et cetera for the Province.

We have to do more than build buildings. Within our education institutions themselves, we have to begin to start teaching about our culture within the classroom, I say, Mr. Speaker -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: - something that we are sadly lacking in today. We have bought into, as a Province, and government has bought into, as a government, the notion of an Atlantic Canadian curriculum, and to some extent that is very, ery important - within the sciences, math, biology, chemistry, et cetera - but there is no culture in Canada as old as ours, as unique as ours, or has the ability to promote itself better than ours. Unless we recognize that in our everyday living within our institutions - so that when the minister truly says that we can face the world very confident, yes we can. We can face it confidently, but also very knowledgeable of who we are, where we came from, where we are, and where we want to be as a people.

Mr. Speaker, it would also be remiss of me not to take the opportunity to thank the committee as well. I see Dr. Phil Warren, former Minister of Education, sitting in the House, and acknowledge his presence and thank him for his involvement in this today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is with pleasure that I rise in support of this announcement made today by the Premier. It is a very important cultural initiative for the future of our Province and a statement about our confidence in our own history, in our own culture, and in our own future. I think it is an idea which has been around for a long time, certainly, but one that must be done now because of the state of our archival material and the need for a new building to house it.

I also want to congratulate the work of the committee co-chaired by Mary Pratt and Bob Jenkins, and with the services of Dr. Warren and others on the committee. I think they have done a marvelous job of conceptualizing this cultural centre.

I think we also want to express the hope at this time that what goes on inside the centre, I hope, will also be modern, forward-looking, and have all of the availability of involving people in our culture, in our past, in our history and in our art. It is a legacy for generations to come, a very important announcement, and one that I support wholeheartedly.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker

I rise today to provide my hon. colleagues with an overview of our fishing industry's performance so far this year, and I have to admit, Mr. Speaker, the news about our fishery just keeps getting better.

As our fishery is drawing to a close for the final year of this century, our preliminary data to the end of November, 1999, demonstrates exceptional growth in production value, landed value, landings and employment. This is indeed another record-breaking year for us.

This year the fishing industry directly employed 25,000 people, and another 7,000 indirectly. Average monthly employment in fish processing from January to November increased 32 per cent to 8,200. On average, an additional 2,000 people per month were employed in fish processing in 1999 over last year. Not only are more people employed in the fishery, but they are working for longer period than in previous years. I am happy to report that processing employment is at its highest level since 1991.

The harvesting sector experienced a 16 per cent decline in employment, from an average of 10,700 last year compared to 9,000 so far in 1999. This is the result of license buy-backs, retirements, retraining, and other post-TAGS initiatives, and is consistent with government's capacity realignment policy.

We have experienced another record year in landed value, which is, to date, approximately $460 million. This compares to $384 million in 1998, which was also a record year. By the end of 1999, the landed value is expected to increase to approximately $515 million on a volume of 260,000 tonnes. These record-breaking numbers have been driven by higher prices for high value species such as crab. Landed prices this season for snow crab have ranged between 55 per cent and 70 per cent higher than last year's levels.

Mr. Speaker, I am exited to inform my hon. colleagues that our production value to date is more than $950 million and expected to reach $1 billion this year - by the end of the year- another record, Mr. Speaker!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: This record number, which is just short of $1 billion, is due to the high value of shellfish and higher landings of cod in a stronger market environment.

Groundfish and shellfish landings have increased by 31 per cent and 51 per cent, respectively, during the first eleven months of 1999. This is a result of increased quotas. Cod quotas increased to 30,000 tonnes in 3Ps and there was a 9,000 tonne allocation in 2J+3KL, the first time since 1992. Crab and shrimp quotas each rose by over 12,000 tonnes this year. Concerns have been raised about the 3Ps cod stock where 1988 and 1989 year classes make up the large portion of the stock. The Province will continue to respond to every prudent measure for the management of this stock, as well as for other species such as crab which are now so important to the fishery and our economy.

Pelagic landings are down slightly due to lower capelin landings and lower herring quotas. The capelin quota was not fully taken this year as strong fisheries in Norway and Iceland satisfied a substantial portion of the market before the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery commenced.

Overall, markets in 1999 have been positive as a result of our hard work through our Quality Assurance Program. Snow crab markets are strong due to solid consumer demand and lower world supplies. Resource problems in Alaska, our biggest competitor, have reduced the supply of snow crab. This should provide us with the opportunity for another robust year in 2000, especially with our continued emphasis on quality and our commitment to build on the strides we have made for producing top quality products.

All major fisheries started on time and in an orderly fashion this year due to a government-industry pilot project established in 1998 for negotiating fish prices. This two-year pilot project has been extended until June 2000, at which time it will be legislated into the Fishing Industry Collective Bargaining Act. This new model of collective bargaining will play a major role in maintaining stability in the industry and creating a more viable fishery for the future.

Our aquaculture sector continues to grow, with mussels, steelhead and salmon being the major aquaculture species, representing 95 per cent of production. Mussel production at the end of November reached 1,350 tonnes, and we are expecting production to double last year's 950 tonnes by the end of the year. Our aquaculture export value is expected to exceed $16 million in 1999, compared to $13 million in 1998.

Mr. Speaker, we should all be proud of how far our fishery has come since the collapse of our traditional groundfish industry in 1992. We have developed a new, diversified fishery that is professional, stable, and more viable. Challenges remain, but with prudent management measures I have every confidence that we can build on this success for the future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We, in the Opposition, are certainly pleased to see a new species being harvested here and creating jobs here in our Province. The aquaculture industry, while still in the embryonic stage, is starting to get some returns, and I am sure there is continuous growth we expect to see in the future.

I might add that we have entered a whole new fishery for many parts of our Province here, in shrimp, and that has certainly contributed immensely to the high export value we have. We have to keep in perspective also that crab this year, in price, is up a minimum of 50 per cent over last year. Even right now it is up even higher this fall than earlier in the year by about thirty to forty cents a pound.

We also have to keep in mind that in the past it has been as high as $2.50 per pound, from generally $1.50 starting this year. It has been as low as sixty cents a pound, and there can be immense fluctuations out there in the market and in the export value of crab. Even shrimp seems to have been certainly more stable from last year to this year; very similar in comparison, but in particular we have to keep in mind that the groundfish industry in this Province has not come back. The number of people who were employed in the industry, in groundfish, was considerably higher than numbers employed in the fishery today. While granted there is a higher export value, and there are higher prices to harvesters - they are doing fairly well overall - many areas of this Province are still devastated from the downturn in groundfish, cod and flounder in particular.

Look at the number of weeks. I know in my district, and in numerous plants in almost all members' districts around this Province, some have hardly opened their doors and processed the fish since 1992. There are many of them there. If you look at the weeks they are getting in, for example, Bonavista, Catalina, Port Union, Marystown, Fortune, Harbour Breton, they are trying to spread fish around to get fourteen, sixteen and eighteen weeks work in certain areas that were primarily groundfish plants. We have not come close to historic levels of employment in the fishery in general.

We have done it in export value because of higher price species, but we haven't returned to where we want to be. If we do return to historic levels, and employment levels in the Province, we will have a tremendous fishery that is sustainable in terms of jobs on long term. We do have some now that are subject to market volatility to a degree, and at certain points in a cycle where people tell us that they may be at an upper end of a cycle and we might have a leveling off in certain ones that are bringing high export value to our Province.

We have to be cognizant of that, because rural Newfoundland today is still affected immensely in employment rates, and they are reflected in statistics that have been openly discussed for this past week, in particular, in rural Newfoundland. An editorial, I think, addresses one of those real things. Rural Newfoundland has not come back to life. It is still reeling and suffering. The more we can do to put investment opportunities in rural Newfoundland, the better it will be, and the longer, more prosperous rural Newfoundland we will have, built on a fishery and hopefully it can be maintained on a fishery.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is certainly encouraging to hear good news about the fishery of our Province which most often suffers from bad management and bad news, so we do see some significant improvement in the ability of our fishing industry to support our communities. I would however say there is a need for more stability in the industry and the knowledge that quotas that are available for a species are available to a community. I hope the government will support the community quota system that seems to be resisted by Ottawa to date.

In the Province's own jurisdiction, we also see a new old feature of our fishery where boat owners are dependent upon merchants in a way that they were not when they could go to the fisheries loan board and get loans. Now they have to be beholden to a particular merchant in order to finance their vessels. That is something that ought to be changed by a revitalized fisheries loan board.

We would also like to see the government play a more significant role in the development of marketing research and development for new products and new markets for our products, and ensure that we do have the technology, the information and the new research and development that will improve the products coming out of our fishery and increase its value.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Oral Questions

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

My questions today are for the Minister of Education. Last February, government announced - and I have here the press release, where the Premier said himself - that within the Avalon East School Board, if a community consensus could not be reached, that the benefits of education reform would not be lost, that it was one of the most important decisions or actions that this government has taken: namely, solid programming, neighborhood schooling.

I would like to ask the minister this today. In view of the fact that in the Avalon East Board, particularly in the St. John's West area, community consensus has not been reached, that there is a division within the community, are you prepared today to sit down with the Avalon East School Board and people who have legitimate and real concerns about the education of their children in St. John's West to discuss with them those concerns, to work with them to find a viable and long-term solution?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, I support the Avalon East School Board in its most recent decision. In fact, I supported the Avalon East School Board when it came out in favor of K to IX neighborhood school system.

What we have to recognize here is that - and that is exactly what the Premier was referring to last February when he talked about building a community consensus - you have to look at the Avalon East district in its entirety. We do not have the luxury of looking at one particular area of a district and taking that in isolation. What we are looking at here is the entire Avalon East district. If you were to look at the student population today and look at what is going to happen to that population within a number of years, the declining student enrolment is such that even today there is in excess of 1,500 empty spaces in the school district in St. John's.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, those numbers have been refuted. The fact of the matter is that when government says it has reached a community consensus it has not. Many people within the entire Avalon East region said: Next year, if system is not maintained, we will be on your doorstep saying: How come my child was displaced from school A? How come my child was displaced from this school here?

Minister, I asked you and I will ask you again: Will you sit down and meet with the Avalon East School Board, with people in the region who have legitimate and real concerns about the quality of education, about the type of commitments that your government made? Will you do that, sit down with them to reach a viable and long-lasting solution? Yes or no?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

[There was applause from the gallery.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I just want to remind the visitors to the gallery that they are not to take part in any way in this debate, to show approval or disapproval in any way. That has been a long standing parliamentary tradition and I ask you to respect it.

The hon. the Minister of Education.

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, I have had lengthy discussions with the Avalon East School Board, with the Chairman of the Avalon East School Board and with other trustees of the Avalon East School Board. I have also had representation from other parents in the West End of St. John's. I have also had e-mails and I have had written correspondence. The issue here is whether or not there is to be a K to XII system in the West End of St. John's.

The issue for the government is not whether or not there is a K to XII system in the West End of St. John's, but whether or not we have the funding to put in place for it to build a new school in the West End of St. John's, whether that is a K to VI or VII to XII school. The point here is that we do not have the revenue to put in to building yet another new school in the St. John's part of the district when, in fact, we have perfectly good structures that will be empty in a number of years from now if we were to look at the declining student enrolment. The point is that we do have a significant declining student enrolment in this Province, let alone in St. John's East. Again, when you talk about 1,500 empty spaces - yes, maybe they have been refuted, but I can tell you that those are the numbers we are getting from the school board. It is the school board that has the authority to determine which schools will be restructured, redeveloped and what new schools will be built. Based on the numbers they have available to them, as well as the funding we have available to us in terms of building new buildings, we do not have the luxury of being able to look at an additional $10 million, $11 million or $12 million to put into a new school in the West End of St. John's when we have committed $125 million as it is for around the entire Province.

I now have on my desk requests for $45 million of work from other parts of this Province, not for new buildings but for new windows, new roofs, new doors, all of the things that are needed in rural Newfoundland as well as in other urban centres, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I suggest to the minister she take the time to meet with the board and parents. If she did she would find out it is not going to cost $10 million, $11 million, $12 million or $15 million to put a new structure in place; it is more like $6 million or $7 million.

Minister, you have said that you met with the board on any number of occasions. Isn't it a fact that the only time that you have met with the school board was last spring, and that you haven't taken the opportunity as the Minister of Education to sit down with the entire board to discuss this situation, as it exists right now, to find a viable solution.

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, if the viable solution means an additional $6 million to build a new school, it is not available. I do not know how many times I have to say it or how much clearer I can make it. The requests we have now for $45 million - an additional $45 million - to $125 million that we already have committed is not there. There is no need to build another building when we have a severely declining student enrolment. We have a bus transportation system in this Province, in this city, that will enable the high school students in the West End, many of whom travel to the centre of the city now for school, many of whom go to Bishops College, many of whom go to I.J. Sampson Junior High, and many of whom go to Booth Memorial High School.

The other issue here is that if we are to build a new high school in the West End of St. John's and you take some of the students that are now going to Bishops College or to Booth Memorial High School to go to the new high school in the West End of St. John's, then clearly one of the structures that now exists will have to close. Which one, Mr. Speaker?

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the minister is clearly showing her lack of knowledge because she has not taken the time to do the homework on it. Let me ask her this. Is she aware that there are $4 million already allocated for renovations to a perfectly good existing high school, and also part of that renovation money to renovate a perfectly good junior high school into a primary-elementary, and that it would not take $6 million to construct a new facility? That in fact what the area needs is a brand new primary-elementary school? That is what the area needs, not a new high school. It already has one, minister.

My question is this. Will you meet with the entire school board to discuss with them the problems they have with your government in not providing them the same per capita amount of funding that you have provided to other school boards so they can complete the reform process that promised neighbourhood schooling, equality of programing, to the people of this Province? Yes or no?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, I have no difficulty whatsoever meeting with the Avalon East School Board, just as I would meet with any other school board in the Province. I have met with the Avalon East School Board. I have met with the Chair of the Avalon East School Board. I will not meet with individual trustees. I will meet with those trustees as long as the Chair of the board is there because at the end of the day whatever I say I want on the record and not someone else's interpretation of what I have said.

I have no difficulty meeting with either school board in this Province, discussing with them what their needs and wishes are, but I will make it very clear to them that as long as we have a declining student enrolment, as long as we have needs in rural Newfoundland as well for money for windows, doors, roofs and you name it, then I am certainly going to consider that as much as I would consider building a new school in an area of this Province where we also have a significantly declining student enrolment, and where there is a perfectly good structure that already exists that can accommodate the students in the West End.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I want to say to the minister that the school board will be happy to hear today that you will meet with the entire board, not the Chairman at certain conventions or here or there, but that you will meet with the entire board, I say to the minister.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: I spoke to school board members today before I came here who said that the minister has not met with the school board since the spring, and that a committee of the board went in to meet with minister. She did not come to the meeting. She sent her officials to it. So I can take it from you, minister, is this the case?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: I can take from you today that you will meet with the school board as soon as possible to try to work out a viable solution for the people in the Avalon East School Board and, in particular, in St. John's West?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, I have never had a request from the school board to meet with the entire school board since the request came in last spring when I met with them. I have met with the Chair of the board. I had a request to meet with one trustee from the school board which I refused to do without the presence of the Chair there. So yes, if the board requests a meeting with me to meet with the entire board, of course I will meet with them.

Mr. Speaker, if the viable solution is an additional $2 million, $3 million, $4 million, $5 million, or $6 million, I don't have it to build a new school in the West End of St. John's.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Last November, Mr. Jim Thistle, the Province's chief negotiator on the Churchill River Development, told the CBC that agreements reached in negotiations with Quebec or Quebec Hydro, up to that time, were all subject to getting the transmission line. The words he used were, and I quote: Certainly contemplating having to have the transmission line. End of quote.

Is that still the position of government? I ask the minister: Will there be a deal with the Province of Quebec if there is no transmission line to the Island?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I apologize for a poor voice today. I have a little bit sore throat. I will probably keep my answers a little briefer as well.

The issue in the Labrador Hydro project discussions of a potential in-feed to the Island has never ever been a concern of the Government of Quebec and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is an issue that has been dealt with between the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Government of Canada. There are still ongoing joint assessments being done by officials from the Government of Canada and our own government, looking at particular models to see whether or not it is going to be viable or feasible to construct an in-feed at this point in time for a cost of some $2.1 billion or $2.2 billion.

Mr. Speaker, the understanding from the very beginning is that the project itself would not pay for itself unless we can come up with some kind of a significant contribution from the Government of Canada. That is where the issue still lies, between the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, but it has nothing to do with whether or not the rest of the deal is finished with the Province of Quebec.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

One of the great embarrassments for this Province with the Upper Churchill contract was that the contract was made subject to Quebec law and the Quebec courts. In terms of the law, we surrendered sovereignty over our own resource.

You promised at the beginning of the current negotiations that all agreements and contracts would be subject only to the law, to our law, and to our courts. Is that still your position, I ask the Minister? Will any part of the agreements being negotiated with Quebec and Quebec Hydro be subject to Quebec law and/or the Quebec courts?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That remains the position of the government in these discussions. Any particular arrangement, such as the guaranteed winter availability contract or the recall of the 130 megawatts of power which has already occurred and already benefitted the Province some $60 million in cash over the last couple of years and over the life of the existing power purchase contract, will benefit the Province an additional $1 billion above and beyond what was contemplated in the 1960s contracts.

When there are adjustments to the existing power purchase agreement, they continue to be judged by the current prevailing law, which is the laws of Quebec. For any new arrangements, the understanding is fully that for any new arrangements the law applying will be the laws of Newfoundland and Labrador.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the minister: Has Quebec or Quebec Hydro requested that the Province exempt the Lower Churchill power agreement and/or the utilities that provide power from the Churchill River system from any of the laws of this Province, especially laws dealing with the allocation and reallocation of electrical power?

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

MR. GRIMES: Not to my knowledge, Mr. Speaker, but I will certainly check into it.

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. There have been many instances in which people have been seriously injured and the St. John's Regional Fire Department was never dispatched following a 911. A Goulds area man, who is still in hospital after falling fourteen feet from a roof on October 29, suffered compound fractures to the tibia and fibula. He had seven crushed bones in his foot; had to have four discs fused in his back. He lay in a pool of water on a concrete floor for ten minutes waiting for an ambulance to arrive when, if the call had to be coded a four, the Goulds Fire Department, with trained paramedics, could have been on the scene in a matter of just a couple of minutes.

Why, Minister, aren't there some written guidelines to use in determining what constitutes a Code 4? That is an emergency call that would allow the fire department to be able to be dispatched.

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, all of the emergency services with respect to ambulance and the operation of emergency services comes under the community health board, the Community Health Corporation, I believe, and they have the protocols in place to handle the particular system of response. I am not aware of any specific case that the hon. member brings to my attention at this time. It is only something that I can bring to the attention of the minister and onwards to the board itself, but I do understand that there are existing protocols that are currently and continuously under review to ensure that they provide the best level of service possible. Further than that, Mr. Speaker, I would certainly just have to take the matter under advisement.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a copy of the protocol for dispatching the St. John's Region Fire Department. The director has admitted and accepted that it should have been coded a four. In fact, there are no written guidelines for what constitutes a Code 4, none whatsoever in the department. I spoke with the director and she indicated that there are none.

In this particular instance, the ambulance attendants had to rely on unprofessional help in getting the man on a stretcher. The man even had to assist himself, as he lay there, in trying to get on a stretcher. There was no request for backup assistance when trained paramedics were nearby.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: I ask the minister: Does she think it would also be prudent to dispatch the closest paramedic help?

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, if what the hon. member is suggesting is that there is a weakness in the existing protocol - and I can only say at this point that it is his suggestion - if that is the case, it is certainly something that I can only pass on to the minister and to the Health Care Corporation at this time for their review.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have already passed it on. There is no intention of a review because it is considered not necessary, I have been told.

The fire department has equipment to deal with industrial accidents - that is correct - but they do not always get called. They were not called when a man was recently electrocuted at MUN.

The fire department responds to a vehicle/traffic accident, but they are not dispatched if a vehicle hits a pedestrian. A minute can be critical in certain instances. I want to ask the minister: Why is this so? Shouldn't the quickest response be utilized, because you can never predict the precise seriousness of an injury?

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

MS BETTNEY: Again, Mr, Speaker, I am not the best person to try and prejudge the emergency response, nor the appropriateness of the emergency response. We do have professionals within the Health Care Corporation who manage the emergency response system.

As I have said before, if there is a particular weakness in that system, then I would suggest to you that it is best passed back to the Health Care Corporation for their review so that they can respond accordingly.

I, as one person here, am not in a position to really comment on the appropriateness or otherwise of the protocol.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour and it concerns offshore safety. The federal Minister of Natural Resources has indicated his intention to open up the Atlantic Accord with respect to Nova Scotia to transfer additional responsibilities of offshore safety from the Nova Scotia government to the Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board. According to the minister, similar changes to the Newfoundland legislation will take place.

Can the minister advise whether he is involved with these negotiations/discussions, and why he would contemplate transferring additional regulations to the C-NOPB when they do not have enforcement regulations now?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The issue that the hon. member raises has been one that has been a matter of discussion between the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the federal government for a considerable period of time now.

The federal Minister of Natural Resources has indicated to both governments in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland that the requests that had come from both governments to give more certainty to the fact that the petroleum boards were actually administering the safety regulations would be forthcoming, and they are going to proceed with that in the federal Parliament on a timely basis.

We will also be asked to pass companion documents here to amend the Accord Act so that we can, in fact, guarantee without any doubt - there is very little doubt at the moment. No one should think that there is anyone that is not doing everything for the safety of the workers in the offshore because that is not the case. It is one of the safest workplaces around. Every regulation of both the federal and provincial governments is being enforced by the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board.

To give greater certainty, in case there is ever a challenge of their authority to enforce the regulations, the two governments in the next short while will bring forward amendments in both Parliaments to make sure that there cannot be any legal challenges as to the authority to implement the regulations.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My supplementary to the Minister of Environment and Labour is dealing with the fact that we have before the House today occupational health and safety amendments to increase the fines and punishments for violation of our Occupational Health and Safety Act. If the Minister of Environment and Labour feels it is important that we increase these fines and have an enforceable regime -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. HARRIS: - for safety in every other aspect of industry in the Province, why is an unenforceable set of draft regulations satisfactory in our offshore?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Let me try again to make sure that nobody in Newfoundland and Labrador would ever believe that the regulations are unenforceable in the offshore. That is not the case. They are totally enforceable. It is just a matter that if somebody - every single incident and every single workplace situation that has been covered and addressed in the offshore, if there has ever been an order or a directive given under Canadian law or Newfoundland law, it has been adhered to and followed in the offshore. Safety has been paramount with the operators, so I would not want anyone to be left with the impression that the regulations are not enforceable.

What I did say outside the Legislature, in answer to this question a week or ten days ago, is that if one of the operators for some reason decided that they did not want to comply with the an order given by the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board, they could find a legal loophole which we are now going to close between the two governments; but there has never, ever, been an instance or an incident whereby they have not complied completely and have not even tried to challenge the fact that the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Petroleum Board enforces the safety regulations on behalf of both governments.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. Last week the minister stood on a Ministerial Statement, frustrated with the lack of information coming from his federal counterpart with respect to the Gulf ferry service; but, of course, lo and behold, out of the deeps again the minister, our representative in Ottawa, Mr. Baker, comes with public knowledge again last night and again this morning.

My first question to the minister is: Have you yet been formally notified by your federal counterpart, Mr. Collenette, of whether Ottawa is ready to purchase or lease a new vessel for this particular run?

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, there has been no news from Ottawa and no communication from the federal minister, absolutely none whatsoever since last week.

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

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, one person reported to me that they were afraid that the vessel might be in ‘Confusion Bay' and lost. It should be on its way, but another bit of confusion added to the long list.

Mr. Speaker, I say to the Minister of Education: Mr. Baker is worried. Mr. Baker is concerned that the 200 jobs at the ferry may not be ready in this Province. I would like to ask the minister: Are you worried about the 200 jobs, and has your department been preparing so that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can indeed have those 200 jobs so it does not overheat the economy in this Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is talking about the boat, saying it might be in ‘Confusion Bay'. Maybe it is in la-la land, I don't know (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, all I can say is - as one of my hon. members said - if Mr. Baker and Mr. Collenette deliver a boat, we will deliver the jobs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Well, Mr. Speaker, according to Mr. Baker, it is not la-la land the minister in. Nobody seems to be communicating on this. As a matter of fact, Mr. Baker suggested this morning again that he should talk to the Premier because the Premier knows more than he does about what is going on in Ottawa. So, maybe my first question is that the minister ask the Premier what is going on.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, a suggestion for the minister in this Province is that he, who has been frustrated, Mr. Collenette, who has said nothing, and Mr. Baker, who is confused, should get together and put some facts forward.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member now to get to his question. He is on a supplementary.

MR. SHELLEY: The question is, Mr. Speaker: Are the ministers planning to get together soon - because, as you said, timing is important for the tourism industry and so on - or do we have to wait for Nightline for another update from the minister?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, we have kept corresponding with Ottawa. We have kept corresponding with the federal minister and other MPs as well. There is nothing more we can do except for trying to keep the heat on Ottawa and Marine Atlantic to make sure that there is something put in place, despite what some other officials might have said about Marine Atlantic.

I reiterate my concern here again this evening; as far as I am concerned, it is getting late. We need an announcement on that ferry before Christmas and no later than Christmas, as far as I am concerned, for something to be put in place for next summer.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

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

My questions are also for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, and they are following up from questions I asked on Friday.

Given the fact, Mr. Minister, that the ferry to Harbour Deep has remained tied up in Jackson's Arm since Friday, given the fact that she missed her scheduled trip on Sunday due to mechanical difficulties, and given the fact that community leaders in Harbour Deep were not given adequate comfort as to the seaworthiness of the Lady Rosella Regina B from the ferry's crew last week, will the minister today admit, in this House, the concerns of the residences of Harbour Deep were justified and that they acted properly in refusing to place their family members in potential jeopardy by asking them to use a ferry that was not mechanically fit?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, there is absolutely no truth whatsoever in what the hon. member is saying. It is something similar to what he said on Friday - no substance whatsoever.

I have had inspectors on the boat ever since Friday in Jackson's Arm - Saturday - two inspectors there today dealing with different aspects of life safety and concerns, and mechanical and so on. In fact, as we speak, the vessel is on sea trials now by those two inspectors on board. I have an air service put in place for the people of Harbour Deep this evening. If the vessel passes all inspections this evening, that vessel will be back on the run tomorrow morning.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I ask the minister: Will he commit today - given the different versions that exist in the public forums - to make the report of the Canadian Safety Inspectors a public document, and will he personally go to Harbour Deep and share that complete report with the residents of Harbour Deep, to give them the comfort that they need before they are asked again to use this ferry?

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

 

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, like I said before, I have the inspectors in the Jackson's Arm area ever since Friday and Saturday. They are inspecting the vessel. The vessel was mechanically sound when it left Harbour Deep to come back to Jackson's Arm on Saturday. The inspectors are on the vessel; they are out now doing sea trials. I do not know what - the hon. member, I can see that he is uncomfortable about it. He is squirming in his seat because what he said on Friday was wrong. You can squirm further. When I get the reports back this evening, whatever the inspectors report, I will make it public. It is public knowledge. Why shouldn't I?

Not only that, the people of Harbour Deep have designated one individual from Harbour Deep to come up with the vessel from Harbour Deep to Jackson's Arm. He stayed with the vessel all weekend, and he is with the inspectors today -

MR. TULK: Send Harvey down.

MR. WOODFORD: Probably we should send the member down next week on it.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Waterford Valley. There is time for a quick supplementary.

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

Minister, the residents of Harbour Deep found it necessary on Saturday to hire two private fixed-winged aircraft to fly their family members to Jackson's Arm. In total, thirty-six people were flown out for a total cost of $2,160. Given their concerns about the seaworthiness of the Lady Rosella Regina B, and given the fact that it is obvious that their concerns were justified, will the minister today undertake to compensate these residents for that expenditure?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, I had absolutely no requests whatsoever for any air service on Saturday. I had no requests whatsoever for any air services yesterday. I did have a request today, at lunchtime, for a request for air service this evening; that is put in place. I did not know anything about what happened on Saturday. If the request was put in on Saturday, I would have provided it; but the only request I had for air service into Harbour Deep was just before I came to the House and I instructed my officials to do so.

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

Presenting Reports by Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Today I would like to table the report of the Select Committee on Standing Orders on behalf of the Chair, the Member for Terra Nova.

I ask leave, Mr. Speaker, to comment on a few general aspects of the report.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Standing Orders have been amended on several occasions since 1949; in 1951, 1974, 1979, 1993 and 1995. The present changes that we see are among the most comprehensive and they fall into three basic categories: substantive amendments, technical amendments, and practice notes. I would just like to add that practice notes are added to provide the members with guidelines for convenience but they are not considered matters - they are considered matters that are best left flexible and not to be included in the main body of Standing Orders.

I would like to touch on just a couple of the major, particular areas that we dealt with under this Select Committee. Parliamentary Groupings agreed on a criteria for recognition of members as a parliamentary group. The definition of parliamentary groups is included in our notes. Basically, a parliamentary group would be two-thirds - must have contested two-thirds of the seats in the House of Assembly, elected three members, and be a registered party in accordance with the Elections Act, 1991.

In other areas, another change is the election of a Speaker. In the future, the Speaker of the House will be elected by the members of the Legislature, and that election of a Speaker brings certain authority in a democratically elected office. There are two changes that are consequential on this particular one here. They are: the appeals of a Speaker's ruling, and also the authority to expel members for disregarding the authority of the Chair. So there would not be an appeal on the Speaker's ruling, and the Speaker has certain authorities to expel a member for the rest of that day for disregarding an authority of the Chair.

Times of daily sittings have been altered in the proposal put forth by the Committee and subject, of course, to the House. It would be four days per week. The three hours that would be lost on Friday would be added on to Monday, Tuesday and Thursday of each week to allow a sitting from 1:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and the regular 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. sitting on Wednesday, which is Private Members' Day.

Also, there is provision for members' statements, which probably are common in the House of Commons. The members can rise on a statement of interest or concern to the district or certain matters of concerns to that member. They would be allowed at the beginning of the day, to be first on the agenda for the day, a one minute statement totaling no more than six minutes in total, which means up to six members on any given day could be recognized to have issued a member's statement. Right now leave must be given in order to do that.

It is agreed that there should be a time limit on emergency debates, because the nature of an emergency should have a certain amount of finality or conclusion to it, and notice be given to the Speaker before the sitting resumes, basically, of that particular motion for emergency debate.

As to Thursday's adjournment motion, or the Late Show as we call it, is proposed by the Committee that that be eliminated. This would be add, for the members' interest, another half hour on to debating time. If we look at a normal day on Friday, to put it in prospective, there would normally be two hours usually on Friday for debate after you take out Question Period, Ministerial Statements or Petitions. You may have two hours for debate at maximum, if you look on the average. In addition to that, we get that Question Period. That is one extra hour, really, for Friday which we will have for debate, plus an extra half hour from Thursday, which would allow at least a minimum of one-and-one-half hours of extra debating time within the hours that are there, compared to the five day sitting we have right now.

Also, because of the procedures that have adopted from Great Britain on the business of Supply, Ways and Means in the budget, they are arcane and anachronistic. It is decided to make some changes to reduce the repetitiveness and so on in certain stages moving in and out of committee, to streamline that process there so we can expedite matters a little more.

Right across this country we are the only jurisdiction basically where, in Petitions, you have someone move it, a second person could speak on it, and someone from the opposite side of the House to speak on it. To bring it in line with the nature, really, as it is intended, if you look at Beauchesne and any of the particular references there, it should be restricted to presenting a particular petition. It now would be presented by one individual with no other speakers, and it is three minutes opposed to five, to bring it more in line with the nature of how it should be done, and in line with all other jurisdictions, I might add, across the country.

The parliamentary calendar is another issue of concern. Right now there is no specific legislative time, or in our Standing Orders, in which we agree that the House should sit at any particular time. Basically, it is on the call of the Speaker and the Government House Leader to get business transacted. There are certain changes being proposed here regarding minimum times. Right now there are none in order to do business. The Committee is certainly recommending that in the spring it would open on the second Monday of March and it would close one week prior to the May 24 weekend, with a period off at Easter time from Holy Thursday to two weeks following that. There would be a two-week break from early March to the week prior to the May 24 weekend.

Right now, there is also no specific requirement for a fall session, so this would also propose that there would be a minimum period set down in which the House shall sit. We have one in the spring now, if this is accepted. The one in the fall will be a minimum of four weeks, to adjourn not later than one week prior to Christmas. Basically it sets in place at least a certain order. At least people can plan when the Legislature is going to sit, they can make plans if it is going to close, and it looks at the interests of members too from all different parts of the Province, not eliminating a day without putting in added extra time for debating. That was important. It allows members reasonable access to their districts, especially people living in remote parts of the Province.

Mr. Speaker, I would like, in concluding, to just mention that the Committee has been meeting for the past six months. There have been numerous meetings. I would certainly like, on behalf of the Chair, the Member for Terra Nova, and all the other members of the Committee, thank them for their time and effort in putting this together. These are some of the most comprehensive changes we have ever had since 1949 in our Standing Orders.

Thank you.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, the Vice-Chairman, the hon. the Member for Ferryland, has just tabled the report in the House of the Select Committee that was put together last spring by the Legislature to look at the rules of the House and to see that the changes were made.

I am about to move a motion which is some thirteen pages long, and I do not intend to read that motion into the Order Paper. I just want to say that the motion covers the topics that the hon. gentleman has put forward and that I give notice that I will on tomorrow move that motion, that we adopt the practices that have been put forward by him.

Let me say, if I could, for just a few minutes, that I would like to thank the Chairman of the Committee who is unavoidably absent today. The Member for Terra Nova is of course the dean of this House when it comes to parliamentary procedure. When it comes to understanding the rules of this House, I would have to say to you that I do not believe there is anybody that I know of who knows the rules of this House or has a better feeling for parliament than the Member for Terra Nova.

I have been in this House since 1979, and I believe it was in 1980 that there were some major changes that were made by the then Government House Leader, Mr. William Marshall, and the Opposition House Leader at the time, Edward Roberts, to the Standing Orders. Since that time there have been numerous attempts, and people have spent a lot of time, trying to get those rules changed to make them more efficient and more effective for all of us. I want to thank this committee. The Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi served on that committee representing his party. The Members for Topsail and the Member for Trinity North served on that Committee. Who am I missing? At times, the Member for Humber East served on the Committee.

This is indeed a day, I believe, that all of us, all three parties in the House, have come together to do some of the things that it is necessary to do..

I would also say, in addition to what the vice-chair of the Committee has just said, that we have asked the Clerk of the House and his staff - that before we come back we hope to have those rules in place for when we call the House back together. I would think it would probably be around the second week in March, because that is what those rules say. Before the House comes back from the Christmas break we have asked the Clerk and his staff to see that if the rules pass the Legislature, if we get them done before this present session is over, that the rules we have proposed and the practices that we have asked to be included are put in a far better order than they are now in our present Standing Orders, the green book. Because if you go to look for something in that green book it is like getting in a jungle. So we have asked the Clerk that once we get this done to see that indeed the Standing Orders are put in a fashion where somebody can open up to an index and see exactly what they want to see.

Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow introduce a motion to bring the rules of the hon. gentlemen into effect. They will be on the Table for anybody who cares to take a look at them.

Petitions

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by over 200 students of Beaconsfield High School. I will read the prayer of the petition:

We, the students of Beaconsfield High Schools, wish to petition the House of Assembly to maintain a K to XII school system in the West End of St. John's. While, democratically, we were not permitted to vote in the education reform referendum, we, our parents, as well as the general public, were led to believe that education reform would bring with it neighbourhood schools. Government is not fulfilling their obligation as promised.

Mr. Speaker, the students who have signed this have walked out today. While that is something that we cannot in this House of Assembly encourage, I understand why the students have walked out. It is out of frustration. Those students deserve a high school in the West End of St. John's, the residents of the West End of St. John's which have growing communities. In my district there has been a number of new housing starts over the past two or three years. I know in Cowan Heights area there is new housing development all the time. In the Kilbride area there are new housing developments all of the time. It is a growing area, it is a growing part of the city. To remove an institution that is already in place in that part of the city is unbelievable. To remove an institution allowing children to go to school from kindergarten through to graduation of high school in that area of the city is unbelievable when it is a growing part of the city.

I am proud to stand here today and not only present the petition on behalf of the students of Beaconsfield High School, but to support them in their petition.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS S. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand today, and it is my pleasure to support the petition on behalf of the students in St. John's West and as well on behalf of the parents who, when they were asked to vote for reform, they were promised neighbourhood schools, optimum programming and a lower pupil-teacher ratio.

None of this has happened in St. John's West. It cannot happen without the commitment of government. I noticed that the Premier very conveniently on February 8, 1999 said: That is a commitment I give today without hesitation. That commitment was there then, but the Premier misled the people of the Province and the people of St. John's West when he gave that commitment then, and the commitment -

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker?

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

MR. TULK: On a point of order.

I know the hon. lady does not mean to say that, but she cannot say the Premier misled -

MS S. OSBORNE: I do.

MR. TULK: You do?

MS S. OSBORNE: Yes.

MR. TULK: Well, Mr. Speaker, the hon. lady cannot say what she just said, that the Premier misled the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair will have to review what the hon. member has said and rule on it later. The Chair will have to see the context in which the hon. member has used the word “misled” and we will have to rule on it later.

MS S. OSBORNE: On February 8, 1999 the Premier said: That is a commitment I give today without hesitation. If the commitment was there, then the people in St. John's West would not today be in the position that they are in.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS S. OSBORNE: The Minister of Education got up and spoke of treating all the pupils in the Avalon East School Board equally. How about treating all the children in the Province equally, when 12 per cent of $125 million goes to Avalon East School Board when, in fact, they have one-third of the pupils in the Province? Where is the fairness there?

When the people of the Province voted for reform, and when the people of St. John's West voted for reform, they voted for neighbourhood schools. The Minister of Education got up today and spoke about busing. There is no busing for junior high school students. There is no busing for high school students. I have had people call my office and say they cannot afford to pay for the busing for their children. When they voted for reform, and when they thought they were voting for neighbourhood schools, they should not have to pay for busing for their children.

When the commitment was made - this is a news release made from the Premier's Office - the commitment was made to provide what the consensus would be. Since reform began the consensus of all the people in St. John's West is to retain their high school. They are not looking for a high school. They have a high school. They want to keep their high school. They do, however, need a primary school because the primary children in St. John's West are going to school where it has been demonstrated that there were mouse droppings, there is mold and there are spores. They are in an unhealthy environment. They cannot stay in that environment.

What the government has forced the Avalon East School Board to do is divide and conquer: Okay, you can have this but you cannot have that, or if we give you this we cannot give you that. The government has pitted the people of St. John's West against each other. You can have a high school or you can have a renovated high school or we can give you a high school in part of the area but not all of the area. That is not what the people voted for. The people voted for neighbourhood schools. They have a neighbourhood high school. They have a neighbourhood junior high school. That is what they voted for. That is what they want to retain.

They need a primary school to accommodate everybody, and I totally support the students who have signed the petition, and the parents who have voted in favor of reform, to retain their neighbourhood schools and not to take the high school which they already have.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I just rise to make a few comments with respect to the petition presented. Certainly everybody understands when students and parents would always like to have the best possible education available for their children as close as possible to home. The difficulty that we always have is, again, on a theme that I used last week and the week before with respect to the significance of words and people deciding to choose certain phrases and to use them for their own purposes.

Let's talk just for a minute, if we can, about the whole concept of neighbourhood schools, because that was part of the whole debate about education reform. Remember this, now. The notion was that you would go to a neighbourhood school of the grade for which you are in school as determined by the school board instead of - and this was what education reform and the vote was about - leaving your neighbourhood and going to different places because of the religion that you were. That is what the vote was about. The vote was all about the fact that children who lived right next to each other, one Protestant and one Catholic, one might go to a school in the neighbourhood if it was the right religion and the other one might have gone completely across town because they were a different religion.

It is very convenient to suggest that there was a debate promising neighbourhood schools, because there was in the context that the school board for every group of students in every age group would determine the closest available school and would send every child to the same school regardless of their religious denominational affiliation. That was what the whole of the reform issue was about.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I understand, and if I was in the position myself I would use the argument to my own best advantage, but we should not, in this particular Legislature, for political reasons try to suggest that there was an outright promise made -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, a point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible) the minister to stand in this House and talk about this side of the House using (inaudible) political reasons when two days before an election the Premier makes a statement to save his own political butt in a region and does not live up the commitment made to the people in this House!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: We are not going to take any lectures from this minister about political (inaudible)! That I can tell him today!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to take his seat.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

No point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The reaction we just got proves exactly the point. The only real interest opposite is to try and play politics with the issue instead of acknowledging that they fully support it. Because everybody in this Legislature fully supported the whole notion of not having denominationally based schools but having neighbourhood schools for every grade, and that the school board, duly elected for the first time in history, would determine which is the school closest to your neighbourhood available for you in your age group and your class group. That that would not be decided here in this Legislature but would be decided by the duly elected school boards.

Just to make one other point along the same lines, the Opposition parties - they know the difference - for political purposes try to suggest that the money that was saved in education reform has not been reinvested in education. Any dispassionate look at the budgets in education before reform and after reform shows that the budget for education in K to XII is bigger today than it was before reform. Not only were the savings reinvested in education, but more money was actually added. The Opposition members, knowing the difference because they can read and they can add up numbers on a piece of paper - they know that the budget might have been $300 million three years ago and that it is $320 million or $330 million today - will still, when it is convenient, make a speech to suggest that the money that was saved was not reinvested in education.

It is unfortunate that we can be selective at times. I can certainly understand the concerns of the parents and the students, Mr. Speaker. Their school board will come to the best possible resolution on their behalf, I am sure, here in St. John's with the Avalon East School Board.

Orders of the Day

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order 26, second reading of a bill, “An Act To Amend The Schools Act, 1997,” Bill 43. I think the Minister of Mines and Energy adjourned the debate. I think he might have twenty seconds left on that Bill and then he is about finished.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 26.

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I realize that I have just a few brief moments left with respect to this particular bill. I do not intend to use the time today. I think the points that I wanted to make were made on Friday morning in the debate and the discussion. I know there are other members who would like to speak to this very important piece of legislation.

Just again, to make sure that we remember the proper context, all of us in this Legislature voted for a bill in which we put in language about conflict of interest for school board members. The courts themselves have ruled on both different sides of the same issue. They have ruled that a school board member who has a relative in a school that is being considered for closure or realignment is in conflict. The courts, with a different judge, seeing the same evidence, have ruled that a school board member who is ruling on a school that is slated for realignment or closure with a relative in it is not in conflict. Because there is confusion, even in the courts, and because of the fact that we do not want to have the school boards, parents and other groups of school councils continue on to another level of the court to see which one of the first judges was right or wrong, we are proposing here language we certainly hope will clarify the issue. Because there was no intent whatsoever to have a duly elected school board member declared to be in conflict regardless of which particular school arrangement they were debating as a duly elected school board member at the time.

With those comments, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have participated in debate. I am sure the minister and others will look forward to the rest of the debate on this important amendment.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to speak on An Act To Amend The Schools Act, 1997, to clarify the issue of conflict of interest. It is disappointing that for so long the confusion about the actual interpretation of this section was allowed to fester and, in fact, affect decisions that were made to close particular schools. It came as a great shock to individuals who had campaigned for election or were elected to school boards representing the people of their community to find that when the decision affecting the future of the school in their own community came to the table they were not allowed to cast a vote to protect and save the very school they had campaigned to join the school board in order to save.

It was used as a part of unfortunate community politics to disallow votes that they thought would make a difference. In fact, many of the votes that were influenced or affected by this type of decision and challenge for issues of conflict of interest were very close votes; a matter of one vote in many cases - one or two votes - determining whether or not a particular school was to close.

I know the minister and the government from time to time have talked about the costs to the school boards in defending litigation. What about the cost to the parents? What about the cost to the communities; that you have to hire lawyers to take matters before the Supreme Court out of their own personal funds in order to try and right the wrongs that were in this legislation by virtue of the legislation before the House?

What happened, of course, as everyone knows, was that people were ruled out of order to vote when they had a child in a school that was affected by a decision. That was deemed to be a conflict of interest by legal opinions given to the school boards, in some cases. It certainly was ruled by one court to agree that it was a conflict of interest, and by another court not. The confusion was allowed to fester. Instead of clarifying the issue as soon as it arose, the minister waited until now to bring it before the House. However, it does need to be clarified and I am glad that the legislation is here and certainly support it.

While we are on the topic of schools, the whole issue of what the referendum was all about now appears to be distorted by government, by the Minister of Mines and Energy who just spoke, rewriting history as it were, to suggest that what people voted for was not neighborhood schools, and the concept of neighborhood schools, and certainly once again shocked by the government's response to the interpretation of the Schools Act are the people of the West End of St. John's. The people of the West End of St. John's are shocked by the minister's interpretation of what the referendum was all about. Certainly those students who go to Beaconsfield High School, who had a neighborhood school, a high school in their neighborhood, feel very betrayed by this government when they are being told that their school will be closed to make way for an elementary school and they will be required to be bused - at their expense, I might add. That was not part of the early debate, that those students who will now be forced to travel to other parts of St. John's to go to school...

The minister talked today in Question Period about the great bus system we have in St. John's. Well, that great bus system costs money to go on; and these students or their parents are going to have to pay that money because they live in St. John's, for no other reason. If they lived in Mount Pearl of if they lived in Labrador City, or if they lived anywhere else in the Province, they would not have to pay for buses but they are going to have to pay out of their own pockets, or their parents are going to have to pay for them, to be bused to other parts of town. That is grossly unfair. It is discrimination, in fact, against students by virtue of their place of residence in the capital city, and I think that is grossly unfair. It has been going on far too long and, in fact, is a disgrace to democracy to treat students in St. John's differently than students in every other part of Newfoundland and Labrador, to require them to pay to go on buses to get to school when that is not done anywhere else.

The whole issue of the school referendum was about the issue of community schools in rural Newfoundland, and neighborhood schools in the capital city and in urban areas of St. John's. To suggest, as the minister did today, that when they are looking at a community they are looking at the whole district. When they look at a consensus, they are not looking at a consensus of a neighborhood or an area which could be a school feeder area; they are looking at the entire district. That is ridiculous in the extreme, I say to the minister, to suggest that in fact a community consensus, when they talk about the Avalon East Board, involves the entire Avalon East Board with eighty-three schools and with 33,000 students, that there must be a consensus of that group to determine the wishes of a group with respect to a school. That was clearly not the intention of anybody in this Province when it came to deciding on whether they supported the referendum or not. They felt their chance of having a community school was heightened by virtue of an education reform system that would not have students classified by denomination but in fact would be classified by grade, neighbourhood, location and community as opposed to denomination into which they were born.

Mr. Speaker, the idea of reform was to make these schools more accessible and available to all the students and, in fact, to make it more possible to have neighbourhood schools because you would not have to have schools for only one denomination. That has been turned on its head by a government that refuses to recognize the importance of a high school for St. John's West and, in fact, the role that Beaconsfield itself has played. It seems that certain high schools have been doomed by this decision. Brother Rice High School, for example, and Beaconsfield were doomed as a result of decisions made after the school reform.

In fact, when money was made available for new school construction and a portion of it went to the Avalon East School Board, there was certainly money there. If the board is able to find money to make major renovations and, in fact, change a high school to an elementary school, surely a rearrangement of that money with some additional funds from the Department of Education would adequately find a new primary school for the St. John's West area to replace St. Augustine's, which seems to be the problem in the first place. Perhaps concentration on that area would be more important.

The minister talked about Booth being closed possibly as a result of keeping Beaconsfield High School opened and rearranging other students. That may be. I understand Booth was on the list for closure because of the very poor quality of its building. For some reason, that was decided to stay open and to change Beaconsfield High School instead.

Mr. Speaker, the minister has responsibility for students throughout the Province, and that includes the area of St. John's and in particular St. John's West. Yet, the minister has been steadfast in her refusal to recognize the validity of the request for the people of St. John's West to have a school in their neighbourhood, as they have had for the last twenty-five years.

With that, Mr .Speaker, I conclude my remarks and say that I support the amendment to the Schools Act because it is necessary to clarify the issue of confusion that waned for far too long.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER (Oldford): If the minister speaks now, she will close the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Education.

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, at the outset I talked about what the purpose of the amendment was and I think it is pretty clear what the intent of the amendment is, so I would like to close debate.

On motion, a bill, “An Act To Amend The Schools Act, 1997”, read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House tomorrow. (Bill 43)

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, before calling the next order of business, I would move that the House not adjourn at 5:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the House not adjourn at 5:00 p.m.

All those in favour, ‘aye'

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: Opposed?

Motion carried.

 

MR. TULK: Has that motion been put?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order 23, Bill 41, “An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Law Society Of Newfoundland”.

We are so pleased to have the Minister of Justice introduce this momentous and important piece of legislation.

Motion, second reading of a bill, “An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Law Society of Newfoundland”. (Bill 41)

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

MR. H. HODDER: Introduce yourself now, Paul. (Inaudible).

MR. DICKS: Harvey Hodder.

Mr. Speaker, I can only say to the hon member opposite, that is probably the reason the House is closing so early, because we were not here to entertain each other.

Mr. Speaker, the Law Society Act is the act that governs the practice of law in the Province. The premise of it is that there has to be a level of public protection. If you think about it, we have registered nurses acts, medical acts and so on, because the public have, I suppose, a right to an assurance that a person who holds himself or herself out as a member of the Law Society has certain qualifications to provide the services that are necessary and that one has the professional background to do so. The other thing that carries with that is that the public often expects that if there is a problem with the services provided, be they medical, legal or otherwise, that the governing society - in this case the Law Society - has standards such as insurances and disciplinary bodies that would ensure that the practitioners themselves do it in a skillful manner.

What this act essentially does is set up the operations of the Law Society, and also sets standards that barristers and solicitors are to meet. There are two different groups of people, essentially, certainly in England, less (inaudible) so in Newfoundland, but the people who go to court are called barristers and those who do the documentary work and so on are called solicitors. Because of that distinction, the act sets up two areas of practice. One is what a solicitor's practice would be, and who may do that; and, secondly, what a barrister's work would be.

The manner in which it does so is that it sets up prohibitions and says that nobody except a solicitor may do a certain number of listed items, and nobody but a barrister may do a certain number of actions which basically consist of matters such as appearing before court and before federal tribunals and so on.

Those are fairly directly set forth in different parts of the act. I might refer you, first of all - the authority to practice law is in section 76 of the act and sets forth who an individual shall be, and other parts of the act set forth the restrictions on what a person who is not a lawyer may not do.

Earlier in the act, in the definition section, it sets forth what the solicitor's practice will be and what may do it. For example, in section 2.(2) it sets up what the practice of law is, including the practices of barrister or solicitor, appearing as counsel or advocate, and it goes on to establish what exactly those duties consist of, and talks about the sort of documents and so on that lawyers draft and prepare. It also says what it does not include, because that is important.

The reason I mention this is that there is some area of practice related to the law, close to the law, which is considered and called a paralegal practice. That can be carried on by individuals who are not members of the Bar, and is generally carried on by those individuals under the supervision of a lawyer and/or a law firm. We do not have a separate act governing what are called paralegals, but neither does any other Province in the country.. There is some concern, and we may wish to address that at another time, as to whether or not that sort of practice should be regulated.

The governing idea being that the public has to be safeguarded from individuals who would hold themselves out as capable or interested in engaging in services or providing services that they are technically not competent to do. One might say that some lawyers are engaging in services that they are technically not competent to provide, but nevertheless they have to meet certain standards provided by the Law Society.

In any event, I believe the act is self-explanatory if one did take the time to read it. I think I have covered most of the bases. There is a reference here to the Law Foundation. What that is, essentially, is a charitable foundation that is set up. It derives its income from the interest amounts that would be payable on lawyers' trust accounts and is remitted to the Law Foundation, if my recollection serves me correctly, quarterly, and the law firms are advised as to what that amount is. The Law Society audits. It is helpful for them as well to know what the amounts are.

In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, the act sets forth the appointment of people to the foundation and the purposes for which the trust may be used. These include law reform, legal education and research, assistance to the Legal Aid Society, law libraries, provision of scholarships and so on. It is set up independent of government. It is a trust and it is administered by this group of individuals who make their decisions about how best to use the income that they derive from the interest payments on these trust accounts.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would be happy to answer any questions. I don't believe it is controversial. There are no great variations and departures from neither policy approach nor drafting from the previous Law Society Act but there are some matters that are (inaudible). I think it mostly speaks to a different age that we are in. It is probably a little more precise about what our practice is in part.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand to just make a few comments with respect to Bill 41, An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Law Society Of Newfoundland.

I have had an opportunity over the past several days to review this legislation in some detail. Furthermore, I have had an opportunity to speak with a number of individuals who have been active in the development of this new bill, in particular, the treasurer of the Law Society and also individuals who worked on the committee leading to the bill that we now have before us. I think it is fair to say that this legislation is good legislation. What will make it an effective piece of legislation is that it is the result of a fairly active and energetic effort on the part of many individuals who saw the need for some changes with respect to the existing law in the governance of the practice of law in this Province.

What the legislation does, as the minister indicated, is it reviews in particular and addresses the issue of interjurisdictional practice of law. As we now know, there are many regional law firms in this Province. In fact, the trend seems to be that we see a growing number of firms, large firms, that are regional and perhaps eventually national in scope. Furthermore, we see changes to the discipline provisions, and what I think is very important is that we see now the recognition of the role of the layperson with respect to dealing with discipline matters as it affects issues that come before it from time to time. In particular, we are talking about Committees, section 42 of the proposed bill - and I will just refer to a part of it, under Section 42 - which states: “(3) The discipline committee shall consist of not less than 30 members and not less than 15 persons who are not members who shall be appointed by the minister.” So, certainly an attempt I think by this proposed legislation to ensure that the layperson has a contribution to make with respect to the important issue of discipline.

The minister referenced the Law Foundation, and it is indeed an important part of the function of the Law Society generally. It is a charitable organization in the true sense of the word. When we look at Section 67(1) it refers to the “objects of the foundation” which talks about “(a) legal education and legal research; (b) law reform; (c) assistance in funding the Newfoundland Legal Aid Commission as established under the Legal Aid Act; (d) the establishment, operation and maintenance of a legal referral service for the residents of the province...” Indeed, it is an agency, I guess a subagency of the Law Society itself, whose purpose is to assist, from an educational point of view and a contribution point of view, in helping the people of the Province understand more about the practice of law and the role of lawyers within our jurisdiction.

I have the privilege of serving as Chair of one of the subcommittees - it is the high school essay competition - and what that is, in fact, is on a yearly basis all high school students in the Province are invited in participating in an essay competition dealing with issues of public interest, and from a general point of view, issues as it relates to the practice of law generally. It is indeed indicative of the type of work that the Foundation does. In fact, prizes are awarded, prizes to the winning students and also to the winning schools, for the purposes of the purchasing of research materials and reference materials in the school library.

I am not going to prolong debate on this particular piece of legislation, only to say that I have reviewed it carefully. I have spoken with those individuals who were significant in the development of this particular bill, and it is clear to see that this is a result of a lot of work, a lot of effort, and I applaud the individuals who have played a role in the development of this piece of legislation.

One final point I would like to make is this. I believe all Members of the House have received correspondence on behalf of the Paralegal Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, and there still appears to be some confusion as to really what the role of paralegals are in our Province. I know the correspondence that was forwarded to members on behalf of the Paralegal Association of Newfoundland and Labrador basically has requested that government give consideration to the regulation of paralegals within our Province. This is certainly important from the point of view that it would be of assistance not only to the paralegals and to the members of the Law Society at large, but indeed the public as well, so that the public will have a far greater understanding as to what the role of a paralegal is, so that there is no confusion, and that both paralegals and members of the legal profession will understand clearly what it is that a paralegal may and may not do.

It is certainly important, I think, that this government in the near future give serious consideration and attention to the fact that the paralegals are out there. In fact, there are a number of private institutions that we know of that offer this course. Individuals spend a lot of money in the training to become a paralegal, and there appears to me to be a lack of guidance and definition as to what their role is. This is an opportunity, as I see it, for government, now that the new legislation with respect to the Law Society and the governance of the profession is before us, to answer the concerns as raised by the Association ultimately for the benefit of the public at large, so the public at large will have a much greater understanding as to what that particular role is.

In conclusion, the legislation that we are now debating appears to be a move in the right direction. It deals with important issues facing the legal profession and the practice of law in this Province, and it tends to codify and organize some of the deficiencies that tended to exist in the previous act.

We on this side will support this legislation fully. It meets the needs of the profession and, as I have indicated on a couple of occasions already, it is the result of a lot of effort and a lot of energy by a group of interested individuals. I support and congratulate their efforts in this regard.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to speak on Bill 41, An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Law Society of Newfoundland. I also do not need to say very much about this bill, other than that it has been the product of a lot of work, particularly by members of the Law Society and benchers in reviewing the act and bringing some of it up to speed in areas where it needed to be revised.

We now have over 700 practicing lawyers in Province of Newfoundland who are members of the Law Society. It is important that the law regarding the operation of the Law Society - the way that the Law Society governs itself as one of the important self-governing professions and its responsibilities that come with that to protect the public - reflect the desire of the public and of the government and this House of Assembly to ensure that members of the public are properly served by practicing lawyers, and that when they conduct themselves in a manner that is inappropriate, dishonest or unprofessional there is a realistic and real way of dealing with them through the Law Society. That has been accomplished in this legislation.

One of the new features in this legislation was to remove the anomalies that existed before when there was some confusion about what the role of the discipline committee, or a panel, in fact was sitting and hearing a complaint against a member: whether the panel were actually making recommendations with respect to not only to the guilt or innocence, or whether a complaint was upheld or to be dismissed - that was part of their recommendation to benchers, who would then impose a penalty - or whether or not part of the committee's job or the panel's job was to recommend a penalty as well if they had found that a member of the society was in breach of professional misconduct rules.

That has been a confusion for some time. It is now clarified in this legislation which decides that the discipline committee, or a panel of the committee, in fact, has the power to make a binding decision not only as to whether or not the complaint has been upheld, but as to what the penalty might be. That is then a penalty imposed on a member of the Law Society. It is one that can be appealed to the benches or appealed further to the court. In fact, the decision is the decision of the panel.

Mr. Speaker, having served on the discipline committee for some years, and as chair of a number of panels, it is certainly a welcomed change to clarify that situation of circumstances and give the panels who are hearing the evidence and hearing the arguments firsthand, in fact, the power to make a decision as to whether or not a complaint is upheld and as to what the penalty might be. That is a very important change.

It is also to be noted that included in the panels who are hearing the cases, in addition to the lawyers who are members of the discipline committee, there will also be layperson who is a member of the discipline committee and lay people - members of the public - who are not practicing lawyers would also have a say in the discipline of members of the Law Society.

That is an important change, Mr. Speaker, and one that I certainly welcome based on my experience on the discipline committee of the Law Society as to have a clarified method of dealing with complaints before the society for misconduct of members. That is certainly an improvement that is to be recommended.

I understand that the Law Society itself had a fairly strong hand in assisting with the drafting of this bill and it is in conformity with the White Paper on self-governing institutions. With that in mind, I would say nothing further but to support the legislation. The legislation appears to be in order and in keeping with the modernization of the legal profession and the new approach towards self-governing professions in providing for non-professionals to participate actively in the governing bodies and also in the disciplining bodies of the profession.

I understand also that the legislation does provide for some control over paralegals until they have any legislation governing their professions or their ability to act in certain respects. That is important, too, that as long as there is no other legislation they will be subject to the provisions of this legislation in terms of how their own activities are prescribed.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

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

I appreciate my colleagues' comments in favour of the bill. They are familiar with it and they have read it. I endorse the comments they have made as well. I think it is a matter of bringing this bill up to date with the Law Foundation, and they mentioned disciplinary provisions as well. On that basis, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading.

On motion, a bill, “An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Law Society Of Newfoundland”, read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 41)

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of members in the House, the way that I intend to go down the Order Paper is: Orders 24, 25, 26, leave 27 for the present time and do 28, which would be all of the bills that the Minister of Justice has to put.

I presently call Order 24, “An Act To Amend The Teachers' Pensions Act”. (Bill 40)

Motion, second reading of a bill, “An Act To Amend The Teachers' Act.” (Bill 40)

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

These are a series of minor amendments to the Teachers' Pension Act. I will point out for hon. members probably ones that are a little more substantial. There was first of all an issue as to religious - you will remember that we reformed our agreement with the teachers so that the teachers' pensions would be integrated with the CPP. What that essentially means is that the government pension is rolled back by an amount, not the full amount but by a certain percentage of what the person receives in CPP. It turned out - and it came to our attention after that agreement was made with the teachers - that members of religious orders did not contribute to the Canada Pension Plan but were caught by this.

What this section 1.(2) of the act does is, first of all, it repeals the current section of the act and provides for a situation in which they would not be rolled back because essentially they are ineligible for Canada Pension Plan benefits. It would be inequitable for us to take away -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DICKS: The hon. member raised a good question. Those who would be inside would not have been members of the Canada Pension for that period while they were teachers so they would not have accumulated benefits. When they left, I would presume - well, if they continued working they would be obligated to be members of the Canada Pension Plan and their service would be calculated from that point forward. If they work through to retirement, your rollback in your government pension plan is calculated as a percentage of the amount of Canada Pension that you receive so they would not suffer severely either. It really is related to the amount of Canada Pension you receive but what this does is ensure that members of religious orders who get no Canada Pension do not suffer a rollback of the provincial government pension. We believe that is a fair way to do it.

Section 1.(1) is really just a restatement of the manner in which the teachers' pensions benefits are calculated. The reason for this is that it is required in accordance with the regulation of the Income Tax Act. It does not change the pension entitlements of teachers; it is just another way that it has to stated in order to be technically compliant. It does not change the benefit in any way, nor the accumulations to date.

I think that essentially covers the two main issues. Like most income tax and pension calculation acts, they are fairly detailed. Trying to set forth in language what is essentially a numerical exercise is a little difficult, but if hon. members have any particular concerns or questions I will answer them when I close debate at second reading.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER (Smith): The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

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

We, on this side, have reviewed this piece of legislation and we have consulted with the Newfoundland Teachers' Association. We are satisfied that this particular piece of legislation is consistent with the issues that have been bargained by the NLTA on behalf of its members. I do understand as well that there has been consultation with the ministry relative to those who were in the teaching profession and also members of religious orders. That has always been an item of concern within the teaching profession. It has always been a matter that has been brought up on many, many occasions, and many attempts to resolve it. This particular matter, as it involves pension benefits for those of religious orders, is now resolved and they have not been negatively affected by their failure to contribute to the Canada Pension Plan so the calculations are precisely for this particular group of people.

We recognize that when the present changes were made to the Teachers' Pension Plan that not everybody in the teaching profession was in favor; however, we also have to recognize that the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association went out and presented their case for the changes to all the membership, that a vote was held and that the majority of the teachers of this Province voted for the changes which are enacted here. On that basis, because the membership voted for those changes, therefore we on this side find ourselves quite willing to say that we will support this legislation because it is what the membership wanted and which they have agreed to by majority of vote; however, we recognize that not every member of the teaching profession would have been satisfied to the extent that they would have liked.

Mr. Speaker, we on this side merely want to say that we view this as being minor amendments and that while we could go on for some time, it would not improve the bill and probably would hold up debate unnecessarily. We give support our support on this side for these amendments.

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

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the support of the hon. members. They have done their homework and understand the nature of the bill, and on that basis I will certainly move second reading.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On motion, a bill, “An Act To Amend The Teachers' Pensions Act”, read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 40)

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order 25, “An Act To Amend The Public Service Pensions Act, 1991". (Bill 39) - the Minister of Finance.

Motion, second reading of a bill, “An Act To Amend The Public Service Pensions Act, 1991”. (Bill 39)

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This act deals with technical aspects of the Public Service Pensions Act. What it provides for in essence is, in some cases, a calculation of benefits that a person receives, and it is called commuted value. What that means - commuted value is the amount of money necessary to put aside, invested, so that the cash flows from that on a monthly basis would be sufficient to pay the amount of pension required to the end of your life. Now the commuted value is not calculated on an individual basis. Let me rephrase that. It is calculated on an individual basis but it based on actuarial tables. What they would do, for instance, in our Chamber, they would assume they we, as men, would live to age seventy-seven and would then commute the value of our pension on that basis.

Now, on an individual basis, of course, is not accurate because we all don't die on our birthday at age seventy-seven; but, as a group, that is the life expectancy for men so the cost of the plan and the value of any person who wants to acquire benefits is calculated in that way because over time and on the law of averages, and on an annuitized basis, that is the amount that we need in order to pay all the monies out.

Where that has value to us is to deal with certain situations. I will start with clause 7, perhaps, because that was one that took us the longest time to come to a reasonable solution about, and that has to do with the division of pension benefits upon a marriage breakdown. That was rather complex for a number of reasons. One was that it called for sharing of benefits when a couple divorced or separated. The difficulty was, of course, that the spouses' husbands and wives almost invariably have different ages. Secondly, one spouse being lower than the other, the question then is, do you value that gross amount or that capitalized amount on the basis of the pension holder's pension.

To take an example - I do not mean to sound sexist, Mr. Speaker - the common case is that a man is married to a younger woman, whatever the years may be. What we found was that it worked to women's disadvantage because the value of the pension to the man - let's say if someone fifty-five years of age got divorced, and his wife was age fifty, if we calculated the commuted value to him, it would result in a smaller lump sum to the spouse; and it was complicated further in the case of women because not only are they generally younger than their male spouses but they also happen to live longer. So, the amount of money necessary for that person to enjoy, say, a 50 per cent benefit under the pension, would and should have been higher because she would enjoy it - if enjoy is the right word - for a longer time and also had acquired the right at a younger age.

Believe me, we had a very, very long discussion on this both in Cabinet - I was lobbied by two individuals in particular who were concerned with how it affected them. Eventually, I must say, the solution we arrived at is this one: Part of it is that we use a joint table of lives so that the value is not any less for the younger spouse, who is invariably female in most cases. I should not say invariably but often the case. I should say, it is interesting that our workforce is disproportionately female so, to some extent, there may be a corresponding benefit to each sex because I think our workforce is about 54 per cent or 55 per cent female.

In terms of the bill, that was a more difficult part of it. I just want to say to hon. members that we really conferred essentially over a period of year-and-a-half with people who are actually affected. Because we did have circumstances where women, in particular, would have seen a drop of some $2,000 or $3,000 in what were modest pensions upon division. I know one in particular, and I will not use the name, but this person would have seen a drop in her share of the pension from about $25,000 down to $21,000, and another one from $13,000 down to $11,000. At those levels of income, those are substantial, and I do happened to know that they are satisfied with this, and do feel that their lobbying worked , and I think they were very helpful in the end in doing this.

The other aspects of this are more straightforward. They deal with the valuation when people leave the public service and then come back to it. Essentially what these provide is that if you now wish to purchase service where you have been out of government and you come back, you have to purchase it at this commuted value. You are not going to get a benefit so that you could purchase at a lesser amount than it actually takes to pay your pension, and we have different clauses that provide for that.

We also have enhanced portability. One aspect that we do have is this. People move from government service, say, to a utility in this Province, or to Ottawa or whatever, so it is necessary for us to ensure that individuals don't at the end of their working lives end up in a circumstance where they do not have enough money to live on. If they leave us and go to another employer, we will transfer to that new pension plan the commuted value that their pension is worth. That would be based on your age, the number of years you have been in our pension, what value you have acquired, and essentially it is like an annuity. This would be an amount that you would have to set aside now, given a presumed rate of return of - perhaps 6 per cent, 7 per cent or 8 per cent - that would commence payments when you reach your normal retirement age. I suppose the average in government would probably be around fifty-five years.

These set forth, again, in terms, what a terminating employee is, how we go about finding the commuted value and so on, and what is included in that service. You will find another provision here relating to what it must go into, life income fund and locked in retirement account. The reason for this is that generally throughout Canada there is what they call a vesting period and there is a lock in period. Once an individual attains a certain age, and have been a member of a pension plan for, I think, ten years, they cannot then take all the money out. That is really to protect ourselves against doing something foolish. You might question why government chose to do that, but we certainly chose to do it in the cases of pensions. Depending on your point of view, you might argue we should not do it here or we should do it more elsewhere.

In any event, I think that covers the policy that we have adopted here. These are, as I say, several substantial measures, I do not mean to infer that they are not, but they set forth a process of entitlement, transferability, and also portability that is set forth in various provisions. I think that is fairly common. The only other thing I should mention is that we have a new section that provides for a pre-retirement death benefit on the commuted value basis again.

So in most cases, this act speaks to circumstances where an individual is leaving government, his or her pension is being wound up, transferred or terminated, and in some cases a portion may be terminated because he or she is dividing it with a spouse. That part of it, as I say, gave us the most trouble. I'm pleased to say that over a period of long consultations we have evolved this particular methodology which has proven to be very satisfactory for those individuals affected.

I know I've been in touch with my colleague opposite and I am sure he would be happy to support this, or at least give us his thoughts on that.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

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

Again, we have consulted on this particular piece of legislation. It is a pleasure, really, to see the changes that have been made, particularly as they apply to those people whose marriages are discontinued. Upon the marriage breakdown, women in particular found that they were disadvantaged in the way the pension arrangement was made.

We have had extensive consultations with people who have lobbied on behalf of those people, and we have dealt directly with them from our side of the House, as have, I'm sure, the department officials in the ministry. We support the changes that have been put forward. That would mean that mostly women, as the minister has said, will not be disadvantaged. Also, we used to have a situation here, particularly as it applied to some of the political pensions, whereby if the pensioner died then the former spouse's pension would cease altogether. So you would end up with a situation where there was a potential for a person who had been in a marriage for a considerable number of years and then, when the pension was being received upon the retirement of the pensionable person, mostly the male, but then when that male died, very often if the marriage had broken down then the former spouse's pension benefits would stop altogether.

That was deemed to be very unfair and very unconscionable actually, and there have been changes made. Now these individuals will not be required to come to government or other agencies with cap in hand, you might say, seeking to secure a benefit for themselves in order to be able to maintain a standard of living that might be deemed to be satisfactory and acceptable.

The changes to section 7 are encouraging. I acknowledge that the officials in the minister's department have been fairly helpful and have been very happy to answer the questions we put forward. We on this side do not have any substantive difficulties. I could however, and should before I sit down, make note again of the public service pension benefits. While I will not elaborate, I will assume the minister will assume that I have given a lengthy dissertation on public service pensions. The fact is that these pensioners deserve to be protected by government. While we are doing some work here now, we also bring the minister's attention to the fact that many of the former servants of the Province have not been adequately looked after. While the benefits that were announced in last year's budget are a step in the right direction, in terms of getting support for all pensioners who are on a low income -

MR. EFFORD: Oh, oh!

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you very much for the encouragement. I was about to sit down in a few moments, but now I have such encouragement from the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture that I am now going to have to continue for a longer period of time. I was just going to announce that I was about to clue up my comments here, but the great encouragement of the Minister of Fisheries brought to my attention the fact that he is part of a government that has put the boots to public service pensioners.

Mr. Speaker, I am putting on the record my concerns for public service pensioners and the fact that we believe there should be more done for these people until we can get some kind of a system in place whereby indexing will apply. I do believe that in the future there will be an indexing system but it will not be retroactive. It is not fair that we have indexing retroactively applied at an expense to the current workforce that are governed by the Public Service Pension Plan. We do think that the government has a responsibility to do a little more than they have been doing for public service pensioners. I look forward to the minister, who I know to be a very kind and caring person, in next year's budget trying to persuade his more reticent colleagues over there as to the wisdom of looking after our public servants in their retirement.

With these few comments, and in spite of the encouragement of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for me to continue on for a great lengthy period of time, I will put these few comments on the record and say to the minister that I am very much pleased with the coverage that has been given to persons who are affected by marriage breakdowns. I also bring to his attention as well that we have to do a little more about the portability of pensions, particularly as we have working arrangements with other provinces, particularly Ontario, where we have a lot of our people transferring. The portability of pensions is an issue that has not been totally resolved, but I do believe there is a committee within the bureaucracy trying to make some headway on that matter.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to speak for a few minutes on Bill 39, An Act To Amend The Public Service Pensions Act, 1991. It would not be right to let an opportunity go by to remind the government as to how it is treating its own pensioners. There are two areas I want to talk about. One, of course, is the well- known one where government has failed to increase the pensions of those who had been expecting on an annual basis and had, for many years, received an increase in their pensions commensurate with the increase given to public sector workers. This is a practice that was stopped by the Liberal government in 1989 and pensioners have not received an increase since that time.

As a result, of course, particularly those pensioners who are not - and I know the minister this time last year, when it was a more lively issue, was very happy to refer to the one or two people - I don't know who they are - receiving pensions in excess of $100,000, and why should they receive more money from the government? That was never the issue. In fact, at that time I brought forth the example of what had been done in Nova Scotia under their hospital pension, where they provided a benefit, a top-up to the value of the old age pension for those government pensioners who are not yet old enough to be in receipt of those pensions so that at least the minimum the pensioner would receive would be equivalent to what the old age pension was. That would have done a lot to increase the pensions of those who are at the lower end of the scale without doing any damage to the idea of ensuring that everybody got an increase.

Mr. Speaker, those on the lower end of the scale were the ones who needed it most and, in fact, almost half of the pensioners were in a very low category; because we have to remember that not everybody in receipt of a government pension has spent thirty years working for government. Some of them were made redundant by this government when it started cutting back services, when it started laying off people and making people redundant in order to reduce the public sector. Many of these people have low incomes and have to go out and try to find another job.

That is secondary where - and perhaps the minister will address this one, if he will not address the first one - we do not allow public service pensioners, people in receipt of a pension from the government, to get a job with the government. That has had a very serious effect on some people who need a job because their pensions are so low they cannot afford to live and support their families ,and yet they are excluded from any public sector employment because they are in receipt of a government pension. I have even seen it applied to enumerators in an election who might make a couple of hundred dollars, and although they are otherwise fully qualified for the job, they are refused the job because they are in receipt of a government pension.

Perhaps the minister can address that and seek to change that policy which discriminates against people who may have every need of a job and in fact are available for work, maybe in receipt of a small government pension because they were made redundant after only a few years of service or a number of years of service but not a full pension, and yet cannot supplement their income by any form of employment by the government even if it is not in pensionable service. That is a question I would like the minister to refer to.

Perhaps the minister will also comment on something I raised in the House the other day on another bill in relation to pensions, whether or not his government is looking into the possibility of a portion of our pension funds being used to play a role in investment in this Province, such as the depôt de placement in Quebec which invests pension fund monies in Quebec companies and economic activities with a return to the investor, of course, and to the pension fund, but also promoting economic activity in the Province.

Are there any studies being undertaken by his department now to look into whether or not that example could be copied here, whether we have something to learn from the Province of Quebec as to how it handles pension funds and uses its pension funds to promote economic activity within the Province of Quebec.

Surely, with our hundreds of millions of dollars, as we are moving to an era of fully funded pensions, those pensions money, that pool of capital, could be used to support industrial and economy activity in the Province instead of going off to the New York Stock Exchange or the Toronto Stock Exchange to support capital enterprises throughout the world. Could we not ensure that a portion of that at least was invested for the useful purpose of increasing economic activity in this Province and providing capital for - not high-risk capital, low-risk capital - to enterprises within the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador to allow them to expand or to undertake projects and activities that would bring economic benefits and employment to the Province.

Having said that, the changes that are being made here are mostly technical in nature and appear to be beneficial in that they are allowing people who had elected to take their pension if they moved out of the public service to find ways of redeeming that service by paying money back to the government and generally providing proper survivor benefits, for example, are being reworked to ensure that the survivor benefits are available to the pensioners' surviving spouse and children. These are important provisions.

I guess, while I am on this issue of surviving spouses, the Minister of Finance - he is wearing his other hat as Minister of Justice - might tell us when legislation is to be brought forth to ensure that our law conforms to the Supreme Court of Canada with respect to the provisions in legislation that would serve to exclude gays and lesbians from many of the benefits of the spousal status recognized for married couples who have gone through the solemnization, a form of marriage under the Solemnization of Marriage Act. Now the Supreme Court of Canada has directed that pension legislation and other legislation should be revised to ensure that people involved in a similar or equivalent type of relationship between the same sex be given the same treatment and benefits as given to a couple in other circumstances. Perhaps the minister could respond to that.

I notice that the definition of spouse here is not interfered with at all, or changed, although the word spouse is used - surviving spouse of a pensioner. I wonder if the minister could tell us what the definition of spouse would be under this particular provision of the act, and whether his omnibus bill to bring the Province's laws in line with the Supreme Court of Canada decision is read yet; and, if it is not ready before Christmas, when he will be presenting it to the House.

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

If the hon. the minister speaks now, he closes debate.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am surprised the hon. member does not know what the definition of spouse is. I think it is pretty clear in some of our enactments.

In answer to his question, we do plan to amend several of the enactments. We did have a draft bill provided. The difficulty has to do with common law relationships. Each province has a different standard. In Newfoundland and Labrador, in order to be considered a common law spouse, you have to have a child of the relationship, which, in the case of homosexual couples, is challenging. I wouldn't say impossible, given modern technology.

For us to make any changes - there will be substantive change and there are several considerations. Should we say that they have to stand in loco parentis to a child that might belong to one partner or the other? The other thing, too, is that is varies across the country. I think in the Ontario case you had to reside together for three years. Ours, I think, is one year and a child of the relationship. You might have a couple that has resided together for five years, do not have any children, and want to treat each other as spouses but it is not under our enactment, as the hon. member can see. So, do we change the law and then say: Look, if you live together for a year, with or without a child, you are deemed to be a spouse - it has to be a child of the relationship - or must there be a child that you treat as a child you are responsible for - what we call the loco parentis Those are substantive issues and we looked, frankly, at probably amending it to say: Well, look, as long as there is a child who is treated, or to which they stand in loco parentis.

I have recently discussed this issue at the Finance Ministers meeting, oddly enough, because it came up in the context of a mandatory splitting of Canada Pension benefits, despite a bit of controversy around the provinces as to what they are going to do about this.

In any event, that is one issue we have to resolve. There is probably something to be said across Canada for having a common test as to what a common law relationship should be. Essentially in these cases we would not be amending the Solemnization of Marriage Act so much as amending our definition of what a common law spouse would be and to facilitate - just to have an equal standard. That is something that we had hoped to do before Christmas but unfortunately, I think, we need to resolve that a little more carefully and give some consideration to the extent to which we want to amend the law generally.

I should say that we do have a draft bill prepared. It has been through the committee system, and social policy is looking at it, but there is that substantive issue that we feel should be appropriately dealt with. The hon. member will see that bill coming before the House certainly in the spring, and we did hope to have it here by now.

In any event, I think that is probably the most substantive question the hon. member had and I therefore move second reading.

Thank you.

On motion, a bill, “An Act To Amend The Public Service Pensions Act, 1991", read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 39)

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Order 28.

Motion, second reading of a bill, “An Act To Amend The Judicature Act”. (Bill 47)

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A very simple amendment, this provides who will act as Chief Justice of the Trial Division, or Chief Justice of Newfoundland when there is a vacancy in that office. Right now the act is silent, but what it does is it confers on the next most senior judge in either court, either the Court of Appeal or the Trial Division, the right to act, and in fact the obligation to act, as the Chief Justice in the vacancy of that office. I think that speaks for itself.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There is very little to add, I would think, to Bill 47, An Act To Amend The Judicature Act. Essentially what it now does is put in legislation presumably what the Chief of the Court of Appeal or the Chief of the Trial Division would ordinarily have done in situations where he would be absent from the court or when the request was made by the particular Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal or alternatively the Chief Justice of the Trial Division.

As the minister has indicated, this now simply provides a mechanism by which it is no longer done by the Chief Justice as a matter of choice or preference, but is now simply in legislation that the next senior judge will act in the stead of the absent Chief Justice. Other than that, I see no difficulty with members on this side having any great objection to this particular bill.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Certainly the legislation is very straightforward. It may well have some purpose being in legislation rather than simply a matter of practice, because there are certain constitutional duties which the Chief Justice of Newfoundland has, as Administrator in the absence of the Lieutenant-Governor, for example, which probably could not be exercised by anyone other than the Chief Justice. Perhaps with this legislation the senior judge could perform those functions as well as others that may be statue based that do not offer a substitute in the event of the absence of the Chief Justice from the Province. Certainly nothing further needs to be said about that. Obviously the administration of justice requires that there be a continuous ability for the courts to operate and for the Chief Justice of both the Supreme Court Trial Division and Court of Appeal to carry out their required functions.

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

If the hon. minister speaks now he will close debate.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the support of the members on the bill and I therefore move second reading.

On motion, a bill, “An Act To Amend The Judicature Act,” read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 47)

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

MR. DICKS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, Order 32.

Motion, second reading of a bill, “An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act, The City Of Mount Pearl Act, The City Of St. John's Act And The St. John's Assessment Act”. (Bill 52)

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

No, I say to the hon. Member for Baie Verte, this is not an attempt to sneak anything by anybody. These are simply amendments that will bring the acts of the three cities in the Province in line with provisions that are contained in the new Municipalities Act which was proclaimed last May in the House, and which will become effective January 1, 2000.

I have just a couple of comments I would make. In the new Municipalities Act there are significantly new and enhanced powers for all municipalities governed by that act, which is 288 of the 291 towns in the Province. There are three cities in the Province, and the intention was to have amendments to the City of Mount Pearl and the City of Corner Brook acts in the House by now in order to ensure that the powers contained in their acts were no less than the powers in the Municipalities Act. The same thing applies to the City of St. John's Act.

What these amendments do is simply bring into play the powers that are in the Municipalities Act, so that come January 1, 2000, no municipality will have greater powers under the Municipalities Act than the three cities have under their individual acts under which they operate. This will put them in no less a circumstance in terms of administrative ability, taxing ability, collections ability, ability to be involved in economic development and all of these sorts of things than municipalities who are under the new Municipalities Act.

It is really substantially housekeeping in nature. It will serve to bridge between January 1, 2000 and at whatever time we bring in new acts for the three cities, (inaudible) to a circumstance where they will have at least the same level of municipal authority on all accounts and in all respects as the municipalities under the Municipalities Act.

Mr. Speaker, that is the brief explanation for it. If there are any questions of substance I would be happy to deal with them at the end of the debate by the members on the other side.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: I'm going to need lots of water, Mr. Speaker. I'm going to stand in my place to say a few words on Bill 52, An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act, The City Of Mount Pearl Act, The City Of St. John's Act And The St. John's Assessment Act.

The minister stood in his place and said, just as he introduced this, and he was only up two minutes: There is no intention to sneak anything through. We on this side of the House know we have to keep our eyes and ears open in this House of Assembly. We know what tried to -

AN HON. MEMBER: Especially at this time of year.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. J. BYRNE: Especially at this time of year, in the late night sitting, what can happen in this House of Assembly, late in the evenings. We saw it happen before. Only for the keen ear of the Member for Cape St. Francis, we showed them one night. They have not tried anything like that since, I say, Mr. Speaker.

The Minister of Fisheries is over there, not in his right seat again, as usual, mouthing off. We saw him the other day standing in the House of Assembly talking about crabs crawling 300 miles. That is what he was at the other day in the House of Assembly. I heard stories about that man down sliming around in the grass like a snake after the night crawlers. Now he is after the crabs down 300,000 feet in the ocean. He is over there talking to me. Hang your head in shame.

MR. MATTHEWS: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. MATTHEWS: I just want to ask the hon. member for clarification. I understood that in speaking to this bill, or any other bill for that matter, there had to be some relevance to the topic of the bill and the verbiage that would come from the opposite member on the other side. I would ask the hon. member, for purposes of my clarification - because I missed something, obviously- if he could make what I have in mind be as a great disconnect between this bill and what he is saying, if he could make that connection for me, so that I can follow his logic as he proceeds through his crabby presentation on Bill 52.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no doubt there is a question of relevance, but if the Chair would have to start now to enforce relevance it would be very difficult.

The Chair recognizes the hon. Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

I am just getting to the point, these are just my introductory remarks. Like the minister was saying about sneaks and sneaking things through the House of Assembly, what did that have to do with this bill? He was up on a point of order? He should hang his head in shame. He does not know what he is talking about.

I was going to give a little speech here tonight - I may later on - on the Cabinet shuffle that happened recently, and the members on that side of the House do not even know anything about it. I will get into that later on. You do not even know anything about it. You do not know who is speaking for who.

To the point, and I shall have my comments in due course, this bill is a little bit more than housekeeping. I went through it. I am just going to refer to the minister's comments first. He was talking about how, what would be the right word?, insignificant, I suppose, this piece of legislation is.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

MR. J. BYRNE: I'm doing what you do on your side of the House and what the Premier always does, which is put words in your mouth like you are always trying to put in our mouth. so insignificant is basically what they are referring to. I think he used the word housekeeping, I say to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Indeed, it is an important piece of legislation because, as the minister alluded to -

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

MR. J. BYRNE: I am talking about consultation with respect to this. Here we are, on second reading of this bill, and when did we receive it? When did we receive this bill? I ask the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs: When was this bill presented in this House of Assembly?

AN HON. MEMBER: Today.

MR. J. BYRNE: Today, Mr. Speaker, and we are up on second reading expecting to put it through. A piece of legislation that is very important. I agree with the minister on certain points, that the City of St. John's, the City of Mount Pearl and the City of Corner Brook acts, and the St. John's Assessment Act, do need to coincide, I suppose, with the new Municipalities Act that is going to come into force on January 1, 2000.

In the last sitting of the House, this spring, the new Municipalities Act was basically approved in this House of Assembly after many years talking about it. At least fifteen years, I would say to the minister. Indeed, we had to put that through the House of Assembly and it was about time.

With respect to this bill, there was something that the Minister of Mines and Energy and the Government House Leader were up on not long ago. They were talking about trying to put bills through this House, rushing them through, and how we were trying to hold it up. Just listen now. We put a piece of legislation through the House of Assembly this spring and listen to this Explanatory Note now: “Clause 39 of the Bill would correct errors in the law that occurred in sections 107 and 147 of the Municipalities Act, 1999.”

The first week the House of Assembly opened the Government House Leader, the minister, tried for us to rush a bill through the House. We stood in our place and we said no. We had the galleries full, and he tried to embarrass us and rush it through, and tried to get the media onto it, that we were going to hold up this legislation. We did not. It is a good thing we did not because we would back here again. The Municipalities Act was on the go for fifteen years and we still had errors in it. When I say we, I should not refer to this side of the House. The Minister of Municipal Affairs and his department are the ones that are responsible for putting the act together. It is a fairly thick act too, I would say one-half inch thick, very comprehensive. Of course, we had errors in that. The government had errors in it.

With respect to this piece of legislation, I could go into this in more detail when we get into Committee, but just to touch on a few points: Section 2, “Section 24 of the Act is amended by adding immediately after subsection (3) the following: (4) Where one or more councillors have declared a conflict of interest under subsection (1) and there is no longer a quorum...” The minster can now put something in place that will allow a person who declares himself or herself in conflict, or if there is a number in conflict, and if there is not a quorum, the minister can allow these people to vote.

Depending on the situation, I say to the minister, it is a probably a positive thing, because when you are at a council meeting oftentimes - and I had it recently in my district where two people were taken off council because of conflict of interest. You never notified me of it, though, which you should have - had some consultation. It is an important point that needs to be made with respect to this piece of legislation.

Also, there is another one here. I just highlighted a few I am going to make comment on. It says: ...the city may, with the prior written approval of the minister, provide for an expenditure in its budget for a capital reserve.

I think, I say to the minister, from my previous experience, especially with the municipalities when I was mayor, if we had to put aside X amount of dollars for a major project that we might want to start two, three or fours years down the road, according to the Municipalities Act and the requirements for a budget, we could not do that. With this legislation, the City of St. John's, the City of Mount Pearl, the City of Corner Brook, will be able to do that, and I think that is under the new legislation, under the new Municipalities Act.

Also, we talked about, under section 138, a minimum tax for businesses, for residential and for commercial property. The municipality now can set a minimum tax for a residential property versus a commercial property. Not only that, Mr. Speaker, if you have a certain type of business, different classes of businesses with respect to this legislation, you can now have a different minimum tax for the different classes of businesses, I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

If he wants to make a few comments on that in his closing remarks, he can do that. I expect he read it. I think he did. I would imagine he did. I suppose he read more than just his briefing notes, I say to you, Mr. Speaker. He is usually well informed on his legislation. I grant him that. I will not say it too much. It is only because of the time of year, Christmas, that I would say something like that.

Speaking of Christmas, just a little side note - I think the House will give me enough leeway for this. Christmas is almost upon us, Mr. Speaker, and we received a gift in this House today. I don't think anybody realized the gift we received in this House today. When the Minister of Mines and Energy was asked a question, he stood in his place and basically said that he could not speak for very long.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. J. BYRNE: What a gift to this House of Assembly, after the performance we have seen that man give over the past few months here and last spring in this House of Assembly.

We also talked about, in this legislation, section 160, liens. It say here, “(3) A lien under this section ranks in priority over a grant, deed, lease or other conveyance...” Basically what they are saying here is that the municipalities now, if they put a lien on a property, of course, they will have basically first crack at receiving any monies that would come forward from the sale of the property. I think that is normal procedure, I would say to the minister, and I think all the municipalities - what are you saying, I say to the minister?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: He is agreeing? Well, there you go. The minister is agreeing with me, Mr. Speaker. What can I say - and the minister of employment and labour - employment and -

AN HON. MEMBER: I am not telling you.

MR. J. BYRNE: The minister of whatever. The Member for Mount Pearl is in complete agreement with everything I have said here today. I see her over there shaking her head.

AN HON. MEMBER: The member for Southlands.

MR. J. BYRNE: The member for Southlands.

Also, here is a very good one, a very interesting one, actually. I agree with this one wholeheartedly because, in the City of St. John's, the City of Corner Brook, or an municipality in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, especially rural Newfoundland, here we have section 161. It says, “Notwithstanding section 160, real property that is occupied for full time residential purposes by the owner shall not be sold for tax arrears by the council while it is occupied in that manner.”

Basically what it is saying is that once a person is living in a house who owns the property, not a renter, but a person who actually owns the property, that the house, premises or residence, will not be taken out from them. The city cannot basically throw them out. I think that is a positive thing; but, then again, there are people out there who can try to abuse that.

This piece of legislation is twenty-five pages long, but there is a lot of duplication here, because what they say for the City of St. John's applies to Corner Brook and to the City of Mt. Pearl. I pretty well covered the points that I wanted to make on this piece of legislation. I would say, when the time comes, that we on this side of the House will probably support this. We may have more to say in the -

MR. TULK: Committee stage.

MR. J. BYRNE: Committee stage, I say to the Government House Leader.

I have been in this House of Assembly seven years now, and that is the first time the Government House Leader said something to support me and try to help me along, so obviously he is weakening. He is not as bad - when the present Premier tried to clone the previous House Leader -

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

On a point of order, the hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: I have to say to the hon. gentleman that I am not weakening; I am just mellowing.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

Again, just like the Minister of Mines and Energy, words are important semantics, I say to the Government House Leader - mellowing, weakening, whatever the case may be. There is a difference.

With those few words, I will sit down and see if anybody else would like to have a few words on this piece of legislation. I can go on, on this legislation, but I have to remind people - look, another brown envelope delivered to me. I will save that for another time.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Later, it could be any time. It depends on the reaction from that side at any given time.

With respect to this legislation, I would say that we, on this side of the House - it appears that everything is in order here, I say to the minister. I am going to qualify my words by saying it appears. We will probably be supporting this in due course, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to make a few comments. With that introduction of thirty seconds - very rarely does a member get an applause that last that long here. I feel humbled by the thirty seconds of resounding applause that I got at this introduction, from both sides of the House. I did want to make a few comments.

First of all, I want to say that we did not get this piece of legislation until this afternoon, and it was tabled very quickly. I did notice that we had not expected it to be called today, because it was not on the list of things that we had scheduled. I do recognize that the Government House Leader went outside for awhile and the acting Government House Leader decided that he would put that through.

I see the Member for Topsail shaking his head. I wasn't referring to him when I was talking about the acting Government House Leader. I was talking about the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General.

I did want to make a couple of comments and they revolve around the inconsistencies between the Municipalities Act and the school boards. It has to do with the issue of voting. I know there is an amendment coming forwarding a little later on that deals with an amendment to the Education Act, but I want to point our to the Minister of Municipal Affairs, who is not listening at the moment but I am sure will read Hansard, that when we are talking about voting, we have to have some consistency between what governs the 300 municipalities in the Province and what governs the ten school boards.

We do have a clarification of the conflict of interest coming forward by the hon. the Minister of Education but I am afraid to say that that is not exactly how far we should be going. We agree with that clarification; however, we believe that the whole issue of voting in the authorities of Newfoundland, there should be some consistency between the voting requirements and legislation governing municipalities and that which governs school boards because both authorities, whether you are a municipal council or you are an elected school board, you are duly elected by the people and you should have some consistency. For example, I said to my colleague, the Member for Harbour Main-Whitbourne, that there is nothing in the Schools Board Act which requires that a decision of the trustees made at a private meeting has to be ratified at a public meeting.

In municipalities, we have had fifty years of evolution of parliamentary procedure. One of the things that has become quite clear in that there has to be - if there is a private meeting then the decision of the private meeting is not valid until it is ratified at a public meeting. I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, he should be talking to his colleague, the Minister of Education, so we can have a similar set of parliamentary rules governing municipalities and the ones that govern the school boards. I am saying to the minister that the ones that now govern municipalities have evolved over a fifty year period and they have, I think, tended to be very positive and be accepted. So while we are doing this amendment now to the Education Act on conflict of interest, we should also be borrowing from municipalities some of the rules that govern the way decisions are made. I mentioned one just now and it said that in the Municipalities Act there is a requirement that a decision that is made in private has to be ratified in public before it becomes effective. That is in direct conflict to - I think it is section 61 of the Education Act where it says, “A meeting of a board is open to the public unless it is declared by vote of the trustees to be a closed meeting from which members of the public shall be excluded.”

It then says, “Notwithstanding subsection (1), the minutes of a closed meeting shall not be available to the public.”

I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, who is a knowledgeable member in the government on school board matters, that if we were to look at the way decisions are made at the municipal level after fifty years of evolution, we could offer a lot of constructive things to the way school boards are run in the Province.

Let me make one other suggestion. I say to the minister as well that we have a requirement in the municipalities that all votes have to be done in a public manner. For example, there is no secret ballot voting at the municipal level. I have been involved in municipal government for a quarter of a century. I have been a part of the rules system for a long time that worked to develop those rules. I have a fair bit of background and knowledge on it.

I would say to the minister, in honesty, that we have to look at the way decisions are made at school board level. We cannot have school board members coming in and saying: We are going to vote here by secret ballot. If you are duly elected to an authority like the school board you are there to vote, you have to vote, unless you are in some kind of a conflict of interest. We cannot have secret ballot voting but the present education act does not preclude secret ballot voting. Therefore, you could have that happen.

The third thing I want to mention to the minister is a good issue in the Municipalities Act. It is section 212(2) in the Municipalities Act. It isn't in the act we are now amending, I say to the minister. It deals with members abstaining from voting on a motion or resolution before the council. It says that you are not allowed to abstain from voting on a resolution at council level unless you are declared to be in a conflict of interest.

I say to the Minister of Education that there is a lot to be learned from the evolution of the parliamentary system at the municipal level that can be applied to the school boards of this Province. In fact, I guess it is okay if I say on behalf of my colleague for Harbour Main-Whitbourne that when we get to the Committee stage we intend to introduce some friendly amendments to the minister. I say to the minister now that we will be introducing some friendly amendments which will make the voting procedures for the school boards in the Province more consistent with the results of fifty years of evolution of voting procedures at the municipal level.

We believe that it is time to do this. For example, at the school board level, if you have fifteen members on a board, a quorum would be eight, so if you have a quorum you can have a meeting. If you have two members in that quorum that declare a conflict of interest you are down to six, and now you have four members who can make a decision. That is not acceptable at the municipal level, and there are ways and procedures in the Municipalities Act to cover that.

Mr. Minister, I say to you in all sincerity that I would like to see you and the Minister of Education undertake to look at the rules of procedure that are contained in the Municipalities Act, and which contained also in the City of Mount Pearl Act, the City of Corner Book Act, and the City of St. John's Act, to have some consistency between the way decisions are made between these authorities. All these authorities are duly elected by public vote and they operate under the authority of the provincial House of Assembly and our Legislature, so therefore there should be some consistency between the way things are done. We offer these suggestions as friendly comments to the minister so that she will have a couple of days to look at them.

For her reference, I'm looking at section 212 of the Municipalities Act where it governs voting, and looking as well at section 213 of the Municipalities Act. We will be looking for an opportunity to have these provisions apply as well to the school boards of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, other than saying that these amendments are here now purely to make them consistent with the Municipalities Act, we support them. There has been consultation with both the municipalities involved and with the professional offices of clerks and other people involved in these municipalities. Therefore we will support them because they do bring consistency to the whole municipal government system in our Province.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER (Oldford): If the hon. minister speaks now he will close the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have very little to say because it has all been said. I do want to recognize the expertise and the authority that - if not the authority, then certainly the expertise and the fountain of knowledge that resides in the hon. Member for Waterford Valley and the hon. Member for Cape St. Francis, they having had many more years of experience at the municipal level. As a matter of fact, I have had no experience at the municipal government's level and they have had many years, so I recognize their wisdom and the input.

As the hon. member, my critic, was speaking there a few minutes ago I could not help but think how somebody could be so entertainingly light yet so intellectually deep in their discourse. It really was a masterpiece of a presentation. I recognize the unique and the innate qualities in public presentation that the hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis has. I only wish that on some accounts I had the finesse in public debating that the hon. member has.

In saying all of that, there was at one point for one brief moment that I thought he was making sense.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. TULK: Do you know what? He belongs with Jack Harris.

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I have to take the liberty of differing with my hon. colleague and friend the Government House Leader when he suggests that I am in the same league or should be in the same classification as the hon. Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi. I have to tell the hon. the member, my colleague, that when somebody gives me a free jacket, I do not look a gift horse in the mouth. I take my free jackets and I wear them proudly -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. MATTHEWS: I missed that. Can I -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I cannot add any more to the debate than has already been added. I cannot say any more than to say a word of thanks and appreciation to those who spoke on the other side of the House who appeared, who wanted, who gave great effort to try and find something wrong with this bill, but at the end had to support it wholeheartedly, unequivocally, with great conviction and with a high level of support.

Mr. Speaker, I move second reading.

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

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

MR. J. BYRNE: The Minister of Municipal Affairs just said that we on this side of the House supported this bill wholeheartedly. I said we may on this side of the House support it. We were qualifying our words. It appears to be okay at this point in time. When we have more time to review it - we only got the bill today - we may not support it, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

No point of order.

On motion, a bill, “An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act, The City Of Mount Pearl Act, The City Of St. John's Act And The St. John's Assessment Act,” read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 52)

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order 27, second reading of a bill, “An Act Respecting Adoptions,” Bill 45.

Motion, second reading of a bill, “An Act Respecting Adoptions”. (Bill 45)

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, this bill, entitled An Act Respecting Adoptions, is intended really to replace the Adoption of Children Act, which was a piece of legislation that has been in effect for approximately fifty years in the Province.

This bill signifies a real shift in how adoption services will be undertaken and provided in this Province. Our present legislation, as I said, is approximately fifty years old and people for many years have been asking for changes in the way that we have delivered adoptions in this Province. The bill and the lead up to it has undergone extensive public consultation for a period of a couple of years.

The present Adoption of Children Act only allows for closed adoptions. All of the adoptions must go through the provincial director of child welfare. Of course, the new Adoptions Act as it is presented here in Bill 45 will support new directions that include much more openness in agreements, it will provide for persons involved in adoptions to be able to chose service providers, while at the same time it respects the confidentiality for adoptions occurring prior to the passage of this new act through the registration of a veto.

This act is very consistent with the previous Child, Youth and Family Services Act which was introduced last year, because it clearly articulates principles that include involvement of children, youth and their families and communities in decisions that affect them.

A few of the highlights of this piece of legislation are that children under the age of twelve will be able to have an input into their adoption, and children will have the ability to maintain contact with their birth family following adoption finalization. This is a major concern that was expressed during the consultation process, particularly for older children. There will be a much easier process for relatives or step-parents through the adoptions process, through the provision of self-help kits. In addition to this, we will have the ability for an open record system on a go forward basis for future adoptions. People can use a disclosure veto and/or no contact declaration to protect the privacy of parties to adoptions which were finalized prior to the proclamation of this act.

This piece of legislation also provides for the ratification of the adoptions process in line with the Hague Convention on inter-country adoptions. The delivery service for the Adoption Act will provide for regional health and community services health boards to have the responsibility in each region of the Province to administer this act, and provide services to youth and their families.

Overall, what certainly comes through in the legislation is that it provides for a much more open system, one which has been called for for quite some period of time. Both adoptees and their families have recognized, to a large extent, that there is a need today for people to have access to this kind of information and to be able to access it in the future.

So these are changes and new legislation which have been in demand now for a long time. It is a significant piece of legislation, one which we feel very proud of. As I say, it adds another piece to the kind of social change which we are introducing through this whole process, very consistent with the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, and I believe that some of the significant points that I have mentioned make for a very positive piece of social policy.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[The continuation of today's sitting will be found in Hansard 51A.]


December 13, 1999                HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS              Vol. XLIV No. 51A


 

[Continuation of Sitting.] 

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

MS S. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. 

I, too, welcome this act.  The present one is fifty years old.  I think, actually, for the most part, this act is on the leading edge and it has been done, of course, with pressure from birth parents, from adopting parents, and from adoptees. 

I would like to refer to some of the places in the act.  One of the very good things about it is, 3.(2) “All relevant factors shall be considered in determining the best interest of the child...”  That is very important because, up until now, in many instances, the children have been left out and they have not had input. 

Section 3.(2)(e) states, “quality of the relationship the child has with a birth parent or other individual and the effect of maintaining that relationship.”  That is a very healthy relationship for a child to grow up in, provided there is harmony between birth parents and adopting parents.  It would be probably important that this would be monitored very closely because in many events if harmony breaks down and if the feelings of the birth mother, or in fact the adopting parents, change over the course of time as the child gets older.  That is very important to monitor. 

Section 3.(2)(g) would take into account the child’s views.  The child’s views are very important, but in many instances a child is not necessarily mature enough nor would they have the foresight to make decisions, and these decisions would have an effect on that child for the rest of their lives.  I think there should be a person available who would be an independent person, a neutral person, to give guidance to the child in the decision that child is making.  I suggest that here a child advocate would certainly come into play.

Of course, when we were speaking on the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, I did press for a children’s advocate and I still feel the same way.  I think that a children’s advocate would certainly be very important because when the child’s views - it is very important that the child’s views be taken into consideration, but we know that things that would affect a child’s decision when that child is nine, ten or eleven years old may not necessarily be the same things that would affect the decision of a child when the child is, in fact, an adult. 

The board, for the region represented by that board, would appoint a director to be - section 4.(2)(e), “reviewing and establishing standards and qualifications for adoption agency licensing.”

I will speak a bit more on this as we go on, but I am a bit worried about the adoption agencies.  I do not know why, when we have a ten-year waiting list for adoptions, that we need an adoption agency.  If it is for expediency purposes, I would suggest that maybe we could hire a few more social workers in the department to expedite things.  I am really not sure that I am in agreement with an adoption agency.

In terms of the disclosure veto, I agree with the disclose veto and also with the no contact clause provided that, when a birth mother is asking that there be no contact, or if a child is asking that there be no contact, that there would not be just a vague availability of medical records but that all the medical history of the birth mother be available and provision made for any new medical things that may turn up if it is determined that the birth mother or the birth father, in later life, should develop something, or if a condition should come to light that would have genetic effects, I think that should be an ongoing process.  It should be incumbent on the birth mother or the birth parent to see to it that the adopted child has access to that at all times because, like I said, things do change. 

There are a few more parts that I would like to get into.  I would actually like to get into the adoption agency.  As I said, if we have a waiting list of ten years or so, why do we need an adoption agency?  I am a little bit weary of anything - obviously if there is an adoption agency, and I think it was referred to in a part of the bill, section 69.(5), “A person shall not give, receive or agree to give or receive a payment or reward, whether directly or indirectly,...”, but that does not apply to an adoption agency receiving fees and expenses that do not exceed those allowed under the regulations. 

I am wondering, what will be the fee?  Obviously, a person is not going to open an adoption agency for altruistic means only; they will want to make some money, there will need to be a payment of fees.  It will not just be to cover the costs incurred; it will also be with a view to making some money. 

I really have an uneasy feeling when a child is the object of trade, when a child is the object that is resulting in the bottom line of the business.  Will the costs be regulated?  Even when they are regulated, like I said, no agency is going to enter into a business for the adoption of children not to make money, so we have a child who is the object of trading here. 

We do not have control over what happens with international adoptions but, for the most part, international adoptions are exclusively for those who can afford it.  Now, if we have an adoption agency and a couple is a bit more affluent or they have a bit more money, will they be able to go to the adoption agency and have the adoption speeded up?  If you have more money, will you skip the line by being able to go to an adoption agency for a child?  If a child is out there for adoption, and if the government are the only people who are governing and dealing in adoptions, then that child will go directly through the department of community services.  However, if there is an adoption agency, that could very well shift because the child could now be available through the adoption agency.  If there is somebody running the adoption agency, will they look at the person who has more money, is better able to pay the bill?  Then, will adoptions become exclusively for those who can afford it, as we know international adoption agencies are? 

Will the adoption agency take the same care in doing a home study of the adopting parents, the adopting family, as one of the social workers or somebody within a department in our government will take?  These things, I would like to say, I am very concerned about. 

We have seen on the news in places where they have had private adoptions that pretty horrendous things can come from them.  These horrendous things are not exclusive to adoption agencies, however they are probably more prevalent through adoption agencies than they would be through the government. 

That is all I have to say.  All in all, the bill is a very good bill.  Like I said, it is leading edge.  It will bring us nicely into the next century.  It is a long awaited for bill and with much pressure on all the stakeholders involved.  However, I do enter a very strong caveat on the adoption agency’s portion because when a child is the object of trade or is used when a bottom line has to be achieved it does give me major concern. 

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. 

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

MR. COLLINS: (Inaudible) Mr. Speaker, I would like to say a few words on this bill as well, An Act Respecting Adoptions. 

I think this is a very progressive piece of legislation, one that bestows and confers a lot of rights to the child in question in a lot of the cases that are addressed in this bill.  I think we all know of cases like this one.  I know of one particular incident just last week where a person about fifteen years ago adopted a young child and now that child has medical problems.  The family is unable to obtain the medical information they require in seeking medical assistance.  For the future, this problem will not be encountered, and it is unfortunate we have people in the Province today who are not able to access the medical information they require for children that they have adopted. 

I think it is also important to acknowledge that for the child himself or herself - not just the medical but the social history of the child’s family as well, the birth child’s family - that the child himself or herself can have input into the adoption process.  It is not just a case of somebody sitting remotely away from the family being able to decide where and what happens to a child who is in that position.  I think we have all seen cases over the years where that has failed miserably.  Today there are many people in this Province and in our society in general who are leading lives that are not what they should be, simply because the protection that they should have had from the state was not available to them, and the state did not always act in the best interests of the children that were put in homes or put up for adoption. 

I will not take up too much time other than say that this is a progressive piece of legislation.  It provides for disclosure for both parties to an adoption and I think it is a step in the right direction.  I think that in future parents of adopted children can adopt the children under this legislation, will be afforded a lot more protection, and have more rights conferred upon them than they did in the past.  Thank you. 

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): If the hon. minister speaks now she will close the debate. 

The hon. the Minister of Human Resources and Employment. 

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, as both members opposite have mentioned this is a very positive piece of legislation.  It really moves forward the whole area of adoption services into the next century.  It is a long sought after change in this area.  Some of the concerns I think that the Member for St. John’s West mentioned will obviously receive more discussion as we go through Committee.  However, I would say that with respect to the adoptions’ agency and the power of the government, through its director, to ensure that the services are being provided in a manner consistent with the principles of this act, in Section 59 of the act there is a section which outlines very clearly the powers of the provincial director and the level of authority that they have with respect to inspection of these agencies to ensure that the services they are providing are services that serve well the children of this Province, and as well the people who have been adopted or are looking to adopt in the future. 

Mr. Speaker, having said that and noted that particular concern, and the area that it is addressed in in the act, I now move second reading. 

On motion, a bill, “An Act Respecting Adoptions,” read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow.  (Bill 45) 

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order 29, “An Act To Amend The Medical Act,” Bill 46. 

Motion, second reading of a bill, “An Act To Amend The Medical Act.”  (Bill 46) 

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, Bill 46 is An Act To Amend the Medical Act.  The Medical Act governs the practice of medicine in this Province.  In one part, it provides for the operation of the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association as a private organization in which all doctors in the Province are members.  In another part, it provides for the establishment of the Newfoundland Medical Board which is the regulatory arm of the medical profession.  This Board is distinct from the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association and it has responsibility for the issuing of licences to doctors, and so on. 

This bill mainly augments or clarifies the existing law to enable the Newfoundland Medical Board to carry out its responsibilities.  As well, it clarifies the law with respect to membership in the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association by provisionally licensed physicians. 

The amendments being proposed to the Medical Act are supported by the Newfoundland Medical Board.  The Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association has seen the amendments and they are particularly pleased with this proposed clarification.  Specifically, the amendments will provide the Medical Board with the regulation making authority to prescribe the terms and conditions applicable to the sponsor for purposes of licensing medical practitioners, allowing for flexibility of placement of provisionally licensed practitioners with clinical and fee for service physicians. 

It will clarify that a provisionally licensed physician is required to be a member of the Association.  It will provide the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Board with full explicit investigative powers upon receipt of a complaint against a physician prior to a disciplinary hearing.  It clarifies that the Newfoundland Medical Board has the authority to require a physician to produce patient medical charts, and health and drug records for the purposes of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. 

There are another few sections to the act.  Again, these are the highlights of it.  The major intent of these amendments is to clarify or explicitly state investigative powers of the Newfoundland Medical Board as noted in the disciplinary sections of the act and in the section dealing with the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. 

Currently, the Medical Act by implication  makes acupuncture a practice of medicine.  This creates a situation whereby trained acupuncturists are in potential violation of the Medical Act, so deleting subsection 29 will eliminate this statutory barrier and confirm the practice of acupuncture in our Province. 

Mr. Speaker, I believe these are the major highlights of this bill. and I will conclude my comments. 

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. 

I just have a couple of brief comments on this bill.  I am not sure the minister mentioned it or if whether I missed it, but my understanding is that in clause 4, there is a request now of seven days receipt of a particular request of information.  My understanding now is - I’m not sure the minister mentioned it - is that there is no limit on it now.  Is that what the current act states, I think? 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. SULLIVAN: Pardon?  I do not believe it specifies now.  We are introducing really a time limit now to make it timely to ensure that information is back fairly quickly.  I think that is the intent there.  I think she mentioned, on the last one, that the Board provides a physician now with information obtained in connection with the drug monitoring program.  That is being repealed basically, right? 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, that is being repealed, section 29(3) clause 5.  That, I think, is the drug monitor program.  Is that what the minister indicated?   That is my understanding. 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. SULLIVAN: With acupuncture, okay. 

Overall, Mr. Speaker, it is very concise here.  We certainly cannot disagree with specifying a limit and a time in which you need to respond to be able to deal with these.  We certainly support the specifics here.  There is no particular issue here that I am aware of, any major concerns that would require any further debate or any delaying of this particular bill. 

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

The hon. the Minister of Human Resources and Employment. 

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, I will simply at this point move second reading. 

On motion, a bill, “An Act To Amend The Medical Act,” read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow.  (Bill 46) 

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order 30, second reading of a bill, “An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act,” Bill 49.  I believe the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is going to introduce that bill on behalf of his colleague the Minister of Government Services and Lands. 

Motion, second reading of a bill, “An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act.”  (Bill 49) 

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. 

I was approached four or five months ago, I guess, in Deer Lake one day by the local airport authority.  They were wondering about what they would have to do to try to get this changed because they were having problems there once the - 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh! 

MR. WOODFORD: I asked them to submit a request.  They put it in to my colleague the Minister of Government Services and Lands.  As members know, a lot of those authorities have been divested by the federal government over to local authorities.  The two that really were affected by it so far were Stephenville and Deer Lake.  They are not for profit corporations, and since the lands are no longer in the federal domain the airport authorities can longer base regulatory control of traffic and parking on federal authority.  The public also expects the regulations to be identical, or at least similar, in all jurisdictions.  They did not want it different in different airports.  It is not only the parking part of it, but also the crosswalks, the walkways, the roads, the passenger drop off areas and the parking areas at airports should be safe and orderly.  Really, due to the absence of a federal regulatory regime, there was nobody there to police it.  That is why they called on the Province to delegate such authority to the local airport authorities. 

Mr. Speaker, that is the sum of the substance of this particular act.  This is on behalf of the Minister of Government Services and Lands. 

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. 

As I said to the hon. minister, he said he was approached in the airport on this bill.  If memory serves me correct, the hon. minister has had a lot of approaches in airports.  I would just like to say for the record he would want to be careful.  The last time he was approached, I suppose he will have to spend the rest of his life getting over that one.  I say in all honesty that he is going to be approached over the next few days, because I see the Minister of Fisheries is quite active over there today.  I watched the strategy of the two front runners of the leadership race and I see that the Minister of Mines and Energy is writing all day.  He lost his voice so he is gone to the pen.  Maybe he should be in the Pen long ago. 

AN HON. MEMBER: But it is not one that you hold in your hand. 

MR. MANNING: While he is writing his name hundreds of times to the possible delegates to the leadership convention, the Minister of Fisheries is canvassing the nosebleed section and doing quite well from what I understand. 

Someone said to me you should get Hansard, bring back Hansard, and then he wouldn’t do so well in the nosebleed section but I am going to wait now on that.  I am not sure what they are talking about there, but somebody advised me of that along the way. 

I just want to make a few comments, if I could, on Bill 49, An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act.  I see that this bill has come forward at a time when airport authorities are taking on a new role in the Province.  It is important that they have some legislation that gives them an opportunity to bring forward their concerns and certainly that their concerns are addressed in law.  I see that through the bill it will give certainly a fair amount of authority to the airport authorities and indeed give them the opportunity to fall in line with other regulations that are in the Province. 

From an overall point of view, we feel that the airport authorities need to have some concrete legislation behind them in order to bring forward the concerns they have and in order to keep a record of convictions and so on as specified in the regulations of each novice driver and driver, whether residents or non-residents, for offences under this act.  As I said, it is important that the airport authorities have this opportunity; and whether the minister was approached in the airport or whether he was approached on the side of the highway, or whether he was approached in the plane, it does not really matter.  It is important that the piece of legislation comes forward to give these airport authorities the legislation they need in order to operate. 

The Government House Leader is all smiles today, and I can’t understand why. 

MR. TULK: My tie. 

MR. MANNING: It must be the tie.  The Government House Leader is all smiles today. 

I say to the Government House leader, somebody told me on the weekend the reason you are doing so much smiling now.  Again, I am just going on what I heard on the weekend.  I was told on the weekend that the Government House Leader is doing a lot of smiling lately.  I was told that it is the first time since he was five years old that his age and the size of his pants were the same, and that is why he is doing so much smiling.  I am not sure of that but somebody passed that on to me. 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. MANNING: It is interesting.  I just want to say that, in relation to the legislation, we do not have any concerns with it at the present time.  We welcome back the main minister - the acting minister is on that side - but we do not have any problem with it at the present time.  Any concerns that we have will be raised in Committee stage. 

I just want to say as a word of warning, I say to the acting minister who introduced the bill, to be careful in the airports.  I will leave it at that; be careful in the airports. 

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

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. 

We support the legislation as well, Bill 49, An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act.  I guess with the airport authorities being in effect - as much as people may not have wanted the airport authorities around, the federal government were successful in offloading that to the communities that the airports are in, to a large degree, and we are stuck with it.  Really, all this legislation does is give them the tools that they need - now that they have the airports - to do the job that they are required to do. 

Outside of the fining procedures, setting the fines, section 4, which is the longest one there after section 189, it basically deals with all safety aspects for people who are using the airports as passengers, or picking people up and dropping them off, just to make sure that traffic flows in an orderly manner. 

We support the legislation.  As I said, it is only something that will enable the airport authorities to do the job that they, in many cases, had no other option but to undertake the responsibilities for. 

Thank you. 

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

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, I do not want to add anything else to it other than the fact that St. John’s Airport is a little different because that still comes under federal regulatory control.  St. Anthony and Wabush are continuing to negotiate with the federal government on whether they are going to transfer it or not. 

With that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to close the debate. 

On motion, a bill, “An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act,” read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow.  (Bill 49)

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order 31, Bill 48, “An Act To Amend The Works, Services And Transportation Act,” second reading.  The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. 

Motion, second reading of a bill, “An Act To Amend The Works, Services And Transportation Act.”  (Bill 48) 

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. 

There are a couple of amendments there, clause 1 and clause 2.  Really, what it does is assist in control of illegal parking in fire lanes, emergency lanes, ambulance parking areas and other locations around public buildings where illegal parking interferes with both safety and the proper provision of services to the public.  That is primarily what it is.  The illegal parking is less than the cost of legal parking and that is what is happening in a lot of cases.  A lot of people are going in and taking up those fire lanes, emergency areas, the ones that I just outlined, because they do not have to pay anything anyway.  Fire lanes, ambulance lanes, emergency lanes - 

AN HON. MEMBER: Not a regular parking lot (inaudible). 

MR. WOODFORD: Not a regular parking lot, no.  No, it is just in emergency areas around public buildings like, for instance, courthouses and places like that.  What they are doing is just parking there and not getting any tickets - 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. WOODFORD: We are going to fine them. 

AN HON. MEMBER: What? 

MR. WOODFORD: We are going to fine them, Mr. Speaker. 

AN HON. MEMBER: Old Mr. Grinch. 

MR. WOODFORD: Anyway, that is the bottom line with it all.  There is a clause there that says in clause 1 “...would also provide that each hour’s continuation of a parking offence is a separate offence where so indicated on a sign, permit or direction.”  That is something that we had to institute there in order to give it some clout. 

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

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I just want to clarify and make sure that we understand this, that it is just in the emergency lanes as the minister just described.  That is right, right? 

Pertaining to that, we do not have a problem with that, when you talk about the safety of people and emergency entrances and so on, where the minister has described.  We would have a problem with it upon every hour, on every hour, I say to the minister.  We would certainly have some concerns about it, if we talked about every meter everywhere; but, according to the minister in clarifying that, that is not the case. 

As far as this bill goes, it is really a housecleaning bill to make sure that it pertains to emergency areas and so on, and we do not have a major problem with that. 

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. 

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Mr. Speaker, the minister indicated that it was only for emergency areas.  This was only distributed today.  I wonder, does the minister have - 

AN HON. MEMBER: No, it was (inaudible). 

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Okay, my mistake. 

Does it say specifically, I ask the minister - does it refer to emergency areas or public buildings?  Is that the actual wording in section 35.(8)? 

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, all the other parking areas in the city and around are controlled by the municipalities.  In those areas where municipalities have control, it is looked after in any case and they are paid a fee in some cases for this.  This is to bring that in line with that.  The only thing about it in this case where most government buildings and fire lanes, like in hospitals and public buildings that we are responsible for - like ambulance lanes around hospitals like the Health Sciences Centre, courthouses, fire lanes and so on, things like that for which we are responsible...  The rest of it is looked after by the municipalities - most of what the hon. member is talking about. 

If you will accept that, Mr. Speaker, I can close debate on this particular bill. 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. minister closes debate?  Okay. 

On motion, a bill, “An Act To Amend The Works Services And Transportation Act,” read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow.  (Bill 48) 

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I am going to call Motion 1 and, in so doing, move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole.  I wonder, does the Speaker have his assistant here?  Oh, there he is. 

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

Committee of the Whole 

CHAIR (Smith): Order, please! 

A bill, “An Act To Amend The Local Authority Guarantee Act, 1957 (No.2).”  (Bill 23) 

Clause 1. 

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition. 

MR. E. BYRNE: Clause 1, Mr. Chairman.  This is the opportunity to go clause-by-clause.  It says the Town Council of Anchor Point, $37,643 for two years.  Could the minister give some explanation on that, please: When it was made - the five W’s: who, what, when, where, why of it, just on the first section here. 

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Justice. 

MR. DICKS: Mr. Chairman, I do not have that information here, quite frankly, on all these.  What these amounts are, are amounts that have been to the House and are announced every year.  This is to consolidate what is done in municipal affairs, essentially.  In other words, it is a companion bill to what we approve every year in the budget process. 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. DICKS: Yes, but do you want all the detail on every single one of these? 

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible) provide some explanation.  We are talking about significant sums of money.  Obviously, in clause-by-clause debate we can expect - it is a fairly straightforward question to the minister in terms of when these were approved, what they were approved for. 

MR. DICKS: I do not have that level of detail here, Mr. Chairman.  I can probably obtain it, but these are the amounts that come before the House every year.  These are all the projects that are announced, and that kind of thing. 

MR. TULK: Water and sewer. 

MR. DICKS: Water and sewer, road work; and, as the hon. member knows, they are approved on a cost-shared basis and so on.  The reason I did not bring the level of detail was, we consider these as supportive to the general budget process because most of these are amounts that are approved in the budget process every year and then the minister announces the details and sends out notices to each of the communities.  I don’t have that level of detail here.  It is obtainable but - 

MR. TULK: It is from March 27, 1998 to August 31, 1999. 

MR. DICKS: Yes, but I do not have that detail.  In fact, I would probably have to go back to the Department of Municipal Affairs to find - this sort of stuff (inaudible), water and sewer, 50-50 basis and road work.  I would not have that level of detail here.  It can be obtained but I might have to go to the department to get it. 

MR. TULK: You would have to go to the Department of Municipal Affairs, would you? 

MR. DICKS: Yes, it is the Department of Municipal Affairs. 

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition. 

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

At some point, then, would you be able to provide that level of detail even if it is (inaudible)? 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. E. BYRNE: I understand the nature of the bill, I understand where it is coming from.  This is money that is already spent in accordance with what has already been outlined within the Budget in terms of the programs that have been outlined in the Budget in terms of water and sewer work, x number of millions of dollars, then how it was carved up within the districts, et cetera, and the time frame associated.  Would you be able to provide that?  Because this is important information in terms of... 

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Justice. 

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

I would be pleased to provide it.  The only thing is that no one has ever asked the question in the House before so I have never come with the detail.  I think part of it is that it is seen as consequential on what the announcements were.  Yes, that detail is available, and I would be happy to provide it.  I just apologize because I did not think the hon. members would want that level.  I will have that available.  I will check with the minister when he returns and ask him to see if he can dig this out as well. 

Thank you. 

On motion, clause 1, carried.

Resolution 

“That it is expedient to bring in a measure further to amend The Local Authority Guarantee Act, 1957, to provide for the guarantee of the repayment of loans made to, and the advance of loans to certain local authorities.” 

On motion, resolution carried. 

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader. 

MR. TULK: Motion 2, Bill 22 , “An Act To Amend The Loan And Guarantee Act, 1957.” 

CHAIR: Shall clause 1 carry? 

The hon. the Opposition House Leader. 

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

I have a few comments on all these big amounts of money here.  We have guaranteed millions of dollars here, I can see.  What is this?  One hundred and thirty million dollars guaranteed on the Health Care Corporation of St. John’s.  That is the one where they were going to build the extension for $70 million, then it was $100 million, then it was $120 million, then $130 million, and now it is $135 million I hear.  They are going to spend another $5 million.  Now it is higher again.  That is all they want now before March 31.  The move is not until June, and who knows?  That is the one where we were going to borrow $100 million.  I asked the question a few years ago.  Actually, for the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island, I said at day one over at - 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. SULLIVAN: I will ensure that debate will not end before you get back on this. 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, a few little points, and I promised our finance critic that I would definitely speak on this bill and get some particular points on the record hat I feel are necessary. 

That is the one I stated something on back in the Henrietta Harvey Building, I think it is.  That is where the old library was.  I went over to a conference there a few years ago when they announced this new Health Care Corporation and all the things they were going to do.  I said I agree with reorganization and consolidation.  If you are going to spend less on bricks and mortar and maintenance and facilities and cost, and more into health care, I endorse it.  I made that statement. 

MR. E. BYRNE: Has that happened? 

MR. SULLIVAN: Has it happened?  It has hardly happened.  I monitored it and followed this continuously.  I made a point to go into the lion’s den, which is what one person called it there, once at a Health Care Corporation meeting.  I managed to get to almost all of them.  I went over to the Holiday Inn on the very first meeting, the very first AGM of the Health Care Corporation of St. John’s, and in a packed hall at Holiday Inn I asked some questions.  How much money are we going to need to complete this project?  They stood up and said: It will take $100 million we will need now to do those changes.  Now it was $70 million earlier, and Hansard here will bear that out, and I have - 

MR. J. BYRNE: (Inaudible) savings, weren’t they? 

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I’m getting to it.  The Member for Cape St. Francis is so eager to get to the finish line.  He is bowled over with excitement. 

They said: We will have to go out on the market and we are going to have to borrow $100 million, but we are going to borrow it over twenty years.  We will have to pay back $200 million in interest and so on.  At $10 million a year for twenty years, $200 million we will have to pay back.  Because we are only paying back $10 million a year, we are going to save over $20 million in the process.  So we have $10 million to go into health care now and we have another $10 million to pay down on the debt, even though we are spending $100 million on financing. 

We have found out since that this $100 million is not $100 million.  They are admitting, in loan guarantees, that they had to borrow $130 million.  That is what they are acknowledging up to March 31.  They are going to borrow $130 million.  Approval is given to the Health Care Corporation to borrow that money, and it is not finished yet.  That does not even count closing down St. Clare’s, for which I think they paid out $6.5 million, if I remember correctly.  Over a period of twenty years they will pay $15 million on that.  Is that correct, I ask the minister?  I think over $6.5 million was the purchase price.  Over twenty years they will pay it to the Sisters of Mercy and it will be $15 million when it is paid off.  They agreed to pay I think, if I remember correctly, $4.5 million or $4.6 million or so for the Grace Hospital, in that ballpark.  That will be paid off over a shorter term, over five years.  In both of these we are looking at $20-some million in purchase of facilities, not counting $130 million.  We are up to over $150 million.  Plus they need equipment and so on in the new facility.  There is another $20 million redevelopment over the next five years in their five-year plan that did not come up under the Public Accounts Committee.  She is going right to the sky now, right up to $200 million.  The Auditor General said: They did not allow moving costs and other basic costs in that. 

I even went over into the lion’s den, as one of the media reporters said, at the Health Care Corporation and asked some basic questions.  I have asked this before in the House.  Where are the identified savings?  Tell me, I said, minister, how much savings are identified in that move?  The Auditor General asked it.  The Auditor General could not find how much the identified savings were.  They are going on a whim and a prayer.  That is what it is, a whim and a prayer.  That is what is happening.  This is going to be far more than they expect.  It is going to be double the cost they initially anticipated.  What are we going to have?  Hundreds of less beds in the city. 

I got a call this weekend from someone who took a heart attack in the U.S. Thursday.  No hospital beds here, so they couldn’t bring him home.  The cost was tens of thousands of dollars, and I don’t have to tell members about that.  A current Member of the House can tell you the cost in the United States.  It is about $100,000 alone it costs if you get sick in the US.  This was only on a short holiday a person was on when he took sick. 

We can see that we have less beds, less nurses, and we have longer waiting lists.  We have unbelievable numbers of people who cannot access surgery. We have spent a bundle of money, and look at all the economic decisions we have made.  It cost $30 million to put the Trans City ones there.  What do we have?  Down in Burgeo, we have (inaudible), walk through it, and there are empty rooms all over the place.  They don’t need the rooms.  Down on the Burin Peninsula they spent close to $10 million on that one down there, and ten they never even opened.  People cannot get in.  People can’t get in.  They are waiting to get into a nursing home and they would not even open up. Ten beds haven’t opened since the Trans City ones were built - when?  I think they were finished in 1994 or 1993, I do not know.  Back in the early 1990s, anyway. 

We have had a major problem here.  While this is happening, an accountability bill lies here on the Order Paper that is not going to be called.  That is right, there is an accountability bill.  I think we need accountability legislation for health care corporations and you name it in government to make them accountable and to have regular reporting.  They must be accountable for the money they are given out of the public purse.  Can you imagine? There are hundreds of millions of dollars given out to health care institutions.  We have one we are still waiting on.  We are still waiting on that report, aren’t we, the Atkinson Report?  We still do not have that.  After three years of tooth pulling we still have not found it on the Atkinson Report. 

Now we are saying: Give us hundreds more millions of dollars year after year when accountability is lacking and there is framework legislation here on accountability.  They should put some teeth in the legislation and make those appointed boards more accountable.  I am sure the Minister of Finance cannot disagree with me on that because it should be done.  There are appointed boards out all over the place with no accountability. 

Talk about health care.  If you look at the next on the list, Integrated Poultry Limited is another one, with $400,000 in guarantees.  On top of what?  The over $20 some million at stake put in earlier in this particular one.  There is a tremendous amount of public money put out there at risk.  They were not going to pump any more money in a year ago and down the road, and now all of a sudden they keep putting it in.  A point in time comes when you have to say: The limit is there.  How much should we leverage the taxpayers?  That is more money than when you talk about Sprung.  We have more money out there in other guarantees than you had in Sprung.  Look at all the great publicity the Opposition and the government of the day got out of that one.  They wore that one out. 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, on Sprung compared to IPL.  Here we are with more guarantees. 

Here is Island By-Products Limited with $335,000.  What is that?  To buy out Earle Brothers, I believe.  Is that what that is about, on the Earle Brothers of Carbonear.  I think that is the one there if I remember correctly.  Yes, it says in the Explanatory Notes: “...to enable the company to obtain term financing to purchase the meal plant in Carbonear from Earle Proteins Limited.”  They have been operating on guarantees for some time.  I raised it here last year, I think.  The Government House Leader had a little comeuppance about it there.  There was one in the former district of his, too.  I raised the issue on the Fogo Island Co-op (inaudible) guarantees, if you remember.  Here is another one now to help buy out Earle Proteins Limited, which was normally Earle Limited there in Carbonear.  More guarantees on that. 

We are finding that government is in the business of guaranteeing companies.  I made a reference to it - and it does not make sense; I do not see them here, maybe they are going to be there in another one - I used this example last year.  I said: Why would government guarantee to double the guarantee to a fish company to go out and pay more money than anybody else for crab?  They paid $1 million in guarantees, paid more than everybody else, then came back at the end of the year on bended knee and said: Will you double our guarantee because we paid too much money? 

AN HON. MEMBER: I’m sure you will be pleased to know that this year they will make (inaudible). 

MR. SULLIVAN: I’m delighted, and I hope they will have continued prosperity, I say to the minister.  Should you guarantee any competitive business out there, I say to the minister?  It is not the point of the Fogo Island Co-op I was getting at, to be honest with you.  I really do not feel we should be giving guarantees to one business at the expense of another. 

We are competing out there today.  I saw it up in my district with Universal Multifoods.  They were guaranteed $20 million with the Canadian Salt Fish Corporation.  They went out, they had every boat that sailed, they could not unload them they had so many lined up out in the harbor, thirty and forty at the one time, paying way more than everybody else, lose thirty nets, throw thirty more aboard, endlessly.  What happened?  The company went under $20 million.  They had so much fish they could not get it out of the boat.  It even went bad.  It was not good quality.  There were numerous problems there.  The company went under because we were paying millions of dollars of public money to compete against other operations out there.  It is not a healthy environment.  It does not send a good message to the business community out there, I can tell you, when you do that as a general rule. 

I am hoping now that they are on good footing and that they will prosper.  I know even in my own district, for example, the Petty Harbour Co-op, I think the bank called in a loan two years ago on them and the government had to pay $1 million to the bank in their case.  We have seen it.  Hopefully that era has turned now, that companies out there can stand on their own two feet and can build up equity in the company.  Because a lot of companies, when in good times, go out head over heels and invest and overcapitalize.  We have seen Nickerson’s and other companies all over the Province overcapitalized based on pelagics and things that were cyclic in nature.  They were here one year, the next year they were gone, and it created major problems.  You have to build equity.  You expand when you have a certain base, a certain equity in a company, and you don’t give leverage too far.  We cannot have governments propping up them because I can tell you it does not help the economy in the long term.  It does not create sustainable jobs on a competitive basis because you are giving people a crutch to operate.  When that crutch is gone, when you can do it no longer, it comes crumbling down.  We have seen lots of examples here. 

We have been giving a crutch to - I know S.C.B. Fisheries are mentioned here too.  There is a crutch to IPL.  Sometimes the crutch gets so big, so high up there, that when it gives out it comes tumbling down.  In certain instances, I agree, there has to be certain support, you have to look at public interest, and they are all factors, but the time comes when you have to start realizing we cannot continue to - 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) not near as long. 

MR. SULLIVAN: It is not as long?  The numbers on the list are bigger, I say.  They are getting huge.  There is a lot of money, I might add, out there today.  I see others there, such as the Torngat Fish Producers Co-operative with $600,000.  I know in certain areas, there is certain public policy, I agree.  You cannot say we are out there with no (inaudible) of what is going on.  There are certain parts of the Province it is difficult to do business in and nobody wanted to go in there.  You have to recognize that we have to be able to sustain those communities and the people who live there.  I have sympathy for that, and I support certain public policies in that regard. 

MR. TULK: You are starting to sound like a real Liberal. 

MR. SULLIVAN: I don’t know what I am starting to sound like but it is very pragmatic, very realist.  I have never been accused of not being pragmatic.  Even though I believe strongly in allowing businesses to do business, to be honest with you, and in as little government intervention as possible in business.  Because in the long term we are going to benefit by it.  People get up and make statements.  I will use a comparison.  People come out and make statements like: Employment insurance is still in the economy, you will have always have a crutch and never better yourself. 

I feel it is important in the transition towards employment.  What we need to be addressing, and we have not addressed it in this country, is reducing the economic disparities in places like Newfoundland and Labrador.  If we had a fund here for (inaudible) or whatever it was, Quebec wanted to have a fund, and we wanted to have the Western Canada diversification fund, and everybody else wanted to get a certain share of money for their purpose, you will never eliminate disparities when you justify it by giving to one. 

The Government of Canada has to start realizing that we do not want Newfoundland to be receiving - it used to be a billion dollars.  They starved us down to $400 million or $500 million now in EI or less.  We have to start realizing you have to give them options to be able to survive.  We have not done that enough federally to be able to give us a chance to be competitive, because we want to have jobs.  We want to be a contributor to the Canadian economy.  We have contributed immensely when you look at what we have contributed to the Canadian economy.  You have to start realizing there has -

CHAIR: Order, please! 

The hon. member’s time is up. 

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave! 

CHAIR: Does the hon. member have leave? 

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave! 

CHAIR: By leave. 

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

There has to be a recognition that you have to get disproportionate funding in certain cases to get equity and equality out there.  That has to happen.  It is unfortunate today - 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, and there is a ‘me’ mentality in Canada today, in Ontario and you name it, everywhere else out there.  We are not getting our share of equalization and so on in Ontario, and with the claw backs or sort of caps they figure they are being robbed of hundreds of millions of dollars.  I am sure the finance minister hears that when he attends the conference of ministers across the country.  You have to realize, they wanted us to be a part of Canada.  We brought with us tremendous resources that have contributed to the Canadian economy.  If they want us with the resources they have to work to be able to create a competitive environment for us to be able to prosper, and we have not been getting there. 

In fact, I read an article in I think in the weekend Telegram.  It is an interesting article when it talks about unemployment and it tells a tale out there.  It is a telling one in rural Newfoundland.  We have not reached that point in rural Newfoundland where we have developed the economy of rural Newfoundland.  We are looking at urbanization - 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I am not sure.  Urbanization all across this country has occurred and people - 

AN HON. MEMBER: Right across North America. 

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, right across North America, everywhere.  For example, 60 per cent of the population of Manitoba is in one city.  Some of the even less populated ones - taking Regina and Saskatoon for example - have about 37.5 per cent of the population in these two cities.  That is a very rural one, more like Newfoundland and Labrador in a sense.  Other provinces all have the mass of their population in two main cities.  Just look at Alberta with two major cities, up around a million people in those two alone there.  They have the major populations there. 

Here, we were born and developed on the fishery, and rural Newfoundland helped sustain the economy of our Province for many years.  They can continue to do it.  It will be less so now and in the future because we have bigger boats, we move farther afield, and you do not have to live in the same community any more.  You can live in St. John’s and you can fish.  Up in Labrador you can catch your shrimp, you can - 

AN HON. MEMBER: As a matter of fact, (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That is right.  The most efficient method could turn everything loose and go out at sea and harvest it right there.  You do not have your same shipping costs.  You can do an industrial process, you can do some further processing in some areas.  You can do it all at sea and nobody works on land.  They are gone away from their families for seven or ten months of the year.  That is not the way we really want our economy to build.  There are species close to shore that - 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) our society.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, it is not, I agree.  Factory freezer trawlers was a very controversial issue back at the time, there were a lot of concerns on that.  People out at sea working on those shrimp boats make big bucks, as I think the Member for Cape St. Francis used - crew members are making $100,000-and some.  That is right.  Crew members make over $100,000 out there.  Those are very good wages when you are out at sea, but you are gone away from home a lot of the time.

The rural inshore fishery is never going to be what it was in the past by the own movement from the harvesters into the bigger boats, more competitive to stay alive to try to grab that share of a quota.  We have to try to be able to ensure that rural Newfoundland maintains a presence. 

Sometimes, such as in this act here, you might have to do that in certain instances where there are non-competitive environments to do business there.  That happens.  We could resettle.  You could take everybody off Bell Island and put them in here and operate more economically - 

AN HON. MEMBER: Fogo Island. 

MR. SULLIVAN: Fogo Island.  You can do it everywhere.  If you look at Harbour Deep - it has been there lately - by, I guess, the (inaudible) people moving out.  Eventually, at some point in the future, maybe there will be no one there.  Grey River, Grand Bruit, François and those areas, the numbers are dwindling.  New people are not living there.  At some point in the future it gets to the point where they are ready to move and it just (inaudible) down.  That will happen.  Because what is to bring people out to these areas any more?  There was a livelihood, they depended on the sea for years, but that is shifting now.  In fact, there is going to be a major shift -  

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. SULLIVAN: Three minutes.  Yes, we will.  Anyway, there are lots of interesting things here.  I could go on and talk forever on some of these things here and how they are impacting. 

Mr. Chairman,  I always have concerns when we look at loan guarantees.  They have to be looked at in context.  I’m not saying they should never happen but they should be very prudent, they should be last resort things to do, they should be areas that look at a public interest served in a non-competitive environment.  There has to be a certain finale.  You cannot just keep going farther and farther afield.  There is a point when I say to anybody out in business: There is a point where you cut your losses early.  You have to cut your losses early if you see it is not working again and you have to look at investing elsewhere. 

There are some of the basic things that are important in discussing whether we should be guaranteeing loans.  Some of the ones here probably have not been too wise.  Only time will tell, I suppose, in the long term.  There is one there the minister said is doing fine.  That is great.  The price of crab went up, and all that helps the market, I suppose, overall in the situation.  It is good to see companies survive on their own merit.  They cannot keep getting a crutch forever. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear! 

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis. 

MR. J. BYRNE: Will I adjourn debate? 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh! 

MR. J. BYRNE: If that is the case, if  there are more finance bills, alright. 

On motion, clauses 1 through 4, carried. 

Resolution 

“That it is expedient to bring in a measure further to amend The Loan and Guarantee Act, 1957, to provide for the advance of loans to and the guarantee of the repayment of bonds or debentures issued by or loans advanced to certain corporations.” 

On motion, resolution carried. 

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader. 

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, I think we are going to recess the Committee for half an hour and then come back and do Committee of the Whole starting with Order 7.  There is no need of rising the Committee, just recess until 6:30 p.m.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh! 

CHAIR: Is that 6:30 p.m. or 6:45 p.m.?  I am hearing (inaudible). 

MR. TULK: Loyola, 6:30 p.m. or 6:45 p.m.? 

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, oh! 

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, 6:45 p.m.. 

CHAIR: The House will recess until 6:45 p.m. 

Recess

CHAIR (Oldford): Order, please! 

The hon. the Government House Leader. 

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, Order 7,  Committee of the Whole on a bill, “An Act To Amend The Coat Of Arms Act,” Bill 29. 

CHAIR: Bill 29, An Act To Amend The Coat Of Arms Act. 

Shall clause 1 carry? 

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Chairman, just a few words on the Coat of Arms.  We have a lot of legislation here before us.  It must be important legislation or I’m sure the government would not be bringing it to the House of Assembly to have it passed. 

The Coat of Arms act is an important piece of legislation.  I spoke on this the other day in the House of Assembly. We saw out in front of this place the Coat of Arms being constructed.  I said earlier in the House about the $500,000 that they put out to tender last year to build the Coat of Arms in front of the Confederation Building.  Really, the people that are driving along the Parkway could see it before when they had flowers there and it was on the same angle as the lawn.  People driving by could see the Coat of Arms.  Now the only way you are going to be able to see the Coat of Arms in front of the Confederation Building is either go up on the tenth floor or eighth floor or fly over it in a helicopter and hover over the Coat of Arms. 

MR. SULLIVAN: I thought it was a helicopter pad. 

MR. J. BYRNE: That is what I thought it was going to be first when I saw it being constructed, a helicopter pad for the Premier to fly in and land. 

MR. MANNING: It’s a launch pad for the leadership. 

MR. J. BYRNE: A launch pad. 

The act to amend the Coat of Arms Act, Mr. Chairman, as we said before - and I brought it up here and I asked questions of the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs - with the changes in this legislation now is going to allow the minister to use his or her discretion, whoever the minister may be at any given time, to allow an individual or a company to use it, maybe on a plastic bag, on a bag of salt or something.  The minister said in the House, when I asked how often permission to use the Coat of Arms has been requested: Very seldom.  Why would you take it away from the Lieutenant Governor in Council - Cabinet - and allow the minister to make that decision?  There cannot be that much work to it. 

My concern would be this.  Are there going to be certain criteria set down, put in place, that would  allow the minister to have certain guidelines to give permission to use it?  Because what could happen - and we had the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi standing the other day talking about coats or jackets or what have you - is if we had, say, coats manufactured here in Newfoundland, or sweaters, or anything that could be sold on a retail basis, if company A would be allowed to use this Coat of Arms and company B would not.  What we have to make sure of is that if the minister is going to have the discretion to say ‘aye` or ‘nay` to any individual or any company, I think personally that there should be certain criteria set in place, certain regulations put down, that the minister would have to follow before permission can be given.  That is not too much to ask for I do not think. 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh! 

MR. J. BYRNE: Now, I could go on but there seem to be people on certain sides of the House, I will not mention which side, who would like for me to stop speaking.  The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture would like for me to stop speaking on this piece of legislation, but if the minister had to stay quiet I probably would have sat down. 

What other points were made here the other day when the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs was up speaking?  He really did not even say if he was going to be the minister or the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs would be the minister that is going to be responsible  for giving permission to use the Coat of Arms.  Because it is - 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) read it. 

MR. J. BYRNE: Up here in the House of Assembly.  Look, in Latin, it says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.” 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. J. BYRNE: You didn’t know what meant that, did you?  I know. 

I know a few things about the Coat of Arms I say to the Minister of Fisheries that I could go on about, but - 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh! 

MR. J. BYRNE: Anyway, Mr. Chairman, I am going to sit down now and give the Opposition House Leader a chance to get in his seat in the case the minister or the Government House Leader over there wants to do something with respect to any other legislation.  I think we need someone on this side to agree or disagree.  With those few words I am going to sit down and take my place. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried. 

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader. 

MR. TULK: Order 8, the Committee of the Whole on a bill, “An Act Respecting The Operation Of Mines And Mills In The Province,” Bill 28.

CHAIR: Bill 28, An Act Respecting The Operation Of Mines And Mills In The Province.

Shall clause 1 carry? 

The hon. the Member for St. John’s East. 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear! 

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

I have just a few comments on Bill 28.  As was indicated during second reading we have had an opportunity to meet with the Mining Council and to review this legislation in some detail.  It was certainly the view held by all members of that particular council that this, indeed, was progressive legislation and was the type of legislation that was needed in the mining industry.  I do have one question.  It refers, I should say Mr. Chairman, to - I do not know if this particular clause was called yet - clause 15.  Has that clause been called?  Because I have a question that I would like to make of the minister. 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Clause 15, Mr. Chairman, refers to the confidentiality section.  I will read it, it is quite brief: “Any information provided to the minister or an inspector acting under the authority of section 7, 9, 10, 11 or 12 shall be kept confidential unless an agreement for disclosure is made between the minister and the lessee.” 

My question to the minister is perhaps if he could expand on this provision and indicate the types of examples when confidentiality would be considered essential from the point of view of the department. 

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy. 

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.   

I will respond just briefly.  In checking with the Mining Council of Newfoundland and Labrador you would readily be told that one of the most competitive areas anywhere, in any sector, is the whole area of prospecting and searching for potential mineral deposits that may be big enough of and by themselves to merit and warrant converting into an actual operating mine.

Everything from section 7 - which talks about the annual report which is disclosed to the department, that talks about the work that has been done, the operations for the proceeding year and so on - and the information as well in section 9 - about the rehabilitation plans, in any of these - and in sections 10, 11 and 12 as well - the financial assurances and the designation of the inspectors who actually go out, the boundaries and so on - any of that information is so very much competitively sensitive that there is a requirement to register it with the department.  The understanding - it has always been this way in the mining sector - is that if anybody is out there actually working a claim they must tell the government what they finding out, what the contents are, what the assays are for their different minerals and testing that they have done and so on, but they do not tell their competitors because it is a very competitive environment. 

What it amounts to is that kind of information is contained in their annual plan that they would submit under section 7 and so on.  It is the kind of information that the inspectors would regularly get as they visit the sites.  It is kept on file and on record in the department so that if a claim goes in to default, if somebody does not meet their work plan or if they abandon it after four or five years, someone else can then come to the department and get the information if the current lessee has ceded their rights to the property.  While somebody has a lease in good standing they are compelled under this act to provide all the information to the government so that the government and the department know exactly what the percentages are of the different ores in the minerals and so on.  They know what the work plans are, they know what the boundaries of the site are, they know the extent of the work that is done.  They also know how much financial investment the company has attracted on an annual basis. 

That information is very sensitive, Mr. Chairman, and cannot be disclosed to the public but is readily available if the current leaseholder falls into default.  All of that information then is available through the department for the next group that might come along and want to work the same property. 

On motion, clauses 1 through 27, carried. 

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried. 

MR. TULK: Order 9, Bill 32, “An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act (No.2).” 

CHAIR: A bill, An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act (No.2),  Bill 32. 

On motion, clauses 1 and 2, carried. 

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried. 

MR. TULK: Order 10, “An Act To Remove Anomalies And Errors In The Statute Law,” Bill 24. 

CHAIR: Bill 24, An Act To Remove Anomalies And Errors In The Statute Law. 

Shall clause 1 carry? 

The hon. the Member for St. John’s East. 

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

Just one point for clarification and it has to do with clause 11(1) which reads: “Section 5 of the Gasoline Tax Act is amended by deleting the amount ‘$0.142' and substituting the amount ‘$0.15'.”  That is clause 11.  It appears, when reading this section, that what we have here is what was in place in 1994, now being changed retroactively by section 11.  I am just wondering if the minister is in a position to comment on section 11 of this proposed act. 

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

This is an issue that should have been picked up when the Province changed from a stand alone tax on gasoline to go into the HST with the other Atlantic Canadian provinces - Nova Scotia and New Brunswick - of 15 per cent, fifteen cents on a dollar.  This was just a clarification that the HST has been applied at 15 per cent on gasoline since we went to the HST a couple of years ago.  This picked up the correction in section 5 of the Gasoline Tax Act, but it has been applied consistently now since we moved to HST a couple of years ago, whenever that was. 

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader. 

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

I guess basically it has been collected all along.  Maybe someone figures now that you owe some money probably, is it?  We might as well make it retroactive so we won’t have to pay them.

MR. GRIMES: We don’t have any indication (inaudible). 

MR. SULLIVAN: You don’t have, but you want to make sure that you don’t.  (Inaudible) doesn’t get any ideas that he wants a few extra dollars. 

MR. GRIMES: Correct. 

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay. 

On motion, clauses 1 through 29, carried. 

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried. 

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader. 

MR. TULK: Order 11, “An Act To Amend The Queen’s Counsel Act”, Bill 25. 

CHAIR: Bill 25, An Act To Amend The Queen’s Counsel Act. 

Shall clause 1 carry? 

The hon. the Member for St. John’s East. 

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

We have made comments on this side of the House with respect to this particular bill.  Of course our comments centre on the fact that really what is perhaps even most appropriate in the designation of Queen’s Counsel is an independent body, perhaps a body which is assigned or put in place by the Law Society, arm’s-length from government, no government involvement.  Then what we would have is, in fact, such a designation being done by one’s peers as opposed to friends of Cabinet ministers, friends of the Minister of Justice, friends of political campaigns. 

If a designation is going to mean anything, as we have said in the past, it ought to be a designation of meaning, a designation of some substance, and that can best be done when there is an arm’s-length committee established, no party involvement, no political involvement.  Then the designation being done is based on merit as opposed to being friends of the political party in power.  That is really the thrust of the comments we have made in the past.  There is only one clause, so obviously we feel that this is just arbitrary increase from five to ten, if done on merit, would mean something.  If it is just done in view of who knows who, who helped who, who helped an individual on a particular campaign, if that is the basis, I say, such an amendment is inappropriate.  If it is based on merit, if it is based on worth, then it is something of some value. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

On motion, clause 1, carried. 

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried. 

MR. TULK: Order 12, Committee of the Whole on a bill, “An Act To Amend The Loan (Canada Pension Plan Investment Fund) Act, 1966," Bill 38. 

CHAIR: Bill 38, An Act To Amend The Loan (Canada Pension Plan Investment Fund) Act, 1966. 

Shall clause 1 carry? 

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis. 

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

This is An Act To Amend The Financial Administration Act that is going on here now, I think. 

AN HON. MEMBER: No, no. 

MR. J. BYRNE: No?  Oh, Bill 38, sorry about that.  I had the book open to the wrong place, I say to the Government House Leader.  Here we are, An Act To Amend The Loan (Canada Pension Plan Investment Fund) Act, 1966. 

I’m just going to say a few comments.  This is a finance bill, of course.  Some latitude is allowed here, I think, Mr. Chairman.  What is going on in this Province today?  That is a good question, I think, with respect to finance.  Is that a good question or not?  What is going on?  Our job on this side of the House is to hold the government accountable and I am going to make a few statements here now.  We will see what kind of mind-set that this government is in, especially since we had this Premier the past three years. 

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) one question.  Will you explain (inaudible)? 

MR. J. BYRNE: Now, there is a prime example of what is going on in the House of Assembly.  The Minister of Fisheries is asking us questions.  Whose bill is this Bill 22?  The hon. Paul D. Dicks, Q.C., Minister of Finance.  If you do not understand it I think you should ask the Minister of Finance questions.  That is his job to explain it to you.  By the way, members on that side of the House can ask questions.  I know they are frightened.  Was there a show or movie, Cape Fear?  There is the cape right there, the Premier’s chair. That is Cape Fear there because they are frightened to death on that side of the House to ask a question to the Premier or to the Minister of Finance. 

Now to accountability.  What is going on?  Let’s just show what the government is doing.  I have a few notes here.  What is going on in the Province today?  The Minister of Finance gets up and talks about a balanced budget this year and a balanced budget last year.  How did he do it?  That is the question.  How did he do it?  Now the minister gets on, and he has all the municipalities in the Province coming out, trying to talk them into private financing.  What they do is they take the responsibility, basically, off of the government books and download it to the municipalities.  Instead of the Newfoundland Municipal Financing Corporation holding the responsibility now and guaranteeing the money, guaranteeing loans to municipalities, the towns are doing it with the private banks, so now we have a different bottom line in the budget. 

Also, if you really want to look at this, let’s look at the Auditor General’s report and look at the special warrants.  They are very clever.  Because if the government uses the special warrants, which they are abusing in my opinion, they can either have a larger deficit if they want it or they can have a surplus.  Look at this, now.  In 1997-1998, according to the Auditor General, $88.6 million was there for special warrants.  Now special warrants, as we all know, is where government can give themselves the authority to spend  - 

MR. SULLIVAN: How much? 

MR. J. BYRNE: Eighty-eight point six million dollars. 

MR. SULLIVAN: We would have had about a $60 million or $70 million surplus (inaudible). 

MR. J. BYRNE: Exactly, I was getting around to that.  Eighty-eight point six million dollars they spent without prior authorization of the House of Assembly.  It was not approved in their Budget.  Just listen to this now.  Of that $88.6 million, $34.6 million - special warrants are supposed to be used in special circumstances, extreme circumstances - was issued in March 1998. 

When does the fiscal year end?  March 31.  There was $34.6 million spent in March 1998.  That begs to question, Mr. Chairman, what’s up or what’s down depending on how you look at it.  Listen to this.  Of that $30.9 million that was issued, it does not appear that this was an urgent requirement.  There was $30.9 million spent in March, and not urgent.  By the way, some of this money, millions of this was not spent in September 1998. 

MR. MANNING: Not $1 million, not $10 million (inaudible). 

MR. J. BYRNE: Not $2 million, not $3 million, not $5 million, but tens of millions were still there in September.  The money is suppose to be used in extreme situations, emergencies.  Can you imagine?  From March, that leaves you with April, May, June, July, August, September - six months and not spent.  That is what this government is up to. 

Let’s get on to another thing.  With respect - 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) the point (inaudible)? 

MR. J. BYRNE: I am not finished with it yet, not at all.  Don’t you worry, we know what is going on. 

When we are talking about finances -

AN HON. MEMBER: No more bully beef for you. 

MR. J. BYRNE: I like it too, by the way. 

AN HON. MEMBER: Bully beef glazed with mustard, (inaudible). 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh! 

MR. J. BYRNE: I like it. 

MR. SHELLEY: Fruit cake on top of that. 

AN HON. MEMBER: Maybe mushrooms. 

MR. J. BYRNE: There is nothing wrong with a good bully beef sandwich and mustard and a cup of tea.  It is a good feed. 

Mr. Chairman, (inaudible) off the track here.  We were talking about finances in the Province.  We know that the government - and I mean government, I’m not talking about the backbenchers here - the ministers now recently - and I have to tell you, I have to admit this, I am a little bit confused.  It is hard to confuse me.  Just listen to this.  I would like to know who is the Premier of this Province today.  Because we are paying the man $150,000 a year.  Is it him or is it the Minister of Mines and Energy?  Because what the Premier says - 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. J. BYRNE: Whatever.  When you take his salary, his allowances and this, it all adds up to $150,000.  The Minister of Mines and Energy over there says one thing, the Premier says something down in the States about Voisey’s Bay, Wall Street, then comes back up here and gets the Minister of Mines and Energy to bail him out.  He is the minister of everything.  The Minister of Environment and Labour, what was he at on the shipment of bulk water out of this Province?  Does anybody know what he was at?  Does anybody know what the Premier’s parliamentary assistant was up to on the radio talking about how good it is, that we should have bulk shipment of water?  Who comes out?  The Premier says: Stopping it.  The man over there a week before was on the open line, the Minister of Mines and Energy, talking about how good a deal it is and how we have to do it, how we have to ship it out of the Province, and how it is good for the Province.  On open line, the minister of flip-flop himself. 

Today he was not in the full flip-flop mood, he was in a flip-flap mood.  He was halfway there.  He was talking about questions on - 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) flip-flap. 

MR. J. BYRNE: He is flapping in the wind.  He was asked questions today and he got up about Churchill Falls.  Now, what is coming down the tubes here?  He has flip-flopped on education.  He was up today trying to give a speech on the definition of neighborhood schools.  Flip-flop again.  Flip-flopped on education, flip-flopped on Voisey’s Bay, flip-flopped on Churchill Falls, and we saw that.  Who else?  There the Minister of Finance was answering questions in the House. 

I hope there is no one here, because I do not want to embarrass the President of Treasury Board.  She was asked questions - oh good, good the media is here - the President of Treasury Board was asked questions and I was embarrassed for the poor woman.  Who answered?  I don’t know but that the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs got up, did he? 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: It does not matter.  Someone else got up for Treasury Board.  We do not know who the President of Treasury Board is.  How much is she getting paid, I wonder?  I am after having a chat with her about that, by the way. 

Who else?  The Premier himself.  The Premier is speaking on environment matters for the Minister of Environment over there. 

AN HON. MEMBER: Who is speaking on Intergovernmental Affairs? 

MR. J. BYRNE: Here is a question now, I’m going to ask here.  To the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, I have been up half a dozen days getting on the tail end trying to ask a question.  I looked at the Estimates - and I have the Auditor General’s report here - for the Intergovernmental Affairs office.  It is $250,000.  My question to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is: What do you do? 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear! 

MR. J. BYRNE: God only knows! 

MR. SHELLEY: That is a good question.  Ask the Minister of Fisheries to tell you. 

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes.  Could the Minister of Fisheries tell us what the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs does?  Intergovernmental affairs stuff. 

There is something going on on the government side of the House.  We see the Minister of Fisheries up in the back benches, on his knees, begging the members from Labrador for something.  I do not know what, yet, but I have a good idea though. 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. J. BYRNE: No, he is looking for a few votes and delegates.  I know what he is at. 

AN HON. MEMBER:  He is lining up his delegates now. 

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, he is lining up his delegates. 

The Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, one of these days, can stand in this House and answer that question if he wants to.  I have been trying to get it on the go for some time. 

With respect to this finance bill, Mr. Chairman - 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. J. BYRNE: Did you hear that comment, Mr. Chairman?  I thank God for that.  The Minister of Fisheries is saying: Jack, boy, there is no one in this world who can talk like you.  I would not be able to say it about (inaudible).  I will go no further, not on that one.  He is trying to set me up to say something that I might regret.  He must be.  I know that. 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. J. BYRNE: That is a fact.  I never did, buddy. 

Mr. Chairman, this special warrant -  

AN HON. MEMBER: You have a buddy up in the nose bleed section? 

MR. J. BYRNE: There you go, confusing me.  The first mistake I made since I came here in seven years was calling him over there a buddy.  I apologize to the member, I slipped that time. 

Mr. Chairman, how they abuse the special warrants is shameful really. 

AN HON. MEMBER: They are hiding the surplus. 

MR. J. BYRNE: They can hide the surplus if they want, or they can make the deficit look bigger in any given year, so then the next year when we come back they say: Look what we did, look how we turned around the economy. 

Here is another one. 

AN HON. MEMBER: The last time I heard that (inaudible). 

MR. J. BYRNE: Could you read it?

There is another thing here, and I’m curious about this one, I say to the Government House Leader. 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. J. BYRNE: It is not water that is shipped out of here in bulk, that is for sure, I say to you.  It is jobs.  The Minister of Development and Rural Renewal is over there now scratching his head, and I can understand why, because he has not created any jobs.  He gets on that side of the House talking about all the jobs they created in the Province.  Sure, I’ve created more in my district.  There are people starting up companies here, giving up on you, and leaving who are creating more jobs than government has created, I say to the Government House Leader.

The question I was getting to is this.  A few years ago we saw massive layoffs in the civil service.  Now you see a lot of new faces around, Mr. Chairman.  I do not know where they are coming from but I suppose they are creating jobs for their bodies. We had George Baker - their buddy, their kissing cousin in Ottawa - talking about 200 jobs overheating the economy in Newfoundland and Labrador.  The Premier and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation do not know anything about these 200 jobs that are supposed to be coming with the ferry. 

AN HON. MEMBER: They are afraid of him. 

MR. J. BYRNE: They are afraid to talk about it.  I do not know what is on the go there.  The Member for Baie Verte was up asking questions on it today and again it seems like no one knows what is going on in the Province.  They really don’t. 

AN HON. MEMBER: They cannot find 200 people to work. 

MR. J. BYRNE: They cannot find 200 people to work.  I say if they put a poster up somewhere they would not be too long getting 200 people to apply for a few jobs here in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

I am going to sit down now because I think I went on long enough with this, but before I sit down I want to show you something.  Here, Mr. Chairman, is another one - 

CHAIR: Order, please! 

The hon. member’s time is up. 

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave! 

CHAIR: Does the member have leave? 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave! 

MR. J. BYRNE: Next time.  I will save it for another time.  I will get you. 

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader. 

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

I have just a few comments there.  This bill is talking about replacement securities that are up for renewal under the Canada Pension Plan.  I know some of us might be aware that we have a fair amount of money borrowed from the Canada Pension Plan in our Province.  Over $600 million, I say to my colleague for Cape St. Francis, from the Canada Pension Plan has been borrowed.  Some of that is at fairly high interest rates, I might add.  Some of it is very expensive. 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. SULLIVAN: We will tell you who did it now, we will let you know in a second now who did it.  I will let the Member for Topsail know.  In 1992 it was $28.77 million of that; 1991-1992, another $40.858 million; 1990-1991, there was $40.4 million; 1989-1990, $45 million; and in 1988-1989 it was $41 million.  That is a significant amount we are talking about.  We are talking about in the hundreds - 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) keep going back (inaudible). 

MR. SULLIVAN: Each year it is about the same.  It goes back to the 1970s.  In the 1970s there was $40 million at one time.  It is pretty well around $40 million each time on the borrowing, in that ballpark there.  A good chunk of it came from 1979 to 1989, I might add.  There is a fair amount.  I am not saying (inaudible).  We are borrowing fairly heavy under the Canada Pension Plan.  I guess it is okay to have lots of money in our Canada Pension Plan to be able to borrow, even though there has been some changes made recently to ensure the stability of the Canada Pension Plan.  It has certainly been under assault in the amount of funding available there to be able to meet its requirements.  It is something that changes had to occur just over this past year. 

Overall, I do not see anything too dangerous in permitting the entering into an agreement or the issue of replacement securities by the Minister of Finance.  That is not out of the ordinary.  I’m not sure how much confidence we have in the Minister of Finance to do that now, but on the other hand it is a - (inaudible) process, I might add.  The process and procedure there is not out of the question.  It is just a normal means in which you can replace securities in terms of borrowing from our Province. 

My colleague for Cape St. Francis said what, that we had $34 million in March was to be spent, and special warrants altogether was what, sixty or seventy million dollars? 

AN HON. MEMBER: Eighty-eight million dollars. 

MR. SULLIVAN: Eighty-eight million dollars.  In other words, the special warrants for 1998-1999. 

AN HON. MEMBER: There it is, $34.6 million in March. 

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay, but was that for the fiscal year, though, 1997-1998, the fiscal year 1997?  Because just in the last issue we had a tremendous amount of warrants too in March of this year.  They had to scramble to spend a bit of that money.  We did not want a sure surplus.  If there was a surplus you would have to pay nurses more money, wouldn’t you? 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. SULLIVAN: That is it.  Good point. 

Anyway, I guess it is a means they have at their disposal to be able to shift monies into areas, whether it is prepaid, and to work things around so that things do not look as good as they are.  All in all, those are basically all the comments I have on this particular bill, Mr. Chairman. 

On motion, clauses 1 through 3, carried. 

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried. 

CHAIR (Smith): The hon. the Government House Leader. 

MR. TULK: Order 13, Mr. Chairman, “An Act To Amend The Human Rights Code,” Bill 37. 

CHAIR: “An Act To Amend The Human Rights Code.”  Bill 37 

Clause 1. 

The hon. the Member for St. John’s East.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

Clause 1 of the bill amends section 21 of the Human Rights Code to provide for a 30 day time limit for applications to the court for an order referring a complaint to a board of inquiry. 

I guess what is important about this amendment is that it recognizes that this act, and any human rights legislation, is there for the benefit of any individual who feels aggrieved and who feels that he or she may have been discriminated.  What is important about human rights legislation is that there must always be the opportunity for an individual who feels that he or she has been discriminated to have access to a hearing determining whether or not the discrimination is well-founded in accordance with the legislation. 

Now this particular change is only putting in place a limitation period, and to ensure that period is followed, but we should always be mindful that we should not make these rules or procedures so tight and so strict that a person who feels after a period of time that he or she has been aggrieved, is no longer in a position to take advantage of the legislation and therefore has a particular claim or potential claim denied simply on the basis of not having an application submitted in a timely fashion. 

My comments will be restricted to that point, to simply say that human rights legislation, if it means anything and if it is legislation which is serious in protecting people, must also be legislation which allows an individual who feels aggrieved to have access to the appropriate adjudicative board. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

I would just like to, here in Committee, reiterate my remarks at second reading.  This is legislation that provides for a limitation period for an appeal from a decision of the Human Rights Tribunal.  The comment that I want to make has to do with access to a complaint procedure.  We have, in the Human Rights Act - section 22 provides for a six-month limitation period to bring a complaint before the Human Rights Commission.  That seems to me to be a very, very short period of time when you consider that you have at least two years, for example, to bring a claim or start a cause of action for a motor vehicle accident or any other kind of tort.  If we regard human rights as one of the highest form of rights that people can have, and we provide for non-discrimination under the Human Rights Code, we provide a special means to allow people to bring complaints and have them adjudicated, the six-month period may in fact be too short for certain kinds of circumstances.  Human rights is something that people do not necessarily understand fully well.  Sometimes it takes long than that for someone to find out that in fact they have been discriminated against on the basis of a prohibited ground under the Human Rights Code. 

I want to put on the record, Mr. Chairman, my concern about the shortness of period, the unduly short period under the Human Rights Code to bring complaints.  The current section 22 deals with that.  I think that when we are looking at challenges to tribunal decisions, for example the Labour Relations Board, someone has six months again to go to the court after they get an unfavorable decision.  So I think the section being provided for here is very, very short indeed and I think it unduly restricts the ability of someone whose human rights have been violated or potentially violated to actually have access to the Human Rights Tribunal process and also access to the courts in case they are not satisfied with that. 

Also, some members may be aware of a case and an example that an individual has brought to the attention of a number of hon. members in this House.  That is a provision where sometimes the six-month limitation period cannot be met because, in fact, of a person’s disability.  Someone who has a mental disability or someone who has a medical disability, a head injury for example, which may prevent them from having full awareness of their rights for a long period of time and it may take more than six months to come to a conclusion about what course of action might be taken or to get the proper advice.  There is no real provision for an exemption for circumstances like that.  I would like the minister responsible for the Human Rights Act in the House of Assembly to respond to these concerns that have been raised here.  I raised them at second reading and I have not heard a response yet.  I hope someone is able to respond on behalf of the government here today because that is an important point.  If necessary, I will raise it again at third reading.  It is point that has to be addressed. 

Friday was International Human Rights Day. It is a day when we are recognizing the strides that have been taken over the last fifty years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations, but we still have problems with the administration of our own Human Rights Code and I am calling on government now to amend that particular section of the Human Rights Code that limits the right to bring a complaint to the Human Rights Tribunal to six months.  It should be a minimum of two years, as is available for most torts in this Province, most causes of action.  Why should it be only one-quarter of that for something that we regard so highly that we put it in the Human Rights Code to avoid discrimination and to give people a way to seek retribution and to seek some kind of a resolution to a complaint?  Why would they only have six months for that when two years is available for most torts, even longer for commercial contract disputes? 

That being said, I conclude my remarks but hope that someone responsible for human rights, on behalf of the government, will respond to those remarks. 

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy. 

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Chairman, I will certainly pass along the issue to my colleague, the Minister of Justice. 

So that everybody knows, the issue of limitation in terms of section 22 and the six months, we normally, as in these recommendations for change here, take the advice of the Commission who reviews the legislation from time to time.  My understanding is that the Commission did not come forward and suggest that the original six-month period should be lengthened; but if they had done so in one of their normal annual reviews with us, we certainly would have considered it.  We will have it taken up again with the Human Rights Commission and with the minister as a result of passing along the comments here from Hansard.  If it is appropriate, certainly even in the next sitting of the Legislature, we might very well be back dealing with that issue. 

I think again that everybody understands the section 21 amendment here is that if the Commission has already heard of a complaint and has decided not to set up a full tribunal or full hearing, that you have a thirty-day period then to appeal as well.  It is a different issue that is being dealt with here, but we will certainly make sure the comments are passed along and we will discuss the matter fully with the Human Rights Commission as to what their preference would be. 

A bill, “An Act To Amend The Human Rights Code.”  (Bill 37) 

On motion, clauses 1 and 2 carried. 

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried. 

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy. 

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Chairman, Order 14, “An Act To Amend The Physiotherapy Act.”  (Bill 36) 

CHAIR: “An Act To Amend The Physiotherapy Act.”  (Bill 36) 

Clause 1. 

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

I have a couple of brief comments on this at second reading.  The bill is in agreement with the physiotherapists there, much in line with this, and bringing in registration of them on a conditional temporary basis.  Actually there is nothing in this that is controversial.  It is something that is being proposed by the Physiotherapist Association themselves, and it is something that we can certainly endorse. 

It mentions one particular thing of interest, for instance.  It removes the requirement that a physiotherapist practice under the supervision of a medical practitioner. 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, it does, and I will get to that in a second.  It does indicate for an increase - I am not sure what clause; I believe it is clause 2 - in clause 2, yes, from seven up to ten. 

Talking about physiotherapists, I might add, yes there is a very, very long lineup for physiotherapists, I say to my colleague from Baie Verte.  I got a call last week from a constituent who had to go to Toronto to have a particular surgery, and had to go to Toronto a couple of years ago also.  Now they are told they have to wait several months to be able to get that.  What they have to do now in cases, they have to try to make a decision as to which person needing physiotherapy is the most urgent.  Now, which one cannot wait because there might be a regression or they might be that much farther behind in a few months time? 

They are trying to make decisions now, juggling the deck and saying: Who will get in to get physiotherapy now?  That is happening out there.  People are not getting physiotherapy now who should be getting it, and in a month’s time they are going to be a lot worse than they are now.  They will never get back to the level they should because of the long lineups; months and months in the lineup to get physiotherapy now.

I called a manager there only this past week and spoke with one of the managers to get some perspective on really how serious it is, because I get calls from everywhere basically.  I shouldn’t say everywhere on this topic but I have gotten a few calls.  I had one from my constituents in the last week on this particular matter, after getting back from Toronto.  A lot of people need it.  It is difficult to access a lot of medical services, not just physiotherapy.  There are numerous other areas and similar areas in the past like orthotics, for example.  It was almost a crisis, only two or three left in the Province, and one had looked at taking a job out of the Province.  They did some review and, thank God, that got done.  They did some review on people over in - therapists in the cancer clinic and on medical physicists. 

I raised an issue here in the House last Friday on pharmacists in a similar situation.  I don’t think they have had a full complement in that area in the last several years here in the City of St. John’s; always people in training there, four and five sometimes.  They are paying them anywhere from $12,000 to $20,000 more dollars out in the private sector, or in Prince Edward Island or in Nova Scotia.  So how do you expect to really have shorter waiting lists when we don’t have enough people hired and we are not allocating resources? 

It is a very, very serious problem I can tell you.  If you have a child or there is a person out there who has suffered some injury or had some surgery that needs rehabilitative surgery and physio and they do not get it when they need it, they will never get the full basic recovery that they need.  That is what they are doing now, I have been informed.  They have to try to make a decision on who is the most urgent, that they will not have a condition deteriorating, be worse and not be able to correct it.  They are the decisions. 

I am sure many colleagues here in the House might be very much aware of that out there.  If they are not, certainly I am sure you have been getting calls from constituents on that.  That is the fact there.  I tried to get a little insight into that by calling the hospitals and just finding out how serious it is.  I know people in private practice, too, who are out there.  They do not get any reimbursement, of course.  They have to depend on private fees, insurance, workers’ compensation, or whatever the case may be, to be able to access it.  People today who are on workers’ compensation or have insurance can access health care faster than those who are not.  That is something in our system.  We might think we have a publicly funded health care in which there is equal access.  That is a farce.  There is no such thing in this country or in this Province as equal access to health care services.  If you are on workers’ compensation or you have insurance and so on you can access it - in which 30.5 per cent, I think, between 30 per cent and 31 per cent, I don’t know the exact decimal, per cent of dollars spent today in health care are coming from private sources and sixty-nine point some per cent are publicly funded.  If you are paying for it you get there quicker.  In fact, I even believe that workers’ compensation put some money towards a CAT Scan machine or something back a few years ago and they get a certain quota of people they can put through the system.  We have access.  If you pay, you can get access to health care in certain areas, or if you have certain insurances you can get access and other people have to depend on the public system. 

We are getting to a point in funding of the system now - what is driving Alberta, for example?  Let’s hope it doesn’t happen here.  What is driving Alberta to look at private?  It is the long waiting lists, the unacceptable waiting time to access a public system, that is driving people into the private source and private clinics.  That is what is happening there.  The tolerance of people is getting to the point where they have to wait so long, and I have talked to a lot of people, no less than fifty, I would say, in the last year who are on the waiting list for heart surgery, no less than fifty, and they are at the point now where they say:  The list is so long, I would pay to get it done.

When you wait so long and you are a nervous wreck, you don’t know if your next moment is going to be your last, and families are concerned, they are willing to pay to get it done.  I know one constituent of mine went down to the States - 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. SULLIVAN: Pardon? 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. SULLIVAN: No, it is not, but they need physio when they get back, I say to the minister.  They might need more than physio when they get back.  All kinked up on that airplane, those little seats, and when you get into the U.S. those little deregulated industry, one seat on each side and you are crumped up.  You have to have physio when you get there, I think, before you even have your bypass, I say to the minister.  It is very relevant, I can tell you.  I am sure that Mr. Chairman will realize what I am talking about has the utmost relevance to health care. 

There are concerns out there, I might add, a lot of concerns.  Physiotherapy is one particular thing in which...  While this is a step forward - I have spoken to people on this.  I made a call just to discuss with physiotherapists and the people representing these and I have asked that question to them.  They said: Well, at least this is a first step.  We would certainly love to have private physiotherapists being able to recover by the public who cannot access waiting lists for months, and being able to go in and get the help they need; because it is okay for some of us if we need it.  Workers’ compensation, you can go in and your insurance can pick up, I think, 80 per cent of your cost depending on your insurance.  It is a very real thing.  There are people out there who are not getting the service they need because of long waiting lists.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

A bill, “An Act To Amend The Physiotherapy Act.” (Bill No. 36) 

On motion, clauses 1 through 6, carried. 

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried. 

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader. 

MR. TULK: Order 15, Committee of the Whole on a Bill, “An Act To Amend The Financial Administration Act (No.2).”  Bill 34 

CHAIR: “An Act To Amend The Financial Administration Act (No.2).”  Bill 34 

Clause 1. 

The hon. the Opposition House Leader. 

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

I fell compelled to have a comment here. 

AN HON. MEMBER:  (Inaudible). 

MR. SULLIVAN: The minister wanted to move the amendment first, did he?  Okay, I am sorry.  In fact, I had it in my hand and I was going to comment on it but it would be more appropriate to have it moved first, I say to the minister. 

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy. 

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

I would just like to move an amendment, that Bill 34 be amended by adding immediately after clause 2 the following: 

Commencement     3.  This act is considered to have come into force on January 1, 1999. 

Basically, Mr. Chairman, this bill is tied in with and related to the one that we just did, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Fund, which is going to be proclaimed on January 1, 1999, so this one also needed to be proclaimed on January 1, 1999.  Just for clarification, Mr. Chairman, and I can provide a written copy to the Table. 

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

My colleague from Cape St. Francis is wondering whether this is another error.  Maybe it should be under anomalies and errors.  Is that what you wanted to say? 

January 1, 1999.  In other words they have taken the money out of the sinking fund, they have put it in the consolidated fund, and now they are passing legislation in the fall just to tell them what they did was grand and to make it legal, in other words, after the fact. 

I don’t disagree with what you did, I say to the minister, because in the sinking fund - I think the right place to put it is in the consolidated fund.  I agree with that, but putting it there and passing legislation a year after you do it, now that is the question there, trying to justify it.  In other words...  It has been a little haphazard.  They have not - 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. E. BYRNE: Because you can do it.  You know exactly how much you are getting back from equalization.  Equalization is up again this year.  You know it is coming, just like you did last year. 

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, they get a few dollars.  New Brunswick got what, $69 million? 

MR. E. BYRNE: A $160 million deficit last year. 

MR. SULLIVAN: On equalization, yes.  It is going to be down a bit.

How much did New Brunswick get last year? 

MR. E. BYRNE: Well, let’s talk about this year.  New Brunswick got $69 million this fall, so we should be in the vicinity of somewhere around $40 million; $35 million to $40 million. 

MR. SULLIVAN: Definitely, and things - 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. SULLIVAN: The question I asked was: What did New Brunswick get last year? 

MR. E. BYRNE: I am not sure what they got last year. 

MR. SULLIVAN: Did they get as much as we did? 

MR. E. BYRNE: Oh yes, they got a lot more than we did. 

MR. SULLIVAN: A lot more.  I am just trying to get it in perspective because - 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. E. BYRNE: No, they got more than that last year.  They are getting $69 million this fall. 

MR. SULLIVAN: Whatever it is, New Brunswick is getting $69 million.  New Brunswick knows what they are getting.  How come we don’t know? 

MR. E. BYRNE: Two-hundred-and-twenty-two-thirty last year, New Brunswick (inaudible). 

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, according to that, if you take the percentage-wise we should get around $40 million. 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. SULLIVAN: That Bernard Lord, he must be pretty on the ball.  He knows what they are getting now this weeks.  We heard that didn’t we?  We have not heard it from our Finance Minister.  He is still adding up the figures, I guess. 

AN HON. MEMBER: How come George Baker can find all the money and the Department of Finance here doesn’t know where the money (inaudible)

MR. SULLIVAN: Don’t worry, George will shuffle the deck yet and find another few dollars.  I am sure of that.  I heard they got the ferry back in and they are filling her up with money for us.  That is what they are doing now. 

I must say, taking it out of sinking fund and putting it into the Consolidated Revenue Fund is the proper thing.  It should have been done all along.  As my colleague from Harbour Main-Whitbourne said: The problem is, what took them so long?  It is about a year later before they have done it. 

I must say, I have to support the principle of that.  I have said that before.  Even last year I made that statement.  Why have it in the sinking fund?  Get it in the Consolidated Revenue Fund and put it in there.  I am glad they are starting to see the light on a few things there, but I would just like to do it a little bit earlier. 

A bill, “An Act To Amend The Financial Administration Act (No.2).”  (Bill 34) 

On motion, clauses 1 and 2, carried. 

On motion, amendment carried. 

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill with amendment, carried. 

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader. 

MR. TULK: Order 16, “An Act To Amend The Occupational Health And Safety Act”.  (Bill 33) 

CHAIR: “An Act To Amend The Occupational Health and Safety Act.” (Bill 33) 

On motion, clauses 1 and 2, carried. 

CHAIR: Shall clause 3 carry? 

The hon. the Opposition House Leader. 

MR. SULLIVAN: This is Bill 33? 

CHAIR: Yes. 

MR. SULLIVAN: I am sorry.  I am just ahead of time; I was looking at the next one. 

CHAIR: Shall clause 3 carry?

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

I would just like to say a few words on the legislation currently before the House, not particularly clause 3, just generally on the bill itself. 

We have here some significant amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act and, generally speaking, I have to say that I support these amendments.  It will provide for a stronger occupational health and safety regime in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and will do so by stiffening up the fines and punishment for violating the act, which obviously government sees as an important provision.  Clause 15, in fact, is the one that does that, which provides that a person other than a corporation is liable to a fine of $500 and not more than $250,000 or to a term of imprisonment for twelve months or both fine and imprisonment. 

Those are rather steep provisions, and obviously government has decided in its wisdom that this is the approach that they wish to take in enforcing occupational health and safety regulations.  It is a course of action that we support because of the importance of the issues involved, a safe working environment, and that following the rules is a required action. 

Currently, Mr. Chairman, there are charges in the court.  I will not speak about the details of them, of course, but there are a series of charges against the operators of the Come By Chance Oil Refinery for alleged violations of occupational health and safety rules with respect to the operations of the refinery surrounding the incident that led to the death of two individuals.  Mr. Chairman, the government is prosecuting these individuals, or the company involved, and that is certainly a part of our system of deterrents and our system of punishment and penalties for breaching regulations and acts, particularly ones important enough to assist in the protection of the lives of workers and the health and safety of workers working in our industries. 

My question is, why this policy and this approach is good enough for every industry in the Province but for some reason the oil companies operating offshore are exempted from this?  For some reason, the offshore oil companies are exempted from regulations and penalties provided for the violation of occupational health and safety regulations.  That is an anomaly which has not been explained.  Why is it that in our offshore, one of the most dangerous environments in which workers find themselves, this act will have no application?  There are no regulations that have been given the force of law.  There are no penalties provided for violated regulations.  The Minister of Mines and Energy said in the House today, in Question Period, that they always comply; every time they are asked to do something, they always do it.  I don’t know if he knows that or not; maybe that is what he is being told. That certainly was not the case in Nova Scotia when the C-NSOPB tried to make changes to the operation of a vessel in which a young Newfoundlander was killed last year, when they had violations of the occupational health and safety regulations: operating a ship in an unsafe manner, not properly fixing or repairing a switch on a hatch, or hatches of a similar nature, which had caused problems in the past. 

We are not just talking about oil companies here.  It may not be an oil company.  It may be someone operating a vessel in our offshore.  It may be someone operating a vessel that is transporting oil from Hibernia to the transshipment port.  It may be third parties who are involved in our offshore, not directly the oil companies themselves.  That is something this government has not satisfactorily explained.  We have a regime here which if government took the position that: We give instructions - and I would assume that most companies, when given a directive from the Ministry of Labour, would comply with it.  I am assuming they would.  I would assume that most employers would comply with an occupational health and safety order from this government.  They would because they could be shut down by the government and by the inspectors if there is a dangerous situation continuing, but that does not mean you don’t have regulations that have the force of law.  That does not mean that you do not have penalties for people violating the law. 

That is what I have to say on this legislation.  I think the legislation is good.  I think the amendment is good, but the legislation is so good that it ought to be enforceable offshore.  We ought to have an effective offshore safety regulatory regime that has the force of law, that is enforceable by prosecution if necessary, and that treats the offshore oil industry, with respect to health and safety, the same as other industries in the Province are treated, whether they are onshore or not. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

On motion, clauses 3 through 16, carried. 

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried. 

MR. TULK: Order 17, “An Act To Amend An Act To Amend The Fishing Industry Collective Bargaining Act,” Bill 44.  I hope that is never amended again. 

CHAIR: An Act To Amend An Act To Amend The Fishing Industry Collective Bargaining Act, Bill 44. 

Shall clause 1 carry? 

The hon. the Opposition House Leader. 

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

I have just a couple of comments here.  It is pretty self-explanatory, pretty brief and precise, to the point, that here they are extending the pilot project that is in negotiations. 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. SULLIVAN: No, it worked out fairly well.  I think for industry, from the business perspective and from the harvesting representatives there in negotiations, it has worked out pretty good.  They are looking for certainly supporting an extension of this.  Harvesters I suppose will never get as much as they want, processors will never pay as little as they want, so there has to be some middle ground there.  We do not want to see what happened before when you went through long periods of time and delaying openings of plants and delaying the start of the harvesting season.  As long as the system works and the companies can make profits and they can invest in our economy, and as long as harvesters can get a return on their investment to pay for their expensive boats and to keep their operations going, I guess that is trying to hit a middle ground.  That is very important. 

So far it has worked.  Hopefully we will not have labour unrest in the future, and that we will have seasons starting when they are supposed to start.  You will have orderly harvesting of species, better quality, and being able to look at getting a reasonable return.  Also, there is the recognition in negotiations of the fluctuating market conditions from year to year.  It is not uncommon - I said to the minister in responding to his statement this morning - that the price of crab was $2.50, $2.60 or the year before last, and it was down as low as sixty cents or seventy cents.  It shot down again last year.  What was it, in the seventy cents to a dollar range.  It is up this year from $1.50 to as high as almost $1.80, $1.90, I think, now at the end of the year.  So fluctuations are going to occur on seasons and markets.  Negotiating has built in a mechanism to be able to allow those fluctuations to be able to be done on a certain formula base, as long as there is a return. 

There has to be a reason for companies wanting to do business to invest.  That is important.  You cannot run a society without business investing, business making profit.  That is what it is about.  You have to have the rights of representatives of harvesters getting a return also.  That is a fundamental part.  With this here, it has worked, an extension there.  As long as something works, I would say why change it?  Unless one of the parties involved figures that it is not to their satisfaction, I guess, and then we will see a breakdown.  As long as it is getting a result and people can continue to do okay, I am sure we will see a continuation. 

That concludes my comments on it, Mr. Chairman. 

On motion, clause 1, carried. 

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried. 

CHAIR (Oldford): The hon. the Government House Leader. 

MR. TULK: Order 18, “An Act To Amend The Forestry Act,” Bill 35. 

CHAIR: Bill 35, An Act To Amend The Forestry Act. 

Shall clause 1 carry?

The hon. the Member for Windsor-Springdale. 

MR. HUNTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

I just wanted to make a few comments to finish off what I started last week when I was speaking on this act.  I am not quite clear on clause 4 of the act where the bill provides for forestry officers to have powers of a peace officer.  I was wondering if this would include officers to be able to carry sidearms?  I don’t know if this would give them that power, to be able to carry sidearms or not. 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. HUNTER: Yes, that was one question I had on my mind last week, Mr. Chairman.  Also there is the fact that a lot of these forestry officials, in my opinion, are not really trained to enforce a lot of the regulations from the department.  I have seen that firsthand many times traveling through my district and even personally traveling in the country. 

Last year I was traveling on an old woods road with my dog, just out for a walk, and a forestry official came running up to me and said: Is this your dog?  I said yes.  He said: Do you know you are not allowed to have that dog here in the woods at this particular time?  This was in March, and the regulation on that is not supposed to come into effect until I think it is May 1.  Then he is not allowed to roam freely in the country.  That officer said to me: If I had a gun I would have shot that dog.  It really bothered me.  I was very upset over that, because if we have people out there enforcing regulations, and if they are not properly trained, then they could be doing a lot of things that could be harmful to not only our pets in the woods but ourselves.  I thought that was a very dangerous statement for him to make. 

There are other things I see too in dealing with loggers in my district.  I had two or three complaints about officials going in and putting summonses and fining cutters because their permit number was not visible when they went to the woodpile.  That was a legitimate excuse because there was a snowfall the night before and all the signs were covered with snow, but these people had to go and pay a $70 fine for not having the snow wiped off their permit signs.  I thought that was a bit ridiculous.  These forestry workers should have sympathy and some thought to realize that you cannot have your signs uncovered 100 per cent of the time because when we have snowfalls these woodpiles are covered up and the signs with their license numbers on it are covered up. 

I think we are going to have to look at the fact that we are going to have to do some training for our forestry officials and our wildlife officials to make sure that they understand the rules and the policies of the department.

 

Another aspect I was going to get into regarding some of the things and comments I made last week was about the wood supply in Newfoundland.  We now know that it is in a very sensitive stage with the limited amount of wood supply we have.  When I spoke last week on some of the bigger companies gobbling up the permits, I did not mean that with any disrespect for the big companies, because I know they have no other choice but to try and get their hands on every bit of wood that they can.  What I was going to finish off saying last week was that a lot of the bigger companies can take advantage of a lot of other big wood supplies in areas that are not accessible to a lot of the smaller contractors and woods operators. 

Labrador came to my mind when we are talking about our wood supply in Newfoundland and Labrador.  There is a vast supply of wood on the Coast and in the interior of Labrador.  We would have to make sure that we would have a good agreement there with natives in Labrador so that there would be no problem for us, or them, to cut the wood supply and for the bigger mills, the integrated sawmills and the paper mills, that can take advantage of this wood supply.  I think we must move forward very quickly to make sure that our wood source is secure for our bigger companies in areas like Labrador so that remaining wood supplies on the Island can be accessible and available to some of our smaller contractors who cannot avail of going into places that are expensive to get into.  They can go to small, local areas where there are small patches of wood supply here and there. 

That was the reason why I made that comment last week.  It all led from the fact that a lot of the small woods contractors and operators are being squeezed out and falling through the cracks.  I think the Department of Forest Resources and Agrifoods has to look at that, be serious about it, and come up with some way of making sure that these small operators will not fall through the cracks.  We could depend on these operators to supply jobs in a lot of the smaller communities in Newfoundland and Labrador where some of the bigger companies will not go into because it is not feasible for them to go there.  I can understand that.  The fact is that in a lot of areas where the big companies do go in and clean up some of the bigger wood supplied they leave small lots of timber in these areas.  I think that the small operators should go in there and clean up behind them so they can take these small patches here and there and they can make a really good living off doing that.  Also, if they do not do this before the natural regeneration occurs then we are going to have the situation where ten years down the road these people would have to go in and go over all this new regeneration and probably destroy a lot of it. 

I think the timing is very important, very critical.  If we are going to take advantage of a lot of this resource that is being left behind and not cut, then I think now is the time to do it when the road infrastructure is in place.  It will not be any detriment to the environment or to the cut over areas that are already being traveled over by machinery and equipment.  I think it is time the department should look at that aspect of it and get some of these smaller contractors in there to clean up after the bigger contractors and give them a chance to make a living at doing that.  With respect to Labrador, I think that is the key to the future of our forest industries.  If we do not move fast on this then a lot of this timber in Labrador is going to be too old, over aged, a lot would be not suitable, and not fit for use in the paper industry. 

I think the government is going to have to move pretty quickly on securing the native population onside with our proposals and with developing this resource in Labrador, because if we wait longer then this resource could disappear on us on a natural basis.  We cannot afford to wait another forty or fifty years to have this resource grow back through natural regeneration. 

I think we must move very quickly when it comes to the forest resource in Newfoundland and Labrador and make sure that everybody gets a fair chance on using that resource to secure a living for them and for their communities.  Because a lot of these communities depend on these small contractors going in and hiring several people here and there, two and three here and there.  Small operations don’t seem like much, but in a small community then that is a lot when you could have probably eight or ten people employed for probably fourteen or twenty weeks a year.  I think that we must recognize that fact. 

I have been dealing with a lot of the operators in my district, and they are very frustrated when they contact the department on looking for allocation of timber supply.  The department just says to them that the timber is not there.  When they say the timber is not there, then they get really frustrated when they know the timber is there.  Because they are not within the allowable cut allocations then they are being squeezed out and falling through the cracks while the resource is still there and still growing.  A lot of this resource will disappear on its own because it will be overaged, falling down, and it is a hazard to the rest of the forest resource in Newfoundland because it becomes a fire hazard then. 

I hope that soon the department will certainly look at not only managing the forestry with respect to the laws and the criminal code and with respect to the amendments of this act but also take a big look at involving the smaller contractors and the smaller stakeholders in this resource.  I do believe there is room for everybody in this resource if we just sit down and figure out a way to include them in it. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

On motion, clauses 1 through 4, carried. 

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried. 

MR. TULK: Order 19, “An Act To Amend The Proceedings Against The Crown Act And The Public Officials Garnishee Act,” Bill 42. 

CHAIR: Bill 42, An Act To Amend The Proceedings Against The Crown Act And The Public Officials Garnishee Act. 

Shall clause 1 carry? 

The hon. the Member for St. John’s East. 

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

There is not much to say.  The few comments that were made with respect to Bill 42 were made during second reading.  As the Explanatory Note indicates, and if we look at Section 24(1), it says: “No enforcement proceeding, execution, attachment proceeding or similar process shall be issued against the Crown.”  However, in (2) it reads: “Notwithstanding subsection (1), a garnishment, attachment, or similar process that is otherwise lawful may issue against the Crown for the payment of money owing or accruing as remuneration payable by the Crown for goods or services.”  Basically what we have here, as was indicated in second reading, is putting a limitation on a person’s ability to proceed against the Crown in terms of an execution order or an attachment order.  However, it indicates that a garnishment and attachment that is otherwise lawful may issue.  So it limits, in one sense, the right of an individual.  It restricts and at the same time further expands with respect to a garnishment or an attachment. 

Other than that the bill is essentially housekeeping, other than that amendment and those proceedings.  This debate was carried out, to a greater extent, during second reading.  For the purposes of Committee I will leave my comments at that, Mr. Chairman. 

On motion, clauses 1 through 5, carried. 

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried. 

MR. TULK: Order 20, “An Act To Amend The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994 And The Public Utilities Act,” Bill 51. 

CHAIR: Bill 51, An Act To Amend The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994 And The Public Utilities Act. 

Shall clause 1 carry? 

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition. 

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

I am pleased to rise to talk about this act.  We spoke about it on Friday in second reading.  I am going to leave the minister alone tonight in terms of what he said in terms of privatization, but this is an interesting piece of legislation.  Government has put forward the notion, which we support - and we said Friday that we supported it - that all we are doing here is bringing back into line, back to status quo, what was previously in place prior to the Electrical Power Control Act.  That is the question.  It is a very neat piece of legislation. 

It is also very clear that when this bill was first introduced in the Legislature - and it is important to revisit the history of this bill and what it actually meant.  The electrical power resources act at the time provided for the pricing and management of electrical power in the Province.  All of its provisions at the time, every one of them, could be implemented without privatizing Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, although this bill was necessary for the privatization of Hydro.  Because it was part of the former premier’s scheme that a privatized utility could accomplish what a publicly owned utility could not accomplish, and that was regaining the Upper Churchill. 

This bill was extremely necessary because it was different than the water rights reversion act that was introduced during the Peckford Administration.  In 1986 the former premier talked about the government strategy on revisiting the Upper Churchill, and getting back what was duly and rightfully ours, saying it was flawed, in his view.  Since proven, very much so, incorrect, but at the time it was his view, and when he became premier he talked about implementing it in a second term of his mandate.  His view was that a privatized Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro - supported by most members I am looking at opposite today, with some exceptions.  I still do not know where the Government House Leader stood on the issue because he never ever said in this House where he stood.  He never said a word.  I know where the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs stood because it was on the basis that he supported this legislation that got him into the Cabinet in the first place. 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh! 

MR. E. BYRNE: Absolutely.  I said Friday there were four backbenchers that strongly supported this initiative.  The present Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods was not in Cabinet at the time.  He was a parliamentary or legislative assistant or something, whatever the title was. 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me? 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. E. BYRNE: No, he was not, but he came after.  He got appointed to Cabinet after because of his vocal support for it.  The new member at the time for St. John’s North, who got elected in this House the same time I did, in 1993, became - 

AN HON. MEMBER: A good year. 

MR. E. BYRNE: There is a rotten apple in every barrel, I say to the minister, but for the most part the class of 1993 was not too bad. 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. E. BYRNE: Absolutely not.  I remember the Member for St. John’s North, before he was in Cabinet, on his feet on this piece of legislation, Bill 2, the electrical power resources act, wherever he could take the opportunity, both in this House and outside this House, supporting the legislation.  Supporting it, holding public meetings on it. 

The other member who embraced it - that is the only way you could describe it - was the former Member for St. George’s, Dr. Bud Hulan.  He stood up in this House, publicly inside and outside - it brings a smile to their faces to this day, doesn’t it?  Dr. Bud Hulan brings a smile to some members’ faces to this day over there.  There is no doubt about it.  Where is the present Minister of Fisheries?  I would have a bit of fun. 

AN HON. MEMBER: Not one thank you letter. 

MR. E. BYRNE: Not one. 

He was the other private member who got elected in 1993 who supported this legislation in a very public way, both inside and outside the House.  Also, there was the former member for - I forget the name of the district now.  What was Kay Young’s district? 

MR. SULLIVAN: Terra Nova. 

MR. E. BYRNE: Terra Nova, yes.  She was the other member.  Here he comes.  Come in, sit down.  I thought you were Chuck there for a moment.  I thought you were the minister - 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. E. BYRNE: No, no. 

Then there was the Member for Terra Nova.  The person who got the biggest payback was the former Member for St. John’s South, because about eight months prior to the 1993 election - 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. E. BYRNE: That’s right.  He was the test balloon.  He was the trial balloon, exactly.  So there were five backbenchers at the time and they were all rewarded.  The Government House Leader at the time was not rewarded.  I say I would think - and I would not be far off - that the person who chose the Cabinet of the day is probably looking back on that time with some chagrin that he did not put the Government House Leader in Cabinet at the time.  I would think that would be a very safe bet.  However, that is a story - 

MR. TULK: What? 

MR. E. BYRNE: I said, I would think that the former premier in that Cabinet shuffle, by not putting you in the Cabinet at the time, is probably looking back at that time right now saying he wish he had put you in the Cabinet at the time.  It was a mistake not to, I say to the Government House Leader.  Anyway, there were five backbenchers who were rewarded. 

Mr. Chairman, in the original bill there were measures related to privatization.  This goes to the point that the Minister of Mines and Energy talked about on Friday in introducing this piece of legislation.  The measures related to privatization in that bill at the time were the estimated costs of supplying power for a year or more, sufficient revenues to pay to the owners of electrical utilities a just and reasonable profit, and a third measure related to privatization was sufficient earnings to achieve and maintain a sound credit rating in the financial markets of the world.  So slowly we were paving the way.  This bill was necessary in order to privatize Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. 

Without getting into all the debate that occurred at the time - because it is unnecessary; I’m just trying to highlight the high points of this legislation - why is it now that we are taking the time to say this is just an ordinary piece of legislation, that this really means not a lot?  We are just putting back to what was status quo.  This bill is very well worded and very well crafted.  I will tell you why I believe that.  At the risk of sounding somewhat cynical, the electrical power resources act infuriated the Province of Quebec.  It did, because had the privatization initiative gone through it would have given this Province the authority, through the Public Utilities Board - a quasi-judicial board, arm’s-length, not operating on the instruction of this Legislature - it would have given the Public Utilities Board the option to recall power at any time from anywhere for any reason for industrial use, or whatever the case may be, including the Upper Churchill. 

That unto itself was the hub of the argument of former Premier Wells.  That was the hub of the argument, and that is what this bill was about.  What the government of the day and the leadership of the day in that government was paving the way for was another challenge to the Upper Churchill contract through a privatized Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.  These are not my musings on the subject.  The former premier admitted himself - 

AN HON. MEMBER: He spent twenty minutes on t.v. (inaudible). 

MR. E. BYRNE: Exactly.  Premier Wells, the then Leader of the Opposition, the Member for Grand Falls, Len Simms, and the current Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi and Leader of the New Democrat Party, each had an allotment on C.B.C., prime time, to talk about this, where he admitted that this was in fact the case.  That legislation ever since has been a thorn in the side of negotiations with respect to, on the one hand, any sort of benefits that we could regain whatsoever.  The minister talks about the $1 billion that they got.  Yes, that is true, but, I say to the minister, will most of that go to keep CF(L)Co afloat, keep it from going bankrupt, so this Legislature will not have to put money into it?  Some of it.  Almost all of it. 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. E. BYRNE: No, I am not suggesting that we should.  I think that it is important to be clear on where that money is going to go over the next forty years.  While it is true that we have regained a significant amount of revenue from that, it is also important to acknowledge where the majority of that revenue is going to go up to 2016, which we will be in a position at 2016 to tax.  The former Member for St. John’s Centre, Dr. Hubert Kitchen - I am not going to quote him because it got him in trouble.  It is at that time we will have - 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible), I remember. 

MR. E. BYRNE: Exactly.  Remember that?  That was in 1991-1992. 

However, the current bill, Bill 2, is still to this day a visible and tangible sign in law.  The Member for St. John’s East asked a very pointed and legitimate question today when he asked in a second supplementary that under the Lower Churchill agreement that is now being negotiated between the provinces, will that agreement come under and be confined to the laws of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador?  The current Upper Churchill agreement is not.  It is under, I guess, the code or it is under Quebec civil law, which brings me to this point.  For this current legislation, Bill 2, to stand as it is, is obviously a sore point, a ticklish point, with Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro in its negotiations with Quebec Hydro. 

In fact, Quebec Hydro, I am sure, - I know at the time they did.  There is no reason for it to be different today, because that is a visible and tangible piece of legislation.  That is a law of the Province, that the Public Utilities Board still has the authority according to this Legislature, debated, passed in this Legislature for some time, to do exactly what the bill wants it to do. 

What else does this bill say?  Before we get into amending, what else does this bill talk about?  Government (inaudible) new Hydro and Newfoundland and Labrador Power.  This bill wanted to accomplish this: all tax revenues rebated to the Province by the federal government under the federal-provincial Public Utilities Income Tax Transfer Act, commonly know as PUITTA, would be paid by the Province to the new Hydro, Newfoundland Light and Power. 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?  Yes, I will be a few minutes.  You go ahead. 

The Province would repay the federal government from general revenues for any PUITTA overpayment.  Mr. Chairman, that was going to go directly to a new Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, to a privatized Hydro.  That is what the Electrical Power Control Act, 1994 was all about when it talks about ownership and control, some of the highlights of the bill. 

The amendments are going to change all that, but what we debated and passed in this Legislature is what I am talking about here right now, because it did pass.  Government exercised its will - 

MR. J. BYRNE: Closure. 

MR. E. BYRNE: Closure?  How many times did we witness closure at that time, Jack?  It was incredible.  There were five or six occasions from 1949 to 1989?  Four? 

MR. SULLIVAN: Four, I think. 

MR. E. BYRNE: Four occasions when closure was invoked.  How many times from 1989 to now? 

MR. SULLIVAN: About twenty or more. 

MR. E. BYRNE: About twenty. 

Let’s get back to the bill, the ownership and control.  Clause 23 (1) of that old bill if my memory serves me correctly, talked about no person or company without first obtaining leave from the Public Utilities Board - and this is an important point - can own more than 20 per cent of voting shares of electricity utility, or own more than 20 per cent of the voting shares of a corporation, partnership, trust or unincorporated organizations that has control of utility.  Clause 23 (3) or 23 (4) I think of the bill talked about: that the PUB may allow a person, corporation, et cetera, to own more than 20 per cent of the voting shares if it determines that the acquisition is in the public interest.  It was completely open in terms of what would happen. 

Here is part of the bill that to this day, I believe, the Province of Quebec and Quebec Hydro have a problem with.  It is called the allocation and reallocation of power.  Part II of the bill applied to all power purchase in the Province and to all contracts for power generated in the Province, whether the contracts were entered into before or after the coming into force of this act, where or where authorized by or entered into under the act.  In other words, that the Upper Churchill contract would not supercede this legislation.  Right?  The Public Utilities Board would have all power over the allocation and reallocation of power.  The Public Utilities Board, when on, could allocate any or all power produced in this Province, or reallocate power from one producer to another, on terms and at rates set by the board if it determined that a utility may not be able to meet the current or anticipated demands of its customers in the Province. 

So if there was a need for more power in Labrador then the Public Utilities Board would have the power, according to this act, to take back power from the Upper Churchill, basically negating - according to this act, what we passed here, according to the wisdom and the logic of the day - any existing contracts with Quebec Hydro, and that it could reallocate that power within the Province where it saw fit, and that the supply of electricity may not meet the current or anticipated amount of power in the Province, et cetera. 

That is what the legislation is right now.  Now in introducing the bill - and this is an opportunity to speak on the title of the bill; we will get an opportunity in clause by clause in a moment, and I am looking forward to hearing what the Minister of Mines and Energy has to say.  This legislation that we are looking at now could have easily been brought in a year ago.  Government had stated its intention that it was not going to get into privatizing hydro or privatizing rivers, et cetera but now it needs this bill in the last week of the House of Assembly, supposedly, for the fall sitting.  I am reminded of what the Member for Cape St. Francis said earlier tonight before supper when he was on his feet.  He said: It is in the dying weeks of any session that you have to watch for legislation that has a twist, that has a turn, where all does not seem what it appears to be.  I certainly cannot point my finger to this legislation and say that it meets your criteria but it is coming pretty close.  For example, in the bill it says in clause 1: 

“The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994 is amended by adding immediately after section 5.1 the following: 5.2 The Lieutenant-Governor in Council may exempt a public utility from the application of all or a portion of this Act where the public utility is engaged in activities that in the opinion of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council” - which means in the opinion of Cabinet, which ultimately means in the opinion of the Premier; that is what it means - “as a matter of public convenience or general” - here is an important word - “policy are in the best interest of the province, to the extent of its engagement in those activities.” 

What are those activities?  We passed this legislation.  The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994 is amended, basically negating and putting us back to where we were.  It also eliminates, in my view, the contentious point at the negotiating table right now with Quebec Hydro.  When this legislation passes, or if it passes, then we have given to Cabinet the opportunity to exempt any or all portions of CF(L)Co., of the operations concerning power control in this Province, the allocation and reallocation of power, to circumvent all of that from the Public Utilities Board and put it in the hands of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, for which they deem will be in the best interest of the Province.  It says: “general policy are in the best interest of the province” - decided by Cabinet - “to the extent of its engagement in those activities.”  Engagement in what activities? 

There can be only one activity that this bill is talking about, only one, and it is dealing with the current set of negotiations surrounding Quebec Hydro and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.  The existing framework agreement that was announced in 1998 now is off the table.  Major modifications to that.  I recall standing in the House a week after that was announced and the Premier pushing everybody on this side: Do you support the framework?  We said we could not embrace it at the time nor could we tear it down because we would like to see the final deal.  Had we said we supported it today we would be talking about a completely different agreement.  There have been revisions on the St. Jean and Romaine, there have been revisions on government’s view and stated policy view of a transmission line, but this bill could only be aimed at one set of circumstances: the current set of negotiations between the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador on the Lower Churchill and the Province of Quebec and Quebec Hydro. 

Mr. Chairman, I will sit down for a moment and let the minister respond for some time and we will engage others in a clause-by-clause debate, if necessary. 

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy. 

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

Again, in the wording of the amendment of the notice of the notion of exempting a public utility from the application of all or a portion of this act where the public utility is engaged in activities, and the key to it, that in the opinion of the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, as a matter of public convenience or general policy, are in the best interest of the Province.  The qualifier is, it is not an intention, particularly with the Public Utilities Act, to exempt from full scrutiny of the Public Utilities Board for rates and other purposes; only that if, in fact, now - and the (inaudible) force I think I answered today is that I actually have a written notification from Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro that in the next short period of time they expect there may be a possibility of being short of electric energy in Newfoundland and Labrador and they would like to go ahead in their case with Granite Canal.  Fundamentally, under the current legislation, we cannot give approval to Hydro to go ahead with Granite Canal.  We would have to go and do a call for proposals again. 

MR. E. BYRNE: Does the same logic apply to the development of the Lower Churchill that you are using for Hydro’s expression of interest on the Granite Canal? 

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Chairman, at some point; but you have to remember, with respect to the Lower Churchill, the bringing on stream of the power, if we are successful in signing an MOU this year, meaning in 2000, we would have a project that would start construction in 2003 and would be commissioned in 2008 or 2009.  So we certainly would not need any exemption in the short order to look at that and we would not even be in a contractual position to go ahead with the Churchill Falls, the Lower Churchill development, for another couple of years or so.  We might sign an MOU, but there would not be any actual commitment to the project for another couple of years while engineering and design was going on. 

We are in a circumstance where a couple of things that I have referenced: Hydro itself, in looking at Granite Canal, and a couple of the paper mills, in looking at trying to own source their power, have electrical energy from their own sources with co-generation plants at the mill, the only way we can do that today without this exemption is again to have a call for proposals where anybody and everybody...  The notion that we went through the last time, you would have to identify how much electric energy you would like to have produced, whether it is 40 megawatts, 100 megawatts, 200 megawatts, and then give a call to the public to say: Who wants to produce this amount of energy, by what source and mechanism, and let’s have a cost analysis done by the PUB. 

The notion is that there is certainly an indication from our utility, from Hydro, that they need to have approval to go ahead very early in the next year because it will be a two-and-a-half to three-year construction project for them so they need sanction so they can go ahead and call some tenders and contracts for Granite Canal early in the year 2000 so we can have additional power on stream at the end of 2002 or the beginning of 2003. 

That is really what is driving it and I can even share with the Leader of the Opposition the official notification, if he would like to see it, from Hydro, that we may actually be short of power a couple of years out. 

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition. 

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

I accept the explanation.  If this is not passed, I would like to ask the minister this question: How long would it extend?  What sort of repercussions would Hydro and government, as the owner and operator of Hydro - what sort of repercussions does the present legislation, without this being passed...  What sort of repercussions would the development of that project, as you just described it - what would happen if the legislation, as it currently exists, is not amended?  What would be the process, and what would be wrong with that process, from the point of view of government and from the point of view of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro? 

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy. 

MR. GRIMES: Nothing really particularly wrong with the process, Mr. Chairman, because we went through the process a year or so ago before we then brought in a moratorium on small river hydro; because, when the last call for proposals went out, there were something like nine or ten different proponents that came forward.  Several of them wanted to do small river hydros.  There was a wind power expression of interest as well, and they were all rated by the PUB.  The Granite Canal one, which is the current watershed from which Bay d’Espoir operates, the same river system, I think it is around thirty, thirty-two, thirty-five maximum in terms of megawatts, and that is the range they expect they may be short within three years with the current growth rates and predictions.   

The notion is that you would have to go through a fairly complex, costly, time-consuming process and then not necessarily end up with Granite Canal, although the last evaluation showed it to be the least cost-effective one. 

In the meantime, if there is a shortage between now and then, the only other choice for Hydro, with its mandate to provide electric energy in the Province, is to fire up the Holyrood plant with diesel and Bunker C, which nobody really wants to do except in emergencies as is done now.  They have capacity at Holyrood but they certainly do not want to be in a position to use Holyrood for anything more than emergency backup and for superload situations, which is what they use it for today.  So really we are trying to accommodate, more than anything else, the request from Hydro to go ahead and short-circuit and go back to what was done before, which would have been done prior to 1994.  We just would have said: You have a hydro project on the books.  It is almost practically designed.  They have indicated to the government they need the power and they would like to go ahead now and do sanction early in the year 2000 so they can have it completed by the end of 2002. 

A bill, “An Act To Amend The Electrical Power Control Act, 1994 And The Public Utilities Act.”  (Bill 51) 

On motion, clauses 1 and 2, carried. 

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried. 

MR. TULK: Order 21, “An Act To Amend The Wilderness And Ecological Reserves Act.”  Bill 30 

CHAIR: “An Act To Amend The Wilderness And Ecological Reserves Act”, Bill 30. 

Clause 1? 

Order, please! 

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

I am not going to reiterate all the remarks I made at second reading on the report card that this government got on its failure to act on its commitments to the Canadian division of the World Wildlife Fund to set aside nineteen unique ecological zones by the year 2000.  Matters that were commented on by the Premier of this Province and by the former Premier of this Province, by the current Minister of Mines and Energy, by the present Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation as achievable goals but ones that this government has yet failed to achieve.  I wonder, is there anybody on the government side prepared to respond to the remarks that were made, respond to the - 

AN HON. MEMBER: What was the grade? 

MR. HARRIS: D+. 

Mr. Chairman, perhaps the Member for Twillingate & Fogo would want to go back to school and see if he can get better marks than he got the last time.  His government is not doing very - 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. HARRIS: His government is doing poorly.  Maybe if he were in the Cabinet the government would be doing better.  I will give him that much, but perhaps someone who is in the current government can answer for that government and explain why it is that this government has failed to set aside the areas of unique ecological interests and importance, as they had committed themselves to do.  Why is it that this Province is last in the preservation of, or setting  aside of wilderness areas?  We are at 1.8 per cent of our land mass.  Other provinces such as Ontario are 8.8 per cent.  British Columbia is at 11.3 per cent.  The goal was that countries, provinces and states would set aside 10 per cent of their land mass as wilderness zones for protected areas.  This is a laudable goal.  It is an achievable goal.  We want to make sure that our environment is preserved for generations yet to come, and the only way we can do that is to act now. 

I wonder if someone from the government can respond to the concerns that I have expressed on behalf of those interested in preserving our environment for our children and our children’s children so that they, too, can have access to wilderness and that we can maintain the unique plant life and preserve and protect the animal species that are threatened by loss of habitat?  It is a very important question as we enter into the millennium year, whatever year that is, if it this year or next year.  It is certainly time for us to put on the record our commitment to the natural environment and to the future. 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

CHAIR: Order, please! 

On motion, clauses 1 and 2, carried. 

CHAIR: Clause 3. 

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. 

Perhaps if I made my request at each clause I might get someone over on the other side to respond on behalf of government as to whether they are prepared to make any comment on the commitment that they made to the goals set to the World Wildlife Fund, and the Canadian version of that, to set aside nineteen ecological areas that have been identified by the government, by these people, and adopt a plan to implement the putting into force of these protected areas.  It is something that government has given lip service to from time to time but government has not made any moves to adopt an overall scheme and plan. 

Mr. Chairman, if I may just continue, this government has committed itself, from time to time, to setting aside nineteen specific identified areas of ecological significance unique to this Province.  The current Minister of Mines and Energy knows about it because he was responsible for that when he was Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.  In fact, they did set aside one or two areas.  Recently we had the Little Grand Lake protected, but there are a number of other areas.  In fact, the government has not yet adopted a strategy to follow through on its commitment to protect areas. 

CHAIR: Order, please! 

The hon. the Government House Leader. 

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, I don’t know whether the hon. gentleman recalls this or not but we had a committee last year called the Committee on Outdoor Resources, and one of the commitments that came out of that was to start working on - and I don’t know the exact recommendation; I don’t know if the Member for Humber East does or not.  In that, there was mention of development of a natural area systems plan and I think that is what the hon. gentleman is really referring to.  There were twenty-four recommendations in that report. 

What’s wrong, Paul? 

MR. SHELLEY: (Inaudible). 

CHAIR: Order, please! 

MR. TULK: He has to amuse himself. 

I just say to the hon. gentleman that while we, I think, have implemented eight, nine or ten of the recommendations that were in that report, that report is not dead.  The committee still continues under a ministerial committee.  While I cannot give him an exact date of when we will implement that particular recommendation, I want to say to him that it is not dead and we will meet in the new year again as a committee.  I say that because I chair it.  We will meet in the new year as a committee and see what progress can be made on a natural area systems plan.  That is the best answer that I can give him at this point. 

On motion, clause 3, carried. 

A bill, “An Act To Amend The Wilderness And Ecological Reserves Act.”  (Bill 30)

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried. 

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader. 

MR. TULK: Mr. Chairman, I move that the Committee rise and report progress.  I think we have two motions at the bottom that have to go through a series with the Speaker in the Chair. 

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

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): The hon. the Member for Port au Port. 

MR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the Chairperson of the Committee of the Whole reports that the Committee have considered the matters to them referred and have directed me to report that the Committee has adopted certain resolutions and recommends that bills be introduced to give effect to same.  The resolutions are related to Bill 22 and Bill 23. 

On motion, resolutions read a first and second time. 

On motion, report received and adopted. 

Resolution 

“That it is expedient to bring in a measure further to amend The Loan And Guarantee Act, 1957, to provide for the advance of loans to and the guarantee of the repayment of bonds or debentures issued by or loans advanced to certain corporations.” 

Motion, that the Committee report having passed a resolution and a bill consequent thereto, carried. 

On motion, a bill, “An Act To Amend The Loan And Guarantee Act, 1957,” read a first, second, and third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper.  (Bill 22) 

Resolution

“That it is expedient to bring in a measure further to amend The Local Authority Guarantee Act, 1957, to provide for the guarantee of the repayment of loans made to, and the advance of loans to certain local authorities.” 

Motion, that the Committee report having passed a resolution and a bill consequent thereto, carried. 

On motion, a bill, “An Act To Amend The Local Authority Guarantee Act, 1957 (No. 2),” read a first, second and third time, order passed and its title be as on the Order Paper.  (Bill 23) 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port au Port. 

MR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the Chairperson of the Committee of the Whole reports that the Committee have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report Bill 29, Bill 28, Bill 32, Bill 24, Bill 25, Bill 38, Bill 37, Bill 36, Bill 33, Bill 44, Bill 35, Bill 42, Bill 51 and Bill 30 without amendment, and Bill 34 with amendment. 

On motion, report received and adopted.  Bills ordered read a third time on tomorrow. 

On motion, amendment to Bill 34 read a first and second time.  Bill ordered read a third time on tomorrow. 

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, before moving that the House adjourn - 

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). 

MR. TULK: Yes, I should do that. 

I want to say that tomorrow we will be doing third readings when we open the Legislature, and then proceed to what will be Committee on the bills that we did second reading on today. 

If I could, Mr. Speaker, there is one other thing.  There was a motion which we gave notice of today on the Standing Orders which I guess we will call, and I would hope that two or three of us can make a comment on them and vote on the motion.  Is that acceptable to the Leader of the NDP? 

MR. HARRIS: (Inaudible). 

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House adjourn until tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. 

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