May 7, 2001 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS Vol. XLIV No. 21


The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Statements by Members

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Carbonear-Harbour Grace.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SWEENEY: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate a local war veteran who has been honored by the Norwegian Consulate for his efforts to the country's Merchant Navy during the Second World War.

Ed Samson sailed for two years with the Merchant Navy in Norway during World War II, and one of his roles was training Norwegian sailors to be gunners for the merchant fleet.

Mr. Samson was presented with a medallion by the Norwegian Consulate recently at a ceremony by Steinar Engeset, of the Royal Norwegian Consulate of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate Mr. Samson on this achievement and congratulate all veterans for their service to our country.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to offer congratulations to the entire production team associated with Etcetera 15, a musical production of students attending Mount Pearl Senior High and Mount Pearl Intermediate Schools. Special congratulations to the music director, Carl Goulding; the production manager, Jackie Goulding; the stage director; Robert Power, and to all those students who shared their knowledge and expertise in interpreting music and choreographing the various selections.

Etcetera 15 is a celebration of youth. The show has become synonymous with unbelievable energy and outstanding quality. This year more than 3000 talented and dedicated students have combined their creative artistry to make this year's production quite remarkable.

Involvement in musical presentations is a wonderful experience that develops a great sense of achievement as well as instilling very positive concepts of self worth.

Etcetera 15 opens tonight at the Mount Pearl Glacier and, over the next five days, it is expected that as many as 5,000 friends, family and visitors will patronize the show.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is my pleasure today to honor in this House, Frank and Alice McDonald of West St. Modeste, who exchanged wedding vows sixty-one years ago. Today, this longest known married couple in the Labrador Straits can smile back on the hard times and reflect with pride and accomplishments on their years of caring and giving to family, church and community - an active involvement to this present day.

I join my constituents today, and I am sure all members of this hon. House, in extending best wishes to this wonderful couple for many future years of love, health and happiness.

Incidently, Mr. and Mrs. McDonald are the proud parents of eleven children, including Mrs. Alice O'Brien, wife of Lawrence O'Brien, MP for Labrador.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

It gives me great pleasure to rise today to offer my sincerest congratulations to Gerry Rogers on winning the Gold Award for best Canadian documentary for her production, My Left Breast. Gerry won this award just yesterday at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto. This happens to be North America's largest documentary festival.

I have seen the film. It is fabulous. It is self-described as an unusual film about breast cancer. It describes Gerry's ordeal from the time she began to lose her hair, and details her fears, hopes and courage as she dealt with her ordeal.

This is not the first award this film has won, Mr. Speaker. It has also won awards in Chicago and Houston and is already or will be screening in New Zealand, San Francisco, New York, Australia, Calgary and Montreal in the near future.

I ask the Members of the House of Assembly to join me in offering congratulations to Gerry for this outstanding film.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in this hon. House today in light of the recent concerns in Saskatchewan with respect to drinking water. Today I have directed a committee of ministers, chaired by the Minister of Environment, to examine the potential concerns surrounding cryptosporidium as they may pertain in this Province. I have directed ministers to bring forward any measures necessary to deal with drinking water safety in Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I would also like to inform this hon. House that there have been no known or documented cases of cryptosporidium in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The committee also includes the Minister of Health and Community Services, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, and the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

Mr. Speaker, ministers have been working on these water issues for some time. They have been gathering and assessing information and will shortly advise Cabinet on what additional measures may be required to ensure that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have continued access to clean, safe drinking water.

This move follows up on our commitment in the Speech from the Throne to bring forward a strategic plan of action to ensure public confidence in our water supplies. This ministerial committee will play an integral role in the formation of the policy.

Also today, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs joined with his federal and municipal colleagues to announce that some 172 infrastructure projects have been recommended for approval under two programs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: The Canada-Newfoundland Infrastructure Program has a mandate to support green municipal infrastructure to ensure affordable clean drinking water systems and environmentally safe sewage treatment.

The Province will allot $1.8 million this year from the capital works program to install or upgrade municipal water disinfection systems. Municipalities are being provided with 100 per cent funding up to a maximum of $100,000, to help those communities currently on boil water advisories.

Mr. Speaker, this also happens to be national Drinking Water Week, and we want to ensure that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have access to clean safe drinking water not just now, but in the future. These initiatives, along with enforced standards will help ensure that they have just that.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

There is no doubt Premier, that this committee is probably long overdue. It is needed. It is good news but it is long overdue. It is ironic, however, that the Environment Minister, just our last sitting day, stood in this House and said there is absolutely no problem with our drinking water supplies in this Province, when in Canada we have some 500 boil orders in place. Almost half of those, in the entire country, are in place in this Province. It is more needed than just a committee. We should be testing for parasites such as this one that is occurring in Saskatchewan and the fecal bacteria that occurred in Walkerton, Ontario. We should be testing for these, not just putting a committee in place. We have been asking questions in this House for months on our water supplies. Just last week, Premier, we asked questions on this side of the House regarding the quality of water in this Province and were told by your minister that there is no problem. It is more than just a committee needed, Mr. Premier, we need action.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am glad the Premier is taking this issue more seriously than his Minister of Environment. I will say too that this committee, as it goes forward, should be open, honest and forthcoming with the public, unlike the experience that we had with THMs in our water systems throughout the Province.

I am glad that the Premier thinks it is important to have environmentally safe sewage treatment in the Province. I wonder if he would tell us a little later what the federal government plans to do to help clean up St. John's Harbour, for example, as a project to have environmentally safe sewage treatment. We do have to have a guarantee for all citizens of safe, clean, drinking water.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: I hope that this committee will ensure this is the case.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to update my hon. colleagues on recent media reports on the allocation of 3L shrimp to Prince Edward Island.

As you know, last year the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Mr. Herb Dhaliwal, issued a temporary allocation of 1,500 tonnes of shrimp to a PEI consortium. This allocation was met with strong criticism from both the public and the provincial government, as it was in direct opposition to the principle of adjacency and historic attachment.

The media have reported that the 2000 PEI allocation will be increased in this year and will possibly be made into a permanent allocation. I spoke directly with Minister Dhaliwal this morning, and I was assured by him that these reports are not factual.

The 1,500 tonne temporary allocation to PEI was made in 2000 for a period of three years. The federal minister has assured me that no decision has been made to increase the allocation or make it permanent.

Furthermore, I would like to reassure the people of this Province, and the members of this Legislature, that I have made representation to the federal minister on several occasions, both in writing and personally, reiterating this government's position on the allocation of our resources to interests outside of the Province.

Mr. Speaker, this government will continue to oppose the allocation of any additional fish resources off our coast to outside interests and we will work to ensure that any increase in quota goes to the benefit of Newfoundland and Labrador fish harvesters, processing plants and communities who are adjacent to the resource.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for The Straits & White Bay North.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say it is a sad day in Newfoundland and Labrador when we get a Ministerial Statement that basically confirms and agrees with the 1,500 ton temporary allocation to PEI. No opposition whatsoever to the allocation that was made last year, the continuing allocation of it this year, and apparently, again next year.

There are people in this galley today representing Black Duck Cove fish plant, who are crying for shrimp to run their plant, and 1,500 tons would go a long way towards helping them. We look around this Province and we see trucks going around. Sometimes we get caught up in the trucks that go along by our door. The real problem in Newfoundland and Labrador are not the trucks. The real problem in Newfoundland and Labrador are the boats that are passing along by our coasts with allocations like this filling up their holes.

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.

The allocation of shrimp to Prince Edward Island was wrong last year, it is wrong this year, and it will be wrong next year. It is not good enough for the minister to make a statement that he made, to say, for example, that they oppose our fish resources off the coast going to outside interests. If the government was so concerned about that we would not have seen FPI going to the control of Nova Scotians, New Zealanders and Icelanders. It would still be a Newfoundland company, operating in Newfoundland interests.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS THISTLE: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize May 6-12 as North American Occupational Safety and Health Week, or NAOSH Week. This is the fifth year that employers, government, labour and workers, in Canada, the United States and Mexico, will join forces to promote a greater awareness for the importance of preventing workplace accidents and occupational illnesses.

Just last week, Canadians paid tribute to those who have been injured or who have died on the job, in an official Day of Mourning. In a ceremony here at Confederation Building, employers, employees were encouraged to strengthen their commitment and support of occupational health and safety, in an effort to bring an end to work-related illness and injury.

On Wednesday, May 2, I presented this year's Occupational Health and Safety Recognition Awards. These awards are an initiative of the Department of Labour and the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission. I am extremely pleased to publicly acknowledge the recipients of these awards today in this Legislature.

This year's recipients of the Award of Merit are Gordon Aldie, Paul Alyward of Canadian Helicopters and Helen LaFleche of Voisey' Bay Nickel. In extreme weather conditions, this team of professionals took part in a medivac operation to rescue and transport a severely injured worker.

The Outstanding Health and Safety Committee/Representative Award was presented jointly this year to Health and Community Services - Western, and Pat and Marleen McMaster Enterprises - Canadian Tire, Stephenville.

The Health and Safety Program Award, for the implementation of an outstanding health and safety program was captured by COSTCO Wholesale of St. John's.

Finally, the Minister's Award of Excellence, was presented to H.J O'Connell Construction Ltd. of Wabush. In 1997, this company implemented a comprehensive health and safety program and has succeeded in reducing its lost-time accidents by 90 per cent, and lost days by 97 per cent. On July 16, 2000, the field operations crews in Labrador West marked a significant safety milestone by celebrating 1,000 days without a lost-time accident.

The winners of this year's occupational health and safety awards set an example for all of us. I believe that the changes these people are making in the workplace are exactly the kind of activities that will lead to the creation of a positive safety culture in this Province. I applaud our winners and encourage them to continue their commitment to a safe workplace. As well, I hope that others will learn from their example and strive to make the same commitment.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for a copy of her statement before the House sat today. I would also, on this side of the House, congratulate the recipients of the various awards, the Occupational Health and Safety Recognition Awards. I would also like to say that I attended the wreath laying ceremony here in the House the week before last. But, Mr. Speaker, I am more concerned about the minister's great, grand news conference this morning where she talked about the task report, changing the mindset of the people in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

In that she said - here is the statement - "The legislative program which I am announcing today in the House of Assembly provides the Commission with the necessary tools ...." I am really disappointed, and I am sure the association for the disabled in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the injured workers, are very disappointed also, that the minister did not stand in her place today and announce the legislation that she is going to be putting in place to address the forty-eight recommendations within this report, the forty-eight recommendations which refer to the assessments, entitlement, prevention, early and safe return to work, health care provider accountability and many, many others. That is what I was expecting from the minister today, some form of statement or copy of the legislation or something of that nature.

For the minister to get up today, when she has this report for over three months now - this report has been available for three months and it is sad to say, Mr. Speaker, that the minister -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: By leave, just to clue up.

It is sad to say, Mr. Speaker, that the minister is not doing her job in addressing the concerns of the injured workers in this Province.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, congratulations to the recipients of this year's award. I too attended the national day of mourning ceremony in Labrador West last week. One of the recipients of this award is from Labrador West and it is amazing what they have accomplished through their education program, because they are involved in heavy industry and construction. The most important aspect, Mr. Speaker, of any workplace is a safe and healthy environment, and health and safety education is not something that can be done once, as a one shot deal, it is a continuing process.

I would say to the minister, that the health and safety committees in this Province - I think it would be incumbent upon her as minister to review the committee's now dysfunction in the Province with respect to the number of committees that are actively meeting, when they are required to meet under the law, and the following of reports submitted to her department, because I do not know what it is today, but I can state, with no uncertainty, that over the years -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. COLLINS: - there is a lot of room for improvement in that area.

Thank you.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise the House that this week, May 7-May 13, 2001, is Mining Week in Canada.

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

The theme of this week's celebration is: Mining Makes it Happen.

Mr. Speaker, Mining Week is designed primarily to recognize the important contribution that the mineral sector makes to this Province's economy and the economy of Canada as a whole. It also provides an opportunity to recognize all of the people who work and earn their living in the mining industry.

As hon. members are aware, government has been committed to the well being of our mining industry. Programs such as the Mineral Exploration Assistance Program have encouraged new exploration and growth in our mining sector. This program has also provided financial assistance to numerous prospectors who would otherwise not have the opportunity to commence their exploration projects.

Government fully understands that exploration is an essential component in the development of mineral resources and will continue to support and encourage new exploration programs. It has been proven that exploration does lead, in fact, to discovery of new resources and, in turn, results in the generation of new wealth through new investment, employment and business opportunities.

This incentive program has been warmly received and commended by the mining industry generally.

Mr. Speaker, our mineral industry continues to play a vital part in our Province's economic well-being. This industry directly employs approximately 2,700 people. Mineral shipments in 2000 were worth approximately $1 billion to this Province's economy.

As our mineral sector continues to grow, we will witness new developments and discoveries that will further strengthen this important industry. Projects, such as Hammerdown, Duck Pond and Voisey's Bay, are just a few examples of the exciting mineral potential that this Province has to offer.

As exploration continues to grow, government anticipates new discoveries that will ensure new developments that will bring numerous benefits to the people of the Province.

Mr. Speaker, it is essential for government to support mining. We must provide fair and equitable policies for the investment community and ensure that the people of the Province receive the maximum benefits from their resources.

In honour of Mining Week, the Department of Mines and Energy has set up a public display of Newfoundland and Labrador minerals in the main lobby of the Natural Resources Building. I would invite all hon. members to visit this display during the week.

I encourage everyone to celebrate Mining Week and to recognize the contribution of the mining industry to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I, too, join with the government and the Newfoundland and Labrador Chamber of Mineral Resources in welcoming an opportunity to recognize the importance of Mining Week in our Province.

Also, the program the minister referred to, the Mineral Exploration Assistance Program, has served us very well with two Newfoundlanders, Verbiski and Chislett, who discovered Voisey's Bay. I am sure there are many other potential sites around this Province and many other young prospectors out there working under this program, and outside the program, in trying to find other potential sites here in our Province.

The minister alluded to 2,700 people working here in the industry, and in that 2,700 people, many of them are very high-paid, year-round jobs that contribute significantly to the economy of our Province. Although the fishery traditionally employed tens of thousands of people - it was the biggest employer - it was never the biggest contributor to our Gross Domestic Product. The mining industry has traditionally been the biggest supporter to the GDP here in our Province for a number of years. The Opposition here is certainly very cognizant of the importance of mining here in our Province, and we too join with the government and the Chamber of Mineral Resources in asking people to pay particular significance to the importance of mining to our Province and to promote it, and especially continue funding into the systems program for exploration in our Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We, too, acknowledge that mining is a very important industry to the Province, a $1 billion industry. My district, I am proud to say, represents most of the workers in the mining industry in this Province.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the opening of Mining Week celebrations in Labrador West. This year they have dedicated a three-week period to celebrate mining activities. As part of that celebration there are mine tours being offered to people in the area, who have not had the opportunity to visit them yet, and there are educational programs being offered in the school system to make students aware of the career opportunities that are available in mining.

Again, it is important that we support programs that allow for exploration to take place. I know that in Labrador new discoveries are taking place each year with various different types of minerals, and with the wealth and the land mass of Labrador -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. COLLINS: - I am sure that in the future more deposits will be discovered.

Thank you.

Oral Questions

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for The Straits and White Bay North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Last summer the whole of the fishing industry and indeed the whole of the population of Newfoundland and Labrador were outraged by the federal government decision to allocate 1,500 tons of shrimp from off the Coast of Newfoundland to a P.E.I. consortium.

Mr. Speaker, here we are, one year later, on the eve of the 2001 shrimp management plan, and we hear that DFO has reissued the 1,500 ton allocation to P.E.I. It appears that this decision was made about two weeks ago.

I would like to ask the Premier: Were there any consultations with the Province before the decision to reallocate was made?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. REID: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The member opposite is correct in that 1,500 tons were allocated to P.E.I. last summer, and I think he knows how the people of this Province felt about that, as well as how this government felt about it. The fact remains that, when that allocation was made, it was a temporary allocation. It was for a period of three years. So the actual decision was made last year that it would be done for three years, not on a one-year-by-one-year basis.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for The Straits & White Bay North.

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The people of this Province understood that it was a temporary allocation, or we were told that it was a temporary allocation. The people of the Province understood that it was a one-time deal. I think the people of this Province understood that it was a one-year deal. I suggest that if members opposite want to contradict that, they can go and ask the people of the Province what they think of it.

The question is: When did the government become aware of this? Was it last summer? Was it this morning when the minister talked to Minister Dhaliwal? - or when was it?

Thank you.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. REID: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

All I can do is reiterate what I just said. Last year when that allocation was given, it was given for a three-year period. Yes, we were aware of that. Yes, most of the people in the Province were aware of it at the time.

Did we agree with it? We certainly did not, and we still do not agree with it.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for The Straits & White Bay North.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, it appears from the minister's statement earlier that this government has accepted this blatant abuse of the adjacency principle. He did not oppose the continued allocation of the P.E.I. quota.

I would like for him to confirm today whether they do indeed support adjacency, or if they have abdicated the position that they appeared to have before, and this Province has, on the adjacency principle: that no further allocations, and not just no further allocations but that the allocation that was made to P.E.I. last year not be reallocated in future years - not this year, not next year, and not any time down the road - and that there be no increase in the allocation.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to take his seat.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. REID: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. member mentioned last week that language is important, and maybe we need some language courses on this side, but I do not see anywhere in the statement that I made today that we agree to that allocation, or that we agree that it should be given for the next two years. That was never the intent of this side.

I have talked to the minister and he told me there was no intention of increasing that quota or to made it permanent. That it a temporary allocation for three years, just like we have 360 inshore boats fishing, under sixty-five feet, out here today, who are also fishing on a temporary permit. I cannot see anybody in Ottawa making a temporary allocation to P.E.I. permanent, when we have 360 fishers off the East Coast of this Province in boats under sixty-five feet who are operating on a temporary license.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are to the Premier. I want to ask the Premier about the settlement he and the President of Treasury Board reached last month with the public sector unions.

Hospital boards and school boards are saying that they were told that there would be no cost over and above the agreement on wages; that is, if the unions wanted any other contract benefits, the cost would have to come out of this wage settlement. I want to ask the Premier: Are they right? Is that the Premier's understanding of the agreement that he reached with NAPE and CUPE?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

We made a commitment that we would fund what we agreed to as it relates to monetary increases. We made that quite clear in the outstanding issues of which we are still trying to finalize in writing with both sides.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If I heard the minister right, she is saying that they will fund those items over and above the 5-5-5. Is that what the minister is saying, that she agrees with the union position and the government will fund those items? I wasn't clear on what the minister said. She sort of tried to skate around the issue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: No, Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is the skater. I don't know how much skating he has been doing lately, but he used to be a skater anyway.

MR. MATTHEWS: A good skater, too.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Is that right?

Mr. Speaker, what we have said is that what is in the agreement is covered with respect to the allocation of funds. If you are speaking to a specific issue, maybe you should ask a specific issue and not skate around it, I would say to the member opposite.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There are many, many issues and I could spend all day listing some of the issues. If the minister does not know what the issues are that are at stake, I think the minister has been out to lunch and does not know what is going on.

I want to ask the minister: Did the minister agree to a settlement without knowing the cost implications of these other settlements? A master agreement on school boards is one example; costs that went into the health care system, that have been alluded to, and been in ongoing discussions with the health board associations there. Are these extra items going to be funded over and above the 5-5-5, I ask the minister?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I am not out to lunch. The member might be out to lunch but I am here today to answer these questions, but a preamble deserves an answer and I think it is only appropriate.

I will say, on two issues, first of all: whenever you have a tentative agreement, the members are the first ones to make the decision on whether it is acceptable or not. With respect to the school boards, the member opposite also knows that when we made the agreement on the tentative agreement with the unions it was clear that there had to be outstanding negotiations as it relates to the collapsing of a number of collective agreements with the school boards into one. What was agreed at that point in time was that the money was acceptable but there were outstanding issues that would have to be negotiated. They have not reached a tentative agreement. In fact, they are delaying it until September. That is a whole different piece to what we agreed on than the other outstanding issues that you are referring to.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) question.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: That is the question and it is the answer to the question, I say to the members opposite.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to ask the minister: Is she now saying that those agreements that have to be negotiated and agreed to in the future involving monetary matters will be over and above the negotiated 5-5-5. Is that what the minister is saying?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I think the member opposite has totally missed the point. That agreement has not been reached with -

MR. SULLIVAN: You have missed the point.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: No, I have not missed any point.

MR. SULLIVAN: You have skated around it.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: I have not skated anywhere. You are not listening. Take your skates off and listen, I say to you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, we do not have a tentative agreement with the school boards. We do not have that. I think that is clear. Wayne Lucas has spoken to it; CUPE has spoken to it. We do not have a tentative agreement with them. We do have a tentative agreement with the other unions with NAPE and CUPE.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS J.M. AYLWARD: I am answering directly. It was clear; you can speak to Wayne Lucas about it. He said it himself: they are deferring what they are going to be doing until the fall. We do not have a tentative agreement with them. We have a tentative agreement with all the other pieces of NAPE and CUPE: with the hospital sector, MOS, GS and the other outstanding groups. We do not have a tentative agreement with the school boards. That has been clear.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

No, it is not one bit clearer than when I asked the question first, because the minister has failed to tell us if this government is going to pay extra for those other items that have a monetary implication.

Mr. Hanlon of NAPE said the outstanding issues for the union alone could cost millions of dollars with their particular union. Health boards and hospital boards are out saying - school boards - that they do not have the money to pay for these other items over and above the salary agreement.

I want to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker: How does the minister propose to deal with these? Will the hospital boards and the school boards have to cut programs and services to pay for those non- salary items that were in the contract that you have yet to settle?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, the member is doing everything possible to try to get across the impression that we have agreed to something where we do not have -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MS J.M. AYLWARD: You are missing the point. We do not have a tentative agreement with the school boards.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) when you do reach one?

MS J.M. AYLWARD: We will have to get the agreement, won't we? I am not negotiating with the member opposite. Mr. Speaker, I do not negotiate with the member opposite.

MR. SULLIVAN: ( Inaudible) negotiate an agreement but you don't know what it costs?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, my crystal ball is just as good as his crystal ball. If you do not have a tentative agreement, how can you give the total cost?

If you want to ask us what the tentative agreement is, it is the question and it is the answer, Mr. Speaker. We do not have a tentative agreement with the school boards. What will it cost? We do not know what it will cost because we do not have an agreement. That is the issue: no new position, as much as he would like to think it is. You ask Wayne Lucas: Do we have a tentative agreement with the school boards? He would say, no.

Now, if he is asking me, do we have an agreement on other items? What other items is he talking about? I would be happy to answer then.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, on Thursday, the Minister of Environment said during debate in this House of Assembly that this Province has no problem with our drinking water supplies. What an unbelievable statement for the minister to make, Mr. Speaker. The national media report that we have just over 500 boil orders in place throughout Canada. Almost half of those are in place right here in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, my question is this: With $1.8 million being announce today, and a cap of $100,000 per community, that could mean just eighteen communities get financed out of some 240 communities. Minister do you honestly believe that this is enough money to address the issues in this Province?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

What I had said on the last sitting day of the House was in response to what the Member for Conception Bay South had said when he talked about the unsafe drinking water here in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. These are inaccurate statements, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Environment.

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: These are inaccurate statements, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: So you did not say it?

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: What I said was that the drinking water in Newfoundland is safe, and that is a pretty fair statement, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: You see, the hon. member refuses to allow me to answer the question. The reason the boil order is in place, where there is inadequate chlorination or filtration -

MR. J. BYRNE: To make it safe, right?

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: Absolutely.

Mr. Speaker, we have no evidence that it is unsafe. I heard the other member talk about going into a hotel where it says: Do not drink the water. These kinds of statements are made to protect the ownership of that property for liability purposes.

We have some $10 million that is available for water treatment over the next couple of years. We have allotted $1.8 million this year.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister now to conclude his answer.

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: My department has been taking the lead on water not only in Newfoundland and Labrador but across the country.

 

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I guess the minister would feel safe taking the liability, then.

Mr. Speaker, North Battleford has a water treatment facility in place but they are still battling cryptosporidium and the infection caused by it. That raises concerns again about the safety of the water supply in this Province.

I am asking the minister today: Does this Province test for cryptosporidium or other such parasites at our water supplies and the water treatment facilities throughout this Province?

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

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

When the hon. member talks about North Battleford in Saskatchewan, he is trying to compare apples and oranges. Saskatchewan is a farming province, a farming community. We do not have that situation here in Newfoundland, where we have a large concentration of animals that are close to a water supply. Nowhere in Newfoundland -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should listen this. Nowhere here in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador -

MR. T. OSBORNE: Cryptosporidium is not (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member has asked a question; now I ask him to give the minister an opportunity to answer.

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: Nowhere here in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador do we discharge sewer upstream of a water supply. Here in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, we have in excess of 200 protected watershed areas to which development is restricted or reduced.

When the member talks about unsafe water, he should look at what we have done, as a department, to ensure that the water is safe. Where there is no chlorination, or inadequate chlorination or filtration, we have put in place a boil order.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. T. OSBORNE: This Province has a lot of water concerns, including incinerators near water supplies and other such things. Many of the municipalities in this Province do not have treatment facilities at present. Do you think that we have a responsibility, as a Province, to the people of this Province, not only to put committees in place but to be testing for bacteria and parasites that are harmful to human health?

Mr. Speaker, I will tell the committee; I will save them a lot of time: what we need in this Province -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary.

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

What we need in this Province, Minister, is more stringent testing and better treatment. I am asking you when you are going to put that in place throughout this Province for the 240 communities-plus that have boil orders in place?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

That is already in place. We are actively testing all water supplies in the Province.

MR. T. OSBORNE: For cryptosporidium?

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: We have some 800 water supplies in the Province. We have already set up a complete data base on these water supplies. We are working on a daily basis with the municipalities in the Province. We have also gone out in areas where there were problems with THMs and filtration, and the engineers have worked with them to resolve that particular issue.

Mr. Speaker, we are very active in terms of water in this Province. I do not mind saying that the top priority of my department is water. The ministerial committee has been actively working over the last couple of years on these particular issues and will continue to do so, Mr. Speaker, knowing full well, and realizing that municipalities have the responsibility for water supplies. We are quite willing to partake with them in resolving any issues they might have.

It was only in March that my department hosted a water conference at Gander where some 350 representatives from across this Province took part. They were quite pleased. Just this morning I sat down and met with the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Municipalities. I met with Memorial University, talking about a Centre of Excellence for the Province. We are very active in water in this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Premier and relates to the clean up of St. John's Harbour. This is not only an eyesore but a health and environmental risk. It is a disgrace to the Province and to the country. Now that the Province and the municipalities involved have made a commitment to one-third funding, I want to ask the Premier what efforts his government has made and what commitments have they received from the Government of Canada to contribute their one-third share of the cost of the St. John's Harbour clean up?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Unfortunately, I do have to report that we have no definite commitment from the Government of Canada yet with respect to their one-third share. We have made a firm request, repeatedly, that they participate with a special fund, and a separate fund, for an initiative as important as the clean up of the St. John's Harbour. I know that we will continue working with them until we are successful in getting that commitment.

I am pleased that the hon. member acknowledged the fact that the provincial government has committed our one-third share, as have the municipalities in the region.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Many people in this Province are wondering whether there is any advantage at all in having the only Liberal government in Canada and having, in fact, the former Premier sitting in the federal Cabinet.

When does this Premier, and this government, expect to get some commitment from Mr. Tobin and his federal counterparts on the clean up of the St. John's Harbour so this problem can be addressed once and for all? When do we expect to get a commitment?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, I cannot give a definite date, or even an answer, as to exactly whether or not the Government of Canada is going to establish a separate fund for the clean up of St. John's Harbour, in particular, here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I expect maybe the hon. member might be leaving us later today or tomorrow to go to Ottawa to be present for the private member's debate tomorrow evening about this very issue because I understand there are some other members of our Legislature who are very interested in that particular issue. Unfortunately, I am not in a position to give a commitment and an understanding as to when the Government of Canada might come on side. We hope it is sooner rather than later.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Minister of Education.

The school boards are concerned about the effect of municipal tax assessments on their operating budgets. In some communities increased assessments have gone up by tens of thousands of dollars. I understand that last year the Department of Education covered the cost. I am asking the minister: Will the department do the same this year?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS FOOTE: The only thing I apologize for is my voice today.

I welcome the hon. member's question, Mr. Speaker, because it is a serious issue. The Town of Carbonear, in fact, is the only jurisdiction today that has decided to take the regulations that were amended, the Municipal and Provincial Affairs Act, and increase the tax rate to the school and hospital boards in the vicinity of 800 per cent. It is a very serious issue. A build up that would normally have cost about $4,000 is now costing about $33,000.

Last year, when this happened, the board obviously had not budgeted for this kind of expenditure increase in taxes and the department covered it. We had hoped it was a one-time thing. Unfortunately, the town saw fit to continue that practice and this year, again, the board is looking at another $35,000 bill. It is difficult for any of us, who have not budgeted for that kind of increase in expenditure, to find the funds to do so. I am hoping that it is a one-time thing. I am hoping the Town of Carbonear will give this some serious, sober thought for next year and that it is a one-time thing throughout the Province. Otherwise, it is going to have serious implications for the department and for the boards in terms of how we can spend our education dollars.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Harbour Main-Whitbourne.

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The municipalities certainly have the right to tax school properties, and more and more, I suspect, will be doing so, Minister. Now, what I am looking for from the minister is assurance that the school boards will not have to pay for municipal taxes out of their instructional budgets or school maintenance budgets.

Will the minister guarantee that school boards will not have to layoff staff, cut programs or neglect maintenance, in order to pay these municipal taxes?

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, I just want to reiterate that I would like to think this is one of a kind. Of course, we have no guarantee that is the case. It would be regrettable if it were not the case. Having said that, we give the boards their operating budgets and they know how to spend those operating budgets. Obviously we would like to see the money go into instructional programing.

I guess what we need to do, Mr. Speaker, is that if this is something that sets a precedent and we see other municipalities doing the same thing, we are going to have to seriously look at going back and amending the regulations so that this is not possible. Obviously there is nothing to stop a municipality from increasing the taxes, but we would expect them to do it in a fair and reasonable manner, and that is the discussion that has taken place with the Town of Carbonear. I mean, anyone would have to agree that an 800 per cent increase is far from being reasonable.

So, we would expect the towns, yes, to increase their taxes and we would expect the boards, working with the department, to pay those taxes, but it becomes a bit onerous, Mr. Speaker, when you talk about an 800 per cent increase. The Department of Education does not have the dollars, the boards do not have the dollars. So we are going to have to look seriously at how we deal with this very serious problem, and -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister now to conclude her answer.

MS FOOTE: - whether or not we amend the regulations, if this becomes precedent setting.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development.

A short time ago I raised a concern here in the Legislature about the possibility of duty-free lumber now entering the United States from this Province being subjected to extra tariffs and duty, which would spell disaster to this rural industry, an industry that employs in excess of 3,000 people and generates in excess of $31 million per year in export value.

I heard the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods raising his concern one morning last week, and it bothers me that this issue has been brewing for some months now. The agreement exempting Atlantic Canada and, in particular, this Province, from tariffs and duties expired March 31 of this year.

I ask the minister, why it took his government up until now to acquire not only a lawyer, but any interest whatsoever in this very important issue?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This government has acted long before this week or last week. Mr. Speaker, the Maritime Lumber Bureau, Maritime lumber producers association, has been the representative for the four Atlantic provinces with regard to the softwood lumber dispute. Our representations have been made and, in fact, there was a meeting by the deputy premier a few weeks ago in PEI, I believe, with the other Maritime premiers. Our Premier has already signed letters, I think in the last week and a half, pertaining to the commerce department's actions that they have taken.

Mr. Speaker, we are in the process, as a department, to make sure that - I am sure the hon. member knows that first when the dispute came out, at the end of the month, that the US commerce department left out the four Atlantic Provinces, because, I suppose, of the old Maritime accord, but they changed that position as of last week, Mr. Speaker, and included the Atlantic Provinces in the whole inspection investigation program.

So, we are making sure, as a department and as a government, that all the integrated mills in the Province and any companies associated with the softwood lumber dispute have made representation to the U. S. Commerce Department because if they do not before May 15, then they will lose the chance to make representation to the U. S. Commerce Department. They may come in and do two or three investigations after that, but as of today, we have done everything possible to make sure that our companies, and the Province as a whole, is represented in regard to the softwood dispute.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the minister if he has any concerns whatsoever that the Atlantic Provinces, including this Province, might now be included in the old agreement covering all of Canada?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: That has been a concern all along, Mr. Speaker, but if you go back through the last three agreements over the last fifteen years, we have been fortunate enough, for the whole, to have what they call a Maritime accord agreement included in the Canadian softwood lumber agreements with the United States. So that exempted us from a tariff up until around 14 billion or 15 billion feet of lumber. After that there was a progressive tariff but in place. Right now they have the Atlantic Provinces included. That is a concern. There is no question about that. Now the federal government has taken a different slant on it. At first they said: okay, we want one agreement for the whole country.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to conclude his answer.

MR. WOODFORD: Right now they are saying there will be bilateral agreements with the provinces and they will support that. That is why we are taking the initiative we are taking today to make sure that our companies in the Province are well represented. I think at the end of the day that Atlantic Canada will be exempt, but it is a real concern and we are taking that into consideration.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I say to the minister, it is a real concern and if that concern should become a reality, I ask the minister if he has discussed compensation for employers and employees should lumber be now subjected to tariffs and duties entering this United States market?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, we are not going to take a defeatist attitude on this. We are going to make sure that we have representation made. The companies in the Province feel fairly optimistic, and I feel optimistic, as the minister here in the Province, that we put forward a good case. They have two on the board. They have anti-dumping regulations and they have countervailing. How can they charge this Province with anti-dumping? That is not even a question as far as I am concerned. They are, so-called, out to lunch.

On countervailing; they may have a question on that, but I am sure when they come and do their investigations of the mills in the Province, Mr. Speaker, that the mills here will show the U.S. Commerce Department that there is no reason for countervailing duties as well. I think we will win at the end of the day.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Question period has ended.

Notices of Motion

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, An Act to Amend the Financial Administration Act. (Bill 17)

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

MS THISTLE: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, An Act to Amend the Labour Relations Act. (Bill 18)

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

MS M. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow move the following private members' motion:

WHEREAS Canada has the largest marine boundary of any nation in the world; and

WHEREAS a strong shipbuilding industry is an important part of any economic strategy for a strong trading nation such as Canada; and

WHEREAS we have a skilled workforce and facilities in this country capable of competing with any other nation in the world in the shipbuilding industry; and

WHEREAS the shipbuilding industry in Canada has been adversely affected by unfair trade practices by other nations; and

WHEREAS Canada has significantly subsidized other modes of transportation to take advantage of world market opportunities; and

WHEREAS Canada, particularly on the east coast, has a developing offshore oil sector which will create an environment where marine construction will be a strategic sector where we can lead the world;

BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Assembly call on the Government of Canada to act quickly to implement the recommendations in the Report of the National Shipbuilding and Industrial Marine Partnership: Breaking Through.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I stand to comment on a question asked by the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi on Friday when he asked, would the government make available the text of the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas to the public for scrutiny. I just wanted to say that there has been no text made available to the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs. We are told that the text will be made available to the public within two weeks, and that is when we will get it. When we do get it, we will table it for the hon. gentleman.

Petitions

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Barbe.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. YOUNG: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am presenting a petition signed by over 600 residents and area supporters of the Black Duck Cove shrimp plant located on the Northern Peninsula. This petition is enormous, based on the population of this area. I would like to read the prayer of petition in its proper form.

To the hon House of Assembly of Newfoundland in legislative session convened, the petition of the undersigned area residents and workers of the Black Duck Cove shrimp plant and their supporters:

WHEREAS the shrimp processing of Black Duck Cove is threatened with closure; and

WHEREAS the fishery is the only industry on the Northern Peninsula that will provide economic growth to its residents; and

WHEREAS there are eighty workers who will be unemployed if the processing company is not found to operate as planned; and

WHEREAS the shrimp processing plant is virtually the only employment opportunity for the community;

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to take immediate action to ensure that the plant does not close and make sure the plant is back in operation so that the community of Black Duck Cove will continue to survive;

And as in duty bound your petitioners will very pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is a crisis situation. The Northern Peninsula is struggling through a certain economic depression. The unemployment rate is the highest in the Province. People are desperate. They are not looking for preferential treatment or luxuries, merely the opportunity to carve out a modest living for themselves and their families.

There is no plan in place for the Northern Peninsula, only crisis management. The only work that is available in most communities on the Northern Peninsula is through federal programs that offer only uninsurable earnings. They usually come at a time of year when little work can be done and it is not part of the strategy to better our communities, Mr. Speaker.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development has said on many occasions that if we do not find a way for communities like Black Duck Cove to exist from the ocean, there is no reason for them to exist at all. I agree with the minister. I would go further to say that all communities, like Black Duck Cove, that have fought and struggled to find a place in the fishery should get the help that they need.

This community has never given up and has been active since day one. There is no reason why this plant is not operating today. The large amounts of shrimp that have passed the community to be processed in other parts of the Province is too much to bear. Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, government policy must be one that reflects the principle of adjacency. Premier Grimes made it known that he supported the principle of adjacency in the leadership race. Now that he is Premier, I hope that the people of the Northern Peninsula can count on that commitment.

What the people of Black Duck Cove and area residents want to know, Mr. Speaker, is: will government take immediate action to ensure that the plant at Black Duck Cove does not close, and ensure that the plant will soon be back in operation?

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand today to present a petition. It is not in the usual form that a petition is brought forward to the House here, but I have cleared it with the Clerk. The intent and the spirit of the petition is certainly well understood.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Is the hon. member asking for leave to present the petition?

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes, leave if I could, please.

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

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: It is a petition. It is not written to the House of Assembly, but I have asked the Clerk to look at the petition. The spirit and the intent of the petition is quite clear, I say to members in the House.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. FITZGERALD: It reads: The residents who live near the stretch of gravel road, 0.7 kilometres that runs between the Discovery Trail and Route 234, are requesting that our road be paved in this year, 2001. We are asking you to petition the government on our behalf to have this request resolved.

Mr. Speaker, this is a petition signed by the residents who live on this particular stretch of road. There are some forty names here, forty people who live on this 0.7 kilometres, 700 meters, of a roadway. It is presently a gravel road. It is located in Lethbridge, I say to the minister, and there are also three businesses that are located on this road. All they are asking for - they are not asking that we go out and put in sidewalks. They are not asking that we go out and put in water and sewer. The request is that this particular piece of roadway be included in this construction season to be upgraded and paved.

When they talk about upgrading, you do not need to go out there and widen the road; you do not need to go out there and build up the road. You need to put on a form of class A stone and pave that section of roadway.

It is traveled by the school bus every morning that the school is open. The bus driver himself have come forward and signed the petition because he knows the condition of this section of road. Granted, every year the department goes out and puts calcium chloride there to keep the dust down, but that is certainly not a resolution to their problem.

They are asking that this 700 metres of roadway be included this year, in this construction season, and have it paved. There is an upgrading and paving project on a stretch of road, the Discovery Trail, which is bordering on this section of road, and they are asking that their 700 metres be included.

Mr. Speaker, that is the intent of the petition. It is signed by the forty residents who live on that particular piece of roadway. All they are asking for is that they receive the same treatment as other people in this Province. When they go out to license their car, they have to pay the same price for the licence. They have to pay the same taxes on gasoline. They have to pay the same price to register their car. They are asking that they receive the same treatment - the forty residents and their families who live on this particular stretch of roadway. I have traveled the roadway myself many times.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: There are new houses there. There are new houses going up there on an annual basis. I ask the government and I ask the minister if he would include this section of roadway in this year's Capital Roads Program.

Thank you.

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

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

I have another petition today on bulk water exports from the Province. I will read the prayer of the petition:

We, the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, wish to petition the House of Assembly, with copies to the House of Commons, to oppose the bulk export of water from this Province. Every major resource, such as Churchill Falls, that has been developed in Newfoundland and Labrador, has resulted in the majority of benefits going outside the Province. It is time that we demand our full and fair share. With water being one of the few resources remaining where we have the opportunity to deliver maximum benefit through jobs, spinoff from secondary processing, as well as royalties, we demand that any water sold must be bottled and processed in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, I should rebut, while presenting this petition, comments made by the Environment Minister on the last sitting day, comments that he said I made which are simply untrue.

In presenting this petition, I will say that I believe there are implications under the NAFTA agreement to exporting water. I will also say that, whether there were implications or not, we should not allow our resources to leave this Province without giving maximum benefits to the people of this Province.

So, there are two arguments there. One is whether or not there are implications under NAFTA, and I believe there are. There are experts who believe there are. David Collenette and other federal ministers believe there are. The U.S. trade representative that negotiated the deal on behalf of the United States believes there is. There is a three member tribunal. If there is a challenge to this, it will go to a three member tribunal. We know where the States will stand; they have already said so. Where Canada's official representative will stand is unclear; but then those two pick a third, and where that person will stand is where the real danger lies because you only need two out of three to rule in favour of an opponent. That is one of the questions that we are facing with the export of bulk water.

The other is the robbery of the people who own the resource, and that is the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. That is the real argument. That is the major argument here, the fact that the people of this Province deserve full and fair share of their resources. They deserve maximum spinoff, maximum royalties, maximum jobs from their resources, and that is what I am arguing. I am not shifting my argument from NAFTA to that, but I am saying that is the more important argument to the people of this Province, the fact that they want maximum benefits, maximum spinoffs, maximum royalties, maximum jobs from their resources.

That is where I stand on this. That is the argument that I am putting forward. The people of the Province have spoken very, very clearly on this issue over two years ago. They have spoken clearly on this. They have told government what they want government to do regarding this issue.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

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

Orders of the Day

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

MR. LUSH: (Inaudible) being otherwise entertained there, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, Motion 3.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Labour to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Act And The Occupational Health and Safety Act," carried. (Bill 16)

On motion, Bill 16 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

MR. LUSH: Order 5, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 5.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Prepaid Funeral Services Act." (Bill 5)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Labrador & Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In the absence of my colleague, the Minister of Government Services and Lands, I will just provide a couple of introductory remarks for second reading on this particular bill.

The amendment is basically in two parts. One part is, where there is provision for an assurance fund to be created under the new legislation that was enacted in December of 2000, there needed to be some way that we could provide for the assurance fund to be built up. In that case, we needed to include in the amendment opportunities for the assurance fund to borrow in order to create and generate some monies in the fund in the initial stages of the new legislation. This would enable the assurance fund to kick in and be operational at the beginning and at the front end of this particular legislation.

The second part of the amendment is to allow for the bill to be made retroactive. Simply put, we had a situation in late December, or prior to December 20, when a funeral home went bankrupt and we needed to have some mechanism in place to allow the assurance fund to take care of the funds that were dispensed through the bankruptcy. There was about $500,000 in that particular home that needed to be taken care of.

The industry itself helped us out at the time to ensure that this was taken care of; so, in order to make it legally binding, we needed to make the legislation retroactive to November 1, 2000, to ensure that the assurance fund can take care of the outstanding money and the money that people are out for that fund.

Those are the two basic issues in terms of the legislative change to this particular bill. Maybe there will be more questions in Committee stage, but that simply takes care of the two amendments.

Thank you very much.

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

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

I thank the minister for speaking to this bill on behalf of his caucus companion, his absent comrade.

Mr. Speaker, we are not going to unduly delay this bill. It is simply a housecleaning issue. Basically, it will eliminate the risk of situations such as what happened out in Port aux Basques, and protect consumers, essentially, who prepaid for their funerals.

We support this bill. It is a bill that I do not feel needs any significant level of debate. It is a very straightforward bill, and for the right reasons I think both sides of the House should support this bill and expedite its passage.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

The hon. the Minister of Labrador & Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I concur with the member opposite, that it is a straightforward change but it is a necessary one to ensure that consumers are protected under this new legislation.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Prepaid Funeral Services Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 5)

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

MR. LUSH: Order 6, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 6.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act, 2000." (Bill 6)

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

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

The purpose of the amendment of this bill is to allow us to make the enhancements to the Newfoundland and Labrador seniors' benefit as we announced in the Budget this year. It is important to note because the seniors' benefit has increased from $200 to $300 per year and the benefit will go to families with a net income up to $14,000. It will tail off as the income rises between $14,000 and $20,000.

There are a couple of important points, I think as well, with respect to eligibility. Any senior over the age of sixty-five, regardless if they are collecting other pensions benefits, would qualify to receive this benefit. They do not need to apply. It is automatically sent out in October, around the same time as the GST/HST credit cheques are mailed as well.

One of the most important things, I believe, in this new amendment, is that of the 28,000 people who actually receive this benefit, 46 per cent of the 61,000 persons aged sixty-five and over will receive it; but, most importantly, of the 28,000 beneficiaries, 19,000 or 68 per cent of them are women.

I think it is a very important amendment. The benefit will cost approximately $7.3 million per year. Again, I would urge members to vote in favour of this to allow us to increase the enhancements.

MR. SPEAKER (Mercer): The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

With reference to the bill, I think it is pretty straightforward, clause 1, to increase senior benefits and the provision here for it.

I just have a question for the minister. Maybe when she does her second reading in a few minutes, because I am not sure if we have any other speakers on this, she might want to comment. I was wondering if she could just elaborate, when she wraps up second reading. "Clause 2 of the bill would amend subsection 68(1) of the Act..." - that we brought in last year - "...by adding a new regulatory paragraph (i) that would permit the making of new tax credits, rebates and deemed overpayments of tax by regulation."

Would the minister comment on that? I will give the minister a chance, when she gets a copy there. If the minister did not bring any briefing notes, or copies of the legislation on the bill, we can provide her.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I was just waiting. I wanted the minister to have a copy of the bill when I was making the points so I would not have to make the point over again, I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Just for the point, I heard that he could not get to buy a ticket. They were all sold out on the weekend.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I think he is trying to delay passage of Bill 6.

I just ask the minister, in clause 2 of the bill there, "...amend subsection 68(1) of the Act by adding a new regulatory paragraph (i) that would permit the making of new tax credits, rebates and deemed overpayments of tax by regulation." Deemed overpayments of tax by regulation, would the minister clarify that statement there?

I don't have any other questions on this. I would just like to get a clarification now, if I could. If not, if the minister wanted to - maybe when I look closer at the bill. I just went through it quickly. The bill was passed last year. If she does not really have a clarification, in Committee I would certainly would hope to get just a clarification of that point.

MR. SPEAKER: If the minister speaks now she will close debate on this bill.

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

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

My understanding is that it would allow us to collect - in many cases we actually do overpay in as much as we have the wrong salary information. If we find out, through an auditing process, that the salary is above the $20,000 mark and the tail off should have occurred, then we have the ability to recollect.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS J.M. AYLWARD: This is a specific amendment, so it has to be relative to this amendment. That is why it is there.

Yes, we can do it, but it is specific to this particular amendment because it is in relation to this bill.

MR. SULLIVAN: I understood the provision, they would collect any overpayments (inaudible). I was just wondering if there was something -

MS J.M. AYLWARD: No, that is my understanding, that it is for overpayments as it relates to this amendment.

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay, as it relates to the basic increase. Because it is being made retroactively, any other ones that would now constitute -

MS J.M. AYLWARD: The retroactive ones would have been for a lower tail off. Remember, it started at $12,000 and tailed off. This one now raises the bar up to $14,000. So, what we would have to do is go back specifically as it relates to this change and give us the ability to collect. We would not collect it, of course; we would not collect it for last year, because the old one was in place last year. The amendment had to be here specifically for the change in this. That is my understanding, from the $200 to $300.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Only insomuch as sometimes we get our information late. If we are doing our audit, we are doing our audits later, so therefore we would have to retroactively collect it.

MR. SULLIVAN: If there is any further (inaudible).

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Sure, definitely.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act, 2000," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 6)

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, Order 10, An Act To Amend The Liquor Corporation Act. (Bill 13)

MR. SPEAKER: Order 10.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Liquor Corporation Act." (Bill 13)

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

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

The purpose of Bill 13 is to provide an amendment to the Liquor Corporation Act, which would facilitate the provision of preferential commission markup rates to small brewers.

Right now, NLC imposes a commission fee on all beer and wine sold in the Province. Currently, the commission fee imposed on beer is the same for all breweries, regardless of the size. The intent of this legislation is that it will give the Liquor Corporation the ability to set a preferential rate for small brewers, which will encourage the retention and the expansion of this particular small craft brewery industry. The new rates will be set up the board of directors of NLC.

There has been a significant amount of consultation as it relates to his proposed amendment. We have also had a fair bit of representation from the industry as well, including the major breweries. This is something that has been ongoing for quite a while. As you know, we have local wineries as well as local breweries in the Province. This is as much an effort to encourage the growth of that industry and recognize specifically the fact that it is made here in Newfoundland, doing it right here in Newfoundland. We would like the ability to give the NLC the opportunity to provide a preferential rate. Again, this would allow them to do appropriate markups on the sale of beer, wine and spirits, but also to facilitate the provision of preferential rates to the small breweries and the cottage wineries.

We have included the three cottage wineries: Markland Cottage Winery, Flynn's Winery; Weil Winery, and also Quidi Vidi Brewing Company. They have all made separate requests to government to reduce the commission rates on their products so that they can have a preferential rate. As you know, they do not have the same financial backing of the larger industry.

Again, it is something that we see as good for Newfoundland, good for rural and urban Newfoundland, and one that we would encourage support of.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I guess, looking at (inaudible) authority, it sets the rate of gross profit under the old act, or before the amendment, as it currently stands right now. It says: "38.(3) The rate of gross profit for the purposes of subsection (2) may be determined by the board." Of course, that is still going to be done. It is still going to be determined by the board, but, I say to them, it sets different rates or different types or classes of beer or based upon different quantities of beer produced by a brewer.

For the purpose of subsection (2), and just for clarification, in subsection (2) it makes reference to - that is in the act there. That is not in the bill but it is in the act. In other words, whatever it may be the gross profit accruing to the corporation cannot be less because of this, basically. Subsection (2) states: "A brewer, before the delivery of beer, shall collect and forward together with the monthly return referred to in section 35, in respect of beer to be delivered by him or her either by sale or by gift under a licence issued under this Act or the Liquor Control Act to persons other than the corporation, an amount equal to the gross profit which would have accrued to the corporation if the beer had been sold by the corporation."

In other words, it is still going to maintain, I would assume because of that, at least the same gross profit back to the corporation. You cannot alter that. What was the main reason for doing this, setting different rates for different types of classes of beer? Were there some problems in the functioning of the system right now or some were not necessarily included in the umbrella - I think the minister made some reference to that - or is it a combination of both? Does the minister hear what I am asking?

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: There are two pieces to what you are asking. First of all, the group we are talking about here probably represents about 1 per cent of the sales. I think there is a sense that even if you were to reduce the rates, the market would either increase in that 1 per cent or we would get it in the other pieces of the industry. So, it is not meant to decrease the actual profits.

In the other piece, what you are talking -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Yes, it would maintain it but there is no belief that you would lose profits by doing this. In fact, you would probably increase them because it would be more attractive. The reason why they are asking is simply because, as I said in my preamble, they have a much more difficult time. They do not have the size of the two larger industries, particularly the breweries that we are talking about. Even in discussions with them, they are fairly confident that it will not do a lot to impact their market or their sales, and it will not impact our sales as it relates to profits to the Liquor Corporation.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) right?

MS J.M. AYLWARD: The board -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MS J.M. AYLWARD: No, it was a flat rate. That is the difference. Before it was a flat rate - this gives -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Right. This amendment provides NLC with the opportunity to set preferential rates. Previously that was not there, it was a flat rate across the board. So that is the big piece to this amendment.

MR. SULLIVAN: Provided it doesn't affect the gross profit, because that is what subsection (2) says (inaudible).

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Yes. What they have told us, when we asked about it, because they assume less than 1 per cent of the market they are not in any way worried that it will impact on their profits at all. In fact, they believe there will be - you know how the balance goes, you decrease one and raise the other. So that is not a concern.

I move closure for second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Liquor Corporation Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 13)

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

MR. LUSH: Order 13, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

MR. REID: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is just a simple change. It was a technical omission when the act was first drawn up. The current definition of aquaculture means the cultivation of aquatic plants and animals. The definition did not include, when it was drafted, the deployment of equipment such as cages and stat collectors and such. What we are asking to do is change the definition to include the putting of nets and such in the water before aquaculturists get their permit because under the current act an individual could go out and set gear. We did not have any legislation governing that. We just want to change the definition to include that section as well.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I guess it was defined initially, aquaculture, in the general sense of what aquaculture is. I did not get a chance to go through the act actually. I am just substituting. I am not sure, when it gets to committee, if our critic has any questions. I did not go back to the previous act. I just read the definition here. The minister indicates that it is just making it more inclusive now. That if you are going to do aquaculture you must have certain definitions of gear to participate in aquaculture. These are going to get defined under the act now because there can be different interpretations of what constitutes acceptable aquacultural equipment or gear to use in the aquacultural industry.

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

MR. REID: Thank you.

You are somewhat right. What has happened in the past is that before we had an opportunity, us and the federal government, to investigate the applicant or the application for an aquaculture permit, the applicant has gone and set his gear in the water prior to being given permission. We had nothing under the act to prevent him from doing that. It has caused some trouble for fishers and others. We want to be able to amend the act so that it would include the placing of the gear in the water prior to them getting the permit. Basically, that is all that is to it; so that we can have some control over the placing of gear in the water before the permit is issued.

MR. SPEAKER: There being no further debate, is it the pleasure of this House that this bill be now read a second time?

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Aquaculture 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. LUSH: Motion 1, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion 1, that the hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board to move: That This House Approves in General the Budgetary Policy of the Government. The Budget Speech.

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

Yes, indeed I do have something to say about the budget this year. I have the Budget document in my hand.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: You are not the Premier anymore. What are you now? You are not the Government House Leader. You are the deputy premier. The Member for Bonavista North says: I love this Budget. Not as much as he does, I can guarantee you that.

I am going to make a few comments right from the Budget here now.

MR. TULK: Jack, you would love (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Not if it looked like you, I say to the Member for Bonavista North. I would not like a little puppy if it looked like you.

He is only trying to distract me from the real issues.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) like you.

MR. J. BYRNE: She loved me. A mother's love is a blessing.

Mr. Speaker, on page 3 in the Budget, it says: "This reduced net out-migration to 2,077, its lowest level in almost a decade and well below the average annual historical level of 3,750 in the 20 year period prior to early 1990s." They are talking about the out-migration and the impact that this would have on this budget. I am curious to see what the numbers are going to be for this year, when the new numbers come out, when we see family after family leaving in droves from rural communities in Newfoundland and Labrador.

It says here: "Exports continue to account for over half of growth, driven in 2000 by the first year of full production at Hibernia..." Again, what does that really mean for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador? When you talk about Hibernia, we have the money that is being made on that, the revenues that we are taking in here - not nearly what they should be, by the way. Clawbacks, equalization, are all being impacted. For every buck we make on Hibernia the federal government - the Liberal Government in Ottawa, the cousins of the crowd on the other side - is taking back eighty cents. Pardon?

MR. ROSS WISEMAN: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: The Member for Trinity North asked me if I read this. Yes, I say to the Member for Trinity North, I have read this; as he can see with certain things highlighted. I would say he had difficulty reading it, Mr. Speaker, because there would not have been enough pictures in it for him to understand.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. J. BYRNE: Now, Mr. Speaker, you talk about -

AN HON. MEMBER: ( Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, right.

Mr. Speaker, also it talks about our fiscal framework. Now, this is the one that I am really curious about. It says -

MR. TULK: Jack, listen (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to the Member for Bonavista North, he is throwing across accusations. He is inferring things across this House of Assembly, but when the real story comes out and he wises up to what is going on - he may even have a little conversation to the person next to him - he may realize and understand what is going on to the person to his left. So maybe you should have a conversation with her.

Anyway, our fiscal framework, Mr. Speaker.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: She is not there right now. I cannot refer to people who are not in the House. I am not suppose to do that. I am sure she will return. Ask her, she will explain it to you.

Anyway, our fiscal framework; I am reading from the Budget: "With the strong provincial and national economies in 2000, we will slightly better our deficit target for the year just ending. At $32.7 million, the deficit for 200-01 is $2 million lower than forecast last year." Now, let's get to the real figures. I remember standing up in this House of Assembly last year, when I was the critic for finance, and saying that the real deficit to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador was over $200 million, I say to the deputy premier. They said it was $34 million last year, I believe they said. This year they are saying it is $32.7 million. Last year when we said that it was over $200 million, what happened? Who confirmed it for us? Who confirmed it, I say to the deputy premier? No other than the Auditor General, who came back and said it was, I believe, a $221 million deficit last year. The real figures.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: You talk about fancy bookkeeping, Mr. Speaker. Last year it was $221 million. Also, further to that, we had the government's own auditor come out and agree with the Auditor General, that it was $221 million. Yet, they are trying to led the people to believe that last year it was $221 million and this year $32.7 million. Now, I am saying that the real figures - and I will say it here again on May 7, is it? The real deficit to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador - and I am sure it will be confirmed again next year by the Auditor General and by the Province's own auditor - is $300 million; over $300 million again this year. That is with respect to this year's budget. Talk about fancy bookkeeping, playing with the books, and doctoring the books, Mr. Speaker. I suppose it is what we would refer to as creative bookkeeping. To put it politely, creative bookkeeping.

MR. TULK: ( Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: I say to the Member for Bonavista North, he should be careful in the words he is using.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I am going to talk about this year's budget and talk about the policies that have been stolen or taken, and rightly so, from our policy manual in the last election. In the last election we made certain statements that were ridiculed, laughed at, said it was impossible, could not be done. Where are we going to get the money, Mr. Speaker? That is the question. Where are we going to get the money? And, what happens? Let me tell you a few things now.

I will go through this policy manual, this 1999 policy document: Policy That Works! Policies that the Liberal government of the day said were impossible to do. I will just refer to a few here now. It says here: "A PC Government will immediately reduce the personal income tax rate by 5 percentage points..." Now that is what we said. What did they say during the election? Can't be done. Where are you going to get the money? Impossible to do. What programs are you going to cut? What programs are you going to cut in schools? What hospital programs are you going to cut? What did they do, Mr. Speaker? I think within sixty or ninety days, after they formed the government, they brought in a policy in the budget that year saying: We are going to cut income tax. They ridiculed us; it couldn't be done.

The Premier of the Province, the current Premier of the Province - there have been so many in the past six months that it is hard to keep track. Anyway, the current Premier said that what he is going to do is, adopt all our policies within the next two years and then we would have nothing to do. Now, that will tell you want kind of brain thrust that crowd has on the other side of the House.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: What?

MR. TULK: He is trying to make you happy.

MR. J. BYRNE: He is trying to make me happy?

The problem here is that the Liberal government are void of ideas. They cannot come up with any themselves. Criticize us for our policies and then go and implement them. Now, what does that say?

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you saying we are getting desperate (inaudible)?

MR. J. BYRNE: I will tell you what I am saying: they are starting to wise up. They know the writing is on the wall. The next thing is, you are going to hear a few of them say to us: Boys, I think you have good policies. You people have good policies. I think I can support those policies. I have to support them. I think I am going to have to walk across the House to help you support them. I wonder when that may happen? I wonder.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is now the recommended nighttime reading (inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Oh, yes, I would say. It is being distributed that there are members on that side now going to start saying: Yes, good policies. We have no ideas on this side of the House of Assembly.

That is what they are going to say over there, and then they are going to cross to us.

MR. HEDDERSON: They read every press release that we have put out.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, every press release.

MR. HEDDERSON: I know that for a fact.

MR. J. BYRNE: Talking about the press releases being read, I say to the Member for -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, they are throwing back and forth across the House about our press releases, so obviously they must read them. They are very concerned about them. Of course, from our press releases we develop our policies.

Here is another one. Just listen to this. FOR THE RECORD - in our policy manuel - "A PC Government will eliminate the payroll tax..." Again in the last election, and the former Minister of Fisheries is the one who said this - the current Premier, the Minister of Finance, the former Minister of Health, all of these people are going to cut the payroll tax. Where are you going to get the money?

If you are going cut the payroll tax, you have to cut programs. Again, you have to cut school programs, you have to cut hospital programs and services, you have to cut works, services and transportation and all of these things. Again, what happened? As soon as the election was over and the first Budget came down, they said they are going to go towards cutting the payroll tax.

We said, at the time it was implemented - when this was brought in, by the way, I was in private business, and you talk about a regressive tax, a tax on jobs. That is the kind of idea that this crowd on the other side of the House comes up with, regressive taxes. Now they are here, years later, trying to destroy or get rid of the damage, I suppose, that they have done, and try to smooth it over. They are saying: We are cutting the payroll tax. What more do you want us to do? They implemented the payroll tax in the first place.

Now, let's keep her going here and see what is on the go. Labour Relations Policy: "A PC Government will increase the minimum wage after commissioning a review to determine what the appropriate level should be." Again, during the last election: it cannot be done. Why? Where are you getting the money? It is too hard on small businesses, and all these types of things. What did they do? I think it was last year or the year before - since the last election - they increased the minimum wage. I think it is up to $5.50 now. I do not know how people can live on it, to be honest with you. Again, it should probably be looked at to be increased somewhat more.

FOR THE RECORD: - under Children and Their Families - here is one. I cannot believe this. "A PC Government will immediately establish an Office of the Children's Advocate." Where did we hear that lately, I wonder? Did you hear that anywhere lately? They are going to establish a Child Advocate. I think it was in this year's Budget. Was that in this Budget? No they could not do that two years ago, another PC policy taken -

MR. ROSS WISEMAN: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Pardon?

MR. ROSS WISEMAN: It is starting to get frightening. You are starting to think like us.

MR. J. BYRNE: Starting to think like you crowd? If I started to think like you crowd over there, I say to the Member for Trinity North - I am so glad, when I was Mayor down in Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove, that we put guard rails all around those cliffs down around Logy Bay so no more cars could go over. I appreciate - at least look forward to - the foresight that I had at the time. Think like you crowd? Not likely. You guys are starting to think like this side over here. The proof is in the pudding, in the Budget here, the policies here. Technically what you could have easily done was, just take our policy manual, rip the cover off and insert it into a red cover. Done! Then you would be doing something.

I am happy that you are doing these things. It is about time. It is like the former Premier, Joseph Smallwood, used to do years and years ago, thirty or forty years ago, whenever it was, repeat, repeat, repeat and it sinks in. It takes a lot more repetition for it to sink into you crowd over there, I say.

Also, "A PC Government will immediately establish a Child and Youth Secretariat..." I would imagine that is next on the list, is it, for that crowd over there?

AN HON. MEMBER: Just ask Minister Kelly.

MR. J. BYRNE: Minister Kelly?

AN HON. MEMBER: The Youth Advisory Committee.

MR. J. BYRNE: Oh, yes. There is more than this here. I have so much here.

AN HON. MEMBER: She is putting one together.

MR. J. BYRNE: The Minister of Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education is saying - where is it?

AN HON. MEMBER: Just read it to her again. She is not listening.

MR. J. BYRNE: "A PC Government will immediately establish a Child and Youth Secretariat...", which I understand now that the minister of the new department is looking at, seriously looking at. She must have read our policy manual there a few weeks ago.

Here is another one. It has finally started sinking in. Remember when the former Premier Tobin was there, the former Premier Clyde Wells was there, and the present.... They go out and come up with these ideas right out of the blue, on the spur of the moment, out of the Blue Book, a policy, Mr. Speaker, no forethought given to it.

"A PC Government will mandate the Department of Education to consult widely within the community at large and among stakeholders in the educational field...." Where? What did they do?

AN HON. MEMBER: Like they did with language arts.

MR. J. BYRNE: It is easy to say, if you would go out and do it. There is no point in listening, having all these public meetings and not listening.

I attended a public meeting on education in my district last week, last Wednesday night. I had the school board down. The same meeting, word for word, if somebody had a microphone on it, or a tape recorder, as two years ago, almost the exact same thing, the same comments made two years ago. They came up with this grand scheme to do certain things and now all out the window. If you are going to be having these meetings, public meetings, public consultations, it is a waste of time if you are not going to listen to the advice that has been given by these individuals.

Under Justice: "A PC government is committed to two strong police forces in this province - the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary...." How often do we ask in this House of Assembly that the RNC, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, be given the respect that they deserve?

Here they are, a police force that went to negotiations with the government and an agreement, a contract, was signed with those people and then it was cancelled. A certain rate increase cancelled just like that. No respect. Now they are coming up - we have asked for it many, many times that at least they give them binding arbitration. It could not be done. Can't do that, Mr. Speaker. What is happening now? Binding arbitration for the RNC. I hope that if and when they get an agreement on their salaries, or whatever, that it is not cancelled again, torn apart and thrown out the window like you did the last time. This Administration is not to be trusted. They are not to be trusted.

For the record: "A PC Government will not force amalgamation on any municipality against the wishes of its residents." We said that two years ago, over two years ago, but the members on that side of the House were wishy-washy at the time, weren't they? Wishy-washy. They will not back us up and say that; but no, what has happened now since the new Premier came in place? What has he said? There will be no forced amalgamation.

MR. SULLIVAN: What?

MR. J. BYRNE: That is what he said.

MR. SULLIVAN: Who said that?

MR. J. BYRNE: The current Premier. No forced amalgamation, therefore adopting another one of our policies. It just goes on and on and on. Let me see if I can find a few more here now.

Under Water Export in our policy manual, over two years ago, I say to the Member for Trinity North, it says: "A PC Government will introduce legislation to ensure all fresh water exported from Newfoundland and Labrador is first fully processed in Newfoundland and Labrador..."

At the time when we first brought this up, the Member for St. John's South, of course, was ridiculed again, belittled. Foolishness! The Free Trade Agreement has no impact on this; but finally, after many, many, many times brought up in this House of Assembly, public issues, public meetings, all of these things, the government backed off and agreed with us that there should not be exporting of bulk water out of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I am a bit concerned about this one though, I have to say. The current Premier gets elected as Premier by 600 delegates or something at the convention - I think the former Minister of Fisheries over there is quite familiar with that - and he comes back out and makes the statement: Maybe we should have another look at this. They might have been better off if they had elected the former Minister of Fisheries. I do not think he would have made as many mistakes publicly as the current Premier.

Also Accountable Government. It says here, "FOR THE RECORD: A PC Government will release to the public, within 30 days of receiving it, every government-commissioned report by a panel, review committee, task force, consultation process, or commission..." The current Premier says that, and he campaigned on having straight answers and real solutions. He campaigned as becoming Premier of the Province on accountability, being open and forthright. I see that he even has the bottle of water there. That is not a problem.

He talked about being open and forthright to the public of Newfoundland and Labrador, but the first time that he had the chance to be open, he did not do anything about it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: No, he didn't, he wouldn't. We are still looking for information from him on different issues.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who is that? Who are you talking about?

MR. J. BYRNE: The current Premier.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, Premier Grimes.

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes.

MR. ROSS WISEMAN: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Well, there is quite a bit. The Member for Trinity North, Mr. Speaker, would like to know what else he has to do. Well, here is one thing, I will tell you, you have to do, start giving a bit more respect to the former Minister of Fisheries, and support him like he supported you. You might end up doing it yet. You may end up having to support him yet. I would not rule that out if I were you.

AN HON. MEMBER: I already (inaudible) that.

MR. J. BYRNE: Did you? Okay.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the former, former, former Premier, Clyde Wells - PC government in power, we had a Child Advocate. We talked about an Ombudsman. That former, former, former Premier destroyed that office - scrap it, get rid of it, don't need it. Now in our policy manual, it says, "A PC Government will immediately reinstate an Office of the Ombudsman..."

MR. SULLIVAN: But we haven't seen the legislation yet.

MR. J. BYRNE: No, we have not seen the legislation.

What do you think is in the Budget this year? Well, they are going to reinstate the Ombudsman. Rightly so. We have to have people standing up. We have a job to do as MHAs and we do it well, most of us; at least on this side of the House we all do it well. I am not sure about that side of the House though.

Here is one - and this government has been seriously lacking on this issue, on this topic - when the PC government was in power, they brought in the Public Tender Act, because of the shenanigans that went on with the previous Liberal government back in the 1960s and early 1970s. A few years ago when the former, former, former Premier and a few of the Cabinet ministers here decided that they would circumvent the Public Tender Act, not honor the Public Tender Act, and then award a contract to Trans City about the construction of hospitals in Newfoundland and Labrador, the contractors who did not get the work took them to court. What happened? Four-and-a-half million dollars later, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador had to pay out - it was proven in civil court that the government broke their own legislation. So what did they do? They changed the legislation to destroy the Public Tender Act.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The member's time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: By leave, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Does the member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

MR. J. BYRNE: And I was just going to give the member some compliments over there.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. J. BYRNE: It's by leave?

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. J. BYRNE: Oh, I got it. Thank you.

Anyway, they brought in legislation to destroy the Public Tender Act, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: He told me I had leave.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the minister - the hon. the Member for Port de Grave.

MR. EFFORD: I wish I were. I withdrew leave and I am a Member of this House.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

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

I want to participate for a few moments in the Budget debate. We started this session of the House on March 13 or thereabouts, and we started off with the Speech from the Throne. Mr. Speaker, I made some notes on that particular day when we got copies of the Speech from the Throne because it said, the Lieutenant-Governor speaking the words written for him by the government ministers, "...My Government is setting out on a clear work plan which will affirm public confidence as it completes the mandate given in the General Election of 1999."

Now, Mr Speaker, I have not seen a great deal of public confidence in this government in recent times. You only have to listen to the public airways. You have to be cognizant of what is being said on the streets of Newfoundland and Labrador. You had to be aware of what happened down in Twillingate this past weekend.

AN HON. MEMBER: What happened?

MR. H. HODDER: When had a little fund raiser for the Progressive Conservative Party in Twillingate on Friday evening, Mr. Speaker, the place just sold out. It sold right out. In fact, the largest public building in Twillingate had been engaged, other than a building such as the church, that kind of facility, and it was filled to capacity. It was so large that the Progressive Conservative Party brought along a banner and there just wasn't space available in the room to be able to hang this particular banner. So what the people down there did, they hung it outside the building.

MR. SULLIVAN: Where was that?

MR. H. HODDER: In Twillingate this past weekend.

Mr. Speaker, I started off with my few comments here talking about the second paragraph in the Speech from the Throne where it starts off talking about affirming public confidence in this government. Well, I think that what the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have done, they have affirmed the lack of public confidence in this particular government.

Mr. Speaker, I will, if I have time, get through the entire speech. It says here, the third paragraph - this is a very interesting paragraph - it says: "The people of Newfoundland and Labrador are entering a period of change..." They are entering a change alright. They certainly are. They are entering a period of change when the PC Party can go out in Twillingate and fill a hall to capacity and have to tell people: No, we are sorry, we cannot give you tickets because the space is not available. When we can oversell and we have to tell people that, no, no, no, you have to wait until the next time we have a public function in Twillingate, Mr. Speaker, I would say the people in Newfoundland and Labrador are anxious. This is incorrect here because it says they are entering a period of change. It should have read, we are anxious for a period of change. That certainly is what we should be talking about.

Mr. Speaker, the fourth paragraph in this particular Speech from the Throne says: "We will keep that trust with a plan of action that delivers results." I will repeat that again. The government's Speech from the Throne said, fourth paragraph - I have dealt with the first three paragraphs. The first paragraph is welcome to the Legislature. That was a really interesting paragraph. That was made up of nine words. The second paragraph said they were going to affirm public confidence. The third paragraph said Newfoundland and Labrador is entering a period of change. The fourth paragraph, in its entirety, and I will read it again. "We will keep that trust with a plan of action that delivers results." Now, Mr. Speaker, I would ask myself the question: Results for whom? Who are the results for ?

Lets talk about the hospitals where we know we have a shortage of nurses. Lets talk about the fact that there are huge waiting lists. The other day I asked some questions in the House which the now Minister of Finance and the former Minister of Health found really funny. In fact she made fun of the, I do not know if it was the questions or the questioner, or maybe both, and she thought it was ridiculous of me to be asking questions that dealt with the crowded conditions at the maternity ward in the hospital here, the Health Sciences Centre. As a matter of fact, since then there have been calls to Open Line saying that what we were saying here was true; that having four mothers, four babies and an average of three visitors, in one room measuring fourteen by twenty is unacceptable. We know that at least two other articles have appeared in The Telegram. Mr. Speaker, it is a real issue. We have a plan of action that delivers results. We deliver a crowded room with four beds, four mothers and, of course -

MR. HEDDERSON: You are playing on words. Delivers! Delivers! (Inaudible) deliver babies.

MR. H. HODDER: As my friend, my colleague here from Harbour Main-Whitbourne, indicates, the word deliver here has a lot of connotations when we are talking about the issue of the maternity ward at the Health Sciences Centre. So, deliver results for who?

Then of course, we talk about the shortage of nurses. Mr. Speaker, certainly we have to be very cognizant of the fact that we could do with a lot more nurses in our hospitals in Newfoundland and Labrador. Then I wrote down here on that very afternoon; I said: Ask the family who has waited for more than an hour for an ambulance. On the day we were having this there was an incident that happened whereby a family had been waiting for a very long time for an ambulance to arrive. Or, for example, the fact that you could have a lady sent from Grand Falls to the Health Sciences Centre, and when she arrives by ambulance to the Health Sciences Centre after having a heart attack is told: No, we do not have a bed for you. She waits for forty minutes out in the ambulance only to be told: We are going to transfer you to another hospital. That happened to a family member of mine only a short while ago.

AN HON. MEMBER: She survived?

MR. H. HODDER: Yes, she did. She most certainly did.

Mr Speaker, talk about delivering results! Talk to those people I have met in the last weeks who have family members who are in hospital. I spent a lot of time in the last few weeks at St. Clare's and I know a little bit about how that facility is operating, at least in certain wards down there.

Mr. Speaker, we should talk about delivering results, talk to those teachers that have to deliver a program when they have inadequate teaching materials. What does that mean for the quality of education in Newfoundland and Labrador, when we send out a curriculum guideline and we have teachers going all over the place trying to find resources? We have some wonderful people in the Department of Education who come up with various guidelines for curriculum but then we have to have teachers who are photocopying material. We do not have adequate supports for the curriculum that is set out and then, of course, we also do not have adequate supports for children who have special needs.

Mr. Speaker, there probably will never be enough support for all of the children in the school system. We recognize that, but when we listen to what parents are saying and what the school system is saying certainly, I believe we can do a lot better than we are doing.

Going on with the fourth paragraph in the Speech from the Throne, I said here: Ask the people who live in rural Newfoundland. I just happen to have been in Marystown for the weekend, visiting my mother, and I was told that just this past week there are another five or six families who have moved from the Burin Peninsula and are on their way to Ontario or to Western Canada. So, talk about the people who have had to leave Newfoundland, primarily from rural Newfoundland, to find jobs in other parts of the country, or the U.S., or elsewhere.

When we talk about people who are unemployed, we think about the people in Marystown at the shipyard, where a few years ago there were as many as 1,100 people employed. I note that the member from the Liberal side of the House has put a private members' motion on the paper for Wednesday - the second such motion that she has put forward in the last year or so. There was one last year with a similar theme, again asking the federal government to allocate some monies to make sure that we have an adequate shipbuilding policy for this country.

Mr. Speaker, we certainly have no hesitation in supporting that kind of motion. Of course, we also would like to remind the House that last fall we had an election and the former Premier left his seat here and said he wanted to go back to Ottawa because he was going to do something about some of those issues. Well, we have not heard much from that Premier on those issues since then. Basically, we have not had much action.

When we talk about the first page of the Speech from the Throne, we do not have much here that indicates anything that would make the people of Newfoundland and Labrador very happy or very content, and certainly not much by way of reasons why the people of Newfoundland and Labrador should have any confidence at all in this particular government.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to go to the third page. On the third page there is an interesting sentence. It says, "A key focus of My Government..." - again the Lieutenant-Governor is delivering the Speech - "...in this Session of the House of Assembly will be to create a greater level of trust, openness and accountability." We have been asking questions now for almost two months. It is just about two months since we came into this House, minus the few days that we were off for Easter. We are all waiting for that greater level of trust. We are all waiting for that greater level of openness and accountability. Every single day we, on this side of the House, ask questions, and every single day we are amazed with how effective the government is in not giving answers.

We have had to pry the government to get information on various issues. We had one minister stand in his place on Thursday, for example, in debate, and I quote who said, "I want to set the record straight, that there is no unsafe drinking water in this Province. In fact, we have good quality water in this Province."

Mr. Speaker, that happened to be the Minister Responsible for the Environment. Then, a few days later, we had the Premier standing in his place with a Ministerial Statement saying he is going to appoint a task force to look at all of the issues surrounding water quality in Newfoundland and Labrador.

It is a case of where we have to ask ourselves exactly what is this government doing when one minister stands up and says one thing and three days later the Premier finds it necessary to issue a Ministerial Statement saying he has this big task force that he is going to have appointed to look at the issue? Obviously, that is not very much in terms of a greater level of trust that would be instilled between the individual and the government.

In terms of openness and accountability, we only have to look at the Auditor General's report. Certainly, the Auditor General does not give this government very much by way of good marks when it comes to either openness and accountability; it does not really go and give any of us reasons to have confidence. When you look at the issues that were raised by the Auditor General, you have to ask yourself: Where is the openness? Where is the accountability?

That statement on page 3 of the Speech from the Throne is certainly nice sounding words, but it has not been backed up by actions either in Question Period - the answers have not been forthcoming - or in speeches in the House.

I will give one point that I am pleased to see. In this session we have had more government members stand in their place and speak on debate than we have ever had since I have been here in the last eight years. That is a positive thing and, I say, that is good to see.

I say to the Government House Leader - I see him nodding over there that is noted because, since I have been here the last eight years, it has only been very rare that backbenchers have stood in their place and said: Yes, I want to have a few words to say. Maybe they are practicing for the time when we will have television in the House. They do not want to come into the House in the fall and be totally greenhorns, you see, so they are getting ready for it. This is their practice sessions for the TV in the House, or cameras in the House, come next fall.

Many people on that side do not need any practice, but some might believe that they get a little bit more confidence. Regardless of whether that is the reason or not, it is good to see that on that side of the House there have been more people getting up and speaking perhaps in this session than there was in all the other sessions put together, which is encouraging. I give the Government House Leader credit for that, because it has been noted on this side of the House and I think it is an encouraging thing to see.

Mr. Speaker, back to the Auditor General. I am not going to go over all of this report, obviously. I cannot, I only have a few minutes, but it is significant that we should note that many of the Crown corporations are not answerable to the government and not answerable to the House of Assembly. Most of them are not answerable to anybody.

Our policy on this side has been very clear. If you take the public's money, you had better be accountable to the public. If you do not want to be accountable to the public, then don't take the public's money. One of the policies we will have when we become the government in a few months is that we will change a few of these things, because we will be very clear that if any Crown corporation wants to access the public purse, they can only do it if they are quite prepared to (a) be identified as to how much money they take. If someone takes $150,000 out of the public Treasury, it should be written down and identified. You should not have it all hidden in some innocuous report, hidden in the basement part of Confederation Building somewhere. If you take the public's money: (a) you are going to be identified as taking the money; and (b) you are going to be accountable to the public of Newfoundland and Labrador. If you want our money, tell us what you did with it. It is as simple as that. None of this thing that, well, we have a report but we do not want to share it.

The Auditor General makes it quite clear. She says that most of the Crown corporations do not go and submit reports to the House of Assembly. The authorization comes from here but the reports do not come back here. That has to stop.

For example, looking at Memorial University, Memorial University, for all the money they receive, they are not answerable to this House of Assembly except indirectly through the Minister of Education.

There was an act passed back in the early part of the 1990s, or the mid-1990s, which exempted Memorial University from being accountable to the Public Accounts Committee. That has to change. That is not accountability. That is not acceptable. That has to change.

I can say with some degree of firmness, and some degree of certainty, that when we become the government very shortly there will be real change in this Province. There will be real change. It will not be the kind of thing we see that happened with the university. Take the money - and we are not talking here about infringement on their right to run their programs, or anything like that. Not at all. We are saying that this has nothing to do with infringement on the university's right to run its programs. All we are saying is, if you take the money from the public Treasury, then you have to somehow show how you spend it. It is not to interfere with research and development. It is not to say that you cannot have some professors who are researching things that might not be totally acceptable to members of this House, or even interesting to members of this House - not at all - but it is saying that at least we have to have some degree of accountability from the university to this particular Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, I did note with some delight as well - I am only up as far as page 3 yet - that the government did announce in the Speech from the Throne that they were going to have the creation of the Office of the Ombudsman.

I well remember questions being asked from this side of the House in the last number of years on the Ombudsman. I remember a lengthy dissertation being made by a Minister of Finance at the time, saying that no, no, no, we did not need an Ombudsman. In fact, a former Premier said on the Open Line shows, the MHAs were the answer to having an Ombudsman.

Mr. Speaker, we on this side appointed an Ombudsman back during our term. We are not saying that every issue the Ombudsman looked into was, in itself, a great big issue. We are not saying that every issue would have made the front page of The Telegram, but we are saying it is important for the people to have an independent person who they can bring their concerns to and they can feel that their voice is being heard.

MR. EFFORD: That is what you are getting paid for.

MR. H. HODDER: The former Minister of Fisheries says that is what I am getting paid for, and that is true. I am here to take calls.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the member that his time is up.

MR. H. HODDER: Already?

MADAM SPEAKER: Already.

MR. H. HODDER: Already, Madam Speaker? It is regrettable, but I will have to take my seat.

MADAM SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Windsor-Springdale.

MR. HUNTER: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

It is a pleasure again today to rise and speak on the Budget debate. I appreciate the time in the House of Assembly to do this on behalf of my constituents and on behalf of my district. When we get up to speak, we realize the issues in our district and we realize the importance of what government can do to act on the issues; to act on the things that need to be done in our districts.

Madam Speaker, I realize in my district that some things cannot wait; some issues cannot wait to be resolved. They cannot go on for a long period of time without government acting on it and resolving the issues and doing something about the problems, particularly when it comes to our youth in our district and what our youth can contribute to our Province.

We see too often today where youth are being shipped out of this Province because there are no jobs available for them. There is no way that they can live in our communities in rural Newfoundland and Labrador today, because we are not doing enough to enhance our resources, to get the maximum benefit out of our resources in this Province, and there are a lot of things with respect to all of our resources in this Province that we can do to create thousands and thousands of jobs for our young people.

Madam Speaker, I know through all of these natural resources in the Province, we sometimes overlook them. There might be just a simple resource, probably a bakeapple or a blueberry or some type of resource like that, that if we really put our heads together and think about the value of these smaller resources, the value that we can get from them by enhancing the development of these resources and therefore creating thousands of jobs for our young people, thousands of jobs for our residents, putting millions of dollars into the government coffers and therefore, providing the necessary services that we need for the people of our Province. Not only do the simple resources contribute to our economy and our workforce, some of the larger resources that we have need a lot of work and enhancement done to make sure that we get the maximum benefits from these resources.

There are a lot of resources that are non-renewable and renewable. We see today with our water resources, the things that can be done from that. We can enhance, in the Province today, our water resources to create electricity to make industry run; to create different aspects in industry to make sure that industry is viable and competitive. We see that a lot in respect to some of the big industries, such as our Pulp and Paper mill in Central Newfoundland, and with the water resources we have on the Exploits River and Red Indian Lake area. I know this resource has been harnessed for the production of paper in the Grand Fall-Windsor mill, and that this lease and agreement is coming up for renewal. We must be responsible and must make sure that this resource is there for what it was intended to do.

In the beginning, when they harnessed the water resources in the Exploits River to produce pulp and paper, and wood products in the Grand Falls-Windsor mill - this is such an important issue that we just cannot sit by and wait until something happens before we realize that it is too late to change the legislation, to change the law. We must make sure that when legislation and law is put in place dealing with our water resources, that it is done in a way that protects our mill in Grand Falls-Windsor, and protects the jobs that are in that mill now and that are going to be there for a long time. Even though we see the company, the unions and other stakeholders involved trying to work out deals protecting the jobs, we just cannot sit by and wait until it rises and jobs are in jeopardy again. We must act on it now so that this legislation is done correctly with respect to the hydro developments on the Exploits River in Central Newfoundland.

There are a lot of other issues in our resources when it comes to some of the bigger industries. I think we must periodically have inquiries into how these big industries work and how these big industries take advantage of our resources; and how inquiries can make sure that what these companies and industries are doing is for the betterment of our people and produce the maximum amount of money to our people and the maximum amount of jobs for people. I think we need to have more industrial inquiries into these businesses and not wait until it is too late; not wait until companies get in trouble and then are faced with the prospect of them closing down and eliminating hundreds of jobs. I think we should do it when we recognize that there is a problem in any industry, no matter what it is: the fishery, papermaking, boat-building. It does not matter what the industry is, we must be conscious in realizing that sooner or later an industry needs to be watched. We need to be careful watchdogs with our industries, careful watchdogs with our resources, to make sure that everything is maximized to its maximum benefit and that companies do not leave this Province with their pockets full, with a devastation of jobs and a future that could be eliminated in rural Newfoundland because industry figures say it is not maximumly profitable for them to stay, even though they have been making lots of money and have profited a lot. Now, when they get in a bit of a bind, they pull up stakes and leave us without making sure that these resources are maximized.

Madam Speaker, there are a lot of issues that we could speak on that would reflect on our budget, especially when it comes to delivering services to the people and delivering the type of services that people require and expect. They expect these services to be at hand when they need them. A lot of these services are in health care with respect to surgical operations and tests. A lot of my constituents and a lot of constituents in other districts that I talked to, are really concerned about the fact that the tests and surgeries they need are so far away from where they live. When they have to travel all the way from one end of the Province to the east coast, to St. John's, to have a test or an operation done and find out, when they are here, that they will have to go home and be rescheduled. That creates a big problem for a lot of people who require that service. It is very costly to travel from one end of the Province to the other to avail of medical services. It is bad enough to have to come once to get it done, but when you have been cancelled and rescheduled and have to come back three, possibly four times, that creates a lot of hardship, particularly for seniors and fixed income people who are finding it hard enough to get here once, let alone four times.

We have to tighten up on the scheduling for medical services or any type of service that we supply to people in rural Newfoundland and Labrador because money is not easy to come by for fixed income people. Money is not easy to come by for seniors. The time they need to get here and the accommodations they need - we must tighten up on some of these appointments so that this does not happen too often.

I see in, not only my district, but even in the Premier's district, air quality in schools. We have a situation in Bishop's Falls, in the Premier's district, where air quality is very poor. There is a big problem in the Leo Burke Academy. I get a lot of calls from the Exploits area, from the Bishop's Falls area, from parents who are very concerned about the air quality at that school. We must make sure that when we send our children to school that it is the best possible facility that we can achieve for them in that environment, so that they do not be sick when they are in that environment. No matter what district it is, we have to take the health of our children first and make sure that the sick school syndrome is addressed and addressed as soon a possible. We have to make sure that our kids are not subject to these environmental issues, and make sure that our kids do not come home sick and having to be out of school for any length of time because of the sickness that is caused by the sick school syndrome. When you see it, even in the Premier's district, it makes you wonder how in tune the government is to the needs of the people of this Province. How in tune is the government to the needs of our children? How in tune are they to the needs of our seniors and our fixed income people? How in tune are they to all the aspects, in all of our districts, of the social programs provided by government?

Madam Speaker, the issue keeps coming up by government: Where does the money come from? We see, all too often, a lot of money being wasted; a lot of money used in areas that we could be directing to some of the social programs and some of the services that we should be providing for our young people and seniors. If we do not do that, then I think we are not being responsible as elected people, by the people, to serve the people. That is when we should be accountable and answerable to the people who elected us, because if we go wasting money like that then we should not be here to represent the people. We should be here to help people, to make sure that the social programs are in place, make sure the services are available, not only in the bigger centers, but also in every area of the Province, regionally, that we can provide a service. Sometimes it is not easy to put a service in every part of the Island, but we do have to put them in areas where it is readily accessible, to a reasonable degree, so that people can eliminate some of the costs of getting to the services. I understand that it is a very difficult task to do that.

Madam Speaker, I have gotten a lot of complaints in the past year from people who took advantage of our health care services, and when they were in there, seen the unclean environment that some of our hospitals are in. When you look under the beds and see large amounts of dust collected and a large amount of foreign objects to hospitals, whatever it may be - there are things in there that should be cleaned out on a daily basis when you have people complaining that they do not think hospitals are clean and sanitary enough to prevent infections, which seems to be pretty common in our hospitals today. It is quite a big difference now than what it was thirty years ago, when you could go into a hospital and probably eat off the floor anywhere in the hospital. Today you see items in hospitals and items underneath the beds, in the washrooms and places, which certainly does not make a sanitary environment for sick people to be in when they are recovering from surgery, recovering from sickness when these conditions can cause infections, delayed treatments and delayed recoveries.

I think we have to go back to the old way of doing things in making sure that the resources, the money, the numbers of people are in our institutions to make sure that these institutions are kept sanitary and clean so that we do not have to deal with the issue of infections or diseases being passed on to other people. That is one thing in our budget we must be conscious of. When we do a budget we must make sure that these services and items are addressed so that we do not have to deal with disasters, I say, because if it happens that some disease is spread because we are not ready and are not doing a good enough job in keeping our hospitals clean, then that could be disastrous and a lot of people could be affected by it. Even in other services that we provide as governments - municipal, provincial, it does not matter what types of services that we provide - we must be responsible enough to make sure that when we supply services to our people that it is very safe.

I heard the Minister of Environment say today that there were not any water supplies in this Province which dealt with a large number of animals in the watershed area. Madam Speaker, I know one particularly, and it is right in the Premier's district. It is a place called Wooddale - it is a farming area - which does have a lot of animals in the area, and it is affecting the water supply. The water supply in the Town of Botwood is being affected by different chemicals, different things being leeched through the ground and going into their water supply. Maybe the minister does not know, maybe the Premier does not even know, how bad it is in his own district; how bad it is in the Town of Botwood with the water supply. So these are things we must be recognizing and some of the things we must keep an eye on to make sure that everything possible is done to make sure that these water supplies are protected. If there is a better way of doing it then we should pursue that way of doing things better for our communities with respect to our water supply.

Madam Speaker, as I was saying earlier, we cannot wait. Sometimes we try to put things off but we really cannot wait too long to have things done. We really cannot wait to create jobs down the road for our young people to keep them in this Province. We must do it now. We must look at ways of doing things now to keep our young people in this Province, Madam Speaker.

Agriculture is probably one of the areas where we can enhance that industry to create hundreds of jobs. We do have a lot of productive land in this Province. It seems like the government pays a lot of lip service to developing the forest industry and the agriculture industry, until it comes down to the crunch, to doing something meaningful to make sure that the land base is being used in a responsible way, and making sure that every inch of land that is productive can be put to use to create jobs for our youth and for the people in our Province.

It is so easy to do, Madam Speaker, because as you go around this Province today you can talk to people in other types of businesses that are saying, we are not being supplied with all of our needs when it comes to agriculture in this Province. I have spoken to people throughout the Province within the last few months who are saying that they cannot get vegetables, they cannot get potatoes or any other vegetables this time of the year, at a reasonable price, because we do not having the right type of storage facilities, cold storage facilities, in strategically located regional areas within the Province where farmers can produce a crop and then store it there for when the time comes to put it into the market.

There are a lot of things we can do with respect to agriculture to create hundreds of jobs, Madam Speaker, and use many acres of land, put it into production. Sometimes it takes a little bit of initiative and a little bit of help from government to make sure that farmers are given every opportunity, that they are supplied with every opportunity they can with respect to expertise, with respect to cutting the red tape, so that they can get in and do the development they need done, and not having to wait months and months and months to get through the system, to get through the red tape.

Government has pursued a way of getting through red tape for a few years ago, Madam Speaker, with the government services facilities, but still, with the lack of employees in these buildings, it still creates a problem for people to get through that red tape. We must make sure that human resources are in the offices and in the regions, and the expertise is in the regions, so that if we do have business minded people, industrial minded people that have good ideas, then we have to be there right on the spot, we have to be there to help them through the red tape, to help them to avail of any services, any funding, that government can put towards creating jobs, towards developing resources, towards developing our land base. Madam Speaker, that is the way we create jobs, not sit back and wait and let someone else handle the problems, let someone else deal with the problems, not let someone else be always complaining and always lobbying government.

We, as elected members in this House, should be responsible enough to know that when people of this Province have good ideas, and when people of this Province need a hand, when they need help to get in and do the things that they love doing, to do the things that they need to do, then we should be right on the spot, get right at the problem, get right into what they are doing, helping them out, reducing the red tape and getting them through the red tape. We would be surprised at how many jobs this would create. We would be very surprised, at the end of any period of time, how many people would not have to leave this Province. We would be very surprised, Madam Speaker, to see young people, instead of having to pack their bags, seeing them packing their lunch baskets and going out to work.

I think that is very important, that we do -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) against Gisborne Lake.

MR. HUNTER: I say to the hon. member and the minister, that I am not against Gisborne Lake for developing a water bottling plant and for creating hundreds of jobs bottling water at Gisborne Lake, Madam Speaker. I would say it would be a great idea and I would be there to support anything that is going to create hundreds of jobs, with maximizing the resources in the way of developing an industry, with a way of building production plants and that type of thing. I certainly would not be against it. We certainly need that type, but, Madam Speaker, we cannot take bulk items and ship them somewhere else for someone else to produce, someone else to manufacture and someone else to do secondary processing. That is not the way of building our economy. That is not the way of -

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member that his time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: By leave.

MR. HUNTER: Are you sure?

MADAM SPEAKER: Does the hon. member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MADAM SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HUNTER: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

That is not the way we could be building our economy. We cannot take bulk items and ship them somewhere else to create jobs for other people in other provinces, even though, sure, it is nice to be a good neighbor and it is nice to help our fellow man and our fellow Canadians. I have no problem with that, Madam Speaker, but right now we need jobs in this Province. We need to keep our young people in this Province. The only way we are going to do that is to develop our resources in the way where we can produce the resources and then enhance the number of jobs in the industry by doing secondary processing. It does not matter what resource it is, if it is water, trees, fish, or whatever it is. It could be potatoes, Madam Speaker, but we have to take a resource and when it is feasible, and when it makes a lot of sense, then we should be doing that.

I know the member, with the Gisborne Lake, would like to see a bulk water shipment go out of the Province, but there are markets in this world where we can sell every bottle of water that we can take out of Gisborne Lake. We can find a market for it. There is a market out there for everything. There is nothing we can make in this world, there is nothing in this Province we can find to make, produce, secondary production - everything that is in this Province, Madam Speaker, we can find a market for. It may not be next door, it may not be down the street, but somewhere in this world there is a market for everything, every item. Everything that we can think of there is a market for.

So, we must get out there, Madam Speaker, and we must find where the markets are. We must take our money, use our money responsibly, to search the world finding the markets for bottled water or chopped potatoes or any type of fish product, anything. Any product that we can think of in this Province, we must be out there looking for markets for them. That way we can build our economy, we can create thousands of jobs, and we can keep a lot of our young people here in this Province.

Madam Speaker, I do not know if everybody else realizes it or not, but I certainly do, that in a very short time, a very short few years, we are going to be sitting in rocking chairs wondering where our young people are, and wondering who is going to be carrying us off to the hospital, and wondering who is going to be digging our graves. I tell you, our young people are leaving here in droves. You go to the airport at night and you can see dozens of young people leaving. You go into any gas station on the Trans-Canada Highway within a week and you can see dozens and hundreds of young people leaving in cars for the mainland, some going to the States. I tell you, sooner or later we have to realize that -

AN HON. MEMBER: Your party was going to close down three of them and (inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: May I remind the minister, your party did divide the highway in Grand Falls-Windsor, your party did close up dozens of businesses in the Grand Falls-Windsor area. Your party shipped a lot of young people from the Central Newfoundland area to the mainland. So, I do not think you should point fingers at other people when there are fingers pointing back at you, I say to the hon. minister. You probably should be listening to some of the ideas that we have on trying to keep our young people in this Province. It is easy to point fingers at someone else, I know, Madam Speaker, but this is a serious issue. This is very serious.

It is serious when we take our relatives and our children and ship them off to the mainland when they should be here. They should be here working in our hospitals. They should be here working in our schools, our fish plants and our paper mills. They should be here doing silviculture work, Madam Speaker. They should be here working on our farms. Everything that needs to be done our young people should be here to do it.

Madam Speaker, if we do not wake up and realize that in a short period of time our young people are going to be gone and it is going to be too late, because when they get into careers in other provinces and other places in the world, get families and settle down, it is too hard for them to come back. These young people would love to come home. I talked to a couple from Fort McMurray on the phone there a couple of weeks ago. They almost cried, that they wished they were back in Newfoundland and Labrador; almost cried. You can sense from the tone of their voice that, boy, they would love to be home, but what is there for them to come back home to. They are up there making twenty, twenty-three dollars an hour, to come back here and end up on social services.

We cannot do that to our young people. We have to create opportunities for them. We have to create a work environment for our young people. It is no good just to train our young people, educate them, give them high debt loads, and then say at the end of their training: see you around. You might be able to come back in twenty years, or come back to retire in thirty years. Bring you retirement back here and settle down and we can use your retirement money. That is not my idea of keeping this Province running. That is not my idea of keeping this economy running. In order to keep this economy running, we have to keep our young people working right here. We have to have them right here, not in Calgary, not in Toronto, not in Halifax. Nowhere else in this country, Madam Speaker, can we have our young people working, contributing to someone else's economy; someone else's benefit. We have to have them right here in this Province. We have to have them right here contributing to our economy. We have to have them right here to deliver services to our seniors, to make sure our youth, our fixed income people, everybody, benefits from the services of our young people.

We have a very, very smart group of young people in this Province, very smart, very intelligent young people. Madam Speaker, that is one of the biggest and one of the best resources that we have in this Province today, our young people; second to none. No other resource in this Province is as important as the resource of our young people. There is nothing else so important as keeping them here, Madam Speaker. We had better wake up, all politicians, not only on this side. I think we have already woke up. I think everybody on this side realizes how important it is to keep our young people in this Province. Now, all we have to do now is convince your side how important it is -

AN HON. MEMBER: You do not want to deal on Gisborne Lake (inaudible)?

MR. HUNTER: We want to deal on every issue of resources that gives us the maximum benefit, that gives us the maximum profits and creates the maximum amount of jobs.

Madam Speaker, a lot of people in rural Newfoundland say today - I know they have said it to me and I am sure they have said it to members on the other side - if we cannot do this, if we cannot get the maximum amount of benefit from our resources, then leave it there. Leave it there until we can get someone smart enough, until we get someone who has the energy, until we have someone who has the guts to say: We are going to get the maximum benefit out of this resource.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: I cannot help it, Madam Speaker, if the government does not have the guts to go out and do the necessary things, if they do not have the guts -

AN HON. MEMBER: The smarts.

MR. HUNTER: Well, we know they do not have the smarts, Madam Speaker. That is a foregone conclusion. We just hope that they have guts enough to do it, to go out and find the markets. There is more than one company in this world can use nickel. There is more than one company in this world can use potatoes or fish or whatever it is. There are people in this world could use anything you can produce. You just have to find the people who are going to do it and do it in a way that we are going to get the maximum benefits from.

I say to the hon. member and the hon. minister, that maybe we can export more in bottled water than we could in bulk water if we went out to find the right markets for it. There are markets in this world, there are places in this world, that need water and need it badly. I am sure that there isn't a bottle that we can produce that cannot be sold somewhere in this world. It only takes us, as politicians, to make sure that we find the right markets at the right price to create the maximum amount of jobs, Madam Speaker.

I think if we do that, then all of us, as politicians, would put some respect back into our jobs and respect back into us as politicians, because a lot of people are cynical of the way politicians think and operate. A lot of people do not trust politicians because we are always making a quick decision based on a quick fix for a certain problem, Madam Speaker. I think those days are gone. We do not do that anymore. We just cannot say we are going to fix this problem because we need to get up in the polls quick or there is an election coming and then we need to make all these announcements, we are going to create hundreds of jobs, and then when the election is over everything dies off and there are no jobs created, there is nothing meaningful done by the government and we have seen it over and over. When the ministers go and promise developments and promise projects in their districts, everybody jumps and claps for the government and says, you are doing a good job. Then, six months later, it is cancelled. We have lots of cases like that. We have lots of incidents where government does that. You can look at the hospital in Gander. How many times did the government win an election in Gander based on the hospital in Gander? How many times can you announce that? The school in Buchans, you can announce that over and over and over to win elections. You can make announcements on senior citizen homes over and over to win elections, but when we do it for the right reason, we do it to create jobs, to provide services to our people -

MR. TULK: We do the right thing (inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: Yes, I say to the hon. minister, if we do it right and we do it for the right reason. We do not do it to win elections. We do it for the people. We do it for the services that the people deserve, not wait ten or twelve years to build hospitals and then, when it is built, there is nothing in it. It is just an empty building in place. A part of that building is empty.

We buy boats to supply needs for people, ferries where only one-third of the ferry could be used, probably only one-quarter of the ferry could be used, so we do things for the wrong reasons.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: I say to the hon. minister, I can get pretty smart and I can make you look pretty foolish, if I wanted to. Maybe it is time to make you look foolish. Probably I can do that too.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: I say to the minister, he looks pretty foolish on his own so we will not have to do that.

When we do things for the people, we must do them to deliver the right service and do it in a responsible way. We must do it so that the money that we spend on any of these services is spent in a responsible way, where money is not being wasted, and we do not do anything for political favors returned to people.

I say to the hon. minister, the Premier may be falling behind in his own district. Maybe he is trying to prop up his popularity in his district.

The things that I hear lately from the Exploits district, with political appointments from members in the Premier's district, it is not going to be very nice. We have to ask questions to the Premier: Premier, what are you doing with the people's money? Who are you giving the jobs to? Who are you patronizing now?

Madam Speaker, when you start seeing that stuff happening now, is it because the Premier knows that he is on his way out, and he knows that he has to start returning favors, and he has to start patronizing the people who put him there, and he has to start putting dollars in the pockets of his party workers? Does he have to do that? Is this what he is up to? Or is it that he is trying to get popularity in his own district? I do not know, but I am hearing some rumblings that the Ombudsman might be coming out of the Premier's district. If that is true, then I hope it is not a member of the Premier's campaign team who gets that position, because we cannot be doing that kind of stuff and the Premier cannot be doing that kind of stuff.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is only a first-term member. That is all he is.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: I say to the Minister of Transportation, no matter what minister is over there -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: They are that close to agreement? There is optimism but there is also pessimism. I say to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development, where were you when all the stuff was going on with Abitibi?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HUNTER: Were you sitting in the office of the boardroom of Abitibi? I did not see you there. I did not see you at the union hall in Grand Fall-Windsor, talking to the union people and the workers.

MR. TULK: Did you ever hear talk of a telephone?

MR. HUNTER: You have not called, Sir. On Friday evening, I asked if you called the union and you never called the union up to Friday evening. So, if you are calling one side of the stakeholders, that is the thing you should not be doing, I say to the minister. You should not be talking to just one side of any problem. You should be calling all the stakeholders.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) defended the union, where I made the call.

MR. HUNTER: I hope you did defend the union, I say to the minister, and I hope you also think about this, Minister, that this problem is not over after today.

MR. TULK: No, my son.

MR. HUNTER: It is far from over. This problem, even though a settlement might be reached today, is going to go far beyond and we could be sitting back here in six months time dealing with the same problem.

MR. TULK: What do the (inaudible)?

MR. HUNTER: I would say, it is going to take your government to step in and do an industrial inquiry into the happenings of Abitibi Consolidated and into the whole situation with the wood supply for Abitibi Consolidated, for the Stephenville mill. Also, I would say the minister is going to have to make sure that this problem does not arise again in six months time, because it is. Without government stepping in there -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: What did the minister do? Tell me. Would the minister please stand in this House now. He is saying he did something. I would like to hear. On a point of order, Madam Speaker, I would like for the minister to stand and explain to me, and the people on this side, what he did, what he said to the people in Grand Falls-Windsor.

MS THISTLE: (Inaudible).

MADAM SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Minister of Labour.

MS THISTLE: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

I am rising today on a point of privilege. The Member for Windsor- Springdale is standing in his place and saying that this government has not had any involvement in the current labour dispute at Abitibi Consolidated in Grand Falls-Windsor. I think that is insulting to this House of Assembly, to get on his feet and make that kind of remark in this House. I want to assure, Madam Speaker -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MS THISTLE: May I have quiet in this House, Madam Speaker?

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS THISTLE: I want to say to the Members in this House of Assembly that this government and many of the ministers and the Premier and the deputy premier have been totally involved in the event that is taking place in Grand Falls-Windsor. We have been in total contact, morning, noon and night, with both the company and the union. We are very concerned. We have held a meeting with the union here in St. John's. I have had officials -

MR. TULK: Don't tell him now. (Inaudible) tell him what we did.

MS THISTLE: No, I am not intending to give him the information that he is trying to get this afternoon.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is public information. Public funds (inaudible).

MS THISTLE: As part of my department -

AN HON. MEMBER: ( Inaudible).

MS THISTLE: I have the floor.

As part of my department's involvement, that is the Department of Labour, on two occasions during the Easter weekend and again the week before last I have had my top officials out in Grand Falls-Windsor facilitating discussions between the company and the mill. We have had lots and lots of phone calls trying to modify, trying to correct proposals, and trying to get a proposal that would be suitable to both sides. Let me tell you that the member opposite has no onus or responsibility or authority to look at the event and say that -

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please!

Could I ask the hon. minister if she would get to the point, please?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS THISTLE: What I want to say in conclusion, Madam Speaker, and for the members opposite and all members in this House, is that this government is totally involved with the situation in Grand Falls and we are working hard to resolve it. They have our attention to the maximum.

Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Windsor- Springdale.

MR. HUNTER: Madam Speaker, I do not know. Probably the minister was not listening. I did not accuse the government of not being involved.

MADAM SPEAKER: (Inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: I said to the deputy premier, where was he? He was not in Grand Falls. Hold on now, let me finish.

MR. BARRETT: A point of order, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. BARRETT: A point of order, Madam Speaker.

My understanding is that the hon. member's time is up. If he is on leave, his leave is now withdrawn.

MADAM SPEAKER: Leave has now been withdrawn.

MR. TULK: I have to correct the last statement that the hon. gentleman made. He knows it to be untrue because I even had the nerve, when I was in Grand Falls, to sit down next to him. That was only last Saturday that I sat down next to him. Everybody in the room was -

AN HON. MEMBER: He needed a lot more nerve (inaudible).

MR. TULK: I needed a lot more than he had.

Everybody in the room was anxious to see me, but I have to say to him there was nobody missed him when he left.

MADAM SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

Leave has already been withdrawn.

MR. HUNTER: A point of order, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Windsor-Springdale.

MR. HUNTER: Yes, I say to the hon. minister, he was in there to a dinner meeting, but I did not hear him explain any concern about the situation at the mill. The point of order is that the minister said I mentioned that the government was not involved. I did not say that. I said the minister was not involved by way of being at the mill or being at the union hall. If he called, well, that is fine; he probably called. He was in town for a dinner meeting and he never met with one person on the union or with the company that night, that I know of.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HUNTER: Not according to the union, Madam Speaker. The union said he has not called, he has not made any contact. I do agree, the Minister of Labour and her officials did call. It was not on a daily basis to the union. Now, I do not know if it was to the company.

Madam Speaker, the point of order that the minister was saying is not true. He did not mention, even at the dinner meeting, and did not refer anything to the situation at the mill, and he was right in the community.

AN HON. MEMBER: A point of order, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: The hon. the -

MR. HUNTER: I am still on a point of order, Madam Speaker.

If the Minister of Labour wants to have this publicly on record, what she said, I will copy the Hansard and send it out to the people involved and let them decide who is telling the truth. Let them decide who is making the calls and appearing at meetings and talking to the loggers and workers. Let them decide. I cannot decide for you.

I do know the minister was into a luncheon and he did not bring up anything about the Abitibi situation. He did not meet with any stakeholders in the town other than the mayor. He went and talked to the mayor that day.

Madam Speaker, that is my point of order.

MADAM SPEAKER: There has been no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Labour.

MS THISTLE: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

For the record for this House, I have no interest in what the member opposite might or might not get from this conversation. What I have said to both the company and the union, I would respect. They did not want -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS THISTLE: Madam Speaker, may I have the floor please?

The company and the union wanted a news blackout - no media around this event. I respected their decision, their request, being the Minister of Labour. That is the reason why you have not heard me out in the media. We have been doing work behind the scenes, trying to end this situation. That is my reason for not being out in the media. I respected their request.

Thank you.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today - and I might add, not on a point of order.

MR. TULK: He rises today from the ashes.

MR. HEDDERSON: From the ashes. I will get to that.

I say, Mr. Speaker, that I rise today to speak on the Budget because it is most important -

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I just want to rise to wish the hon. gentleman a Happy Birthday and to ask all my colleagues in the House to pay close attention to everything he is saying because, if he is not going to give us any wisdom at any other time in his life, he should be doing it on his birthday. I do want to say Happy Birthday to him. I hope he spends many more over there in Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Harbour Main-Whitbourne.

MR. HEDDERSON: To the deputy premier, I certainly would thank you for those kind words and birthday greetings. I would say to you that older should be wiser. I hope, as I stand here today, that I will be able to give some wise words regarding the Budget that was put down, or brought down, not so long ago.

MR. J. BYRNE: It should have been put down.

MR. HEDDERSON: Put down - I slip sometimes when I am up.

In referring back to the Budget, and I go back right to the very beginning of the presentation of that Budget by the Finance Minister on that particular day. It was, I suppose, a challenge that they put out, or that she put out, that they were willing to create a greater level of trust, of openness, of accountability so that the people of this Province would have more confidence in the work plan that they have put together.

I say to you, Mr. Speaker, that I have not been impressed of late with regard -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEDDERSON: I haven't been impressed of late, I have to tell my hon. colleague. I have not been impressed.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEDDERSON: I will get to that. I will get to that in a minute. I am just leading into it, so please be patient.

Mr. Speaker, I have not been impressed, because when you get up and say that a greater level of trust, openness, and accountability, that people would have more confidence in what the government was doing, you would say that this is wonderful. You would look then in the days, the weeks, and the months to follow. I must say, I have not seen the confidence.

When a budget is put forth you say that the resources, the finances, the revenue - all of it is put together and there is clear plan put in place as to how the various departments are going to put that money to work. It is very important. Sometimes it is not the amount of money that is the question, but it is the question as to how it is spent. I am the youngest of a large family and I have always been amazed at how my parents could stretch that dollar. They stretched it very, very well. They did not have that much, but they stretched it and they stretched it.

MR. TULK: How old are you?

MR. HEDDERSON: Old enough, I say to the deputy premier. I do not like discussing my age. It is not as big as the deficit, I say. I have not gotten to the big 50 yet; not yet. It is coming. You are close, but I am not there yet. I am getting there.

I say to you - as I was just referring to - that it is not necessarily the amount of money that goes into any particular department or any particular part of the budget, it is how you take that money and use it to get the best benefit from it; and the best benefit is what I am looking at.

MR. TULK: Forty-seven.

MR. HEDDERSON: Who told you that, I say to the deputy premier? Oh, all right. With friends like that, deputy premier, what can I say? Now you are getting her kicked out of the galleries. It is me, deputy premier, that you want to get kicked out. I guess I could have put her asleep like my colleague did a little earlier. I digress.

To get back to what I was saying. The amount of money that comes down in any particular budget - there is an awesome responsibility given to the government members to take that amount of money and to make sure that they are accountable to it, that they use it in a way that is going to get the best benefits for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. As I pointed out, in the days, weeks and months since the release of this particular budget, I have not been impressed. I have not been impressed with how this is unfolding. In particular, my critic area, which is the education area.

I had a situation develop the other day - unfortunately, the Minister of Education is not in the House today, but I still have to bring it to the attention - the House Leader over there got up on a point of privilege, but what I am trying to get across -

MR. H. HODDER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEDDERSON: I am getting to that, I say to my colleague for Waterford Valley.

I am trying to say that in this particular case it was a case where - for want of a better term - the minister spun her wheels.

AN HON. MEMBER: What?

MR. HEDDERSON: Spun her wheels and got nowhere. Of course, to explain it you have to go back to last summer, last September, when - not the Department of Education - somehow or another there came the idea, somewhere along the line - I do not know where it came from, I think it came from Atlantic Canada somewhere - that they had to do something with regard to the allotment of time in the primary grades, especially for language arts and mathematics. That started last September. There was some limited consultation done - and I put that in quotation marks - and through the fall a proposal was put on the table; if we want to use that analogy. It was put out to the stakeholders and educators around the Province. They were asked to have a look at the proposal, and they got some feedback. By the new year there was a solid plan that was put in place. Now, I say to you, Mr. Speaker, this was not done free.

There were a lot of resources tied up in formulating this particular proposal regarding language arts and mathematics in the primary grades. There was a lot of work put into it, a lot of money spent on it and a lot of time. Absolutely, a lot of time was spent at this particular proposal and the proposal was put forth. Now, you would say: that is fine. A proposal was put forth. It was a proposal, Mr. Speaker. There was an assumption by the general public, when it was released to the general public, that as a proposal it reflected the position of the Department of Education and reflected the position of the Minister of Education; no one questioned that. The position that was taken was clearly articulated; not only was it clearly articulated but it was also written down and presented to the general public of Newfoundland. This happened in February when there was a notice sent out through the newspaper - and I do not know what the cost is of sending something across the Province, maybe my colleague can help me out. If you put something in all the papers of Newfoundland and Labrador it would cost a fair dollar; Robinson Blackmore or whatever the papers. I know if you put any type of a notice in - and a lot of us, as politicians, put a lot of notices in and it costs a fair dollar.

Here you had a proposal that was worked on by the officials in the Department of Education. It was clearly in consultation with officials in the Atlantic Provinces. It was turned over, looked at, and presented. A position was taken by the department to such an extent that it was sent our publicly to all the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador who had access to a paper. I would not doubt that it even ended up in the mail, in flyers. This particular position was the position regarding the allocation of time, whereby there would be extra time added on to language arts and mathematics.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEDDERSON: Well, I say to the hon. member, if you recall, not too long ago you were told that maybe you did not understand the budget because there were no pictures in there. You did not hear me but I asked that maybe you should check with the Minister of Education and a lot more time for language arts on that side, then maybe you would understand it. Right?

MR. SULLIVAN: Tom, did you read the contradiction?

MR. HEDDERSON: I am not getting to it yet. I am just baiting. I am just fishing over there.

I say to you, Mr. Speaker -

MR. TULK: Tom, (inaudible).

MR. HEDDERSON: I am trying to temper it as much as I can, deputy premier. I am trying to tempt it. I know I am testing your patience on that side.

MR. TULK: I suppose now you think you can get away with anything on your birthday because your wife is in the gallery?

MR. HEDDERSON: Well, I do not know about that. I just have a funny feeling that would not work.

In returning to what I said before; I am trying to point out, once again, that it is very, very important we realize that initiatives which are taken by different departments should be initiatives that are going to be cost-effective -

AN HON. MEMBER: Didn't you say you were returning to contradictions (inaudible).

MR. HEDDERSON: Oh, get to my contradictions? With the minister not here I do not know if I should because I would like to think that it would be there.

Eight minutes left. Okay, let's just get to it. As I pointed out -

AN HON. MEMBER: Tom, listen to this (inaudible).

MR. HEDDERSON: She knows what I was going to say today. I tried it out last night, and okayed it. As a matter of fact, she happens to be a primary teacher. I tell you -

Anyway, I am running out of time. I have a funny feeling, even though if it is my birthday, Deputy Premier, that I am not going to get leave, so I have to be careful here.

MR. EFFORD: What gave you that idea?

MR. HEDDERSON: I say to my colleague from Port de Grave, I think you gave me the first clue a little while back.

Mr. Speaker, just to return to what I was saying, we have to be cost effective and we have to make sure that if a department takes a position, they had better make sure that the position that they take is the best position possible; that it is the one that is going to be able to be actioned.

I say, Mr. Speaker, on February 15, after months and months of putting together this proposal, the Minister of Education, the hon. Minister Foote, put out for the public to see in every paper, I would assume, in Newfoundland and Labrador - this particular circular or announcement was published in the paper - which clearly indicated the position that the Minister of Education was taking with regard to reading, writing and mathematics class time.

Of late, the Minister of Education is indicating that her position, and the position of the department, has been solid all along, and her words are that integrating language arts into other subject areas has been her position from the beginning.

In the paper on February 15, 2001, there was a circular put out by the Department of Education entitled: More reading, writing and mathematics class time: the right thing to do. There are a series of questions there which indicate what the problems were and how it was responding. Leading up to it, the question: Why is government proposing to increase class time in reading, writing and math in primary grades? What led up to this proposal?

The third question, I say to you, Mr. Speaker, is an important one. It is a very, very important one for my purposes because once again I contend, as I did the other day in this House when the minister was there, in my questioning of her, I indicated that she had changed her position and this position of February 15. The question here, and it is here in black and white, says: What, exactly, is being changed?

This is referring to the reading, writing and mathematics. I read, "Right now, most students in Grades 1 to 3 spend 60 % (generally three hours per day) of class time in language arts (reading, writing and drama) and mathematics (math, science and technology). The plan is..." - I say, and I reiterate this - "The plan is to increase this time to 70 % (3 hours per day). So definitely there was a plan to increase it.

I am reading again from the thing: Does this mean that the other subjects are not as important as language arts and math? Here is what it says - now remember, the minister says that there is not going to be any increase or decrease in time spent, and that was her position all along.

MR. SULLIVAN: Give us the date and what she said.

MR. HEDDERSON: February 15. It says, "As you saw above, the reduction in the other 6 subjects (art, music, physical education, social studies, health and religious education) totals about hour per day..." - a reduction of one-half hour per day, and do you know what it says? - "...literally only minutes per subject."

This is here in black and white. This was February 15, 2001.

AN HON. MEMBER: And she wanted you to apologize to her?

MR. HEDDERSON: Did she ask me that, to apologize? Is that what she said to me?

MR. SULLIVAN: What did she say in April?

MR. HEDDERSON: That was February 15, 2001, but that was after a big event over there. What was that event there earlier? Something happened around February. Something happened, I don't know.

I say to you, Mr. Speaker, this is one position right here, and this is the one that appeared in the papers on May 15, 2001.

MR. SULLIVAN: What was that? What did that say?

MR. HEDDERSON: May I read?

MR. SULLIVAN: Read it.

MR. HEDDERSON: Mr. Speaker, it says: Literacy across the primary curriculum.

Do you know what it says here? More time for literacy will be achieved through integration, no cuts to programs.

AN HON. MEMBER: What?

MR. HEDDERSON: No cuts. As a matter of fact, emphasis on music in the arts and education has increased, not decreased.

AN HON. MEMBER: From 60 per cent?

MR. HEDDERSON: Basically, what was said here was that it was going up to 70 per cent.

AN HON. MEMBER: Sixty per cent, was it?

MR. HEDDERSON: No, from 50 per cent to 60 per cent, but it was going from 50 per cent to 70 per cent in this one. Now it is integration across the curriculum.

You know something? With regard to integration of the primary classroom, I have to go back to this one. This is another one that was released from the minister. I wish the minister was here. I feel it would be more enlightening if the minister was here.

MR. J. BYRNE: More enlightening for her.

MR. HEDDERSON: Yes, exactly. Thank you, I say to my colleague from Cape St. Francis.

The whole point of the matter is that with regard to this particular situation, I say to the minister, what the position is now, as indicated by this latest report, is that it has not changed. The integration across the curriculum of language arts, in the minister's own words, says: Comes naturally in the primary classroom.

I say to the government members - naturally. It has been happening since time began.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. HEDDERSON: By leave?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. HEDDERSON: In finishing up, I say to the Government House Leader, I think it is very, very important that we look at these issues for what they are. In this particular case, I find it ironic that the position that the minister now adopts, for the most part, I fully support.

I will use another time, hopefully when the minister is here, so that I can bring this matter to the attention of the House again and continue on with that particular debate.

I thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I will leave it at that time.

Who is up next, boys?

AN HON. MEMBER: Adjourn debate.

MR. HEDDERSON: I guess that is all I have to say on this and I would like to adjourn debate, if I could.

Thank you.

[Honourable members sing Happy Birthday.]

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I think it might be time to bring the House to a close.

Mr. Speaker, I make the appropriate motion that this House do now adjourn until tomorrow at 1:30 p.m.