March 31, 2003 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS Vol. XLIV No. 7


The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

By leave, if I could, just to read a statement of condolences that I know all of our members will share in.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. the Premier have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the government and people of Newfoundland and Labrador, I extend condolences to our colleague and friend, Tom Rideout, on the passing of his wife, Jacinta.

Mr. Speaker, the death of a loved one is never easy to accept and it is particularly difficult when the person is so young and so vital with such a zest for life. The courage and grace Jacinta Rideout exhibited during her illness spoke to her strength of character and the compassion she held for others, even in her own time of great challenge. Her life was devoted to her children, and always there was time to help others, giving of herself to ensure that others had more.

The life of a Member of the House of Assembly is very busy, Mr. Speaker, with great expectations on our time. The families of our MHAs are people who possess great patience and understanding. The people of this Province are grateful for the consideration Jacinta Rideout gave to Tom, who chose to serve this Province and is doing so, so well. We thank her for sharing him with us.

To Jacinta and Tom's children, Terry, Tina, Margaret and Kara-Lynn, carry with you your mother's strength and compassion and wisdom. In that way, she will always be with you. I hope that knowing others are thinking of you gives you comfort at this time of sadness.

Mr. Speaker, the people of the Province extend their condolences to those who knew and loved Jacinta. Take comfort in the memories you have in your life.

Thank you.

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

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it is with a very heavy heart that I rise today to pay tribute to a very wonderful human being, Jacinta Rideout. Yesterday, our dear friend passed away at the age of fifty-two after a long and courageous battle with cancer. As we all know, she is the wife of former Premier and the Member for Lewisporte, Tom Rideout, and, as the Premier acknowledged, mother to Terry, Tina, Margaret and Kara-Lynn. My heartfelt condolences go out to the family during this very, very difficult time for all of them.

Jacinta was truly a beautiful person, a wonderful mother and homemaker, and an exceptional partner. Tom and Jacinta went through life as partners, but they also went through life as best friends. They had a very special relationship. Jacinta encouraged Tom, of course, in 1975, to get involved in politics. She was also, of course, by his side when he became a Cabinet Minister and when he became Premier. As well I remember, during that campaign, her being a tremendous asset to Tom. I remember seeing her on TV, and seeing the clips, and she was an absolutely tremendous asset to Tom during that campaign.

She subsequently supported his change of career and his personal ambition to become a lawyer at a later stage in his life, and then also supported his return to politics in 1999. Jacinta was truly Tom's political mentor, and I am certain there wasn't a decision that was made in that household that wasn't made by mission control, by Jacinta, that wasn't given her stamp of approval.

She was very brave and very courageous during her illness, and her bout with cancer, which she fought so long, but I remember well that she was the life of the party. She had a tremendous sense of humour. She was a great bit of fun. She always had a smile. She had an infectious smile.

Our caucus will miss her as a colleague and as a friend, and she has been a source of strength for all of us over the years. I remember when I gave one of my first speeches in Lewisporte, and herself and Tom were there. I sat down, and Jacinta was next to me, and I said: How did I do? She said: Good speech, if you cut it in half.

I will never forget her advice and I have tried to take it ever since. Every time she spoke, anything politically, I always took her advice and her words of wisdom because she knew.

We were honoured, and I was particularly honoured, just last spring to pay tribute to Jacinta and present her with the Distinguished Long-Term Service Award, which is the highest honour and tribute that we can pay to anybody in our party. All of us who were there remember it very well. It was an emotional moment, a very emotional moment, when herself and Tom and the children came to the stage, but it was a wonderful moment and it was a tribute that she so rightly deserved.

Maureen and I got to know her and to love her and respect her in our recent years in politics, and we will miss her company, we will miss her compassion, and we will miss her humour, and we will never, ever forget her.

She was a dear friend to all of us and our collective thoughts and prayers go out to her family. She served her family, she served her Province, and she has served her people so well with dignity and with pride. If there is a spouses' hall of fame out there, she is at the top of the list.

I ask all members to join with us today, and indeed the entire Province, in celebrating the life of Jacinta Rideout and now help us mourn her death.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is with great sadness that I join in offering my condolences, and that of my colleague from Labrador West, to the Member for Lewisporte, Mr. Tom Rideout, and his family, on the death of Jacinta.

I want to be associated with the remarks of the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition in recognizing her contribution to the life of her family and the happiness of her husband and children. I know all of us recognize the great determination and optimism with which she fought her battle with cancer over the last number of years. I think we all remember that struggle, and with great sympathy we pass on our condolences to Mr. Rideout and to his family. To the children, especially, Terry, Tina, Margaret, and Kara-Lynn, who will miss her dearly.

It is always very sad when we lose a loved one, but a life partner such as Jacinta was to the Member for Lewisporte is a very great loss indeed. Our thoughts and prays are with the Member for Lewisporte and his family in this particular hour of sadness and remembrance of a good life, a supportive life, and fine life lived by Jacinta Rideout.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Statements by Members

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. George's-Stephenville East.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in this hon. House today to congratulate Mr. Jim Davis, a resident of Stephenville, who was awarded the Minister of Veteran Affairs Commendation at the fifth annual Ceremony of Remembrance in Ottawa.

This Commendation was created in 2002 to recognize people who have "made such exemplary contributions through selfless service as a distinguished representative of Canadian Veterans; and by generously sharing their legacy of sacrifice with fellow citizens, especially Canada's youth, so that the memory of those who fought and died for our peace might never dim."

Mr. Davis earned this prestigious award for selflessly devoting thirty-two years working with the Royal Canadian Air Cadet League, an exemplary youth organization. In addition to this, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Davis has also devoted some thirty years of his life working tirelessly for the Royal Canadian Legion.

Mr. Davis is an outstanding citizen of Newfoundland and Labrador. His dedication and willingness to serve, his commitment to the youth of the Province, and his tremendous work with the Veterans of this Newfoundland and Labrador, make him a shining example for us all.

On behalf of all members of this House, I congratulate him for receiving the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation.

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.

I want to take the opportunity today to highlight an event that will be taking place in our Province on May 30 to June 2, 2003, and that is the Newfoundland and Labrador's 4th Annual Breast Cancer Retreat.

Every year in Newfoundland and Labrador 350 more women are diagnosed with breast cancer. These women, particularly those in rural and isolated communities throughout the Province, often feel alone in trying to cope with their fears and stress of facing this disease. Many value the support of other women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. A few years ago, a group of women got together and organized a Breast Cancer Retreat, the first ever in our Province, and it has been very successful since.

The 4th Annual Breast Cancer Retreat will be held at the Terra Nova Park Lodge, Port Blandford, from May 30 to June 2, 2003. It will be an invaluable weekend of needed support, education, caring and sharing for an expected 200 participants. The cost of accommodations and food for the three-day retreat is considerable. In addition, there will be substantial transportation fees especially for women travelling from Labrador.

I want to take this opportunity today, Mr. Speaker, to invite all members to contribute - most of you have received a letter now from the organizing group - to this very worthwhile cause. I do so each and every year in memory of my sister, Mary, who passed away on June 26, 2000. I think it is an opportunity to give women the chance to meet with each other to share their concerns and hopefully to improve their way of life.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BUTLER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to acknowledge the more than forty young artists who participated in the Baccalieu Trail Youth Art Showcase recently held in Carbonear.

The showcase, open to youth ages 15-30, displayed talents such as painting, music, drama, and singing. This event enabled youth to express and share their talents and to explore the arts industry as a possible career alternative.

The event was organized by the Baccalieu Trail Youth Council in partnership with HRDC, óRON, Trinity Conception Youth Protocol Committee and Futures in Newfoundland and Labrador's Youth.

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of myself and fellow House members, I would like to commend all youth who participated in this showcase. I would also like to join with my fellow colleagues from the Baccalieu Trail to thank the organizing committee and all volunteers who assisted in this showcase. It is events such as these that enable our youth to build confidence in themselves to not only succeed in our Province but throughout the world.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wish, at this time, to recognize and congratulate Gonzaga High School on its production of the musical, Oklahoma!, to sold-out audiences on March 27, 28 and 29 at the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John's.

The performance can only be described as outstanding and representative of a genuine tribute to the talents and dedication of our high school students

Sincere congratulations are extended to all those individuals who played a role in this production. In particular, mention must be made to the following students who played lead roles: Sarah Loveys and David Metcalfe, Stephen Coward, Leah Coombs, Gillian Langor, Jake Palasvirta, Paddy Torraville, and Emily Thompson.

Also, we must be proud of those teachers and school leaders who played a pivotal role, and I refer especially to Jacinta Mackey-Graham, the Director and Vocal Coach; Korona Brophy, Music Director; Mara Noftall, Choreographer; Ben Warren, Set Design, and Tom McGrath, Producer.

To Mr. Len White, the Principal of Gonzaga, and to all the faculty and staff, all students, parents, and to the corporate community at large, we thank you for your interest, support and superlative effort.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. MERCER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to remind people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador that effective tomorrow, April 1, all used oil disposal will be banned from all landfill sites within the Province. The new Used Oil Regulations will enable government and industry to effectively manage all waste oil products, ban unacceptable disposal methods for used oil, control the storage of used oil and provide for the proper return of used oil and lubricants.

Mr. Speaker, these regulations represent the first set of regulations developed as government moves forward with the implementation of its Waste Management Strategy. This strategy includes disposal bans and waste diversion programs and the Used Oil Regulations are an important element of government's action plan to have Province-wide modern waste management by 2010.

Mr. Speaker, it is estimated that approximately 9 million litres of lubricating oil is sold annually in this Province. Approximately 5 million litres is available for collection, recycling and reuse. Currently, approximately 80 per cent of the used oil generated in the Province is already being collected by several local companies for recycling and reuse. These regulations will see all the used oil generated in the Province diverted from the environment and made available for recycling and reuse.

In the development of the Used Oil Regulations, we have consulted with industry associations and the collectors of used oil and handlers of bulk storage within the Province. It was evident that there was much support for these regulations, which not only reduce pollution but encourage business opportunities in the collection, processing, recycling and reuse of used oil.

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to state that there will be no levy on the sale of oil and that consumers can return used oil to the place of purchase.

Mr. Speaker, an awareness campaign for vendors of lubricating oil and the general public is currently being spearheaded by the Multi-Materials Stewardship Board. As well, the Department of Government Services and Lands has recently hired two new inspectors to enforce the used oil regulations. As well, the Government Service Centres throughout the Province will be providing information on these regulations.

Mr. Speaker, this is one of several first steps in the implementation of a our Waste Management Strategy. While we recognize that much more needs to be done, this new waste diversion program is a clear indication that we are making progress and will continue to do so over the months and years ahead.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Mr. Speaker, one month shy of four years ago, to this day, I presented to government and through the media, through a news conference, a framework on oil recycling in this Province. This program that is announced today doesn't go nearly far enough. In the framework that I did elaborate research on throughout the other provinces, to see what was done, it was determined that other provinces have married oil recycling with beverage container recycling through eco centres and so on, which is a convenient program for consumers. It would make all recycling programs more established in this Province, because when you bring your recyclable beverage containers into the depots you also have your oil.

This program doesn't contain any measures for collecting oil filters. Oil filters are approximately 80 per cent steel content. They contain up to a litre of oil. That has been overlooked in this program. It was in our framework that we presented to government four years ago. It doesn't contain any measures to recycle containers that the oil comes in. There is obviously residue of oil left in those containers that can be recovered. The containers themselves are plastic. Those can be recovered.

Mr. Speaker, if we were implementing this program we would be doing it in a much better fashion, as outlined in our framework that we presented to government four years ago.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The statement of the minister sounds good, in that we are going to collect 100 per cent of five-ninths of the oil that is sold in the Province. I do not understand why the minister has not indicate where the other 4 million litres of oil are going, so obviously there are inadequacies in the program.

I am concerned also, Mr. Speaker, with the statement that no levy will be made on the sale of oil and that consumers can return used oil to the place of purchase free of charge. This is very confusing, because, where most people get their oil, at service stations, they are still charging a levy and know nothing about this particular program.

I believe he may be talking about retailers who sell oil off the shelf, and will have to take it back, but his statement makes it very confusing to people in the Province who are going to have to live by these regulations.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SWEENEY: Mr. Speaker, I rise in this House today to inform colleagues about an important initiative which will improve safety on roads in the Province.

During the fall 2002 sitting, the House passed Bill 15, an amendment to the Highway Traffic Act which bans the use of hand-held cellular phones while driving. I am pleased to inform the House that this bill becomes law tomorrow, April 1.

Mr. Speaker, this initiative came about as a result of several factors. The Department of Government Services and Lands had been approached by several safety organizations and concerned citizens who were in favour of a ban. Following the initial inquiries, our officials began researching the need for regulation.

As information and research was gathered, it became more apparent that the use of hand-held cellular phones while driving was unsafe. One particular study in the United Kingdom compared the use of a cell phone while driving to driving after consuming enough alcohol to be considered impaired.

Research in this Province gave government a clear indication of the will of the people. A survey commissioned by the government showed that 95 per cent of the people in the Province favoured a ban against the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.

Mr. Speaker, one might ask why we did not proceed with a complete ban on the use of cell phones while driving. Our survey data shows that 39 per cent of the public polled felt that it would be okay to use to hands-free devices to use their cell phones while driving. As a result, we decided to move forward with a ban of hand-held phones only.

In fact, we are the first jurisdiction in Canada to pass such a law. Since this law was passed unanimously by all parties during the last sitting, government has received a great deal of public support and encouragement for our decision.

Safety organizations, the police, business leaders, and cell phone companies have all come out in support of the ban.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind members of the House and members of the public the basics of this ban. Starting tomorrow, April 1, it is illegal in this Province to use a hand-held cellular phone while driving on any public road. Enforcement agencies have the right to enforce this law as they do any other. Drivers found to be in violation can be ticketed $45-$180 and receive four demerit points per violation.

As I conclude, Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that we are confident that this initiative will ensure greater safety on our roads. My department has initiated a modest public relations campaign to help ensure public awareness and compliance. Brochures and road signs have also been erected at entry points of the Province so that visitors can also be aware of our new law.

Safer driving can only provide better accident and insurance claim numbers. Drivers should be aware that driving while using a cell phone is not safe, even when using a hands-free device. I encourage all cell phone users to practice safe cellular, find alternatives to using the cell phone while driving. If a cell phone is used with a hands-free device, please ensure that safe driving comes first.

I am proud to say that this Province has led the country with a law promoting responsible cell phone use and reducing unsafe driving.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to first of all congratulate the minister on his new portfolio. It is good to see him there. I also want to thank him for a copy of his statement before the House opened.

Mr. Speaker, the people on this side of the House certainly had no problem in supporting Bill 15, banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. If anybody has talked to a number of people around the Province lately, you certainly do not want to be on the phone while trying to navigate the holes and bumps that currently exist around this Province.

Mr. Speaker, one area of concern that we do have is with the enforcement of this bill. I say to the minister: Will this bill have any teeth? Currently we see the RNC - I believe they needed approximately eighty officers and they had some crumbs thrown at them in the recent Budget, Mr. Speaker. If this bill has no teeth, Mr. Speaker, it is obviously useless.

As well, Mr. Speaker, I now hope that the minister will take it upon himself to speak to the insurance industries and lobby them hard, so that we have a reduction on our rates as well as our accidents around this Province.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the minister for an advance copy of his statement.

We too, Mr. Speaker, assure the minister and this House that we support any initiative that will lead to safer driving habits in the Province, and to greater safety on our highways, but I have to say, Mr. Speaker, I do have some concerns with this because in recent weeks I have been looking around at the availability of some of the things out there that make your regular cellphone hands-free. I can tell you some of the ones that I tried will lead to more unsafe acts than by using a handheld cellphone because some of these things, the contraptions that are out there, you will need two hands to keep adjusting them on your head. It is going to take away more caution than what you should be concentrating on just by doing the adjustment to the microphone, earphones and all these other things. I think there is a lot of concern out there about the type of things that people will be buying in order to make their cellphone hands-free.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. COLLINS: By leave, Mr. Speaker.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. COLLINS: The other thing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to say is that the RNC, in particular, have stated they have some concerns with their ability to enforce this. I know that people will have to take it upon their own initiative to uphold the law, but it is going to be a problem area for the RNC and other police forces to comply with this law from an enforceability point of view.

I say to the minister, he should try some of the things out there on the market that converts your phone to a hands-free one and I think that he will share some of the concerns I have after I tried a few of them, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, on March 19, in the 2003 Speech from the Throne, government committed that annual reports for departments and agencies would be tabled during this sitting of the Legislature.

In previous reports to this House, the Auditor General has expressed concern over the lack of information being provided to the House of Assembly by government departments, Crown boards and agencies.

Today, we are taking a major step in addressing the need for further accountability within the public sector.

I am pleased and indeed proud to inform this House that later today, at the appropriate time in the Orders, I will table the reports of the Department of Finance and Treasury Board for 2001-2002. Over the coming days, my colleagues will table the annual reports for their departments and associated boards and agencies for the 2001-2002 fiscal year.

I thank all our departments, boards and agencies for their cooperation in working with our Accountability Framework.

Annual reporting is just one of many concrete measures taken by this government over the course of our mandate to ensure openness and accountability.

In the very near future, government will release From the Ground Up, the first report from another major accountability tool: the Social Audit of the Strategic Social Plan. The Social Audit, with its extensive, detailed and publicly available Community Accounts, is the first of its kind in Canada.

This government has the courage to test itself and to provide the people of the Province with the information they need to judge for themselves the work we are doing on their behalf.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Over four years ago, in the PC policy platform, the Blue Book, you can read that. On February 14, 2002, almost fourteen months ago, the leader of our party and myself, at a news conference, said, "...each department and government-funded agency will be required to present annual performance plans to the House of Assembly on or before the date when the main budget estimates are presented to the legislature. The plan must include a statement of goals and specific objectives, key strategies for achieving each goal and objective, costs and benefits, and the performance measures that will be used to track results; and at the end of each fiscal year, departments and agencies will be required to table annual reports in the legislature ..."

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: By leave to finish?

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

MR. SULLIVAN: "...that compare actual performance results for the fiscal year ..."

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

No leave.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has recognized the hon. Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am surprised that the minister is proud and pleased to inform the House that they are going to table reports. The Auditor General said that government had failed to table reports for nineteen agencies which had legislative requirements to do so; only nine of them had tabled reports. If the minister wanted to be pleased and proud she should be announcing today that they are going to introduce legislation, like other provinces have, to require departmental reports -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: - all Crown agency reports and the eighty-three agencies who put reports before this House each and every year, not just when it suits the minister.

Oral Questions

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions this afternoon are for the Premier.

Heading into last week's election budget the Premier was predicting a deficit somewhere between $100 million and $600 million. A very broad range of nearly half a billion dollars. The Premier was close, but in fact the consolidated accrued deficit was $666 million, rounded, subject to any increases for adjustments in wage settlements. However, government is also presenting a consolidated revenue fund deficit of $212,685,000 and a cash deficit of $286,575,000, which is nearly five times the projected deficit for last year.

Mr. Speaker, would the Premier explain to the people of the Province the differences between these three deficits and inform us which number he now considers to be the real deficit number?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I might point out as well, the fact of the matter is: I, as the Premier, did not predict any particular numbers with respect to deficits. The media speculated about some numbers, and I did confirm or deny their speculation. The Opposition certainly speculated about it. As a matter of fact, the Finance critic that we will hear about for the next two or three weeks uninterrupted, as he speaks with unlimited time, at one point was bandying about a number of a billion dollars last year in one of his speeches in the Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is this: depending on the accounting practices and how people want to talk about the Budget, there are three options for people to speak about. They can speak about whichever one they are happiest and most content with. The information is there so the people have all of the information before them, and whichever one any particular group, for their own reason, wants to focus on, is now before them in these documents.

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.

I remind the Premier to read the article in The Newfoundland Herald that indicated that his forecasted range was between $100 million and $600 million.

Mr. Speaker, last week in the election Budget, I was pleased to see the Premier continue to honour his commitment to implement PC policies prior to an election call, particularly with respect to small businesses and relief for students. Although I know that those students will not forget that it was these Liberal governments that increased tuition fees by over 350 per cent during their terms of office. But, Mr. Speaker, I was not so pleased to see the deficit quadruple, or to see government borrowing increase to $578 million.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the Premier is: If the economy, according to his Minister of Finance, is the best it has been in thirty years, why did the deficit quadruple, and why did government borrowing increase to $578 million? What happens, Premier, if we run into bad times?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

What we did do was listen to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: - who, Mr. Speaker, clearly wanted us to protect programs and services, particularly in education, health care, and municipal infrastructure. We have done that.

Mr. Speaker, what we did not do was adopt policies in Blue Books from the past. Maybe they have changed now, because we are having a hard time finding out what they really are. We did not adopt the policy from the document that the member just showed, that said they would abolish the health boards in Newfoundland and Labrador. We did not adopt that policy. I suppose we will find out whether or not that is still a policy of the group. It certainly was when the Member for Kilbride was the leader.

We did not, Mr. Speaker, adopt a program that said they would do away with the EDGE program. We just saw improvements to the EDGE program. That was in the Blue Book when the Member for Kilbride was the leader. We will see if it is there again or not. What we did was try to enhance opportunities for small business in Newfoundland and Labrador, not destroy the only agency that tries to help them.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: We certainly did not adopt the foolhardy policy that suggested that we would open seventy-five additional fish plants in Newfoundland and Labrador in a previous Blue Book, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

PREMIER GRIMES: What we did do is, we listened to the people. We have a Budget in place that reflects the service levels that we are committed to maintaining in the Province. We have a plan to bring it back under control through the next term of office, and we will deliver on that plan just like we have done in delivering on everything else we have committed to in the last two years, 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, just a few months ago, during the doctors' strike, I heard the Minister of Finance loudly proclaim that this government was broke. Her exact words were: We got no money.

Mr. Speaker, after seeing the projections outlined in last week's election Budget, it now appears that these comments were made out of pure political opportunism.

Mr. Speaker, can the Premier please explain how government's fiscal projections could be so off base that over a period of a few short months we could move from, quote: We got no money, to, quote: Our financial situation is actually better than it has been for all but a few years since Confederation.

Mr. Speaker, are government's projections really that bad or was government making comments out of pure political opportunism?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If we want to revisit the doctors' strike, I will gladly do so, in which we committed to make an offer of some $50 million over three years, which we thought was affordable to the government, which we have now put before an arbitration board.

The doctors, if people want to remember, were asking for double that. Their starting point was $100 million. It was in that context that we were explaining to the people of the Province that we had made a very reasonable offer and we hope that the arbitration board comes in much closer to the $50 million mark than anything else.

Mr. Speaker, the other part is this: The finances of the Province - acknowledged by financial experts, not by politicians on one side of the House or the other - have been recognized as being on target. What we predict is what we deliver, well managed, and that is why, Mr. Speaker, we have gotten a credit rating upgrade. You do not get credit rating upgrades -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: - for things other than that, Mr. Speaker.

What we are seeing is this: What we all should be very proud of is that we do have a provincial economy that is performing better than any other in the country. We do have some commitments that we need to make, that we have made to the people of the Province, that ideally we could have waited, because let me just give this one number as an example, Mr. Speaker. If we had asked our public servants, all of them, to wait another year or two or three for the raises they so richly deserved, after waiting ten years, there would $120 million that would not be in this deficit figure today, but we decided they had waited long enough, and that the prospects were good enough, Mr. Speaker -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

PREMIER GRIMES: The prospects were clearly good enough to grant the raises now, pay for it into the future, because the economy will be able to withstand it over time even if it cannot exactly balance it today, 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, the Premier is obviously not listening to his ministers. Soon after the Minister of Finance made the statement at a press conference, that: We got no money, I heard the Minister of Health express concern over the government's increased borrowing habits. He said the Province could not continue to borrow money because it eventually had to be paid back, and that he was not comfortable passing the burden on to his children.

Mr. Speaker, can the Premier please explain what has changed since the doctors' strike? Why is it that the government is now prepared to borrow $578 million in order to support their election Budget but they were not prepared to borrow to pay physicians a salary that is comparable with the rest of Atlantic Canada?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, if we want to revisit the issue surrounding a point in time when we unfortunately had a doctor's strike, I think it was well over a week before anyone could even get a comment from the Leader of the Opposition as to what his position was. He hid away for a week before he tried to figure out what he could or could not say.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Now, Mr. Speaker, we have the Leader of the Opposition who seems to be saying today that we should have given the doctors more than the $50 million that we offered at the arbitration. I take it that is what he is saying today.

Mr. Speaker, we do have concerns about the finances of the Province. We mange them prudently, and we have a plan to bring it back into balance over four years, Mr. Speaker, which is what the financial institutions and the financial backers of the Province demand and expect of us. They have examined the prospects of Newfoundland and Labrador and they have rated them as being realistic and achievable, Mr. Speaker, something that, with prudent management which we have delivered in the last couple of years, they fully expect us to meet the targets we laid out in this Budget.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: How prudent was it to have your picture in the paper at a cost of $250,000 last year? That doesn't sound very prudent to me.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, rather than acting responsibly the day this government brought down an election budget that promised a little bit of something for everyone, instead of taking advantage of increased revenues to manage the deficit and bring borrowing under control, the Premier decided to defer any kind of fiscal restraint until after the election, just like he deferred any reductions in his Cabinet size and just like he deferred implementing fixed terms for his government.

Mr. Speaker, can the Premier please explain why he chose to defer fiscal restraint until after the election? Could it be that he is more interested in trying to buy votes, to buy people with their own money, than he is in doing what is in the best long term interests of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Maybe if the Leader of the Opposition keeps saying enough stuff we might find out what his real intentions are. Mr. Speaker, today he is suggesting that we are delaying balancing a budget until after the election, as if there is something wrong with that. Does that mean he would balance the budget today, if he were over here, that he would cut $300 million in expenditures right away? Is that his suggestion?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, the line of questioning today started again with the reminder that the Opposition suggests we have been adopting policies from them, from the Blue Book. His policy, as stated publicly on February 25 with CBC television, was that we would balance the books over time too, says the Leader of the Opposition, but if it was us - because we have stated we will balance it over one term of office, four years - it has to be a five to ten-year plan.

AN HON. MEMBER: CBC?

PREMIER GRIMES: On the CBC Evening News. Here he is criticizing us, suggesting that we are going to leave it until after an election, when we are going to do it in four years, one term of office, when his own stated intention is to take ten years to do it, Mr. Speaker, five to ten years; his own words, in English, on the public airwaves.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

PREMIER GRIMES: Today he is suggesting that there is something completely different. Maybe we will find out what his real thoughts are. We have laid our plan before the people, Mr. Speaker, and we will deliver on it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Province's deficit for 2003-2004 is projected to be $666 million. Now, this is the first year that we are seeing a net addition and a depreciation of tangible capital assets. Now, statement three of the Consolidated Accrual Budget here shows that under Net Additions of Tangible Capital Assets, under the Consolidated Revenue Fund and Other Entities, there are $129,038,000. However, depreciation applied to these assets if you combine both, I say to the minister, only amounts to $4,612,000 or 3.5 per cent.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is the first year we have seen an accrual budget on this basis. I want to ask the minister, based on the figure she has put here we want to look at the authenticity figures, so I will ask her this question: Will the minister explain to this House, first of all, what the new policy pertaining to Tangible Capital Assets is, and will she tell this House what the Consolidated Accrual Deficit would be if we expensed these assets rather than depreciated those assets?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, out of sympathy for the people of the Province I am half-tempted to ask him to repeat the question again, quite frankly.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: But I will certainly say, Mr. Speaker, this is a new table that was added. It is part of our own accountability mechanisms that we have put in place as commited. What it speaks to is a new formula that has been added by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants earlier this year, and is put in place to allow for depreciation in government as is currently being done in the private sector. In other words, over a period of time. For example -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: I would answer - I say to the members opposite, I would be happy to answer if you want to actually understand it.

What this allows government to do, for the first time, is to expense over the life of a property the depreciation value. So instead of putting the full cost upfront when it is borrowed, you are allowed to actually expense it over the life of the asset. For example, instead of putting the full cost of the thirty-year borrowing today, we are allowed to expense it over the thirty years. So a $30 million building would be expensed, depreciated, at $1 million a year, and that is how it is done.

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.

She is trying to give us a definition of what depreciation is and avoiding, completely, my question.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am trying to look at the trickery and figures here in this Budget. I asked the minister: What would the accrual be on a consolidated accrual basis if you expensed it rather than depreciated it? And you would not answer it.

I will ask you another question and maybe - the minister was talking about unamortized beginning balance of tangible capital assets. It is not what I asked.

I will ask her a question. The depreciation - if she would look at Statement III - listed there of the Unamortized Beginning Balance of Tangible Capital Assets under the Consolidated Revenue Fund and other entities is $123,358,000, if you add up these figures. I would to ask the minister -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: I want to ask the minister -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member; quickly.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

I guess they are trying to defend the minister and not let her answer the question. Will the minister tell this House the value of these assets that are subject to such depreciation and the rate of depreciation applied in the unamortized beginning balance of tangible capital assets? I ask the minister: Can you stand and tell us that one?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that this is a burning issue on the minds of the 533,000 Newfoundlanders in our Province. We talk about tangible asset capital adjustments. The member opposite knows, and we sit through the Estimates in the House of Assembly. We go through each of our departments line by line. Now, in this particular issue here, this is a new table that has been introduced. I will be more than happy to provide, through my colleagues in the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, all of our tangible assets. The depreciation formulas that are used for each of the hundreds of buildings and assets and ferries and everything we have in this Province. Now, Mr. Speaker, this is the first time this table has been entered into our Public Accounts as it relates to the Budget, and we are more than happy to answer the line by line items of each of our depreciated assets over the whole period of the Budget and through the analysis of the Budget.

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.

I am now going to ask a question that involves nine plus six equals fifteen, Mr. Speaker. The Budget made reference to fifteen additional new officers hired for the RNC. Now, minister, you know full well that nine new officers were hired last summer and their contracts were extended right up until today, the last day of the fiscal year. In addition to needing them you presented warrants here in this House for over a million dollars for overtime on top of that.

Will the minister confirm that in this Budget, that she is proposing, there will only be six more RNC officers employed as a result of this Budget who are working today in this Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I read out in the Budget about the new officers to the RNC. I did present a special warrant for overtime. I take great offence to the Member for Ferryland talking about the trickery. There is no trickery here. There is voodoo economics, and they are yours. It is not our trickery, I say to the people.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: We listen to the people of the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: We have made an allocation and, Mr. Speaker, we are the first ones to admit that there is a need for more RNC officers. We have put what we felt we could afford this year, in consultation with the police and the Minister of Justice. We have already identified the need and we will continue to try to meet those needs in the next budget year.

Mr. Speaker, the money we have provided is to meet the needs that have been put forward by the people of the Province who are represented by the RNC. The only trickery and the only voodoo economics here is by the crowd over there, I would say.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for The Straits & White Bay North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the all-party committee on Northern Cod and Northern Gulf Cod fisheries met over the winter and prepared twenty-two recommendations that were presented to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on March 17. Essential to these recommendations was the absolute necessity - and as I thought - the unanimous agreement that the fishery in 2J+3KL and 4Rs+3Pn had to remain open. Within twenty-four hours of the FRCC report on 4Rs+3Pn cod this Province's Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture was quoted in The Telegram - and I have it right here - saying that Minister Thibault should go beyond the FRCC recommendations and probably close the fishery.

Mr. Speaker, why has the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture taken a stand that is completely at odds with the all-party position? Will she explain how a closure of 4Rs+3Pn will be better to the people on the West Coast and Southern Labrador than an open fishery?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

And thank you for the question because I think it is important that the perspective on this issue be clear, and very clear, for the public.

Mr. Speaker, the recommendations that went forward from the all-party committee were very much to the point, very much to the issue in terms of what the hopes and wishes of the industry were in Newfoundland and Labrador. I stand by those recommendations, as I did two weeks ago in that report. I stand by them today as I did at every rally I attended over the last two days. This minister and this government will do whatever is necessary to ensure that this fishery stays open.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the recommendations of the all-party committee were not arrived at easily and caused us a great deal of concern. We took the controversial positions that we did with the understanding there was unanimity amongst the group and agreement with our respective caucuses.

Mr. Speaker, given that the minister has strayed from the all-party position, and the Premier's Parliamentary Assistant has taken exception to the position of the all-party committee, hasn't government members effectively scuttled the position, scuttled the agreement, scuttled the report, scuttled the committee and the position that we went to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is a very serious issue that confronts the people in our Province today, the people in the fishing industry. I can guarantee you that the members on this side of the House stand by the recommendations in that report.

The hon. member raised an issue with regard to differences of opinion around certain recommendations. There will always be differences of opinion around recommendations in any report, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JONES: Over the last couple of days we have heard different perspectives from certain people in the industry, but I think what you have to realize is that collectively, in consultation, we went forward with a set of recommendations. As the minister I stand by those and will continue to be forceful with the federal minister in terms of bringing our perspectives to him in the next couple of weeks before he takes a decision on this issue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Labour.

Mr. Speaker, fifteen months ago this government announced changes to the Labour Standards regulations. One of those changes was to have been effective tomorrow, April 1; namely, that overtime rates in the Province would be paid at one-and-a-half times the employee's regular rate of pay, rather than the way it is now, one-and-a-half times the minimum wage.

Those changes were agreed to at a round table meeting between employers and workers, agreed to by the Employers' Council and the Federation of Labour, and unanimously recommended by the Labour Standards Tribunal.

Why is this government, Minister, refusing to implement those recommendations that would provide the people of our Province with this benefit?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BARRETT: I remind the Leader of the Opposition that there is more than one Mickey Mouse in Newfoundland. I am not the only one.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BARRETT: I realize that you have a problem, but do not direct your comments towards here because this is a very, very important issue we are talking about here. Now I realize you do not have the people of Newfoundland at heart; you are more interested in shouting across the House in terms of calling people names.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Labour.

MR. BARRETT: I apologize to the Member for Labrador West. It is a very, very important issue. The Employers' Council and the labour movement, under the strategic partnership, had agreed to these arrangements back last year and when we got up to the date that they were supposed to be implemented, with representation from employers' groups and employees, there were some complications in implementing the proposals on April 1, and what we have done is delayed the implementation. Right now there is a consultation going on with employees, the labour movement and the Employers' Council, so we can move this recommendation forward.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

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

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister knows full well that these changes were promised here in this House of Assembly. They were discussed as long ago as three years, since June, 2000. The former minister announced the changes in the House in December, 2001.

I say to the minister, you had fifteen months to deal with any problems that may have arisen from this change. Why has your department waited until the last minute to address those changes and when, in a time frame, can people of this Province - now that you have welshed on this - expect to be covered by this important change to the Labour Standards?

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BARRETT: I want to remind the hon. member, he just said in his statement that what we had agreed here was not a government initiative. This was an initiative that was implemented and agreed to by all parties. It was agreed to by all parties, and when we got to the date that it was to be implemented, there were some problems with implementation on that particular date and by unanimous consent we asked for a delay in implementation of the regulation.

These same groups are back at the table right now, trying to sort out the differences. Once they have sorted out the differences, then we will implement the plan.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has ended.

Presenting Reports by Standing and Special Committees

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I am able to table the annual report for the Department of Finance ending March 31, 2002. This is the first time the department has tabled such a report and it confirms this department's commitment to a more open and accountable process as outlined in the Throne Speech.

Further, Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I table the annual reports of the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation and the C.A. Pippy Park Commission. It is interesting to note as well, Mr. Speaker, that the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation made $93 million in the fiscal year 2001-2002 and C.A. Pippy Park Commission will complete its master plan which, when released, of course, will set the direction for the C.A. Pippy Park in the years ahead.

Further, Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I table the report entitled, The Annual Activity Reports. This report is a supplementary to the annual report of the Department of Finance and it contains activity statements of certain agencies of the Department of Finance for which no formal annual report has been prepared. These agencies in the supplementary include: the Newfoundland Government Fund Limited, the Newfoundland and Labrador Sinking Fund, the Newfoundland and Labrador Industrial Development Corporation, Hotel Buildings Limited, the Newfoundland and Labrador Pooled Pension Fund, the Government Money Purchase Plan, and Newvest Realty Corporation. Mr. Speaker, this report is to be read with the annual reports, as well, of the Department of Finance.

Further, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to table the 2002 Annual Report of Treasury Board Secretariat, and also the 2002 Annual Report of the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Answers to Questions for Which Notice has been Given

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Last Wednesday, I believe it was, I undertook to provide figures for employment with the White Rose project in the Province. Mr. Speaker, the reality is that in all facets of the project, as of February 28, 2003, total employment was 1,316. Total employment in Newfoundland and Labrador was 768. Total number of Newfoundland and Labrador residents was 561.

Now, Mr. Speaker, these numbers are skewed a bit by the fact that they include those parts of the project, especially the hull and turret which cannot be done in Newfoundland and on which 500 or 600 people are working in various parts of the world.

The White Rose topsides employment numbers as of February 28, 2003, are as follows: Total topsides employment in St. John's is 248. Total topsides employment in Marystown is 310. Total employment is 558 people. Total number of Newfoundland and Labrador residents employed is 403 people, Mr. Speaker. I am happy to lay this before the House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Petitions

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

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a petition from a large number of residents concerning the Provincial Drug Prescription Program. Mr. Speaker, the petition calls on government to implement coverage for high cost drugs such as those required to treat Alzheimer's, MS, and other diseases that people have in this Province. These drugs are high cost and people need assistance if they are able to purchase them. Not everybody in this Province, Mr. Speaker, has drug prescription plans that will provide for coverage of these drugs, and even those with plans, many of them have a cap as to the lifetime maximum that you are able to claim. Many people in this Province do not have any plans whatsoever.

This only applies, Mr. Speaker, to working men and women of this Province because they are the ones who are caught in the middle of this unfair treatment. Every other province in this country has provisions for coverage for these high-priced drugs. We are the only Province in this country that does not provide any assistance whatsoever to its residents.

Mr. Speaker, the minister went around the Province a few months ago, or a few weeks ago, talking to people about what they would like to see contained in this Budget. I have to say, as many others in this Province, that we are very disappointed that the minister did not include expanded coverage for these drugs in this year's Budget. Many people now have to make the choice between putting food on the table, taking care of their children's education, taking care of any retirement plans they may have by way of saving any RRSPs, to purchase a drug required for their illness. They have to spend every cent they have coming in, Mr. Speaker, in order to provide the treatment that they need to control the illness that they have. That is not fair to the working people of this Province.

Indeed, as I have said many times, there are people in this Province today, whom I have spoken to recently, who are considering unfortunately having to move from this Province to take up residence in other provinces simply because other provinces provide coverage whereas our Province does not. I think that is a sad reflection on this government, that we are leaving people out in the cold; people who did not bring this disease on themselves, who do not have the ability to pay. Many people, Mr. Speaker, are going without the drugs they require simply because they cannot afford to purchase them, and many people are sacrificing every other area of their life and that of their families in order to purchase the drugs necessary to treat these diseases.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. COLLINS: Just by leave to clue up, Mr. Speaker?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. COLLINS: Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, I ask this government to reconsider their decision not to provide this coverage because many people in this Province are looking forward to them bringing in a change that will help them out, and considerably help out the families of these people. I think it is only fair that this government and this Province extend to the residents the benefits that every other province in this country extend to their residents.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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.

I stand today to present a petition on behalf of over 100 people in the St. Mary's Bay community of St. Vincent's, St. Stephen's and Peter's River. The prayer of the petition reads as follows:

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland in parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador ask for the House of Assembly to accept the following prayer:

WE the undersigned citizens of St. Mary's Bay Centre Area hereby draw your attention to the unsatisfactory and unsafe conditions as they now exist on Route 90, St. Mary's Bay;

WHEREAS it is the duty of government through the enactment and enforcement of the Highways Safety Act to protect its citizens not only from commuters but also from unsafe highways; and

WHEREAS the safety of the travelling public must be the number one priority of any government;

THEREFORE your petitioners ask that government provide the necessary funding to carry out the much needed repairs to Route 90.

As in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to present this petition on behalf of the people of the communities of St. Vincent's, St. Stephen's, Peter's River, and I ask the minister to take into consideration the main issue of this petition, and that is the safety of the travelling public.

Just this past weekend, I was in St. Mary's Bay. I guess with the spring thaw now we are finding that the roads in the area, in this particular part of my district, are absolutely atrocious and are causing some major concerns. I spoke to many people who commute back and forth on a daily basis and they are very, very concerned about the road conditions, the amount of damage being done to vehicles, but most importantly is the safety of the children who are travelling back and forth to the school in St. Mary's, the ambulance operators in the area, and certainly even the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, their own operators, in their own vehicles, are finding it very difficult to operate on these roads.

This is 2003, Mr. Speaker, and certainly we have made major improvements in this area in relation to enhancement of the tourism industry, such as the major development on St. Vincent's beach itself. To bring people down to the area and expect tourists to come to the area is certainly something that we need to offer a good road, and certainly a safe road. It seems that the underlining concern that people have here is the safety issue.

I ask the minister, as he prepares now to take what is his Provincial Roads Program for this year, to consider putting money into this area. It runs from up into the Mount Carmel, St. Catherine's area right down into St. Mary's Bay. That is one part of the area, and on the road leading into the community of North Harbour, between Colinet and North Harbour, there is major work needed on that piece of road. We had a couple of major washouts there last year, Mr. Speaker, that have been addressed through special funding from the department, but the main road itself certainly needs some recapping and some resurfacing in many places.

I spoke to the former minister on this on several occasions over the past fall and winter, and bring it forward here today in the House to enlighten the new minister, the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island. I certainly hope that funding of some sort, Mr. Speaker, will be -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. MANNING: Just a couple of seconds, Mr. Speaker, to close?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, in closing, I would just like to bring it forward to the new minister now and hope that he will have the opportunity somewhere - and I invite the new minister to travel to my district to view first-hand the conditions of the roads, and to understand why the people have started presenting petitions here in the House, through me, because of the situation they have and the unsafe conditions of those roads.

I certainly hope that the minister will find it in his time to come down to the district, to have a look first-hand. Hopefully, through the petitions that we forward here in the House over the next few days, the issue will be raised once again, money will be forthcoming and the funding will be forthcoming to address this major concern that people have.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today as well to present a petition. The petition reads: To the hon. House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador, in legislative session convened,

The petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador.

WHEREAS Route 235 from Plate Cove East to the Open Hall intersection has not been upgraded since it was paved approximately twenty-six years ago; and

WHEREAS this section of Route 235 is in such a terrible condition that vehicles are being damaged, including school buses serving schools in the area, and school children are finding their daily trips over the road very difficult;

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to upgrade and pave the approximately three kilometres of Route 235 from Plate Cove East to the Open Hall intersection.

Mr. Speaker, this petition is signed by people who have travelled over that section of highway. They are not asking for the government to upgrade and pave thirty kilometres of road, or 300 kilometres of road. They are asking them to go into that area this year, under this 2002-2003 capital works budget, and upgrade and pave three kilometres of road. On that particular section of road, Mr. Speaker, today if you drive down there you will see a speed sign, thirty kilometres an hour - that is twenty miles an hour - which is the speed sign that is erected on that particular section of roadway.

The road has deteriorated to such a condition that it is almost impassable. It was only a few days ago, and I brought forward the situation here in this House, where a resident of the area damaged her vehicle to such an extent that only did she have to replace the motor, with damage to the base pan where she lost the oil, but after the motor was repaired found out that she had to replace the transmission as well. Who is responsible for it? Certainly not her, Mr. Speaker. The government says they are not responsible. So, this lady is soliciting the services of a lawyer to find out who is responsible for letting this section of road deteriorate to the condition that it is in today.

Those people are not asking for sidewalks, Mr. Speaker, they are not asking for street lights. All they are asking is that Route 235, this section of Route 235, one of the main thoroughfares leading to the Bonavista Peninsula - an area that we have identified as a tourism attraction, an area that we have identified and spent a fair bit of money, I might add, in places like Bonavista, Port Union and Elliston, in order to promote tourism and give the people, the residents of those communities, an opportunity for seasonal employment and to seek the benefits of the tourism industry. The only way that we are going to realize the full potential, Mr. Speaker, is to offer a decent road to drive over.

It was only a couple of days ago that I went into a garage going down Route 235, and I talked to the garage owner there, and he told me about the complaints that he was getting.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, just a minute to clue up?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. FITZGERALD: The garage owner talked about people coming to his business there in the summertime and, with the road being that bad, they had heard reports on the road and asked to park their vehicles on the garage parking lot rather than take their vehicles down over that highway, unhook their trailers, drive down and come on back the same day.

So, if we are serious about tourism, if we are serious about putting infrastructure in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, and if we are serious about having rural Newfoundland and Labrador survive, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, it is time for us to get serious about doing some roadwork in order for those people and those businesses to survive in this Province.

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.

I would like to take the opportunity this afternoon to present a petition on behalf of the people from Castors River to Eddies Cove East, the Strait of Belle Isle district and St. Barbe district.

The petition reads: To the hon. House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador in legislative session convened:

The petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador.

WHEREAS the Health Care Facility in Flower's Cove is in dilapidated condition; and

WHEREAS the building is not completely wheelchair accessible, has very bad ventilation, poor air quality and is much too small for the services provided by the centre; and

WHEREAS the report titled Facility Assessment and Master Planning, dated October, 2002, recommended that a new modern health care centre replace the existing centre in Flower's Cove due to the vast amount of deficiencies which are detailed within this report.

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and in particular the Minister of Health and Community Services to assist in ensuring that the Flower's Cove Health Care Facility be replaced with a new modern health care centre.

As in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that I have raised on a number of occasions since I was first elected here a little over two years ago. If you go into the health care centre in Flower's Cove it becomes abundantly clear the minute you walk through the door that the centre is in a serious state of disrepair and certainly in need of a great number of improvements.

Mr. Speaker, as I said here in the petition I am presenting on behalf of the people in that area, there is a report - I am assuming the Minister of Health and Community Services has now - entitled: Facility Assessment and Master Planning, a review of the facility at Flower's Cove. It says quite clearly that the facility is in a serious state of disrepair and is in desperate need of replacing.

This facility is wheelchair accessible. It says here it is not entirely wheelchair accessible. It is wheelchair accessible in that you can get in through the door. But, Mr. Speaker, you cannot move through the facility. The rooms, where the health care professionals are trying to provide the services to the people, are cramped. There is no room to get around the hallways. They are very narrow. Some of the offices have actually been taken and divided in half in order to make room for everybody; to give everybody a bit little of space.

Mr. Speaker, this facility was built in the late 1970s, as I recall, and is very similar to the facility in Forteau in Southern Labrador. There has been quite extensive renovations on the facility in Forteau over the past ten years now since the facility was initially -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. TAYLOR: By leave, to conclude, Mr. Speaker.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, in just a couple of short minutes I will conclude.

The facility in Forteau was very similar, initially, to the one in Flower's Cove. I suspect there are vast differences in these two facilities right now. As I said, over the course of approximately - probably well up toward ten years now since some of the recommendations were changed. I think there is a palliative care unit added to the facility in Forteau. Certainly, there were substantial renovations made.

Mr. Speaker, I support the people of Flower's Cove and the people from Castors River to Eddies Cove East in this petition where they call upon the Minister of Health and Community Services and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to do the appropriate thing and put a health care centre in this area that is suitable for the needs of the people and provide them with the services they so rightfully deserve.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I, too, rise today to present a petition on behalf of the people in my district. This particular petition is from the community of Nippers Harbour. I will read the pray of the petition:

We, the undersigned residents of Nippers Harbour 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 roads in our area make travelling to and from school unsafe for our children, as well as jeopardize the safety of the travelling public, hurt economic growth opportunities, and portray a lack of commitment to rural areas of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, this particular community over the last little while has had some very serious problems with school busing. They had a situation where they had problems with brakes. They had a situation where the bus had to be inspected over and over again. Simply put, there are seventeen kilometres of gravel roads still leading into this particular community, a community that is contributing to the Province. It has a number of longliners in that community. They have done very well in the last couple of years, and that is the good news part of it. These people believe that they deserve something better.

As a matter of fact, with respect to the last minister who was in this department, they thought that last summer they would at least - not even asking for pavement - get some kind of upgrade, some kind of decent material to put on the road, so that it would become a half decent road. That is what they were asking for last year, but that did not happen. The kind of material that went on the road - a lot of people think - made it even worse.

Here we are again this year, Mr. Speaker, member after member, especially around rural parts of Newfoundland and Labrador, standing up for people to go around throughout their communities to have the right - and get ready another petition to present on the floor of this House of Assembly. Year after year we see the same thing for the same reason, that there is no long-term plan. There is no plan that shows you we are going to look at something three, five, six and seven years down the road. It is not even enough to look at the second year. They look at from April to April. So everybody is scrambling around - and we are talking to any minister, with all due respect to the minister - to talk to the minister to say -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: As a matter of fact, they are coming tomorrow night, I say to the minister. We will be talking to them again. I am sure the minister does, commend the people for coming here tomorrow night. They are travelling for some seven hours tomorrow. When they arrive we are going to sit down with the minister and they are going to give their side for their community and explain their situation.

The minister, I tell you, is going to get a firsthand view of this particular community and what they have gone through with the problems in busing in their communities and how parents are afraid to put their children on the buses. Remember, since school reform we have seen extended distances that children have to travel now under these conditions. In this particular case, Mr. Speaker, they were afraid for the safety of their children because the road, as some people described it, is like going over a washboard, bump after bump.

In Harbour Round today, I had more calls from different rural communities around my district - a number of gravel roads. There is still some over 900 kilometres of gravel road.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: By leave, just to conclude, Mr. Speaker.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. SHELLEY: There is still some over 900 kilometres of gravel road throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. That is a fact. I see some ministers shaking their heads, but that is a fact. There is still over 1,500 kilometres of old pavement - twenty-five years and older - that is popping up all over the place.

Whether you drive in any part of Newfoundland and Labrador, especially as some people described earlier, the winter pavement season is over. The winter pavement - that is ice and snow that keeps it flat so we can grade it for awhile - is over. We are back to reality again now. As you drive throughout this Province, and especially on gravel roads and the old pavement, you very soon realize that there is a major problem in this Province. What is budgeted for this year is certainly not going to come close to addressing that. We need a longer-term plan that is going to finally address the real serious problem in this Province when it comes to roads.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a petition on behalf of the residents of Conception Bay South, in particular the area residents of Foxtrap and Kelligrews. I ask the House of Assembly to accept the following prayer:

We, the undersigned citizens of Conception Bay South, would like to bring to your attention the current environmental hazards on the Incinerator Road in Foxtrap;

WHEREAS it is the duty of the provincial government to protect our environment; and

WHEREAS the safety of our residents could be affected by developments in this area;

THEREFORE your petitioners ask for a freeze on industrial permits for this area until a full environmental assessment is complete, as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, currently, before the Minister of Environment and his department, there is an application for the relocation of a commercial salvage yard from its present location to the current location, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, on the weekend I was fortunate enough to obtain aerial photographs of that current site. This was in its infancy and you can certainly tell the damage it has done to the soil and the environment around that area. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is about to move to a current contaminated area, and they are planning on burning waste oil. I say, Mr. Speaker, it is certainly reason for us to be against that development.

Mr. Speaker, it is as much about what currently exists on Incinerator Road as it is that new application. Currently, on Incinerator Road there is a rendering plant that you can smell for miles. When the air is right, the southerly wind is blowing - I say to the Minister of Environment who is here in the House this afternoon, I can assure him, he would have a job to barbecue and eat his meal in any kind of comfort if that was blowing his way.

As well, Mr. Speaker, we have a used oil storage site on Incinerator Road. There is a waste management storage site that the current minister says he has visited. I say to him, there is currently sewage on top of the ground, there are wetlands contaminated and there are rivers contaminated from that facility. I am sure if the Minister of Environment visited that site he had no problem seeing the pipe out under the fence and the raw sewage flowing into the river and the wetlands.

As well, Mr. Speaker, it is the home of the former CBS landfill site. The old teepee incinerator, in fact, still sits there with nothing being done to it. There has been very little remediation done to that site, Mr. Speaker. As well, there is a PCB storage yard there, there is radioactive storage and a salt storage shed as well.

Recently, there was a proposed biomedical site, and I want to commend the former Minister of Environment, the Member for St. George's-Stephenville East, for taking the time and listening to the area residents, meeting with them and making the right decision, denying it based on what currently exists at that site, I say to the current minister.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we have reasons for not wanting that there. Currently, there is a 150-lot subdivision on the Foxtrap Access Road. As well there is a high residential area. There is a river system that runs from Incinerator Road, that follows along a path out through Kelligrews and stops right in our recreation area, our hub of activity in the summertime. We have a soccer field, a softball field, a rugby field, and, I say to the minister, it is not uncommon to see small kids playing in the river during the summertime. There is a school, Madam Speaker, and, as the crow flies, it is probably only a kilometre-and-a-half to two kilometres away from this facility. Mr. Speaker, there are approximately 1,200 students who attend that school and we certainly wouldn't want to infringe upon the health of our students.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

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

MR. SPEAKER: By leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. FRENCH: As well, Mr. Speaker, there are a number of farms in the area, agricultural and livestock farms, that currently experience acid rain on a regular basis and whose crops are infested with rodents, to the point that they lose a large portion of their crops every year. Mr. Speaker, the minister, I know, has letters from these people. I certainly hope he reads them carefully.

As well, Mr. Speaker, just up the road from this facility there is the Marine Institute. This training centre is probably one of the most modern of its kind in the world today. They train people for the offshore, as well as firefighting courses. There are days at that facility, Mr. Speaker, when the air conditioning units have to be turned off because of the air quality in the area. I say, Mr. Speaker, it is an absolute disgrace.

As well, Mr. Speaker, we have the Works, Services and Transportation depot there as well. I certainly would not want any of our public servants in harm's way with all the conditions that currently exist there. I say, in light of what currently exists on Incinerator Road, that the minister certainly listen to the advice of the residents, and I add this petition of a couple of hundred names along with the several hundred the previous minister received, and ask him to make the right decision as his former minister did.

Thank you.

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.

Certainly, I take the occasion to rise to present a petition to this House of Assembly, signed by over 300 residents of the Marysvale-Georgetown area concerning - and I will just read the petition, Mr. Speaker, if I could:

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

WHEREAS Ryan's Road in the community of Marysvale has deteriorated to the point that safety of motorists and pedestrians is being compromised; and

WHEREAS access to residential homes and businesses has been seriously affected; and

WHEREAS little, if any, maintenance and repairs are carried out on Ryan's Road on an annual basis;

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to make a commitment to include the upgrading of this road system in its annual capital disbursement for the upcoming fiscal year.

And as is duty bound your petitions will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I refer to Ryan's Road in Marysvale. There are three residences on that road, as well as a convenience store, the Hill Top Video and Variety. This is the only convenience store in this community and the customers signed this petition, well over 300 of them. It says, basically, what they are asking, is that they need improvements to the conditions and physical state of Ryan's Road in Marysvale. They have to use this road on a daily basis to gain access to the only variety store in the area. If possible, they are asking, of course, that the road may be paved. At best, the drainage problems need to be properly done and the bottom of the road should be paved, regardless, to prevent future problems. They signed, thanking the minister for hopefully addressing the problem.

Again, Mr. Speaker, this is a small business operation that has been run by a single parent who has been very, very successful in putting together this particular business. But, you know, she has had to struggle against tremendous odds to, I guess, keep the business competitive because if the road leading to it is not adequate, the customers are going to bypass that particular business and go elsewhere. That is the problem that this proprietor is having in dealing with flooding in the spring, snow clearing in the wintertime. It is the last area to be done and, of course, being the last area done, people trying to get out to avail of the business are passing it by and going elsewhere. The flooding, the ditching is required -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HEDDERSON: By leave, Mr. Speaker, if I could.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I just want to bring it to his attention. Of course, it has been brought to the attention of the minister who has responded, and responded in a sense that he has committed to look at it but not a commitment to have it done.

Once again, Mr. Speaker, it has to be done because this is a business. It is a business that is absolutely necessary in this community. We have a proprietor who has put together a successful business and is providing employment for at least two other people on a yearly basis. Just some annual basic maintenance, Class A, some ditching, possible pavement, even at the end of the road to keep it from deteriorating would certainly help the cause.

Again, these 300 people, they are putting it, I guess, before this House and asking the minister to intervene, to make sure that this is a priority for the capital works this coming year, that it will be done so that this business person can continue on with a successful business and that the people of the Marystown-Georgetown area and surrounding area can have an adequate convenience store, a service that is badly needed, the only one in that particular area.

Again, I present this petition on behalf of these people and hope, Mr. Speaker, that their petition is heard and acted upon.

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.

It is a pleasure today to present this petition to the House. It is being presented on behalf of a very small, few people; in fact, eighteen people. I draw the attention of the petition to the new Minister of Labour, because this is something that I think he should give some full consideration to. I will just read the prayer of the petition. It says:

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador amended the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission Act under section 65.1(1) to reinstate benefits to a surviving spouses whose benefits terminated on or after April 17, 1985 due to his or her remarriage; and

WHEREAS this amendment under section 65.1(2) states that no interest shall be paid on compensation which would have been paid from April 17, 1985 to December 31, 1992.

Mr. Speaker, when we passed this piece of legislation in the House - and I think at the time on both sides of the House people spoke in favour of the legislation - I really do not think anybody truly envisaged the impact this was going to have, and the significance that it would have in the lives of a handful of people.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, there are only eighteen people who are impacted by this piece of legislation. They did, in fact, receive their retroactive pay. They did, in fact, receive the full benefit, the compensation that they otherwise would have been due, but what we failed to do at that time, as a Province, was to provide them with interest payment on the money that we had owed them for seven years.

Mr. Speaker, it is reasonable to expect that if someone owes you money for a period of seven years - let me use this as an example: If these individuals had owed the provincial government some money for a period of seven years, I suspect that at the time when it was paid government would have demanded not only the principal amount, but they would have demanded interest on that outstanding balance for whatever period was in question.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to recognize that these eighteen people are individuals who found themselves in a difficult situation when their spouses were killed in an industrial accident. They found themselves having to rebuild their lives. They found themselves penalized for a number of years because they chose to remarry. The legislation of the day then automatically cut their benefits upon remarriage. So, it is a reasonable thing to do, to change that legislation to force the compensation to be paid regardless of the marital status.

Mr. Speaker, that in itself required a challenge under the Human Rights legislation to even have that put in place. So, these eighteen people and many others in the Province have had a real struggle for a number of years in trying to get their due benefits under this act.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. ROSS WISEMAN: By leave, just to clue up, Mr. Speaker?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. ROSS WISEMAN: Just to conclude, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

 

Orders of the Day

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, Motion 1. The motion is: that this House approve in general the budgetary policy of the government, the Budget Speech.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to an exciting, exhilarating and scintillating debate from the hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion 1

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to thank government for that rousing introduction in welcoming me here to debate on the Budget, on a very expensive ticket item. There are a couple of pieces of business, and they are related to the Budget, that I want to get out of the way first.

One was my response to a Ministerial Statement that relates to this fiscal year, that I did not get leave from this government here to be able to finish. I would like to be able to go in and explain to the minister what I have asked in Question Period, because the minister could not or would not answer what I asked in Question Period today. If I have to take half an hour or an hour to explain this today, or two hours, I intend to do it, whatever is necessary -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: - because the people of the Province should be exposed to complete transparency, not juggling figures up and down all over the place.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Before I get too carried away with those fictitious figures I see here, I want to address starting off here the Ministerial Statement the minister gave in the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SULLIVAN: I got interrupted, yes, Mr. Speaker, very rudely by government. They did not want to hear what we said in a policy statement released by myself and the leader on February 14, 2002, as it relates to accountability that she is going to bring in this fiscal year she said. Well, I will just let her know that our party has indicated they are going to bring in a transparency and accountability act. We are going to legislate it. We are going to legislate it. We are not going to legislate it and try to change it, like they did with the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund, bring it in on one hand and try to tear it up on the other. No, not at all.

AN HON. MEMBER: We never did it.

MR. SULLIVAN: Not because you did not try. You tabled a bill. You tabled a bill in the House!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: That minister sat in a Cabinet that tabled a bill to take the money out of the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund. The Minister of Education, the former Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, was a party to a conspiracy to rob Newfoundland and Labrador of the necessary funds in Labrador for a road system in the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: He was a part of that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I say to the Environment Minister: whatever it was you will be taken care of in due course. I say to the Member for Humber East, the Environment Minister: his time will come.

Now, this act that we are taking about - and there was only a small page taken from that act by this government. They only went part of the ways, just scratched the surface, like they do with all their acts. That is why he is Mr. Transparent. We can see right straight through it because the surface is only touched.

The act states: We would "... require performance planning and reporting for all government departments and agencies. This means: each department and government-funded agency..."- and that was our policy, fourteen months ago almost -"...will be required to present annual performance plans to the House of Assembly on or before the date when the main budget estimates are presented to the legislature." Before we even got those Estimates to the Legislature. "The plan must include a statement of goals and specific objectives, key strategies for achieving each goal and objective, costs and benefits, and the performance measures that will be used to track results; and at the end of each fiscal year, departments and agencies will be required to table annual reports in the legislature..." Not just annual reports, but annual reports that will "...compare actual performance results for the fiscal year with expected results identified in their performance plans."

Basically, we have gone a lot further, way further. The minister stood today and read out from a statement that said we are going to require to table plans. Basically, all she is saying is that we are going to have annual reports for department agencies. Do you know when reports from department agencies were supposed to be tabled in this House? In 1989 - they were tabled up to then and this government changed it in 1989 when they came into power. That was a standard thing.

So what we are doing now after fourteen years - with an election coming - is what previous PC governments have been doing and previous governments of this Province have been doing for year after year. That is what they are going to do. It is a farce. Do you think the people of the Province are going to be foolish enough to accept - you took it all away and now you are going to give it back. That is worst than the Premier standing here in the House and telling everybody he believes in six terms, but only after the next election. He believe Cabinet should only be one-third of the members of the Legislature, but only after an election. It is 20 per cent bigger now. I do not believe in it now, I only believe in it after an election. I cannot do it now. I have only three backbenchers now who are not ministers, besides the four that went out; only three left. One is the Deputy Speaker, one is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier, and just one other. Also, one is the Whip; the only ones left. That is it, all gone. Eleven people gone, dropped by the wayside with this government in successive elections and by-elections. It is gone right down now to a very narrow margin, I might add.

So they are not going to do things, what they said they want to do, until after an election. The people would say: Why don't you do it now? If you believe in it, do it now. You cannot have two sets of rules. You cannot preach one thing and practise something different. You should practise what you preach.

Now, I want to get to the next thing, apart from this statement that the minister read this morning, that is very weak, not near enough to go into statements on accountability, I might add. I want to make reference to things I mentioned here in Statement III in the Budget today. If you look at Statement III in the Budget, it says: Reconciliation Of Budgetary Requirements To Consolidated Accrual Budget. I asked the minister in the House today, I said this is the first time in our history that we are seeing what we call a consolidated accrual budget. The first time we are seeing this schedule here where we have Tangible Capital Assets. Now, there are two categories here or areas of Tangible Capital Assets. There are Tangible Capital Assets that come under the Consolidated Revenue Fund, or CRF as you see referred to here, and farther down on that page you have the Tangible Capital Asset Adjustments (Other Entities).

If you look at the first one, it says: Net Additions of Tangible Capital Assets During the Year, $55,083,000. That is the net additions. I asked the minister, I said this net addition that we see here of $55,083,000 and down at the bottom of the page, the $73,955,000, that total of $129,038,000 we are referring to as new entries on the consolidated accrual statement put forth here in this Budget.

I asked the minister if she would explain this new policy on tangible capital assets and she got up talking about what depreciation is. Well, we all know what depreciation is. I do not think we need a lesson in depreciation. If you buy a piece of equipment and it has a lifespan of ten years, or five years, or two years, depreciation amounts are higher on equipment that have shorter lifespans. Most people in the fishing industry would depreciate their boat, generally, I think, at around 15 per cent. Some other equipment at 20 per cent and 30 per cent. People in the industry, photocopiers from government buildings, you depreciate. I would assume, brick buildings at a lower rate than you would depreciate a wooden building that would have a shorter lifespan. There are different depreciation rates applied.

The question I asked the minister: Would she tell this House what the policy is? What would be our consolidated accrual deficit if these capital assets were expensed rather than depreciated? Now, if you expensed them out, if you buy something and it costs $10,000 and you pay for it as a renovation or expense and you pay for it all in the one year, it is expensed out. If you decide to take that $10,000 and you would depreciate that over a period of years, that is a depreciation on that item. The minister either did not know or would not say, and would not answer my question.

Now, with reference to that first question - anybody who is following in their Estimates, in the very last section of those Estimates, in Appendix IV, it lists out all the details of capital expenditures. All the details for the first $55,083,000 are here in the back of the Estimates book. I am sure he is following there very intently because he knows that we are not getting the full picture. We are not getting the answers. You either know it and will not tell us, or the minister does not know, one or the other. It has to be one of two choices.

On that, if you look down that list on Appendix III, there are five pages. On the fifth page, you can see, at the very end, under Net Expenditure $55,083,200. That should be the amount that is showing here on Statement III. In other words, they have taken all of those assets, they have taken all of those $55 million net additions of capital assets under the CRF - and it is here in Appendix I - they have taken every one of these and they have depreciated them.

For example, what would you depreciate in salaries? There are salaries subject to depreciation. How would you depreciate salaries? Probably because the engineers, in the design of a building, have certain salaries, and therefore we will allow that into the cost of the building and we will depreciate it? They are the type of things I want to know from the minister. I want to know and be able to find out these items. I am going to go through these items on page 256 in the Budget book. I will ask the minister. I will ask the questions and let the minister answer them.

Under Consolidated Fund Services, it shows Related Revenue, of course, the first item. I cannot see them depreciating the revenues. Hopefully they are not going to do that. Then they have Various Facilities - Rental Purchase $101,400. The have Issues Under Guarantee (Statutory) $99,000. Under Land Development, they have revenues exceed the expenses, but under Works, Services and Transportation, what did they do with these? How did they depreciate these? How did they get that figure that I referred to in Statement III, if you look, on the figure of $55,083,000? They only had the depreciation of $1,078,000; $1,078,000 on $55,083,000 of assets. If you work that out, that is a depreciation rate of 1.96 per cent. Now, how do we only get a depreciation rate of 1.96 per cent? What did we do?

I am going to go through these departments, and maybe the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation would tell me, in that category on page 256 in this Budget, what the depreciation was. Because when you have $55 million and you only have $1 million depreciation, all of it is being depreciated or all of it is not. What are we depreciating? What is the rate at which we are depreciating it? Tell us what you depreciated the Salt Storage Sheds, of $300,000, or the Heavy Equipment, $3,375,000. What rate of depreciation have you used on that?

I want the minister to provide to me the breakdown. If not, we will get him in Estimates. We will ask him again and again until we get these. We want to know what rates they are applying to depreciation of these assets.

Administrative Support - Road Construction: $449,500. What type of administrative support? Under Administrative Support, you see in the Budget, there are different salaries and all these things. Are we depreciating those? Are they exempt from depreciation? What, under Administrative Support? Is it a photo copier, or a piece of machinery, or a calculator? What are they using in depreciation here? We do not know. We have not been provided. We would like to have it, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. We would like to have a copy of the breakdown on each of these assets here.

We have Pre-Engineering - Road Construction, $650,000. We would like to know what that is. We also have Strategic Highway Infrastructure Program, a net of $8,145,000, a net expenditure. What type of depreciation are we using on highway infrastructure? How long does a road last? What depreciation rate?

MR. REID: What do you need to know all of that for, Loyola?

MR. SULLIVAN: I say to the Minister of Education, when you look at Statement III on your Budget, the reason we need to know that is, when you have $55,083,000 in tangible capital assets added to the sheet for this year and you only show depreciation of $1,078,000 - 1.95 per cent - I am saying: How did you apply it to get your accrual deficit? Maybe it is way higher. Maybe it is tens of millions higher than you are showing. I would like to know how you arrived at that. I would like the departments, and hopefully in the Estimates the members in each department can go through this and ask them how did they arrive at that depreciated amount right here? Because all these figures in Appendix III coincide with, when you add them all up, it all adds up to the $55 million we are seeing on Statement III, but we do not see any of the answers to questions.

I do not expect to have everything listed here, obviously. We do not expect to see a breakdown and every one listed in this document, but at least the minister could have stood and acknowledged rather than try to avoid the question I asked and talk about something completely different. She explained what depreciation is. That is what she explained. People know what depreciation is. They know if they have a house and it was worth $100,000 and they have it for five years -

PREMIER GRIMES: The question you asked today was probably the best one ever asked in this Legislature (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: The Premier is saying that it was probably the best question I asked. Is that one where nine plus six, I ask him, equals fifteen? I will get to the matter of nine plus six equals fifteen.

MR. E. BYRNE: He was right, but we couldn't say the same thing about the answer, could we?

MR. SULLIVAN: I can tell you, the answer wasn't the best answer I have ever seen in this House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: The answer is similar to a significant percentage of the answers I have seen since I came in here to this House in 1992, I can tell you. It is on a par with that. There was no answer. There was skating and more skating. I think the Premier has given all of his ministers skating lessons, I think that is what he is doing; he is giving them skating lessons, either figure skating or general ice skating, whatever the case may be, but I can tell you they are skating on pretty thin ice now and they had better come clean with the people of this Province over the next while.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Because, like any spring, as the ice starts to thaw and water shows around the edges, anybody caught out there is going to start sinking, we can see, and that is when he will be looking for his Sinking Fund. He will be cashing in his Sinking Fund, I would say, for this Province pretty soon.

I have not even gotten through one department yet, on my question, and already they are getting worked up over there. They are starting to feel the guilt already. They cannot seem to answer the question.

Works, Service and Transportation on depreciation, why would Alterations and Improvements to Existing Facilities - $6,225,000 is the net. I would like to know collectively - and I could ask for each department - what is being expensed out and what actually is subject to depreciation and the rates for each of these?

If you look at Airstrips, it has $1 million in related revenue. Here is something interesting, if expenditure is $1 million and we have related revenue of $1 million that means it must have been federal money. Maybe there was no input by the Province, I am assuming. Maybe the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation can answer that. Maybe he can answer on Ferry Terminals, $3.4 million, related revenue at $2.7 million, for a balance of $670,000. Is that federal money that went into ferry terminals there? That is why it is a lower amount, I would assume. I cannot see collecting that much revenue on a ferry terminal on a user fee because the user fees are basically on the use of the ferries, not on the use of the terminal, I would assume. That must be federal money that went into this pot.

Maybe the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture can answer a question. Fisheries Facilities, $100,000. Would the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation tell us the $100,000 that is in this budget on a depreciation, on a tangible capital asset of $100,000, is that depreciated? What is the percent? Maybe the minister could stand in her place and tell us that?

The Forest Resources and Agrifoods minister - we had $3.8 million in Resource Roads Construction. How does this enter into Statement III in the Budget? When we looked at an accrual budget we had to plug figures in on amounts and the rate of depreciation. How is this $3.8 million depreciated? How long does a resource road last? When might it need to be repaired or replaced? In five years, ten years, twenty or thirty years? Like any highway, even a paved highway - I have seen roads that are thirty years old and are in desperate shape. I have seen roads twenty years old and are in bad shape. It depends on the usage. It depends on the type of construction job you did in the beginning. I would like the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods to tell us that one.

Land Development; $200,000. How is that depreciated? I do understand - there is an 01 here that says: Net acquisition of tangible capital assets include work in process, land assets, which are not depreciable. In other words, land assets are not depreciable. If you eliminate them from it, what does that leave you? How much are land assets that are not depreciating? How much is left in the pot that is subject to depreciation?

They are part of this budget. We did not have this before in the budget. We did find it in Public Accounts every year. That is why I have been saying there is only one true deficit for this Province. There is only one deficit. You can look at your cash base. You can throw in the other entities on top of that. You can look at - there is only one deficit. That is the crude deficit. That is it. That is the only one. You are comparing apples and apples that you know where you stand. That is the one that shows $666 million. I am asking questions now and trying to find out if that shouldn't be higher. Are they showing the right one? Should it be lower? Until we get answers, we don't know how they cost those and we do not know how they depreciated those. I am sure there are other ministers - the Industry, Trade and Rural Development Minister might like to tell us, because there is one here from her department. Actually, there is a Comprehensive Economic Development, a net of $405,900. Where does that fit into the scheme? A Strategic Enterprise Development Fund of $263,500: Where does that fit in? In her department, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development, the Member for Grand Bank, if she could tell us: Are these subject to depreciation and what is the amount of depreciation on each of these? Could you tell us, I say to the minister, and let us know what your department is factoring in under that heading, or what is being done, generally, through Finance and Treasury Board? In the preparation of these statements, what is allocated to her department?

We know all about allocations to departments on the Premier's travel. They were spread all over departments. Ministers didn't even know what was going through those departments. It went not only under ministers traveling in those departments or the Premier, it went down under other items, way down into Office Expenditures. Why would you do that if you didn't want to hide it?

Now, under the Tourism, Culture and Recreation Minister - I might add, I am only getting to questions I asked in Question Period today that I didn't get an answer for. I want to get to main generalities, but I think these questions to the ministers beg to be answered, to find out what their departments are doing. If they don't know, they should find out. Maybe they can come back to the House. They may want to stand up under Answers to Questions and give a statement on it, or in the Estimates be prepared to give those particular figures.

Tourism, Culture and Recreation has $1,779,500. For example, Community Sports Facilities, $227,000: How has that been depreciated?

I am not passing judgement on whether something is or is not justified. That is not my question. My question is: How are you accounting for what you spend? Are you factoring in depreciation? Are you expensing items out? What are you doing on each specific one?

Under Newfoundland and Labrador Film Development Corporation, $1 million in the Budget for this year, how is that projected? What is it for? Is it subject to depreciation? What is the amount of depreciation? Cultural Activities, Historic Sites Development - there is also Park Development. There are National Parks and Community Sports Facilities. There are some items here included, I might add, Mr. Speaker, in each of these statements that we want to get answers on.

In other areas there is major expenditure. My colleague, who is critic in Education and Post-Secondary Education, the Member for St. John's East, under his department, the Newfoundland and Labrador Education Investment Corporation has a net expenditure of $5,050,000. I am sure he would like to know, and the people in this Province would like to know, how you are calculating the amounts to plug into the Budget. What way are they doing it?

Also, under Education, Native People's Education: Is that in salaries? Is it subject to depreciation? The Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund, another net of $445,000. The total was $890,000. I think that is a fifty-fifty funding, if I am not mistaken, there in education, that is shared. The CSIF, I think, is a shared fund on a fifty-fifty basis, I am assuming.

AN HON. MEMBER: Which fund is that?

MR. SULLIVAN: That is the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund. The Premier is wondering what it is for. We will find out in due course.

Provincial Information and Library Resource, $120,000. What type of library resources? How are they depreciated? What is included in here? What depreciation is given to salaries? I understand their salaries are being depreciated.

AN HON. MEMBER: What?

MR. SULLIVAN: Salaries.

AN HON. MEMBER: Salaries depreciated?

MR. SULLIVAN: I am asking the question: If you are going to build a building and it costs $1 million, your engineering and design work were $100,000, if they were $100,000, and that building is $1 million, the salaries for engineering and design work were $100,000, wouldn't you depreciate the whole million or leave out salaries? My understanding from this is that there are areas that have salary depreciation. If not, why would Support Services? There are salaries listed here in this total of fifty-five, and the question I am asking, we have not been told what is subject to depreciation and what is not. We have not been told.

PREMIER GRIMES: Ask it tomorrow in Question Period.

MR. SULLIVAN: I asked it today in Question Period and did not get an answer. I say to the Premier, I asked it in Question Period today.

I am sure the minister is out now rushing back to get her figures so she can stand up tomorrow in Answers to Questions for which Notice has been Given, and she will stand in this House and give me a whole list of all these depreciations, because I will keep asking until I get it. I will keep asking until I get it.

I can tell you one thing. One thing that is depreciating a lot more than 1.95 per cent, and that is the stock -

AN HON. MEMBER: The stock (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That is right, the stock of the Premier and the Cabinet Ministers is subject to great depreciation there. If that was factored in, we would have a tremendous accumulated deficit, I might add.

Under Health and Community Services, that is not exactly small potatoes there. I will ask the Minister of Health and Community Services if he could stand in his place and tell us, on Health Care Facilities there is $20,164,100 in this year's Budget listed under additions; net additions to tangible capital assets for this year. Is that depreciated? At what rate? Where are the facilities? What are the amounts that are used? Is it all for the infrastructure? Is there some for equipment? What is the breakdown? Because this government is starting off under this consolidated basis and they have the whole passed. How they are going to value an asset? This all comes down to valuing an asset.

The Confederation Building, for example, is not being financed now.

MR. McLEAN: It is worth nothing.

MR. SULLIVAN: It is paid off, so that is not being subject to depreciation, because that is fully amortized so that would not be included. I am asking other questions.

Yes, the former Minister of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs, the Member for Lake Melville, said it is worth nothing. Probably it is worth nothing, or very little. How many people want to buy a Confederation Building and sell it? I ask that question, actually, in Budget lock-up and I was told no, that is not included in any of the tangible capital assets. It is fully depreciated. That is fully expected to be, and that is not there, but there are things there. There are things there, $20 million of it, $20,664,100 under Health and Community Services. I would like to know how that totals up in the $55 million. Is that subject to the depreciation rate? Because, why would you have $55 million of assets added? If someone had $100 million in assets and you added $55 million more this year, and you only have depreciation of $1 million, 1.95 per cent, you will want to know which ones are subject and which are not. That is pretty significant.

What about if it is all depreciated at 10 per cent of that? That would have driven our Budget up by $5 million more deficit. So, we are finding that a lot of things we are not getting any explanations on. Some may have valid explanations but we will not know until we get the answers or see the books on it.

Under Municipal and Provincial Affairs, I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, there is $38,835,300 added this year, just this coming year, to the tangible capital assets of our Province, net additions for this year, and we should know as taxpayers how $40 million of our money is being subjected to, what type of depreciation, which assets are in it, what categories, can you give us the rate? Simple questions I asked today, and I could not even get an answer. I got a definition of what is depreciation. That is basically what I got from the minister as an answer, a definition of depreciation. That is a pretty shallow answer to a $129 million question I asked.

When you look at this $55 million we are seeing here, on top of this - and I am not even through this $55 million - if you look at Statement III, down at the bottom of the page, there is another $73,955,000 of those assets in other entities, out in other corporations related to government, I say to my colleagues, out there on top of that. How are these depreciated? And it is only a depreciation of $3.5 million shown up on that $74 million. That is a pretty low rate too. That rate is only 4.78 per cent for a combined rate, when you look at them, of only 3.5 per cent depreciation in total on $129 million. What if the depreciation was 10 per cent on $129 million? That would be 12.9. That would be another $8 million or $9 million on all debt. It would not be $666 million; it would be $675 million. Those are some of the things we would like to get answered here, and the ministers have not given any answers in their departments.

I am going to continue to ask each minister if they can tell us exactly what is happening in their own department. For example, under Community Development - Coastal Labrador, as an example, there is $4.924 million there. How are you depreciating that? What are the items? What are the assets? What is the depreciating rate on these assets? Are they all depreciating at the same rate? Obviously they are not. I am sure it depends on the type of asset it is. Would you have normal ones that are subject to depreciation? We have not heard what they are. I would like to know what they are.

Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education. I am sure my critic from Harbour Main-Whitbourne would like to know, for instance, in the $4.029 million that is there, the Physical Plant and Equipment - Memorial University, $1,179,800, is that being depreciated? What are you doing with that? The College of the North Atlantic, the Physical Plant and Equipment, of $2.8 million, what is happening there? Is that in the figure for depreciation? I think we deserve to know if these particular areas here are included, and how do they fit in? How do you get $55 million of tangible assets and get $1 million in depreciation, less than 2 per cent? How do you get that? Is it legitimate? Does anybody know of equipment that lasts fifty years, or almost fifty years? Buildings maybe? Buildings could last fifty years. If you do additions to buildings, are you going to capitalize that? Increase its value and capitalize it and subject that to depreciation? Are you going to expense it out?

I asked the minister this morning, what would our deficit be today? She showed the deficit in the Budget as $666 million. I said, what would it be if you expensed out, if you had to expense out rather than depreciate? The minister could not answer. She could not answer that basic question, as the Minister of Finance of this Province, who is entrusted to look after the public purse and to understand basically what is happening here, and she could not answer the question today. I think we deserve to know what the answer to that question is, and how this particular Province is running, what they are doing with the books, how they are doing it, and we want to get an answer.

You could support a lot of it, if you knew. Who knows? How can you support what you are not shown? How can you support what they have done? They have done something with the figures. Something has happened with the figures, with these tangible assets, to have a depreciation rate of 1.95 per cent. Something happened.

Under Details of Tangible Capital Asset Acquisitions, on page 258, we have the Executive Council, Office of the Comptroller General, $212,100. The office is responsible for the public accounts of our Province. The Budgeting and Systems, $148,300, what is included? What is included out of that amount that makes up the $55 million? Is this included in arriving at the depreciation of $1 million on Statement III? What is included? Pick out what is included and let us know. Say it is this, this, this and that, and show us which ones or how you arrived at it; because this is the first such statement to look at tangible capital assets and we want to know how they arrived at devaluation, depreciation, and how they plug this in to an accrual budget basis here to find out what our real deficit is in our Province.

That have not been forthcoming with an answer, and in the lack of an answer we suspect something We are skeptical of what they are putting forward when they cannot give an answer. If they can give an answer, then the public could weight it and judge it on its own merit. It is what we say against what they say, and then let the people pass their judgement on who they believe; but when you do not have access to the books, when you cannot see them and cannot get the answers out from ministers and from this Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board, how can you draw that conclusion?

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible) this Province. All the information is there that you could want.

MR. SULLIVAN: The Minister of Mines and Energy, maybe he can tell us, while he is speaking there now, under his department, under your department as Mines and Energy, Mineral Lands are showing $200,000. Would the minister know if on Statement III in the Budget, out of the $55,083,000, that there is a depreciation applied to that under Mineral Lands? That $200,000 is depreciated under that particular item?

MR. NOEL: I certainly would know, yes.

MR. SULLIVAN: Would you tell us?

MR. NOEL: When I speak, yes.

MR. SULLIVAN: When he speaks, he is going to tell us. Well, I can tell you he might know by then. Do you know that it says -

MR. NOEL: You are the only one who knows things. Is that (inaudible)?

MR. SULLIVAN: No, that is why I am asking questions. I want to get the answers, I say to the minister.

Minister, it says in these Estimates here that land assets are not depreciable. I am asking on Mineral Lands, the $200,000, is that depreciable or is that the same as all lands under the one category? I would assume, if they are Mineral Lands, they are lands for further use. Maybe they are all treated the same. We do not know, on Statement III, what fits into Statement III from this government. The minister was not forthcoming or willing to provide anything for it. So I am asking the ministers individually now if they would provide it for their own departments individually. I would expect for your department, the Minister of Mines and Energy, that it might not be included in Statement III in the $1,078,000 because Mineral Lands has a certain particular value but they do not depreciate lands in terms under depreciation here of tangible capital asset. That is the conclusion I am drawing. I would like to know if that is correct. Could you tell me if it is in there?

MR. NOEL: I will certainly inform you.

MR. SULLIVAN: The minister said he will check and he will find that out for me.

MR. NOEL: I never said I would check. I said I would inform you when I speak.

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, I am sorry. He said he will inform me when he speaks on that particular one. So I can give leave for a minute for you to give me the answer, if you want to do that now?

MR. NOEL: No, I do not need your leave in order to speak.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, he does not want to do that, Mr. Speaker. He is not willing to stand up and answer that. Maybe he needs -

MR. REID: You asked him (inaudible) and he said he would.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I say to the Minister of Education, he said: I did not say I would check it. He said, I will report to you. He contradicted me when I said check it. That is not what he said. He said, when he speaks he will tell us. I asked him if he wanted leave to tell me, and that was a fair statement. If he had to check on it, I would accept that, but he said that is not what he said. So I figured he knew the answer and he is not going to tell me. That is the conclusion I drew.

MR. NOEL: I will (inaudible) at the appropriate time.

MR. SULLIVAN: If he wants to do it at the appropriate time, we look forward. I look forward to getting that answer, I say to the Minister of Mines and Energy. I tell the Minister of Mines and Energy, with his comments there, that I have taken this book the weekend and went from front to back. I read the Economy from front to back. I read the Budget book a second time. I went through every note by every department in that binder here for ministers, the one that he sees accompany that budget. I have gone through every single one of them. Since the weekend, up to last night, I have gone through every single one of these in detail.

I am trying to get some answers to things that I see in this statement here because, for the first time, we have had a statement of tangible capital assets and I understand the statement here. I am fairly familiar with financial statements, but we cannot get answers to what made up that statement and the depreciation rate. The government is not forthcoming to tell us that. That is why I asked the minister today in Question Period, and I did not get an answer. That is why I am asking each minister. Not one today yet has stood to answer my question as I go through each department.

I will continue. I will go through all these basic departments, and hopefully I will get answers from some minister who will stand here and let us know.

I would like to ask the Minister of Government Services and Lands - for example, there is $80,000 under National Safety Code. I am wondering if the Minister of Government Services and Lands could tell us, because the Minister of Mines and Energy was the minister there and he should know this. He just left that department. Is that $80,000 subject to depreciation for Statement III under depreciation, under net additions to tangible capital assets? I would like to know.

Driver Examination and Weigh Scale Operations, $30,000. The Government Services and Lands Minister, I will ask him to stand and tell us if both of these items valued at $110,000 are factored into that particular statement.

There are major initiatives being taken here, major areas of government expenditure, and we have not been getting any particular answers. For example, if we look at Environment, Administrative Support, I ask the Environment Minister, there is $155,000 under Administrative Support that is considered a tangible capital asset. How would Administrative Support qualify? Just tell us what, under Administrative Support, is included as a tangible capital asset. Secondly, tell us what depreciation rate has been applied to that tangible capital asset and being plugged into Statement III here in our Budget.

Each minister should know what their department has in terms of assets, what is subject to depreciation, what are non-depreciated amounts, because obviously we are going to see some amounts in subsequent budgets under the same method we have seen here.

We have under Justice, for example - and it will be interesting to know that under Justice, the Supreme Court, $90,700; Provincial Court $115,000; Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, $320,000, and Adult Corrections $89,400 for a total of $615,100 that has been added. That is new additions, net additions this year, to the tangible capital assets. Can the Justice Minister tell us what categories they are in? Are they subject to depreciation? Are they police cars? Are they computer equipment ? Are they equipment of some other nature? Are they firearms? What are they, that are applied here to this particular schedule on depreciation?

We have Human Resources and Employment. I will ask the Human Resources and Employment Minister: For Client Services there is $324,000 added under additions to Tangible Capital Assets, is this $324,000 depreciated? Are they client services? What type of client services would you add to this particular Budget to reflect those numbers? I have not seen any explanation, Mr. Speaker, for that here in this House.

We have Administrative Support in Municipal and Provincial Affairs, $10,900. Is that subject? We have Youth Services and Post-Secondary Education, I mentioned, the College of the North Atlantic, $2.3 million. Is that subject and what is the depreciation rate? What structures? What is included in this particular category? There are a whole host of things here.

We have Details of Capital Expenditures and we have Details of Tangible Capital Asset Acquisitions. The first two pages I made reference to Details of Capital Expenditures and the next one, Details of Tangible Capital Asset Acquisitions. They should be reflected, I might add. The first total on the first two pages was $111,092,100. On the next two pages, ending on the third one, there was $55 million. Those two pages, and so on, all these should add up to the $55 million. They are the net additions to it on Statement III. That is basically what I asked this morning in this House. I asked for an explanation of this $55 million, how it was included and how it is reflected here in the statement.

I want to make another reference to, what we call in a budget, figures are thrown out. We were told and led to believe - the public. The public truly believes, after hearing that Budget, there are fifteen extra RNC officers who are going to be out providing for their safety and protection in this Province as a result of this Budget. Last summer there were nine extra officers hired and I understand their contracts extended beyond the summer, beyond the fall, and they were extended, actually, right up until the end of the fiscal year, which is today. This is today, the end of the fiscal year. This budget year starts tomorrow. Right up until today there have been nine officers - who are there now working and, I would assume, the officers are eligible officers; have been on the job. I am not going to draw conclusions but I would say that there is a good chance -

AN HON. MEMBER: They may not be the ones to be hired.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, there is a good chance -

AN HON. MEMBER: Did you say you were concluding?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I said I am going to conclude that nine of these are out there. They are going to be into the mix out of the new fifteen, I would assume, assuming they are still interested, and then there are only six extra officers. There were nine there since last summer. There are only going to be six extra. Do you think, when they lost eighty officers, that six extra is going to do it?

We just had a warrant presented here in this House for salaries in RNC, that was presented by this minister last week, for $1,350,000. I cannot tell how much of that was overtime or whether it was all of it, but I am led to believe that $1 million or $1.15 million, in excess of $1 million or $1.-some million had to be spent on overtime for what is there already to do the job. There are nine officers there since this summer in addition, and now six more. If you had to spend $1.-some million in overtime, and you are going to get six more, that would not come close in even reducing the overtime in terms of work unless the six extra officers are going to be paid a couple hundred thousand each. Unless they are going to paid that. So the overtime costs, along with the nine they had - they are only going to get six extra basically.

The galling point of this is that people were led to believe - and I was led to believe, and I am sure other people in the Province were because I sat here and listened - that there were going to be fifteen more officers patrolling the streets; and there have been meetings in Kilbride. We have had concerns expressed before out in CBS, I say to my colleague, on policing. They are trying to cover outlining areas, increasing populations in more urban areas in the Province compared to other areas; and people are looking for protection and so on. There has been a lot of public outcry, and responding to those particular needs has to be done with manpower and resources. If not, you have to shift them from some other area and that area gets neglected. That is basically what happens when you have a certain limit of resources. But to tell us we are going to get fifteen extra, when there are only six extra. That is not true. It is not factual. We cannot accept that, especially getting information that is not true.

There is another picture to this deficit that is hidden, and I have not revealed this yet. When we get an opportunity - maybe I should save it for Question Period tomorrow and get no answer on it, but I will say it anyway. The deficit that is out there now - last year this government budgeted $60 million; $10 million under Labrador Housing to take in revenue; they budgeted $10 million in the Liquor Corporation; they budgeted $3 million in GIPCo the Gull Island Power Corporation; and $37 million, last year, in the Sinking Fund. That adds up to $60 million that they budgeted to take in the fiscal year ending today. What did they do? Did they take it? No! If they had to take that $60 million we would have a deficit on this past year showing $60 million less. But, what did they do? They transferred it over to this year.

MR. REID: What is wrong with that?

MR. SULLIVAN: On a cash basis - because you manipulate year-end money to make deficits look differently. You give perceptions to the people. You try to hoodwink the people into telling them it is one thing when it is something different. That's what is wrong with that, I say to the Minister of Education.

MR. REID: (Inaudible) and put it in there you would have said exactly the same thing.

MR. SULLIVAN: They are trying to give a different impression. They have to (inaudible) out - when doctors were on strike and nurses in the gallery. Everything is great on Budget Day; the economy is flourishing. We have never seen anything like it. The greatest economy in the four or six years - led the country and then it is so poor at contract time. That is what you hear out of the government here.

On top of what I was saying, the $60 million - and there is more, not only just $60 million worth of increases to the deficit by $60 million more, but here is something else they did - and our health critic is probably aware of this. Here is what they did. The federal government gave us, for the next three years, $42.5 million in supplementary money to the CHST. They gave us $42.5 million for three years. Do you know what this government did in this year's budget? They factored all $42.5 million into this budget and nothing next year or the year after. We are going to see - what are they doing? They are putting it there.

Let's take the $60 million on deferred revenue. They should have taken $14.17 million this year, and the other $28 million over the next two years, put that $28.3 million on top of $60 million and that is $88.3 million. On top of a cash deficit you would have over $300 million and an accrual basis of $666 million. If you had another $83 million on top of that you would have a $749 million deficit on an accrual basis if they had to do that this year. That is what they did. They manipulated to get it below three-quarters of a million. I predicted earlier, on an accrual basis we would have about a three-quarter of a billion dollar deficit, and I have said it publicly. If you took the deferred revenue that they would not use and they carried this year and took that CHST, they lumped it in - if they did not do that. One time revenues that they used up when they should have spread it over three years, it would be $749 million. Exactly as we forecast. Around $750 million we said would be more like the projected deficit for this coming year. That is the deception. That is the type of deception we are seeing here.

When you look at this government, and trying to be up front and honest with the people, this very government here came into this House - and most of them there as ministers, many of them as ministers, some are now sitting in other capacities, fought tooth and nail to try and get rid of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro; the gem out there in the public.

This year in this budget - in case anyone does not know - they are budgeting again to take $47.8 million out of the coffers of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro; $32.8 million will be taken this year in dividends. They are taking another $32.8 million in dividends and putting into the coffers of our Province out of Hydro and they are taking another $15 million for guaranteeing the debt of Hydro. I have already counted the $3 million from the Gull Island Power Corporation. But if you looked at that entity there of power, down in Labrador we are taking this year - when you look at GIPCo - $50.8 million when you factor that; just out of this particular pot of resources, a gem, one that these people wanted to sell. One that they have rated for $100 million.

I asked questions in this House to the Minister of Mines and Energy a few years ago, and the Leader of the Opposition coincidently and unrelated, asked similar questions that I asked years ago without even discussing it because he saw what was happening. I asked questions, I said: Will you stand and admit that taking those dividends out of Hydro is money they do not have, is money they have to borrow? When you borrow money you have to pay interest on your debt. You increase your costs and that is going to show up in your bottom line and that is going to drive wages, wage losses or other measures to counteract that. The very questions they asked today, and at the time they said: No, it is not related; no relation.

Take $100 million out of the bottom line of a company, another $50 million this year, and it does not affect the bottom line of the company? If they don't have it in the cash surplus, they have to borrow to pay it. That is why we have seen a cash cow to inflate, to manipulate and to show budgets on a cash basis in our Province. Now, we are seeing it all because you can't do that under an accrual based budget. Thank God! We have been calling for it for some time. We are delighted it is an accrual based budget because now we all know that the proposed deficit - it remains to be seen how much higher it will be - is $666 million. There was eighty-eight point three that they maneuvered around to make it look better. It would have been about a $750 million deficit. They were juggling around the figures.

That, I might add, is not being very transparent, trying to manipulate and use whatever measures they can to deceive the public into thinking things are better than they are at budget time and then they tell them things are worse than they are at contract time. That is what this government does. It has talked out of both sides of its mouth. It has not been honest and it has not been forthright. Governments are elected to best serve the public interest, to protect the public purse, to give fair settlements to the Public Service, to look at the overall Province and try to put us on a path that is going to be sustainable.

I think I heard the Premier say, or the minister - I think it was the Premier - that it is like having a mortgage, and we are better able to pay our mortgage today. That is what he said. Well, today, according to Public Accounts produced by this minister's department, there is about a $9 billion deficit, and it was just over $7 billion back a few years ago. We have added, in the last three or four years ago, about $2 billion to the debt of our Province, and the Premier stands and tells us that we are better able to pay the mortgage today. Even if he just looked at the net, the total public sector debt, that is shown here in these Estimates, in Exhibit V, for example. If you just look at the total public sector debt, not factoring in other things that would show up in our Public Accounts, that total public sector debt is shown here in 2003 as $7,862.6 billion. Overall, when you look at that line figure in 1989, that line figure was 4.8. We have gone from 4.8 to 7.8, just not factoring in the complete Public Accounts accounting. Of the total, it was about $9 billion. We have $7.8 billion. Three billion just here in that item. We have had an increase in debt, basically, over 60 per cent since the Liberals came to power in our Province. So, we have had a tremendous increase. I can tell you, we are less able to afford to pay our mortgage. We are far less able to pay our mortgage now under this government than before they came into office. They have leveraged us with a net public sector debt. The total public sector debt, and you look at the debt according to Public Accounts of our Province, and then add the unfunded liability on top of that. Add another $3.5 billion unfunded liability, $3.6 billion. Between $11 billion and $12 billion debt in our Province. That is a tremendous amount of debt, I might add. This government, then, tries to manipulate figures around, tries to take figures, Mr. Speaker, and manipulate them and hide $88.3 million to show it in this year when it was money that should have be allocated to other years. That is what they have done, and I will repeat it if the minister wants to hear. They have taken $60 million of deferred revenue from last year and they put it into this year to make it look better. They have taken three years' payments on the Canada Health and Social Transfers.

I might add that this very same government took a chunk of money federally on Term 29. They took $160 million on Term 29. Instead of taking $160 million, $8 million a year for twenty years, we would have gotten $160 million. This government said: Oh, we need to plug some holes in the Budget. They said to the Government of Canada: Let's give it to us all upfront. Give it to us upfront.

They gave it to them upfront but they did not give them $160 million. They gave them $130 million, because they are not going to pay them the full amount if you are taking it all upfront. So, our Province took $130 million and what did they do? They spent it in three years to plug holes in the Budget, and for the next seventeen years - and we are into that cycle right now; we are a few years into that - we get zilch, nothing, under Term 29.

The same government told us we are going to take over the South Coast ferry service and they negotiated a package with the federal government and they got $55 million. The then Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, I heard him in this House, the Member now for Bonavista-Trinity-Conception federally, said: this money is going to be taken and being used in perpetuity to fund the ferry service in our Province.

The $55 million, the cost was around $ 5 million a year, with the interest on it, would pay for it forever. What did that government do? The government took it and spent it in three years and the money is all gone, and what is now paying for the shortfall in the ferry service on the South Coast and those areas? Out of the general operating revenues basically in our Province, because it is gone. That is what they are doing.

What did they try to do with the Labrador Transportation Initiative? They said at the beginning that the $347 million that they got from the federal government would - $340 million initially, $347.6 million, I think, when they held it, interest accumulated. By the time they turned it over to the Province, they said that fund would be held and it should serve the ferry service for a long time to come.

In the Auditor General's report and estimates - and I have ask questions to officials in Public Accounts - this money is projected to run out within the next decade. The costs were estimated to be only $11 million net cost a year to run the service at this point in time and it ran over $20 million a year. It went over $20 million a year because they did either a poor job of estimating or they did not give us the right figure in the first place.

Talk about the ferry service generally. Can you blame anybody when they buy a ferry - they went to Estonia and bought a boat for $500,000 U.S. and took it back to put in the ferry service - they wouldn't even send and pay for federal inspectors to go over - and we dealt with this in Public Accounts - and look at the boat. They brought it back and then so many things got turned down. Then it went to -

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

MR. SPEAKER (Butler): On a point of order, the Member for Bay of Islands.

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, the member is knowingly making statements which are not true, in this House of Assembly. In the Public Accounts Committee - the federal inspectors would not go over. It is not that the Province would not pay; they would not go over. The member knows that quite well. They were asked to go over. They did not require them to go over and they did not go over, but the Province did ask them and were willing to pay them to go over. Please, whatever was said in the Public Accounts, say it properly.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I was indicating, I will set the record straight. These questions were asked in Public Accounts, and I will set the record straight. They were asked to go over; they were not told they would be paid to go over. They were not told they would be paid to go over. I said: Why didn't you offer to pay them to go over? If you offered to pay them to go over they could have gone over. But, what did they do? They came back at $500,000 U.S. The cost went over $1 million, $2 million, $3 million, $4 million, $5 million, $6 million and $7 million. It was $7 million for a rustbucket my colleague from Cape St. Francis called it. It could not meet the standards. Where is it? It is gone up, I think, to over $8 million. It was supposed to be ready this spring, by June. Now it is going to be August or September. I am talking to people who say when they go in to do things they say we cannot weld it to this and so on. There is something gone wrong and you have to replace the whole thing, and the meter is still ticking. It could be - who knows, we will see the final figure in due course - as high as $10 million, when you could have gone out and bought a brand new, state-of-the-art ferry to serve for $14.5 million. We spent $10 million now and we still have a boat -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That is the estimate. We were told, when we asked, that it would cost -

AN HON. MEMBER: Where would you get a new ferry for $14.5 million?

MR. SULLIVAN: I am taking figures, I say to the minister in the department, from the figures that were told to us. If you think the officials are wrong, go back and see them. Ask them. I am going on figures that we were informed of by people who know. If the minister wants to contradict the officials there, go back and read the records. Go back, check with them and find out, if you do not know.

Now, the meter is ticking. Actually, the only positive part of all that, thank God, is that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are now getting some work on that boat. I believe it is in Clarenville, I understand. That is the only positive thing about it. People should not have to get a rustbucket. The government did not do its job in getting a boat that was adequate. It is a boat that was lying up for years and costing the taxpayers millions and millions of dollars. Here is an $8 million bill right now and the clock is ticking. Why should we have to pay $8 million or $10 million to fix up an old boat that could not meet any Canadian standards? That is what is wrong. That is a major concern.

The minister who is singing out over there was the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. He should know, basically, how much it is costing. Maybe he should stand now and tell us how much the taxpayers are on the hook for it because of decisions, improper decisions, an improper job done in this particular instance. The Hull 100 I am talking about. It is Hull 100 we are talking about, in case members are not aware. We talked about that.

I asked questions in this House on the Labrador Transportation Initiative. I asked questions in this House, Mr. Speaker, on the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund and I was not given the right answers. I kept asking questions. I said from day one that $347 million we got, I stated and stood in this House - I think it was the Leader of the Opposition at the time, and I indicated that is not sufficient funds to do Phase III of the Trans Labrador Highway from Happy Valley-Goose Bay down to Cartwright. I said it is not sufficient, but they would not stand up and answer that. They would not tell the truth on that issue in this House. I said, because if you use it for that there is nothing left to run the ferry service.

Finally, after a period of time - and I have reference here for anyone, and I give credit to the then Minister of Labrador & Aboriginal Affairs, the Member for Lake Melville, he finally admitted it after. He said it. It was not him who denied it, I can tell you, but other officials. I had asked questions. He admitted that it was not going to do Phase III and there would not be enough funds in there. I credit him with being honest about it, the current Member for Lake Melville, because he was the only one who told me the truth on that when I asked questions here. I knew the numbers did not add up. I talked to people in the construction industry on what it cost to construct roads; got estimates. I knew there was a huge gap of tens of millions of dollars and more; in the hundreds of millions by the time you complete and operate the ferry service. People anticipated; government anticipated.

I also asked questions with moving the facility to Cartwright. Are there studies showing that it is going to be more cost efficient? Can people in Labrador now, northern regions in particular, people who depend on the ferry service, can they get a cheaper product now? Will it be cheaper to ship that product now than it would be before moving it from Lewisporte to Cartwright? I have not been able to get that answer because some people have indicated it would be more expensive to do it. I do not know the answer, but that has been put out there. They should look at the basic rationale behind that. I am not questioning any decision. I am just saying that we need to have information before us to properly render a decision on it, and we have not been able to get any of that information from this government.

You want to talk about competitiveness and so on - and this government talks about deficits. Well, just taken from their own figures here - I am just going to look at - just taken from their own figures here, and these are not the adjusted ones as a result of public accounts. They are the revised figures that shows up in this government's own books each year. I went back for several years. We compiled figures - and I spoke with a researcher on this.

MR. REID: (Inaudible) knows all that.

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, it is only a matter of taking the last books - I had four myself. I will tell the Minister of Education, who is making a little bit of fun of that, I had the four recent years with me when I went to Budget lockup and I asked a research person there if he could get the remaining six other years -

MR. REID: (Inaudible) your research.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, it is not. I can tell him, I have done my own research. I have spent a fair amount of time doing it, I say to the minister. I think it will stand up to test of scrutiny there. Anything I do not know I will ask questions on and I have not been getting any answers on any of the things that are not spelled out here in this Budget.

I want to just show - the Premier said: We can pay our mortgage, things are getting better. The cash deficit, which means nothing anyway because there is only one deficit - $666 million. That is not counting, I say to my colleague from Kilbride, the $665 million. They took $60 million in deferred revenues. They took $10 million - and I just made reference to it - from housing that they could have used last year but did not take it; $10 million from the Liquor Corporation; $3 million from Gull Island Power Corporation; $37 million in Sinking Funds - that is $60 million. They took the CHST money we got for three years; $42.5 million. They took it all this year. They should have taken $14.5 million this year, which meant they took the other $28 million for the next two years - that is $88 million. It would be $749-some million. I predicted months ago, and I said it in the media, we are looking at about $750 million. We know we are not getting the full truth on these figures and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador do not believe the figures that this government is putting forth.

If you look at the cash basis. We have just shown -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SULLIVAN: Maybe this could be more appropriately called their budget that does not get them elected rather than the budget that gets them elected.

Over the past ten years, if you look at the record for the past - today's deficit, in this Budget that was shown, is the highest deficit in a cash basis that was shown in the last ten years in figures published by this government.

MR. REID: No.

MR. SULLIVAN: The Minister of Education says, no. Well, in the Estimates published by this government over there, of which he is a minister, in -

AN HON. MEMBER: Talk about 1988.

MR. SULLIVAN: In the last ten years, the minister - I said in the last ten years, here is what it was. The Budget this year is a $213 million deficit on a cash basis; $62 million last year; $64 million the year before; $32.7 million the year before. In 1999-2000, $32.8 million; 1998-1999, the revised amount was a surplus of four point two. The year before $20 million; $20 million before; 1995-1996 it showed a surplus of $3.8 million on cash; 1994-1995, it was $136 million.

In the last ten budgets now - this is the highest cash basis of any budget that is shown in the last ten years and they manipulated $88 million of that. A cash basis to another year would have been over $300 million and you have to go back a long, long way. I am looking back here now - only one year that I can see, back to 1988, that we have more than $300 million and that was in 1990-1991, when that very member who is singing out over there sat in this House, I believe, at the time as a member and was a part, a contribution, to that highest deficit we have ever seen in that period of time.

So, this government likes to skew their comments, give an impression one day that something is happening which is totally inaccurate and then they go out and try to put their spin on it, out in the public, to give an impression that all is well. Look, the only time all is well is on the eve of an election with this government and at budget time, and all is bad in between. Thank God, we will see - the only true statement that we will ever get out of this government has been once a year. I would like to ask this question: Why were the Public Accounts of the Province audited and ready in September of last year but they were not released to the public of this Province until late in November? Why were they not done for those two months?

MR. NOEL: Well, what would you cut out of the budget?

MR. SULLIVAN: I would cut the minister out of the budget and several more like him. I would throw them out. There are too many of you. Roger Grimes, the Premier of this Province, what did he say when he was elected? He said: I am going to have a smaller Cabinet. The day after he took power and announced his Cabinet it was bigger by one, and it is still growing. It has had growing pains.

MR. NOEL: And that would save a lot of money, wouldn't it?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, it would.

MS S. OSBORNE: Well, what did he say it for?

MR. E. BYRNE: It would help.

MR. SULLIVAN: The minister just doesn't seem to make sense over there. The Minister of Mines and Energy doesn't want to stand up, the Member for Virginia Waters doesn't want to stand up, he wants to sing out and shout and talk. I asked to give him leave to answer questions. He won't answer them or can't answer them, and he still wants to try to disrupt me and prevent me from saying what I want to say.

The Speaker had to reprimand him the other day, and that was the same person over there who was a rebel among them. Since they brought him into Cabinet he has gone like a little puppy dog. He is like a little puppy dog. The Premier tells him to bark when he wants him to bark, jump when he wants him to jump. That is what he tells him.

AN HON. MEMBER: Sends him out.

MR. SULLIVAN: Sends him out, yes.

MR. NOEL: Tell us what taxes you would raise.

MR. SULLIVAN: Give me time, over the course of this speech, and I will tell you a lot about things that we want to do. I told him one already.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: I told him already that we are going to have a transparent and an accountable government, not in name but in practice. That is what we will have. Not in name but in practice!

How can you believe somebody who tells you, I am a believer in a four-year term, and he wants to go five years? How can you believe somebody who tells you, the Cabinet based on this size today should be sixteen and he appoints nineteen? How can you believe a person who says one thing and does something completely opposite? What do you call a person who does that? I don't know what you call him. I am not allowed to say it in this House. To say someone is a hypocrite would be unparliamentary, so I won't say he is a hypocrite. That is what is wrong. We can't get the truth.

Our Leader, today in this House, asked some questions, and we got talking about an interesting question to ask. If you look at our provincial deficit over the past few years, when you look at the deficit even on a cash basis, that they have been talking about as the deficit, you go to Public Accounts, some of these in the Estimates here, revised, are not the true ones because Public Accounts does an adjustment on these after. If you go back to the Public Accounts you can see in the year 2000 there was a reported deficit of $13 million. In 2001, as Public Accounts, it was $30 million; in 2002 it was $53 million; and in 1999 the Public Accounts showed a surplus of $10 million, basically. Add all of that up and you will get $96 million minus the $10 million surplus, and that is $86 million that they, the Public Accounts, showed on a cash basis.

If that is the case, if we ask those questions - the leader made reference today - how can the net debt of our Province go up from $7.3 billion in 1999 to $8.9 billion today, almost $9 billion, gone up by $1.6 billion, when they are telling us our cash deficit, the total, add them all up, only adds up to eighty-six? If you add up the last four deficits, the last four years, they add up to $86 million on a cash basis. You add up the total debt, the same government tells us in their statements that they publish under Public Accounts, that the debt has gone up by $1.6 billion. It is a big fabrication, $1.6 billion minus the eighty-six. Over a $1.5 billion fabrication we are getting from this government in their cash basis on what they are trying to spin out in the public. That is not the true deficit.

How, if we have little meager cash deficits? Isn't a deficit your debt? You add up your deficits, all of your deficits adding up? Shouldn't that equal your debt? If you are $10 million in the hole last year and $10 million this year and $10 million the year before, that is $30 million. Shouldn't your debt go up by $30 million? Sure, there is only one true, and the point I am making here is there is one true deficit and that is on a consolidated accrual basis. It is the only deficit that means anything or has any significance here in our Province. That is the deficit we are talking about.

This very government itself was forced, under repeated callings by us - the Opposition have called on it for some time. Auditor Generals have called on it for some time. The past Auditor General, the current Auditor General, they have all called for it. We have called for it, and the public wants to see it out there. They want to see the true financial picture of our Province.

This government told us in the Budget last week, last Thursday, what they are telling us is the true financial picture is a $666 million deficit. I have asked questions today because I wanted to draw that out and see if it is higher, to see if they are not hiding some things, to see how they calculated their depreciation on tangible capital assets, but I did not get an answer. I never got an answer from this government on that, so how can we tell what is right and what is wrong?

Mr. Speaker, if you look at the real deficit, the real deficit for 1998 by the Public Accounts of this Province was $187 million. In 2000, it was $269 million. In 2001, it was $350 million. In 2002, it was $473 million. In those four years alone the real deficit was $1.279 billion, from 1998 to 2002, on real deficit. Then if you add deficit for 1999 under miscellaneous, it showed in 1999 a $6 million credit; 22.5 deficit the next year, then zero and 14.7. All that adds up additional miscellaneous of $31.2 million. Other charges are also factored in to the total debt. For example, pension plan changes were pegged at $154 million and we also had long-term charges at $214 million. They total up to $368 million. When we put it all together, the total debt that we had on March 31,1998 and total debt that we had March past, last year, a year from today, in four years when you total it up, our total debt totals up to $8.98 billion. That is what it totals up to. Almost $9 billion from $7.3 billion, almost $1.7 billion - between $1.6 billion and $1.7 billion on the debt in four years, and we are better able to pay our mortgage. They tell us we are better able to pay our mortgage today than we could four years ago because we added almost $1.7 billion debt to our Province. We now have to pay -

MR. NOEL: We added more wealth to our Province.

MR. SULLIVAN: The Minister of Mines and Energy said we added more wealth. If he thinks we added more wealth, why is our debt going up? Why isn't it going down? Why aren't our assets greater?

That is the type of logic, Mr. Speaker, that has gotten us into trouble, that minister is articulating now.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Our debt goes up because we have more wealth! Well, if our debt goes up because we have more wealth, I tell you, it is a mismanagement to the highest degree in this Province. This minister is a part of the greatest mismanagement in the history of our Province.

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible) improves. That is why we're better off (inaudible) what we are doing.

MR. SULLIVAN: I ask the minister, would he tone it down there? Does the Premier have him here to shout and interrupt? The Member for Virginia Waters, I would like to see your constituents here in the gallery and see the way you are getting on here today. They would never put you back in this House of Assembly again. That is what they would do. He is getting on like a child. He is getting on with utter nonsense!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible). Tell us how many taxes you have increased, how many services you have cut, how many people you have laid off, how many (inaudible).

MADAM SPEAKER (M. Hodder): Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: I will start when he stops, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. NOEL: Don't ask the question if you don't want comments.

MR. SULLIVAN: I asked that minister - I said I would give leave and sit down and he could stand and answer questions, and he could not answer them or he would not answer them. Now he yaps from his seat. If he wants to stand, the rules of parliamentary procedures recognized in the whole British Commonwealth is that you get recognized by the Chair, you stand and you speak, and then you sit down and let somebody else gets recognized to speak.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: If he has not learned that after fourteen years, it is time for him to give it up and go home. No wonder his constituents out there are going to throw him out in the next election, I would say. No wonder they are going to do that.

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: And I provoked him.

What minister of the Crown can tell you that her debt has gone up from $7.3 billion to $9 billion because we have created more wealth? That is what he said. We created more wealth.

MR. NOEL: The Province is worth more. Not the government, the Province.

MR. SULLIVAN: The Province is worth $1.7 billion less, the debt, than it was before.

MR. NOEL: It was not worth anything years ago, in the past. Today it is worth (inaudible).

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: He is still at it, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: It is that type of voodoo economics that has us in a deep hole in this Province, Madam Speaker. It is that type of logic here that has gotten us in deep trouble. That minister aspires to the same philosophy as the Premier, that we can pay our mortgage easier now because we owe $1.7 billion more than we did four years ago. If you owed a mortgage of $100,000 and it went up to $170,000, we can pay it better now because we got a slight raise in income.

Minister, you have to look at evaluation of your assets. You have to look at, if there is a market value on those assets. You have to look at how much money you owe, the cost to service that, what revenues are coming in, what expenditures are coming in; and from looking at your budgets over the past number of years we have seen, just over the last little while here, a continuous upward movement, the highest cash basis debt in ten years. That would be a $300 million cash basis, only for you took $60 million of deferred revenue and pushed it over to this year. Instead of showing it last year, basically, you shoved it into this year. Had it gone back to last year, and had you not taken the CHST three years of $42.5 million, it would be over $300 million on a cash basis and $750 million on an accrued basis.

That is the problem we have here, and the minister thinks she is doing a good job. That is what scares me. It scares me, really, to think they think they are doing a good job with the numbers they put forth in front of us. It is scary, Madam Speaker. It is frightening, that a minister would make those statements here, who has his hands on $4 billion annually of our money here in our Province. They should be ashamed to make those statements.

Now, they can throw out all the figures they like. This accrual budget, the bottom end to that, tinkering around, here is our cash deficit. You can call it your cash deficit on consolidated, you can call it your other entities, you can add in what you like. There is only one deficit worth talking about and there is only one true deficit, one that means anything. We cannot have two deficits. We have to have the one deficit. They tell us it is $666 million. I am not so sure.

I asked questions in the House today: Why? I ask him: Tell us the $55 million that you added in new additions to tangible capital assets under CRF fund, and you have added another total on Statement III in this Budget. You have added another $73.9 million under Other Entities. That is over $129 million, a little over that, you have added in new additions, and that minister could not tell us why they are only depreciating - $55 million of assets is only being depreciated by $1 million. That is 1.95 per cent. I am saying: Are you depreciating that properly? Maybe it is higher. Maybe our depreciation should be higher on these tangible capital assets. Maybe the deficit is higher than you are telling us now. Maybe we will find that out in due course when we find out how you value them, what rate you are using, what you exempted from calculating here. All I know that you exempted is land value from those tangible capital assets, and how did you arrive at the unamortized beginning balance of tangible capital assets? That is another $127.9 million. How did you arrive at that? I could not get answers; could not get answers. If we got answers to these things, maybe it will be higher. Who knows? Maybe it will be lower, if we got answers. I would say the reason we are not getting answers is because they do not want us to have the answer. I am sure somebody knows the answer. People in the department know the answer. Whether the minister knows it or not, I do not know, but there are people who know the answer and we expect to get that answer.

I will look at a few other areas, a few other things. There are people out there who have passed judgement. A few comments have been shown in the media on things such as: Are we healthy? Are we worse off than we were? There are cautions that go out. Here is what one person said: The Grimes' government is banking on things like increased equalization on oil and taxation revenue to help reduce the deficit to zero in four years. In other words, they said, they are looking towards the future. Like a family would sit down and say: Hey, guys. Dad got a raise. It over the next four years. Based on those earnings we are going to go out and buy a new van. But, there are many variables. Are oil prices going to remain high? If everything goes well, and you can shoot for the moon and land, then great. If not, it is not so great because dad could lose his job which is equivalent to some revenues falling short. Mom could lose her job.

AN HON. MEMBER: Or the Premier could lose his job.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, the Premier could lose his job. That is possible, as my colleague said there. The Premier could lose his job. It is under attack.

In other words, budget for the moon. Budget for the high side of things and whatever happens then we will take it in stride. You have to budget for a conservative estimate. If things come in better, so be it. If they come in better, great! What puzzles me most, what concerns me most, is that in an area - over last year when our revenues increased in a lot of provincial taxation areas, still we have such a high deficit. The economy went to 8.2 per cent growth last year. There was a tremendous growth and still what happened? We are running a deficit, the highest cash deficit in ten years, an accrual basis deficit the highest we have seen.

We have not seen the accrued deficit for the fiscal year just ended. I am not sure what that is. It will be close. It will be another big number, because last year it was $473 million. Next year, this year coming up, it is going to be $666 million, and this year the sun will soon set on that and we will find out what that is over the next period of time.

I was reading in The Telegram on Saturday - I am sure you read it - an interesting editorial there. I think it is worth repeating. For anybody who has not read the editorial in The Telegram on Saturday, I think it is worth mentioning. "Thursday's Budget saw the Province announce plans to overspend its means by $286 million this year, adding to a debt that now tops $10 billion..." Well, overspent by basically $666 million, if you look at that.

It goes on the say: Finance minister, Joan Marie Aylward, calls the numbers "a manageable deficit ... the numbers are realistic and attainable."

MR. REID: What are you quoting from?

MR. SULLIVAN: I am quoting from a knowledgeable source of literature.

MR. REID: You are reading from it. Can you table that please?

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, private members do not have to table them.

Mr. Speaker, if he wants The Telegram tabled in this House, I will table it, but the minister knows that when ministers quote from a document and so on they must table it, but not a private member. I will paraphrase it, if he prefer it paraphrased, but then he might accuse me of slanting it to my own.

Here are some other Liberals and their comments. Hubert Kitchen, Budget Speech 1990. Here is what Hubert Kitchen said in 1990. He said, "If we are to ensure our future ability to provide the services our citizens deserve, then we must not burden ourselves and those who follow us with excessive debt. It is all too easy to say that prosperity is just around the corner so let us borrow from our future and avail of it today."

Hubert Kitchen was the Finance Minister in the Liberal government in the Budget in 1990. Do you know what he said? It is too easy.

AN HON. MEMBER: The current Premier applauded that.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, and the current Premier was the parliamentary secretary to the Premier of the Province at the time. He was in the Premier's Office, I believe, at the time, and sat here in this House. He said, "It is all too easy to say that prosperity is just around the corner so let us borrow from our future and avail of it today. There has been too much of that in the past."

That is what the Liberal Finance Minister said in 1990. What did the Liberal Throne Speech say in 1991? "The only realistic and responsible option open to my government is a broadly-based program to slow the rate of expenditure increase. It is important that all who rely on funding from the public purse understand the gravity of the situation." A year later, and a year wiser the same Finance Minister, Hubert Kitchen, said, "Governments in Canada, including Newfoundland, have been living beyond their means and have allowed the public debt to increase year after year, rather than face the people with the grim reality that every increase in expenditure must ultimately be met by increased revenues from taxes." That was the same Hubert Kitchen.

A year later he was still Minister of Finance in the Clyde Wells government and he said, "...borrowing is simply deferred taxation. If we are to borrow today at the expense of future generations, it should be to benefit the future, not to insulate ourselves from the difficult realities of today."

It goes on: An interesting statement in a speech in 1993. Winston Baker said, "Those who advocate increased borrowing as the way to resolve our fiscal difficulties should remember that borrowing is nothing more than deferred taxation." He said, " The attitude that we can have what we want today, to be paid for by some future generation, must be recognized for the denial of responsibility it represents."

Kitchen, even in 1989, went on and made reference that "...it would inexcusable to ask the people of this Province to accept a current account deficit...", Hubert Kitchen the Liberal Finance Minister.

In 1994, Winston Baker, Liberal minister, said, " We must not make commitments today that will place an unmanageable burden on the taxpayers of tomorrow. We can no longer mortgage our children's future for short term political gain today. That was the way of the past."

What about Mr. Baker, when he was a finance critic for the Liberals, in the last PC budget? He went on to say, " We do not like to see a current account deficit of $173 million, especially since this is about four times as large as any previous current account deficit... Mr. Speaker, it is time for something to happen. I would suggest to you that it is obvious in looking at this budget, as sugar-coated as it may have been, that analysis of this budget will reveal that there must be a change in attitude, there must be a change in philosophy, there must be a change in approach and above all, Mr. Speaker, there must be a change in government." That is what Winston Baker said just a year before their victory in the 1989 election.

The same Liberal Finance Ministers now are watching their own buddies, have to sit around and see the same thing happening. They said: Borrowing is deferred taxation. It is mortgaging your children's future. Those are some of the terms that have been used when we look at borrowing.

Now, I would like to comment on another little clipping there. I think part of the problem we have here in our Province is that it has generally been popular to take on Ottawa, when an election issue comes, take them on. People are sick and tired of that. That is not going to work anymore.

You are reading in the papers everyday - and I have read one here, on March 29, just Saturday again. The federal minister responsible for Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Gerry Byrne, member for our Province, talking about - and it was really disconcerting to hear the federal minister say it. This article said: It was news to Gerry Byrne. The federal ACOA Minister first heard about the Grimes government's plan to create a joint federal-provincial Economic Development Board during the March 19th Throne Speech. Here is his quote: The first I heard of it was when His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor, was reading the speech. As I was listening to the speech being read, that was the first that I was made aware of their intentions to generate a proposal. Byrne already knows he does not like the idea. Can you imagine!

The part that is really difficult to comprehend is that this government would set out a direction in the Throne Speech of a joint federal-provincial board, basically, and the federal minister responsible does not know anything about it. No wonder our Leader and no wonder there are people who stand up and say they have no clout. Ottawa does not listen to them anymore, they have no clout.

That same Premier came back here and said, the Prime Minister had agreed there was going to be a change on our equalization, and the Prime Minister had to correct him and slap him on the knuckles: No, I never said that. That was not what was said. The Premier had to retract and he had to go full speed astern, again, on that issue, the same as he has done on so many other issues. I think the reverse gears are working on his ship, I tell you, because he is spending more time going backwards on it than he has going forward. Everything he says he has to retract and back up and change it. The Prime Minister said this, and the Prime Minister said he didn't, and no one around the Prime Minister heard it. It was good media for one day in the Province to have it out, so he got it out, and then that wasn't true.

Special Warrants: This government has a history of not bringing bills before this House to have them debated. Why would this government, in March of this year, March 7, March 24, March 13, March 24, March 13 again, table warrants in this House while the Legislature is sitting? The Legislature was open. Why don't they bring those supplementary supply bills to the House to have debated? Why don't they want it? It is not because we don't agree with some of these expenditures. Some of these expenditures, I think, we would support, very much so. I mean, who would not support extra salaries for the RNC to enable policing or professional services or salaries that are needed at adult corrections or provincial court salaries and some of these?

Why on this one, Hope Brook? I think we need an explanation. It could be justified, but we didn't get a chance to debate this in the House? Why was there a special warrant issued for $2 million under Mineral Development, Purchased Services, 2.1.03.06 of Mines and Energy? Why did that happen? Why was it spent? Why should there be a special warrant? Was it money we didn't know about last fall? Are they over cleaning up during the Winter at Hope Brook? Are they cleaning up all winter at Hope Brook, digging down through the snow? Why does that have to be dropped on us in March? Did they know in December? If they didn't know, this House was open on March 24. This House was open before March 24. We could have debated and discussed this bill here in the House. Once again, we are looking at interventions. We are looking at people contravening the Financial Administration Act of our Province. They have done it for so many years. They do not agree with bringing bills to the House to debate expenditure. They agree with not telling us about it and then tabling what is called a special warrant here in the House and having us then say: hey, we have spent it now. We are not going to debate it, we spent it. We have no say or no input into it.

I am going to look at a few of these other ones. There is one here - and no one would deny that money is needed in areas such as Support Enforcement and Professional Services. It could be a very legitimate expense, $125. We do not deny that. We just think we should have the right to be able to debate it here in this House and to be able to, at least, approve or disapprove based upon the intended purpose of this.

We have seen Community Services, Grants and Subsidies. We know money is needed out in community services under Health and Community Services. We know people out in the field, there has not been a proportionate shift, a sufficient shift in resources from institutions to community resources. We have to see an influx of dollars to address needs there and to be able to - hopefully, when people come out of the hospital they have someone to be able to check on them because, traditionally, this government talked about - since 1989 they have closed 1,400 hospital beds in this Province. There were 3,100 hospital beds in this Province in 1989. Now there are 1,700. What the government tells us is people are getting out quicker, turning around quicker. I said: Great, but you have to have someone in the community. I have talked to people who had drainage occurring and possible infections. In fact, I was stopped in one of the hospitals a while back - and this is not this past year, prior to that - and they said: there were four of us here in one area. They said there are three of us back now with infections. They sent us out in a hurry. They sent us out too early and now we are back in again.

Special warrants; I would like to issue a few warrants, Mr. Speaker. I would like to get permission to issue a few warrants for the mismanagement of our economy by these people; mismanagement of the finances that are given to us.

This government stood in the House - I tell my colleague and the critic for Youth and Post-Secondary Education. We were told by this government that we have the lowest tuition in this country. That, to me, is absolutely false. It is wrong. Tuition in this Province is not the lowest in the country. It is not close by a long shot in this country. I have information that shows -

AN HON. MEMBER: The minister said it was.

MR. SULLIVAN: The Minister of Youth and Post-Secondary Education said it was. Can you stand and tell us what is the next closest?

The Province of Quebec; all Quebeckers pay the same standard tuition in all universities over a year, $1,668 per year. Here at Memorial University it was $300, it kept dropping, it was down to around $2,700, roughly, for two semesters. Now with the 5 per cent drop it goes a little lower in the $2,600 range. In Quebec it is only $834 a semester. All Quebeckers, in every university in Quebec it is all the same, $1,668 and there is no tuition in their colleges. In other areas they have no tuition; free tuition in the rest of them for all Quebeckers.

The minister is scrambling to get her notes now.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, she does not have to look at her notes.

MR. SULLIVAN: She does not have to look at her notes. Will you stand and go on the record and tell us you are right in what you said here in this House and which is circulated to the media?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, I will quote what you said, I say to the minister. I will quote what she said.

AN HON. MEMBER: You sit down and she will get up and speak.

MR. SULLIVAN: I am around too long now to get fooled by that one, I say to the minister. I am around too long to get fooled then. When I sit down I will be finished what I have to say, unless by leave I will allow someone to stand. That is what I will do.

Here is what she said. Let's find it. Let's find the big words that she said. Here it is: Memorial University offers the lowest Canadian tuition rate in the country. In a news release on March 27, Budget Day, 2003, by the Minister of Youth, Services and Post-Secondary Education. There are references here to Minister Thistle. "Over the past two years, tuition rates at Memorial have been reduced by more than 20 per cent. With this additional funding, tuition rate reductions will have totaled 25 per cent in three years..." It is not 25 per cent in three years. When you go 10 per cent one year and 10 per cent the next, that is 10 per cent of a lower number, that is 1 per cent. That is only 19 per cent in two years as opposed to 20 per cent. Then you get 5 per cent of a lower number and it is not 25 per cent. It is between 23 per cent and 24 per cent when you calculate it from the beginning. When you take a percent of a higher number it goes up and becomes less significant. So the number she used is not even accurate. It is not even a number.

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

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

MS THISTLE: Mr. Speaker, in reference to the Member for Ferryland, I would like to correct two statements that he just made. Our tuition is the lowest in the country, and actually it is closer to 27 per cent decreases that we have had in the past three years. In Quebec there are two layers of tuition, one for Quebec residents and another for residents that are not from Quebec. So overall, we have the lowest of any province in the country for tuition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would ask the minister to go check Hansard because I knew I said Quebeckers pay $1,668. This minister, the second one now - the first minister stood up and told us we are getting fifteen new RNC officers when we already have nine since last summer; that is six. In the Budget Speech the Minister of Finance said: We have the lowest tuition rate. In a release done by the Member for Grand Falls-Buchans, the Minister of Youth and Post-Secondary Education said: Memorial University has the lowest tuition rate in the country. Every single university in Quebec has $1,668. The minister did not tell the truth, and that is wrong.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MS THISTLE: Mr. Speaker, the statement I made is correct because Quebec cannot boast as having the lowest tuition because it has two layers of tuition. If they had one layer they could boast of having the lowest tuition, but we, Mr. Speaker, have the lowest tuition in all of Canada.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It does not really concern me how much South African students at Memorial pay, or people from the British Commonwealth, or South Africa, or any country in Europe pay, what we should be concerned about is residents of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: The minister can check Hansard; she can check the tape of TV. I said, Quebecers pay the lowest tuition rate in the country, way lower, far lower, a little over half of what we pay at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. That is what we pay, and their colleges pay nothing.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Who talks about two layers? The other layer is for foreigners. I am worried about Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: And you are worried about people in Europe paying, going to Quebec, and people in South Africa and the British Isles and everywhere else. You should be concerned, Minister, with residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, and they do not!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: You should be forced to stand and withdraw the statement, and apologize for telling the public out there, and the minister, that we are paying the lowest rate when Quebecers are paying way less. That is another fallacy in this Budget. That is two today that I have had to reveal, and there will be more.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MS THISTLE: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Ferryland is giving a statement in this House that is not accurate. I will not withdraw a statement I made, because what I said was the truth. We do have the lowest tuition in the country, and I stand by that statement.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS THISTLE: We have one class of citizens in this Province. They are called Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. There are no two layers!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If there are two classes, Minister, why are there two rates in medical school for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and another one for others? Now, Minister, stand up and answer that question, if you are going to play that game.

Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are not paying, at Memorial University, the lowest tuition in this country. Sixteen hundred and sixty-eight dollars is lower than $2,600 or $2,700. I always thought it was. I am sure the minister knows that was not true in her statement now, and she can get up as often as she like and interrupt me and try to cut into my unlimited time here.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: She can get up as often as she likes because, the more she gets up, I will get a little break from speaking. That prolongs me for days and days. I might go on forever, I might say.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: The minister said he will have this Budget passed this spring. If I have to keep correcting mistakes and untruths in this Budget then I could be here until this fall, speaking on the Budget. I could be here forever, I might add.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: I am looking forward to tomorrow and, with that, I adjourn debate.

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, before adjourning the House, I just want to make some announcements for the benefit of members and the viewing public, to accommodate members in being able to attend the funeral of Mrs. Rideout on Thursday.

The House will not sit on Thursday and, to further accommodate the transportation to Baie Verte, the House will sit Wednesday at a different time. We will sit a little early to give members a little longer daylight driving time, so the House on Wednesday will sit from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. That has been the agreement by everybody. The House will not sit on Thursday, and on Wednesday it will sit from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

If hon. members would give me until tomorrow to decide what business we will do on Wednesday - I can say right now that we probably will do Private Members' Day, but if hon. members will give me the leeway to change that by tomorrow, I would like to have that leeway.

This is regarding meetings tomorrow: Government Services. I have been told that this is a change from what has been circulated, so if members would take note of this. The Government Services Committee will meet at 9:00 a.m. in the House, and not the Committee Room, to review the Estimates of the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

The same Committee, the Government Services Committee, will meet in the afternoon or evening, time to be decided, to review the Estimates of the Department of Government Services and Lands. That is tomorrow.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House on it rising do adjourn.

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