March 25, 2002 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS Vol. XLIV No. 4


The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

On Thursday, March 14, the hon. the Minister of Justice rose on a point of order concerning remarks attributed to the hon. the Leader of the Opposition during Oral Questions. The minister stated: I heard the Leader of the Opposition make a statement that three of the prosecutors involved in the investigation and prosecution of the Gregory Parsons' matter may have since gone to the Bench.

I also heard the Leader of the Opposition make a statement that it would not be of any benefit to have a current sitting judge of our Supreme Court make an inquiry. The Chair did not hear those comments to which the minister alluded, and took the matter under advisement.

I reviewed Hansard, of course, and the words were not recorded in Hansard. Then I listened to the tape, and I replayed the tape a number of times, but certainly could not heard the context of the comments that the minister had referred to.

The Chair therefore rules that there was no point of order.

As well, on Wednesday, March 20, the hon. the Premier rose on a point of privilege concerning comments made by the hon. the Leader of the Opposition about the Report of the Auditor General. The hon. the Premier stated that the remarks of the hon. the Leader of the Opposition amounted to abuse to the Office of the Auditor General.

Under reviewing Hansard, the Chair has concluded that there is a difference of opinion between the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition about the interpretation of comments made in the Report of the Auditor General, and therefore rules that there is no prima facie case of breach of privilege established.

The Chair would like to welcome today, sixty Grade 5 students from St. Kevin's Elementary. The students are from the Kilbride district and the Ferryland district, and they are accompanied by teachers, Ms Davis and Ms Beaupertuis, as well as chaperones, Christine Burke, Peggy Mercer, Christine Shaw, Theresa Gale, Diane Rice, Yvonne Whelan, Michelle Downey, Ken Best, Jim O"Neill, Ron Ershler, and Andrea Kavanagh.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Members

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MERCER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is with much pride that I rise to inform members of this hon. House that this past weekend Marble Mountain hosted the 2002 Canadian Freestyle Ski Championships.

This is the second year in a row that Marble Mountain, in conjunction with the Marble Mountain Event Management Group, has hosted a Canadian National Freestyle Championships. My colleagues may recall that last year Marble Mountain hosted the Canadian National Junior Freestyle Championships.

This event attracted athletes from six Canadian provinces and members of Canada's World Cup Team and Moguls Development Team, and a group of free-stylists aptly called Flight School.

Included in the athletes were several Canadian National Champions, two World Champions in the aerial event and Salt Lake City Olympic Medal winners, Veronica Brenner and Diedre Dionne.

While high winds on Saturday and Sunday resulted in the cancellation of the men's aerials, all aspects of the course layout, organization and facilities, drew high praise from Joe Fitzgerald of the International Ski Federation, who hinted that Marble would be the site of the 2003 World Junior Championships.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MERCER: I ask all members to join with me in congratulating Sean Dolter, Chair of the Marble Mountain Event Management Group, and his team of volunteers for making Marble Mountain better known to Canadian skiers, and Newfoundland and Labrador better known to the world.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HUNTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts representing 10 million members has singled out the Senior Branches of the Springdale Girl Guides for an extremely rare award. The association meets once every four years, at which time it hands out just four Olave awards to cover all of its 140 member countries.

Springdale has been distinguished because of its community service project in which eight girls and three leaders spent nine days in Guatemala working on construction projects and with the country's children. To pay their way, they held forty-seven fundraising projects, found sponsors, and collected $36,000 from a town of less than 4,000.

The girls were profoundly affected by the project, Mr. Speaker. They said, "[the Guatemala people we helped] had so little, yet they were so happy. It helped us understand that happiness is not based on what you have."

These are fine words indeed, Mr. Speaker.

The girls who attended were: Melanie Turner, Tia Normore, Kylee Russell, Mandy Miller, Leslie Earle, Holly Rolfe, Jessica Warford, and Meagan Hounsell, and the three alternates were: Kristen Hewlett, Heather Halfyard and Laura Robertson.

Mr. Speaker, I ask this hon. House to join me today with congratulation to all the girls, to the branch leaders, Marion Smith, Maud McCarty and Kathy Bixby, and to the Town of Springdale for their tremendous support.

Thank you, 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.

The inaugural Snow Safari was recently held in Labrador and I am sure this is the start of something that over time will become a major event.

This trans-Labrador trek involves snowmobiles leaving from three regions of Labrador: Nain, in the north; Labrador West, in the west, of course; and L'Anse au Clair in the south. These groups travelled through the 1,500 km in Labrador winter trails and met in Happy Valley-Goose Bay for the kickoff of Snow-Break 2002.

Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to participate, along with my colleagues, the Minister for Labrador & Aboriginal Affairs, and the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Recreation. We participated in this snow trek as well by snowmobiling from Northwest River into Happy Valley-Goose Bay. This was also the kickoff of the opening of the Access North-Labrador 2002.

Mr. Speaker, winter tourism and snowmobiling in Labrador is becoming an important industry, and events like the Snow Safari add to the growth of this sector. I want to commend the organizers and the participants in the first ever Snow Safari and I would encourage others to consider participating in this event next year.

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.

I rise today to offer hearty congratulations to a very multi-talented and accomplished young girl. Maria Philpott, a Grade 5 student at St. Matthew's Elementary, recently received a Medal of Excellence with the Conservatory of Music Canada in London, Ontario. Maria received a mark of ninety-two in Grade 2 Piano, and in turn received the highest marks in Newfoundland and Labrador for this level.

Maria is a member of her church choir at St. Teresa's and she is also a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Symphony Youth Choir.

As well as being an accomplished musician, Maria is a very active participant in sports, both in basketball and soccer. She was, as well, one of three students at St. Matthew's chosen to represent her school at the Regional Science Fair.

I ask Members of the House of Assembly to join me today in congratulating this very talented young lady and in offering her all the best in future endeavors.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WALSH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Recently the Newfoundland and Labrador Youth Parliament Association held their Provincial Conference at the Holiday Inn, here in St. John's. Delegates were selected to attend this conference from various Regional Youth Parliaments across the Province, which are held twice each year.

I had the great pleasure to attend the 37th Session of the Provincial Youth Parliament, and observe first hand the quality debate of these fine young people. During the debate, they discussed many issues, including a change to the legal driving age, and a resolution concerning Voisey's Bay.

Mr. Speaker, it is apparent from the youth that I saw attending this conference that many of them will undoubtably be members of this Legislature in time to come, if not the Parliament of Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all members of this House to join with me in congratulating all delegates from across the Province who attended this year's Model Parliament and wish them well in their future involvement in the democratic process.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, Hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Englee Guitar Group attended the Kiwanis Music Festival in Grand Falls-Windsor on Friday, March 22. The group, made up of eighteen boys and girls ranging in ages from ten to sixteen, along with their teacher Ms Diane Arthur, put off a tremendous rendition of Ron Hynes' Sonny's Dream. The performance on Friday morning earned the Englee Guitar Group the Best Instrumental Group Award. The adjudicator of the festival praised the group's performance and the distinguished manner in which they represented their community.

The group's performance, and the ability of the communities and organizations to come together to ensure that the financial resources were found to enable these young people to travel to Grand Falls-Windsor, is a testament to the determination and talent found in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

On Friday night, the Englee Guitar Group performed in the Stars of the Festival. They are to be commended on their performance and their award. A tremendous feat for the group, once again demonstrating that small communities nurture some of this Province's greatest assets and when given the chance they can rise to great heights.

I ask all members to join me in congratulating the Englee Guitar Group and their teacher, Ms Diane Arthur, on this great accomplishment and wish them every success in the future.

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 am pleased to rise today to inform hon. colleagues in this Legislature about some very encouraging news regarding our efforts to get changes to the equalization program. In particular, I refer to the results of a report released last week by the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. The report, titled The Effectiveness of and Possible Improvements to the Present Equalization Policy, included eight recommendations to the federal government on changes to improve the current equalization program.

The recommendations in the report, Mr. Speaker, include many of the arguments this Province has been advancing to the federal government on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. In October of last year, I personally made a presentation to the Senate Committee and brought forward our case for a better deal on equalization. The Senate report confirms that our case for a better deal is legitimate and should be acted upon by the federal government. Among other things, Mr. Speaker, the recommendations include: removing the ceiling on equalization payments; restoring the ten-province standard; changing the 30:70 generic solution so as to increase the share of the Province's entitlements that are protected when its non-renewable resource revenues increase; and undertaking an evaluation of the equalization provisions of the Atlantic Accords to determine if they have met the intent for which they were designed. These last two points recognize that the existing arrangements do not give this Province a fair share of the benefits of our offshore resources.

Mr. Speaker, as hon. members may recall, on December 6, 2000, this House of Assembly unanimously passed a resolution to seek changes to the equalization program to make it more responsive to the needs of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. I would like to take this opportunity today to thank the Members of the House of Assembly for their continued support in seeking a fairer deal for the people of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, the fact that a Senate Committee recognizes the need to improve the current equalization program is indeed a positive step for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. While we fully recognize that this Committee cannot force the hand of the federal government to implement these important recommendations, we believe that this report validates the position of this Province and points clearly to the need for positive changes to the equalization program. We remain fully committed and even more determined to move this issue forward and we call upon the federal government to act on the Senate Committee's recommendations.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this is one of those rare occasions when the Premier and I, and our caucus, fully agree. This is indeed a very, very positive step for the Province. I appreciate the Premier's thanks to all members on this side of this House for their co-operation. I can assure him, it is something that myself and my caucus have been pursuing for some time.

In December of 2000, at my leadership candidacy, we spoke of this very issue. In April, at the leadership convention, we spoke about it again. I was invited, at the invitation of Premier Hamm, to go to Nova Scotia to attend an event in June of last year during the by-election in Humber West, and at that point in time I emphasized the importance of this, and the importance of the fairness initiative in Atlantic Canada. As well, I have spoken to the Board of Trade, I have spoken to NAPE and, I can assure the Premier, I have spoken to the other Atlantic Premiers. I have spoken to Premier Binns about it, I have spoken to Premier Lord about it, I spoke to Premier Harris before he stepped down, and I spoke to Premier Klein about it. So we are doing absolutely everything we can to foster this initiative, and this is good news coming from the Senate Committee.

My only concern - and I do have to express that concern - is the concern that, I think, was expressed by Peter O'Brien of the Federation of Independent Business. His concern is that we are perceived as the least accountable government in the country - and statements in the national papers that we are in a fiscal mess. It is the increasing of our debt and our deficit, I think, that portrays us, possibly, as a -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. WILLIAMS: - that has sort of cast us in a negative light. I think it is very, very important that we show that we are very responsible and can handle the funds with which we are entrusted in a responsible manner.

I think if that gets cleaned up and if we can enhance our image across the country, then hopefully the federal government can look upon us in a much more favourable light.

I do have some concern, of course, that the Finance Minister, Paul Martin, has indicated that he is not going to do anything until 2004, and we need something before that.

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.

It is good news that the Senate of Canada, or at least its Committee, has recognized some of the problems facing places like Newfoundland and Labrador with respect to the equalization formula. I appreciate the words of the Premier in recognizing that all parties in this Legislature supported the effort to change the equalization formula. We have a formula, Mr. Speaker, as has been pointed out - I think I pointed it out a couple of years ago, at least beginning a couple of years ago - that the Voisey's Bay deal, as presented last time, would have resulted in the benefit to the Government of Canada to the amount of $4.9 billion, while this Province would only receive $411 million, less than 10 per cent, in revenues for this Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: By leave, Mr. Speaker?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: That one number alone underscores the great difficulty that we face in pursuing economic development with a formula like that going against us. This national body, the Senate - a Committee of the Senate, I suppose, not the whole Senate itself - it is important that they recognize it. It is important also, I think we should let members of the House know that another national body, the New Democratic Party, in their convention, supported a motion made by me in August, 1999, calling for a review of the equalization formula so that resources and resource development in the Province of Newfoundland and other provinces can be recognized so that we can achieve maximum results from our own economic development.

It is an important step, Mr. Speaker, and I hope we can work together in the future to get the rest of the people in Parliament, particularly the House of Commons, and the Finance Minister, Paul Martin, to recognize our problems.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, on Friday, March 22, the members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association ratified a collective agreement that provides improved benefits for teachers and students.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, this new agreement has several components that demonstrate government's ongoing support of a quality education system in our Province. It offers essential conditions necessary for teachers to continue their important role in the education and development of the youth of Newfoundland and Labrador.

This Province has the shortest school year in the country. We must insure that our students have every advantage that will allow them to be competitive nationally and globally. Therefore, the school year will increase by five days to 195, and teachers will be compensated for this additional instructional time. Additionally, the length of the school day for grades one to three will be standardized across the Province to five hours beginning in September 2002. The retention of 218 teachers in the system, despite the decline of 7,000 students over the past two years and an anticipated decline in excess of 3,000 this September, continues to permit one of the best pupil/teacher ratios in Canada.

In recent years school boards have experienced challenges in attracting teachers to administrative positions in schools. Enhancements in allowances for principals and vice-principals will encourage more teachers to aspire to these important roles. As well, the increase in starting salaries for new teachers should attract more young people to the profession, thereby assisting school boards in their recruitment efforts.

This government recognizes the importance of providing teachers with opportunities to become more familiar with new teaching strategies and the content of new courses and programs which are introduced in our schools. This new agreement will insure every teacher is provided with three days each year to engage in professional development and in-service activities as recommended in the report of the Ministerial Panel on Educational Delivery in the Classroom, which was released in 2000. These initiatives are supported by the $4.4 million in the recent budget for professional development.

Education will always remain a priority of this government, Mr. Speaker. We continue to support an education system that encourages the best possible education for the youth of this Province. The 15 per cent increase combined with the other benefits outlined in this agreement are necessary changes for our teachers. This parallels the increments given to other public servants.

Mr. Speaker, the education of our youth is their key to achieving personal success and becoming full participants in the continued development of this Province. I join with my colleagues to congratulate the members of both negotiating teams in reaching an agreement that provides benefits for teachers while improving the educational opportunities of our students.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to thank the minister for an advance copy of her statement. Like many teachers, parents, students, and in light of the disruptions of a strike earlier on in the year for support staff, we are very pleased to see that a strike has been averted with regard to the teachers.

With regard to the agreement, teachers reluctantly signed the agreement, ratified the agreement. I have to compliment the teachers for certainly placing students first and making sure that there was no disruption, Mr. Speaker, in this particular school year.

Let's not be led to believe that everything is going to be okay, because there are still many outstanding issues that need to be resolved. Clearly, larger class sizes, poor working conditions, lack of adequate resources, preparation time, workload issues that were taken off the table, certainly need to be addressed even though the agreement is in place.

Maintaining a qualified workforce, a teacher workforce, is very, very crucial to future demands. We must not see this agreement as stopping the necessity of going forward and addressing that issue very, very diligently.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HEDDERSON: By leave?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HEDDERSON: Just in cluing up, Mr. Speaker, we need to make sure that there is an adequate substitute pool out there, so that we can attract professionals, especially to the isolated northern areas.

I certainly join with the minister in complimenting the negotiating teams for bringing this to a head, getting the agreement through, but again, I say, Mr. Speaker, that this agreement is only a starting point. Many of the issues that were dropped have to be addressed if we are to make sure that our educational system in Newfoundland and Labrador is, indeed, the best in this country and the world.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We, too, rise and congratulate the minister on this positive announcement. A good educational system in our Province obviously requires good teachers, and to have good teachers, Mr. Speaker, we not only have to be in a position to attract them, we also have to be in a position to retain them. The three days a year that are set aside for professional development is certainly something that is worthwhile. The teaching profession, as other professions, have changes that take place on a regular occasion and it is important that we keep abreast of those changes to be able to offer our students the finest quality of education.

We also congratulate both sides on the negotiating committees for reaching a successful conclusion; one that, we hope, is a start that will certainly -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. COLLINS: - enhance the educational standards in our Province.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform my hon. colleagues of changes to the provincial student loans program which will make post-secondary education in this Province more affordable, accessible and accountable.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, these changes include the introduction of debt reduction grants that will allow students to receive, in the form of a non-repayable grant, up to 100 per cent of the provincial student loan portion of the Canada Student Loan.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS KELLY: The program will be more generous, will benefit more students and be easier to access. In addition, there will be grants for Early Childhood Education students, a greatly enhanced interest relief program, an increased commitment to career and financial counseling and a flexible process that takes into consideration extenuating circumstances, especially those surrounding single parents and students with disabilities.

Mr. Speaker, these changes reflect the principle of shared responsibility, and therefore the need for students and parents to plan and choose programs wisely and to complete their studies in a timely matter.

Mr. Speaker, together with the money allocated for tuition reductions at Memorial, these changes represent an additional investment of $7.5 million of new funding directly for students.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS KELLY: This past week we have announced $3.5 million for tuition reductions and today another $4 million for these new student debt reduction initiatives.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS KELLY: These changes are the result of an extensive process in which government consulted with students and other key stakeholders and listened to the advice that we received.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the minister for a copy of her statement prior to the House opening.

It is great to see that we have another minister who has also read the 1999 Progressive Conservative Policy Document.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MANNING: It must be a criteria for being in the Cabinet, I say, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MANNING: But we, on this side of the House, are very glad to see anything of a positive nature to help the students in this Province. There is certainly no doubt about it, some of the things that were raised this morning at the news conference by the minister, which I attended, are positive for the students of the Province. We are going to reserve judgement on the total package because on Thursday we stood here in this House and heard $3.5 million being announced for tuition reduction. Many students in the Province were concerned that it was going to go for 10 per cent reduction. Then we had the President of MUN, Dr. Meisen, coming out on the weekend basically saying that it is up to the Board of Regents how this $3.5 million is going to help the students of the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. MANNING: So we are not sure if there is going to be a 10 per cent reduction in tuition fees or not, Mr. Speaker, and that concerns us. The openness and transparency - sometimes you can drive a truck through the openness. So we are very concerned about that with this government. Anything that comes out for the students is a positive aspect -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. MANNING: - but at the same time we reserve judgement -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Finally this government has listened to the problems that students have been facing since they cancelled the grants program in 1994. I do not know who finally got to the minister, but I know that the Canadian Federation of Students are working very hard to convince the minister that her program was not working. We now know that the changes that have been made have recognized the inadequacies of the program. It is a very positive step, there is no question about that, but I am concerned about the thousands and thousands of students who have been forced to incur huge debts since 1994 as a result of the inadequacies of this program. How many of them have been forced to leave the Province as a result of this to get jobs to pay for these debts?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: It is a positive change, Mr. Speaker, finally the minister has listened.

MS KELLY: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Minister of Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education.

MS KELLY: Mr. Speaker, a comment was made by the Member for Placentia & St. Mary's about what he read in the paper this weekend about the Board of Regents not necessarily accepting a 10 per cent reduction in tuition. We have announced a round table and, Mr. Speaker, I can let the hon. House know that this $3.5 million, whether it goes to tuition reduction or not, will be going to student debt reduction, whether it is done through the Board of Regents or not.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

Oral Questions

 

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, last week the government announced its Budget for 2002 and I sat here with the hon. members and watched hon. members opposite laugh all the way to the Labrador piggy bank. In just twelve months this Premier has tripled this deficit, from $30 million to $93 million. He has used cash grabs, smoke and mirrors, and creative accounting to get that number.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says it is a $440 million deficit and not the $93 million that they pretend it is. This government continues to mislead the people and not provide a true picture, as the Auditor General has previously stated.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the Premier is: Premier, what is the real deficit number, and what is the likely deficit number for next year? Tell the people of this Province what a financial mess you have them in.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I believe many people in Newfoundland and Labrador, through the auspices of live television coverage, listened for about an hour or so as the Finance Minister read the Budget Speech a few days ago, on Thursday. It is clear that on a cash basis, which is the same way that the deficit and the surpluses from time to time - although they have been very rare, few and far between - have been dealt with in Newfoundland and Labrador since 1949, on the same basis that the information has been reported to this Legislature every year since 1949. The deficit clearly is $93.3 million, I think, as was read last week. We were quite proud to present a Budget that, in our view, strikes the right balance between fiscal restraint and the appropriate levels of needed and necessary expenditures for health care, education, municipal operating grants, basic infrastructure and so on.

There is no mess in Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker. There has been very good, prudent management over the last number of years and we will see it displayed again next year at Budget time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we now have an independent auditor and an independent federation indicating that the true picture is being hidden from the people of this Province. Mr. Speaker, we warned the people of this Province two weeks ago that government was preparing to raid the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund. The Minister for Labrador, in response to my question, said: We will see what is in and what is not, and we will see who is right and we will see who is wrong.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WILLIAMS: Well, we certainly did, Mr. Speaker. This government broke the piggy bank and ran off with the money for its own purpose.

MR. SPEAKER: I ask the hon. member now to get to his question; he is on a supplementary.

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, my question for the Premier is: Now that you have broken the trust of Labradorians, and must break your own law to get at that money, how do we know that you won't, in future, raid public service pension funds, as you did when you were the assistant to Premier Wells in a former government?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I understand that, in the meetings that were held in Labrador on Friday and over the weekend, there was some concern expressed with respect to the issue. Mr. Speaker, the basis of the concern is this - that the Liberal government that I lead has laid out clearly our plan for the development of Labrador over the next ten years -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: - and has given a full commitment as to what we will do if we are the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The concern is this, and it was raised by the Member for Labrador West, who basically indicated that if we not the government they are afraid that another group, namely the members opposite, might not honour the commitments that we gave. That is what the concern is in Labrador, that a group opposite, who will talk about a $2 billion tunnel, will not give a commitment to a $100 million road. That is the concern that we heard raised in Labrador over the weekend, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, some people in Labrador are, in fact, concerned. As a matter of fact, the MP, the Member of Parliament for Labrador, is quite concerned. He is outraged over the shameful raid one the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund. In fact, he has indicated his displeasure on numerous occasions and said that the actions of this government were nothing short of fraudulent - the term he used - his words. That man is working hard for his people, and is hoping to co-operate with this government, and says he cannot get any co-operation from this government.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the Premier: How can his government, and his Labrador MHAs, work in the best interests of the people of Labrador if their irresponsible actions have soured the relationship with the Member of Parliament for Labrador?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We appreciate the efforts, as we always do, of the federal MP for Labrador, who has worked hard and partnered with us on many occasions to perform certain functions and develop and proceed with initiatives that are in the best interest of Newfoundland and Labrador. He has a somewhat slight difference of opinion with us at this point in time.

Mr. Speaker, what the people of Labrador are looking for is a re-statement of the commitments given by the Leader of the Opposition who had said this on February 11, this year, that in the list of major priorities of myself and my colleagues, Labrador is a huge priority. They are waiting for a re-statement of that kind of a commitment to Labrador.

Also, in August of last summer, Mr. Speaker, when the Leader of the Opposition said the lack of transportation infrastructure, which is what we are committing to in Labrador to finish Phase III, is the only real impediment to economic development in Labrador that will greatly benefit the whole Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, if the Leader of the Opposition would stand up today and say today in the Legislature what he has said outside the Legislature, there will be no concern in Labrador about using the money to develop infrastructure in Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, I didn't hear the Premier say anything about me stealing their money and breaking their trust. I didn't hear that in the release.

Let's talk about squandering money for a minute. Mr. Speaker, when we look back over the last year, this government has squandered away millions and millions of dollars: chartered flights all over the world; plane tickets to Montreal for Liberal fundraisers, $10,000 a table; snow clearing of at least one private residence -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. WILLIAMS: - and the Premier's takeout from one of the finest and most expensive restaurants in the Province. The rest of us go to Ches's and Leo's.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. WILLIAMS: Sure we do, because we love the fish and chips!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

AN HON. MEMBER: What about Scampers?

MR. WILLIAMS: I forgot to mention Scampers and the Big R, which I also frequent, which I use my own money to pay for.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. WILLIAMS: My question for the Premier, Mr. Speaker: Does the Premier think that more fiscal control and restraint in those areas would have been better off than raiding the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund, a fund and a trust which was set up for the people of Labrador? Lead by example, Premier!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I find it difficult to answer because my mouth was watering at the thoughts of Ches's and Leo's and other types of places that I visit frequently.

Mr. Speaker, what we are seeing clearly again today is an issue whereby the Leader of the Opposition speaks quite freely about what he would not do. He says he would not have taken the money from the Labrador Transportation Fund. We believe that, in striking the balance, it was better to take that money as revenue this year and commit the kinds of monies that were in the fund to infrastructure, for transportation in Labrador, Mr. Speaker, which is what we have done.

Mr. Speaker, every single penney that is in the Labrador transportation fund has been spent on Labrador transportation initiatives to date, and the $97 million and more, that will be taken into revenues this year, will be spent on transportation initiatives in Labrador by this government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: So, the facts of the matter, again, Mr. Speaker, are that while the Leader of the Opposition suggests quite freely what he would not do, the people of Labrador are waiting for him to stand up today and say what he would do for transportation initiatives in Labrador.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

PREMIER GRIMES: We played out our plan. We are waiting to hear what his plan is, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General last year indicated that our total borrowing was $548.1 million. Our debt now, in fact, has gone from less than $6 billion five years ago to an estimated $7.5 billion in 2002. The real number, in fact, by the end of next year will exceed $8 billion. Mr. Speaker, I would ask the Premier: Isn't it true that if your expenses are going up, and your mortgage is going up and your salary isn't, then eventually you could lose your home?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, again, the point is in what the people of the Province are looking for is a real debate about these issues. We have laid out our plan and we have struck the balance, as we see it, Mr. Speaker, and we recognize that we are going to spend, on a cash basis, less than $100 million more this year than we will take in, but the tone of the questioning is that we cannot afford what we are doing and we might lose our house. That is what I just heard in the last question. Just on this one weekend alone, while the official line of the Opposition from the Leader, as expressed today, is that we are overspending, we cannot afford it. We have had the Member for Baie Verte talk about needing extra money for road work this weekend. We have had the Member for Trinity North saying there is not enough money in for health care this weekend. We have had the Leader of the Opposition, himself, saying that in Humber West we did not benefit from this year's Budget. Funding is desperately needed in the areas of job creation and health care. So, again, we have three of them, even more, Mr. Speaker, saying we need more money. The Member for Lewisporte is saying we need a development fund for the town of Lewisporte provided by the provincial government.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER GRIMES: So, on one weekend alone, we have had at least half-a-dozen requests for even more expenditures by the same Opposition group in which their Leader is now standing up today saying -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

PREMIER GRIMES: - we might lose our house because we are spending more money than we are taking in. We would like to know what their real position is, Mr. Speaker. Are they for spending or they are for restraint, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Trinity North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROSS WISEMAN: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Health and Community Services.

Mr. Speaker, this Province is experiencing about 3,200 to 3,500 new cancer cases per year. Every year the rate of cancer is increasing by 3 to 5 per cent, but in about half an hour from now we are going to have a group of oncologists at a press conference telling us that we are no longer able to work with the excessive workloads that we have in this Province, sometimes double the standard of the rest of Canada. Mr. Speaker, this is going to be, I think, just one in the first of a number of examples we are going to see where specialists are going to be making that same cry.

My question today to the minister is: What is she going to do today about the crisis we are going to be facing in the treatment of cancer patients for this Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, medical oncology is an area of medicine that has grown considerably in the last decade. The Member for Trinity North would probably realize that in this Province, in the last eight years, we have gone from having zero medical oncologists to having seven positions funded; from zero to seven in eight years.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, medical oncology is an extremely highly specialized area. It is very, very difficult to get oncologists in this area. Currently we have four positions that are filled. We have our cancer treatment research centre actively recruiting for the other three positions. I would like to inform the House on that score, that in fact one of those positions has been arranged for, and we are hoping that the position will be filled and the person will arrive in October. There are interviews taking place for the second position within the next week or so, and, Mr. Speaker, the third position they will be acting on as soon as possible.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Trinity North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROSS WISEMAN: Mr. Speaker, I am glad the minister used an eight-year time frame, because in that same eight-year time frame, twenty-three oncologists have left this Province. We have a major problem in retention.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROSS WISEMAN: We can talk about interviews and we can talk about recruitment initiatives, but unless we are able to retain the positions that we recruit to the Province, it is never going to end.

The crisis that we have today, Mr. Speaker, was predictable.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. ROSS WISEMAN: The oncologists and the medical association have been telling the minister for months that this was going to be a problem. I think, Mr. Speaker, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Other specialists are going to follow.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROSS WISEMAN: My question today to the minister is: Is she prepared today to table her human resource plan that she has been talking about for a number of months? Let the Province see her plan for a future for the medical community of this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, this government has been working very hard to try and recruit and retain medical specialists in the Province. One of the statistics, again, that the Member for Trinity North may not be aware of is the fact that we have had success in recruitment, that, in fact, we do have more specialists per capita than the Canadian average. I shouldn't say, than any other province in the country, but we do have more specialists per capita than the Canadian average. That is not to say that we do not need to recruit in this area, that we do not need to do a better job of retaining in this area of oncology. That is certainly the case. We are doing everything that we possibly can. I know that the Cancer Treatment Research Foundation is actively recruiting for these positions. As I say, we are expecting success on two of the three within the very near future, and I would hope that the seventh position will be filled.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, when that happens we will be well within the range of the norms for caseload across the country because the operational review for the Cancer Treatment Foundation recommends seven positions.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are to the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board. In March, 2001, during the last few days of the last fiscal year, and when this House was in session, the minister allowed special warrants totalling $33 million to be issued, the very day that this House sat last year. According to the Auditor General, this was contrary to the Financial Administration Act in that they were not urgently required; and, further, she indicated that it was contrary to present them when the House was sitting.

The Auditor General has said that additional requests for funding should have been included last year in the Supplementary Supply Act or included in the 2000-2001 Budget for approval. I want to ask the minister: Why did she contravene the Financial Administration Act and break the very laws of the Province that she has sworn to uphold?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, we make no apologies for the monies that we have allocated for special warrants in health care. We just sat through Question Period and we are still in the middle of Question Period where we are getting asked every other day for more money for health care, urgent needs for health care. We saw them as urgent needs. It was the lowest allocation, I might add, that has been allocated through special warrants in the last number of years, but we make no apologies for paying for extra money for reclassification of nurses, nursing assistants, and equipment, and neither would the people of the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That is not the question. The question is: Is the minister trying to hide the special warrants from this House the very day the House sat? It is contempt for this House, Minister, and it breaks the laws of the Province!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: In the Financial Administration Act, it states that a special warrant cannot be issued. In case the minister does not know, it states: A special warrant cannot be issued when the House is in session, and if it is adjourned for thirty days or more then the reason for issuing one must be urgent -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: - where grave damage to the interests of the Crown or the public will result from delaying this expenditure.

I want to ask the minister: Have any special warrants been issued so far this month, that we are not aware of, and is it government's intent to issue any before the end of this month?

AN HON. MEMBER: Absolutely!

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, it is breaking the law if it is.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if I got the whole question because the volume dropped a little bit towards the end of his questioning. I think I got it all.

The question was answered by the member opposite when he asked the question about a definition of urgent. Mr. Speaker, we saw the need for issuing the special warrants to meet the urgent needs associated with health care.

Already in this House, when we read the Budget Speech last week, we identified that we would be allocating money this year to offset some of the costs. We read it right in the Budget Speech. We have done it every year. It is very important for the people of the Province to hear.

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing hidden here. The members opposite would love to think that we have a clandestine operation going over here. It was read in the Budget Speech. Every person in the Province heard it on Thursday, what we are planning to do. It is there for all to read, for all to hear. There is nothing hidden, and we believe the allocation of money for health care in an urgent manner was an appropriate allocation that we make no apology for doing.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That is not the issue, I say to the minister. The issue is that, when this House sits, there is nothing but contempt for the House and it breaks the law of this Province when you hide a special warrant.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: I ask the minister: Will she comply with the laws of this Province, and will she bring such expenditures to a Supply Bill before this House so we can debate it, or include it in next year's Budget where it should get approved, and not try to hide it under a special warrant that breaks the laws of this Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, it is important to say again, for the people of the Province to hear, there is nothing hidden here. Everything that we have done when we push monies forward, when we are able to look at how we spend the money, has been identified either in the Budget Speech - Mr. Speaker, I listened to the Member for Ferryland in his question. I really did. I appreciate his questions and I hope he can appreciate the answer, that there is nothing hidden here, that the urgent requirements that the government has identified in meeting the health care needs are well within the Financial Administration Act. There was no violation. It is in our definition; and you ask me, or anybody else - we just heard the Member for Clarenville up asking for more money for health care. We made a conscious decision that money could be spent, should be spent, and was spent for health care needs in this Province, and we are totally within our right.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: There is nothing hidden. There is no clandestine operation, much to the chagrin of the member opposite.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Premier. Mr. Premier, the government is contravening its own legislation, namely the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund, that clearly states payout from the fund is for three purposes: (a) marine freight and passenger service and the maintenance of wharves and other related facilities; (b) the construction of the Trans-Labrador Highway; and (c) other Labrador initiatives related to transportation.

The $97 million that is taken from the Labrador Transportation Fund is not being used for these sole purposes, but put into general revenues to offset the Province's deficit. I ask the Premier: Why is his government contravening its own legislation, and why are they stealing $97 million from people in Labrador that was earmarked for transportation, and transportation only?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I expect that the hon. member will, as he has done, go back and explain to the people in Labrador West as to why it is that he has some concern or fear of a government that has committed to spend every single cent that is in the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund, and more besides, as an absolute provincial priority to finish Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway, which I understood he supported. Because I know the people of Labrador West certainly support it, Mr. Speaker. It is a matter of again striking the right balance, as I answered earlier: that we have a greater need for the actual cash in a budget circumstance this year, but this government is the first one and the only one to go on record. I am sure that the Member for Labrador West would stand up say that if we form the next government - highly unlikely, but if they do - that we would indeed honour the commitment because it is a commitment that Labrador deserves, and the only question then is: What about the Official Opposition, Mr. Speaker?

If the Official Opposition and the NDP will say they support the government in the plan that we announced, then the people of Labrador have absolutely nothing to be concerned about. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, to the contrary; they have every reason to celebrate having the money spent on infrastructure development in Labrador, which is exactly what the fund was for, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Labrador West.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the Premier that you may be the first government to promise the construction of Phase III; you are also the first government to steal $97 million from Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. COLLINS: The people in Labrador are not jumping and celebrating in the streets, I say to the Premier. They are certainly not dancing in the streets over this news, because the money was there prior to last Thursday for that Phase III to be constructed.

I say to the Premier: The people in Labrador West, the people throughout Labrador, Mr. Premier, are not looking at you as a modern day Robin Hood.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. COLLINS: I ask the Premier: In the future, where is the money going to come from to keep up the constant upgrade that a gravel road requires? Where is that money going to come from in the future when you cannot properly service the road transportation system that you have on the Island portion of the Province now?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to point out to the hon. member, because I know he would not want to be stating information that is factually incorrect, there has never, Mr. Speaker, never was, never has been, any money in the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund or anywhere else for Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway. That was never part of the fund's development in the first place and is not part of it today. That is why it is significant and important that this government is saying, as a provincial priority, we have seen the necessity and the good sense of establishing this as a priority for Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker - what we have said - even if we have to do less work on roads on the Island in future years, the future belongs to Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, the challenge as I see it for the federal MP, Mr. O' Brien and for others, is to join with us and hope that maybe the Government of Canada might partner with us for Phase III because they never ever did before. There is still a job to be done, and just like everyone has pledged to join with us in looking at the equalization issues, if there is no federal partnership, we believe in it strongly enough to do it as a provincial priority. That is the whole issue. There is nothing being done here except assuring the people of Labrador what the plan is from this government because they have no idea what it is from the Official Opposition, and I am sure they are puzzled as to why the Member for Labrador West would be opposed to finally -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER GRIMES: - for the first time ever, getting an absolute commitment that phase III will be done, will be completed, will be paid for as a provincial priority in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Question period has ended.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to point out to the Premier's answer to the last question, that other Labrador initiatives related to transportation would be a proper expenditure of that $97 million, not the way the Premier puts it across as if it could not be used for that.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the Member for Placentia & St. Mary's.

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, a point of order on a news release put out by the Department of Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education on March 21, 2002, if I could: "Sandra C. Kelly, Minister of Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education, announced today that government has earmarked a further $3.5 million in additional funding to Memorial University of Newfoundland to enable an 10 per cent reduction in tuition fees."

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, I just want -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

Before Presenting Reports I would like to acknowledge the presence today of two former Members of the House of Assembly; Mr. Efford for the District of Port de Grave, and Mr. Dumeresque for, I think his constituency was the former Eagle River.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Presenting Reports by Standing and Special Committees

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BUTLER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Select Committee appointed to draft the reply to the Speech of His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor, I am pleased to present the Report of the Select Committee as follows:

To His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor,

The Honourable A.M. House, CM.,M.D., FRCPC.

May It Please Your Honour:

We the Commons of Newfoundland and Labrador in Legislative Session assembled, beg to thank Your Honour for the Gracious Speech which Your Honour has addressed to this House.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

We are still on Presenting Reports by Standing and Special Committees.

Notices of Motion

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RALPH WISEMAN: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act Respecting The Control And Management Of Water Resources in the Province." Bill 4.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I give notice that I will on tomorrow present the following Private Member's Motion:

WHEREAS the Constitution of Canada commits the Parliament and Government of Canada to make equalization payments to provinces to ensure Canadians have access to reasonably comparable levels of public service at reasonably comparable levels of taxation; and

WHEREAS the current equalization program does not meet this constitutional requirement and there is evidence that we are moving further away from satisfying this commitment; and

WHEREAS the treatment of non-renewable resource revenues in the present equalization system is unfair;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this House of Assembly call upon the federal government to enhance the current equalization formula with a fairer system and re-establish the fundamental principles on which this program is based; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Honourable House go on record of supporting the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador and Premier of Nova Scotia in campaigning for fairness as it relates to offshore resource royalties.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Petitions

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I am pleased today to rise to present the first of many petitions that you will seen in this House again this year, Mr. Speaker. It becomes an annual ritual. I will read the petition first and then make a few comments.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, in Legislative Session convened. We, the undersigned residents of the District of Baie Verte, do hereby petition the House of Assembly to upgrade and pave our roads. The deplorable and unfit conditions of the roads in our area make travelling to and from school unsafe for school children, as well as jeopardize the safety of the travelling public, hurt economic growth opportunities, and betray a lack of commitment to rural areas of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am presenting another petition, as I say to the members opposite. Year after year, myself and other members on this honourable side of the House, bring forward petitions on behalf of people in this Province who are asking for some common decency. These people here are from Little Bay, Beachside, St. Patricks, Little Bay Islands. Even people in Springdale, in the adjacent district, Mr. Speaker, are supporting people in this petition. Hundreds of people have signed this petition. It was delivered to me this weekend because it is as simple as this: people in rural parts of Newfoundland and Labrador are sick and tired of being reminded every spring - although they like to see the warm weather coming, they do not like to see what is under the ground, Mr. Speaker. My colleague for The Strait & White Bay North referred to it as winter pavement. The time is up, the winter pavement is melting, and they are seeing the reality again. The reality is this: Thousands of kilometres of pavement in this Province is twenty-five years or older. The government talks about spending. We are talking about this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, in the year 2002, when they are sending space ships to Mars, we still have a thousand kilometers of road that is not even paved for the first time in this Province. That is how embarrassing this is, Mr. Speaker. That is why people in rural parts of Newfoundland and Labrador have to take the time to go around door to door to get people to sign petitions, not for a double-lane highway, not for a museum to be built, not for anything that is extravagant, but for the simple basic need of a decent road to drive over. That is what they are looking for. That is why they are wondering what this government's priorities are. Decent drinking water and decent roads. People in Little Bay, Beachside and St. Patricks and in Little Bay Islands are now seeing again this spring that they are going over waves of pavement. They have school children who get on a bus every morning to go over a state of road that makes them sick before they get to school. That is downright despicable, Mr. Speaker.

Every single year we, and Members in this House of Assembly, get these petitions, there will be protests on the roads again, and why? Because this government has ignored what is a basic necessity in this Province: a decent road to travel over. That is all they are asking for. They are not asking for the sky is the limit. They are just asking for a bit of respect when it comes to basic infrastructure of a road. Year after year, the same government, the same group, and in all due respect -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: - to the hon. the Minister of Transportation who is here today, Mr. Speaker, the most current one, I have dealt with five ministers in this House (inaudible) the same thing.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: By leave, Mr. Speaker, to clue up?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the time to clue it up.

I say to the current minister: I have talked to five different ministers in this House in the last seven or eight years, with the same situation every year. All they are saying is, to not wait until the last minute, to April, to see who is going to protest, to see who is going to send petitions. Let people in this Province know that there is a plan, that you are actually going to address their concerns, and give a long-term plan so people in Little Bay and Beachside can have some common decency and a decent road to drive over.

I support this petition, Mr. Speaker, and I hope that we can see something done to this road in the very near future.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Trinity North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROSS WISEMAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of the people from the Clarenville area. I will just read the prayer. It says:

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced in its 2001-2002 Budget that there will be a long-term care facility constructed in Clarenville, and that the Department of Health and Community Services was given $500,000 to start the engineering and design work; and

WHEREAS on August, 2001, the then Acting Minister of Health and Community Services further commited in a letter to the Town of Clarenville that a forty-four bed long-term care facility would be built in Clarenville.

Mr. Speaker, as I have said in previous petitions that have been presented in this House on behalf of some of these same people, this has been an issue that has been outstanding for some time in the Clarenville area, and in last week's Budget there was an announcement of $500,000 to be going towards planning and continued planning of the long-term health care facility in Clarenville.

I think the message I got this past weekend, while in the district, was that when the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board announced her Budget last week, what she failed to say was that in last year's Budget, the one she delivered twelve months ago, she followed up with that Budget by telling the people of that area that she was going to put another amount of money into this year's Budget for the start of construction. What they were really surprised with was the fact that when the Budget came out this time there was a press release that said: We are continuing with the $500,000 commitment. We saw in this Budget last week a re-announcement of the same $500,000 that was announced last year. Two years in a row we get the same announcement for the same $500,000. Mr. Speaker, it begs to question about how committed this government is to, in fact, providing for long-term care services to the people of that area.

In fact, this past weekend I had some people question whether or not the Premier had been sincere in his commitment to providing long-term care services in Clarenville, and questioned whether or not he was trying to, in some way, punish the people of the Clarenville area.

What I have said to the people in response to that question is: I believe that the Premier is an honourable person. I believe that the Premier will, in fact, live up to the commitment he made to the people of that area last year. I said, Mr. Speaker, that by September of this year I was confident that the Premier was going to ensure that his government lived up to the commitments they made in last year's Budget, the commitment that was reiterated in this past Budget, the commitment that his former minister has made, the commitment that his current minister has made, to the people of the Clarenville area -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. ROSS WISEMAN: - and I have expressed confidence that the Premier would not be as vindictive, or vindictive enough, to withhold that kind of service from the people.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Orders of the Day

 

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

MR. LUSH: Motion 1, Mr. Speaker, the hon. the Minister of Finance to move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole on Supply.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion 1.

The hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board.

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

I have received a message from His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor.

MR. SPEAKER: All rise.

The message is addressed to the hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board:

I, the Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, transmit Estimates of sums required for the Public Service of the Province for the year ending March 31, 2003. By way of Interim Supply and in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution Act, 1867, I recommend these Estimates to the House of Assembly.

Sgd.: ___________________________

A.M. House, Lieutenant-Governor

The hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I move that the message, together with the bill, be referred to the Committee of Supply.

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

Committee of the Whole

CHAIR (Mercer): Order, please!

Bill 2, "An Act For Granting To Her Majesty Certain Sums Of Money For Defraying Certain Expenses Of The Public Service For The Financial Year Ending March 31, 2003 And For Other Purposes Relating To The Public Service."

The hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board.

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

The 2002-2003 Interim Supply Bill which is being presented here to the House of Assembly today makes provision for three months supply, with a total allocation of $1,214,081,000, representing approximately 30 per cent of the 2002-2003 Budget, the gross current and capital expenditure accounts.

It is basically intended to provide for the continuation of ongoing government programs and projects, and included in this Interim Supply Bill are general ongoing housekeeping expenditures which include six pay periods, ongoing program and project funding requirements which are applicable to the year 2002-2003. This, of course, includes social assistance pay periods as well. This provides departments with the sufficient cash flow it requires to manage both the current and capital expenditures for the period of April 1, 2002 through until June 30, 2002.

The Interim Supply Bill is not normally intended to fund new services, however, it is possible for the bill to authorize new expenditures if such items were spelled out for the House of Assembly. The 2002-2003 Interim Supply Bill includes funding for several new expenditure initiatives. The first one, of course, is the domestic Fuel Tank Replacement Program of $2 million.

This was an initiative that was announced just a few weeks ago and this will be implemented or come into effect on April 1, 2002. It works like this, Mr. Chair: households with family net income of less than $22,397, and who use home heating fuel as their primary source of heat, will be eligible for the grant upon replacement of a domestic fuel tank, 2,500 litres or less. The amount of $22,397 is the same amount at which the Newfoundland and Labrador Child Tax Credit is fully phased out. Family net income would include the net income of the home owner and his or her spouse.

Households that qualify will be eligible for a grant of 50 per cent of the install cost of the new tank to a maximum of $300. All of these new installations, of course, must be in compliance with the heating oil storage tank regulations. Individuals who wish to apply for a grant must forward the completed application form to my department, the Department of Finance, along with an invoice verifying the cost of tank replacement.

Again, we see this, Mr. Chair, as a very good initiative and I would like to commend my colleague, the Minister of Environment, for this initiative, and it will be financed through my department. The new tank, of course, would be certified by a licensed inspector and it would be registered with the Department of Environment. That is a $2 million allocation.

In addition to that, there is a Strategic Highway Infrastructure Program, or commonly referred to as a SHIP program. This is for an allocation of $2.1 million. Mr. Chair, these two components of the Strategic Highway Infrastructure Program will cover the cost of infrastructure on the roads in Port aux Basque and also Corner Brook. It is $2.1 million. This, of course, is contingent on the federal government signing this agreement. As you know, we have an $80 million allocation. This $2.1 million will be contingent on the federal government signing off on this fund. We anticipate it will happen. We do not expect that it will not be signed off. However, it is a new expenditure and therefore would have to be part of this Interim Supply Bill. Again, this is very important because we recognize the ongoing needs for our roads and for the upgrades that are required. This particular program focuses strictly on the Trans-Canada Highway, and this initiative, our share of it, amounts to $2.1 million.

The third component, under the Interim Supply, is in reference to our Natural Heritage Stewardship Secretariat of $429,600.

All of these three programs were previously identified in the Budget. This is not new information but it is new to this bill because they are new expenditures and by law, are required to be included in the Interim Supply Bill.

The Natural Heritage Stewardship Secretariat is one that I want to commend my colleagues, in both the Department of Industry, Trade and Rural Development and, specifically, my colleague from the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. This will serve our Province in many ways. I think it has been identified as finding the balance between environmental protection and also growing our economy and our industry in this particular area. The aim is for long-term goals such as increased funding for natural resource research and establish the body of scientific expertise, and also an operational program to ensure that our outdoor resources in Newfoundland and Labrador will be successfully managed. This is really part of a long-term plan surrounding resource management capacity and it demonstrates our government's priority in terms of maintaining the natural resources and prioritizes that for us, and for the people of the Province.

It also will allow the best and most effective programs of research and scientific inquiry. In other words, it will allow best practices to guide us as we move into the coming decades to ensure that we have maximized benefits, increased relevance, and we also enhanced the educational program of the Province's wildlife and natural areas through research and inventory programs. I think the key here is on the inventory program because it is important for us to know exactly what our inventory is, particularly of our game, and other forms of the environment which we are very interested in protecting.

Again, these three components: the Domestic Fuel Tank Replacement Program for $2 million; the Strategic Highway Infrastructure Program for $2.1 million, to cover roads in both Corner Brook and Port aux Basques; and our Natural Heritage Stewardship Secretariat for $429,000, which really speaks to only a portion of the money because there was an annualized amount of $2.8 million. This portion is the new portion of that amount of money because we will continue to build on existing components of the departments that are already in place under the Wildlife Division. We will continue to grow that sector so that we are able to enhance our wildlife and natural areas, particularly as it relates to numbers and enhancing the research base.

The timing of Interim Supply, Mr. Chair, is very important and really has to receive Royal Assent by March 26, 2001. The reason for this is so that we are able to have our social assistance cheques released on that day in order for them to be sent to Labrador so that they can meet the pay period and payday of April 1, 2002. A Notice of Motion was given to the House last week on March 19, with the Interim Supply Bill to be tabled in the House on Monday, March 25, 2002.

Mr. Chair, as well, there is a breakdown of each of the various departments for the amount of money that they will require to carry on the operations of government for the next three months. It includes all the departments. It also includes monies that will be transferred out to our health boards and to our school boards so that they can continue to provide health care services and school services, educational programs in our Province. As well, it identifies allocations that will go to the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation, our Human Resources and Employment Department, which is the department responsible for the release of our Social Assistance cheques; which will have to be out in the mail by March 26, again, to meet the pay period deadline of April 1, 2002.

Mr. Chair, that is a summary of the Interim Supply Bill which is, again, a normal component of our operations. It is broken down in proportion to allow for the next three months of operations of government to allow to happen with respect to housekeeping initiatives, mostly around six pay periods and providing necessary services for government, for the Legislature, and for our boards.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

It is the same old story, I might add, the same old story. Introduce a bill today and it needs approval right away, within a couple of days for $1.2 billion; that's all.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: (Inaudible)

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, don't approve it, the minister says, if we don't want the cheques out. She brings in a bill today and wants it approved tomorrow; $1.2 billion, that is what she is talking about.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That's right. Why didn't you have the Budget earlier? Why didn't you get the Interim Supply out before that, I say to the minister? Because your procrastination and your delay in giving us a bill now - you want $1.2 billion approved tomorrow, I say to the minister. That is the type of fiscal responsibility we are seeing from this minister here. Then on top of that, gave us a false figure on what the deficit is.

Our own Comptroller General, Mr. Williams, published a report in each (inaudible) and shows what, basically, the Province owes; what our overruns were for the current year; what our deficit is.

The minister stood here in this House last Thursday and told us that we owe - and this current Budget is going to be a $93 million deficit, when she knows fully well they have manipulated, they have misled, they have moved pots of money around and deferred revenue. They give the impression now that we are in better shape than we are, and it is a fantastic economy. Then, when it turns around, to put on a poor face. They do a good job of doing that. I can't see how they can talk out of both sides of their mouth at the one time.

Now, if you look at the $93 million deficit; they robbed $97 million from the Labrador Fund, that would be $190 million. They took another $44 million in dividends from Hydro, not counting another $14 million on top of that for guaranteeing debt. Then they took deferred revenues, another $52 million. These deferred revenues were a certain amount from the sinking funds but also some other amounts from other areas. For example, Newfoundland and Labrador Housing took $10 million out of that; they took $10 million from the Liquor Commission. They did not take that last year, and said, we will keep that to make things look a bit better next year. Hydro from the Gull Island, they took another $3 million on top of what they took out of Hydro.

Add these up, just these three items, deferred revenues, take the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund, and take what we took from Hydro, and we have a $286 million deficit right there, not counting numerous other allocations that should be credited in. We would have a $500 million deficit.

The minister stands up and tries to tell us it is only $93 million, and then she wants it approved almost before we get a copy. The first time I saw it was today, the Interim Supply Bill received today. Some housekeeping, I might add, for $1.2 billion, a pretty expensive housekeeper. Must be like the one who arranges the luncheons and the dinners for government, and arranges their travel, and brings seven people on a Premier's aircraft and divides it by seven and says that is all it costs to go. Look, if the Premier did not go, ministers did not go, do you think other people would be on that fight? Nonsense! That is a direct cost of government and they know it full well.

This government cannot tell the truth, first of all. It cannot tell the truth. We have seen the deficit in this Province from 1997, the last five years, grow from $7.33 billion to almost $9 billion dollars. We have seen a $1.5 billion debt put on this Province in the last five years. Can you imagine, a $1.5 billion debt?

Then we talk about the Labrador Transportation Initiative. I asked that question here in the House before the Budget, and what did the minister do? Avoid it, wait and see. Does this make sense? If someone leaves a trust to you and your family for $97 million, and somebody comes in and takes that $97 million and spends it and tells you we will commit or promise, we will give you $17 million a year for the next six years, no legal agreement, nothing in writing, just verbal nonsense, and tell you that, that is utter nonsense.

Then they go around crazy, some of the members, the Minister for Labrador & Aboriginal Affairs, the Member for Cartwright- L'Anse au Clair, she was like a hen with her head cut off running around, twist peoples arms, and to tell them it is a great deal for Labrador. It is a great deal! Labrador does not need great deals, if that is a great deal, to take $97 million out of a fund that is committed, that this very government and the very Minister of Finance stood - and here is what she said: It doesn't make sense to leave that money in a fund getting no interest.

If it did not make sense to have it in a fund, it did not make sense to put it in the fund in the first place, that she supported. That logic is gone. That does not wash, and people are not silly enough to believe that, I can tell you. They are not ready and willing to believe that utter nonsense.

I am sure the minister - yes, I heard there were sparks flying. There were sparks flying in the Liberal caucus with the Labrador members. There were sparks flying, I can guarantee you, before this Budget, and they said: We have to do something. We will promise something six years down the road; that is what we are going to do. We are going to promise you something for giving us $97 million dollars.

I ask questions, as Leader of the Opposition, back in 1997. I asked the then Premier of the Province, Brian Tobin, when that agreement was signed: Are there sufficient funds to do all of the highway in Labrador? I said there is not enough money in that fund to do all three phases and maintain a ferry service. He would not answer. He would not tell the truth. He gave the impression there was enough in it, until a year later when the Minister of Labrador & Aboriginal Affairs stood up and admitted there was not enough to do Phase III, what I have been saying all along, and the Premier of the Province denied that back when this fund came down.

In the fall of 1997, he took that $347.6 million and decided - that was when they got it from the federal government. That was the interest accumulated up to that time from the $340 million. They give it away for $340 million. Then, in December of 1997, they decided - this was enacted in January, when it became law, the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund that this Legislature brought forward, and we supported it. We supported it, along with that side of the House, to set up a fund dedicated for Labrador initiatives. The law of this Province indicates how that fund could be used. I asked that in Question Period last week or the week before. I asked in this House and I said: Here is the reason where this fund could be used. It told about putting it into safe investments and how you can use that money to generate interest, and one of the areas was not to spend it on education, health care and roads and environment and mines and fisheries and everybody else in Newfoundland and Labrador. That was not one of the purposes of that fund. The purpose of that fund was solely dedicated to the Labrador Transportation Initiatives and that was spelled out in that act. I quoted that act, and the Member for Labrador West quoted that act today. It is a whitewash.

If this government was commited to doing something for Labrador, they would leave that fund there, and then they stand up and say: This fund is going to be set aside to maintain the ferry service and we will commited $17 million a year for six years to do Phase III, if there is a real commitment there. This government knows, through their mismanagement - and just read the Auditor General's report - they projected the Labrador ferry service would cost $7 million a year forever after 2004. It is going to cost us now - the projections are revised - double that, $14 million and beyond. They were projecting it was going to be $11 million when it cost $21 million. They were way off on their projections and now they are doubled. The fund was going to be depleted basically some time around 2010 or 2011 depending on how much these costs could be contained on the ferry service. That is what they did. They played smoke and mirrors with the people and tried to give them something on one hand, and they came around and pulled it away with the other.

If anyone tells me that I inherited a trust of $97 million for our use and nobody else's, and they go out and give it to everybody else, and then tell us they are going to pay it back over six years, on a promise. That commitment to the people of Labrador will only come when you stand in the House on an annual basis and look at what is in the Budget for transportation for Labrador and then it gets approval. That is the commitment that is going to be done. They are committing something into the year 2007-2008. They are giving a commitment for 2007 in this House. It is easy to commit money five and six years down the road when they might not even have the authority to spend it. They might not even be there to spend it. It is smoke. It is throwing up something. It is utter nonsense.

Then the Member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair out to try to tell what a fantastic deal it is. No wonder Danny Dumaresque, the former member, was here in the Speaker's gallery today looking over her shoulder to see how she sold out Labrador, knocking on the door the next time, that is what will happen. He was down there today. I said before, the reason they booted him out before is because he did not serve the interest. He was too closely tied in to the former Premier, chased him around, neglected the people in Labrador. He went south in the midst of an election, rushed home a week later, and that is what is happening now. The Member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair sees him knocking on the door today because they sold out. They took a trust, they took an act, they took a fund dedicated for a promise. You can cut it any way you like, that is what they did. Nobody can stand up here in this House and say any different because they tried to pull one over. They knew when they were going to take the money.

There was fuss raised by some members in Labrador, by some of the members, and they swallowed. They said ,we will go on this promise. We think we could push that by the people of Labrador. We will go down and make an announcement.

When did you ever hear tell of people leaving the day after a Budget and flying down to Labrador with big announcements? The last time I heard that, Brian Tobin spent $150,000 to get a flatbed, stand up with a big map of Labrador behind him and announce a transportation initiative when this fund was there, and spent another $20,000 for a speech, another $20,000 for a speech he never even got to give properly.

That is the type of commitment - nonsense! Tens and tens of millions of dollars thrown out haphazardly there. Get fiscal control, do accountability, stop wasting piles of money to create an impression, and you will have more money to run the affairs of this Province. That is one of the major concerns.

We are told by this minister, a $93 million deficit. How do you figure this one out? We are going to grow 3.7 per cent, we have the best economy in the country, we have led the country three of five years in GDP, we are going to increase it 3.7 per cent this year, jobs are going to go up, personal income is going to increase, disposable personal income is going to increase, but we are going to collect $1 million less in income tax and the same rate we are using this year as next year. Tell me how that is going to happen.

Employment is going to reach its highest level in history, this Budget says; personal income is going to be the highest, disposable income is going to be the highest, and we are going to take in $1 million less in income tax. If things are so great, the population, there are so many working out there, there are so many paying taxes, the tax rate has not gone down, so why would we take in less? In fact, it did not go down. That is another little smoke and mirror thing that I said at this time when they changed that tax. In fact the provincial tax now, basically, is over 70 per cent in most cases of the federal rate. What was it before they harmonized it? Sixty-two per cent before they separated from the federal tax. It was 62 per cent of federal tax. It was at 69, they were going to go 62 to 55 and 49. What was it? When they found the feds were dropping theirs, they lowered us back from 17 to 16, the middle one from 26 to 22, and the top one at 29, and they were going to put another bracket above 29 - basically 29 per cent for those over $100,000 - this Province quickly brought in an act and separated the federal and provincial tax. Right now, if you take the lowest federal rate, what was the lowest federal rate of 17 per cent, and take 62 per cent of that, it comes to 10.54. Our rate is 10.57, the same amount, so what they did, they took it of the higher rate and when the feds dropped theirs to 16, when you file your income tax now you are paying over 70 per cent, in most cases, of the federal rate.

Not only did they pull a fast one there, what did they do? People on disabilities who were getting a deduction of $6,000 federally, the Province is at 4,233, so we get a lower deduction. Anybody trying to fill out income tax forms this year and look at students, you get a $400 deduction for attending a full-time post-secondary education and the Province gives you $200. You have to fill out two separate forms, different levels of credit, and the difference is $200 a month less, basically. You can get a credit when you apply that to your non-refundable tax credit; on education alone. So, that is an area where they pulled a fast one. They did it on disability.

The basic personal exemption: That is even starting to get different. There is even a two dollar difference this year. Next year it will be higher.

What is the spousal amount? The spousal amount, federally, $6,293, provincially, $6,055. We have nickled and dimmed and clawed the disabled, students, low income working spouses and non-working spouses. We have clawed that back and we have put an extra tax burden on the people of our Province. That is what this government is doing; a government of deceit, that is playing with numbers, that is not telling the truth, and it all comes home to roost sooner or later.

Anybody who has followed that, tell me this. Why can a senior this year make less income than last year and pay thirty-eight dollars more in taxes? Why? The federal tax went down. Because the provincial tax increased. They are paying more in provincial tax. That is what has happened.

A man I spoke with in Lewisporte just last week -

AN HON. MEMBER: What are you doing now? Looking for Tom's seat, are you?

MR. SULLIVAN: No, not at all. People are calling me with tax matters. I think even the outstanding Member for Lewisporte referred it to the critic; what we do in many cases. I spoke with that gentleman who has filled out the forms on this year's taxes, then took the same income and put it on last year's forms, and he paid more money this year than he did on the same form last year. That is the tax break that this government gives; gives it on one hand and pulls back that and a little bit more on the other hand. That is the theme of smoke and mirrors that this government advocates here.

Now, can anyone tell me how we are going to have increase in taxes, if you just look at -

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: By leave, Mr. Chairman? We are in a debate on supply, I will only get back up again if -

CHAIR: Does the member have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes.

CHAIR: By leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you.

As the critic, I appreciate some leave, because fifteen minutes to speak on $1.2 billion, as the critic, isn't very much time. I appreciate having leave here because -

MR. LUSH: If you haven't struck a well after fifteen minutes (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That is not the case at all. There are a lot of people who dug for days here in this Province before they struck a well, I might say. You talk to the oil companies, they have drilled for a long while before they struck a well, I say to the Government House Leader. That is it. Maybe we might strike a crack in their armor. That is what he is afraid of it, rather than striking a well.

I might want to add, 40,000 less people in this Province, according to the census. Can you imagine, 40,000 less people? That is equivalent to taking the City of Corner Brook, Grand Falls-Windsor and Stephenville out of this Province. That is the difference. How much less money is going to be spent on goods and services? The biggest contributor to the GDP in this Province is the service producing industry. The oil industry only produces a small percent of the GDP in this Province; a small percent of it. In the billion range at about $14 billion, about 7 or 8 per cent, ballpark. The service producing industry, over half the GDP. So you take 40,000 people out of Newfoundland and Labrador buying cars, buying food, buying clothing and other items, supporting the economy, you have a major, major hole to fill in terms of revenue.

What are we doing? We are managing decline in this Province. That is basically what we are doing, managing decline. We are into a cycle. That cycle is going and going and going, and we can never get on an upward spiral. It is a downward spiral that is happening here. That is shameful, because in 1997, a $7.438 billion net debt - and there figures are taken from the government's own records, the Comptroller General in the Public Accounts that is tabled in the fall of each year indicates that we had debt of $7.438 billion in 1997. It grew to $7.66 billion the next year; $7.81 billion the next year; $8.08 billion the next year; $8.43 billion and this year it is going hit almost $9 billion. Can you imagine increasing the debt of our Province between 20 per cent and 25 per cent in five years? Well, they found a way to do it, I can tell you. They haven't found a way to deliver service.

I heard today saying that - in fact, the oncologists - and I raised this issue a few years ago. All the oncologists working here have left. There are about thirteen, I think -

AN HON. MEMBER: Twenty-three in eight years.

MR. SULLIVAN: Twenty-three left in eight years. The last time I was critic, just a year before I - everyone of them left. What do we do? They left because their workloads were enormous. Their pay was way below the Canadian standard. What was the alternative? It came out that we could not treat these people in a safe period of time -

MR. JOYCE: (Inaudible) the deficit, boy; the deficit.

MR. SULLIVAN: I am getting to the deficit, I say to the Member for Bay of Islands. I am going to explain to you.

They were getting way underpaid. They were overworked with enormous workloads, unsafe workloads, and they found that they could not treat patients in a reasonable period of time, so we shipped them off to private clinics in the United States, down in Cleveland. We paid for skilled labour, skilled jobs in the United States. We invested money into skilled jobs in the United States. Millions of dollars was spent to send people down in the United States. Why don't we invest on the front end to reduce workloads to be able to deal with these people in a reasonable period of time? I do not agree with sending people when we have an alternative. Creating jobs anywhere - in Halifax. Creating jobs across Canada. We have created jobs across Canada in heart surgery at the expense of people here in our Province.

This government is penney-wise and pound foolish in what they are doing; penney-wise and pound foolish. They spent a million to a private clinic in the U.S. but they will not spend a million to bring oncologists in here and pay them reasonably to keep them here within a reasonable framework. We do not expect to be paying oncologists or anybody the highest in Canada. We do not expect that. We do not expect you to compete with the United States. I have always said, within these professions we have to able to compete, at least, with Atlantic Canada. If not, we have to accept the fact that we are going to relegate our system to a second-class service; a second-class system if we are not prepared to be competitive, at least, with Atlantic Canada. When you can cross the Gulf and go to Halifax and other areas, and there have been discrepancies in many medical areas. Some got resolved through an extent with some reclassification, is what they called it but it was really a salary increase in most cases. They just used another name because they did not want everybody else looking for reclassification and so on or salary increases. I mean they cut it how they like and maneuver it around.

I will not debate that point but whatever it is, the gap has closed in certain areas but there are other areas we have to look at addressing more efficiently. When you keep putting out fires - when you leave things to a point where it is extreme and you have to start putting out fires, when it has gone too far you lose the whole building. You have to rebuild it. You have to start from the bottom. If you could deal with these earlier before it gets too large you can have more economies. You can get results without going to that extent. This government has not found that out.

When you look at this Budget, and they are looking for extra money here in Supply, when you look at this Budget, there are over 600 less jobs going to be in this fiscal year, 600 less jobs; 208, they have admitted, in education. They stood up and told us two weeks ago, under this new agreement we put forth for teachers, there is $170 new million going to be on the salary scale at the end of this period, at the end of three years. That is wrong, that is outright wrong. That was based on the number of teachers and people who were going to be in the system then, but they announced it within days. The Budget was being printed. I guess it was gone to print probably, probably gone to print, when they knew there were 208 less. That figure that the minister gave, adding to the education after three years, is not going to be there because I am saying it is not including the 208. The previous figure they mentioned, with the increase, included 208. The Budget on Thursday did not include that, and that is between $10 million and $11 million a year, I say to the Minister of Education. That is $10 million to $11 million a year for three years. Then, if you compound that on other ones, we are looking at about $40 million more that is not going to be there in this Budget, if you look at it.

Just look at the education budget in salaries in your own budget you put forth this year and see what I am talking about. Just look at it, $24 million less. How are we going to get $170 million more in salaries if there is $24 million less in the Budget? That math does not add up. That does not add up because it was never, never, never correct in the first place; and at the same time they were telling us what they were adding in percentages, they knew they were going to be 208 less. The decision was already made. They did not give us a true figure; it was a false figure.

MR. MATTHEWS: I thing your biggest disappointment is that a $300 or $400 million deficit was not a reality. (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I can tell the former Finance Minister, who is shouting across the House now, the Member for St. John's North, the former Finance Minister here, that his deficits were not very much better. They were a bit better. He started - is there a trend going on, I say? He got in and destroyed the Department of Health, he brought it to its knees. Then the new Minister of Finance, when she was Minister of Health, crumbled the system; she decimated it. Now they are gone into Finance. Can you imagine? Destroy the Department of Health, destroy health in the Province, and take them out of Health and put them in Finance? That is what they did with both of them. What do they want? Do they want us to go on the rocks, completely on the rocks, and be destroyed, self-destruct? I would like to catch by the neck the person who appointed them to those positions. I would like to get a hold of him and have a chat with the person who made those decisions, because it was not a decision - maybe because they could put forth a false budget, maybe they can sort of throw out a few figures and hide figures, but they do not fool the people of the Province. I can tell you, we are not going to fool the people of the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) hit him over the head with a mallet.

MR. SULLIVAN: Maybe I should. If I thought it would do any good, but I am not so sure. I am not so sure hitting him with a mallet might get any better result. I am just half afraid that if I hit him with a mallet, the result might be even worse. That is why I would not take the chance on hitting them with a mallet over the head, I might add.

Talk about this Budget, talk about the deficit.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is your time up yet?

MR. SULLIVAN: My time is never up, unlimited time when I speak on the Budget debate. I know this is not Budget debate, but if my colleagues are waiting, or somebody there, I do not mind sharing time.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Mr. Chairman, to get the thing straight on the time, the hon. member is allowed fifteen minutes and we have allowed him to go overtime now. I do not know by how much. I just wonder whether he plans to carry on or whether he plans to recognize that other people, other members, may like to speak. When we are given leave of the House there is a courtesy that we just do not carry on in an unlimited manner. I thought the member was going to say a few things and sit down and give someone else a chance to speak.

CHAIR: To the point of order, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Easy, I say to the Minister of Mines and Energy, you will get your opportunity.

To the point of order, the Government House Leader makes a good point but the Member for Ferryland and the Finance critic could go on for hours and hours and hours. That is how well prepared he is, I say to the Government House Leader.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: In his role as Opposition Finance critic, that is part and parcel of his responsibilities, to go on dealing with all of the Estimates that you are dealing with. Now, let's be clear. The government is not looking for $1 million; they are looking for $1.2 billion. He has been up on his feet for fifteen or twenty minutes and now they are complaining about it. Let's be clear; you are not looking for small change, I say to the Government House Leader. We are involved in Committee. If you want to withdraw leave, it is your absolute right, parliamentary right, to go ahead and withdraw leave to let some other members up. Certainly we have other members and we have a long afternoon, maybe all night, maybe all tomorrow night, who knows?

The fact of the matter is, he is operating on leave, no requirement for a point of order, I say to the Government House Leader. If you want him to sit down, withdraw leave and he will sit down. He will wait out the Minister of Mines and Energy, and then he will get up and enlighten us again, which I am sure he will.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: To the point of order, the hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Mr. Chairman, the House could have done without that pontificating and that lecturing.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. LUSH: Mr. Chairman, there are people on this side of the House who could speak for hours as well, hour on hour, but, Mr. Chairman, we have rules and it is only right and proper that we should follow them. The hon. member was speaking with fifteen minutes and I allowed him to go on. I just wanted to find out, without the lecturing and the pontificating from the hon. Opposition House Leader, I just wanted to see -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. LUSH: I just wanted to see if we could not straighten out matters on the time. We do not just want to stand up and withdraw leave, but when you give leave to an hon. member usually he winds up so other members can speak; but I do not think the hon. member gave any indication that he was winding down. He was winding up.

CHAIR: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Could we have order please?

Thank you.

There is no point of order, but the Chair simply reminds members that in the rules of Interim Supply, the minister introducing the debate has fifteen minutes, the Opposition critic has fifteen, and any member thereafter has ten minutes and they can rise as often as they wish.

The hon. the minister, the hon. the Opposition House Leader, the hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The third try, they say, is always lucky.

I do not know, to be honest with you, if I am winding up or winding down, because there is so much to say. What I will say is that, if that side of the House is waiting, and they are eager to jump up in here and try to defend the Budget, I do not mind sitting down. I am entitled, when they speak, if no member on this side wants to get up, I can get up every second ten minutes for the rest of today and tomorrow, if I want to. I am aware of that, that it is not only debate. So what I will do is, I will have my couple of comments now. If they want to withdraw leave, they may do so, Mr. Chairman, and I will sit down and then we will hear the counter-argument to what I said; what is wrong about what I said. I would like to hear someone stand then and tell me what I said was wrong, based on what I have said here in this House, if they can contradict that. If they can, I would love to hear it. I do not think it can be contradicted because there is no contradiction for the truth.

This Budget you look at - and I have said not only did they play the game on this Budget, they did it with teacher contracts. When the minister said $170 million added to it when she knew at the time that 208 teachers were coming out, that is over $10 million a year for three years, that is over $30 million, compound that with the different increases and we are looking at in the $40 million range, we are finding out, that is coming out by having less teachers in the system.

Look at her Budget! The department budget shows $24 million less in salaries this year. When that announcement was made on the contract - that is why I think I expected it would drop probably 10 per cent in acceptance when they found that out, and had they waited another week I think it probably would be down another 10 per cent (inaudible). I sincerely believe that because we did not get the truth. We got a false figure at the beginning.

They are not the only job losses. When you look at the salaries in government - and do not treat it as no job losses when there are. Look at the salary budgets of government, the public service, look at the projected salary increases and look what is budgeted, we will see 300 less jobs, people working next year, than there are right now in the public service across. That is not counting teachers, 208, they have admitted that.

In health care, how do you maintain the same people in health care? We had $97 million - tabled in this House on November 21, we had tabled here the health boards in this Province, and they listed all of them. Out of $97 million -

AN HON. MEMBER: It is up to $107 million now.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I know. I say to my colleague $97 million as of March 31, 2001, and since that there is estimated another $10 million or $12 million on top because all health care corporations did not get to cut where they were ordered to cut. They could not find the cuts, basically, and there are a few million there. I think, I do believe, community health boards was another $8 million or $9 million range. We are looking at $110 million that is overruns in health corporations and health boards around this Province that is not reflected on the books of our Province here in this Budget and is not counted. That is a lot of money. Board are being given money and asked to try to find it. Where are they going to find the money to carry them overruns and provide the same level of services that they provided this year? It is not going to happen. There is going to be a longer waiting list, there is going to be a lower quality of service provided to the people of this Province, and I just wish that the minister would stand up and tell the truth about it all. Don't be trying to hide these figures. Don't be trying to mislead the public. Get up front and be honest about it and say: Look, here is what is going to happen. We are going to increase the waiting list by 20 per cent, or 15 per cent; we are not going to put the money in there.

She was in Health for three or four years, brought the health system to its knees, and now has gone over to Finance and trying to finish off this Province now in that position. I am telling you, very serious decisions and poor judgement in not using the finances appropriately to get the best result for the dollar, that is the mistake that was made. Lots of times we agree on many things on provision of services, but the waste that has gone on by government haphazardly throwing out money in things without an intended result. What do we have to measure - the programs, the departments, the accountability aspect; I could go on forever.

I know we have other members here who are eager to get up and speak on this too. I will be speaking on this again, either in the course of today or tomorrow, and when the Budget is called they will not be able to stand up then and tell me that I am not allowed to speak for fifteen minutes because I have unlimited time when it comes to the Budget debate. I will have unlimited time on responding to the Budget in this House, and I intend to take as much time as I feel is necessary to point out areas of this Budget that we are not getting the truth in, to scrutinize government expenditure to do that, and I will do that job as Finance critic here and I will be not be forced to sit down in my seat then to reveal something here that this government is trying to hide.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, I understand that in the Interim Supply debate we have ten minutes available to us by Standing Rules to speak on this particular debate on the Interim Supply that we need in order to continue the running of government after the end of the fiscal year, which is just a couple of days from now.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: I would ask the hon. the Member from Ferryland, who is a descent guy in most respects and an honourable guy for the most part, to at least allow those on this side of the House, when they get up, the opportunity to speak uninterrupted as we generally do for him.

MR. SULLIVAN: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Chairman, the Government House Leader was asking questions to me across the House, and if these government members do not want to listen to their own member there - I felt an obligation to answer his questions and response. If they do not want to ask questions, he will not hear anything from me. The Government House Leader initiated those questions and I was just being cooperative in responding to him, I say to the minister.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The fact of the matter is, while people viewing may not be able to get the full context of what is happening here in the House, the reality is that the hon. member on the other side had an allocated period of time in which to make some comments on Interim Supply. The fact of the matter is, that we, on this side of the House, out of courtesy to him as a member of the House, one amongst forty-eight of us, and, in particular, as the Finance critic, we allowed him to go about two or three times the length of time that was allocated to him at this particular time in debate. To hear him give the impression that we, on this side of the House, sat him down inappropriately, or withdrew leave inappropriately, is blatantly and patently unfair, inaccurate and gives a distorted view of what in fact is happening in this House.

We, on this side of the House, respect the role of the hon. the Member for Ferryland. We respect his role as a member of the House and we respect his role as the Opposition critic on Finance. We look forward to hearing from him, particularly when it is that he has something beneficial and something positive and something helpful to say. To date, in the short period of time that he has been on his feet, he has been less than helpful, less than constructive, and less than informative to the people of the Province in terms of his comments.

I want to make just a few comments today, Mr. Chairman, because I believe that, fundamentally, the Minister of Finance, when she rose in her place on March 21 to deliver the Budget for the next fiscal year, delivered one of the finest budgets given the fiscal circumstance of the country and given the fiscal circumstance of the Province. She delivered one of the finest budgets that you will hear of the ten, eleven or twelve budgets that will be delivered this year throughout the country. I speak of the ten provinces and the two territories. I say that, Mr. Chairman, not just to applaud the Minister of Finance and the government, in general, for the Budget that has come down but I say that because of the way in which the Budget was constructed, the principles on which we chose to stand as a government, the ground that we chose to stand on in bringing down this Budget, in showing commonsense and in striking the balance between prudence, responsibility, and fiscal capacity in this Province.

Mr. Chairman, the issue that is being raised and has been raised on a number of occasions with respect to the taking into revenue of the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund has become quite a focal point for purposes of the Opposition debating in this House in the last day or two, and I expect that they will have more to say on it. The fact of the matter is, Mr. Chairman, that it was prudent to take into revenue that amount of money, at this point of time, based on our needs and based on what that fund could otherwise have been used for in its current circumstance.

We, year after year, have to make decisions as government, for the thirteenth year now, I believe it is. The party on this side of the House has had the responsibility of striking a budget year after year in this Province; and year after year I believe there has been fiscal prudence exercised. There has been good planning exercised. There has been wise decisions taken with respect to the use of sinking funds, for the use of other types of funds and revenues that have come in, and this year is no different. I believe that as we, on this side of the House, sit and listen, we listen with interest not only for criticism - which is a role the Opposition has to provide and play. I take the role of the Opposition in this House and in every Legislature very seriously because, for sure, there is a very onerous, a very heavy, a very necessary responsibility placed on the oppositions in every Legislature to look at and look out to what it is government is doing and to bring forward constructive comment in terms of how we could better exercise our responsibility as government.

All too often, unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, what we hear in debate across the House is almost singularly only comments of criticism. Whereas the Opposition, if they really wanted to, could be helpful to government and helpful to the people of the Province in understanding what we are doing and what we are all about. The people of the Province know that, in one breath they hear the Opposition criticizing the expenditure of funds - and they do not even break stride, Mr. Chairman, to put a full stop between their sentences sometimes - and, in the same breath, they criticize government for the way in which we expend and allocate our funds, in the same breath that they say we are overspending, in the same breath that they say we are spending too much money in one area and we do not have the money to spend that we are allocating in the Budget, in the same breath they are asking for more money for various other activities in the Province.

All of the things that they ask for money for are not bad things. Many of them are good things: things for health care, things in education and things in other areas, but I would suggest that if the people on the other side of the House want to be helpful to us, one of the ways that they could be helpful is to support us, as the hon. the Leader of the Opposition did today to some extent, to support us as government, as he did today on the question of equalization changes that we are proposing. He rose in his place today, he commended the Premier for the presentations that were made to the Senate Finance Committee, and he said, we support that initiative and we will be there side by side with the government to strengthen their hand whenever we can to ensure that we get the right changes made to the equalization program.

I think it is only fair to say that we thank the Leader of the Opposition for that. What I would question is why, on the one hand, the Leader of the Opposition and the Official Opposition on the other side of the House would take that position with respect to the matter of equalization changes, when in another instance where they could be imminently as helpful they have refused to join us in supporting this Province receiving funds from other places in the federal system. I refer to the level of funding that some companies seek for their help in this Province from Industry Canada, as an example.

We heard the Opposition take a position recently, it was last fall in this Legislature, that said that while there is funding available from Industry Canada for investment in provinces across Canada to assist the development and the research of new technologies, while that money can be made available to the Bombardiers of the world in Quebec, while that money can be made available to the high tech companies of Canada, wherever they might want to apply for it, while that money can be spread from coast to coast in the instance of a particular company trying to get some money from that fund to do new research and development in this Province, the Leader of the Opposition, or the Opposition party generally, is taking the position that we do not want Industry Canada to put money into certain areas of enterprise in this Province for fear of developing our economy and creating some jobs.

I would invite the Opposition, I would invite the Finance critic, who is no longer in the House this afternoon, who has stepped out for obviously good reasons -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: I appreciate that, but I would invite him -

AN HON. MEMBER: Apologize.

MR. MATTHEWS: There is no apology needed. I just noticed he was gone, after I mentioned him.

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MATTHEWS: I would invite, then, the Leader of the House, the Opposition House Leader, on behalf of his -

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. MATTHEWS: I will conclude in a minute, Mr. Chair, if I can have time to do that.

CHAIR: Does the hon. the minister have leave?

MR. E. BYRNE: You can have thirty seconds.

CHAIR: By leave.

MR. MATTHEWS: There you go; the Opposition House Leader gives me thirty seconds to clue up, when we gave his critic thirty minutes to clue up. That is the mindset, I say, Mr. Chair, that is not helpful.

I would invite the House Leader on the other side to join us, as his leader did today, in supporting changes to equalization, to join us in supporting the invitation to the federal government to invest research and development funding into appropriate enterprises in this Province so that we can develop our economy.

The Member for St. Mary's, I believe, should be, and is, very interested in the proposition of having R&D money probably spent in his district providing we can get some issues sorted out with respect to the Inco negotiations.

I would ask the Opposition House Leader to follow the example of his party leader today in supporting this government where it is appropriate to support us in an effort to get assistance from Ottawa for the development of our economy. We need changes to equalization, but we also need to be inviting of the federal government to participate in this Province in investing money so that research and development can be carried out where they deem it is an appropriate expenditure of funds. That type of co-operation, that type of support back and forth across the House, and indeed as representing the spirit of why we are all here, to essentially try to do good by the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, that type of co-operation, I believe, would go a long way in sending the right message to those who have the levers of financial assistance available to them in Ottawa that could be helpful to us.

I believe that we are all here, in this House, fundamentally on the same basis and for the same reason, and that is to try and improve the lot of the people of the Province by us, as legislators, making the right decisions with respect to matters that affect the Province; and by us, as government, making the right decisions with respect to providing good governance in the Province.

Mr. Chairman, I would conclude - because I do not want to abuse the leave that has been given me - by asking the people on the other side of the House to follow the example set by the Leader of the Opposition today when he stood and supported changes to equalization, that they equally be as supportive in standing and supporting other funding initiatives, and inviting the federal government to co-operate and participate in this Province's economy so that we will grow it, strengthen it, and have a better circumstance for ourselves.

I should not refer to the Finance critic because he is not here, but as many on the other side of the House rise to speak in this debate, I hope that they will take the opportunity to be helpful where they can, to be critical where it is necessary, but above all to be honest in comments that heretofore have been suggestive that we are doing things that are not straightforward, honest and upright. This government, through this minister, has presented this Budget. It is clear, it is transparent, it is open and it is accountable. I believe the people of the Province see it and do accept it for what it is, and for the benefits that it will provide in terms of public services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Before recognizing the hon. the Opposition House Leader, I just want to remind members that, because a member may not be in his seat at the moment, we have a standing rule in Standing Orders that we do not refer to members who may be out of the House. I would ask all members to refrain from drawing attention to the fact that any member is not in his seat at any particular time.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

I am glad to have the opportunity to respond on Interim Supply. For those who may not be aware, Interim Supply is a wide-ranging debate. It is a money bill where members in the House can talk about any and all issues surrounding debate relating to monies in the Budget, issues facing the Province, et cetera.

I appreciate the Member for Lewisporte, my colleague who was scheduled to speak next, to allow me to respond directly to the Minister of Finance's invitation, I suppose. Let's be clear on what he was inviting members on this side to do. He talks about being the defender of accountability, the defender of truth and the defender of honesty in his statement. In the same breath, this is what he has asked this House to do. In 1999, that member, along with a former Premier and all of his colleagues sitting on that side of the House, got elected on a mandate. If there is any person in this House today who knows that as good as anybody else, it is me, because I was the Leader of the Opposition at the time when your Premier of the day asked the people: Who is it that you want to negotiate on your behalf when it comes to Voisey's Bay and the Lower Churchill? Who do you - meaning the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador - want to finish the job and negotiations? What was your mandate? What was their stance at the time?

AN HON. MEMBER: Not one spoonful.

MR. E. BYRNE: Not one ounce; not one spoonful.

Let's talk about your position, vis--vis, Inco. Since you raised it, let's talk about it. In this House that minister stood and passed legislation with each and every member in this House. What did that legislation do? It allowed the Cabinet, of which he was a member, to redefine mining leases after they had been commited. The Government of the day, members on each side of the House who supported the legislation, were criticized. Why did his government introduce that legislation? Because they said they were in possession of studies that they had commissioned, internal studies, that showed even at the current price for nickel in 1997, when it was at an all-time low, that the Voisey's Bay mine was profitable with every ounce - I reiterate, because the references are here - and whatever you do, as Minister of Mines and Energy and your Premier does, you will have to live by that. You will have to live by the way in which you have contrived and contorted what your mandate was in 1999 to what you are trying to say that it is now. But, when pushed in this Legislature and asked directly, and the Premier today was the Minister of Mines and Energy that day: Where are the studies that you have? Will you table them? No, they would not table them. Have they tabled them to this day? No, they have not tabled them.

The minister stands up and makes this big invitation about what his government is trying to do and what their mandate really is. The people of the Province are ahead of you, Sir. They know what you had a mandate on in 1999, and they know right now that what you are saying is not at all correct in terms of - applied against 1999, in terms of what you are doing with Voisey's Bay.

The minister can shake his head all he wants. One day he stands up and supports legislation and a former Premier who put him in the Cabinet and talks about one ounce, and at another time in this Legislature - the many faces of the Minister of Mines and Energy. The same thing happened on education reform. On another day he stands up and says the only issues outstanding, vis--vis Voisey's Bay, is the movement of ore outside the Province and for how long.

AN HON. MEMBER: You cannot hoodwink the people?

MR. E. BYRNE: You cannot have it coming and going, minister. You cannot go to the people in 1999 and knock on doors, as you did in St. John's North, and tell them this is your stand and - well, maybe he is not. I was going to say: and go to them again in St. John's North. Maybe he is not going to be the Liberal candidate in St. John's North next time. Maybe that is why he is not really concerned about what his position is anymore. He, personally, may not be going back to the people in St. John's North as the Liberal candidate. I know he will not be going there as a Tory candidate. That I can assure you. He has tried that before. Maybe that is why -

MR. MATTHEWS: On a point of privilege, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

MR. MATTHEWS: The hon. the member indicates that the current Member for St. John's North has already gone and sought support in St. John's North as a candidate for a party other than the Liberal Party. That is factually incorrect. I have never been a candidate in St. John's North for any party, other than the Liberal Party. Furthermore, Mr. Chairman, I have no intention of being a candidate in St. John's North in the future for any party, other than the Liberal Party. I can tell the hon. member that at what time the next election is called in St. John's North, that health permitting, circumstances being right, and the interest of the government being taken into full consideration, that this member here, who is the current Member for St. John's North, can expect to be knocking on doors the next time around on behalf of and in the interest of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Chairman, I am the member. I am the future candidate. I have been the candidate of record for the past ten years and I have no hesitation in asking the people of St. John's North for support in the next election because I believe the people in St. John's North, who have been wise and prudent electors in the past, will continue to demonstrate that they are wise and prudent electors in future elections. I have no hesitation in speculating openly, that the next member of this House for St. John's North will be the Liberal candidate who runs in that election. I intend - so to be that candidate today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Could you explain: depending on the circumstances?

MR. E. BYRNE: Well, in a second, but this is important.

If the current member, and he is a member who has so many words that can weasel him in and out of situations, up and down your mind, it is incredible. Circumstances being right. Let me say, first of all, that I am relieved to hear that you are going to be the Liberal candidate because that improves our chances significantly in St. John's North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: For this reason, and I will ask the question because you did not answer it. How is it that you are going to go back, if you are going to be the candidate for the Liberal Party - in 1999 you supported the former premier of the day on the Liberal Party's stand on Voisey's Bay. It was: not an ounce of ore to leave. You supported that. You voted for that legislation in this House. Then two years later, less than two years later, stands in this House in a ministerial statement and says that there are a couple of outstanding issues: the movement of ore outside the Province and for how long. Now, a completely different story, and that is what people have become accustomed to. Say what you have to say today to get where you need to get to today and we will worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes. That is type of politics that people in the Province have had enough of, Mr. Chairman. They have had enough of it!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: I can tell you, Minister of Mines and Energy, that is not the type of politics that people in the Province want today either. They want to know, if you are elected on a mandate today - particularly on the resource issues which the last election was about - is that the mandate that you are going to carry through? You cannot have it both ways. You cannot eat apple pie on Sunday and expect to have it again on Monday when you are telling people that you are having something else for dinner. It is not what people are expected to do.

Madam Chair, let me say this, I responded directly to, I guess, an invitation by the Minister of Mines and Energy that we support their stand vis--vis Voisey's Bay. This party, and members in the Official Opposition, have been consistent since 1996 on their view of Voisey's Bay. We will not become, in any way, shape or form, a safe harbour for you and the government to wiggle out of a position and a promise that you made for the people of the Province. You will have to take care of that all by yourself.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Madam Chair, with respect to the Budget and Interim Supply, I would like to make a few comments with respect to the Premier's Office and Executive Council.

I guess it was around the end of January, February when the Minister of Finance and the President Treasury Board had made a request, a demand of every department in government that they find, in next year's budget, 5 per cent on salaries and 8 per cent in operations. The Minister of Finance, I know that she is listening, I hope that I am correctly portraying the policy that you put out to every department. We, as members, myself and the Member for Ferryland, on the IEC, certainly with other members on the IEC, debated what we could do to find the 5 and 8 per cent that was requested and demanded of us, and I believe we did that. I know we did, but it is astonishing. Actually, you know, you can get upset at this stuff.

I was going through the Budget details on Friday and over the weekend, and I looked at the Premier's Office, what was actually spent and what is now budgeted for. The Premier's Office did not have to live with the 5 per cent and 8 per cent. The Premier's Office did not have to live with the 5 per cent in salaries and 8 per cent in operations. Why is that? Every other department in government had to live with it. For example, the total amount in the Premier's Office - now the Premier's Office consists directly of the people within his staff, plus Executive Council. It is important to note that. It is not just the Premier's Office. The Office of Executive Council does a lot of work for the Premier's Office, all of the work for the Premier's Office. When we talk about the 5 per cent and 8 per cent cut that Works, Services and Transportation had to live with, that Human Resources and Employment had to live with, Intergovernmental Affairs did not have to live with it, necessarily, not as much. The Department of Justice had to live with it. The Department of Health had to live with the 5 per cent and 8 per cent. The Department of Education had to live with the cut of 5 per cent and 8 per cent. Government Services and Lands had to live with the cut, and so did the Minister of Mines and Energy's office, the 5 per cent and 8 per cent. So did the minister of advanced studies -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes. So, too, did the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development's department, 5 per cent and 8 per cent; 5 per cent on Salaries, 8 per cent on Administration. That is what every department, that is what members -

AN HON. MEMBER: What about the Opposition Leader's office?

MR. E. BYRNE: We got cut, thank you very much. Yes, we did.

There is a rule in the House, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, that would do you well. Before you ask a question, always know an answer for it and you will come out on top. Let me say that to him.

The issue is this -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: It is a good principle.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is.

MR. E. BYRNE: The former Member for Cape St. Mary's, the hon. MP for St. John's West, told me that when I was a new member in the House. In other words, have your homework done. If you do not know an issue, what you are talking about, don't stand up and show that you don't know what you are talking about. Do you homework first. Then stand up and talk about it with some authority. That is good advice that I took from the now MP.

Back to the issue. I ask this question today: Why is it that every department in government had to live with the 5 per cent and 8 per cent cuts imposed upon us, demanded by the President of Treasury Board, so that they could rationalize and put forward their Budget? But, one department did not. Let's go through it. Last year, the Premier's Office budget was $1.1 million. That is what they budgeted this time last year. At the end of March they anticipate they are going to spend $1.3 million, so they spent about $300,000 more; $200,000 more than they anticipated. But, get a load of this. Here is what they budgeted this year: $1.45 million. That is certainly a cut by 5 per cent, isn't it?

MR. SULLIVAN: Look at Salaries, first line, Salaries.

MR. E. BYRNE: First line, yes, we are going to go through it. Salaries have jumped by $110,000.

MR. SULLIVAN: Between 11 per cent and 12 per cent (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, 11 per cent and 12 per cent. There wasn't an actual cut of 5 per cent in Salaries and 8 per cent in transportation or Administration. The Premier set a different standard for himself. Then he expected everybody else, every other department and every other service of government, whether it be health care boards, educational boards, snow clearing, for example - What happened this year with snow clearing in parts of the Province? People were actually laid off early earlier than they normally would be in terms of seasonal operations because the squeeze was on. The squeeze was on to get a hold of every cent you could get.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not going out in the night (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Exactly, not going out in the night.

The question of safety became an issue there. However, while all of this restraint was going on, while every department was trying to rationalize how they would come up with it, how hospital boards were asked over and over: You have to do better.

Here he is, he can even answer the question.

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you.

MADAM CHAIR: I remind the hon. member that his time is up.

MR. E. BYRNE: By leave, to conclude?

MADAM CHAIR: Does the hon. member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, (inaudible) seconds.

MADAM CHAIR: By leave.

MR. E. BYRNE: The Premier's Office didn't have to bear that same cut. Now, in Executive Council, which works directly for the Premier's Office, let's look at the total amounts of cuts that took place there; the belt tightening that we all had to live with. That is what we have been told. For the Office of Executive Council, this time last year they budgeted $10,638,000. They spent a little less than that; $10,323,300. Now you would expect - wouldn't you? - that the total on page 21, the total, Office of the Executive Council, the total amount to be voted this year, it should be 5 per cent less on Salaries, 8 per cent less on Administration. But, no, there is a different standard for the Premier of the Province, in this year's Budget, than every other department, a completely different standard. It is actually up $1.1 million.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. E. BYRNE: Absolutely!

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes. It is actually more, you are right. The Member for Ferryland has correctly pointed out to me that further on, on page 26, last year's Estimates, total for Treasury Board Secretariate and total for Executive Council, $27,988,500 spent last year. This year they are going to spend $30,964,700.

Now, the issue that is at stake here: When it comes down to it, not only must we do what we must do - in this case, 5 per cent on Salaries, 8 per cent on Administration - but we must be seen, as well, or perceived, as doing what we are doing.

So, when it comes to the boss of the Province, the rest of us have to live by a different standard. When it comes to operations in his office, when it comes to operations in Executive Council, 5 per cent and 8 per cent are not the issue. Raise her up. We need more latitude, we need more room to maneuver. That is the issue. The Budget numbers tell the story.

Every other department, school boards, hospital boards, works, services and transportation: Did they have the same opportunity? No, Madam Chair, they did not.

With that, I will sit down and let anybody else who would like to participate in the debate take their time to stand up, because I will have another opportunity as well, as will other members. I believe my colleague for Lewisporte wants to speak next for us, but maybe somebody else on the other side would like to address some of the issues I have raised.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I am pleased to see the attention paid to the functioning of the Premier's Office. Most people in the Province, some members of the Opposition excepted and exempted, think it is an important office and that we should be provided with the personnel and the staff to do the job that is needed on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. In fact, there is a procedure and a process that we will go through. As everyone in the Legislature knows, when we debate the Budget and we go into the committees to do the details, the only expenditure that is debated in Committee, in full, in this Legislature, is the one that was just referred to by the Opposition House Leader, that of the Executive Council and the Premier's Office.

We will have a period of time when we do the debate on the Budget in a committee to ask every single one of those questions and get the detailed answers. There is a time set aside for precisely that, Madam Chair. Now it is not today but I will just give the general nature of the issue that was raised by the Opposition House Leader. I was going to say the Leader of the Opposition. He is the de facto Leader of the Opposition and still doing a good job, too, in my view, of babysitting the current leader, protecting him, being a bodyguard, standing in his stead and making sure that there are difficult issues taken care of.

In any event, Madam Chair, again what he just referred to with respect to the Premier's Office, I can tell him that it is something that was referenced to us; because we do listen to what I think are good suggestions and good ideas, regardless of where they come from. We do not think that we are the owners and possessors of every single good thought and idea in the Province.

The Auditor General, to her credit, Madam Chair, and the Opposition previous to this and prior to the Budget, had talked about a practice that was in place for the Premier's Office last year and the year before, and the year before and the year before, dating back to the early 1990s with previous Premiers - three of them - whereby a fair number of the expenses related to the Premier's Office and Premier's travel were actually charged out to other departments so that, if the Premier had travelled with the Minister of Mines and Energy, some of that travel cost and so on would be charged to another department.

Madam Chair, it was already acknowledged by the Auditor General, in a report actually, that we ceased that practice as of March of last year. That ended when I assumed the office. What we are doing, this is the first opportunity to reflect in a Budget, in a plan for the year, what the exact intended expenditures of the Premier's Office and related travel will be. We have taken the nature of the travel from the past years, that if I travelled with the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, rather than have bills sent for the Premier's Office and staff to Tourism, Culture and Recreation, I said: Don't do that any more. We want to be open, we want to be transparent, we want to show the people how much it does cost to have the Premier represent the Province.

Madam Chair, what we have done is, we have taken those kinds of costs from previous years which were disbursed and actually charged out in other departments because the Auditor General suggested so, and because the Opposition supported it, and we put it in the Budget to show what the real cost of the Premier doing the Premier's job will be for the next year.

Today, as is the style and wont of the Opposition, the Opposition House Leader gets up and now criticizes that. He says, here you go now; you are now seeing a government in which the leader is actually going to increase expenditures.

Had he asked the question in the period of time which is set aside for that Committee debate in this Legislature, when we debate the Estimates of each of the departments, he would have gotten the answer; but, he wanted to try to make a political point in which he was wrong again. He is usually not, by the way, Madam Chair, because he is usually pretty good.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER GRIMES: No, I said usually not. That does not mean -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) usually not.

PREMIER GRIMES: Let me say it again, Madam Chair, because I think the people of the Province understand it. He is wrong again, even though he is usually not wrong. I am giving the man a compliment, Madam Chair, because he is normally right, but this time he is wrong. He has been wrong several times in the past. He is not every time, is the point I am making. Sometimes he has actually been right. This time he is wrong again.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: The unfortunate part again, Madam Chair, is that here we are doing something that they said is the right thing to do, and he tries to make political points out of it by saying that we are bringing in restraint for other departments but we are not exercising restraint in the Premier's Office. There has been a lot of restraint exercised in the Premier's Office, to the point that even with the increases this year, the increases being caused by bringing and showing the full cost of travel in the Premier's Office rather than elsewhere in the government, which they complained about, and which I have agreed is the right way to do it. If I am going to travel and represent the people of the Province I should show it and not be ashamed of it. I should show it as an expense for the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: And we are going to do that. That is what caused the increase, but in fact, the point of reference is this one: Even with those costs rolled into the Premier's Office this year, the cost of running the full Premier's Office in Newfoundland and Labrador this year coming up, which is thirteen years after the last Conservative Administration, is still $1 million less than when they last had a Premier running the office.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: It is still $1 million less, thirteen years later, to run the Premier's Office, with its staff and operations and travel. I challenge the Opposition House Leader in preparing for that debate, which will happen in the Committee a couple of weeks time, to get the comparison for 1988-1989, when there was last a Conservation Premier, check the staff components, check the operational components, check the travel budget, and you will find the bill for 1988-1989 that will be at least $1 million more than we are budgeting for a year of full operation some thirteen years later.

Madam Chair, I normally do not enter into debate at this stage but I think that the Opposition House Leader, as I pointed out, was wrong today for one of the few times that he is. I believe that he made a mistake in trying to use the point as a point of political embarrassment for the government when we are doing a couple of things: we are acknowledging what the Auditor General has said, that the charges should go to the appropriate department, which is the Premier's Office in this case. We are putting the true cost of travel and operations in. We are acknowledging the way that the Opposition said they would do it if they were ever the government and we are acknowledging one other thing: that we are going to do it for $1 million less than the last time they had a Premier sitting on the eighth floor in Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Lewisporte.

MR. RIDEOUT: Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

I have been waiting for the last several speakers now for an opportunity to take part in this Interim Supply debate. As my colleague, the Opposition House Leader indicated, Interim Supply is a finance motion. So it is a wide-ranging debate, as we just saw from the previous speaker. Obviously, anything can be put on the table, ancient history and everything else.

Nevertheless, I want to use the opportunity under Interim Supply today to make a few remarks that are specifically related to the District of Lewisporte and as it relates to the economic matters that came out of this Budget relating to the town of Lewisporte. Now, the first thing I want to say, Madam Chair, before anybody attempts to misquote or take any remarks that I might make and try to turn them into something that I did not say. The first thing I want to make crystal clear is this, that I am a child of an isolated, rural Newfoundland and Labrador. So I know exactly what the yoke of isolation is like. I have no hesitation whatsoever in saying that I - and nobody that I represent, as far as I know - stand or have ever stood in the way of progress; who would stand against breaking the back of isolation in Labrador or anywhere else in Newfoundland.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RIDEOUT: I hope that one day there is not a single isolated community left in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I do not know if that will ever happen, but I hope that because I grew up in isolation. I know what it is like to have to get on the coastal boat and go to Lewisporte and get the train to go to Badger to come to St. John's to go to university; or to go to Corner Brook to go to a hospital. I know what it is like, I did it. So I have no hesitation in saying - and the people that I represent in Lewisporte District, as far as I know - I support the breaking of the isolation in communities along the Labrador Coast. That is not the issue. The issue that I am facing, and the largest community in my district is facing, is that as a result of that change, which we all knew was coming and had to come, as a result of that great joy and gift and blessing to one part of the Province is an economic detriment to another part of the Province. That is what we have to bridge. That is the matter I want to debate. That is the matter that I want some answers to; not to be critical of somebody who had something good done for them, whose future is going to be a bit brighter and less isolated than it was in the past, but to talk about the matter at hand. The matter at hand, Madam Chair, is this: After this year there are going to be thirty-five to forty-five people in the town of Lewisporte, who worked on that service, who will not have job. That is the first issue.

The second issue is that we still do not know - when was Marine Atlantic privatized? I wasn't here. I guess I was at law school, but it was several years ago - and we still do not know who owns the marine assets in the town of Lewisporte. All those years later. I led a delegation from the town, met with the present minister, met with his successor, the previous minister, and the answer was: We are in the process of developing a ports policy and until that is done, we are not taking over any of those marine assets. You know, there is a tremendous marine asset in Lewisporte, in the dock and the warehouse. A tremendous marine asset that, I think, could be marketed to the economic advantage of Lewisporte and the Lewisporte area. But, how can you go and market something when you do not know if you are going to have access to it? The Province does not own it. The ports policy is still not in place. I assume the ownership is still the Government of Canada. Maybe it is still Marine Atlantic. I do not know, but somebody has to know. Somebody in the bureaucracy and the political leadership of this government has to know. Somebody in the bureaucracy and the leadership of the Government of Canada has to know. It is time, I am saying, particularly this year - we have known this was coming now for three, four, or five years, but this is the last year. We are now down to crunch time.

We now have to try and attract into Lewisporte some economic activity that will make use of that economic asset. In order to do that we have to be able to market it. We have to have some kind of a package to go out - maybe it will be Woodward's, maybe it will be the Coast Guard, maybe it will be some offshore oil company, maybe it will be - who knows what it is, but you cannot go out and approach those people when you do not have an asset; when you do not have a facility to offer them to use. Nobody can do it. You would be foolish to spend money on it. The town would be foolish to even consider spending money on it when we do not know. We have no way of knowing today whether we should spend five cents or $5 million to market those assets; point number one.

Point number two, Madam Chair. My understanding is that there has not been any significant capital improvement made to those facilities since they were built in 1956. That is a long time and a lot of use later. All of Northern Newfoundland, right up through to Nain - every piece of freight that went up the Labrador Coast went through there. Ship after ship after ship docked there. The facility could very well - particularly the wharfage part of the facility - be in need of a capital upgrade. I do not know. I am certainly not an expert but I have people who tell me that they think, they have reason to believe from their experience, that there will need to be an upgrade done to that facility before whoever takes it over, takes it over. You cannot expect the town to do that. There is no port authority yet because we do not know if there is a facility to give them. Somebody has to address that question.

The other question that I believe, Madam Chair, needs to be addressed is this: why is it that the Town of Lewisporte is one of the few major towns in this Province that was dependent and part of a government operation for decades and decades - for example, the northern service to Northern Newfoundland and up the Labrador Coast. When they had that taken away from them because of progress, because of the modern progress that we have all come to learn to accept, why is it that in planning for that to happen it is one of the few major towns in Newfoundland that was not offered some kind of development assistance to attract somebody else or some other users into that facility? Why is it?

In Trepassey, when the fish plant closed, there were several million dollars, I believe, put into a development fund. I have no problem with that, rightly so. Bishop's Falls, when the railway was closed down, several million dollars was given to the Town of Bishop's Falls to develop and promote the assets and to expand the economic base of Bishop's Falls to make up for it, to take up the slack as it were, I suppose, for the fact that they were losing all those railway jobs.

Argentia: When the U.S. base closed in Argentia, several million dollars went into a development fund for Argentia. Why was it that the Town of Lewisporte have never been offered any development assistance to expand and to build the economic base of Lewisporte and to attract other businesses there as this business has been downgraded and finally disappears? Why is that so?

I wasn't there. It didn't happen on my watch. I wasn't the MHA. I wasn't involved in politics at all; but, I will tell you what the local leadership tell me. The local leadership tells me that when the railway deal was done, for example, Lewisporte was mentioned as needing a development fund and Lewisporte was told no. No development fund for you, Lewisporte, because you still have the Labrador freight and ferry service. That is what you have had for years. You are not losing anything so you do not qualify; you do not need a development fund.

When Marine Atlantic was privatized, I understand the issue was raised again between the provincial representatives and federal representatives and the answer was: You do not need it because you may lose the ferry service, but you are never going to lose - there is no plan for you to lose - the freight service.

Now, Madam Chair, we are losing both, and we are losing them both at the end of this year. The time has come, in my view, for the people of Lewisporte, the leadership in Lewisporte, who are very, very competent and positive people - they are not pessimists, they are not going around saying that the sky is falling. We had an economic development think tank out in Lewisporte just a couple of weeks ago. The ideas, the enthusiasm, and the optimism that was part of that was unbelievable. They are not saying we are never going to get over this, but they are saying that they need help, and they need help before the end of this year, Madam Chair, because this is the last year. We know it is the last year, we know why it is the last year, and we are not moaning or groaning the fact that that is the case, but we need to know who owns the facility. Is it ever going to be turned over to the Province? If it is, when? What condition will it be in when it is turned over to the Province? Is there going to be a need for capital upgrade to the wharf, in particular, and maybe the warehouse as well? We do not know. Finally, we need to know who is going to help us market the asset.

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Just a minute or so to clue up?

MADAM CHAIR: Does the hon. member have leave to conclude?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MADAM CHAIR: Leave granted.

MR. RIDEOUT: I won't wear on too much and take advantage of the goodwill of my colleagues, but I will take another minute or so. I thank the members for that.

Finally, as I was saying, Madam Chair, what we need to know is: Who is going to help the Town of Lewisporte market that asset, to look for other operators to come in and utilize that tremendous economic asset that is there? It is not fair, it is not right, it is not acceptable, that the taxpayers of Lewisporte, a small town whose population, like every other small town in rural Newfoundland, is on a decline. It is not right that they have to pay their street lights, their water bill and every other bill, and yet have to dip into their pockets and find perhaps millions of dollars to market an asset that was left as a result of modernization and expansion and progress. It is not right that they have to do that.

Most other towns in this Province, when they faced economic prospects, bleak economic prospects, did not have to do that. So, what is sauce for the goose, Madam Chair, is sauce for the gander. We need some help here. We need it quickly, we need it this year, and I think it is incumbent on the government to provide those answers to us.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Thank you, Madam Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LUSH: Madam Chair, I want to say a few words about the Budget, which is a good Budget, a Budget that hits the right balance.

Madam Chair, hon. members on the other side have demonstrated they have one thing in mind. They have one thing in mind, particularly the Leader of the Opposition, and that is to grasp power so they can become the government of this Province. It seems as though they are willing to go through almost any means to get there. Let me tell you first of all, take your time. Don't be in too much haste. It is not as easy, governing this Province, it is not as easy over here as it looks from over there.

Madam Chair, when you are into a bind, a financial bind, as we have been in, in the last year, when you are looking at a budget, what are your options? What are your options? Increase the taxes. Madam Chair, we did not think that was an option, to increase the taxes. Cut expenditures, lay people off. No, Madam Chair, we did not think that was an option either, to lay people off. Raise taxes, lay people off. Cut services, Madam Chair, that is the next one. Cut services. Well, we did not do any of that. We did not increase the taxes, not substantially. We did the tobacco tax but the income tax, the retail sales tax, we did not touch it. We did not touch that, Madam Chair.

We did not reduce any services and we did not lay anybody off. Madam Chair, that is an accomplishment. That is a tremendous accomplishment in delivering a Budget in rough economic times: not to increase taxes, not to cut services, and not to lay people off. That is a tremendous effort, and in terms of delivering in this kind of economic climate it was an excellent Budget, an excellent Budget, a Budget that meets the needs of the ordinary people of Newfoundland and Labrador, a Budget with emphasis on health, education and improving social services. That is what this Budget was about. But, Madam Chair, to hear the Leader of the Opposition speak, the champion of negativity, the champion of doom and gloom and despair, to hear him speak, you would think we were some Third World country, talking about the Province in a financial mess.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. LUSH: Never used the word financial mess. Never uttered the word. Madam Chair, just watch. Just let me take you on a little trip back in time to show you what the Leader of the Opposition - how anxious he was to grasp, to get power; how anxious he was to become the Premier of this Province. No plan, no nothing, other than I would just like to be there. I would like to be there to have that sense of power.

The first thing he did was to say that the Leader of the Liberal party, when he was elected, was not elected democratically to be the Premier of Newfoundland. Now, what nonsense is that? That is the same way he was elected. The way that our leader was elected was the way every leader is elected in Canada. First, at a party convention, you are elected leader; and if your government happened to be the government, then you are the government. The same as Ontario is doing now. The same as Quebec did, Premier Landry. The same as happened in British Columbia. But, Madam Chair, the people believe somehow that this was undemocratic, that our leader now did not have the sanction of the people.

That is not being intellectually honest, to try and convince the people that our Premier had somehow not gotten to be Premier democratically. He did it according to the laws of the land. He did it according to the laws of our land. In the same way that he was elected, our leader was elected.

Now, Madam Chair, (inaudible) to lose that battle when they figured we were not going to cave in on that, and the people of Newfoundland did not believe that story. They knew that our leader was elected democratically as the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. They knew that. When they knew that the people of the Province were not going to buy that story, the next thing they launched into was when they heard about the development of Voisey's Bay, that we did not have the mandate. We did not have the mandate to make a deal with Voisey's Bay, with Inco. How they wish, Madam Chair. How they wish. What is a mandate? Is a mandate to do a single thing? Was our mandate only to develop Voisey's Bay? I don't hear anybody talking about that it wasn't our mandate not to spend more money on health, that it wasn't our mandate not to spend more money on education, that it wasn't our mandate not to spend more money on social services. But the minute Voisey's Bay is mentioned, they all come out: Not allowed to do it. Not allowed to do it. That is not your mandate. The mandate of this government is to develop this Province economically, socially; to develop this Province in every way; to make this Province economically viable; to make this Province a place where every Newfoundlander and Labradorian can improve their quality of life. That is the mandate that we have.

Madam Chair, they want to try and narrow the focus again. They want to try and make the people of Newfoundland and Labrador believe that we do not have the mandate to govern. But, Madam Chair, they are finding out that the Newfoundland people are not buying that either. Why is it they are afraid that we are going to develop Voisey's Bay? The people of Newfoundland should know that they are over there, every one of them, frightened right to death, that we are going to get a good deal for Voisey's Bay.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LUSH: Let me tell you, Madam Chair, we are going to get a good deal. What do they think; somehow, that the blood that flows through our veins is not patriotic? What do they think; somehow, that we are less patriotic than they are? What do they think; that we want to give away Voisey's Bay? What makes us any different here? The patriotism over there flows through out blood just as much as the patriotism on that side, let me tell you, Madam Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LUSH: There is nobody on this side who wants to sign a bad deal with Inco. When the deal is signed over here with this government, when and if the deal is signed, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador will be happy about it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LUSH: So, Madam Chair, going from trying to convince the people that our Leader was not elected democratically, going from that point, then going to the other one, that we did not have a mandate to govern the Province, we should go call an election early, now they have come to the last one. The last one they have come to is that the Province is in a financial mess, validated by, according to them, remarks made by the Auditor General. The Auditor General has become the great friend, the great ally, of hon. members opposite.

Now, I do not know of an Auditor General in the country who does not criticize the government in one way or another. That is precisely the Auditor General's job. That is precisely what the Auditor General does. The Auditor General's remarks are all centered around the fact -

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. LUSH: If I may just -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

MADAM CHAIR: Leave granted..

MR. LUSH: The Auditor General's criticism, invariably, is centered around the fact that the Auditor General wants the Province to do a certain type of accounting, and that has been the feeling right throughout the country, that we should go to the accrual system of accounting. We are into the same type of accounting, as the Premier said, that we have been into since 1949. Based on that accounting system, everything is accurate in the Budget that we presented to the people. Not only that, Madam Chair, it is a good Budget; let's say well-balanced Budget. It is a Budget that pleases the ordinary people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and on that I rest my case, Madam Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I would like to rise today, as well, and add a few words to the debate that is taking place concerning the Budget. I would like to say a few words about how this Budget affects Labrador West. I can say, Madam Chairperson, that I do not mind being critical when I totally believe that something has been handled wrong, and I do not mind giving compliments either when things have been done right.

Overall, this Budget has not been a mean type Budget that has inflected hardship on a lot of people throughout this Province. I can say that, after going through the Budget and looking at the different things that are contained therein.

Madam Chair, I do take great exception to the fact that the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund was raided by this government in order to reduce the deficit that they have incurred. I would like to say that, when the Premier says that his government is very transparent, then I believe that to be true because people in Labrador West, in particular, can see right through what has happened with this fund. They do not need it written, Madam Chair, they can see right through it.

I say to the members opposite, the government, that they should be glad that many years ago, when Labrador was put up for sale for $100 million, that it did not sell, because today they have the $100 million and they still have Labrador. It is one example, I guess, where you can have your cake and eat it too.

It is ridiculous, Madam Chair, to see what they have done to the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund in order to satisfy their financial wants in other areas. I believe, Madam Chair, as do other people in Labrador, the MP for Labrador included, that by taking this money from the Trans-Labrador fund, that Phase III of this highway is seriously jeopardized. I really believe that, Madam Chair. I really believe that. They can say that this money was not earmarked for Phase III, they can say that, but I can say to them, as well, Madam Chair, it was not earmarked for general revenues either. That is something that they have to come to terms with and recognize as we go through this debate. Madam Chair, the funds that were in this fund - I say to the Minister responsible for Labrador Affairs: You have your time when you can stand and defend what your government has done, but give me the liberty right now of saying what I feel and what people in my constituency and my district want me to say on their behalf.

Madam Chair, let me say that, we really feel we have been betrayed by this taking of money from the Trans-Labrador fund. If the money was used for Phase III it would not have been a contravention of the act, because section 8(1)(c) of the act that applies to this fund states very clearly: Other Labrador initiatives related to transportation, which the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may approve. So anything, Madam Chair, related to transportation would not be considered as a misappropriation of funds by this act.

Recognizing the fact, Madam Chair, that the Trans-Labrador Highway is a gravel highway that is going to be in constant need of repair - as you upgrade one section another section is falling down. It is a continuous battle as long as we have a gravel highway. I cannot see, for the life of me, how, when this highway was started some twenty years ago now, or close to it, why we are not talking about, and letting contracts out, for the paving of that highway, rather than still talking about constructing Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway.

The expenditures in this Budget, Madam Chair, as they relate to the coastal areas of Labrador, are good news for everyone. You will not hear me, as the Member for Labrador West, and you will not hear anybody else in Labrador West, putting down the things that are contained in this Budget to help the transportation needs of people on the coast. It is clear, Madam Chair, that expenditures from the Trans-Labrador fund were used to do this and that is a function and a purpose that the fund was created for.

If we look closer, Madam Chair, at the money that was dispersed from this fund, in this Budget, clearly road projects, including upgrading of roads, are part of the money that was used. So it is pointless for the government to say that this money was there for road upgrade. It has been used for that, it has been used for upgrading of roads in the past, and indeed, in this Budget as well.

Madam Chair, I would like to talk a little bit about the Roads for Rail Agreement, the $800 million that this Province received a number of years ago for the highways when they decided to give up the railway in the Province. I cannot recall anyone saying at that time: Well, lets take some of that $800 million and put a road through Labrador. I do not recall that being said, because it was not said. I do not recall that $800 million being put into general revenues and saying: We will pay down our deficit and we will get the money somewhere in years to come; in order to do the Outer Ring Road, for example. That was not done, Madam Chair. Indeed, the money that was earmarked for transportation on the Island portion of the Province was spent for transportation on the Island portion of the Province. None of that money came into Labrador, I guarantee you, and it was never talked about because it just did not happen.

I would like to point out to the government, as well, that some of the debate that has taken place in this House, during the time that I have been here, centered around the fact that this Province feels ignored by Ottawa because we only have seven seats out of 301, and do not have the political clout, we do not have the ability, to bring the government to their knees when we are demanding things from them.

I want to say to the members opposite, that people in Labrador feel much the same way when they are dealing with St. John's, and that is not an uncommon feeling throughout Labrador. Any region of Labrador that you may go through, you will find sentiments of that nature: That we have four seats in Labrador out of forty-eight, what power can we exert on the provincial government in order to make them listen to our demands?

I must say, Madam Chair, that the demands we have today are not the demands we should have to be making, because the money to do Phase III was there on Thursday morning, but it is not there today. I think that is something we will become sorry for as time goes on, because this government today does not have the ability, Madam Chair, to live up to what is required of this Province today in roadwork, much less to add the network of road systems throughout Labrador to their existing budget on an ongoing basis.

The feelings of alienation in Labrador that sometimes come to the surface are only generated and fueled by things like this, Madam Chair. Things like this should not happen, they should never be allowed to take place. Once a fund is earmarked for a certain purpose, it should be left there for that purpose and the roadwork should be carried out.

Again, I want to emphasize, there is no point for the members opposite to say that this money, this $97 million, was not intended for Phase III, political changing of the shells, Madam Chair, because it was certainly not intended to be put into the general revenues of this Province. The act itself clearly defines that. Not only does this government contravene their own piece of legislation, their own law of this Province, they contravene that but they also went to the degree of stealing $97 million from that fund that will now no longer be there when it is required.

As I said, Madam Chair, I have some very serious concerns about the ability of this Province to complete Phase III without the assistance of the federal government - I really do - even though that is what they committed to doing. It is almost like the scenario that was used in this House a little while ago, in the Popeye series where Wimpy says: I will gladly pay you Tuesday, for a hamburger today. That was used in this House a while back, and that is the exact scenario that we are looking at here, Madam Chair. This government is saying: We will take your $97 million today, but, believe you me, we will put it back when the EIS study is done. Nobody knows when that will be complete. That could be a few years down the road, I say, Madam Chair, and then it is six years following that. So, we are looking at many, many years go come before we can look forward to being able to drive the entire length of Labrador. That, Madam Chair, is certainly unacceptable.

You know, the sections of road that need constant upgrading, a lot of them are not necessarily gravel road. If you leave the Province of Quebec and drive toward Labrador West, you are driving over a paved highway from the border of Quebec to Labrador West; but, Madam Chair, I can tell you, you do not need a sign on the highway saying that you are entering the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador because you can tell by the condition of the road. That is the difference in the highway system for the Quebec part and the highway system from the border down to Labrador West. It is totally irresponsible of this government to take much-needed money that can be spent on the transportation needs of Labrador and to put it into the general revenues of this Province.

The other thing I would like to point out, Madam Chair, and I guess the government knew that they were going to get some flack for this from different areas around Labrador because they dressed up the Budget pretty good on their Budget Highlights. They even put down the snow clearing contract within the Budget. I do not see that anywhere else throughout this Province, that snow clearing is referenced in the Budget, specifically as an item. So they clearly knew, and that is why, Madam Chair, they flew to Goose Bay the following day to make the announcement to try to soothe over the feelings that would have existed. I can tell you, there were people at that meeting who were not entirely happy with the fact that this money is being used in the manner that it is.

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. COLLINS: Okay, Madam Chair, I will have the opportunity to speak again to this at a later point in time.

I will wrap up now by just saying that this certainly is a misappropriation of funds, that it is not used for the purpose that it was intended, and that this government must be held accountable for what happens to the Labrador highway. They said they would, but it goes way beyond their mandate to govern, and not as the Premier said today - I raised that in the media - not as a reflection on the Official Opposition but a reflection even if his own party is elected to govern in years to come. It is just a fear we have that the money will not be there, no matter who is power, in order to complete that section of highway.

With that, Madam Chair, I thank you and I will rise later to address this issue again.

Thank you.

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I am delighted to again stand and speak on issues around Interim Supply, and the importance of providing the $1.2 billion for the operations of government for the next three months, but I think, in terms of some of the commentary that is made, it is important to make some response and to set the record straight and to clarify false information and misrepresentation of numbers, et cetera, that we have heard from various members, mostly opposite in the House. I think it is important to say that the commentary that the member just made a few moments ago about Labrador clearing the road, obviously we are going to clear the newly-opened road portion of the Trans-Labrador Highway. I am sure he is not suggesting that we build a road and leave it closed. I mean, surely, as the Member for Labrador West, he does not believe that, Madam Chair. At least I hope not. I hope the people of his district and the people of Labrador do not make that assumption, because they would be very disappointed. To open a road and then close it because of snow in Labrador; surely, that is not what he is suggesting.

Again, Madam Chair, there are other points, too, that are worth mentioning. The member opposite, the critic, mentioned less money for education in the Budget, and how there is less money. If the member cared to even ask, or I am sure he probably had enough interest that he would have asked in the Budget lock-up why there is less money allocated next year in education as opposed to this year, and that is because there is an extra pay period this year and, also, there are 208 fewer teachers, Madam Chair, so it is good to set the record straight and give the information. I am so glad to hear that my Finance critic is awake, alert and responding. It is wonderful.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: On a point of order, Madam Chair.

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Madam Chairperson.

I would like to set the record straight on a point of order. I am fully aware that there are twenty-seven pay periods this year and twenty-five next year, I say to the minister. I am very much aware of that. I did not have to ask that question, basically, in the Budget lock-up, I say to the minister. Madam Chair, what I did indicate is that minister announced that this new agreement for teachers would add, at the end of the line, about $170 million extra when she knew, when she made that statement, that 208 teachers were coming out of the system, and that was not factored into that calculation she used. I said she knew that, and that is not being honest and truthful with the people.

MADAM CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: No, Madam Chair, there is no point of order. There seldom is a point of order really. It is good to see that I can bring the member to his feet whenever I stand on my feet. It makes me feel very good.

Again, I wanted to speak a little bit about - there is no misinformation about what was in the Budget. We read it out clearly. We spoke with the groups. They all understand that we are following the recommendations of the Sparkes/Williams report. The member opposite would like to say that there is a big, deep, dark secret about why this is happening. In fact, the rationale is there, as I have pointed out, one extra payroll this year and the $11 million associated with implementing only one year of the Sparkes/Williams report; not two years. We are not taking out $22 million or $25 million but $11 million, because we recognized last year and we left in the 216 teachers.

Also, Madam Chair, I think the member opposite may be getting confused with his cousins in Alberta in their budget when they talked about net loss of 300 government jobs. The member opposite stood up and said he asked somebody in the budget lockup, one of our officials, and they said or implied that there were 300 less jobs.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MS J.M. AYLWARD: No, he could not have asked because if he had asked he would have gotten the correct information. I say, Madam Chair, there is nowhere in the Budget or in the figures where we have allocated 300 less government jobs. That is false. It is fearmongering. It is so typical of the member opposite. I think he got himself confused with his Alberta cousins and their job cuts.

MR. SULLIVAN: On a point of order, Madam Chair.

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Madam Chair.

Members of our committee in the lockup asked senior people in her department: Would it be fair to say, based on the figures in the Budget, that there could be 300 less positions in the public service? The answer was: That would be a fair conclusion; by senior officials in her department. So the minister had better deal with people in her department if she is standing here and giving information that contradicts senior officials in her department.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: I could not hear, Madam Chair, you said there was no point of order?

MADAM CHAIR: There is no point of order.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: There is no point of order, again. Okay.

I think it is clear though, I would say - yes, it is funny I could not hear it. It is not that it is not loud enough. I would say again, Madam Chair, that the member opposite is misleading the people of the Province. There are not going to be 300 fewer jobs. What it related to, Madam Chair, was that the amount of money we are saving - we have put in place in government departments a 5 per cent hiring freeze and asked our departments to achieve an 8 per cent -

MR. E. BYRNE: On a point of order, Madam Chair.

MADAM CHAIR: On a point of order, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. E. BYRNE: Madam Chair, I would like to remind, certainly the Minister of Finance and all hon. members, according to Rules of Debate under Beauchesne on page 144 it says: "489. Since 1958, it has been ruled unparliamentary to use the following expressions..." and it clearly says: "Misleading the public..." misleading the people. I am sure the minister would not want to have on the record that she purposely used unparliamentary language. I will just point out that the phrase she used, according to Beauchesne, clearly says that it is unparliamentary to use that phrase.

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Thank you, Madam Chair.

If we take that as the rule for today, than many people would have had to be called to order in Question Period today who said that the government was misleading the people. Madam Chair, it has been used throughout Question Period this day and yesterday but, I submit to you, by any authority that it is not - and the hon. gentleman made a point of order that it was unparliamentary, I guess, or it was out of order. The only thing that can be said about it at all is that it is unparliamentary; certainly not out of order. It is not unparliamentary because to be unparliamentary it would have to say: deliberately misleading the House. To mislead, Madam Chair, I submit - and we also have to take into consideration the tone in which it was said. I do not think the hon. Minister of Finance was being in an unusual case of temperament, I should say. It was said with temperance and moderation, and under those conditions, I would suggest to you, Madam Chair, that misleading was not out of order or unparliamentary.

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. E. BYRNE: I would just like to point out to the Government House Leader, and to all members, that the phrase used by the Minister of Finance was misleading the people or misleading the public. That is clearly unparliamentary according to the rules of our House, Beauchesne, I say to the Government House Leader. Had the Minister of Finance just said: it is misleading to say that; that is not unparliamentary. But, she clearly used - because it says here, under another section, to use the word misleading. Just in saying that, would be misleading to suggest that or to say that. She clearly impugned a motive, which is unparliamentary and not correct for the rules of this House, to the Member of Ferryland, the Finance critic, when she said that he is misleading the people. That is unparliamentary and, Madam Chair, I would ask you to ask the Minister of Finance to withdraw that statement. Clearly, by the rules of our House, Beauchesne - and I can refer the Government House Leader to page 146 in terms of what is unparliamentary, in terms of the use of the term; and if he wants to see what is parliamentary in using the term he can flip over to page 148.

Clearly, her statement that the member was misleading the people is impugning a motive on the member. It is unparliamentary and I ask you, Madam Chair, to ask her to withdraw that statement.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM CHAIR: I will take the matter under advisement and report back to the House.

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I would also ask that the member take under advisement comments from the Leader of the Opposition last week in Question Period when he said specifically, in fact -

MR. H. HODDER: You are a bit late aren't you?

MS J.M. AYLWARD: No, Madam Chair. If we are following the rules - I have total respect for Beauchesne and I respect the Chair's ruling but I would say that in oral questions, Mr. Williams, the Leader of the Opposition said, in fact, in his question to the Premier, that we were misleading the people of our Province. I would ask, Madam Chair, that this also be factored in and that rules for one would be rules for all. I have no problem following those.

I would say, to make the point clearer, Madam Chair - let me put it this way, that the information stated by the member opposite is grossly exaggerated and in a fearmongering nature towards the people of this Province. Now, if that is unparliamentary, I stand for that one as well. I would say that what the member is trying to imply here to the people of the Province is that this government is laying off 300 government workers and that, Madam Chair, is not the truth. It is not accurate. He is trying to imply there are 300 people less. What are you trying to say other than fear monger, I would ask the member opposite? I would say that what he is doing again is confusing it with their PC cousins in Alberta who have cut 300 jobs from the public sector: 500 jobs, 300 of which are government jobs, and I would say, Madam Chair, mainly in children's services and agriculture. They have cut spending by $159 million. That is what he is getting confused with, because our Budget has provided a balance between expenditures, revenues and borrowing. We stand by that again.

I would also say, Madam Chair -

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

I remind the hon. minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: Your time is up.

MADAM CHAIR: On the point of order -

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Excuse me, you are not the Speaker. I think the Chair is the Speaker here.

MADAM CHAIR: On the point of order raised by the hon. the Minister of Finance, I will also take that matter under advisement and report back to the House on both cases.

I will take the point of order raised by the minister under advisement and report back as well.

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you very much.

AN HON. MEMBER: The minister's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: Her time is not up.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: I think it is wonderful, Madam Chair, that the Finance critic counts my every minute on my feet. It is wonderful, and I am delighted to carry on. Thank you very much.

I would also like to say that really what we have done in this Budget is providing smarter administration. I would say again for the people of the Province, and I think it is important that these 300 less jobs that the Finance critic refers to is another example of voodoo economics because we have added $82 million to our salary budget to pay for teachers and the public sector.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

 

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

Leave has been withdrawn.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Withdrawn! Leave is withdrawn? By whom, Madam Chair?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MADAM CHAIR: By the -

MS J.M. AYLWARD: By whom? I can't believe they would withdraw leave from the Finance Minister when they are speaking on Interim Supply, such an important issue.

Anyway, Madam Chair, I guess they do not like hearing corrections of infactual information.

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Member for St. John's West.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) withdrawn.

MADAM CHAIR: The member says that leave was not withdrawn, so I will ask the minister to continue.

The minister's time was up; does she have leave to continue?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Madam Chair.

It is hard to know what is happening over there. One is saying speak and the other one is saying stop, so I am very delighted.

I think it is important to have the opportunity to clue up, and I appreciate that because this is very important. I would like to say again, for clarification, that the decrease in the education budget for next year is because of one less payroll. I will also say that this about providing a balance.

The Interim Supply is very important, and I would urge all members to make it possible so our social assistance recipients will get their cheques on time, April 1, 2002. Again, I would like to say that, through smarter administration, there is nothing hidden. Mr. Chair, who has now replaced Madam Chair, I would also like to say that all of our initiatives have been read out in the Budget Speech, including our deferral of sinking funds, our hydro funds, which we own as a Province, which we have made very clear in all of our presentations; and for the people of the Province, there is nothing hidden, contrary to what the members opposite would like us to believe, that there is some clandestine operation happening over here. It is all out in the open. It is transparent for people to see, and we are happy to speak to that at any time, Mr. Chair.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR (Mercer): The hon. the Member for St. John's West.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS S. OSBORNE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I have been listening to a lot of the members here today speak about this side and that side working in a spirit of co-operation for the betterment of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. It was back in November, 1999, when I got up and asked a question of the then Minister of Health, that I was hoping for the same spirit of co-operation. At that time, I asked the Minister of Health, the present Minister of Finance, if it would be possible to have a unit opened at one of the hospitals in St. John's, probably the Waterford or another similar institution, to take care of individuals so that people who suffer from mental illness, who are developmentally challenged, would not have to suffer the degradation of being brought to the lock-up. At that time the Minister of Health, who is now the Minister of Finance, got up and said -

MR. JOYCE: (Inaudible).

MS S. OSBORNE: The Member for Bay Islands said it is in the Budget, and yes, it is in the Budget, and it is to how it got to be in the Budget that I am referring.

I am wondering if the Minister of Finance, who was the Minister of Health at the time, has had a definite change of opinion; because, at that time, the minister said, "Put them in the Waterford? That is appalling." That is a quote from Hansard on November 19, 1999.

She said that because she was trying to distort my question, because the very question that I was asking is the very thing that the Minister of Finance announced in the Budget -

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you support it?

MS S. OSBORNE: - that I absolutely do support, I say to the Minister of Finance.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS S. OSBORNE: I am wondering why the people - 350 incidents a year, when people are brought to the lock-up. Since 1999, that has been two-and-a-half years. At that time I wanted a unit, and at that time the Minister of Health of the day said, "Put them in the Waterford? That is appalling."

She went on to say, "...based on the previous question, the member's own views on her whole prospective on institutionalization and integration...". She was trying to distort what I was asking the government and asking the Minister of Health to do. That was to create a unit at one of the hospitals so that people who suffer from mental illness do not have to be brought to the lock-up.

I am happy to say that the present Minister of Health, in her news release related to the Budget, said that there would be a unit, a psychiatric assessment short-stay unit, which is what I asked for back then, but which was met with such disdain by the minister. She thought it was appalling. It was better that, in the two-and-a-half years since I requested that, 350 incidents a year have been reported of people who were picked up, brought to lock-ups or to the Remand Center rather than being brought to a safe and secure unit in one of the institutions.

The minister went on to say, "We do not any more bring people to the Waterford Hospital to put them there. There are judgement made about levels of violations and public safety, and I think the member opposite knows as well as I do that this is nothing more than trying to get her position across...."

The minister was absolutely right. It was nothing more than trying to get my position across, and it took two-and-a-half years to take people out of Victorian era, where we bring them to the lock-up, incarcerate the mentally ill and developmentally delayed people of our Province. It took two-and-a-half years. In that time there have been over 700 incidents of people brought to the hospital.

Now this unit has been identified as a means to respond to mental health clients who are unnecessarily detained at the lock-up. I say that I am delighted that this facility has now been proposed; however, Mr. Chair, I understand that it is going to take upwards to a year to get this unit open. That is another 350 units and another 350 people who, unfortunately, will have to suffer by being brought to the lock-up rather than being brought to a safe and comfortable facility.

I want to remind you, that was a contravention of the Mental Health Act; because the Mental Health Act states that people who are picked up under a mental health contravention, or because they are suffering from mental illness, should be brought to a safe and comfortable place. I say to the minister that the lock-up is neither a safe nor comfortable place.

I am thankful to the Minister of Health and to the Minister of Finance that they have finally seen the light, after two-and-a-half years and much abuse. It also speaks to the mismanagement by this government because now there are two inquiries happening in this Province; two inquiries that are going to cost, combined, $1.4 million because these resources were not out there. I say, Mr. Chair, that when this unit is built, will it be isolated? Will it be a unit in isolation? A short-stay unit where people are assessed and then either -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please! Order, please!

The Chair would like to hear what the member has to say. If the other members wish to have a discussion, perhaps they could take it somewhere else.

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

I wonder, as I said, is this unit going to be built in isolation or will resources be put into the community for follow-up for people who suffer from mental illness, or people - because now the inquiries that are going on are going to cost the government a combined $1.4 million. Judge Luther is presiding over the two inquiries that will examine the justice, health and social service systems as they relate to the mentally ill. The inquiry looking into the death of Norman Reid will cost $412,000. Unnecessary money, because if resources had been put into the community we would not have incidents such as Norman Reid. For years we -

PREMIER GRIMES: A point of order, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Premier.

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Chairman, maybe the hon. member - because she is making very serious points about a very serious issue that we are addressing in this particular Budget, and she is acknowledging that it is the right thing to do and making the point that it is a little bit overdue and should have been done earlier, maybe she would like to explain how she can make a connection between two inquiries into shootings that unfortunately occurred, whereby, if the police officers - the RCMP in Little Catalina or the RNC in Corner Brook - had managed to actually apprehend the person without killing them, they might have been able to bring them to the centre that is now going to be set up in St. John's. She is trying to suggest that if the centre was in St. John's, that these people would not have been unfortunately shot and that we would not now have two inquiries that are going to cost $1.4 million. Maybe she would like to expound a bit on the logic because it misses - for me, I missed the logic completely, that the centre that we are going to set up, that she has been asking for, admittedly, for two-and-a-half years, can only be useful if the successful apprehension of the person occurs in the first place, not if there is an unfortunate shooting when the person is trying to be apprehended.

CHAIR: To the point of order, the hon. the Member for St. John's West.

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

No, I just want to continue speaking.

CHAIR: There is no point of order.

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

MS S. OSBORNE: The Premier has given me an opportunity to say - I do not know if you heard me, Premier, because there was some talking back and forth there, but when I said that I was pleased to see the unit, I also asked that resources would be put out into the community for people who are suffering from mental illness. I have been asking for that for some time as well, to prevent people from finding themselves in the situation that Mr. Reid and Mr. Power found themselves. I do not know if the Premier heard, but that is the connection.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The hon. the Premier, to the point of order.

PREMIER GRIMES: Again, the point that was explored earlier today in Question Period, and this is a serious issue and one that deserves and merits attention, it is a matter again, I think it is the sixth issue now on which an Opposition member has suggested we should be spending more money on some kind of a service. She is saying that the $800,000 for the unit in St. John's is good but we should be providing more money for more services for mental health in the communities. She is nodding that is true, that is her proposition. Because the leader of her party today, and ever since the Budget on Thursday, has been saying we are already spending too much money, that we are way over budget, we are running a deficit, and he is saying we are spending money - his phrase, and I will quote it back to her: They are spending money that they don't have.

Just so the record shows that we now have a sixth member of the Opposition, as good and meritorious as the issues are, the sixth member now - we have had more roads, more MOGs, more health care spending, more job creation, a job development fund and a redevelopment fund for Lewisporte, and now mental health services in the community. So, in just one day of debate, we have a party that says you are spending money you do not have but we already have six brand new requests for even more money that they suggest we do not have. Just to point out the consistency of their argument, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: To the point of order, the hon. the Member for St. John's West.

MS S. OSBORNE: No, I was waiting for you to rule, Mr .Chair, on the Premier's point of order.

CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The hon. member's time is up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

CHAIR: Does the member have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

CHAIR: By leave.

MS S. OSBORNE: Thank you.

I suggest to the Premier, that rather than spending $412,000 for an inquiry into Mr. Reid, if resources had been put into the community, then we would not find ourselves in that situation. So, were you being penny-wise and pound foolish, or is it, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? Because I see here, that Mr. Reid lived on $4700 a year. He could not afford his heat and lights; they were cut off.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) stop the inquiry.

MS S. OSBORNE: No, the inquiry should certainly go on. But, in order to prevent any other such inquiries, probably we should be putting resources into the community so that people would not find themselves in this position.

We see that Mr. Reid needed $34.50. That was the amount the department insisted Mr. Reid pay for an electrical inspection, but the Department of Social Services at the time felt that it was not necessary to put the $34.50 in; probably because that came from the pressure of cutting budgets. This $34.50, of course, is very important.

Not only would we be saving the money that we are spending on the inquiries, which is a combined $1.4 million, but we could also be saving a lot of anguish. We could probably have saved these people's lives, saved the anguish and the human suffering that went with that.

Another part where the government has made an announcement in the budget is that there would be a raise for home care workers. They have given a raise for home care workers, but is there still a freeze on the home care that goes out into the community?

There were assessments done, as to the amount of home care that people were receiving and whether their home care should be cut. I think it is wise and prudent for the government to carry on assessments, but when they are carrying on assessments for the purposes of cutting hours of home care from people, than that just does not make sense.

There are people in hospital - for instance, a gentleman, who last year was in hospital at the cost of $1200 a day, needed twelve hours a day home care, and rather than expend the money on home care for this gentleman they kept him in intensive care for an extended period of time - I think it was three or four months - at $1200 a day, rather than approve the twelve hours a day home care for him.

Then I had a call from a woman last fall as well, a woman who was in the Health Science Complex., and she wanted to go home. She was very sick, but her doctor had medically discharged her and this woman wanted to go home. She knew that she did not have a very long time to live, but she needed five hours of home care to be home and die in her own home. That was turned down and that woman died in hospital; once again, costing the government more money because of the expenditure. The daily expenditure in hospital surely is more than the five hours of home care that could have been given to that woman. Once again, we had the human anguish and the human suffering, because, unfortunately, this woman died in the Health Science Complex because this government does not know how to manage its money. Better to keep somebody in hospital, who is medically discharged, at $800 to $1,200 a day than put them out into the community for five hours home care a day, or ten hours home care a day.

These incidents of mismanagement of money, the disdain with the suggestion to put a unit in one of the hospitals to bring people in, the disdain and the contempt with which that was treated, the refusal to put resources into the community for the mentally ill, the refusal to pay as much as a light bill for a mentally ill person, and then we find that this mentally ill person - there was a response by the RCMP. I have spoken to people from both the RCMP and from the RNC. None of them like responding to these calls. If there were resources in the community the possibility of these calls ever having to be made would certainly be diminished.

I will wind up my remarks on the Interim Supply now, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you very much.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McLEAN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

I want to take my ten minutes this evening to make some commentary on the positive things that Labrador has received in this particular Budget. First of all, before I do that, I want to make it crystal clear that the Member for Torngat Mountains and the Member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair and I, as the Member for the Lake Melville District, contrary to what you hear on the public airwaves and also in writing, we are always working in the best interest of Labrador, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McLEAN: I want to ensure all the people of Labrador that whatever we do in this House is always in the best interest of Labrador. Maybe the Member for Labrador West does not feel that way, but what we have done in this Budget, I believe, is a turning point in our history over and above -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McLEAN: - what we have done in this Budget in terms of the announcement we made on last Friday, and I will challenge the members opposite. I did not see any of those people in Happy Valley-Goose Bay on Friday, or on the coast on Saturday, or yesterday when we went up and told the people the kinds of things that we were doing for them. Mr. Chairman, I challenge those people to come along with us when we go up on these kinds of trips and let them see what the people feel about the decisions we are making, and the issues that we have dealt with.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair is having great difficulty in hearing the minister.

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am having a little difficulty hearing myself but that is what we have to put up with in here, I guess.

On the fact that we have announced a $102 million initiative to finish the Labrador Highway. Let me go back to 1997 when I was a part, and other members were a part of the decision that was made, when we went to Ottawa to get some funding to transfer the marine services in Labrador. One of the pieces of that deal was to take the amount of money that we would see in perpetuity to run the marine transportation system in Labrador. There was no initiative at that time to do anything else with that money.

What this government did, Mr. Chairman, after we got that money secured from the federal government to take full responsibility for the Labrador transportation systems that we operate, we, as a government, decided that we would take some of that funding and upgrade the Trans-Labrador Highway that was already in existence, and that was a Class D highway between Goose Bay and Labrador City. What we did was take $65 million of those dollars to put into upgrading that section of the highway.

Also, what we did, Mr. Chairman, was in order to still facilitate the operations of the marine transportation along the Labrador Coast we felt we could take another pot of money and do the highway from Red Bay up to Cartwright which would lessen the burden on the marine transportation needs and also at the same time provide 365 days a year transportation for those people. Something they have never had; something they always thought they would never get.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McLEAN: Mr. Chairman, I was not ashamed then, I am not ashamed now, and I am happy now that we did it that way. One thing that we have to understand is that the $97 million that was left was never earmarked for phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway. I challenge anybody in this hon. House to tell me that we did channel $102 million for phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway.

I can remember, Mr. Chairman, last fall in this House when the Member for Labrador West stood on his feet and said: building a highway between Red Bay and Cartwright, and Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Labrador City was like leaving out a section of the Trans-Canada Highway between Gander and Clarenville. I took that to mean he was serious about what he was talking about. We took it to be very serious and this government, Mr. Chairman, under our new Premier, has seen it important enough for us to divert some money so that we can, over the next six years - which is the earliest time possible that we could finish that highway - finish the highway so that we can have full access, 365 days a year throughout Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McLEAN: Mr. Chairman, I challenge people who tell us that we do not really know what we are doing with the money; that we do not really know how to handle the kinds of funding that we have.

MR. COLLINS: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

CHAIR: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. COLLINS: To the statement just made by the minister, Mr. Chair, I never once said they did not know what they were doing with the money. They know what they are doing with it. My question is that they never had a right to do with it what they are doing with it, not that they do not know.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Labrador & Aboriginal Affairs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I guess there are some sensitive things around here that we have to deal with, Mr. Chair, but I did not refer to any member saying we did not know what we are doing. I said that is the feeling out there, that we do not know what we are doing with the money.

Mr. Chair, realizing what the time is, I will have other days to debate this. All I would like to say, Mr. Chair, is that what we have done in this Budget - and I could read it all - we just announced on Friday $134 million worth of work that this government is doing, not talking about doing -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McLEAN: - what we have done in the last six years, Mr. Chair, since 1996. This government has built its reputation on what we have done, not what we have talked about doing. A lot of people have talked about it for many, many years, but we have done it. We have seen a highway construction program that took us from Red Bay to Cartwright. I can tell you, if anybody wants to go up, from the other side, to these communities, they will tell you what kind of a Budget we had this year, Mr. Chair. They will certainly tell you. We did that this weekend, and I can assure you that some of the people who are out there speaking about the kinds of things that we did wrong in this Budget, they haven't even had the courtesy to come in and get a briefing from us. They haven't even bothered to come in and get a briefing and understand the kinds of things we are doing with the funding.

Mr. Chair, I will conclude now and adjourn debate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Mr. Chairman, I move the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

On motion, that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again, Mr. Speaker returned to the Chair.

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

MR. MERCER: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report progress and ask leave to sit again.

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

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do adjourn.

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