May 8, 2000 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS Vol. XLIV No. 22

The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow):Order, please!

Before we call the members' statements, the Chair would like to welcome to the gallery today six Level I, II and III students from St. Simon and St. Jude Academy in Francois in the District of Fortune Bay-Cape Le Hune, accompanied by teacher Gary Lewis.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Members

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin-Placentia West.

MS M. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I rise in this hon. House today to congratulate the residents of the Burin Peninsula for their generosity as VOCM's affiliate in Marystown, CHCM Radio, in the association with the Marystown Kinsmen Club held a radiothon yesterday that raised $52,000 for the Burin Peninsula Health Care Centre.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS M. HODDER: The fundraiser was for a very worthwhile cause. It is money raised for needed mammography equipment for use at the Centre. It will mean that in the near future, women on the Burin Peninsula can have this procedure done in the local area, rather than traveling off the Peninsula to avail of this vital service. It will provide an opportunity for earlier detection and treatment of breast cancer, the number one killer of Canadian women.

The provincial government considers this equipment vital and therefore allocated $100,000 for this equipment in this year's Budget. I was also very pleased to announce in March $150,000 for renovations to the Centre, and yesterday, thanks to the hon. Minister of Health, an extra $150,000 in government funding towards renovations at the Centre, bringing the total government contribution to $250,000.

This joint venture between the government, the Burin Peninsula Health Care Foundation -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave!

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MS M. HODDER: - and local service clubs is just another example of how working together can benefit our health care system.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wish to advise the House that the week of May 8 to May 14, 2000, is Mining Week in Canada.

Earlier today it was my pleasure to join the Newfoundland and Labrador Chamber of Mineral Resources in declaring this week as Mining Week in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The theme for this week's celebration is: Mining Makes It Happen.

Mining Week is designed primarily to recognize the important contribution that this sector continues to make to the economy of our Province and to give due recognition to all the people who work and earn their living in the mining industry.

As hon. members are aware, this government approved an additional $250,000 in this year's Budget for the Mineral Exploration Assistance Program. It was one of the key recommendations to government during the Jobs and Growth Mining Forum which was held in the later part of 1999.

In addition to the increased funding of $250,000, government made the decision to extend the program from three years to five years. The Mineral Exploration Program is now a five-year one with new government funding of $2.25 million for 2000-2001, this current fiscal year. This will be matched by industry funding of at least $2.25 million or more, for a total expenditure in excess of $4.5 million this year. In all, it is now a $22 million, five-year government and industry program.

This incentive program has been warmly received and commended by the mining and mineral exploration industry which fully appreciates the fundamental importance of exploration.

It continues to have many successes. The Hammerdown gold project near Springdale will commence in the not-to-distant future; Burin Minerals is expected to complete a feasibility study of its St. Lawrence Flurospar property this year; and Thundermin Resources Inc., and its joint venture partner Queenston Mining Inc., will complete a feasibility study on its Duck Pond base metal project near Millertown.

Government fully understands that exploration is an essential component in the development of mineral resources. It has been proven that exploration leads to the discovery of new resources and, in turn, results in the generation of new wealth through new investment, employment and business opportunities.

The mining industry employs approximately 2,900 people and the value of mineral shipments this year is expected to increase from $833 million to $1.09 billion.

It is essential to support the mining industry. We must ensure that government policies are fair to the private sector. As well, we must never lose sight of the fact that our mineral resources belong to the people and have to be developed in their overall best interests.

In conclusion, I invite everyone to celebrate Mining Week and the contribution of the mining industry to the people of our Province, Newfoundland and Labrador.

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.

I rise to say congratulations for what the minister has announced in terms of this being Mining Week. The mining industry itself has gone through a difficult time as government has negotiated with Voisey's Bay in a very tough way, supported by most members in the Legislature, vis--vis the bill that we passed during the fall Legislature; not this fall past but the fall before.

Some of the initiatives that the minister has announced has dealt with the, I guess, the overtones that have hurt the industry. Some of the junior mining companies have come forward since that time and have explained to government - I know, I have met with them - and have indicated that venture capital is what drives the junior mining industry. This is where we get discoveries. In order for that to happen, in order for the industry to be able to attract those who have the money to support the exploration activities that discover the types of mines the minister has just talked about, it requires a legislative and regulatory framework that is attractive to everybody, and yet, at the same time, protects the interest of people in the Province.

I want to say to those in the mining industry who have worked diligently and hard over the last eighteen months, in particular, to move this government, under a former minister, to introduce the initiative which he announced today, which was in the Budget, which essentially says to the mining industry: If you put one dollar in we'll match it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. E. BYRNE: By leave, Mr. Speaker, just for a moment.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave!

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. E. BYRNE: In other words, government has really put their money where their mouth is on this issue. We would all like it to be more, as I am sure the mining industry would, but from my point of view, when this legislation and issue first came to the House I stood and supported it. I stand to support it again today.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I could start lightheartedly by wondering whether it is Mining Week or National Forestry Week. We get our weeks overlapping and on top of one another. Certainly, the mining industry is very important to this Province, as the minister has noted. Exploration activity and continued exploration activity is the key to that. After all, Voisey's Bay itself was discovered about five years ago, maybe five and one-half years ago, at a time when many people in the Province thought that there were no big exploration finds to take place.

I would ask Mr. Speaker, whether the government - given the fact that people are going out and exploring - they still have on the books a ten-year tax holiday for all new developments, one which they obviously are embarrassed about in the case of Inco. When are we going to change that legislation so people out there exploring for minerals now are not left with the understanding that they are going to have a ten-year tax holiday regardless of the size of the find that they make?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

Oral Questions

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Before I start, I have to say that since 1996 this must be the first day in the Legislature that I have only seen one Ministerial Statement. The normal press, the Goebbels machine, is not pumping out material today. It is the first day I have seen it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

My question today is for the Minister of Mines and Energy with respect to the ongoing negotiations on the Lower Churchill development. When the project was originally announced in 1998, the projected cost of borrowing for the Province was in the vicinity of almost $1 billion. There had been $960 million. The former minister briefed me, with Hydro officials, on what the borrowing cost would be for the Province or indirectly the new entity. Those are your numbers, not mine.

I want to say to the minister that there have been significant modifications made since March, 1998. Could you give us an update on what the projected or estimated borrowing cost will be for the Lower Churchill development at this point in time regarding the status of negotiations?

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

MR. DICKS: Just so I understand the hon. member's question, I believe what he is referring to is the Province's equity borrowings, not the total cost of the project?

MR. E. BYRNE: No, not (inaudible).

MR. DICKS: That is right, Mr. Speaker.

Until the project is finally determined, it is impossible to say what the Province itself will borrow to inject in equity in Newfoundland Hydro; but whatever it is would be quarter of the total project that is finally approved and financed.

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

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

Minister, if you were in a position on March 8, 1998, to project approximately $960 million borrowing, surely after two years of negotiation you must be in a position today - and if you are can you tell us: What is the projected or estimated borrowing cost going to be two years later?

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the deal is not finalized. The hon. member keeps raising the in-feed to the Province. That would have to be financed in some fashion, depending on the federal government's contribution. The total amount you would have to finance, if any, of that, the Province's remainder, would be at least a quarter of that or more. You have Muskrat Falls, whatever that cost would be. You are talking about -

MR. E. BYRNE: I am not talking about that.

MR. DICKS: These were components of the project. When you ask me a question, "What will it cost?" and I mention things that could be in it, and you say, "I am not talking about that.", maybe you could tell me what you are speaking about, dealing about the cost, and I will tell you what the cost to the Province would be.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: The minister knows exactly what I am speaking about but I will be very specific for him: the borrowing or equity cost on Gull Island. Muskrat Falls was not included in the equation originally; neither was the cost of a transmission line. The equity cost on Gull Island, the Lower Churchill itself, was $960 million. That is what the officials from the Department of Mines and Energy and Hydro briefed me on two years ago. My question is - there have been serious and significant modifications to the scope of that project since that time, so you must be in a position, after two years of negotiations, surely, to update the people of the Province on what the anticipated, expected or estimated borrowing of that project will be.

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

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, we can ballpark it but the thing to be bear in mind is the relationship. The transmission through Labrador to the border was to be financed by Hydro Quebec by rolling the cost into its rate base. The hon. member says: Well, don't include the $2 billion to the Island. Yet he says at the same time, it must be built. Then he is saying: Don't include Muskrat Falls. Well, we had to do a feasibility study to see if that would go ahead.

Now if you are talking about Gull Island, the engineering figures, whatever the final cost will be of construction, it will be 25 per cent financed by equity, one-third of which will be financed by Hydro Quebec, two-thirds by Newfoundland and Labrador. The Upper Churchill, if and when that goes ahead, and depending on the configuration, there will be an equity cost there again borne two-thirds/one-third. On the Quebec side of the border, if there is a diversion, Quebec Hydro will finance all of that.

That is probably not a likely scenario at this stage, but until we have a final agreement to see which of all those components are there, if the transmission can be rolled into the Quebec grid, if there are any other costs, all I can tell the hon. member is that is how it will be done. If it is a $6 billion project and it is all on our side of the border and Quebec has one-third of it, then we will finance two-thirds of 25 per cent of the total cost.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the minister is not in a position to update us after two-and-a-half years of negotiations on the actual cost. Hydro officials briefed me two years ago on what the actual cost would be for borrowing from the Province's point of view.

Let me ask him this question: How much progress have you made on a royalty structure?

Are you in a position today to tell the people of the Province what will the royalty structure be for the Province vis--vis the development of the Lower Churchill?

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

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, if and when negotiations are concluded with whatever the party is, we will announce all those things.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Minister, my sources tell me that the Province of Quebec and Hydro Quebec have clearly told the Province that before any royalties are paid out from the project that the costs of developing that project must be paid first; and, on top of that, that while there will be no royalties paid out from the project until construction costs are paid off, that Quebec will also take a marketing fee even before royalties begin to flow to the Province. Is that the position of the Province of Quebec, I would like to ask the minister?

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

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, I am not prepared to disclose the position of either the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador or the Province of Quebec. We are negotiating. As the hon. member and others may imagine, we each put forward positions. We try to put forward our strongest positions, and we negotiate around them.

All this is about value. All that we have is, we have a project that will generate X amount of electricity that will have value at market. When you do an agreement with another party, what we are looking at is our return; whether we get it through royalties, equity, or other forms of payments to the Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: My sources tell me, Minister, that Hydro Quebec and the Province of Quebec have told you directly, and your department, and the Premier's Office, that before royalties begin to flow to this Province, construction on the Lower Churchill - all the construction costs must be paid off. Yet, at the same time, while power is going to transmitted across their borders, Quebec will take a marketing fee for a period of time, maybe up to fifteen to twenty years, before we will see any royalties in this Province from the project. I am asking you today: Is that the Province of Quebec's position?

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

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, I have told the hon. member I am not telling the hon. member what the Province of Quebec's position is. I can tell him that it has changed over time. Our position has changed, because we are looking at the economics of doing this deal. Now, with respect to royalties there are at least two types. One is ad valorem, so that for everything that is produced you get a value off the top. That occurs in our royalty regime offshore. There is another type of royalty that comes on net profits. So we are looking at the whole royalty scheme but we have not said, and there has been no final decision made at this stage, what type or what combination of royalties we will have.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, he cannot tell us what the financial arrangements will be. He won't tell us what the royalty structure will be. It is also my understanding from my own sources that the marketing fee established is also up for negotiation. Can the minister confirm that the marketing fee for selling our power that Quebec wanted to take, that Quebec is now looking for a higher marketing fee than what was originally envisaged?

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have told the hon. member what the Province's borrowing costs will be. I have not told them what the Province of Quebec's position is. What I have told him is that it changes over time. Obviously the parties are negotiating to get the value of this transaction. They propose one thing. We disagree. They propose something else. We propose something else. We are still negotiating. There is no agreement, and when there is we will let the hon. member and everybody else in the Province know.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: In 1998 the Premier of this Province stood before the people of Newfoundland and Labrador in a Province-wide address and sold a bill of goods because you cannot provide any answers to us right now.

I will ask you again. With regards to the marketing fee that was originally established or that was originally communicated to the public for selling our Lower Churchill power, my information tells me Quebec is looking for a higher marketing fee. Is that true, minister? Yes or no?

AN HON. MEMBER: You should be doing this negotiation. (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I would do a hell of a lot better job than you would, Roger.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. member's questions indicate why the Province does not disclose every week the changes in position. Yes, there have been changes on both sides of these negotiations. It has been back and forth. Quebec proposes something, this Province proposes something, and it is back and forth. There is no agreement. Now if the hon. member wants me to go back over the history of the negotiations and tell him what was proposed when and what was rejected, or counter-proposed, I am not going to do it. Secondly, I'm not going to tell him the current state of negotiations.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: There is no need for the minister to go back and revisit the history of negotiations because if he was going to tell us he probably could accomplish it in about thirty seconds. We have been promised on six different occasions an update on what is happening on the Lower Churchill development, yet to date there has been no update.

I would like to ask the minister this point of view. We have talked before - and I will ask him to confirm this - that the Province of Quebec and Hydro-Quebec are not in agreement whatsoever with the management of this project taking place within Newfoundland and Labrador, that the engineering of this project not take place within Newfoundland and Labrador and the management of the procurement for this project not take place in Newfoundland and Labrador. Can the minister confirm that?

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

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, it has always been an essential component of this deal that the procurement, the engineering and everything else be done largely and mostly in this Province. That is the same from the beginning and it is the same now.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Minister, we understand what that is but I am asking you: Has the Province of Quebec said to you emphatically - my information is that they have - that the engineering -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. E. BYRNE: I am asking for confirmation.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: In terms of procurement, management and engineering management of the project, have they said absolutely not to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, to our Province, in terms of developing that project in the best interest of all of us in the Province?

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

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, the Province has always maintained, and Hydro-Quebec has known from the beginning, that the engineering, the procurement and the rest of that has to be done here.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, on March 8, 1998, the Premier of the Province in his Province-wide address said that there would be a floor price and a ceiling price. I would like to ask the minister today: Can he give us any indication whatsoever on what the negotiated floor price is and what the negotiated ceiling price is, or will it be tied directly to the markets? What is the floor price and what has been negotiated or agreed upon? I understand there is an agreement on this point. What is the agreement that has been reached between the Province and the Province of Quebec on this point?

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

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, the agreement was from the beginning, and still is, that if and when this deal is concluded Hydro-Quebec will provide a floor price that will guarantee the payment of the debt to the debenture holders on the project. It will not guarantee the payment on the equity, it will guarantee the general debt of the project so that there will be non-recourse back to the Province.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: A final question, Mr. Speaker.

With respect to the ongoing negotiations with the Aboriginal people in the Province, can the minister update us on if that is going smoothly? My understanding is that there are some points that the Province is having great difficulty in achieving, not only on this side of the border, but also with the Quebec Innu nation. Could the minister update us and brief us on what is happening on that point please?

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, I can. Our negotiations with the Innu people are moving much better than they are on the Quebec side of the border. We are not dealing with Innu claims in Quebec. That is being done by Hydro-Quebec. We are dealing with those in Newfoundland and we are making progress.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General.

Minister, over the past while there has been much discussion and commentary about the requirement of fish harvesters to sign consent forms for the Newfoundland and Labrador Professional Fish Harvesters' Certification Board in order for them to have their files processed and licenses issued. These declarations of consent grant permission for Revenue Canada, HRDC and DFO to release personal, confidential, information to the Certification Board. Those consent forms also grant the broad permission to share that information with the Department of Human Resources Development and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. I ask the minister if this is not a violation, under sections 7 and 8 ,of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. E. BYRNE: (Inaudible) the Department of Health and Community Services (inaudible), alright? You are not the omni-minister (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. PARSONS: Yes, Mr. Speaker. This is the first time this matter has been brought to my attention. I would certainly undertake to take the member's concerns, if he could provide me with the information that he has in fact, and would certainly check it out. This is the first information I have had from anyone in this regard.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I say to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General that this has been a big issue. It has been on the Fisheries Broadcast, and it has been brought forward to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. It has been an issue that is at the forefront.

Minister, there are more issues at stake here than just the passing of information. We are allowing a ministerial appointed board to have unlimited access to all personal and financial information of its membership. Since this is a professional board dealing with professional fishermen, I would like to ask the minister if he would inform us of other professional organizations that demand such broad powers in order to support a membership.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

MR. PARSONS: Again, Mr. Speaker, and for the purpose of the hon. Member for Bonavista South, I have not been apprised of the situation before. I undertake to find out what your enquiries concern. I don't get to listen to the Fisheries Broadcast every day. There are lots of issues and I agree they are certainly important. I certainly undertake, once we have the information at hand, to review and provide you with my commentary.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, in light of the answers from the Minister of Justice and Attorney General I have to ask the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture how come he has not apprised the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of this great issue as it pertains to the Professional Fish Harvesters' Certification Board to maintain the membership?

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

MR. EFFORD: No, Mr. Speaker, it is not the first time I have heard of it. I have a legal advisor in my department, David Jones actually, who is a full-time advisor to the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture. I have had discussions with the Professional Fish Harvesters' Certification Board on this issue. In fact, I went over and had a meeting with the Professional Fish Harvesters' Certification Board, then I sought advice from my legal counsel, and I suggested to the legal council that he should sit down with the Professional Fish Harvesters' Certification Board and discuss the issue and the concerns that the fishermen had expressed.

If you ask for consent - I am not going to get into the legal explanation this afternoon - from the fishermen to give out certain information, if the fishermen sign that consent form then it is quite alright for the information that is being asked for. The other point about it is that it is a professional board and that board has to keep the confidentiality of individuals in-house. The final part about it is that it is being advised by legal counsel and the board will do what is right and proper in the best interests of the fishermen of the board that is trying to implement a professional fish harvesters association here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

No wonder, I say to the minister, we are in such turmoil. One hand doesn't know what the other hand is doing.

Minister, my final supplementary: Tell me, how can a provincially regulated board restrict an individual fish harvester's access to a federally granted license?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, when the professional fish harvesters board drew up the regulations to take over the licensing or the permit of fishermen across the Province, they sat down with the federal government and they made an agreement between both parties that they would be responsible for issuing permits under the professionalization of fishermen. That agreement was reached by both parties, including the industry, including the harvesters across Newfoundland and Labrador. That was all discussed for about a two-year period prior to setting up the certification board.

Now in every instance when there is a new board or a new professional association set up like this, there are always questions of pros and cons that have to be dealt with. The issue that the hon. member raises is an issue that is being dealt with between the industry, the FFAW who represents the fishermen, the certification board and their legal counsel. Nothing will be done to jeopardize the confidentiality of any individual or any group of individuals in this Province.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. Minister, fees at the publicly run Butter Pot Provincial Park have increased by $163 annually, raising the total annual fee at the park to $1,100; but fees at the privately run Gushue's Pond Park, provincially, are only $750 annually. Minister, I would like to ask you: Why have the fees been increased at Butter Pot? Why the significant difference between fees at a publicly run park and a privately operated park?

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

MR. FUREY: Because, Mr. Speaker, we have to put hundreds of thousands of dollars into parks every year to maintain them. This year we are putting money into La Manche and a great many other parks to build fire exits, new roads and exits, new dumping stations. It costs a lot of money to maintain these parks, so that is why the fees went up.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to ask the minister, and to tell the minister, provincial sources tell me there is a movement afoot and ongoing discussions to the privatization of Butter Pot Park. Can the minister today confirm or deny these suggestions?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, we have no intentions of privatizing Butter Pot Park.

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

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister, I would like to ask you as well today: Over the last year or so we have privatized a number of parks in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. In 1999, some of the parks in our Province which have recently been privatized did not open. Can you tell me if your department will be checking on these parks in the year 2000? Can you also tell us, and through this House the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, if these parks will be opening this summer?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, there were a number of these parks - I think offhand I remember at least three - where the proposals, the business plans, were not executed in the proper manner so we took the lease arrangements back from those particular private operators and went out for a Request for Proposals again.

Right in my own district, for example, the River of Ponds Provincial Park, we went out for proposals again and a local group of operators will be taking it over and opening it this year. Stag Lake is another example on the West Coast, just west of Corner Brook, where the plan was not executed in the proper manner so we are looking at that one.

The parks that were not executed, and the business plans that were not executed in the proper manner, we have gone out for expressions of interest again where it is appropriate.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Education. At a provincial workshop over the weekend to discuss school food programs, questions about the sustainability of existing programs under the volunteer model, with much support from charity, were deemed to be inadequate. With only 25 per cent of the schools in the Province covered by a school meal program, will the minister and her government reconsider the support for a universal program so that school meal programs can be available in every school in the Province?

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, as a government we have acknowledged there are some concerns throughout the Province. In fact, I guess if you look at the latest infusion of $1 million into this program, it clearly points to our commitment to try and address those issues of concern that we have out in the Province with respect to hungry children.

We really believe that this is an effort by all stakeholders here, not just the government but by the private sector, by volunteers, and by the association itself. We are working hand in hand with the association in particular to try and reach as many of the hungry children as we possibly can through the program that presently exists.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

When the minister announced this recent support, she said: Children with empty stomachs cannot concentrate on their schoolwork and have difficulty participating in class. Their grades and attendance can suffer.

If that is the case, which I fully agree with, why is that we are only able to have school meal programs in 25 per cent of the schools? What about the other 75 per cent of the schools where, equally, children who have difficulty, for social and economic reasons, or who are traveling long distances on school buses, can't adequately learn? Why can't we look at a universal school lunch program so it is available everywhere in the Province?

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

Let me say again that it is a concern for us, just as it is for the member opposite. We are doing what we can with the resources available to us. The fact that we put an additional $1 million into this program again clearly speaks to our commitment.

We recognize, as I said when we announced the $1 million, that children who go to school hungry have difficulty learning, which is why we are working very closely with the foundation to try and reach as many children as we can, bearing in mind that teachers are identifying those children who have problems. It is not just children who can't afford to have their breakfast. That is part of the problem we have, of course. We want to make this so that no one is stigmatized by it, so we opened up the program to any student who the teacher identifies so that you don't just have children availing of this program who may or may not have a problem at home.

This way you end up with a lot of children availing of the program who could probably, if the time was there, actually get a breakfast at home, but we don't want children to be stigmatized. The more children who avail of it, of course, the higher the cost. We are going to try and make sure that we can work with the resources that we have available to us, and we are doing that.

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

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

Last week I asked questions of the President of Treasury Board regarding temporary and contract employees with government. The minister made light of a very serious matter. This is not a laughing matter, I say to the minister. Again I ask the President of Treasury Board: How many temporary and contract employees are working with government, now that you have had time to review the situation?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MS THISTLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

No, and if I recall that question, that was at the last minute of Question Period. At that time, it was almost a filler. I had little time to respond and you had little time to ask. What I can tell this House today is that this government is working hard to ensure that our public sector are well looked after. In fact, if the member opposite would care to reflect on the past four years, you would be the first one to admit and to agree that in the past three years there have not been any pink slips handed out at Christmastime. You might also look at the measures that we have taken to make sure that our public sector are treated fairly.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the first question unanswered. I will ask another one. Why is it that these employees are not treated fairly, I ask the minister? Why is that some have worked well over ten years and are still considered temporary? Don't you agree that if a person is in a position for three, five, seven, ten years or more, that position or the employee should be classified as permanent? Wouldn't you agree with that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MS THISTLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The member opposite would recall that in 1996, when this government came to power, we did what we called a program review at that time and many of the public sector employees who were working on a permanent contractual basis were then designated as full time.

AN HON. MEMBER: Permanent.

MS THISTLE: Permanent.

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

Obviously the minister is not addressing the questions I am asking. Government's only reason for this unfairness is clearly to save employment benefits for the long term with temporary positions - one year or more - and this is grossly unfair. Why are you penalizing these public servants and their families by denying benefits they have earned and deserve?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MS THISTLE: Mr. Speaker, what I will say to this House and the member opposite is the fact that this government, when it came to power, faced a deficit of $350 million, and a lot it, of course, was from the previous fifteen years. What I will say to -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS THISTLE: Mr. Speaker, what we have been able to do as a government is balance the books for the first time in fifty years. What we have been able to pay to our public sector workers has been fair and reasonable and within our ability to pay. As a result, there is much more stability in the public sector workforce than there ever was before.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Harbour Main-Whitbourne.

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions are for the Minister of Education. At budget time in March, Minister, you said your department would lay off about 108 teachers at the end of this school year. A few days later you accepted a report and said that it would be reduced to sixty-eight and everyone appeared pleased with the minister's decision; but now we find out, Minister, that you have plans to remove another 180 teachers out of the classrooms to fill new positions in guidance and learning resources. Isn't it a fact that schools will lose over 200 teachers in September, instead of the sixty-eight that you announced to glowing reviews at the end of March? Terrible.

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, it would appear that a little bit of a history course is in order for the member opposite. If you want to look at the number of teachers in our system, one can hardly question what is happening in light of the Ministerial Panel report.

At one point in time, we had 172,000 students in our system. Today, we have 96,000. When we had 172,000 students in our system, we had 6,648 teachers. Today, we have 76,000 fewer students and we only have less 300 teachers.

Mr. Speaker, there is no comparison in terms of what we are doing as a Province. We are ensuring that we have the number of teachers in the system to deliver essential programming, which is what the Ministerial Panel reported. They wanted to ensure that every school in this Province, no matter if you lived in rural Newfoundland or in urban centres of this Province, had the opportunity to deliver essential programming. We will be able to do that with the number of teachers that are in the system today.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister now to take her seat.

The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

Petitions

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand today to present a petition to the House of Assembly. The petition reads:

To the hon. the House of Assembly of Newfoundland, in Legislative Session convened:

the petition of the undersigned request that all citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador be always granted free and unimpeded access to and through the T'Railway Provincial Park including access by motor vehicle.

That the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador take action to withdraw the lands under the control of the Newfoundland and Labrador Snowmobile Federation Inc. as contained in the three year contract signed on April 1, 1999, and that no further contracts be signed that allow corporations or any other persons to charge the public fees for access to public lands.

WHEREFORE your petitioners humbly pray that your hon. House may be pleased to request the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to take such action as quickly as possible. And as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, here is petition brought forward, with1,530 names on this particular petition. The plea is for government to look at what is happening in how the T'Railway is being able to be accessed by all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. The fear is there that somewhere down the road there will be a fee charged in order for people to access the 900 kilometers of this particular T'Railway.

People I guess remember a year or so ago when people raised the fear that they were going to be limited to the use of watershed areas, to lakes and streams around the Province, by giving control to certain interest groups. At that particular time people raised concerns, raised the issue, and it was raised here in the House of Assembly. People wanted no part of that. They wanted free access. They wanted to be able to buy one license and fish in their favorite steam or their favorite lake. Now they find out that there has been special consideration by the Minister of Tourism given to the Snowmobile Federation in the Province that would limit their access to the T'Railway.

A lot of people today have to use that T'Railway in order to have access to their cabin, to their cottage if you would, in remote areas. They fear that somewhere down the road they will be limited to using this particular T'Railway and they feel that it should exist for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians without having to go out, buy a special license, or to pay a special permit. Already they are limited as to where they can go and use their snowmobiles, use their all-terrain vehicles in the wetlands and in other woodland areas. They see the T'Railway as an ideal place to be able to have some recreation and enjoyment. The plea goes out to the minister and to government to not allow a fee to be incorporated; to not make this another opportunity for a money grab, but to allow access to the people who want to use the T'Railway for enjoyment, for recreation, and also as a means of access to their places that they normally go to fish or to access their cabins.

That in essence is the spirit behind this particular petition. It is another reminder of saying to government: We are not going to come forward and pay fees for everything that we do here in this Province. We would like to be able to be granted unlimited access to this particular T'Railway and make it available for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Orders of the Day

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order 9, Bill 6, "An Act To Amend The Child, Youth And Family Services Act."

One of the ministers here is responsible for introducing that.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Child, Youth And Family Services Act." (Bill 6).

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

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

It is a pleasure to take this opportunity to make a few introductory remarks with respect to second reading of Bill 6. I believe that all members of the Legislature would recall - because it is very recent - that last year we had the first major re-working of the child, youth and family services legislation in the Province for a long period of time, some significant number of years.

This is the piece of legislation that reflected the reorganization of the department, brought the child, youth and family services, the whole initiative and all the program areas, into the Department of Health and Community Services, because some of it prior to that had been in the old Department of Social Services, the Department of Human Resources and Employment, and some of it had been in the Department of Health. It was a consolidation in terms of departments but also a consolidation in terms of legislation.

As well, this is the piece of legislation that put in place access and rights to services for the group that had been missing, the group that was lost in the cracks, the sixteen to eighteen year olds, that allowed for them to be provided services through child and family services provisions: access to social workers, access to counseling and so on. What we have seen, because it was such a huge comprehensive piece of work, is that the social workers primarily and the people in the youth courts who have been dealing with this legislation in its first year of proclamation - because we were talking about a bill that was proclaimed January 1, 1999 - while this looks like a major piece of legislation from substantive change, it does not contain any. What it really is is a piece of work that describes a few inefficiencies and a few little anomalies that have become known to the social workers and to the people dealing with family and youth issues in family court and in youth court, whereby issues such as the proper issuance of written notices was not spelled out totally adequately in the act as it was put together. A recommendation back through the courts and through the officers attending the courts indicated that there should be a guarantee in the legislation that written documentation should be provided, written notices should be provided in certain examples, and so on.

So I just use that as an example the kind of more housekeeping changes that are here. It has gone through a review of the committee that works with the department, a committee representing social workers, a committee representing youth care workers, a committee representing youth court officials. They have indicated that there are a series of some ten or twelve here - I think there are seventeen or eighteen clauses - issues that I believe would be appropriately described as housekeeping and efficiency. It will improve the operation on a day to day basis and the efficiency of the functioning of this bill, because it deals with very serious issues whereby a child has to be taken from the family for some reason, put into temporary custody, become a ward of the state for a period of time while we are looking for alternate placement in foster homes or other care arrangements and those kinds of issues.

So while the issues are extremely important and extremely critical, the whole intent of the bill is to make it more streamlined and more functional for the day to day use of the officials who deal with our young people and their families on these issues, and also so that the information flow and so on given to the families and also to the children involved, particularly the sixteen to eighteen year olds who are being covered for the first time in our history, is more appropriately spelled out in the legislation. This will be a much better working piece of legislation as a result of these changes.

That is all I will say by way of introduction. My intent is to listen carefully to the presentations during second reading. As (inaudible), it is my understanding that if anyone in reviewing the bill has found any clauses that they think can be further improved - because what we are looking for here are improvements in the function of a bill rather than any change in policy or direction as to how we are going to try to provide services to young people and families in Newfoundland and Labrador. So if there are further suggestions that anyone has I will certainly listen in second reading and certainly deal with any proposed further amendments at Committee stage and third reading.

With that I commend the bill to the attention of all members and would listen attentively to any comments they would like to make with a bill that is largely housekeeping to try to improve the efficiency of the new Child, Youth and Family Services Act.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER (Smith): The hon. the Member for Harbour Main-Whitbourne.

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise on this side of the House to respond with regard to Bill 6, An Act To Amend The Child, Youth And Family Services Act. In looking down through the clauses, I agree with the minister is seeing them as housekeeping, but again, looking at the clauses as housekeeping does not take away from the seriousness of the bill itself, which is intended to protect the youth of the Province.

Through my involvement in youth, I must say that in times of crisis with regard to removal of children from homes, schools or foster homes it can be a very traumatic time, especially for the child. Anything that makes it easier to protect the rights of the children would have the support of this side of the House.

The changes are intended to allow the professionals more leeway and to be able to action requests faster. I noticed that there is a change, for example, in being able to do it through telecommunication. Again, this sort of initiative obviously would allow for quicker response. This again, if it is in the interest of the children, is a step in the right direction.

When you look at the youth in this Province it is good to see that legislation such as something of this nature is to be introduced with the intent - and I say to the minister, I haven't gone down through all the individual clauses in great detail, but to look down through them it appears that they are certainly achieving what they have set out to achieve. This particular area, with regard to youth protection, I say to you, is a very important one. In my experience, we see in our society today that there are all sorts of family situations that have developed. I suppose with the turn of this particular century we are moving into a move away from the extended families, especially in rural Newfoundland, that we were well accustomed to. This more nuclear family is under a tremendous amount of pressure, especially with regard to the protection of the youth.

We heard in this House today mention about a universal program in the schools regarding food or nutrition. I say to you that this is where a lot of our attention should be given, to the children of the Province, to make sure we are picking up the slack sometimes for what is happening perhaps in the homes or in society in general. We have to be very ready to move in and to address particular needs. When you talk about the nutrition of our young people it is very obvious to me and others that you can't learn on an empty stomach, and that is for sure. To look at ways in which we can get into the schools and provide that type of service for those who need it would indeed be a step in the right direction.

Also I say to you that today I brought up guidance counsellors to the Minister of Education. When it comes to the protection of youth the guidance counsellors in the schools play a very key role. It was very interesting to see a move towards establishing a better ratio of guidance counsellors to students in the schools so that they can be available in times - which this act is intended to cover - where these guidance counsellors can be involved in protecting the youth in situations in which they need to be protected.

I have had the occasion to be in a school where the RCMP, the social workers and other government agencies came in and took a child from the school into their protection. I tell you, it is an horrendous situation in any type of circumstance, especially for the child. That is why it is so important that in our schools the proper professionals be in place to deal with this type of a situation. So, in looking at the bill and the amendment to bill, hopefully these amendments will allow for the professionals, like the guidance counselors, in the schools, and the social workers.

I say to you, Mr. Speaker, when you look at, I suppose, the job that social workers are given with regard to taking care of the needs of their clients, and in particular the young clients that they have, they are under a tremendous amount of pressure. They have tremendous caseloads. Every case, I say to you, takes a great deal of time. Not only does it take a great deal of time, but it usually takes a great deal of paper work and interagency cooperation. If this bill can, even in a small way, cut down on the amount of time that these social workers would spend dealing with regulations and phone calls and permission and so on - now, not to circumvent the rights of the child or certainly the rights of the family. That is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that if there is a way to protect the rights and get the paperwork pushed through in a manner which will get the job done, again this is a move positively in the right direction.

In my dealings with social workers, like I have said, a lot of their involvement certainly involves coming into the schools, I suppose sometimes under very extreme circumstances. In all my dealings with social workers, I feel that again they are certainly doing the best job they can. If these amendments to the act can alleviate - because the youth of our Province of Newfoundland and Labrador certainly need that type of protection. The minister mentioned from sixteen to eighteen. I agree with the minister. That was a gray area, I suppose you might call it, that again educators, social workers and guidance counselors found themselves in an iffy situation. So, if again that gray area can be eliminated by these clauses, or any one of these clauses, I certainly would compliment the minister on bringing it forward.

The sad part about it all is that, like I said, as young people are coming up they find themselves in different situations often well beyond their control. I say well beyond their control because the family situation may be such that they are in crisis more often than not. I tell you, I know, in dealing again with social workers and these intergovernmental agencies, the last thing they want to do is to have to go into a home and remove a child from that home, from their guardian or their parent.

In looking at that situation, we also realize that in many cases it has to be done. If it has to be done, we must protect not only the child but the workers, the professionals involved with this child. That is another side of it that we have be aware of, because I know that with regard to professionals there are a lot of things that come across their desk in the run of a day. With regard to youth, they have to act without thought sometimes to make sure that they are moving in the right direction. It is not easy in trying to discern what is a real crisis, what is an imagined crisis, what is in between. If, for example, there are any thoughts from a teacher's point of view that a child has been abused physically or sexually or mentally, that teacher, by law, has to report that. The social worker who comes across that has to act immediately upon it.

When we look at the law, the law should be there again to make sure that any child in crisis in our particular Province will get the full protection of the law.

The housekeeping that this does will certainly bring about some most welcomed changes because, as I pointed out earlier in what I have been saying, it is important.

There is a section, for example, that talks about medical care. If a child is removed and put in the custody, what about the medical care if something were to come up? There have been any number of court cases throughout North America involving getting proper medical care for children, and getting into the courts is perhaps the way to solve it, as many of these people have seen; but hopefully a bill of this nature will protect the professional in making these professional decisions, in making the choice of removing a child from the home, that they themselves don't end up in court. We have to protect not only the youth, but we have to protect the people who the government has indicated should be there to protect the youth.

This bill goes across many professional lines: the professional lines, like I said, of guidance counselors, teachers, social workers and police. These are the type of workers who certainly need this type of support in order to be able to carry out their job. Again, it is a job that I don't envy; because, as I have pointed out, the job is an absolutely difficult one for these professionals. They act in the interests of the child and the rights of the child, and provide the child with the services and protection that this child needs, so it is very important.

I think one of my colleagues would want to get up and say a few words so I will just finish off by saying that it is welcomed legislation. The amendments, when we get to Committee, I am sure we will go down through clause-by-clause. Just looking at them overall, again it is a good housekeeping exercise. It is an exercise that I believe will allow for the carrying out of the policy that is required, and that it does deal with certain segments that were lacking, especially the sixteen- to eighteen-year-olds. I would hope that during the Committee stage I may be given another opportunity to get up and talk more specifically about the causes.

I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I will pass it along to one of my colleagues.

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

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

I want to join with my colleague from Harbour Main-Whitbourne to make a few comments on this particular piece of legislation. I agree with the minister that the bill itself, the original bill, was long overdue. Last year, I think this House took some pride in the passage of an Act To Amend The Child, Youth And Family Services Act. We agree that it was long overdue. In fact, it had been talked about for many years. I do remember when Wells' government was elected in 1989, and I think it was the next spring they made a commitment to revise this particular piece of

legislation. Ever since that time the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and particularly the social workers and others, have been anticipating the tabling of this particular piece of legislation.

Last year when this bill was tabled in the House, one of the comments I made was that we should have sent the bill to the government committee on legislation, called the Social Services Committee. That did not happen. I do remember making the suggestion to the then minister, the Member for St. John's Centre, and saying to her that because of the tremendous changes that this would mean, both in terms of how the courts would respond to these issues, and how the social workers and others in the business of delivering services to children and youth will respond to particular matters, that it might be advisable if we were to send this piece of legislation to the social services committee so that we could have hearings so that members of the general public could come in and make some comment as to what they felt was right with this particular bill, or what might need to be changed.

At the time, I remember the minister standing in her place and saying: There is absolutely no need to do that. There is no need to have hearings on this particular bill because, she said, we have done all that. We have been out and talked to the social workers. We have talked to the legal advisors within the department and the legal advisors outside the department and we don't see any need to do this. She said: We have been eight or ten years - I think the last bill was in 1944 or something like that. It is a long time ago. I can't remember the exact dates of the original bill way back either before Confederation or shortly thereafter, but certainly there was a lengthy period of time. She was in a rush to get it done. She said there was no need to do that.

Then I find the next time that the Legislature opens we have a great number of amendments. In fact, I think this kind of hits a record for a piece of legislation that had only been passed a few months before. Now we are back with something like fifteen amendments to this particular piece of legislation. It says clause 18, but that is not necessarily the number of amendments. There are twelve or fifteen amendments that are put to this piece of legislation. That brings to a point the need for the House to perhaps have more public hearings, to have more work done in committee to refer it, because if that had happened then this piece of legislation would have gotten the support of the House. We on this side of the House think this is a positive initiative and we have said so many times.

In fact, I do remember I was quoted in one of the media as endorsing this particular initiative. We believe we could have done a better job and we would have had it ready (inaudible) for absolute implementation if we had the consultations at that time. It is very rare, I say to the current minister, to have these many amendments. It just goes to show that even after ten years the thing was being rushed. If we had to have had the consultations we might have been able to change a few things.

That does not take away from the essential thrust of this particular piece of legislation. There are many things that we would like to have seen there that are not represented. I make note of the comments of my colleague for Harbour Main-Whitbourne on the sixteen to eighteen year olds. From the time when I was part of the Select Committee on Children's Interests, we had many persons who appeared before that Committee who made recommendations that the sixteen to eighteen year olds be recognized when we were talking about bringing in some new legislation. For example, recommendation number twenty of that Committee's report said that the sixteen to eighteen year olds needed to be included in the child welfare act. That happened in this particular piece of legislation, not quite to the extent that some people wanted. When we were having the hearings - as Mr. Speaker I am sure remembers - many people thought we should put sixteen and eighteen year olds in like we treat infancy to age sixteen, but we made a decision in that Committee that sixteen to eighteen year olds are not quite in the same category. While they should have services provided to them when they request it and when it is agreeable to them, we didn't want to impose them on them by law.

We strongly recommended that children ages sixteen to eighteen be included under provisions of the child welfare legislation and that the provision written into the act should include the (inaudible) based upon their voluntary consent. In other words, if a sixteen to eighteen year old wished to access services through the department voluntarily, then they would be made available to those young people, but if they did not want to access those services, for whatever reason, then the department would not have the right to impose them. That was an agreement we had there when we wrote the report and certainly there was a lot of agreement around that, and we were pleased that this particular piece of legislation makes provision for that.

Some of the things I would have liked to have seen more appropriately recognized in this particular piece of legislation, in the original bill, was a recommendation that parents in Newfoundland and Labrador have a 1-800 crisis or help line for parents. We have a help line for teenagers and it gets used an awful lot, but there isn't a help line for parents. I note that just a few weeks ago I was having a conversation with some parents who were frustrated with how they should handle their sixteen to eighteen year olds, and particularly those who have run away. As members will recall, there was one parent who had been on the public airwaves wishing that there was more power in legislation to parents in circumstances when their teenagers or sixteen to eighteen year olds choose to leave the family home and go and live elsewhere. At that time, one of the parents suggested: We wish there was somebody we could talk to when our families are going through these kinds of situations.

One of the things we found when we did a study across the Province - in over 200 meetings and, I think, it was nearly 300 written reports - that they wanted to talk about was that parents in Newfoundland and Labrador have a 1-800 help line. We know, as I said a few minutes ago, that teenagers access the child help line in record numbers. As a matter of fact, at the time we were doing the study we knew from all parts of the Province where the calls were coming from. As a matter of fact, a lot of the calls to the children's help line were coming from rural Newfoundland where these children were wanting to talk to somebody about their circumstances. However, in spite of our recommendation, the Province has not yet seen the wisdom of putting in place a 1-800 crisis line for parents.

We want to bring that particular matter to the attention of government. I do remember one parent saying, and it is written in the transcript that I am quoting from here in the report of the Select Committee: I can't control my child and I don't know how much longer I can control myself. I do remember that comment being made. Parents get into a situation where they would like to have somebody they could talk to. We today, at this stage, still want to recommend that the minister look at some way in which parents can get the help they need when they need it. Just because you happen to be out in some part of rural Newfoundland, a small community, does not mean you should not be able to have someone to talk to.

When we did the analysis, and the data is readily available, of where the calls come from when they come in on the children's help line, that data is available. You will find out that there are some communities in rural Newfoundland and Labrador where there can be as many as thirty, forty and fifty calls per month. Also, we did a little analysis that showed that where there was not an access to high school or elementary school guidance counsellors, the calls were more frequent from those places. When you have many communities in Newfoundland and Labrador where their schools are very small and you have one guidance counsellor for every 1,000 students - and we know that it is going to change; our commitment from the minister is that it will change, to be one for every 500 - when you have a situation where children have to share a guidance counselor with two and three schools, and sometimes two and three different communities, the only way to get access to a guidance counsellor is if the guidance counsellor comes in by boat, flies in by air, or something like that. We know that these services are greatly needed.

In conclusion on this point, I just want to say that the parents want more help, they are crying out for it. The petitions I presented here about a month ago say the parents want to have more involvement, they want to have more say, they want to have an opportunity to talk to a professional in a non-threatening setting, a non-threatening environment, before their children get to the point where their children - the sixteen year olds - are walking out the door.

When the sixteen year old walks out the door and leaves home, we know that unless there is evidence that there is a legal matter where the child has been taken against his or her will, or some other matter that might be involved, the police are not able to move in and apprehend that child because they do not have the authority to do so. For example, if a seventeen year old wishes to leave home, unless the parent can show there is some threat to that child, there is some matter in which that child has been taken against his or her will, or some safety issue involved, something that offends the Criminal Code, then the social workers cannot talk to the police and to the court system and say: We believe this child should be picked up. The ability of parents to interact with the child has become terribly compromised because then you have parent and child, in many cases, who do not wish to talk; particularly the child may not wish to talk to the parent, and sometimes it is the other way around as well.

We wish to say to the minister: Please revisit recommendation twenty-one of the Select Committee because it talks about having a help line or a crisis line somewhere where parents can get help from professionals and get it in a manner that (a) is timely, (b) is professional and (c) that if you have a 1-800 line it won't mean that these parents would only get help if they could afford the long distance call.

This recommendation was supported by the Department of Health at the time, supported by the Department of Justice, and supported by the Department of Education at that time. The names of departments have changed since that time but this is an issue, I say to the minister, a real issue. If you want to make a good news story it would be that this minister has set up a 1-800 line where parents can get professional help on a timely basis, so when they are going through a crisis with their children they can get that kind of help very quickly and get it in a professional manner. I would be the first to stand in this House and to say to the minister: That is the kind of initiative that I would like to see happening. Particularly as it happens right now in rural Newfoundland with regard to the child help line.

I would advise the minister, if he would, to get the stats for the child help line over the last ten years. There is a tremendous amount on insight into that, I say to the minister, because it lets you know that although the line is used, perhaps the total number of calls in the St. John's region might be higher, but when you look at the population base, break it down by population base, the calls from parts of rural Newfoundland would be, in proportion to the population, tremendously high. We do recommend that to the minister.

One of the things I wanted to note as well here is that - I made note of it at the time of the original bill - there was no recognition here of some dialogue talking about a child advocate. I note that just a few days ago there was a group in St. John's which are continuing to battle towards getting a child advocate put in place for Newfoundland and Labrador. We say to the minister again that it is time this Province look at a child advocate, some way in which we can make a person responsible to the House of Assembly, not to the Minister of Health and Community Services, not to any other minister. Make the person responsible and answerable to the House of Assembly so that person can be the advocate for children; because, in this Province, we need somebody who is going to speak up for young people. While all of us here in our various roles would like to think that we speak for the youth of the Province, in many cases we don't. So the issues of youth often do not make it to the floor of this House in a way that they should.

We say to the government, asking the minister, to revisit the whole issue around having a child advocate in Newfoundland and Labrador. We know that there has been some movement made on more in-service for foster homes, and that is recognized in the original piece of legislation. There are some new initiatives in that area, and we commend them. It is always very difficult to get foster homes for children, particularly when the children get to be beyond the age of ten. For younger children it is not so difficult, but often getting foster homes for children who are already in dysfunctional relationships in their birth family settings becomes very difficult when the child gets beyond a certain age.

We acknowledge that some initiatives have been made and we go back to the minister, in my final summing up comments, to say that this is a positive piece of legislation. The amendments, in my case, do not surprise me. Fifteen amendments show that we have forgotten about the commitment made by Clyde Wells, when he said he was going to send every piece of legislation to a review committee of the House. If that had happened, I am sure some of these changes here would not have been necessary.

Mr. Speaker, I know the Member for Lewisporte is anxious to get on his feet, I know the Member for Cape St. Francis will want to have a few comments on this particular piece of legislation, and perhaps even the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi might be persuaded to get up because I know he believes that everything should go to a committee of the House and be thoroughly studied. This is a prime example where that system failed and, because it failed, it failed the children of Newfoundland and Labrador in a big way. We would not be here today doing what we are doing if we had followed the procedures that the House should follow in the conduct and passage of the legislation.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I persuaded the Member for Cape St. Francis to defer to me, and I want to thank him for that privilege.

I did want to say first off, in response to the Member for Waterford Valley, that yes, indeed, the first thing that occurred to me is that we are looking at a bill here before this House with eighteen clauses to amend a piece of legislation - a comprehensive piece of legislation, I might add - that was passed here just in the last session of the House, and that it certainly is a good argument for the discussion that we have had on many occasions as to why this government is refusing or failing to use the procedures set out in Standing Orders 79 or 80, which provide an opportunity where legislation can be reviewed either prior to second reading or after second reading through our legislative committee process.

These were established only a few short years ago. Probably six or seven years ago these procedures were established for a legislative review and study of bills in this House and I found them very useful. There were used for about two years. Prior to that, the only detailed study bills ever got were at third reading here in the House. It seemed to me that was almost, at that point in the process, government was very reluctant to accept amendments to legislation because they had already been through Cabinet, the minister had already spoken on it, the minister was behind the legislation, and they were very reluctant to consider amendments, even technical amendments that were obvious (inaudible) because they were afraid it might lead to further problems or, in some cases, they were unwilling to see the Opposition demonstrate publicly that certain legislation was in fact inadequate. They didn't like to accept amendments, even if they were good amendments.

I remember moving a number of good amendments myself, and I am sure other hon. members have, but the government was very rare to accept amendments because, I suppose, for whatever political reasons. There has been some debate over time, but I haven't heard it recently, that the better use of legislative committees would in fact increase the role that hon. members play in this House, in particular members who are members of Cabinet or don't have significant roles in Opposition as Leader of the Opposition or otherwise, that there is an opportunity for members to play a significant role in developing and improving legislation.

This legislation here before us now is one that a lot of members had a great deal of interest in. There had been a Select Committee on Children's Interests. A number of members had heard lots of briefs and had participated in hearings and worked to develop a report, and had a significant amount of input that they could have made to the legislative review process. If this bill had gone through that process, we would have perhaps not seen the need for major amendments - well, I wouldn't call them major amendments but numerous amendments at least - at this time.

I would urge ministers opposite and the Government House Leader to review sections 79 and 80 of the Standing Orders, and try to find ways to see how they can be used to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) what?

MR. HARRIS: Standing Orders 79 and 80 - it used to be 56 - to do with legislation being referred to committees.

Standing Order 79 and Standing Order 80; you can refer bills to legislative committees either before they receive second reading or after second reading. When this system was operating for a couple of years, bills being referred to standing committees in August or September, being studied prior to the House opening. In fact, we have seen significant improvements made to legislation before they even reached the floor of the House; so that when they are here, some amendments have already been made and questions that people had to ask could be asked to the law officers of the Crown, the people who had drafted the legislation, if it was a drafting issue, to the officials in the department who had considered the policy implications of various clauses of legislation and were made available to answer questions.

That is a system that I would like to encourage. It is one that works well and provides an opportunity for input by members who may have extra knowledge or expertise in a certain area, whether it be involvement with children, whether it be in education as a teacher, whether it be as a lawyer, like some of us have expertise in the legal profession. There are always things to bring to the table when debating legislation, or certainly when considering legislation in the less adversarial forum of a committee where people are there, hopefully - unless there are major policy implications- to improve legislation, to seek to get the best legislation that is going to work to achieve the purposes; because it is not a lot of legislation where there is a basis disagreement over the purpose.

Everybody in this House believes we should have a regime for the protection of children that is effective and is able to permit the social workers to undertake their activities and provide legal protection for them to do that; that legislation be there to allow government and through its social workers and its experts in family relations to provide services to people. It is a question as to whether or not the legislation does the job or actually can deliver the job when given the legislative regime and given the resources available.

Just if I might, broadly speaking, talk about the resources being available, refer back to the discussion we had during Question Period - the Minister of Education, referred to by the Member for Harbour Main-Whitbourne in his remarks - we are dealing here in many cases with children who, for one reason or another, have behavioural problems, and that could be the older groups that we are talking about, the sixteen- to eighteen-year-olds. For some reason they find it very difficult to stay in a family situation where they find themselves. Sometimes they are, in fact, kicked out of home. In some cases they don't get along with their parents. In some cases there are very good reasons for that. They may be abused at home. They may be not understood in a sense that they have perhaps special needs or difficult personalities and aren't able to live at home.

We talk about homelessness from time to time. We don't have a lot of people living on the streets of this Province but we do have a lot of people who are in fact homeless; young people who are gypsies, in a sense, travelling around from bed to bed, sleeping on someone's couch or sleeping on the floor of someone's apartment, not having a home of their own, not having a place where they can live, and that is a significant problem. It is an underground problem. It is an unseen problem. These young people are not terribly visible unless they get into trouble with the law, in which case they are down before the youth court and may end up in an institution. In some cases that becomes their home because at least there is a place where they - there are rules. They know the rules. They can tend to their education. They can feel safe, for the most part, unless there are some problems with the institution at the time, and they have some security; whereas if they are on the street they are literally on the street unless they are staying overnight with a friend on someone's couch or someone's floor or whatever. These are young people, sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen years old, who have yet to find an opportunity to make a life of their own. In fact, they are too young.

I know of hon. members who have children. If your children were required, at the age of sixteen, seventeen or eighteen, to fend for themselves, you would not feel very good about that because you know that they have a need for support from family, from society, or from some adult person or persons to be able to find their way in the world and to deal with the choices that have to be made, to deal with the alternatives available to them to find their way. They need the support of parents to do that. Unfortunately, in lots of cases parents are either incapable of doing that or they don't exist, or they have, themselves, so many problems of their own that they can't cope with the responsibilities of parenthood and society, in order to protect these young people, has to step in and play a role.

 

There are some services. I think, now that we are talking about the legal ability there, the sixteen- to eighteen-year-olds now being able to be included in this legislation, we now have to talk about services and making services available so that they can benefit from this legislation.

To get back to the issue of the school/families food foundation and the need for nutritious meals for students in order to be able to learn and participate in school and obtain a proper education, study after study has shown how vital this is. I quoted the minister's words back to her today. I won't say she borrowed them from me but obviously I have been saying that time and time again, as have other members over the last several years in talking about the need for a universal comprehensive school lunch program because hungry children cannot learn and find it very difficult to obtain the benefits of an education.

We have problems that are not necessarily related to social economic problems with school nutrition. We have children now on a long bus ride in many cases, and these are increasing as opposed to decreasing. Young children are spending more time on school buses now then they did before, and that has been said to interfere with a child's meal pattern and whether they have a breakfast or arrive at school hungry. There is an increasing recognition of the need for school meal programs to provide a solid basis for learning in the schools.

I heard a figure the other day - it is the first time anyone has attempted to put a figure on the cost of a universal school mean program - of $16 million used as the cost for providing a meal to every school child in the Province every day of the year. That is the actual cost. It doesn't take into account what contributions might be made from parents or by parents, what contributions might be made by others to the school food program, whether it be through fundraising efforts, or through donations of companies, businesses, or community members who are interested in supporting a school meal program. That is the actual overall cost. It sounds like a lot of money. When the minster says: We haven't got the money for this, we haven't got the money for that, we are doing the best we can, let's look at it as compared to some other programs.

I heard the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods say in the House the other day that the Province spends $15 million or $16 million a year on a silviculture program. That is to plant trees or to provide thinning programs so that trees can be harvested fifty or sixty years from now. If we can spend $16 million a year on providing a program that ensures that trees are able to be harvested fifty or sixty years from now, then surely we can have a program that is designed to ensure that our children are able to learn properly in school and thereby get a better start on life, have a higher level of learning and have fewer behavioral problems, because often with children one thing leads to another. A person who doesn't do well in school all of a sudden develops an attitude about school, about teachers, or about the system and they react to that and respond. Sometimes the basis of all of that is a faulty ability to learn because of issues such as the home life, such as nutrition, such as, in fact, simple, pure hunger.

While we are on the topic of nutrition, in the schools today we don't have a Province-wide policy on school nutrition, we don't have a Province-wide policy that ensures that children learn proper things about nutrition in our schools. That is something that is lacking. We have a policy that seems to allow all sorts of things to be sold in the school, whether they be junk food, french fries, or whatever the canteen or merchants who are in the schools sell. Whatever the advertising and marketing schemes of various advertisers, food product providers or sellers have, that is what determines - marketing, in many respects, determines the nutrition program in the school or the lack of a nutrition program in the school.

It is all very well to say that it is up to the parents to make these decisions. If that is true then the parents have an important role in that, but when you go to school, if the only thing available in your school is the junk food or food that the family wouldn't necessary choose, then there really isn't much choice. We see advertisements aimed at children to get them to buy the expensive and highly profitable, for the owners, foodstuffs which don't necessarily provide the best nutrition for our children.

In the schools we don't have a culture or a set of standards that ensures that in the school, at least, only nutritious food will be available and that the school efforts will be aimed at ensuring that children know about nutrition, that they can bring information home to their parents, if necessary, about nutrition. Coupled with a school meal program we can go a long way to improving the health and well being of our school population as well as providing a opportunity for hungry children to learn better.

There are a couple of items in this legislation. I have a few minutes left and I want to refer to clauses 13 and 14 and mention briefly two legal issues that may arise. Perhaps the minister can ask his officials to consider these points I am about to make. Clause 13 provides that: "evidence taken and a declaration made at a prior hearing under this Act and under a similar statute" can be used as evidence in a hearing before the court. That may be useful to a judge to be able to rely on evidence that was from a previous hearing. There is a problem with it, though. What if, for example, at the previous hearing evidence from a social worker was heard who is not at this particular hearing? At this particular hearing there are contentious matters which arise and they may have a lawyer - such as the Member for Lewisporte - who appears, and says: I want to challenge what this person said, I want to cross-examine that person, and I want to be able to do that but that person is not here, and the judge is entitled to rely on it.

I think they might have to go a bit further and insure that if they are going to rely on previous evidence that the person giving that evidence ought to be available, that they could only rely on that evidence if that person is available, if necessary, to be accountable for evidence that was given. I can understand it being a convenience for a hearing to not have to go through a full hearing, but if there are matters that are contentious then the need for the person to be available, I think, should be important. I do not think you necessarily need to go through the whole history of a particular case again every time a hearing takes place, but I think there ought to be some protection there so that if there are contentious issues that they can be, in fact, dealt with.

The other clause is Clause 14, a very commendable provision allowing a child to be able to participate in a hearing, to let his or her views be known to the judge, either privately or in the court, as is pointed out here, and some ways they are done to do that. The question I have is: How does a child know about this? How is a child to know that they have the right to participate in a hearing, to be able to talk to the judge directly themselves, or to be able to testify or to provide written material or to express their views to the court? It is very laudable to have that there and I think many children might want to have something to say to a court or at least have an opportunity themselves to tell the judge what he or she thinks in private, or maybe something going on that she or he has not told anybody else but might well tell a judge figuring they were at the right source now, that this judge could do something about it.

The question here is: How would the child know if they have that right and that that is available to them? There may be an answer in other parts of the legislation. I had a quick look at some of the provisions that are before and after section 53 of the act and did not find any but that is a question I put to the minister. Perhaps when we debate this at third reading we can have an answer or see if there is a change that we could make to make a provision so that a child is notified that he or she has the right to testify or to make their views known at a hearing or talk to the judge. I think that is something I would commend to the minister.

Certainly, I think my time is now up at second reading. I see a nod from the Speaker, so I will take my seat and participate in this further at third reading.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER (Mercer): If the minister does now speak, he closes the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I certainly appreciate the interventions with respect to this most important bill at second reading. I will undertake with officials to provide further information and answers to the issues that are raised, particularly the last couple with respect to section 13 and section 14, so that we will provide information in Committee. Because it is important to examine whether or not it is the intent to have the person available for cross-examination or verification of evidence, if necessary, since the statements made from prior hearings are going to admissible. Also, I will find out the mechanism by which the child is expected to know that they have the right to present their views and provide clarification.

As I indicated in my introductory comments, certainly if even between now and the Committee stage, because this is so important, if there are further suggestions for improvement of this bill, we would certainly give them full consideration at the Committee stage.

With those comments, I say thank you to the participants in the debate at second reading and move the bill for second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Child, Youth And Family Services Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 6)

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, Order 8, Bill 12.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting Environmental Assessment." (Bill 12)

The hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour.

MR. LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Bill 12, of course, deals with An Act Respecting Environmental Assessment. I can say, at the beginning, the environmental assessment process is essential to protect the environment. It ensures environmentally acceptable development and provides valuable public input. The process is fundamentally sound but it requires improvements to make it still more effective and efficient.

The piece of legislation that we have here, the environment assessment legislation, is about twenty years old. Over the twenty years, with the environmental assessment practice behind us, we now recognize that there are positive changes that should be made to the process. Basically that is what this is about, enhancing environmentally sound decisions, and that fosters a more open and accessible process for public input and a more disciplined and focused environmental assessment process and improved enforcement.

There are a number of points here that I would like to make. Under the proposed amendments, government will be able to reject the project at the outset if it is contrary to law, policy, or deemed by government to not be in the public interest. This will eliminate, obviously, the problem of having to continue with an environmental assessment if it has been determined by government that the project is not in the best interest of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Now, for example, if someone were to come today and ask to extend the golf course on the Burin Peninsula, in Frenchman's Cove, we recognize that extension falls within the boundaries of the Frenchman's Cove provincial park. There is nothing in the legislation that would prevent a proponent from putting forward that particular proposal, even though it doesn't adhere to government legislation. I don't have the right to say no to that proponent - as the legislation - even though I would know that you could not put the golf course within the provincial park boundaries. It is against regulation to do so.

If the Member for Cape St. Francis were to put forward a proposal to extend that golf course, I would have no right but to accept your proposal, go through all the necessary expenses and so on, and at the end of the day not be able to accept your proposal. We want to change that.

The other thing that this piece of legislation would hope to do is to make it mandatory, public involvement in all the main stages of the process. The conditions of environmental assessment releases will be published, and the department will maintain a pubic registry of environmental assessment information.

Mr. Speaker, it is out intention to focus environmental assessment on projects where there are potentially significant environmental effects, as I said earlier. Also, now in the legislation the environmental impact statement of references and guidelines will be combined into one step. Up to now, the draft Terms of Reference by proponents would be given to us. That is going to be changed. Under the Terms of Reference in the new legislation we will, as the government department, prepare the environmental assessment regulations, give them to the committee to be reviewed by the public and the proponent and released by the minister, which is different from what it is now. I think that will enhance the process considerably.

Also, what we are doing in this piece of legislation as well is asking, or demanding, that government departments identify and address environmental considerations in all Cabinet papers that come forward. That is an improvement over what is there now. Now it is not mandatory. It can be, in a sense, at the discretion of the department but we are making it mandatory.

To improve the enforcement also of the act, we are going to raise significantly the penalties under the system. The maximum fine now is $1 million for organizations and $50,000 for individuals. The current maximum fine is $10,000 for both groups. We are also putting into this particular piece of legislation minimum fines, and that has never been there before, minimum fines of $5,000 for corporations and $1,000 for individuals. This increases, as I said, by three times the subsequent offenses. New authority to issue stop-work orders and remediation orders are also there. Right now, under the proposed legislation we have, that does not give us the authority to do it. With this new piece of legislation we will.

I think I can say that the environmental assessment legislation is sound. It has done us well over the number of years and, with the benefits of the long-term experience that we had, we recognize improvements have to be made to make the process more effective and more efficient. That is what it is about. Also, I can say that under the proposed legislation or changes to the legislation we are also giving a greater number of days for the public consultation as well, five extra days that have been given to the public. There are also definite guidelines that are there as well, in not allowing the proponent to be strung out indefinitely but to bring it to a process, the number of days, and then be able to deal with it.

I guess what I am saying, I can sum it up in four different headings, four different goals: We are enhancing environmentally sound decision-making; we foster a more and open accessible process for public input; we are creating a more disciplined and focused environmental assessment process; and we are improving enforcement. At the end, the minister also cannot now, until after all the process is done, stop the project; but under the new authority the minister, in early stages of the assessment, can release the project after forty-five days registration or an environmental review and attach conditions at any stage going through. Up to this particular time that has not been able to be done. I guess, in the best interest of the public, what we are saying is that it is good legislation. We want to improve it. We want to make sure that it is there to protect the residents and the environment of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

With that, Mr .Speaker, I will conclude at this part of it. I am sure that as we go through Committee stage and so on there are things that will need to be addressed. We can do that then and hopefully, as I said, be able to provide the people of this Province with a better environmental assessment of projects in this Province.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I want to compliment the minister, first of all, in bringing in this comprehensive piece of legislation, An Act Respecting Environmental Assessment. In general this is, I think, good legislation, but I would have to add that I am rather concerned that bringing in a good piece of legislation is not all there is to it. I wouldn't want to be back - I don't think it is necessary, not that I wouldn't want to be. We are legislators and that is what we are here for - for us to face the possibility of being back in the House next year, or the year after, doing major pieces of renovations to a bill as important as this. We saw it here today with the youth act that we just did previously. I don't think it is necessary.

The party opposite when they first became the government back in 1989 brought in a legislative review process. I know it was used quite extensively the first couple of years that it was brought in, and I think good work was done by using it, but I understand from my colleagues - I was out of here for a seven- or eight-year period - that it has not been used at all in recent times. This, I believe, I say to the minister in a complimentary way, is a prime piece of legislation for the appropriate legislative review committee. I would like to see a legislative review committee take this bill and go out around the Province, take submissions from and hear opportunities from various environmental groups, for example. There is a significant interest in this issue of environmental assessment. I would think, Mr. Speaker, that at the end of the day, if the minister were to take that suggestion, when this Legislature comes back for the fall session, I would think the minister would have a better legislation still than he has even now. This is not bad legislation. I am not saying that. I think it is legislation that with proper input from the public could become better legislation.

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

MR. LANGDON: (Inaudible) circulated a White Paper on this. This has been for public comments and submissions were widely received. In fact, there were thirty-nine organizations and individuals that did have input on these particular piece of legislation. It has been a time coming. It has been there for two or three years, and now we are really to this particular point where we want to bring it to the House today. A White Paper was done and the environmentalists and groups and public have had several consultations with that.

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I accept what the minister says on that. Generally in the legislative process, the White Paper is usually the first step in the process, and there is a number of other steps along the way. The question that the minister has to answer is: Have all those interest groups, those thirty-nine groups and individuals that were interested enough to tell the government their views on environmental assessment legislation, seen the final product? Have they had an opportunity, or is it only the members of the Legislature who have had an opportunity, to see the final product? Are they in agreement? Would the government and the minister benefit from their viewing of the final product? That is what the whole process is all about. That, of course, I think goes a long way to then, come this fall or next spring, having to come in with a whole raft of amendments like we saw the previous minister having to do today.

Generally speaking, as I said, our party, our caucus, doesn't have any difficulty with the principle of the bill. This act goes a long way to cleaning up and moving forward from the predecessor legislation that existed.

There are a couple of areas that I would like to direct the minister's attention to, and he could probably refer to when he speaks to close the debate. I am kind of puzzled by clause 8. Clause 8(1) says: "The minister shall examine the information provided by the proponent under section 7 to determine if the undertaking is contrary to law or to a policy that the Lieutenant-Governor in Council has declared to be the policy of the government of the province."

Clause 8 (2) says: "The minister shall notify the Lieutenant-Government in Council of his or her determination under subsection (1) that the undertaking is contrary to law" - I understand the law part of it - "or a policy that the Lieutenant-Governor in Council has declared to be the policy of the government of the province and the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may direct that the undertaking not proceed."

Now it is the policy proponent part of this particular clause that I find perplexing. Take, for example, if the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador said: We have taken a policy position that we are not going to interfere, from an environmental assessment point of view, in logging in the Main River area. Let's say, for example, the government made that policy position. As I read this legislation, the proponent - in this case Corner Brook Pulp and Paper - once they make the request could have their request turned down. The government can cut it off right at the beginning. The minister would report to the Cabinet and say: This particular proponent is proposing an environmental assessment in an area that is contrary to public policy, because we have already said we are not going to interfere with the cutting -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RIDEOUT: I am using the Main River as an example. We are not going to interfere there. We are going to let Corner Brook Pulp and Paper go ahead. That is our public policy position. Therefore, if that is the case - the minister is shaking his head and I hope he will tell us - my question to the minister would be: Would there not be any provision, or any arrangement then, for the environment assessment of that particular proponent? That is the way it comes across to me, that the minister can stop dead in its tracks any environmental assessment that flies in the face of a public policy position. Of course, public policy positions are taken by the Cabinet, by the government of the day. I will be interested to hear from the minister why the act is written that way.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) you still don't know what he you are talking about, (inaudible)?

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, there is the expert on everything now. What do you know about the Environmental Assessment Act? Get up and have a few words, I say to the Minister of Fisheries.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RIDEOUT: Get up and share your broad understanding of the law. Get up and share your broad understanding of this piece of legislation with your colleagues so that we can all benefit by it, so we can all be brighter, so we can all be more articulate, so we can all be as smart as the minister, Mr. Speaker.

If he had any interest in shooting - other than from his own seat - he would be over, ready to get up now when I sit down, and carry on an intense intellectual discussion of Bill 12, An Act Respecting Environmental Assessment. Maybe seal oil capsules give you some direction when it comes to environmental legislation.

AN HON. MEMBER: More gray matter.

MR. RIDEOUT: More gray matter, maybe that is what it does.

Anyway, I got sidetracked. I am saying to the minister that I have a particular concern, or I think there is a concern in this particular legislation that ought to be addressed by the minister when he speaks next on the bill.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I said at the beginning - and the Minister of Fisheries is (inaudible) hard to take praise when praise is given. I said this is a good legislative initiative. We on this side of the House support it, but because it is a good legislative initiative doesn't mean that it is a perfect legislative initiative. There are certain areas where we think this legislation perhaps could be improved. Perhaps it could be improved, and we are suggesting those areas to the minister. I know the minister is concerned, and I know he will take those matters under advisement and advise the House accordingly.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. HARRIS: The minister, I suppose, will be able to speak to conclude debate and can respond to concerns raised.

We too, Mr. Speaker, are pleased that the review of the Environmental Assessment Act has made it to the House of Assembly. Obviously, the attempt to modernize it and bring it into keeping with other modern standards is laudable. I would submit as well that although there may have been lots of input to the government in respect to its White Paper, because of the large interest about environmental matters in this Province today - the most recent issue being the one involving the Main River, but we had similar concerns raised last year in the case of the Gisborne Lake; we have had the minister being required to make some very public decisions on matters of a very controversial nature - I think it is appropriate, now that we have the government's version of what the act should be, that there be an opportunity to study it.

It is a twenty-five page piece of legislation which has been tabled here just a number of days ago. There are a lot of people in this Province interested in this issue, interested in how this process works, and whether or not it is a going through the motions, as I think Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Limited refers, for example, to the process over the main river. We are going to get our permission, they say, and they say this publicly. It is astounding. I do not know if the minister wants to comment on that. We are going to get permission but we do have to go through this process. We are going to win this. We are going to get permission from the minister to log the main river but we have to go through this process; so we will go through the process and we will listen to what you have to say, but at the end we are going to win and we are going to get our permission.

I wonder if the minister can comment on that? Is this just a process that people have to go through and then go ahead and do whatever it was they wanted to do at the beginning, as Mr. Churchill from Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Limited says? Or is there a real need here to satisfy basic considerations when we are talking about taking actions that are matters of controversy and involve areas of this Province and major concerns of this Province that are up for consideration?

I am just going to quote from a story on CBC on April 18, for example, the company's comments made at Powers Point at a public meeting: I can see all this misinformation, says Matt Churchill of the paper company, that we are going to cut down the last tree, that we are going to cut the last of the boreal forest, that we are going to ruin the river, and in the end the company says it will get its way. Quote: We are going to get permission to cut the main river, says Churchill, and we have to go through this process. We have to get the information out. After all the information is out there, in sound mind sit around the table and look at the information, we are going to get a positive response.

That attitude -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: So, we are just going through the motions. Is that what is contained in the legislation? I am sure the minister will say no, it is not just going through the motions and then you get your permission; because there are points there, as the minister pointed out, as the Member for Lewisporte has pointed out, where the government has the right to say no, you cannot do it; but that is not what we here in this House. For example, when I ask the minister questions about whether or not decisions are going to be made, he talks about the process. There is a process at work here and we will wait until the process is over.

Mr. Speaker, what I want to know is, is this legislation adequate to meet the needs of the people of this Province? The minister says yes. I presume, as a minister of the Crown, he sat around the Cabinet table and they all read this legislation and said: Yes, this is the legislation we will bring to the House.

Well, I would be surprised if every member of the Cabinet read this legislation from cover to cover. I would be surprised if all members of this House read this legislation from cover to cover. What has been suggested by the Member for Lewisporte, I think, is greatly desirable. This is a great piece of legislation about which there is great public interest. If thirty-nine groups and individuals made representations to government about the White Paper and about the environmental review process, well surely those people should be given an opportunity, through a committee process, to respond to the end result of all of this consultation. It may not change anything. They may be satisfied. They may have points to make that are not accepted. On the other hand, they may have significant points to make that would be accepted because we have seen an increased awareness of the environment, or of environmental issues generally, and we have seen the increased attention to the public of all matters related to our natural habitat, whether it be biodiversity, whether it be concerns of - fifteen years ago people talked about the decimation of the tropical rain forest. Well, it is great to talk about something as long as it is half a world away, down in the equator. Now people are talking about the forests of our Province, and are they going to be destroyed without taking account of the biodiversity that exists there, without taking account of the role that they play in maintaining our river systems and the role they play in maintaining other habitat values?

Not only that, it is not just about environment. It is about the values that we have as a people. It is about whether or not there are other considerations that come into play, whether they be legal in the case of Gisborne Lake, whether they be purely environmental, or whether they be just choices that we make as a people; because sometimes - and this cuts both ways - people who are opposed to a project not because of environmental reasons, they are opposed to a project for political reasons, they are opposed to a project for ideological reasons, they are opposed to a project for some other reasons, they will say: Oh, no, we have to hide behind an environmental assessment to make it difficult for someone to go through the hoops, the expense, to see their way to the other end of it.

We do sometimes see, and I think as politicians we have to recognize it, that sometime people use environmental questions to disguise political questions. On the other hand, people sometimes go the other way, on the other side, and say that if there are no environmental problems then we should proceed because those are the only considerations worth making.

I think, in some of the issues that are facing the public in this Province - Gisbourne Lake was one - a political decision had to be made whether or not the Province was prepared to take the political and legal risks associated with water export, and whether or not the people of the Province, as a matter of policy, wanted to support a project whether or not the environmental consequences would be significant or not.

So we do have an interplay between political considerations or policy considerations and environmental ones. Maybe it is hard to find the pure environmental ones, but I think when we have a process that appears to be semi-public in the sense that people make representations to the minister - I know the minister has a pile on his desk now about Main River, for example. We have an environmental impact statement that is about two inches thick, that was done in 1986. We have a preview report that is about a quarter of an inch thick, or more, that was done recently. We have letters - and I have seen them because I have been copied them - from fifteen or sixteen scientists pointing out deficiencies in the reports. We have a process that is complicated and one that, if we are changing it....

I want to point our something I just noticed in reviewing the bill. Clause 45, "An undertaking registered under the Environmental Assessment Act in force immediately before the coming into force of this Act shall be considered to have been registered under this Act..." So the new law applies immediately to anything that is already registered. That is very interesting, as a transitional provision. "... and that registration shall continue to come into force until the date on which that registration would have expired under the Environmental Assessment Act or 3 years after the coming into force of this Act, whichever occurs first..."

That means that something that is registered now that is not yet approved, if this bill is proclaimed by the Cabinet in the next twenty days, any existing registration, such as the Main River, would be subject to this act and not the previous act, unless it has already been dealt with. So there are implications here that - I have to acknowledge that I don't understand the full implications of that particular clause on existing registrations.

So we do see, I believe, some significant questions being raised as to how this bill would actually work. Obviously, I think we all support the principle of environmental assessment. A proper environmental assessment of undertakings is something that has come to be regarded as essential to a society where you have different values. Obviously we all want to see economic development take place, for example, but we also want to protect our environment too, because we and our children and children's children have to live with that. We see horrid examples of what has happened when that hasn't taken place.

There was someone in town today, on the radio this morning, taking about the Sydney tar sands and the tar pawns and the consequences of environmental neglect, I guess you would call it, in Sydney for a period of ninety or one hundred years where you have toxins in the soil and in the area around some of the (inaudible) ponds that they used in Sydney. We have seen a very high level of cancers, for example, associated with that. We saw the Government of Nova Scotia having to buy a whole street full of houses to remove people from close proximity to the poisons that were in the soil, in the dirt in their back gardens, in the air that they were breathing, in their very houses and water supply systems as a result of a failure to take proper consideration of the environmental consequences of industrial activity.

We have had situations here in this Province, too, in Baie Verte, with the blowing around of asbestos fibre from tailings piles; an environmental consequence that had to be dealt with, of industrial activity.

So we all support - I think no one in this House would say that they are opposed to a proper and appropriate environmental review of undertakings or new projects. We see the complexity of it when we get something like Gisbourne Lake which may have direct environmental aspects but also has national and international legal implications as well. We may have, in addition to environmental assessment, direct choices that have to be made.

On that point, I will go back to Main River. Part of the problem with the Main River debate is on both sides. It is not just about the particular application before the minister. It is not necessarily just about this particular number of hectares of land. It is about the whole issue. The company, the people involved with the company - and I have had conversations with people working for the company the other day - see this as a line drawn in the sand; that if we lose this one, no tree is safe. They will all be protected. You have people making extremist statements, like Matt Churchill, saying - cutting the last tree.

Nobody is talking about cutting the last tree. Nobody is talking about saving half the forest for protection. What we are saying is that there is no policy basis in which to have these debates, other than environmental assessment. There doesn't seem to be any forum to have these debates and there needs to be a follow-up by the Province on its commitments to the environment, on its commitments to set aside a percentage of lands in this Province, which it made in 1989, which it has made since then on numerous occasions, to set aside areas for permanent protection. If we know what is going to be available for permanent protection then we have a different level of debate. We can talk about the environmental aspects as such and we can deal with them on the basis of what environmental choices are available to us.

Some people, for example, say clear-cutting is dead wrong, that clear-cutting is the wrong approach to forest management. That is a very important issue. There may be areas where you have to clear-cut. I heard someone on the radio, talking the other day: Well, if you had an area damaged by forest fire, severe bud worm damage or other infestation, then the only choice you may have is to clear-cut. In other areas, particularly areas near watersheds or on slopes, different methods of cutting could be considered.

I remember the government, a couple of years ago, was preventing someone who even owned his own wood lot, from doing selective cutting for sawmill purposes because the government decided that as a matter of policy clear-cutting was the only particular way that forests could be cut. I find it appalling.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: It is not true? Well, if it is not true then I am delighted to hear that. These issues are ones that are of great concern to a lot of people. These issues of forest management, tied in with environmental assessments, environmental approaches, all of these have to be considered. I think, if we are going to do a review - I think it is a good idea to modernize and update our environmental assessment process, but if we are going to do that in the midst of heightened interest in environmental issues in this Province, then let's take advantage of people's interest in this process. Let's take advantage of people's keen awareness of the importance of our environment to ensure that we have legislation that is responsive to all the needs and the values, and to ensure there is a proper balance between the environmental assessment process and the political process.

I have a problem, in some respects, when the Cabinet has the total power, under provisions of this act, to say: We are going to remove this particular project from the environmental process altogether. No environmental assessment will apply.

I know the government uses that, and I know that happened in Voisey's Bay, for example. The government said: No, we are going to remove it from the Environmental Assessment Act. The Environmental Assessment Act does not apply to the process based on an agreement with the participants, the Innu nation, for example, and the Labrador Inuit Association, and the Government of Canada, that we will have a separate process. I can see where the government said: Okay, we are not going to apply the Environmental Assessment Act here because we have an agreement to another process that everybody is involved in and we think that is acceptable. I can understand that, but that is not what the act says. The act says you can take it out altogether or, on the other hand, subject a project that has gone through the environmental assessment, take that out and say: No, look, we are not going to allow this project, period.

I think, in a way, that may be a good thing. There may be circumstances where government is saying to a proponent: The next step of this process is an environmental impact statement. This is going to cost you a lot of money to produce. You might have to spend $50,000 to get to the next step, but don't waste your money. If we can only turn it down at the end of an environmental impact statement and can't turn it down now, where you, in good faith, go through an environmental impact statement, and we know full well that you are not going to get the proposal anyway, you are wasting your $50,000, $100,000, $10,000 or whatever you spent. We want to be able to tell you now that this is not going to be approved because it is not acceptable to the people of the Province.

There may be good arguments for the government being able to take action somewhere along the way. I guess that is what I asked the minister to do last week, to end the speculation on the Main River and make a decision about a full environmental impact statement. Even in that situation there are other questions here as to what are we going to have preserved as forested land, as natural ecosystems, as the nineteen unique ecological regions that have been identified by study after study. I have made speeches in this House before about the government's promises again and again to meet the commitments. I think the last time was: By the year 2000 we are going to have 10 per cent of our Province set aside for a wilderness area and preservation. We don't see it. We still don't see it. We don't have anything other than a commitment, and the commitment that was made in the past has not come through.

We do have a lot of questions about the details of the operation of this. I would like to, frankly, have a more full debate on the detail of this issue before we approve it. We do have a mechanism under the Standing Orders of this House to refer it to a legislative committee for review. We can have a very healthy, I would think, discussion in a committee over the aspects of this legislation and ensure that the legislation best serves the needs of the people of this Province. We have all kinds of citizens, some who feel that anything to do with jobs should be allowed to go ahead anyway, others who say that no, it should be scrutinized very carefully, others who want a process that everybody is able to see, a transparent process where everybody has their say and everybody knows what is going on and, in the end, a decision is made on behalf of everybody.

I see by the nod of the Speaker that my time is up here at second reading. We support environmental assessment process but we would like to see a fuller study of this bill before it is passed.

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

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

It is a pleasure to stand to say a few words with respect to the Environmental Assessment Act. What is interesting in this piece of legislation, if you read it from front cover to back cover, is there is a lot of discretion put in the hands of the minister, a lot of discretion put in the hands of the Cabinet. The other thing that is missing from this piece of legislation is this. There are many references - and the minister can, when he stands to conclude his debate on the bill, address this - I say to my colleague for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, to regulation. Often we debate legislation in this House that we either pass or reject regulations or the regulatory regime associated with, which really defines the legislation, which is the practical side of any bill that we pass in this House that the public are governed by -

AN HON. MEMBER: Clause 37.

MR. E. BYRNE: Not here exactly. Clause 37 is one clause. There are many others. For example, clause 9 talks about determination. Clause 9(2) says: "The minister shall notify a proponent of an undertaking of his or her determination under subsection (1) within the time period required by regulation." What does that mean? What is the time period associated by regulation? Is it an hour? Is it a day? Is it two days? Is it a week? Is it two weeks? Is it a month? Or will it vary from project to project?

We are being asked to pass a piece of legislation the spirit and intent of which is difficult to argue with, but when it comes to the implementation of legislation, regulation is what it will be defined by. When someone a year from now asks me about Bill 12, An Act Respecting Environmental Assessment, that we passed in the spring sitting of 2000, and he says: How come you passed that when I only have two days to be notified? Why did you and your colleague pass that in the House?, the answer that I will give him is: That is in the regulation, we didn't debate that. That is not going to hold weight at all with the public in terms of what does it mean. Determination by regulation. Fair enough, every piece of legislation requires regulatory regime. For this piece of legislation, throughout its entirety, from back cover to front cover, that is a consideration.

Let me go to another section, for example, in the environmental preview report, an important aspect, I would think, of the environmental assessment process. Clause 12(2) says: "The proponent shall, in accordance with the guidelines, prepare and submit to the minister an environmental preview report within the time period required by regulation." Now, what happens? So that is fine, the minister will define the proponent in terms of when they had to bring it in, notify the minister, but no time frame is associated with it. Are you saying there are time frames, that you have the regulations there for us that we can have a look at?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: What is that? These are important questions.

AN HON. MEMBER: Regulations are done by Cabinet.

MR. E. BYRNE: The regulatory regime with any bill is done by Lieutenant-Governor in Council.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: If he does, he has to.

When you look at what is being required, that is an important question. Again, clause 12(2) says: "The proponent shall, in accordance with the guidelines" - fair enough - "prepare and submit to the minister an environmental preview report within the time period" - fair enough - "required by regulation." So we will pass the bill. The Cabinet at some point, on the advice and with the direction, I would suppose, provided by the leadership of the Minister of Environment and Labour, will determine what that regulation is, what that time period will be.

In clause16(2) it says it again. This is an interesting one, I say to my colleagues. We are talking about the Environment Assessment Act. In clause 16(2) it talks about and defines: "The procedure for public contact and involvement with the proponent shall be as required by the minister and by regulation." What does it mean? Discretion, regulation again decided by, and regulations can change. They can change at the whim of a Cabinet decision. They can change from project to project. They can change from proponent to proponent. There are a number of projects. When you look at, for example, what transpired and the process we went through in Star Lake, and the process that we have gone -

MR. RIDEOUT: That decision will be done by June, by the way.

MR. E. BYRNE: Will it? By June. It is going to be very interesting to see the legal decision on Star Lake. By the end of June?

MR. RIDEOUT: Before that.

MR. E. BYRNE: Before that. When you look at the environmental assessment process that we went through on Star Lake, it confirms something to me, when you think about it. It confirms what essentially one of the employees said publicly - because I heard him say it on the airwaves; I believe it was on a television newscast - with respect to Kruger on the Main River project. That no matter what, we are going to get this. Our colleague, the Leader of the NDP, talked about: No matter what the process was going to be that it was done anyway. They were going to be granted the approval to get it.

Star Lake was the same way. I was the critic for environment at the time. I remember going out to Star Lake. It was all over. It was all over Star Lake where cutting was about to occur, where the (inaudible) was about to be put in. Do you know some of that was done prior to approval? Some to that was done prior to receiving the necessary approvals. There was a feeling, I guess, they knew exactly, they knew it was coming.

Again, when you talk about the board, the character of this act can be found in sections thirty-seven, sixteen, eighteen. Section 21(1) says, for example:

"Where the minister believes there is a strong public interest in an undertaking for which an environmental impact statement is required, the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may, on the advice of the minister, order public hearings and appoint an environmental assessment board for the purpose of conducting public hearings relating to the environmental assessment of the undertaking."

The important word there is "may," not shall, but we will get a chance to debate this in clause-by-clause. It demonstrates, clearly, that this legislation really confines the power in the minister and not in the process. That in the opinion of the minister -

MR. J. BYRNE: (Inaudible) you don't have to do it.

MR. E. BYRNE: There is a reason for this. There is always a reason for legislation. Sometimes it is small, sometimes it is large.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: What is that?

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) stringing it together (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: It is true. The word "may" is very important.

AN HON. MEMBER: Words are important.

MR. E. BYRNE: They are extremely important. I have been here seven years in the Legislature on this side of the House. While I have never seen it all, and while I was probably too green to burn when I first walked through the doors, I have learned something. I have learned something by participating in most debates on every piece of legislation in the last seven years, and that you have to be careful when you are passing legislation.

I have also learned that government's intent is always hid behind not the larger context of the bill but in the word "may," as opposed to shall, and in the discretion of the minister as opposed to in the discretion of the process. I have seen it through many bills: the discretion of.

Look, this section says it all. If you take a project, any project, right now that is going to go before Cabinet for a decision of whether it should proceed or not, or what is the process by which the public will be involved in it, or what is the process by which government will judge if there is enough public -

AN HON. MEMBER: Ed?

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Seriously, just think about this, take any project. It says: "Where the minister believes there is a strong public interest..." So why is it that the minister has to believe that there is a strong public interest in an undertaking?

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) spent a full hour on what is the difference between may and shall.

MR. E. BYRNE: Well, that is a huge difference. The minister is going to be given the power to decide right here if he, or if it happens to be she, he or she believes that there is a strong public interest in an undertaking. What happens if the minister doesn't believe, and the 2,000 on the front steps of the Confederation Building on any given issue do?

AN HON. MEMBER: That is why it is may and not shall.

MR. E. BYRNE: Exactly. That is the point. That is why it is may and not shall. That is why it is not defined for its entirety. When it comes to the environmental review process what we should really be debating here is a strictly defined process so that anybody in the public - one of the most important ministries in government today is the ministry of Environment and Labour. There are others, but in terms of a regulatory department that makes fundamental decisions that we will have to live with for many years to come, it is a very important department.

Let's go to non-disclosure for a second so you get another insight into the intentions of government, or another insight into what this piece of legislation is all about. Here is what clause 29 says: "Where the minister is of the opinion that the disclosure of certain documents or matters is not in the public interest, the minister may make the provision for the protection of the public interest that he or she considers necessary and may decline to disclose those documents or matters."

How is it, for the most part? Think about it, now. Think about what we are doing here. This is important. The principle is extremely important. Generally, this act is not bad, but the devil is always in the detail, I say to my colleague for Cape St. Francis. It always is. If it looks like and it smells like and it tastes like, it probably is.

We are members of the Legislature. Each and every year every member in this House has to file disclosure statements in terms of our financial assets, our liabilities, even to the extent of how much we have left on a credit card, how high it is rung up, what is on a line of credit, what our spouse makes, what savings we have if any.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Hold on, we do. Anything. It is more critical for Cabinet, obviously. That is the ultimate law making body because, I mean, obviously...

The point I am trying to make here is that each year we file that with a public servant who we, through an act in this Legislature, have vested with the ability to disclose or non-disclose if it is in the public interest. Not with any other politician or with any ministry. We have vested it with the Chief Electoral Officer and Commissioner for Members' Interest.

This is what makes me question. Let's talk about it again. Clause 29 states: "Where the minister is of the opinion that the disclosure of certain documents or matters is not in the public interest..." When is accountability not in the public interest? The minister may; it doesn't say shall. Again: "...the minister may make the provision for the protection of the public interest..." Boy, this is something!

We are not going to release information because it is not in the public interest. In order to protect the public they are not going to give you the information that you may be looking for in the first place. That is what that clause is saying right there, clause 29. That is exactly what that clause is saying. It is worded in some great Liberal language. Absolutely worded in the type of language we have come to expect and see from this Administration. I said the other day: Here is the logic. We see the warped sense of logic in this the same as we see -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I will explain it. We were sued for $100 million but we only had to pay out $55 million, therefore we saved you $45 million.

In this section right here we see that the minister may withhold any information he or she deems is in the public interest because he may deem, or she may deem, whoever may be in the ministry at the time, that it is in the public interest not to be accountable, not to release information on any particular project that he or she sees fit. That is what we are talking about, that is the logic. Accountability is not necessarily the order of the day; the possibility and the avenue for opening it up.

Here is another one where we get an insight into the legislation. I know these are things in the clause-by-clause debate that we can recommend changes to and we will, to tighten it up and make a good piece of legislation as perfect as it can be, because it is not there at this point. Clause 30(3) says: "Where an agreement is entered into under this section, this Act or a provision of this Act, or the regulations, shall apply in accordance with the agreement only and the process established by that agreement shall be considered to satisfy the requirements of this Act or the regulations."

Not both. The language is important: "... agreement shall be considered to satisfy the requirements of this Act or the regulations." What does that mean? So we can pass the Act, pass what is in here, we agree with it, but then if the regulations somehow differ, then under that section it doesn't have to meet the test of two of them. It doesn't have to meet the test of the Act on the one hand, and the regulations on the other. It just has to meet the test of the Act or the regulations. That is a huge difference, in clause 30(3). The wording is what is important here: "...shall be considered to satisfy the requirements of this Act or the regulations." I hope the interpretation that I am getting from this is not correct, but it certainly sounds like it to me. It certainly seems that way to me.

When you look at the amendments and revocation of order - here we go, section 35, another interesting insight into this bill: (l) The minister may - again, the minister may, an extremely critical difference in the minister shall. The minister may, so he is not bound to do it, but the minister may, with respect to an order made under section 34, (a) amend a term or condition of, add a term or condition to, or delete a term or condition from an order; (b) revoke an order; and (c) correct a typographical error...

Does that mean, Minister, that at any point in the process you can amend what you have already approved? Does it mean that if you have kick-started a process for a particular project, for a particular proponent who is going through what you have defined as A, B, C, D and E in the steps of how a certain proponent or project will be judged by the public, how the environmental assessment process will work, that at any point in time you can say that you can amend a term or condition of, add a term or condition to, or delete a term or condition from an order you have already given? Does that mean, if we are going through a process that is deemed to be in the public interest, that is deemed to be the way to go, that at some point if it gets too hot the minister may - so he has the discretion to - intervene, to change any aspect of what is already approved from a public undertaking point of view? It is an important question. It is an extremely important question.

On the bill itself, I have raised some concerns and there are others. I will have the opportunity in a clause-by-clause debate to go through them in more detail and we will be able to debate the differences in spirit and intent of what a piece of legislation is going to do and actually what it ends up doing. What concerns me more than anything, and it concerns me with many pieces of legislation, is that when we get a substantive piece of legislation before us like this one is, with forty-five sections into it, we repeal one act, substitute with a new one, that what we do not get to see or debate is the regulatory regime associated with it; because therein lies your power, Minister.

As defined by this act, by this particular piece of legislation that we are debating today, the regulatory or regulations that are passed in Cabinet associated with that really defines, from a practical point of view, what the public will or will not be allowed to do, what the public has to do, what the public must do, what the minister's discretionary power is or will be, and we do not get a chance to debate that. We do not get a chance to see it. It is gazetted, I suppose, I say to my colleague, isn't it? Regulations are gazetted. We get a chance to see it after the fact.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who is going to look at the gazette?

MR. E. BYRNE: Well -

AN HON. MEMBER: How many people in Ming's Bight look at the gazette?

MR. E. BYRNE: That is the point, isn't it? We look at it. Our staff looks at it because they are obligated to. That is part of their responsibilities in the protection of public interest, but my colleague is right. How many people in Little Heart's Ease see what regulations are gazetted with the pieces of legislation that we pass today? How many people in Ming's Bight or Corner Brook or St. Anthony or Roddickton or in Goose Bay or in Labrador West or in Blanc-Sablon, anywhere? How many people pick up the gazette to follow the regulatory regime associated with every piece of legislation that we pass?

That is the concern that I have. There is a lot of discretion given to the minister in this piece of legislation. There is much discretion given to the Lieutenant-Governor in Council to define the process that can either work fairly - that discretionary power is a double-edged sword. It can work fairly if it is applied fairly, but it can work not so fairly. The discretion in this act provides the minister with much deeming power, with much discretion. It leaves this minister and any future minister, as long as this act governs the activities of that department, with the ability to deem what is in the public interest.

I look at what is happening in Alberta right now on Bill 11. Several thousand people out on the Legislature, and government moves ahead and invokes closure on a very controversial piece of legislation, and that is possible. You have the ability, according to this act, and we are going to give you the ability -

AN HON. MEMBER: A Tory government.

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: A Tory government.

MR. E. BYRNE: A neo-Conservative government.

MR. GRIMES: A Progressive Conservative Party.

MR. E. BYRNE: You are going to have the power, under this act -

MR. GRIMES: Not like the PC Party (inaudible), which is really Liberal.

MR. E. BYRNE: Would you like me to go through the Tories that are over there, Minister? Would you like me to, because I can go through them? Half of them are your Cabinet colleagues. If you want to go down that road again, we will go down there. It is not a problem for me. I know it is not a problem for you. It may be a problem for some of them. I know it is not a problem for you, but we can go down that road if you want. That is not a problem. I gave you some free advice about an hour ago. My advice to you is to follow my advice and you will be okay. You will be on the course earlier than you think.

The discretion given to you is that you can define what is in the public interest, and you defining what is in the public interest may not be necessarily what is in the public interest. Where is the opportunity for the public to decide what is in the public interest? We will get a chance - this is second reading. This is an opportunity to debate the spirit and intent of the bill.

MR. J. BYRNE: The contradiction in that is that they are saying they are improving a couple of things.

MR. E. BYRNE: There is no doubt, but we will get a chance in clause-by-clause debate.

There are concerns, Minister. This is a piece of legislation that is important. I generally support the thrust of it but there are legitimate and bonafide concerns in the sections of this piece of legislation that we will get a chance, when we get to Committee, in a back and forth sort of process, where we will be able to debate those.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I thank you and I will take my leave on this piece of legislation.

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

The hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour.

MR. LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to thank the speakers who spoke on this particular piece of legislation. I will not go into all the detail of the points that were raised. As the Leader of the Opposition said, in Committee stage, we can go through it clause by clause.

There are a couple of things that I would like to say in closing the debate, when referred to by the Member for Lewisporte for example. Today, the way the legislation is now, if there were to come another proponent who wanted to do exporting of bulk water, like in the Gisborne Lake situation or whatever the lake might be - it can be called Lake 2, Lake 3 or whatever - even though government policy is not to have exporting of bulk water, the legislation would have to submit or would have to allow the proponent to carry through the environmental assessment of that particular project, even though we know at the end of the day it just would not pass.

I used an example earlier where, in the district of the hon. Member for Grand Bank, they wanted to expand the golf course in Frenchman's Cove, and that particular expansion they wanted to do occurred within the boundaries of the provincial park. We knew that we did not have the right to turn that down. Therefore, in a sense, with the proposed legislation, the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation will be able to tell us that that particular policy does not allow golf courses within that boundary of that particular park. So, rather than my allowing you to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. LANGDON: In that particular sense, this legislation would prevent that from happening.

I will conclude by also saying to - I think it was the Leader of the Opposition who talked about the proposed timelines for the environmental process. There is (inaudible) directly; under the registration stage there are forty-five days for the project. Under the environmental review report it is 105 days. For the full system, the environmental impact statement, there are 225 days to go through that particular process. It is outlined there. Everybody will be able to know what it is and would know as they came to register a particular project.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I close debate on second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act Respecting Environmental Assessment," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill12)

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, Order 10, Bill 7.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Pharmaceutical Association Act, 1994." (Bill 7)

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I have just a few brief comments. I believe that the bill is self-explanatory. Just for the one piece of history that members would recall, we did bring in a drug monitoring program established pursuant to section 24.(16) of the Medical Act just a year-and-a-half or so ago. The physicians provide information under that program with indemnification so that there is no liability for the information that they provide. It is held in confidence and shared appropriately. The information with respect to drug monitoring also requires information from the pharmacist.

This bill does two things. It provides that the pharmacists are obligated to provide the information, once requested. It also then provides indemnification for those pharmacists so that they do not incur any liability as a result of fulfilling their obligation under this act.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will listen to the comments with respect to Bill 7.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This act is fairly concise, and just very specific things that the minister mentioned.

MR. HARRIS: That is not you. (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: It doesn't mean that brevity has to prevail in responding to it. That is what the Member from Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi is trying to tell me.

I am interested certainly in seeing that this minister solves the problem with pharmacists here in our Province, and in particular hospital pharmacists. The minister knows full well, as I do, that there hasn't been a full complement of pharmacists in the health care corporations in this Province in several years. Many times we underscore the importance of hospital pharmacists. They are very, very valuable to the health care system.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, actually I was attending something more serious today, I might add. I never missed a minute of the House for politicking yet.

I might add, the situation in hospitals with pharmacists is fairly serious. The hospital situation is very serious, and pharmacists are paid significantly below what they are paid in Atlantic Canada. We heard that story, too, on nurses. It was over a year ago we heard their problem. Three years ago, I said that if we don't do something it will be too late. Last winter was the crucial turning point to get something done and nothing happened. This government let the window of opportunity pass. The window of opportunity passed and it was too late. It doesn't matter what is going to happen.

I was told that out of the fifty nurses graduating in Corner Brook this year, for example, only four to six, I think, were offered permanent jobs. They haven't been hiring any permanent ones in Corner Brook. The nurses there are not been hiring as permanent, just some casual work. They are not staying. No wonder you are not getting people to stay here in our Province.

Pharmacists are very similar. The difference in the retail sector, the $20,000 range. Other provinces are significantly higher, all over Atlantic Canada, and the same with all our health care professionals. We are facing a crunch in health care. We are consolidating. We are shutting down hospitals in rural Newfoundland. We are shutting down beds in urban areas of the Province. Where is the money going, I might ask, when we have 1,000 less beds, when we have less professionals, far less than what is needed, far less pharmacists than what is needed to even fill the full complement? Is it being wasted? A certain amount probably is being inefficiently spent in the system and we have to take a very hard and a very serious look at what is happening in our health care system.

It is not only the pharmacists and the nurses; it is all the health care professions, all of them. There was a serious problem even with the cancer clinic, a very serious problem just two years ago - actually about one year ago when they left; they gave notice before - when every single medical oncologist employed, except the one who is part-time and also involved in research, left. We didn't have enough radiation therapists and medical physicists. We had a major problem in that area. There was some reclassification looked at and we tried to bridge the gap. We have had problems.

I know of people who have had to have major surgery cancelled - one who had cancer - because there was no anaesthesiologist, just Friday past, none available. We have a serious, serious problem in our health care system. What is happening in many instances is that it bottlenecks at a point and four of the five factors that are needed to be able to get that end result are in place but one is missing.

AN HON. MEMBER: What do you think of Peter Fenwick's article on (inaudible)?

MR. SULLIVAN: Peter Fnewick's article, I responded to that. I don't know if you heard it. One of the media called me. I said, if Peter Fenwick gets his way, we will have only five centres in Newfoundland and Labrador with people living in them. We will have nothing else and we will shut it down. That is the most efficient way to operate, basically - Fenwick. If we put them all in one centre in the Province, that is the most efficient way to run the health care system, have one location, but the former Leader of the NDP Party doesn't know his facts. The former Leader of the New Democratic Party is off on a tangent. I don't know if the current Leader of the New Democratic Party disowns him. I don't know if he disowns him, but I can tell you that I made a response. I said, he doesn't do his research. He is wrong. He talks about the highest per capita number of nurses. The response to that, when the media called, was: Is it the highest per capita registered or the highest per capita working?

In Newfoundland and Labrador, if you maintain your registry - I know nurses who were retired ten years and maintained their registry and they are listed as nurses. I have raised this issue before, when the stats came out on a national level. I said the number of nurses employed full-time in the system and the ratio to the number of people is significant, but the number of registered nurses is not significant. The significant factor is how many nurses are working per capita, full-time equivalence. That is significant. If they made that statement: We have more full-time nurses working equivalent, I would say: We don't get the economies we get in Ontario and almost every other part of this country. We don't get the economies in ratios of health care professionals, nor in teachers in a lot of sectors.

That is why we need funding. I am sure the minister has made reference to it, and the Minister of Finance. We need funding to look at the per capita aspect of the cost of delivery of services to give us equity in basic services across this country.

That is where we moved away from it at the federal level. We moved away from funding on a need basis and we moved into a per capita basis. That is where we have major problems, I might add. We have major, major problems.

We have to get the Government of Canada - the Province puts a significant amount of money into health care, a large amount of money. We are not getting the help, federally, that we need. I don't blame it all on the Province, not at all. The Province is responsible to administer and run it. I certainly blame that on the Province if there are problems in administration, running the system and getting efficiencies, but the funding of it from a federal level, we have to get the federal government to sit down if we are going to be part of a country, a part of Canada, and we want to adhere to the five basic principles of health care, the Canada Health Act. We want to have a certain base of funding, a certain established base of funding by which we can get certain equity into giving basic health care services to the people in this country.

We have to get monies transferred to us under the Canada Health and Social Transfer that reflect the cost of delivery of services in this Province. Downtown Toronto area, in little hub, 4 million or 5 million people, ten times our population, of course the per capita delivery is way cheaper; and if we are getting per capita funding they can economize more, they can get better services, they can get more efficiencies.

The question comes down to: Do we have a right to serve remote parts of our Province? Should we serve the South Coast of our Province, Labrador, and other parts of our Province? Do these people have a right to basic services? Yes. It is difficult to provide them under the current funding framework because our Province will get bled dry. If we put 50 per cent more into health care in this Province, over $500 million, that might solve it, but we don't have $500 million to put in there.

There are two ways to do it: get a certain amount from the federal government and get efficiencies. That is something Peter Fenwick talked about, get efficiencies. I don't dispute getting efficiencies in the system. We have to get them but I don't advocate shutting down every hospital on the West Coast except Corner Brook, and every one in Central Newfoundland except Gander or Grand Falls-Windsor. I don't advocate that, and have one in Labrador and one in St. John's. I mean, that would be the easy way.

Years ago we had hospitals all over the Province. We had those cottage hospitals. You had larger staff, and more people taken care of. Today we fail to realize we have an aging population that requires a significant amount of health care dollars. We have a higher percentage of old people in our Province today than we ever had in our history, and it is getting higher. We have to face the stark realities. It is going to become more costly to care for people in our Province, in spite of people going out. If we lose population, even if we lose another 5,000 or 10,000 people, it is still going to cost us more because the people we are losing are not the people who are costing the big dollars in our health care system. Early years of life and the last several years of life are the biggest draws on our health care dollars. It is the people going out who don't have to go to a doctor's office, the more able-bodied. They are usually healthier, the working people. As you get older, age brings on many problems. Many problems are brought on with age and increased incidences, and they are the people who are staying. How many eighty year olds relocated to Alberta or Ontario? How many seventy year olds? How many sixty year olds relocated? Not very many. A fraction, I would say, of 1 per cent if you total it up. We are here having to bear the burden and the cost of this in a country that allows mobility, in a country that recognizes adherence to the Canada Health Act, the five basic principles.

We talk about comprehensiveness. We talk about universality of health care. Do we have it? Do we have portability from province to province? Why can't we be looked after, regardless of what province we are in, on an equal basis? A publicly administered system is fundamental there. It is non-profit. It is not looking at private (inaudible) allow privatization to creep into health care here in our Province and our country. Over thirty cents on every dollar spent in health care now is funded by private sources.

The last particular point I will mention and one of the most important points of the five basic principles is accessibility. Accessibility has become a thing of the past. I spoke with a lady on the telephone this weekend who lost a breast due to breast cancer. Two plastic surgeons are ready to go to work on that operation and it has been cancelled several times. She even went out and bought clothes and so on, and looked forward to the day that reconstructive surgery was going to help give her life back and she would be able to get out. When I got into my office today there was a callback there again from the lady I called the weekend on this particular instance. People all over the Province are having surgeries cancelled. I know people who have been waiting almost two years now to get surgery they need. That is not accessibility. When you can go to downtown Toronto and other parts of this country and get a service in a week that takes eight weeks here, it is not accessibility. I don't call that appropriate adherence to the Canada Health Act. That is why people in this Province are listed as not living as long as people in other provinces. If we had the same access to basic health care services - that is only one of the factors now, it is not the only factor. I am not naive enough to think that. We have certain lifestyles and things. We have to assist too in our own health.

That is another particular area that is important. We have to put more emphasis on that area. We were told we are going to be able to do this promotion and prevention and this education campaign when we shut down the hospitals, we consolidated and we saved this money. We are going to use it for this. I say you will never use it for that if you don't start now, because prevention and proper lifestyles is something that takes ten, fifteen and twenty years. We don't reap the results of that overnight or in the next five years. It is going to take us twenty years, probably longer in some cases, but we build in certain lifestyles.

There is an article out of New Brunswick that said the young kids today in New Brunswick are the most unfit in the country. The country has way worse physically fit young kids and older kids than ever before. Why? This professor researched and he said: We have cut out physical education in schools. We have cut out things. Young kids today do not get the same access to physical education. You get down and get one class every so often on a cycle of fourteen and get a bit of phys ed. The active involvement is not there. There are less kids today physically active.

I remember the last year when I taught school, 1991-1992, we had 88 per cent of the boys in a boy's floor hockey league and other intramurals involved playing in the one sport, and we had over 50 per cent of the females playing in a specific league. That is an enormous amount. We are looking at nearly 70 per cent of the entire school involved in one specific intramural sport, not counting all the others in the program and not counting the physical education class if they had an opportunity. People are spending more and more time sitting back, probably in front of a computer. There is nothing wrong with being a little familiar and computer friendly, but not for several hours of day and at the expense of your health. Because, as the article said, you could be the greatest genius in the world and you could have a great amount to contribute, but if they are burying you at the age of forty-five you have not achieved or made your contribution in society as a result.

They are all factors in the funding of health care. While this particular bill here is more specific, and I support the particular bill in terms of pharmacists' participation and absolving them from certain liabilities associated with providing information, it is one that I do not see a problem with supporting in this particular instance. It is fairly clear-cut, but there is a bigger, broader issue involved around our health care. This particular area, the pharmacists and so on, are one of many groups of health care professionals - in particular the pharmacists who are in the hospital settings. They are underpaid. There is less than a full complement of pharmacists working today in our system, and a lot of them want to stay here. I have spoken with a lot of them. I had a list back last year. They raised the issue, and I guess they copied most people, and probably e-mailed. I phoned probably twelve or fifteen out of about forty or fifty just to get a sampling of different areas and hear what they had to say, hear their views.

Basically the same fundamental thing we are hearing is that they are far from a full complement. They have not had a full complement in several years in our hospitals here. Also, there is the disparity between pay of a pharmacist in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and in our Province. We are not asking for a huge increase. We are saying they should have an opportunity to have parity with Atlantic Canada. Nova Scotia has a $500 million or $600 million deficit, are billions of dollars in total debt, and our Province has a balanced budget. Really, we had a surplus only it got juggled around a bit. The last couple of years there was a surplus budget. Here we are, we cannot even give parity to Nova Scotia and other areas. Because when it comes down to it, health care is the number one area where people in this country want to see appropriate service.

It ranks ahead of everything else, poll after poll. It shows it with great consistency. Because it does not matter what you work at, if you have a job, how much money you make, if you cannot live to survive, if you cannot have good health. You have to be sick or know somebody or have gone through it to know how important it is to have appropriate health care. If we do not get a commitment to address the problem - we cannot piecemeal it. We have been doing that too long. While we have glorious times - we have been told we have a growing economy, the best growth in the country, we have surpluses you could say, practically - take away that contingency reserve - we had a surplus last year, we have a surplus this year, we had a surplus the year before - we have to deal with some of the problems and fix them. We are dealing with band-aids and band-aid solutions when we need real solutions there.

I will call on the Minister of Finance to talk to his counterparts, as I was saying. We have to recognize that if we are going to be able to maintain the five basic principles of the Canada Health Act we have to be able to get funding from the federal government that recognizes the costs of delivery of services.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, it is not affordability. It is comprehensiveness, universality, public administration, portability and accessibility. I can tell you, yes, it is quickly becoming affordability, because over 30 per cent is privately funded in this country and if you cannot afford it you get on a long waiting list. That is what it is coming to. I think the Minister of Finance was probably thinking he is going to add one more principle to the Canada Health Act. It is called affordability. That is what he is going to add. You are going to add another principle to the Canada Health Act and call it affordability.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: A psychologist?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. SULLIVAN: We will need to put a psychologist to work on the minister, I think, if we are going to get an attitude to be able to look at the fundamental problems that we have in health care.

MR. TULK: We are all in unanimous agreement on that.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I am glad, and I hope you are in unanimous agreement that the fundamental problems in our health care system here need to be addressed. We need to have a serious look, not just a stop-gap measure, a band-aid approach. This particular bill here, I will certainly endorse it. On our side of the House, my colleagues here don't have any particular problems with this specific one. It is not a major thing. It is something that is - a pharmacist who complies with a request for information is really indemnified from any liability in providing information on a particular program; which they should be. If they have to give information, why should the pharmacist be liable because they provide information on a particular program?

We support it, Mr. Speaker. With that, I will conclude my comments on this particular bill.

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

The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the commentary and the presentation in second reading, and I gladly move the bill for second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Pharmaceutical Association Act, 1994," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 7)

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order 11, "An Act To Amend The Psychologists Act." (Bill 8)

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Psychologists Act." (Bill 8)

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This was actually an issue -

AN HON. MEMBER: You are the only one bringing forward any legislation.

MR. GRIMES: Absolutely. I am a very busy minister.

Mr. Speaker, it is an issue that we dealt with at some length in the Estimates Committee with respect to health and community services, and I want to just take a minute to inform the rest of the members of the House of an intervention made by the Member for Torbay.

MR. J. BYRNE: Cape St. Francis.

MR. GRIMES: Cape St. Francis, at the Estimates meeting in Committee where we were dealing with this kind of a matter. I will get to the substance of the bill in just a second. The normal procedure, as members of the House would understand, is that the ministers bring the appropriate staff to the Committee meeting for detailed questioning in case, once in a blue moon - and it does happen on a very odd, rare occasion - the minister might not know the full details and the answers so they might need the help of an official to actually provide a detailed answer to the Committee.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is very rare.

MR. GRIMES: Very rare, almost unheard off, but it is occasionally useful to have someone there because we do want to share information. One of the people, the staff, who was with me that day was our medical officer that we have full time, a doctor who is in the department four days a week providing service to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador as a medical consultant to the Department of Health and Community Services. The other day of the week he spends still in his practice so that he can stay current and still be valuable to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I was suggesting to the members of the Committee, one of them being the Member for Cape St. Francis, that I had spent as much time as I could trying to prepare for the Committee meeting and that I hoped I knew many of the questions, but that one of the people with me was in fact a medical practitioner and that I had thought about, because it had been done in other provinces and other jurisdictions and other places in the past, because I was approaching my fiftieth birthday at the time, I had thought about actually asking Dr. Hunt, our medical consultant, if he would consider doing a physical examination for me so that I wouldn't have to go to my normal clinic and wait and those kind of things. I decided not to, because I didn't want to be accused of jumping the line and so on. The phrase that I used to the Committee, that I had considered asking Dr. Hunt if he would do a check-up for me, if he would an examination.

MR. J. BYRNE: You were looking for an appointment.

MR. GRIMES: I was looking for an appointment. Of course, the Member for Cape St. Francis interjected - rudely interrupted me, actually, because I was just introducing somebody - and said: Why? Is Dr. Hunt a psychiatrist?

Now, he could have easily said a psychologist. He was wondering why I would need an appointment with anyone other than a psychiatrist.

This particular bill doesn't deal with the psychiatrists but it deals with the psychologists. This issue did arise on that day because it is a matter where, in the whole of the country, we are actually making a little move backward in terms of qualifications for psychologists.

Some years ago, it was felt that psychologists practicing in Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador should have a Ph.D., and that would be the ideal qualifications to register and practice as a psychologist. So we introduced a piece of legislation with a time limit saying we would give ten years for all of the psychologists who were practicing - most of them had a Master's degree at the time, and we would give them ten years to upgrade and get a Ph.D., and then continue on and ask all new psychologists to have a Ph.D.

What is happening in the country is that there are not enough people interested in becoming Ph.D.s to go into psychology to practice as psychologists. So the association for the whole of the country, and the association in Newfoundland and Labrador, came to the government - because the ten years would be up next year - and said: We have to advise you that if you impose the rule that you have to be a Ph.D. to practice as a psychologist, you won't have any; not that you will have absolutely zero but that you will have very few because there aren't very many of them, actually, who have the PhD. qualifications. So the question was asked: Is the service still going to be a valuable service if they have a Master's degree? The answer is: Yes, that is a suitable and appropriate level of qualification.

So, on behalf of the psychologists association right across the country, we are bringing forth this amendment so that the minimum qualification to be registered and to practice as a licensed psychologist in Newfoundland and Labrador will be consistent with what it is across the country. It will now stay as a Master's degree and there will not be a requirement for a Ph.D., even though a Ph.D. is still preferable; but you will not be prevented from practicing by virtue of not having a Ph.D.

This piece of legislation facilitates that change, and I am pleased to introduce it for second reading here today.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Here on the Psychologists Act, it is just, I guess, enabling the registration of a psychologist who does not have a Ph.D., who has a Master's and a certain amount of experience there. I don't necessarily anticipate that being a major problem. If it had to be a bill dealing with behavioral modification of the minister, or something like that, I think we could really endorse that and give a lot of support to such a bill.

This one if fairly straightforward. It states here in the bill, a person who holds a master's degree in psychology from an educational institution approved by the board, or the equivalent in content and training that is acceptable to the board. Of course, you must have at least two years of professional experience if you are at the master's degree level.

That seems to be certainly acceptable. It is not something that, I guess - we are not the experts in judging that there, but with appropriate experience at a master's level people do have significant training in that particular field; the same as someone may decide to do a master's in a field and go on to do a Ph.D. in psychology. Their training levels can be reasonably comparable, depending on what their previous background experience is. I understand this would have permitted, previously, someone from holding that master's, with experience, from being able to meet the registration requirements there. So that satisfies that.

Basically, we support this specific thing. Once again, I might add generally that health care professionals, psychologists in our system - and the minister knows quite well, too - we are understaffed. We have hundreds of kids - actually several hundred kids - in line to get the appropriate treatment. We have adults and so on who cannot access the help they need from psychologists and even from psychiatrists and other professions in this particular field. It is very serious.

Often we talk about the acute care health needs of individuals here, but we have major problems in dealing with the specific needs. If this is going to help alleviate it, and help people get access to the system there, we are all for it and we certainly support that.

I am sure the minister, when he is looking at solutions to solving the health care dilemma - because I am sure that is a major concern. What do we do to fix a system that is in bad need of repair? Do we look at the total spectrum of health care professions, psychologists included there, in the process and try to solve some of the major problems that are in there?

I have had an opportunity to talk to people over the past few years on some of the major concerns in there. I am sure the minister has been briefed and he is very much aware of these.

That will conclude my comments on this particular bill, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to speak briefly on the act before the House, An Act To Amend The Psychologists Act. As has been indicated, this act will allow people to be registered as psychologists with a master's degree level of training and preparation with appropriate levels of experience, to be registered as psychologists under the act. I think that is a recognition that - in many aspects of psychology, the preparation at the level of a master's program, particularly where people do a master's in clinical psychology, they have the appropriate level of training to be practicing psychologists.

The other aspect to keep in mind is that once a person is registered as a psychologist they are also - like all of these self-governing professions, so-called - subject to the discipline and other professional control of the psychologists association so that if something goes wrong, if someone has a complaint about their behavior, a complaint about the service they are provided, a complaint about their character, then it could be brought by way of a complaint to a disciplinary board, a disciplinary panel. When someone is brought into the tent, as it were, and allowed to be registered, they are also subject to the proper level of supervision within the profession that they ought to be and it allows them to have separate representation.

I don't see a problem in supporting this, Mr. Speaker. In the field, you can be recognized as a psychologist with a master's degree. In fact, some people have had jobs, hired as psychologists at the health care field without a master's degree and practicing in the field. It seems that this, in fact, guarantees that for those to be able to call themselves a registered psychologist they must have at least academic preparation at the master's level, pass a set of exams and, of course, pay an appropriate fee and therefore are recognized as psychologists under the act.

I don't have a problem with that. I think it is appropriate given the nature of that profession. It is not required to have a Ph.D. in order to be able to carry out many of the aspects of the psychology profession, whether it be testing, whether it be counseling in some respects, and other aspects of the profession of psychology. I would give my support to this legislation at second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: If the minister speaks now, he closes the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the interest in the bill, the commentary, and look forward to further discussion at the Committee stage and third reading.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill 8.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Psychologists Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 8).

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, Order 12, Bill 14.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "Ant Act To Amend The Mineral Act." (Bill 14).

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

These are amendments directed to improving the ability of people in the Province to stake claims and, secondly, to allow for some clarification of existing processes within government. Section 25.2 is an amendment to section 25.1. What it does is allow individuals to stake a claim based on mapping without actually having to go and do it on the ground, so it makes for more effective administration because ground staking is not always as accurate as map staking.

The second one, clause 2 of the act, provides for a circumstance where a stakeholder may give up part of a claim that they have and it deems the amount of fractions that are left to be a claim in and of itself.

The third one, well, you have circumstances where people have multiple claims. They have to pay a certain amount per claim and they also have to spend a certain amount per claim. The process right now says that if you have claims you would have to surrender them all or nothing. This allows you, if you have a number of claims or part of claims, to maintain some portion of it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DICKS: Yes, otherwise we would have to take it back and reissue it and so on. It didn't seem to make much sense. What we have indicated is that what is left then becomes a full claim.

The second thing is that under the act right now you have a situation under clause 3 where it is time limited for extensions, so each time you have to give additional extensions. Now what we are doing is removing essentially the twelve month period. The minister will have authority to renew the extensions for time that people have to carry out their assessments.

The last one just provides for an effective time for the coming into force of the act. The other one, subsection 3, makes it clear that if the stakeholder does not make the necessary investment to preserve the claim that the deposit that they make, which I believe is 25 per cent of the amount, is forfeited to the Crown. Because the essence of the Mineral Act is that you are given a claim and your obligation is to spend a certain amount on exploration. If you fail to spend that amount, then at some point in time your deposit is forfeited to the Crown and other people can stake the same claim.

Those are really, in a sense, minor amendments. Some of them are more clarifying some things that we would have been doing, but people identify over time that there are anomalies with practice and with the required enactment. What it does is it just makes for easier administration, we believe, on the Crown side, and also, for individuals who want to make exploration in the Province, it gives them an easier way to stake out claims in areas they are interested in.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER (Smith): The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

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

I think it is fair to say that the amendments that are being put forward here, certainly from my contact with those in industry, have been ones that have been recommended to the department; a couple of these amendments right here, particularly as it relates to multiple licenses, the ability to maintain an interest in them, and in terms of not having to take it back and then reissue. Would that be a correct assumption? I will ask a question, if I could, just for clarification. It is important. Have you had any input? If we could get the Government House Leader out of the way we may be able to get something done here.

MR. TULK: What, do you want to see him?

MR. E. BYRNE: Absolutely.

MR. TULK: Oh, I am sorry about that.

MR. E. BYRNE: I know you are getting smaller but there are still fellows who can hide behind you.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I know. You will have to get a new one. Send that one over to Bob French. You can send that one over to Bob French.

In terms of the amendments that you made, these are what you would consider minor amendments, but have you consulted with people within the industry? I know I have had some conversations but I don't know if you had as minister. I wonder if you could answer that, just quickly for me? By leave.

MR. DICKS: By leave, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, these are amendments that have come up from the ADM, Paul Dean, and his officials in the department. These are not substantial policy initiatives of government. They are mostly administrative. I have a great deal of confidence that the industry has been consulted. I have not done it formally but, for instance, eliminating the ground mapping is something that I think the industry would support. I don't think there is anything in here that would cause any public controversy.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, again, we don't have any significant trouble whatsoever with the amendments that are being put forward in Bill 14, An Act To Amend The Mineral Act. I guess it is reflective of trying to streamline operations to make the Province, to the extent that we can, open and competitive with the rest of Canada without jeopardizing, I guess, the people's ownership of resource.

Certainly from the contents and what is contained in this bill we certainly have no problems supporting and putting forward. With that we will conclude our remarks. It is important for the record, from our point of view certainly, to elaborate to the extent that we can on the contents of the bill. This is a very minor piece of legislation, as I see it, and with respect to that as a whole we really have no significant problems whatsoever with the changes that are made and the impact that they will have upon the industry.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would just like to say a few words about Bill 14, An Act To Amend The Mineral Act, currently before the House.

I do not have any difficulty and I follow the reasoning of the minister with respect to the partial staking, using the conversion of the full map staked claims within an existing ground stake licence to allow for more accurate staking. Obviously it is pretty important when it comes to a significant discovery to know exactly where it is. I think that seems to be a technical issue that should be dealt with. Equally, it seems that to require someone to give up all of their area instead of being able to keep some of it and give back the rest makes sense.

I do have a question as to the issue of extensions on assessment work. Clearly the whole notion of staking claims is to get in there first so that you are the one who owns the claim. One disincentive to trying to map the whole of an area is obviously the cost of each individual claim, which is sometimes $200 or $250 or something like that to choose a particular area, but the second disincentive to mapping half the Province or staking half the Province is the requirement of doing assessment work.

Now, you know, to have the power to do something is one thing; to actually do it on a regular basis, or do it for some people and not for others, is another. It seems that the minister or the government is not happy with the ability that it has now to continue to grant extensions for certain people to whom they wish to grant extensions. I wonder if the minister would be able to tell the House what the process and policy is with respect to granting exemptions for assessment work. It seems to me to be an awful lot of discretionary power in the minister to allow an individual stakeholder to maintain claims for lengthy periods of time without doing the assessment work required when the claims are being brought up in the first place.

As I say, the doing of the assessment work is one of the disincentives to staking huge claims. It is also one of the means whereby the people can ensure that somebody is not going to stake claims and just hold onto them in the hopes that somewhere down the line they are worth a lot of money. As long as they do not have to spend any money on them, they can do that. Now, the minister apparently is not satisfied with the amount of discretion or the length of discretion that the government has now. I would ask him to explain, as he clues up the debate, why and under what circumstances would extensions be granted, or are they granted as a matter of course just for the asking? How are people's interests protected in terms of the granting of extensions to certain people or certain companies and not to others? What is the criteria, and is that criteria spelled out in government regulations as to when extensions can be granted?

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

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I think the hon. member asked me to clarify. What it is here is these are mostly administrative functions that are carried out by the department. It goes back to the whole notion of assessments which you raised. What the department does is twofold. We try to set an amount per claim that an individual must spend, and part of the value of that is that the department procures a larger base of information about the geology of the Province. It is a little bit different than oil and gas where you can get large structures. Mining is often a matter of drilling holes. A lot of times the pauses can come almost like a pinnacle. It is often very hard to hit and it may be a great deal of underground mining activity. So (inaudible) a great deal of minerals present.

What we try to do is strike a balance between encouraging exploration without making the standard so high, and also to ensure that if people get discouraged or if they don't get the results they want, to turn it over in case somebody else has an interest in it. What we have tried to do is, in some cases here, for example, to make it easier to state claims, what we have also tried to do is to make sure that the minister has authority to keep (inaudible), which is why we have made it clear that we need the twelve months for it. The security deposit is there and that is forfeit as well.

I don't know if I answered the hon. member's question. That is essentially administrative. Perhaps, if you want to see me after, I can get the exact answer because I had a little trouble hearing you. Therefore, I move second reading, Mr. Speaker.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Mineral Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 14)

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order 13, "An Act To Amend The Lands Act," Bill 15.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Lands Act." (Bill 15)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The amendment to the Lands Act, section 7, basically takes care of shoreline, along the rivers and that where we have increased the reservation which is an area that is defined where you cannot build any future buildings or anything. We have defined it as a fifteen metre reservation now rather than that a ten metre.

The current legislation identifies a ten metre reservation, but there has been a lot of discussion over the last couple of years, especially through the outdoor resources hearings we had, where people had concerns about being able to build and take away your rights to move freely within the reservation of a water course. That means rivers, ponds, lakes and that sort of thing. What the legislation proposes to do is to increase that reservation to a fifteen metre reservation rather than the ten. What it will do is any future applications will not be accepted within that fifteen metre reservation, and that existing structures that are put up in that particular reservation will be grandfathered in. Any changes you make to it you will then be required to move back to the fifteen metres.

It is a very straightforward amendment, and one which was basically asked for through the outdoor resources hearings that we had with all of the groups that we dealt with in those hearings. This is another example of where we comply with the wishes of the people that are using the outdoors. We believe it is a good quality amendment that should not cause too much problem anywhere at all.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, we don't have any problems basically with the amendment as well. As I understand it, the new section 7(1) increases the reserve from ten metres to fifteen metres.

What is section 7(1.1) doing in the last part of the subsection where it says: "...be no less than 10 metres wide"?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

MR. McLEAN: Existing structures, we will let them stay there. Okay?

MR. RIDEOUT: Okay.

MR. McLEAN: We have to put that in because we have changed it to fifteen now. If you did not change that you would have to move -

MR. RIDEOUT: So that grandfathers what is there now?

MR. McLEAN: Yes.

MR. RIDEOUT: Okay.

With those insightful comments, we will support this amendment.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Obviously, the principle of this legislation that we support fully.

I wonder if the minister in responding could tell us about how it all works down in the village of Quidi Vidi where the minister has given a Crown grant to an individual in Quidi Vidi to actually take over fifteen metres of the seashore? If that is the case, and plans to build wharves and various items on that in connection with property development, how that is permitted. It says "seashore." Seashore is referred to specifically in clause 7(1) where it states: "...a strip of Crown lands not less than 15 metres wide around and adjoining the lake, pond, seashore or foreshore or along each bank of the river..."

What about in the situation in Quidi Vidi, for example?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: That is the very point that I am making, Mr. Speaker.

The Quidi Vidi Village Foundation is very interested in the issue as to what kind of access the public will have to the foreshore of Quidi Vidi Gut as a result of private property developments. One of the concerns was, of course, that his department gave a grant to an individual of a further fifteen metres out from the low water mark which was already there, and that additional land - it was indicated the individual wanted to protect the erosion of the bank for some fishing premises which was a stage. On the basis of that, the minister granted a fifteen metre strip of land, a Crown grant. That shed, or that stage, was torn down in January, it doesn't even exist any more. It was obviously not for fishing purposes at all. It was for the purposes of developing a housing development. The so-called fishing purposes, based on the stage, well, the stage was torn down in January and doesn't exist any more.

According to various plans that have been floating around and been presented to the Quidi Vidi Village Foundation there are plans for wharves, using the development of a mariner and various things on that shore area. The question has arisen within the Quidi Vidi Village Foundation, and in meetings with City Council and City Council Planning Department, as to what access the public would have to the foreshore of Quidi Vidi Village. We are talking here about a Crown grant under section 7 of the Act. It seems to me that the minister is saying, on the one hand: We are giving you the Crown grant, but on the basis of this you are not allowed to build on it, you are not allowed to use it, and the public has total access to it. If the public has total access to it that would be a very valuable piece of information for the people of Quidi Vidi Village to know; that the first forty-five feet of that shoreline is accessible to them, provided it was Crown land or the subject of a Crown grant.

I wonder if the minister, in closing debate on second reading here, could clarify whether that is intended to cover such an issue of seashore as exists in Quidi Vidi Village.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

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

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just to clarify, the same thing applies to this particular development as to any fish plant, or any dock, or anything else that we permit within the reservation area. There has to be an access for the public to cross it, if it is in a position where you have to cross it. It is like the marinas in a lot of other places that you go to. You can always walk through a marina. It is not to restrict access through that property, but it doesn't give you total access. If you have a fish plant, you are not going to allow people to go running in and out of your fish plant, but there is access through the property.

The whole point of this is to ensure that we limit to these kinds of developments building within the reservation in any shoreline, lake, shore and river. These kinds of things are all dealt with, and we think this is the appropriate way to do it. It doesn't restrict everything from happening because you have to have those kind of things done; docks and so on.

Mr. Speaker, I move that this bill be read a second time.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Lands Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 15)

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order 14, Bill 16, "An Act Respecting The Enforcement Of Canadian Judgements."

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting The Enforcement Of Canadian Judgements." (Bill 16)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

MR. PARSONS: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

There is an act called the Enforcement of Canadian Judgement Act which already exists, but certain types of judgements in the country are currently reciprocated when they are enforced or made in other provinces. The purpose of the amendments to this act is to facilitate registration. If someone in another province gets a judgement, a creditor in the Province of Ontario, for example, has already gotten his judgement and the debtor is here in the Province of Newfoundland -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: No.

What is does is it permits you, once you have your judgement in another province, to register it in this Province so you can still track the debtor and still hope to recover the amounts that you were owed. This, of course, is of benefit to both individuals and businesses.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)?

MR. PARSONS: Yes, the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgements Act -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: Yes, that particular act has ramifications, of course, internationally as well as for Canadian jurisdictions. The purpose of this piece of legislation is to allow for interprovincial and territorial registration of judgements that have imposed elsewhere.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: Yes.

There was some concern, of course, about any judgements that would be covered by our small claims act. The current amendments here are such that it does not cover off small claims. For example, if someone in British Columbia were to get a judgement and try to force someone here in this Province to travel, for example, to B.C. to defend themselves against a judgement out there for $350, which would be considered very unreasonable, the act does not permit for that. Anything that is recoverable and judgement under the small claims act would not be subject to registration under this particular act. The reason is obvious. Because you are dealing with small claims, you would not want to force anybody in our jurisdiction to have to go to another jurisdiction at great expense to themselves to defend against the judgement.

The principle, of course, that is heard here is called - I have my opportunity, Government House Leader. The principle at hand here is called the full faith and credit principle. In other words, if someone in another jurisdiction takes action, satisfies all the requirements and process in that jurisdiction to get a judgement, we in another Canadian jurisdiction will honour and give full faith to the credit that person has established in that other jurisdiction.

There are, of course, safety provisions here as well. A trial division - it gets registered in our Supreme Court trial registry and there are safety provisions here where a Justice in this Province can decide if there are any particular public interest reasons or whatever that such a judgement should not be registered here. Our judges still have a discretionary power to refuse to have it registered; and, of course, we charge a fee to the person to have it registered here in this Province to offset our administrative cost.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): The hon. the Member for Lewisporte.

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, on the surface we don't have any great problem with this particular piece of legislation. It comes, I understand, on the recommendation of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada, an initiative out of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada, and it is consequential to a recent Supreme Court decision along similar lines.

We don't have great difficulty with it in that regard. As a matter of fact, it makes a lot of sense for people who get their judgement in another jurisdiction to be able to move across the judicial spectrum of Canada and be able to have their judgement enforced.

I was listening to an exchange between my friend from Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi and the minister. I understand that this legislation is in addition to the reciprocal legislation that is presently on the books allowing for collections in other jurisdictions if we have an agreement with other jurisdictions to do it. This is over and above that?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RIDEOUT: Right. Okay.

The only question I have, I suppose, is the detail of the fees and the forms that the minister proposes to get into. When I see fees in public legislation, particularly legislation dealing with legal matters, I see tax grabs in many cases. Fees for legal matters in this Province, over the last several years, under all Liberal governments, have taken dramatic increases. The minister knows that, as well as those of us who are in the business know it. I would hope that the fees would be reasonable and you wouldn't be driving the fool further and gouging the fool even more.

Mr. Speaker, like I said, on the surface, the principle of being able to enforce Canadian judgements from other jurisdictions in this Province is not something that we can be against.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have had a look at the legislation and, although we haven't had much discussion on it, the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgements legislation is there so that if the Northwest Territories will enforce our judgement, we will enforce theirs. Who is looking for this legislation, Mr. Speaker? Are the credit companies? Are they the ones looking for this information? Are they trying to catch the Newfoundlanders who went to Alberta, ran into trouble, and they have judgements against them but they can't get them when they come back home? Is that who wants this legislation?

If the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act is there and if all other provinces of Canada, as the minister has indicated, have signed on to the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act, unless every other province - and I do not mind, (inaudible) we are one country - if our judgments in our Supreme Court are enforceable in every other province of Canada under legislation like this, if every other province has adopted or is in the process of adopting it - the minister can confirm that - then I do not have a problem supporting us doing it here. I'm not sure why we would necessarily facilitate the enforcement of judgments against the people of this Province that were carried out in some other province without that degree of cooperation for here.

I do have that question, and I think it is a legitimate question. If all we are doing is facilitating collection agencies in Toronto, Alberta or British Columbia to chase after people who, for one reason or other, were unable to meet their obligations, then I do not know why we need to go out of our way to do that if there is not similar legislation in those other provinces. I'm wondering what is driving this bill. It says in the Explanatory Note that it comes as "consequent to a recent Supreme Court of Canada decision," so maybe it was a decision that found that somebody could not enforce a judgment and this legislation would overcome whatever the difficulties were.

I'm not aware of the decision. I am certainly aware of the work of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada which puts together model legislation on common issues of law, as the Province of Quebec, for example, legislation. If I get a judgment in the Province of Newfoundland against a resident of Quebec and I go to Quebec and enforce that judgment there, is that something that I could do now, or do I have to go to Quebec and hire a lawyer in Quebec and redo the whole court case there? I'm interested in reciprocity but I am also interested in fairness here. If we are going to facilitate the enforcement of judgments of other courts of Canada in this Province, we would certainly want to have the assurance that if we had a judgment here that we could go to Quebec and enforce that against a Quebec citizen or a resident of the Province of Quebec, or the Province of Alberta or Saskatchewan or British Columbia, for someone who has a cause of action leading to a judgment in this Province.

Obviously there are lots of people in this Province who may go to some other place to avoid their judgments, or have property in other jurisdictions as well. Generally speaking, the ability to enforce judgements across the country is something that we can support. We shouldn't be going out of our way to satisfy the needs of certain people in other provinces that may have difficulties collecting on their judgements, whether they are collection agencies or not. Or unless we have equal power under legislation that is substantially similar to this to do the same thing in their province. So perhaps the minister can clarify that when he takes his place for the final comments on the legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

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

MR. PARSONS: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

In response to the questions that have been raised here, first of all to the hon. Member for Lewisporte and the issue of the fees here, the fees are intended to offset any administrative costs that we would incur as a province in taking the documentation from another province and having to register it here in our registry. That is the intent. It is not to be a tax grab or a money making venture, but basically to offset the administrative cost that we would incur in having the documentation registered here. The actual fees will be set down pursuant to regulations. Once the legislation has been implemented appropriate regulations will be drafted to determine what the fees actually shall be.

In response to the other questions that have been raised, there are two separate laws at work here, one being the Reciprocal Enforcement of Judgments Act, and what we are dealing with here today is the Enforcement of Judgments Act; the first being not only geared to the Canadian jurisdictions, but geared to international jurisdictions. For example, we may have a reciprocal enforcement act with Denmark or China, for example. Whereas, this Act here is only geared to deal with Canadian inter-jurisdictional, provincial and territorial money judgements. We are not talking -

MR. HARRIS: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: Again, for the information of the hon. member, it was inquired as to what other jurisdictions. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the Morguard case in 1990 in regards to this full faith and credit principle. The old principle was that it is very cumbersome at the present time to register inter-jurisdictionally. It is not done to appease any finance company or anybody else. It is done to appease judgement creditors who currently have some very cumbersome roadblocks and stumbling blocks to go around in order to get it registered in another jurisdiction.

The Supreme Court of Canada in the Morguard decision in 1990 recommended that there should be some uniform process in the country to get rid of the cumbersome methods that exist. Now they did not want to make it apply to non-monetary judgements. They did not, for example, want it to apply to support enforcement because there is already a very well-organized, good working system for collections under support enforcement, nor did they want it to apply to small claims. All other monetary judgements to make a simplified system, so that no matter where you live in Canada, once you get your judgement in your jurisdiction you would have an easier time of enforcing it. It would be a courtesy from one province to another to introduce this type of legislation.

For the record, as well, similar legislation has already been passed in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island, and as we speak it in the legislatures of Alberta, Ontario and New Brunswick, and also here in this Province, of course. The intent is that it would be uniform -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It is now -

MR. PARSONS: I move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Do we agree that we stop the clock at 5:30 p.m?

AN HON. MEMBER: Agreed.

MR. SPEAKER: Agreed.

On motion, a bill, "An Act Respecting The Enforcement Of Canadian Judgements," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 16)

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, before we adjourn the House for this afternoon, I ask if I could have leave of the House to give some notices of motion. I think I have agreement from the other side. I'll do this on behalf of my colleagues, if they don't mind.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave!

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. TULK: On behalf of the hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce an bill entitled, "An Act Respecting Prepaid Funeral Services," Bill 24.

On behalf of the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Municipalities Act, 1999, No. 2," Bill 23.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House adjourn until tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. At that time we will continue to have the debate on legislation that is going down the Order Paper.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Tuesday, at 1:30 p.m.