May 15, 2003 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS Vol. XLIV No. 23


The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Before we begin our routine proceedings the Chair would like to take this opportunity to welcome to the gallery today eleven students from Holy Heart of Mary School who are enrolled in Canadian Issues. They are from the District of St. John's East, accompanied by teachers: Kathy Henderson and Jackie Fewer-Bennett.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: As well, I would like to welcome to the gallery today: Mayor Gerry Dean, Deputy Mayor Scott Sceviour, and Town Manager Mr. Ed Evans from the Town of Botwood in the District of Exploits.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

 

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BUTLER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to invite all citizens of the Province to come to Bay Roberts this August to take part in the biggest classic rock festival east of Montreal.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BUTLER: Mr. Speaker, on August 2, the Eighth Annual Bay Roberts Klondyke Festival concert takes place, and this year's stellar lineup will provide solid entertainment for one and all.

The headliner will be Lou Gramm, best known as the lead singer of Foreigner, who's number one hit on the U.S. charts, I Want To Know What Love Is.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. BUTLER: Mr. Speaker, Gramm also has a successful solo career.

Also, Mr. Speaker, classic rock fans can hear the sounds of Canadian rock icons, Stampeders, Honeymoon Suite, Glass Tiger, Streetheart, Loverboy and also the catchy traditional sounds of our very own, The Fables.

Mr. Speaker, this year's Klondyke Festival concert promises to be a special event that will be long remembered by music fans throughout the Province. I congratulate the organizers and sponsors and I want to take this opportunity to invite everyone in the Province to come experience Bay Roberts this summer at this year's Klondyke Festival.

I say, Mr. Speaker, don't stay where you're at, come where we're to.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: Mr. Speaker, I rise in this House today to pay tribute to a former member of this Assembly, Mr. Albert E. Furey of Harbour Main, who passed away on April 23, 2003 at the grand age of ninety-two years of age.

Mr. Furey was first selected to the Newfoundland and Labrador Legislature in the general election of August 20, 1959 and served one term as a Progressive Conservative representing the District of Harbour Main. Interesting to note, Mr. Speaker, that in that election it was Term 29 of the Terms of Union that was the main issue in that election.

He was a successful business leader and community leader in the Harbour Main area. As a politician he was noted for his oratory skills and fiery speeches, as well as his stands on the issues of the day and his strong voice for the people of his district.

Mr. Furey's passing certainly reminds us of another time in politics. Harbour Main District was a dual riding at that time and Mr. Furey shared the responsibility of the district with a Liberal colleague, Mr. P.J. Lewis. As well, Mr. Furey was a third generation to represent the Harbour Main District, following his grandfather Charles Furey and his father Charles. J. Furey who both represented the district in Responsible Government days.

Following politics, Mr. Furey continued in his business interests and was very active in his community right up until his passing a few weeks ago. He leaves to mourn his son Alberta, daughter-in-law Geraldine, five grandchildren, his sister Gert Maloney of Harbour Main, and a large circle of relatives and friends.

I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that I join with all members of this House in extending condolensces to the Furey family on the passing of Mr. Albert E. Furey, former Member of the House of Assembly for Harbour Main.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ROSS WISEMAN: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate two outstanding community leaders in my District of Trinity North. Both ladies were recently presented with the Queen's Golden Jubilee award and may I say, they are both quite deservingly recipents of that award.

Roslyn Cooper of Port Rexton was one of the first female fire chiefs for this Province and has been a volunteer with the Port Rexton Fire Brigade for more than nine years. Roslyn is also very dedicated to the youth of the area and has shown in her many years as leader of the Church Lads Brigade where she currently holds the rank of Lieutenant. Roslyn has always been actively involved in numerous community organizations as well as the entire surrounding area, Port Rexton and Trinity region of Trinity North. She is truly the type of individual everyone can count on and rely on when help or leadership is needed in the community.

The community of Southport too, Mr. Speaker, is also very honoured to have Charlene Lambert as one of its residents. Charlene has provided hundreds of hours of community volunteer work and provides strong leadership to the youth of the area. She has been the leader of the Sea Cadet Corp for more than nineteen years. Charlene is also very actively involved in many other community organizations, and the people of that region of the Province can always count on Charlene when there is a volunteer effort needed and a great job to be done.

I ask all members of this House today to join me, Mr. Speaker, in congratulating two great ladies in my district who have made a major contribution to improving the quality of life of the people in the communities in which they serve, and this award, the Queen's Golden Jubilee award, has been presented to them in a very deserving fashion.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MERCER: By leave, to give a private member's statement?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. MERCER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As the nation is being informed by the ALS Society of Canada, I would like to inform members of this hon. House that June is ALS Awareness Month.

Although not a common disease, three residents of my home community of Pasadena, all well known to me, have been afflicted by ALS within the past several years.

ALS is more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, as it was this disease that took the life of the once-great baseball player, Lou Gehrig, on June 2, 1941. This neuromuscular disease progresses rapidly and is usually fatal within three to five years of diagnosis.

ALS has been known to doctors since 1874, but as yet there is no known cause or cure. Still, our researchers work tirelessly towards finding that cure, and clinics and teams reach out to help victims and families through the ever-changing maze of challenges and volunteers to help members and their families who are suffering from ALS.

On June 14, you are invited to wear the blue cornflower, flowers which have been placed on each member's desk to show your support for those with ALS. The blue cornflower is the international flower of hope for ALS sufferers. This flower was chosen, as it is hardy despite its fragile appearance. The same can be said of persons living with this disease, as they show courage and great strength of character in order to cope with the devastating changes that occur to the muscles in their body.

They need your support. We need hope!

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, with Your Honour's indulgence, and the concurrence of the House, I would also like to make a member's statement.

MR. E. BYRNE: Go ahead.

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I stand in this House today to pay tribute to an amazing individual, Gambo resident Baxter Goulding. As an important aside, I might say Baxter is a lifelong friend of both the hon. Member for Labrador West and myself.

What started as a devastating event in his life, has culminated in his publishing a book entitled, Trapped In My Own Body. This book not only provides hope for people afflicted with the rare illness, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, it is also an inspiration for anyone faced with a life-threatening, life-changing health problem.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a rare disease that affects the nervous system, that could lead to a total body paralysis, as was the case with Mr. Goulding.

Baxter's book provides insight into what it means to be totally paralyzed, and outlines his valiant fight for life following his diagnosis.

Up to 1991, this brave Newfoundlander and Labradorian led an active, healthy life. In early July of that year, he and his wife, Triffie, set out on a vacation for St. John's, which turned into a nightmare that resulted in total paralysis and a hospital stay of twenty-four months.

Mr. Goulding's book reveals what goes on behind the scene of an ill-stricken human being and how he and his family and friends were able to cope with circumstances that led to a long fight back to an improved life.

Despite the ordeal, Mr. Goulding has fought for a better quality of life and he shared his difficulty by writing a book that provides inspiration to anyone faced with difficult challenges.

Mr. Speaker, we all in this House wish Baxter well as he continues his life's journey and commend, applaud and congratulate him for being an inspiration to all.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

Oral Questions

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it is now three weeks since Minister Thibault and Minister Byrne announced their decisions regarding the Northern and Gulf cod fisheries. There has been very little success thus far in resolving many of the outstanding issues that arose that day.

Mr. Speaker, it appears from recent comments by this Province's MPs in Ottawa that they have taken the lead in discussions with federal ministers on adjustment initiatives like early retirement, licence retirement, and EI extensions for those affected by the closure of our cod fisheries and the extensive ice conditions in the Gulf in particular.

Mr. Speaker, can the minister tell us: Is this government involved in discussions that took place in Ottawa yesterday and are continuing today? If so, what specifically is this government recommending to the federal minister?

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 government has been very engaged at every opportunity with the federal government in lobbying to have this fishery reopen, especially in the Gulf region, Mr. Speaker, because we take the advice of the fishing industry; we take the advice of our own science in this Province which tells us we can have a sustainable, limited fishery for the people of our Province.

That has been our position. We have maintained that with the federal government, and we agree there are some measures that have to be taken in the interim. We have been approaching them on those measures. When there is a program to talk about, we will be at the table.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, as I said, it is now three weeks since Minister Thibault made his announcement. More importantly, it is five weeks since most fishery workers on the Northwest Coast, in particular, on the Southwest Coast and Southern Labrador, and certainly throughout the Province - it is five weeks now since their EI benefits ran out. As a result of that, it is causing a great deal of financial and emotional stress to the people who are affected. As I said a couple of days ago, we have, in a community of 180 people, Green Island Brook, sixty-five people leaving in the next two weeks, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the Quebec Government has recently announced $1.8 million in funding to assist fishery workers in their province while they await compensation from Ottawa. Does this government have any plans to provide short-term emergency assistance to the fishery workers who have been without an income for five weeks now?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, we have consistently made representation to the federal government on ice compensation, on EI extensions, for people who are affected by the recent decision around cod closures, by people who are affected by the ice conditions that are on the shores of Newfoundland and Labrador today, by people who are affected by quota reductions and reduced bycatch in some fisheries.

We understand the dilemma that these people are in, and we also understand that there is a need for short-term measures. There is a need to bridge the gap in terms of their current situation until such a time we can get these people back on the water, back in the fishing boats, and get an active fishery going in this Province, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, as I said, the Quebec provincial government has announced $1.8 million in short term adjustment measures for the people affected in their province. They have also called upon Ottawa to come across with $200 million in the form of compensation for the people directly and to help in economic development initiatives.

I ask the minister again, Mr. Speaker, as we have asked her over the past number of days: What specifically have they put forward to the federal government in the way of a proposal? What are they asking for? How much money are they asking for, and what would they like to see that money spent on, Mr. Speaker?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how many days I have to stand in this House, in this place, and reiterate that our position is, and the position of the fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, to have a fishery. That is the perspective that we have continued to put forward to the Government of Canada.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, we have done analysis. We know what the impact of this decision is on the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and we understand it fully.

I listened to the comments of a gentleman in Green Island Cove, I listened to the comments of the people in my own district, Mr. Speaker. We know what the implications are, and we know what the impacts are. We have crunched the numbers, we have looked at what may be needed in terms of some form of compensation, but we will not relent on our position to have this fishery reopened. When the federal government is prepared to come to the table and talk about programs and measures we will be prepared to do the same.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, if the minister is wondering how many days she is going to have to stand and listen to this question, she is going to have to stand and listen to the question until I get an answer.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: I didn't ask if she understood the situation that the fishery workers are confronted with. I asked what are they proposing to the federal government and how much money have they asked for. That is the question that I asked, Mr. Speaker, but I will shift gears, because I am not going to get an answer to that.

Mr. Speaker, there are opportunities that are non-monetary, that don't require a monetary commitment from the federal government, that would help our industry. In the processing sector of our industry, for example, the shrimp fishery in particular, our industry can't access industrial shrimp from the offshore fleet because of the 20 per cent European Union tariff on exports to the European Union. In addition, Mr. Speaker - something that I have not heard this government speak about -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. TAYLOR: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

The high liner plant at Arnold's Cove, for example, is hampered by a seven and a half per cent tariff on ground fish products going into the European Union.

Mr. Speaker, in view of what we were confronted with today in our industry, and in view of the positive impact the reduction on these tariffs would have on our industry -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member now should get to his question.

MR. TAYLOR: I would like to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, what representation has she made recently? In the last two-and-a-half months since she has been minister, what representation has she made to her federal counterparts on shrimp tariffs and groundfish tariffs into the EU and, specifically, what representation has she made to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade?

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.

We recognize that the tariffs into the European Union poses a problem for a number of processors in our Province in order to put product into the international market. We have continued to make representation to our federal counterparts and at every other opportunity that we could to be able to present our position on that particular issue. I know the hon. member knows our position very clearly.

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about his comments regarding shrimp. We have made our position quite clear to the federal government. We want to see a change in historical share agreements between inshore and offshore shrimp. We have made our representation to the federal minister. We expect to have shrimp delivered for the areas that are affected by cod closures and reduced quotas in areas of the Province. Shrimp is a resource that is available to us. It should be in the hands of the harvesters in our own Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are to the Premier.

The Premier and his government have continuously referenced the 1992 Strategic Economic Plan as the one that lays out the vision and plans of this government. I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker: How is the Premier going to defend an economic policy that has seen personal disposable income drop from over 80 per cent of GDP in 1990 to 59 per cent of GDP forecast in this year's budget?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In quite a reversal of roles today, while the Opposition Finance critic may want to talk about GDP, and while that is very encouraging and the numbers are great for Newfoundland and Labrador, leading the country, leading the nation -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, we will gladly defend our economic policies any day of the week on the one thing that really counts, which is jobs for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to provide for themselves and their families so they can be better contributors in their communities. The fact of the matter is this: That is the one indicator that counts in Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker. Last year we set a record because of our plan and policies in Newfoundland and Labrador for jobs in the Province. A record, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: There are more people working than ever in the history of the Province and it is continuing into this year, Mr. Speaker. For the last month for which we have full information, for the last month in 2003 for which we have full information in April month, again, more people worked in April of 2003 in Newfoundland and Labrador than in any other April in the history of the Province, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: That is a record we will defend anytime, anywhere.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier must not have understood my question or intentionally avoided it. I asked about personal disposable income, was the question, Mr. Speaker. As he is smiling he is very deliberate in avoiding that because he cannot face up to the real economic consequences that we are facing in money as disposable income in our Province today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, total budgetary revenues from both federal-provincial sources six years ago were 36 per cent of our Gross Domestic Product. Last year they were only 24 per cent of our GDP. I want to ask the Premier, how is he going to the defend an economic policy that has seen such a drastic decline in our revenues as a percentage of our Gross Domestic Product?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, while the Finance critic for the Opposition might again want to talk about GDP, which is a great indicator, Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is in Newfoundland and Labrador - when he talks about the circumstance for individuals. Individuals in Newfoundland and Labrador, in their own personal lives - and here is a statistic, Mr. Speaker, that he does not want to use. Individuals in Newfoundland and Labrador carry less debt per capita themselves that they are personally responsible for, at a bank for themselves, than anywhere else in the country.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Individuals in Newfoundland and Labrador have less direct personal responsibility for debt than anywhere else in the country, Mr. Speaker. As a result, they happen to need - in order to have the best quality of life in the country - less actual disposable income because a dollar goes a lot further in Newfoundland and Labrador, when you do not have a mortgage, when you do not have five or six bank loans like people in Toronto, like our own relatives living in places like Toronto and Calgary and Edmonton who can hardly, even with their jobs, get enough money to pay their rent or pay for a mortgage. That is why the statistics that he wants to use are practically irrelevant in the real lives of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

PREMIER GRIMES: This is a great Province in which to live, and it is getting greater by the day because of the great leadership provided by the Liberal government, Mr. Speaker.

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.

You know, it is funny how the Premier tries to twist statistics. Yesterday in this House -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yesterday in this House I asked the Premier why has the median family income in this Province declined by the highest in the country, 3.7 per cent over the last ten years, by far the highest in this country. Newfoundland and Labrador families are getting poor, relative to the rest of this country, in stats that are provided by Stats Canada.

I want to ask the Premier, the government's own publication: From the Ground Up, states that child poverty in this Province has increased from 21 per cent in 1991, to 26 per cent in 2000 -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: - while the rest of the country has declined in child poverty. I want to ask the Premier: How can you defend an economic policy that, over the past ten years of its existence, has produced a 25 per cent increase in child poverty in this Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The answer is clear. The information that we produce is for people to have a meaningful discussion about where we go from here. The circumstance did describe what has happened in the last decade. The other part of it, Mr. Speaker, is this, remember what happened in the last decade. The beginning of the decade was the closure of the fishery, which would be the same as shutting down the auto industry for all of Ontario, which would have devastated the whole economy of the country, almost devastated the economy here in Newfoundland and Labrador, but we rose to the challenge and we have been building back.

Mr. Speaker, the stats will show this, while that is the circumstance that we did report over the last ten years, in the past two year, in particular, it has been going exactly in the opposite direction and will continue to go in exactly the opposite direction into the next several years because we have already put mitigating strategies in place. We have recognized a circumstance that was not acceptable. We are doing something about it. When the next report comes out, you will see a market change and improvement because that is what is happening in the whole Province on a whole range of fronts.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Mr. Speaker, my question today -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I would like for the members on the opposite side to at least give the minister the courtesy to hear the question.

Mr. Speaker, this year marks the end of the funding for the Roads for Rail Agreement between the province and the federal government. Many of the trunk roads are in a deplorable condition and most of the gravel roads are down to the bedrock. We see the physical condition of the roads deteriorating even further during spring in the form of bumps, hallows and very large potholes. The Trans-Canada Highway is in desperate conditions in many locations along its route.

Mr. Speaker, what plan does the minister have to address this very serious issue all over Newfoundland and Labrador?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WALSH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am delighted to say today that we do have a plan in place. We are spending $23 million on our roads in Newfoundland and Labrador this year.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WALSH: I am more delighted to stand here and know full well that based on the requests I have received from my colleagues in the Opposition, that I know now their plan is to spend a minimum, should they ever form a government, of at least $50 million a year. I applaud them for that because at least I now know one of their policies, I cannot find out anything else.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

The minister knows full well that we need six times $50 million to address the immediate concerns of them.

Mr. Speaker, the provincial government -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

That $300 million, as a matter of fact, is the minister's own words. The provincial government has failed to negotiate a federal roads agreement, the first time in many years. Mr. O'Brien, the federal MP, has been critical of the Province's feeble attempt at negotiating a deal with Ottawa.

Will the minister confirm that $5 million to $10 million is immediately required to address the very serious condition of a number of bridges and overpasses on the Trans-Canada Highway and that the concrete in these structures have been drastically deteriorating since the 1980s? Has the professionals within his department advised government that immediate attention is required to address this very serious condition?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WALSH: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to know that, I only thought they were spending $50 million but the critic has confirmed today they are willing to go as high as $300 million a year, and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador thank you for that.

Let me again tell you what we are doing in terms of overpasses. There are three overpasses planned for this year, being built, underway as we speak. Three more on hold waiting on the federal government to sign off on them. Forty-two kilometres of road in the Goobies area waiting to be done, waiting for the federal government to sign off on them.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WALSH: While we wait for that, we carry on with the $23 million that we are spending in the Province, including $550,000 in the hon. member's district.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I say to the minister, the $550,000 in my district has been long overdue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. J. BYRNE: The Province is doing temporary repairs on these bridges. We just recently saw a gaping hole repaired on the bridge at Birchy Narrows and more problems came to light yesterday.

Mr. Speaker, can the minister explain why his department has neglected to do proper maintenance and repairs over the past number of years on these bridges which have caused this very serious safety situation to develop? Could the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on an ad campaign to promote the Premier been better spent on roads and bridges?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, is the Department of Works, Services and Transportation going to call tenders for temporary repairs on this bridge or are they going to replace this bridge?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WALSH: Mr. Speaker, it is time to bring some of the numbers into an association so that people will understand it.

If we took the entire amount of money on the ad campaign that you are talking about, one kilometre of road somewhere in Newfoundland would be done. Mr. Speaker, let me tell you, in order to get out the information to the people of the Province that we did with that ad campaign, I would gladly give up the one kilometre of road.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. WALSH: Mr. Speaker, let me say, is $23 million enough? No. I agree it is not enough. However, Mr. Speaker, I will not, nor will this government, take the money back from the Department of Health, from the Department of Education, in order to build the roads. We cut the cloth to fit the Budget we have and thank God we are not willing to put it all into roads. We do believe Health needs money, we do believe Education needs money, as well as the other departments.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Premier. In February of this year, the Consumer Advocate wrote the government and all members of the House asking for changes to the Public Utilities Board legislation that would change the rules so that the Public Utilities Board could do a better job of protecting consumers and control the excess monies being collected by Newfoundland Power.

Mr. Speaker, why has this government not, in this session of the Legislature, put into place legislation to do just that at the request of the Consumer Advocate who, we are told by the media at least, is a good friend of the Premier? Why did they not accept his advise, his very good advise, to protect the consumers of Newfoundland and Labrador by changing those rules?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I must say I am glad to have my continuing association with the Consumer Advocate who is from my home town of Grand Falls-Windsor. He is the same age as I am, we grew up together, and I am glad to still have him as a friend after all these years. Sometimes you grow apart. Maybe we have grown even closer together over a period of time.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you this, in seriousness to the question, it is an issue that the Minister of Mines and Energy and the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board have been reviewing. We do understand that the current law does provide for any excess earnings to be held and be available to the Public Utilities Board to set against any future rate increase request. The notion of the Consumer Advocate is that rather than have that happen the money should be rebated directly to the consumer. There is currently a review being done that suggests that while it is in the range of a million dollars today, when it goes back to the consumer that the administration costs would see consumers, with that amount, maybe only get a few pennies rebated. As a matter of policy, we are certainly reviewing it, to bring it forward and change the legislation into the future. It would not have any impact on the current thing. It cannot be done, and we would not recommend, and I am sure that the hon. member would not recommend, retroactive legislation, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

PREMIER GRIMES: That is not the way we normally operate, but it is a good policy initiative for the future.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier also promised to bring in legislation that would control and change the law with respect to donations to political parties so that the domination of politics by big business interests in this Province would be changed, and bring in a law like the Province of Manitoba has done - the NDP Government there - to prohibit corporate and union donations.

Why has the Premier not done that, Mr. Speaker, in time for the next election, as he has promised to do so?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There is no election called that I am aware of. There certainly is lots of time left for this Legislature to continue on and do such things between now and an election, unless it gets called very soon, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier full well knows that the likelihood is that this House will not sit beyond today, and the Premier has had ample opportunity since the House opened to bring this legislation before this House and he has not done so. Why not, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am glad to see that the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi and the Leader of the New Democratic Party agrees with the general thrust of some particular expenditure limits and contribution limits with respect to electioneering. However, I would suggest that he also feels, as most people in Newfoundland and Labrador do, that the last election that was held in Newfoundland and Labrador, under the current law, was held and run properly and appropriately and fairly.

The current law is that if anybody provides any funding in excessive of $100 to a candidate or a party it has to be full disclosed to the people of the Province. People see that as being fair. We are very interested in looking at the kind of legislation that is in Manitoba, that is now being debated before the Parliament of Canada, Mr. Speaker, and it is a serious enough issue that we always, while we have an intent to do things, we always do take the time to make sure we are doing it right and if it is needed before the next election, unless the election is very soon, Mr. Speaker, there is lots of time for this Legislature to come back and deal with it.

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.

During the Budget Speech, we heard that this government was not going to make any further announcements on dialysis services until the provincial report is out. Will the minister stand today, Mr. Speaker, and acknowledge that report has been in his hands for some time now? Will he further confirm that the report recommends services in Gander and Conception Bay North? Is he waiting until an election is called before he makes the announcement?

I ask him to stand today and tell us about when he is planning to implement those recommendations, and tell the people of Gander and Conception Bay North and the Burin Peninsula and St. Anthony when they are going to get the dialysis services that they deserve and that the report recommends.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. member raises a very important question and one that is of interest to a lot of people in this Province. First of all, just to speak directly to the question: In fact, the report has only been received within the last couple of days to a point where the officials of my department are analyzing, so I do not know where the hon. member is coming from, that, in fact, I had been in receipt of it for some time. I would suggest to him that you might want to go back and check with your sources, because obviously somebody is misleading you.

Mr. Speaker, the reality is, the report has been done. The interesting thing, Mr. Speaker, if you look at it, you hear hon. members every day, in talking about of the spending practices of this government, the fact that we do not show prudence and we do not deal with things properly. This is a clear example. This is a service that the people of this Province value. We are getting lobbied from a number of areas. The hon. member mentioned a couple. The members from the Burin Peninsula - and I have met with people down there - they have been lobbying for a service there as well. What we have done, as a government, to make sure -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SMITH: - the decisions that are made are being made in the best interests of the people of this Province, is to have an independent committee examine the issues and make recommendations to government. Government now has that. They are studying it and we will be announcing it within the next number of days.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I assume from the minister's comment, then, he is going to respond in a couple of days; so, will you be making the announcement, Mr. Speaker? Will the minister be making the announcement of the locations of the new dialysis services within the next couple of days, and can he tell the people of Gander and in Conception Bay North, the Burin Peninsula, that is what, in fact, is going to happen?

The second thing, Mr. Speaker, would the minister comment and provide some comment about the recommendation to establish a centre or a kidney foundation similar to the cancer foundation of the Province? Is that going to be one of the strategies that you will be announcing, Mr. Minister?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, what I can say to the hon. member opposite, and to all of the members of this House and to the people of the Province, that, in fact, in keeping with the policies of this government, any reports that have been received by this government, once we have had the time to analyze them and deal with them, which I think the people of the Province would want me, as minister, and my officials who deal with it, once it is done we will certainly make that information available to all the people of the Province, which is the practice of this government to do.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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 Mines and Energy.

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

I would like to table the 2002 Annual Report of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro group of companies.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, I just want to, with permission of the House, as Chair of Public Accounts and in discussion, too, with the Vice-Chair of Public Accounts, the Member for Lake Melville, that in the next couple of weeks the Public Accounts Committee should be finalized with recommendations - when that is ready and passed to the Speaker of the House, it could be circulated to members of the House and to the general public, in case we may not be sitting in two or three weeks time here in the House. So, with permission of the House, if that could be done. It is a committee and report of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreed?

AN HON. MEMBER: Agreed.

MR. SPEAKER: Agreed.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Pharmaceutical Association Act, 1994." (Bill 15)

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Sometime ago, back in early April, I laid a question on the Order Paper asking that a list of expenditures from the Labrador Transportation Initiative Fund be answered. I am wondering if the Government House Leader or the Minister responsible for Labrador Affairs could inform me as to when we can expect that question to be answered.

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I am not certain that is an appropriate point of order. The hon. member has inquired about a question on the Order Paper. I am sure in the appropriate time the question will be answered.

Petitions

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present another petition to this House on behalf of the residents of my district, in this particular case, Little Bay Islands.

First of all, the petition of the undersigned residents of Little Bay Islands:

WHEREAS the residents of Mack's Island do not have access to town water; and

WHEREAS there is a great need for a safe, adequate, supply of water.

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to provide this desperately needed service.

Mr. Speaker, we are continuing to present these petitions on the last day that the House is now going to be in session, that this particular community - by the way, Mr. Speaker, Little Bay Islands is a good news story in my district. Just a couple of years ago - they have a new operator now at the plant there. The town is certainly looking forward to a real good summer this summer, but at the same time, like so many other small communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, they petition the government. They take the time to present these petitions because they are still looking for the basic infrastructure needs throughout their community.

I will be talking to the minister directly on this particular petition which I have just received. Mr. Speaker, it is a serious concern, this particular situation - and I guess it is something we should not be talking about in this Province anymore. But, the bottom line is this, their water supply still runs through a small hose that supplies water to so many families on Little Bay Islands. They are looking back and saying to the Province: We need the basic infrastructure of a decent, clean water supply. I think they have every right to ask for that. They have always made the argument, Mr. Speaker, the people in this community, that they are contributing to the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. Although they are on an island, isolated, a small population, but they still believe they deserve the basic infrastructure needs, such as safe drinking water. Of course, they have also raised it many times in this House, the road conditions. In this particular instance, it is their water supply.

I do not think, Mr. Speaker - and I will try to get some costs for the minister and talk to him again further, and his officials on it, but this can be rectified. These people should not be going without water throughout the long winter months because there is a small hose supplying that part of the Island with water supply. This community does contribute to the economy. It is looking forward to a good summer with the new plant opening and full production in that area. They believe this is only something fair that they are asking for. It is a basic necessity. I am hoping, Mr. Speaker, that the minister and his department will give some consideration to supporting this petition.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in this House today to bring forth a petition from the residents of the community of Colliers. The mayor of that particular community just passed along to me additional names of a petition that I presented a little earlier on in this session. Of course, the mayor joins us today in the gallery to see it being presented. Certainly, we welcome him here for that.

Mr. Speaker, it is the Harbour Drive in particular in the Colliers community that I draw attention to. The petition reads:

WHEREAS the roads in the community of Colliers, especially Harbour Drive, have deteriorated to a point that safety of motorists and pedestrians are being compromised; and

WHEREAS access to residences, businesses, churches, postal facilities, schools and recreation areas have been seriously affected; and

WHEREAS little, if any, maintenance and repairs are carried out 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.

Mr. Speaker, again, as I have pointed out, I have brought forth to this House a petition on behalf of the community of Colliers on a previous day, that we had in excess of over 300 names then, I am sure another 300 or 400 now. We are close to just about every resident in that community asking this government to take a look at the seriousness of this situation.

The community itself is a very vibrant community made up of individuals who are very concerned about making sure that the community stays viable. One of the ways for a viable community, of course, Mr. Speaker, is to have a good road system. We have seniors in this community who are shut in because they cannot navigate these roads, not only in their vehicles, but certainly by walking as well.

This is not a new request, Mr. Speaker, that this council, this mayor, and other councils as well have put this forth to government. They are asking that it be put up to a condition where, perhaps then, they would take over that particular stretch of road because it is very, very important to the life of the community. It winds down through the community. It bounds on the sea and if repairs are not carried out, I would add too, Mr. Speaker, that the deterioration is going to continue at a rapid pace.

Again, we hope, and I did not hear encouraging news from the minister today as he indicated the amount of money of $23 million was available -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HEDDERSON: By leave, just to clue up?

MR. LUSH: Twenty-five seconds.

MR. HEDDERSON: Twenty-five seconds, thank you to the Government House Leader.

In cluing up, Mr. Speaker, we know that the dollars certainly do not appear to be there, but again, the mayor of this particular community would even like the one kilometre that the minister referred to as being paid for by advertising. Anything, even if it were to be in stages, the community of Colliers would certainly be very open to any sort of a commitment that this government can make to make sure, in the very near future, even in the distant future, that something is done with the deplorable conditions of this road in the community of Colliers.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bay of Islands.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I present a petition on behalf of fifty-two LPNs. I checked with the Clerk of the House, the petition is in order. I will read the prayer of the petition:

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth;

WHEREAS St. Lawrence College is a well recognized public college in Ontario offering accredited nursing programs throughout Canada; and

WHEREAS the Fast-Track registered nursing program is of a very high standard and is recognized throughout Canada; and

WHEREAS St. Lawrence College is prepared to offer this nursing program, which does not contravene the Act of the Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador, on a one-time basis only; and

WHEREAS fifty-two or more Licensed Practical Nurses will be given a one-time opportunity to become Registered Nurses; and

WHEREAS those Licensed Practical Nurses are presently only working casual part-time; and

WHEREAS the Fast-Track nursing program will enable them to obtain full time employment in various health care facilities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador; and

WHEREAS the Executive Director has exceeded the authority of the ARNNL in opposing the delivery of this Fast-Track RN program;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the House of Assembly urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to take immediate steps to work with the Executive Director of the ARNNL to ensure that these Licensed Practical Nurses will be granted this one-time opportunity to become Registered Nurses.

Mr. Speaker, this is fifty-two LPNs who are trying to do the Fast-Track program. Last night on a program on CBC, it was about the shortage of nurses in Newfoundland and Labrador. I understand that there is a discrepancy about the level of nursing if this program is approved in Newfoundland and Labrador. These LPNs, some of them I know personally, are dedicated health care professionals in Newfoundland and Labrador. They are people who live in communities where nurses are in shortage. They are people who are dedicated to their communities, to the health care in Newfoundland and Labrador. Most of them, that I know, have their roots and will be staying in Newfoundland and Labrador.

If there is anyway possible through the association - I urge the House of Assembly to urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, if there is anyway to help with this, or some other way, or some other mechanism, some way to help these dedicated health care people become nurses.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a petition on behalf of a number of residents of this Province who suffer from MS. They are calling upon this government to expand the prescription drug program so that the drugs they require to treat their illness and offer them a better quality of life will be covered by this government and by the plan.

I will read the prayer of the petition, Mr. Speaker.

WHEREAS in 1998 the Province provided funding for four new MS drug therapies; and

WHEREAS the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program only provides medication coverage for seniors under the senior citizens' drug plan and people on income support; and

WHEREAS these drugs can cost between $1,800 and $3,600 a month; and

WHEREAS all citizens in every other Canadian province can receive assistance with the high cost drugs on a co-payment or sliding scale program not limited to social assistance income levels; and

WHEREAS these drugs can significantly improve the quality of life for people with MS.

We the undersigned, petition the House of Assembly to direct the government to implement a co-payment or sliding scale program for these drugs so that people who do not qualify for assistance under the existing programs can get financial assistance with the high cost drugs, as is the case in every other Canadian province.

Mr. Speaker, I have presented this petition in this House many, many times over the past three to four years. I am sad to say that this government has not yet reached out to help the people in this Province who are hard-working people, who go to work each day, and are afflicted by a disease that they did not bring on themselves, that is not one they asked for, or abused themselves and received.

Mr. Speaker, it is ridiculous that people in this Province today have to make a choice between feeling better themselves, taking a drug that helps them, helps their quality of life with this disease, or providing things for their families and other areas of their lives.

I think it is ridiculous also, Mr. Speaker, that government has taken the attitude, taken the position, that they cannot afford to do this. Mr. Speaker, I think they should look at it in a different way. They cannot afford not to. Because without these drugs that alleviate a lot of the pain and suffering to patients of MS - if they take these drugs their quality of life improves to the degree that they are able to function better in society and have a better quality of life themselves. Without these drugs, Mr. Speaker, many of these people will be institutionalized at some point in their life or require home care that will cost this government much more money than upfront money right now that will relieve them of the suffering that they are enduring.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, this is the only province in this country that does not offer their citizens any form of assistance under this plan. This government now, Mr. Speaker, requires -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

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: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I say again it is a terrible situation when a person has to spend any RRSPs they may have saved, any money that they put away for their children's education, reduced themselves to income support levels, before this government will help out. Then they will step in, Mr. Speaker, and if they can step in and help after a person has ruined themself and their families financially, they can do it before that happens, and I urge them to do so.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

It is my pleasure today to present a petition to the House of Assembly from employees of the Penitentiary and their spouses and their children.

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has declared many public sector workplaces in the Province to be smoke-free workplaces, but Her Majesty's Penitentiary remains a smoking workplace and her employees and inmates alike are exposed to second-hand smoke on a continual basis, to the detriment of their health;

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to declare Her Majesty's Penitentiary to be a smoke-free workplace and forbid smoking within the premises.

As in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, we know from scientists worldwide that they have determined that the smoke that comes off the tip of a lit cigarette is much more poisonous than that which passes through a filter.

Governments in the Western World are increasingly recognizing that environmental tobacco smoke is a public health hazard. In fact, this government recognized that same fact when it passed a Smoke-Free Environment Act in 1993 in this House. At that time, this government recognized the medical dangers that their employees were being exposed to, so they legislated that the workplace should be smoke-free.

Mr. Speaker, some government employees are being discriminated against; namely, the employees of the Penitentiary who have asked me to bring this petition here today.

Some facts about environmental tobacco smoke: Over 300 non-smoking Canadians and over eighty non-smoking Newfoundlanders die each year from lung cancer caused by tobacco smoke. In addition to lung cancer, other cancers associated are: cancer of the sinuses, brain, breast, uterine, cervix, thyroid, as well as leukemia.

During an eight-hour shift, workers inhale an amount of second-hand smoke that is equivalent to actively smoking twenty-five cigarettes. Tobacco use in the workplace causes more deaths, disease and disability for employees than any other hazard in their working environment. People exposed to second-hand smoke are 82 per cent more likely to suffer a stroke than people who are not exposed - a new study reveals that - and the real dangers of so-called passive smoking are actually much worst than originally thought.

It is not only the employees at the Penitentiary, but one of the inmates at the Penitentiary has also made representation that the Penitentiary be made smoke-free.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MS S. OSBORNE: By leave to clue up?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

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

Mr. Speaker, this is a very serious issue. One of the employees at the Penitentiary said that when he comes home from work every day his clothes and his hair and everything reek of cigarettes. His daughter says to him: Daddy, are you going to die because smoke is getting in your lungs and on your heart?

That is a very, very sad state of affairs. We must take responsibility for this. This is our public building and these people are our workers.

I am awaiting a favourable response from Treasury Board, because the Director of Corrections here in the Province said that the decision to go non-smoking has not been made; the final decision is up to Treasury Board. Mr. Speaker, I ask this House that Treasury Board rule post-haste on this to get out employees out of this danger.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand today to present a petition, one of many I have presented here on behalf of the residents of my district in relation to the road condition throughout the district. This petition, Mr. Speaker, has 377 names on it, one of the largest I have presented here in awhile. This brings the total amount of names on the petitions to around 1,000 that I am very pleased to present.

The roads in my district, like many of the roads throughout the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, are in deplorable condition. I have been on my feet here many, many times in this session of the House to bring forward the concerns of the people of the district, and certainly the concerns that have been raised with me, and not only raised with me, Mr. Speaker, but the concerns that I see in my own travels throughout the district, and the need for roadwork.

Most of the petitions have been coming through in the area of Route 90 which covers from Peter's River to St. Stephens on up through St. Mary's Bay right up to St. Catherine's, Mr. Speaker. Road conditions are deplorable through the Town of Mount Carmel-Mitchells Brook. Several residents of the community have come forward and raised a concern with me. The access road down through St. Joseph's, O'Donnells, down to Admiral's Beach is in need of repairs and maintenance and some recapping needed in that area, especially around the Town of O'Donnells. The highway just outside of North Harbour is dangerous, to say the least, and the road between Colinet and North Harbour, and just before you enter through the community of North Harbour, the roads are in deplorable condition. There has been some effort by the Department of Works, Services and Transportation to address the concern and to fill up the hole. With the immense amount of rain that we are having, they fill it up one day and it is gone out of the hole the next. What we need there is recapping and resurfacing.

Right out through Route 100, known to most people as Branch country, which runs between Branch and the community of St. Bride's, Mr. Speaker, and right on through the community of St. Bride's, down through the community of Cuslett, up to the top of the hill, Cuslett Lookout, is certainly in need of major repair. The roads were constructed there and paved in 1979. Route 100-92 down to the community of Point Lance, I was down there last week and it is certainly in need of work in that area of the district, and many, many people travel back and forth on a continuous basis. Safety of children travelling on buses to the school at St. Bride's, Fatima, is a concern. Certainly, travel on in over the Cape Shore road in through the Town of Placentia. I just happened to be in there a couple of days ago and a small part of that town, known as Ferndale, have heavy, heavy problems with the roads there. Throughout the Town of Placentia there are roads needed just as on Jerseyside hill and other parts of the district. Also, certainly, without a doubt, the access road to the communities of Fox Harbour and Ship Harbour are also in need of repairs.

As you can see, Mr. Speaker, throughout the whole district, and my understanding is, it is around $75,000 to recap a kilometre of pavement. In my own district, I need in excess of 100 kilometres of recapping. Knowing full well that the provincial budget and provincial roads program this year will now allow that to happen, we have stressed to the minister time and time again that we need some work done in the district, and hopefully, too, even though he has a small budget that he is using, we hope to be able to receive some money from the department this year to address some of the concerns in the roads in my district.

Therefore, I am very pleased to stand once again -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. MANNING: By leave, Mr. Speaker, just for a moment to finish up?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. MANNING: Therefore I am very pleased to stand again and present this petition in the House on behalf of the residents in my district who travel the roads and the highways and the byways each and everyday, and certainly have raised the concerns with me. The number one concern, bar none, has to be safety, especially for buses that are travelling back and forth, emergency vehicles that are travelling back and forth, and for anybody on these roads who have to swerving from the holes and the danger spots is something that the people have raised with me and I am very pleased to raise here in the House today.

Once again, I present this petition on behalf of the resident in my district and hope that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation will find some money within his existing budget to address some of the concerns I have raised here today and in other days.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARDING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Today I rise to present a petition on behalf of the residents of Gander Bay South. The petition reads as follows:

To the hon. House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador, in legislative session convened:

The petition of the undersigned residents of Gander Bay South in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

WHEREAS suitable land for new housing development is limited within the existing boundary of the local service district of the Gander Bay South; and

WHEREAS the land immediately south of Barry's Brook, the boundary line for the local service district of Gander Bay South, has been zoned commercial by the Urban and Rural Planning Division of the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs; and

WHEREAS the Urban and Rural Planning Division of the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs did re-zone the Gander end of the road in question from commercial to residential;

The undersigned residents of Gander Bay South hereby request the Urban and Rural Planning Division of the Department of Municipal Affairs to permit an extension of the local service district's boundary immediately south of Barry's Brook and re-zone the extended area from commercial to residential.

Mr. Speaker, the availability of suitable land for housing in the rural areas of our Province is common in a large number of the smaller communities, and Gander Bay South is certainly no exception.

In Gander Bay South now, Mr. Speaker, which includes the two communities of George's Point and Harris Point, a number of residents cannot find suitable land for housing within the boundaries of the local service district. They do, however, have suitable land just adjacent to the southern boundary at Barry's Brook along the Gander Bay Highway, Route 330.

The problem the residents are having is with the Protected Roads Division of the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. The land in question has been zoned as commercial by the department and therefore they will not permit residential building.

The concern with all of this, according to the residents, is that on the Gander end of Route 330, an area that was originally zoned as agricultural, is now being changed. People began building houses on that land without developing the land for agricultural purposes. It reached a point where it got so bad that eventually the Town of Gander changed their regulations and it is now zoned as residential.

Mr. Speaker, the Gander end now being zoned as residential also extends four or five miles outside of Gander, along the same Gander Bay Highway toward Gander Bay.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARDING: While on the Gander Bay end, just eighteen or twenty miles away, the road -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARDING: Just to finish, Mr. Speaker?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARDING: On the Gander Bay end, they are asking now for that end as well to be zoned as residential.

I fully support the residents of Gander Bay South in their petition to have the government have the boundary extended as per their request, and have the area zoned as residential..

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. YOUNG: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a petition to present today as well. Once again, I stand to present a petition on the roads in the Northern Peninsula. I will read the prayer first.

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 people of the Great Northern Peninsula have long tolerated the unacceptable conditions on the Northern Peninsula Highway, Route 430; and

WHEREAS Route 430 is in such a deplorable and dangerous condition;

WHEREFORE your petitioners urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to take action to correct this serious situation by resurfacing Route 430.

And as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, many times in the last two years-and-a-bit that I have been here, I have gotten up and presented petitions on the roads and I have failed yet, I think, to start off, or somewhere in my petition to speak about the Sally's Cove enclave. It is a very important section of highway that is in desperate need of resurfacing. There are also a couple of points of why. One is that it is dangerous.

That particular part of the provincial highway system in an enclave within the Gros Morne Park, and on both sides of that enclave is now a very good resurfaced highway there. Because of that, it is unexpected when you come to the end of that good highway that you would come into such a deplorable road.

Approaching that particular section from the south you come into sort of a couple of bumps, a couple of maneuvers there, such that lead you to go off the road. I really would encourage the minister to seriously consider that particular section of highway when he is looking at the roads that need to be done across this Province.

One of the other points that I think makes that section of highway so important is that we have invested so much in tourism on the Northern Peninsula. Even today, to be named in the top eight destinations in Canada by Maclean's magazine, it goes out and shows how much this country and indeed the world is looking to the Northern Peninsula as an incredible place to come visit. Having such a section of road in this great national park on the Northern Peninsula sends the exact wrong message that we have been getting out there. We have been doing a very good job of getting out the message of the Northern Peninsula, but to have that deterrent right off the bat before you get an opportunity to come explore such a great place like the Northern Peninsula is very unacceptable.

The other importance of Route 430 is that as now we have built a highway up to Labrador and the traffic will be coming and going on up through the Northern Peninsula. We have had an opportunity to go out there and size up and take stock of this serious situation on the Northern Peninsula, to deal with some of the sections there to make it passable or acceptable and have a plan to continue on. There appears to be no plan, only to deal with what is the immediate situation.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. YOUNG: By leave, for one second?

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. YOUNG: I really believe that the importance of the Northern Peninsula Highway can only be really and truly dealt with when there is a federal-provincial agreement, because of the magnitude of the problem.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Orders of the Day

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

MR. LUSH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 1, Mr. Speaker, the House is debating: That This House Approves in General the Budgetary Policy of the Government.

I think the Opposition have an amendment indicating, Mr. Speaker, subtly, that they might be taking a different route.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I was wondering when the Government House Leader got that message. My colleague, the Member for St. John's East proposed a non-confidence motion in this House, and I want to speak for a few minutes on this particular motion here. The motion, itself, pretty well sums up our confidence in this government. I think it is addressed under several items, and I want to just touch on a few.

This motion indicates that this House acknowledge and condemn the government's failure to:

Represent accurately the Province's fiscal situation. I would say, Mr. Speaker, that they have not represented and put forth our Province's fiscal situation accurately.

To manage competently the Province's Treasury. That we have to agree with.

Their failure to provide adequately for the Province's resource wealth. We have not maximized -

MR. LUSH: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, Government House Leader, I am allowed to speak on a non-confidence motion. It might not be for twelve hours, I say to the Government House Leader, but I am entitled, as other members are, on a non-confidence motion - the respective leaders and the person who moved it can have an hour, I understand, and I can speak for twenty minutes. I will see if I will use some of that twenty minutes to address some of these concerns, because I have made a significant number of points on the fiscal situation in Question Period in the last couple of days and also over the course of my comments on the budget generally.

The government's failure to secure soundly the Province's social programs. I mean, since this government took office we have had higher and higher numbers of people waiting to access medical services. That is not soundly protecting the Province's social programs.

To invest wisely in the Province's youth. They have become overburdened with debt, the young people coming out of our colleges and universities today, heavier debts than ever before in our history. This government, in its mandate over the past fourteen years, allowed tuition to rise over 300 per cent and then put in a 25 per cent reduction to show what we are doing for students in the Province.

To maintain properly the Province's infrastructure. Anybody who goes around this Province, the roads, for example. Unbelievable! You have to have great navigational skills, great ability. You would almost want to have one of those Formula One racing drivers to be able to navigate around some of the roads here in our Province. Our infrastructure in areas is falling down around our ears. We have a ferry system in the Province almost forty-years old, not replaced. They haven't followed their plan.

To fight aggressively for the Province's best interests. We have a tendency to fight when the barn door is closed. We have seen that with the fishery here. We have to be up in the face of the federal government continually fighting every step of the way, not trying to react when something gets done, but to be proactive before we get a negative decision affecting us.

Answer candidly to the Province's people. In other words, tell it like it is. Don't spend $30,000 a week on advertising to give the impression that goods things are happening in Newfoundland and Labrador, if good things are not happening. Some good things are happening, of course, but there are many things not happening and not getting reported as the true picture.

Listen attentively to people's concerns. A pretension to do that but not necessarily a carrying out of that action.

To administer accountability of the Province's departments and agencies. We have seen Auditor General report after Auditor General report outlying gross government inefficiencies and ways, improperly complying with the laws and regulations of our Province. No wonder we wanted to put forth a motion of non-confidence in the government into the main motion here on the Budget.

To plan prudently for the province's growth, respond creatively to the desperate need for jobs and discharged effectively any of its other fiduciary responsibilities.

Mr. Speaker, over the last two days in this House I have put forward questions pertaining to how well we are doing here in our Province economically. The Minister of Finance and the Premier talk about how great the Gross Domestic Product is. If you produced $1 billion-worth of oil and all of that went to the United States and not one job was used in extracting it, we would get zero benefits from that GDP - the value of that product times the price. We get no value. Because we have jobs out there, we are getting a percent. The biggest percent of that, in that value, is being exported out of this Province.

In the last two days, I asked in the House: If things have been so successful - their Strategic Economic Plan that they are basing it on - why, after eleven years of that plan, did we see the largest out-migration of people in history, in fact, the largest out-migration in the western world since the Irish famines? We have seen 10 per cent of our population disappear in a ten year period. That is an astronomically amount of people to leave our Province. What was their response? Talk about Gross Domestic Product - talk about jobs.

The next question I asked, and I did not get much of an answer. The answer I got was: the glass is half-full. I said: not only did 60,000 people leave our Province, but those who stayed did not fair as well from this government's economic policies. The latest report from Stats Canada showed that in this Province family incomes have not kept pace with the cost of living. In fact, the median income in this Province declined by 3.7 per cent over a ten year period. That is the biggest decline in the entire country. There is not another province in this country that has seen such a decline in incomes going into families in terms of median incomes.

How will the Premier defend an economic policy that has made Newfoundlanders and Labradorians poor relative to the rest of this country than they were eleven years ago? What did the minister say? The Minister of Finance stood up, instead of the Premier, and said: We like to see the glass as being half-full. Well, I would like to ask the minister, when is she going to fill up that glass? When is she going to start doing something constructive to ensure that the wealth from our resources stay here in our Province? If things are so great, I ask, if things are so fantastic in our Province, why is it that Stats Canada revealed about growing poverty in our Province compared to the rest of the country? Fourteen-point-three percent of average income of a family coming into this Province comes from federal and provincial programs - like EI and income support, or traditionally called welfare payments. That is the highest in this country. If things are so great, why are families in this Province today depending on EI and depending on welfare payments to make up 14.3 per cent of that income?

In fact, the newly created Territory of Nunavut is lower. They depend less than we do here in our Province, a Province that has existed as part of this country since 1949. There is something wrong with it. How can you get up and say our economic policies are working? Economic policies, Mr. Speaker, are not working for people here in our Province.

In 1989, when this government came to power, the personal disposable income - that is the income in the pockets which people have for their disposal to spend - of everybody in this Province was over 80 per cent when you cost the goods and services produced in this Province. That is the Gross Domestic Product. You take the cost of the goods and services, the amount of them, the price and it gives you the Gross Domestic Product. Over 80 per cent, when they came to power, of that Gross Domestic Product was used as personal disposable income. The personal disposable income grew with the economy. The amount grew.

What has happened today? In the forecast of this budget this year, only 59 per cent of personal disposable income is of GDP. It is only 59 per cent. Fifty-nine cents out of every dollar, GDP, we could expect to end up in the pockets and use as personal disposable income of this Province, when almost eighty-two cents on the dollar when they came to power. Is that an improvement in our economic plight, our economic situation? No, this is serious. That is a very serious decline in personal disposable income. That is a sign of wealth, personal disposable income. It has declined immensely since this government came to power. It is a product, I would say, of a Strategic Economic Plan that has failed the people of this Province.

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I would say to the Mines and Energy Minister, he gets in his seat and says it is wrong. He does not know what I am talking about. He was not paying attention.

What I said, and I will repeat it for the minister in case he did not understand it, is that in 1989 the personal disposable income was over 80 per cent, almost 82 per cent of our Gross Domestic Product. In the forecast by this government today it is forecasted to be 59 per cent of GDP.

AN HON. MEMBER: GDP has gone up somewhat.

MR. SULLIVAN: Exactly! The minister said GDP has gone up. Why? Because the GDP has gone up it is great. But, it is not great. I explained it before he tuned in. I explained the reason why that is exactly the answer. The strategy of this government has failed to capture that GDP and keep it here in our Province. This government has allowed the economic wealth from our resources to go to the Eastern Seaboard and it shows up in the personal disposable income of people in the United States and other parts of this country. That is what is wrong with this government's policy.

Six years ago revenues in our Budget were 36 per cent of Goss Domestic Product. Last year there was only 24 per cent. What does that tell us? As the economy is growing with Gross Domestic Product, we are not getting the revenues coming into the coffers of our Province. That s a drastic drop from 36 per cent to 24 per cent, a one-third drop. A one-third proportionate drop in that. That is disastrous. That is a product of economic policies of this government that have failed to work.

Then they talk about how great - and the jobs. Their own publication, Mr. Speaker, that they put out, this very government published this, it is called, From the Ground Up. It states that child poverty in this Province has gone up from 21 per cent in 1991 to 26 per cent in 2000, while child poverty in this country has gone down by 2 per cent, but in this Province it has gone up. That is an increase of 25 per cent in the child poverty rate in this Province. That is an enormous increase just less than tens years of this government. That is an horrendous number. Poverty has increased. Don't you think, if a Province is doing so well, if the economy is so great, we should see a reduction in child poverty? Don't you think we should see personal disposable income, money in people's pockets, be at least an equivalent chunk or percent of the GDP?

We have not done a good job of keeping revenues here in our Province. That is the answer. We have not done the job we were elected to do in our Province, and that is why we are having misery. That is why sixty-five people in a community on the Northern Peninsula are talking about moving out and moving to the mainland. That is why there has been a tremendous out-migration, too, because we have not responded appropriately to meet the crises in the fishery. We have sat back and had a laissez faire attitude about it and now -

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Laissez faire attitude about it, yes.

This government, and this very minister who is shouting and interfering across the House, have done absolutely nothing. He has failed to even get an infrastructure, a roads agreement with a simple little power point presentation that paled in comparison to a community in this Province. Now, he is wondering what is wrong. They are a part of the problem. They are the problem. But, I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, by the way they are acting and by their policies, they will never be a part of the solution. They will not be a part of the solution because their policies have not worked. They are a government which is bankrupt for ideas here. It is a government that have plans that do not work in our Province. They have lost their touch with rural Newfoundland. They have lost their touch with the people of this Province, and the people want somebody who is going to do something about it. They want somebody who is going to try to turn this Province around by implementing policies that are etched in strong economic basis; one that is not going to be etched on a political front from year to year doing band-aid approaches to economic development; one that is going to be formed on concrete, solid policies that is going to help revitalize this Province and lead us to a new prosperous era in growth and development here in our Province.

Before this House sits again, for this session, which will end some time in the very near future, people will have an opportunity to compare the plans of this party with the plans of this government, and I certainly hope they will give an opportunity to people who have a vision and a plan to put that plan into execution, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand and speak on the amendment, and to speak on the Budget advanced by this Province indicating the government's vision for the next year, for the year 2003-2004.

First we had the Throne Speech, which gave the general thrust of the direction the government was headed. It talked about its general goals and its objectives: that we wanted to have a good education system, providing a good education system for our young people so that they could develop themselves to the maximum and be prepared for the job market, and train themselves according to the demands of the job market. We want to ensure that our institutions are ready and geared to the job market and, of course, for general education so that our young people can get the full education in accordance with the ability of the Province to pay.

We have put a lot of emphasis on health care. We want to ensure that our people are provided with the best health care, again in accordance with the Province's ability to pay. All of these things in education, in health, have to be in accordance with the Province's ability to pay.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud of the initiatives that we have taken in education, proud of the initiatives that we have taken in health, indicating to our people our goals and our objectives in those two vital areas of government services. Our social programs, our Strategic Social Plan and the legislation just brought to the House last fall by the Minister of Human Resources, tremendous legislation dealing with income and employment, putting emphasis on work and developing the individual, putting emphasis on developing dignity and self-esteem of the individual, and again ensuring that individuals are given the opportunity to develop themselves to a maximum, Mr. Speaker. That is so important, to allow those kinds of things to develop in society, to allow for people to develop themselves to their fullest potential. That is what our programs, that is what our goals, envisage.

Mr. Speaker, something, though, has happened with respect to funding in this Province in the last few years. I want to make that point. It is all very well to talk about, we are not doing good enough in education, or that we do have flaws in our health program.

Today, a lot of the members on the other side presented petitions to have their roads done in their particular area, and so they should be done. I have roads in my own district that I would like to get done. I have done a lot. We have done a lot over the last number of years, but there is still a lot of work to be done, because, while you are doing one road, another road has wear and tear on that road. By the time you get a road done in a certain area, you need to go back to another area. The same thing has happened with the Trans-Canada. I digress for a moment on that.

Talking about the Trans-Canada, you know, we talk about deals in this Province. I have often said - and I do not condemn the government of the day, but Mr. Peckford's government who did the deal for the roads when we gave up our railway. Do hon. members realize that contract is now over this year, the deal for roads, and the roads that we started fifteen years ago need to be done over again.

Honourable members talk about deterioration of the roads. That was the deal that we got for the railway and now we need to do these roads over again. I have always thought that was a bad deal. I always thought it was a bad deal from a couple of aspects. I have always thought that road should have been a twin road right across the Province. I believe that the federal government should still have responsibility for the Trans-Canada Highway. We gave up a railway that was losing money for the Province, that was losing money for the federal government year after year, and I believe that in that contract there should have been a provision for maintenance by the federal government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LUSH: I believe that should have been in the contract. That should have been in the deal, that there should have been provision for the federal government to have a responsibility, shared with the Province - I do not believe it should have been total - shared with the Province, because they were getting not a bad deal. Giving up a loser, the railway. Giving up the railway that was a loser, a perennial loser, I believe that they should have maintained some share, some responsibility, in the maintenance of the Trans-Canada. Now it is the total responsibility of the Province, and that is a big responsibility; a big financial responsibility.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the federal government should be more inclined to look at the Trans-Canada. It is a part of the road system right across the nation, and should also, of course, look into Labrador, but I am going to leave that one for the moment. I wanted to talk about the funding that was brought to my attention by the number of petitions presented by hon. members today for roadwork in their own area.

Mr. Speaker, up until about the late 1980s, the federal government's share of the provincial budget was around 50 per cent. Up to the 1980s it was 51 and a bit. Fifty-one and a half per cent of the provincial budget came from the federal government. In the 1990s it started going down, until now, this year, it is 37½ per cent of the provincial budget. Mr. Speaker, take 37 per cent of a budget as opposed to 50 per cent and you would find a tremendous amount of money missing from the provincial coffers, from the provincial Treasury.

I can tell hon. members, that if the federal government were still giving the same proportion of money that they had been giving up until the mid-1990s, there would be no deficit in this Province today. There would be no deficit in this Province today if the federal government were giving their same share of money.

I say to hon. members, is it little wonder that since the late 1990s, that they have been reducing and reducing, the money had to be taken from health care and from education? When the federal government was reducing the money, reducing their share, that meant the Province had to put in more, more in education, more in health. Mr. Speaker, that is why we find ourselves today with a deficit of $300 million, in that area. That is why we are talking about that kind of deficit, because the Province had to put in the money that the federal government was taking out.

Mr. Speaker, if the federal government were putting in the share in the budget that they had been putting in up to the 1990s we would be able to pave more roads, we would be able to pave some of the roads that hon. members were asking for today, we would be able to put more money into health, we would be able to put more money into education and more money into our social programs.

Madam Speaker, looking at the numbers of dollars that the federal government have cut back, looking at that, I can't believe that the Province has such a low deficit, when we look at all the monies that the federal government has taken away over the past number of years. Hon. members try to make a lot out of that. Where are we going to get the money? Where is the money coming from? Madam Speaker, there is only one simple answer to that, where is the money coming from. They don't want us to cut it from education. I am sure they wouldn't agree with that. Is that going to be the plan, to cut the money from education, to cut the money from health, to cut down on roadwork, to say we are going to have no roadwork this year, to cut down on our social programs? Already, they talk about the child poverty. Well, obviously we need more money in social programs. They talk about our health care. We need more money in health. We do not need less money in health; we need more. We do not need less money for our social programs; we need more, because our people deserve more.

Madam Speaker, we need more money to provide the citizens of this Province with a standard of living comparable to that in other parts of Canada. Presently, that is not the circumstance. That is the basis on which equalization is granted. That is the basis on which equalization is granted, so that we can have a standard of living with a similar tax level that is comparable to the rest of the country, and that is not happening.

Obviously, Madam Speaker, there is only one place for us to get the money. There is only one place for Newfoundland and Labrador to get its money, and that is from its natural resources. That is where the money must come from. We must get a greater share from our natural resources.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. LUSH: We certainly hope so. We certainly hope so, because governments with which he has been associated, the hon. member, are responsible for the level of monies that we are getting from our natural resources, Madam Speaker.

That has to be our focus. I am not interested in blaming anybody. That is not (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. LUSH: That has to be our focus over the next little while. That has to be the focus. That has to be the policy. That has to be the perspective. That is where we have to narrow in on, getting more money from our natural resources.

Madam Speaker, that is going to be the focus of this government over the next little while, ensuring that we are not exploited, that Newfoundland and Labrador is getting more money from its natural resources, from its offshore oil, from its minerals and from hydro development. That is where we have to get our money. That has to be our focus. That is going to be the concentration of this government over the next little while, trying to correct historical errors. Trying to correct historical mistakes is one. It is an area we have to move in on to ensure that this Province is getting its fair share. That is all we are asking for. We are not asking for any more - that this Province gets its fair share.

Madam Speaker, that has to be the focus. That has to be the concentration. I say to hon. members opposite, that is what we plan to do in order to give the people of this Province a standard of living in order to ensure that the people of this Province have a standard of living that is comparable to other parts of this country with the same and with reasonable levels of taxation. That is where we are going. This is where this government plans to take us. That is the concentration. That is the level and that is our policy. That is going to be our effort in the next little while, to ensure that this Province is getting its fair share from its natural resources. That is the only way to go. That is where the money has to come from to fix the deficit. That is where the money has to come from to put more money into education, more money into health, more money into all of our social programs, and we are going to do our best, Madam Speaker, to ensure that policy is pursued.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM SPEAKER (M. Hodder): The hon. the Member for St. John's West.

MS S. OSBORNE: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

It is my pleasure to stand up today and give some remarks on this non-confidence motion, and I would like to refer to some of the remarks that were made during the Budget Speech and also during the non-confidence motion.

We had the Member for Gander speaking about how they are working for victims of violence and they have approved transition house transportation up front, and that is commendable, Madam Speaker, it really is, but women cannot live in transition houses all of their lives, and we have known of fatalities and sadness that happened in the community by women whose spouses had peace bonds put on them, and these same women had been in transition houses and, as I said, could not live there for the rest of their lives, and then moved back into their home into the community, reported to the police what was happening, but unfortunately, as in one instance that I know, a woman was murdered by the spouse who was making threats and stalking her but the resources were not in place. So, it looks very good on paper but if we cannot put resources in place to ensure that the laws that we have made are enacted and carried out, then what good are the laws? They are not worth the paper they are written on. Women whose lives are in danger cannot live in transition houses for all of their lives.

Members opposite referred to support and employment for persons with disabilities. Yes, there are supports and there are some employment for people with disabilities, but, at the same time, caregivers for the people with the disabilities have had their respite cut drastically. Places have been closed. The Pre-Vocational Training Centre on Topsail Road was closed, and it was suggested that the people go out and get involved in programs in the community. As far as I know, and I stand to be corrected, most of the people who were going to the Pre-Vocational Training Centre are now out having just respite during the day. There are very, very few programs out in the communities with them.

Members referred to the extra money that families were getting. While that may be so, we know the record of people living in poverty. We know that the children's poverty rate is rising in this Province, much to our shame. I did not hear anything mentioned about single employable adults who are expected to live, if they are living with relatives, at a $128 a month, and if they are not living with relatives, the total amount of money that a single employable adult receives is less than $200. Now, make no wonder we have people who are living in slums and living in places that are dangerous for their lives.

Last Wednesday, when I put forth a private member's motion that the government pick up $30,000 for the School Lunch Program so that 3,000 children could take advantage of hot meals for the month of June, there was political posturing. The government did, in fact, do what was said in the resolution. The members opposite know that we cannot request money in a private member's motion, but I asked that the government see to it that the lunch program was kept going and they did that. How? By going into next year's budget for that school lunch program. What that school lunch program asked for here in this House of Assembly was what this government spent in one week in advertising themselves. Thirty thousand dollars - in promoting themselves - is what the people for the school lunch program asked for to provide meals for 3,000 children for the month of June. This government advanced the money from next year's budget, so that they go into September with only $25,000 instead of $75,000. Pure political posturing on the part of this government.

Reference was also made to the social assistance caseloads declining, and well they may be, but how many people have left our Province? The people who have left the Province are the people who were on social assistance and they left to get jobs. That is one way to get the caseloads to decline, have our people out-migrate.

The Government House Leader got up and spoke about the declining money from Ottawa. With each person that leaves our Province the amount of money that we get from Ottawa declines. The former Premier saw to that when he signed the equalization program. He is the one who signed it, that we receive it on a per capita basis, knowing that our population was declining. So make no wonder they are receiving less money from Ottawa.

Ministers got up and spoke about the amount of money in the health care budget. Well, the health care budget has risen since 1997, but in 1997 it was the Department of Health and the Department of Social Services. That combined budget was $1.3 billion. Then in 1998, when Community Services went over to Health, the social assistance budget declined and the Department of Health and Community Services went up. So, basically, we are shifting the money on paper, but it looks like the Department of Health's budget has gone up. It has gone up somewhat, there is no disputing that, but not at the rate this government would like people to believe that it has. When they took Community Services out of the Department of Social Services and put it in with Health, then some of the budget from the Department of Social Services went over to the Department of Health as well.

The Member for Gander also referred to the health boards and the job they are doing in balancing their budget, but they are balancing their budget on the backs of people. In the past couple of years, I have had people make representation to me - people who were in hospital, and their families would call me. There was one disabled gentleman in hospital. He knew that he was dying, a very young man, and he wanted to go home to die. The bureaucracy that man had to go though. They barely got him home to his house - granted, his dying wish was to go home to his house to die - because of the cuts in home care and his ability to access home care, or his family's ability to access home care on his behalf, so that he could go home to die.

They get up and paint such a rosy picture of what they are doing for the people out here - budgets are being balanced and they are spending so much money. Yes, they are spending money on promoting themselves and spending money on entertaining themselves and their spouses while children are out there going to school hungry.

Speaking of Health and Community Services Boards, I had another person, a nurse, she knew she was dying and wanted to go home to her own house. Five hours of home care a day at approximately $10 an hour, Madam Speaker, would have done it for her, but because there was a freeze on home care that woman was unable to access $50 a day, but the government paid $700 or $800 a day for her to stay in hospital and die in a hospital bed rather than home in her own bed. Now, what are we saying? What are we doing for the people of this Province?

The government's own report, From the Ground Up - and I am not sure how reliable this is. I do not even know but the statistics, the figures in this are probably worse.

MR. H. HODDER: They are two years old.

MS S. OSBORNE: They are two years old, my colleague from Waterford Valley has informed me. Yes, they are two years old. Not only are they two years old, but how many two-parent families were polled in this? How many of them were single-parent families? The polling was done by telephone. How many people are out there living in far worse conditions but could not be accessed because they probably did not have a telephone? How many of those people are out there? In any case, the figures come in and they show that the number of children under age eighteen living in this Province has declined by 30 per cent since 1991, but the number of children living in poverty has not declined at the same rate. Based on before tax income, 26 per cent of children were living in poverty in the year 2000, up from 21 per cent in 1991.

While the government will get up and say they are doing their best, it is based on their ability to pay - and they are touting how Moody's has given us such a credit rating. Talk to the children who go to school with an empty lunch box every morning, or talk to the parents who have to keep their children home from school because they are embarrassed that they do not have lunch to give them. Tell them about Moody's. Tell the 26 per cent of the children in this Province who are living in poverty about Moody's. See how interested they are in that.

The Minister of Finance refers to the glass being half full or half empty. There are people in this Province - I would like to say, Madam Speaker - who have nothing in their glass and nothing in their cupboards to put in their glass or on their plates either. Tell them about Moody's. Tell those people when they open their cupboard doors and there is no food there, or they open their refrigerators and there is no food there. Tell them about glasses that are half full or half empty, or totally empty as is the case with many of the people in this Province. Most Newfoundlanders and Labradorians say they have never gone without food. Ten percent say they worry about not having enough to eat. Tell the 10 per cent of the residents of this Province who worry that they do not have enough to eat, tell them about Moody's, Madam Speaker.

This government has been in power for fifteen years now, almost fifteen years.

AN HON. MEMBER: Fourteen year.

MS S. OSBORNE: Fourteen years. I would like to give a few points on some of the highlights of that fifteen years.

They delayed the creation of a Child and Youth Advocate for almost a decade after a parliamentary committee laid out in detail exactly how to do it and why doing it was so critical.

It took a lot for them to re-establish the Ombudsman's Office, more than a decade after they themselves eliminated, with the current Premier, voting in favour of its elimination. That is part of their fifteen year record, Madam Speaker.

They oversaw an increase in Memorial University's tuition fees to 350 per cent of their 1989 value before they realized, more than a decade later, that tuition fees were too high and might have something to do with the ridiculous increase in student and graduate debt levels and all the hardships that those debt levels bring. Now they can get up and say that they have reduced tuition or that we have among the lowest tuition, but they themselves raised that tuition to 350 per cent of the 1989 value. I guess it is easy to lower it when you have raised it to such an extent.

This same government, in their almost fifteen years, has left public service pensioners off the group it set up to manage the Public Service Pension Plan. That, I guess, speaks volumes of what that government feels of the senior citizens and their pensioners in this Province.

They insured vehicles twice and made countless other sloppy administrative errors, the Auditor General identifies, that cost the taxpayers considerable sums. They have wasted hundreds of thousands of public dollars sending ministers and their spouses on jaunts around the globe doing business that in so many cases could be done by telephone, fax and e-mail without the lofty hotel rooms and the fine dining expenses.

It took a lot of planning for the Liberals, in this case the Premier, to head to a First Ministers' Conference promising to stonewall on a health funding agreement unless Newfoundland and Labrador's equalization concerns were addressed, a bazaar position to begin with, and then to back down leaving the Province looking weak and not too bright.

The Premier, as well, brought in an equalization proposal to the Prime Minister and walked away claiming victory, only to have the Prime Minister's office issue a news release saying that the same Premier had completely understood what the Prime Minister had said. That is part of the fourteen year record, Mr. Speaker, -

AN HON. MEMBER: You mean misunderstood what the Prime Minister had said.

MS S. OSBORNE: Misunderstood what the Prime Minister had said, yes.

It took a lot of planning in the fourteen years to maintain the highest unemployment rate in the country even when we are the economic growth hotbed of the country for years running.

This same government has allowed health board deficits to go completely out of control until more than midway through the fiscal year when reigning them in meant cutting twice as deep. I refer to the home care freeze and the respite cuts, et cetera, and the mismanagement of the health care dollar by leaving patients in hospital at $700 or $800 a day and in one case, I remember, leaving a person in the Intensive Care Unit at $1,200, $1,500, $1,800 a day - I am not sure of the figure - when probably $150 a day of home care would have done it. That is the kind of mismanagement that this government is getting on with, Madam Speaker.

They have left the Province without adequate home care services or sufficient home care beds, forcing the boards to place seniors in costly acute care beds while line-ups for procedures continue. I have given examples of that, Madam Speaker, and those couple of examples that I have given are just examples. They are just scratching the surface of the mismanagement of this government.

They have left police officers without backup of trained, medical health professionals who could help in a time of crisis, and, to our shame, we have seen a couple of the residents of our Province who were killed by police officers because there was not adequate backup, or because of the lack of services out in the community.

It was very good, and it looked very politically correct, to de-institutionalized people, and that is the correct thing to do, de-institutionalize people and let them get out and live in the communities, which are their communities, Madam Speaker. But, when we de-institutionalize them, and as they go through the door of the institution, we close the door behind them and don't put the resources into the community to see to it that they can sustain themselves in the community. Unfortunately, because of these lack of resources, tragedies will occur, and we have seen those tragedies.

Just recently, a young man went into the Waterford Hospital looking for help. There was a near fatality as well in that instance because, for whatever reason, looking at the bottom line, the resources were not there to help that gentleman, and there was a very unfortunate incident as a result of that as well.

On that as well, a couple of years ago in this House of Assembly it was brought up by this Opposition that we should provide a place in the community other than the lock-up so that our people, who are experiencing some misfortunate because of their mental illness, can be bought to a safe and comfort place rather than being brought to the lock-up waiting for an assessment. That idea was scoffed at. What? Put them back into the Waterford? Do you hear what the hon. member is saying? Put them back in the Waterford? No, give them a place where they can go; a safe and comfortable place with at least a bit of dignity.

Last year, not in the most recent budget but in the budget before that, the government said that they would allow $800,000 for the renovation of the Waterford Hospital, and I understood that was supposed to be ready by some time in the fall. I think that probably - I do not know how fast the construction or the renovations are going in there, but I understand now, and I stand to be correct on that, that it may not be available this fall after all, which is most unfortunate.

The same Liberal government has announced public health forums for the public, and then they have left them closed to the public. They were by invitation only. I received an invitation to such a public health forum, to go there on behalf of my constituents, and I was not allowed to speak. So that is the kind of public health forum, that is the kind of openness, that this government is - that is obviously the way they operate, to have public health forums -

AN HON. MEMBER: That is openness and transparency.

MS S. OSBORNE: That is openness and transparency.

Selective people there were allowed to speak. Anybody couldn't just go. I was fortunate enough to get an invitation to go, but just to observe, and my colleagues the same way. Any of us who went to those public health forums discussing the public health of the residents of this Province, of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS S. OSBORNE: The public were not invited. Only those invited to speak were allowed to speak.

This same government that is proposing wellness and well-being for the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador also announced a cut in physical education. They also announced cuts in music and art in the primary school, and that move angered one prominent educator so much that she resigned in protest. Then, this same government reversed the decision and claimed they never made it in the first place. This is what we have been dealing with, Madam Speaker. This is the record of this government for the fourteen years that they have been in.

The current Premier, when he was Education Minister, abruptly announced that the public exam marketing board would be eliminated and teachers would have to correct the exams. The only problem is that he neglected to mention this to the teachers before he announced it. The teachers refused, so then he abruptly cancelled public exams just before they were scheduled, throwing students lives and careers in jeopardy. Faith in the public exam process has never quite recovered from that instance of Liberal planning. That is all part of this, the fourteen years, of this Liberal government, Madam Speaker.

Once again, I will repeat - and I cannot repeat this enough - that this particular government has maintained, one record that they have maintained, is the highest child poverty rate in the country. We can get up and say we are first in this and we are first in that, but we should hang our heads in shame.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MS S. OSBORNE: By leave, Madam Speaker?

MADAM SPEAKER: Does the hon. member have leave?

PREMIER GRIMES: Ten seconds.

MS S. OSBORNE: Ten seconds. The Premier has given me ten seconds. I hope some time that I can be just as generous, Mr. Premier.

It took a lot of planning for the Liberals to announce a three-year income tax cut, as we had recommended, boast that the plan was actually stimulating the economy, as we had predicted, and then cancel the third year saying that it was unaffordable.

Now that the Premier has given me just ten seconds to clue up, so that I do not want to be abruptly cut in the middle of a sentence, thank you very much, Madam Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

I would like to participate, and I am pleased to participate, in the debate on the non-confidence motion arising from the Budget motion, which is a traditional motion. We have had one every year since I have been here. I have not seen one pass yet, but maybe this year will be an exception, looking at the numbers across the way in their seats at the moment. Maybe this year will be an exception, if it is brought to a quick vote, but I am not sure whether that is going to be the case, if they will bring in the members for that vote. I do want to say a few words in this debate, because it is a debate on the general budgetary policy of the government.

I noticed the Premier in the House today taking advantage of a question from the Member for Ferryland on the issue of incomes in the Province and GDP and various other economic indicators. The Premier took pains to point out that he thought this was a remarkable achievement that the per capita debt or per capita borrowing by individuals in the Province was the lowest in Canada; that the individual debt, the burden on families, was the lowest in Canada. This was somehow an economic achievement of his government.

Mr. Speaker, the sad fact of the matter is, the reason that the debt of individuals in this Province isn't higher is probably because they do not have access to the loans. It is probably because the banks will not lend them the money, Madam Speaker. Because, if you look across the country, the places with the highest (inaudible) are the people with the most money, because everyone knows that banks will only give you money if you already have money. If you already have money, the banks would be happy to give you money.

The Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods knows that. He farmed for years, and I do not think the banks went to him: Mr. Woodford, here is some money. I know you do not have any money. You are a struggling farmer. You are trying to make a living. Here is a couple of hundred thousand dollars. Here is a couple of hundred thousand dollars, go and farm. Go ahead and do business.

I do not think so. I think they waited until he had some money. Then the bank managers phoned up and said: Mr. Woodford, would you like to borrow some money? Because they knew he was in a position to pay it back, and everyone knows that is the way the banks work. That is why the per capita debt of individuals, not per capita government borrowing but the per capita debt of individuals, is so high in this Province.

In fact, Madam Speaker, according to figures released by Statistics Canada just yesterday - in fact, it is borne out by the median incomes of people in Newfoundland and Labrador versus the rest of Canada. In fact, median incomes in Newfoundland and Labrador between 1990 and 2000 dropped in this Province by 3.7 per cent. It did not increase in the whole decade. In the whole decade from 1990 to 2000, the median income was, in fact, the lowest in Newfoundland and Labrador in the 2000 census; Ontarians with the highest median income at $61,000. Newfoundland and Labrador was the lowest at $41,200, the lowest in Canada, and they dropped by 3.7 per cent. That is the reality of economic life in this Province for families: that, in fact, the incomes are going down, the fact that we have only two-thirds of the income of the - they say median, not average, so we are not talking about average. Median, of course, Madam Speaker, as you know, is that half of the people are higher and half of the people are lower than that particular median income. So, we know that the halfway mark in Ontario is two-thirds higher than it is in Newfoundland and Labrador on most incomes. That is where we are, and that is the result of many factors. They are not all the fault of this Premier. I have to acknowledge that. They are not all the fault of this government. In fact, they are the fault of very many factors. They are the fault of very many factors, and some of these factors are reasons why there is a high degree of nationalism in Newfoundland and Labrador today - a high degree of nationalism in Newfoundland and Labrador today - and some of the things that have to be done to change that need to be debated in this Province. Some of those things need to be debated and I propose to be a significant part of that debate, and our party a significant part of that debate.

I raised the other day, Madam Speaker, in the House of Assembly, the sad state of our revenues as a government from our offshore, based on a report by a major oil company for the first three months of 2003 where they paid royalties in this Province of forty-six cents a barrel on oil that was being sold for $47-plus per barrel, and in Western Canada where that same $47-a-barrel oil, light crude, they were paid royalties in excess of $9.50. Nine dollars and fifty cents a barrel going to the Western Canadian provinces in royalties from oil and forty-six cents a barrel coming to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to provide programs for our people, to keep the taxes at a reasonable level, to provide health care, to provide education and all of the other services that we have. So if we are talking about the general economic policy and thrust of this government, we have to give it a failing mark for ensuring that we are maximizing our resources.

We see in the budget numbers the projections for the White Rose project. The financial projections for the White Rose project are that the Government of Canada will get $2.7 billion over the life of that project in general government revenues of all sorts, and this Province will get $271 million. We saw the same kinds of numbers with the Voisey's Bay project, Madam Speaker. So when we see those kinds of numbers we wonder, or we do not wonder, why we are having a $300 million deficit to provide basic services to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Madam Speaker, New Democrats, in general, are supportive across this country of a stable budgetary system. We proved that in Saskatchewan with Tommy Douglas who brought in medicare only after a number of years when they were able to afford to do it through a balanced budget process. We saw Roy Romanow, when he went back in power in Saskatchewan after nine years of the devine PC government, who had put the place on the rocks - the highest per capita government debt in the country in Saskatchewan after nine years of Tory rule. When the Romanow government took over they had to fix those problems and achieve a balanced budget.

The NDP in Ontario inherited a very substantial Liberal deficit, as I recall, driven even higher by Tory policies in Ottawa on free trade. Took the guts out of the Ontario economy because of the NAFTA agreement - the agreement signed by Brian Mulroney after promising back in 1984 that free trade would ruin the country. Well, he has promised that and then he delivered. He ruined, certainly, the economy of Ontario in time for the Bob Rae government to take over. So if you want to hear about that, I say to the Member for St. John's East, I would be happy to talk about it. What I am more interested in talking about is what is going on in this Province and the things that we can do to change our state of existence in this Province.

When we see the need for increasing our revenues from the offshore, from our resources in Labrador, the nickel that is going to be taken out on this deal, when we see what happened to Churchill Falls - In fact, Madam Speaker, the Churchill Falls deal is almost looking good by comparison to the Hibernia deal and the Terra Nova deal, in terms of the resources returned to this Province based on the return to the oil companies. This is, again, a resource belonging to the people of this Province, just as the Hydro resources belong to us as well.

We want to see significant changes there. We need to see significant changes to our relationship with Canada and we have talked about that. We know we are expecting great things perhaps. Maybe we are expecting too much from the Royal Commission with Vic Young and Sister Davis and Judge Igloliorte. Maybe we are expecting too much, but we do hope they have had sufficient time to put their minds to the questions that have been on the minds of many people in this Province for the last fifty years. Certainly my generation, who were born around the time of Confederation. I happened to be born a few months before, but there is a whole generation of still young men and women who grew up in the early days of Confederation, who saw the benefits flowing from Confederation, and who saw them stop; who saw us now come to the point where we are not making any substantial gains; who are old enough and mature enough to realize that the kind of response that we are getting, the kind of reaction we are getting from Stéphane Dion, Jean Chrétien and from others in Ottawa in the last number of weeks, is typical of the attitude that the Government of Canada, that Central Canada, that other people in Canada have towards this Province.

We are not treated with respect. I do not think this is a psychological issue. We are not just looking for respect. In fact, if we had a fair relationship, if we had a fair deal, I could care less if they respected us. If we had a fair deal and if we were able to have full control over the resources and be masters of our own destiny, and have some control over our own future and make our own decisions about our future without it be stymied at every turn by the rules and regulations that are in place by the attitude of the mandarins and the senior politicians in Ottawa. I would be quite happy to not have their respect and yet have the control over our own destiny that would come from a stronger economy, that would come from a better fiscal arrangement, that would come from us getting greater revenues directly from our own resources. That would satisfy me, Madam Speaker, because then we could go about our own futures; be a part of Canada, continue to be contributors to Canada, as we have been since Confederation, but have some control of our own future.

Madam Speaker, one of the clear reasons why we do not have control of our own destiny is partly because we let people get away with things. We have obviously negotiated a deal, put in place a deal for Terra Nova. It is a negotiated, contractual royalty that gives away the shop - as a previous Premier had called it - and we have to answer for that ourselves. That is not Ottawa's fault. That is something we have done to ourselves, and something that we can fix and we should fix. Now granted, we are going to lose part of that in the equalization formula unless that is fixed, but we cannot blame everything on somebody else. So we have to have significantly more revenues.

We also have to take up the challenge of creating an entity that is going to have some significant role in our own energy policy. We look to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro as the potential organ of progress for this Province, a potential engine of growth. I think that was a quote that was going around during the Hydro debate. I think I discovered it in the Montreal Gazette describing Hydro Quebec as the engine of growth for Ontario.

We need something like that for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, that type of vision. Included with Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, Madam Speaker, should be the distribution arm of our electrical system, Newfoundland Power. It should be one entity. It do not think there is much disagreement about that. I think even Newfoundland Power would be happy to have one entity. They believe it would be more efficient. They believe it would be more able to deliver electricity more efficiently, more cheaply. They just believe it should be owned by Fortis. In fact, it has been a pretty good deal for Fortis. Fortis has doubled its value in the last ten or fifteen years since they created Newfoundland Power, since they used the cash flow from Newfoundland Power to build up their Fortis empire. But that is done, Madam Speaker, on electricity rates paid for by the people of this Province. We saw how the privatization plans in Ontario ran them up to the point where the Ontario government now has to subsidize electricity rates for the people of Ontario because of the disaster that was created when they partially privatized their hydro system. Luckily, Madam Speaker, we avoided that fate in this Province in the battle against the previous Liberal governments, of which many members over there were a part, when they were forced to change their minds, as a result of public pressure and pressure from the Opposition and pressure from people who got involved in that battle to save Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

We have to take the next step, Madam Speaker, and ensure that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro becomes even stronger and more powerful and be more able to carry out and provide a flexible energy policy in this Province. We need to have a vehicle that can do that. We need to have a vehicle that actually believes in conservation and can benefit from conservation. I don't really think that Newfoundland Power, as a private enterprise, is prepared to do that. I will just give you one little example of what is called Demand Side Management.

When it was pressed upon Newfoundland Power by me, on behalf of the Consumers' Association a number of years ago, to try to get Newfoundland Power to engage in Demand Side Management, to conserve energy by bringing in a plan to do that instead of adding capacity, they were asked to do some studies. Well, they went ahead and they did some studies, one of which was to provide cheaply to its customers a little shower head, a little thing that you would insert in your shower head that would decrease the flow, and it would save hot water. So, at seven-thirty in the morning, or whenever everybody is getting their showers in the Newfoundland Power jurisdiction, there would be less hot water used, less demand created.

Well, Madam Speaker, I found out a few years later, by reviewing these studies before the Public Utilities Board, that, in fact, they carried out this study. Not only did they prove that it worked, that it cut demand, it cut the peak demand for that period of time, it, in fact, saved consumers money and it worked, as the one example that I know where they actually tried to follow a Demand Side Management policy. Guess what? The last line of the report, Madam Speaker, is: We terminated this particular program because we found that it decreased sales. It decreased, therefore we terminated the program. Well, that says it all, Madam Speaker, that if you have an organization that is truly required to follow some conservation measures, and they say, well, we will only do it if we can do it in such a way that we won't sell less electricity, you are not going to get any conservation measures.

It is no wonder we are burning millions. I think $50 million worth of oil, Bunker C oil, was burned in Seal Cove last year to provide electricity to be distributed by Newfoundland Power and others, so that people could get the basics of life, whether it be hot water or heat or whatever. We have a power corporation that is not going to get involved in any conservation programs as long as they decrease sales. No wonder we are polluting our environment, Madam Speaker. No wonder we are importing Bunker C oil and burning it out in Seal Cove at great expense and at a cost to the environment and also to our pocketbooks. It is benefitting Newfoundland Power and they are using the money to build dams in Belize and buy power companies in other parts of North America. Good for them. That is money generated by the people of this Province in what should be a public utility.

Madam Speaker, we do need an empowered Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro that would have that distribution system as part of the critical mass that it would need to have sensible energy policies for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

We also need an entity that is big enough, fat enough, rich enough, and able enough to participate in the energy markets of the United States if necessary through the development of the Lower Churchill. Someone who is prepared to take advantage of the changing energy market in the United States where the wielding rights allow you to get in regardless of the policies of Hydro- Quebec, an organization that is big enough and fat enough to do that. An organization that is big enough to have a unified energy policy in this Province so we can take advantage of the constitutional opportunities that are available under Section 92(a), so that we can actually do something, that we can do something about the need for us to take advantage of all the power that we are generating in this Province, so that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador benefit from all of the power that is being generated here, not just that which we use ourselves.

There is a whole series of reasons, Madam Speaker, why Newfoundland Power should be part of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. I think we have to work to achieve that because that is going to change, that will change, the nature of the ability of people in this Province, of the government of this Province, to control our own future and our own destiny.

That is a part of the fiscal challenge that we face, and we must do that. It may cost us some money to do it. It may, in fact, increase our theoretical debt, but it is only increasing our theoretical debt, Madam Speaker, in the same way that if you buy a house, if you go out and buy a house, you are increasing your debt because you have a mortgage, but you have the house. You have the house, Madam Speaker. You have a place to live. In fact, it is even better than that because it is like going and getting a house that you can immediately put a tenant in, and pay the rent and pay the mortgage. You have the asset and you have the income comes with it, and that is -

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. HARRIS: If I may have just a moment to clue up?

MR. LUSH: Twenty-five seconds.

MADAM SPEAKER: A few moments to conclude.

MR. HARRIS: Twenty-five seconds. I thank the Government House Leader for his generous leave for twenty-five seconds. It is very hard to say in twenty-five seconds how important this would be to the future of Newfoundland and Labrador, to have control of our own destiny.

If you have a house that you are collecting rent on, that is paying the mortgage, then it may be a debt, Madam Speaker, but it is also an asset. That is what Newfoundland Power would be to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, and what Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Madam Speaker, I would like to have a few short comments on the Budget this year, especially as it pertains to my department, in forestry and the agrifoods sector, some of the figures that were contained in Budget, and how important it is to our Province and especially to the rural sectors of our Province, Madam Speaker.

As everybody knows, I think it is very exciting times in the agriculture sector in the Province. It is evident from what we had in the Budget, what we put in the Budget, and this government's commitment to rural Newfoundland and Labrador and especially to the agrifoods sector.

We, just last Monday, Madam Speaker, signed an agreement with the federal government, a new federal agricultural agreement between the feds and the Province. It is called the APF, which is the Agricultural Policy Framework. It amounts to some $32.4 million between the feds and the Province. I think it is going to augur well for the whole agricultural industry here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

It was not easy, Madam Speaker, talking to the feds, looking for monies for this Province when you look at the provinces out West - Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta - provinces that have big agricultural industries and big bucks to back them up. You had to sit around the table with some of those ministers and make sure that we, as a Province, especially - we are a developing Province, Madam Speaker, and that is the point we had to get through to the other ministers across Canada and to the federal minister as well. Most provinces are in fourth, fifth, sixth generation farming. We are a development Province and mostly in our first, second and third generation of farms.

This is an industry that we, as a government, recognize could grow here in this Province and, pardon the pun, continue to grow. It is an industry that can be sustainable. That is the beauty about a department like this; if it is run right and you have the proper studies, the proper research done, and you keep on top of it, it can be the department, both forestry and agriculture, that can be sustainable well into the future, forever, if it is done properly.

We, just last Monday, signed that agreement. The Federation of Agriculture was on side with it, a $6.4 million agreement that will be spent this year, and for the next five years, every year for the next five years. The Province alone put in something like $2.6 million into this agreement. In the next three weeks or a month, Madam Speaker, we will have applications out to all the farmers here in the Province and they can partake of this as well.

In this agreement, Madam Speaker, we have five pillars in that agreement. It wasn't like the old Safety Nets. We have the pillars of business risk management included in the agreements. We have renewal. We have environment. We have science innovation, and all of this is in this new agreement that all farmers in this Province - even some of the people in the supply management this time - can take advantage of. Included in the business risk management part of it, supply management can take part in certain sectors of that. That will be explained to the farmers over the next number of months, how they can take part in it, and also in the other sectors.

Food quality, food safety, is another big pillar in this agreement that is very important right across Canada, right across North America, Madam Speaker, and across the world itself. Food quality, food safety, is very important and it must be looked at in this Province as well as others.

In order for us to get this agreement, Madam Speaker, we asked and we were sitting around the table, as a minister - they wanted a formula for all provinces, but if we had to take the formula here in this Province that they wanted in the other provinces we would not have had anything, Madam Speaker, very, very little, so we asked for a sum of money off the top with the federal government and they eventually agreed to that. That is why we have this figure of something like $32.4 million over the next five years.

Under the previous Safety Nets Agreement, Madam Speaker, that was only a three-year agreement. The supply management industry in this Province was not affected. They were not included. They could not even be included under the NISA agreements under the agricultural sector with regard to business risk management.

Under this one, they can. This is one of the reasons why we - and we are the first Province, by the way, in Canada to sign an agreement with the federal government with regard to the agricultural sector, so this bodes well for the agricultural sector in the Province and we hope to make sure that we get on with this so that the farmers can take part in it this year.

Last year, Madam Speaker, we put it over $7 million under the Safety Nets Agreement in this Province through the agricultural sector. There is a lot of potential there, and it is time for people to listen to some of the people in the industry and people who want to get into the industry.

Under the renewal sector, there is a sector there for new entrants. I mean, this is one of the things that we have to concentrate on. There are people out there with ideas. Some of them find it really had to implement, hard to put in place, but they have the ideas. We have a good agricultural staff here in the Province who should be able to work with people to put those ideas in place and to take advantage of them.

Some of the sectors I mentioned where we can grow and grow fast, Madam Speaker - in all sectors, but the dairy industry, for instance. The dairy industry puts $100 million a year into this Province. One-hundred million dollars a year based now on the fluid milk production they are doing now. It is roughly around 32 million litres. We just, in the last couple of years, got approval under the industrial milk program with the other provinces for some 31 million litres. Now, that doubles the production for dairy in the Province. The industrial milk quota will give less price to those farmers around the Province, but they will be able to enhance their production, enhance the viability and the feasibility of their operations. Any new entrants into that can certainly, with the industrial milk quota, as far as I am concerned, put it in with some other type of mixed farming and probably make a go of it. That is something that the Newfoundland Dairy Commission is looking at right now and it is an example of where we can expand in one industry.

Take, for instance, the fur industry. You take Denmark, over in Holland and those countries, in Denmark alone, Madam Speaker, the fur industry amounts to $1 billion a year. One billion dollars. Here in this Province, it amounts to $1 million, and I am not talking about the seals. I am just talking about the fur industry with regard to the farming part of it here, namely the fox farm.

We have fox farming here in this Province and it is the biggest in North America - right here in this Province. The fox farming that we have is the biggest in North America, but it shows the potential. Just look at Nova Scotia with some $52 million in furs last year, excluding seals. Who fed them? Where did they get their feed from? They got it from the fish industry, and I think Bill Barry on the West Coast of the Province is supplying most of the feed for the fur industry in Nova Scotia. That is an industry of something around $50 million last year for Nova Scotia alone, so the potential is unreal. We have even had people from Denmark and Holland and those countries over here looking to be able to invest here in the Province. We have people here in the Province who are now, in the last few months or so, very interested in investing in the fur industry. The reason the Europeans want to come here is this: They have no land. They have land over there something like $8,000 or $8,200 an acre. They have to reclaim land over there. They have to reclaim it from the sea. That is the only way they can get extra land, reclaim it from the sea.

In Holland - I was there in 1989 - this is what they were doing in order to get some extra land to put greenhouses on. This is what they were doing, reclaiming so much land from the sea. Their kin, family members, trying to get into the fur industry or any other industry, in order for them to expand, they have to have the land base and they do not have it in Europe.

I know one sector of the industry, mainly the fur, they were like to come to North America, especially here in this climate, because this is an excellent climate for the fur industry right here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

We look at beef production. Beef production amounts to around 60 million pounds a year. That is what we are importing into the Province. What are we producing? Around 10 per cent of that.

We look at sheep. At one time this Province had 100,000 sheep here in this Province. Today, they have about 5,000 or 5,500. Pork, we are importing around 98 per cent of our pork.

We are self-sufficient in the other commodity groups in regard to the supply management. We are pretty well self-sufficient in broilers and poultry, with regard to the egg industry, Madam Speaker.

The other part about this, we have in place, the provincial Department of Agriculture is looking at helping the farmers with regard to land. A lot of this increase in production is going to depend on a good land base. In order to do that, we have to clear land. We have some land out there that is idle, and helping the farmers increase their land base, this will augur well for the whole industry, Madam Speaker.

To tie in with that, under the new agreement, farmers can become eligible under that, especially in the supply managed area because of the environmental part of it. If you have a farmer out there with 100 head of cattle, and he only has land enough for the utilization of 50 per cent or 60 per cent of the mature, then he must expand. They must have good environmental plans for all farms in the Province, and that is one of the things that we will have in place under this agreement. It will be conditional on funding, to make sure that every farm in this Province has a good environmental plan.

Madam Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not mention about the forestry industry. The forestry industry in this Province today - and it is not only here; it is right across North America and the world - is going through some hard times. It is going through hard times with regard to newsprint. It is going through hard times with regard to the sawmilling sector.

Madam Speaker, if you look at the sawmilling sector - and this government are the people responsible for bringing and really enhancing the sawmill industry in this Province. The companies do not want to see sawmills in this Province, neither one of them. They may say they love to see them; they don't. They don't want to see a sawmill, because once it goes through a sawmill they lose so much of their fibre and then it is shipped out as lumber.

We, in the last five years, have increased number production in the Province from $65 million, I think it is, up to $144 million last year, board feet. This is all in rural Newfoundland. This is on the Northern Peninsula down in Canada Bay and Northchip Ltd. It is out around Bonavista North and those places, where Bloomfield is, in the Gander area, in the Glenwood area, all those areas of the Province, the West Coast of the Province.

They are going through some tough, hard times now. There are reasons for that. Some of the reasons for that is a softwood lumber dispute in the last couple of years. The softwood lumber dispute - we were lucky. We only got hit with the anti-dumping, which is approximately 9 per cent of the cost. We did not get hit with countervailing. If we had gotten hit with countervailing, we would be up roughly around 28 per cent. We did get hit and our sawmillers got hit with 9 per cent anti-dumping - approximately 9 per cent; 8.78 per cent, I believe. Still, there is that impediment.

The second one they have is the dollar. Everybody realizes where the Canadian dollar has gone today. That alone, in the last few months, has amounted to 12 per cent. So you take 12 per cent plus the 9 per cent for anti-dumping, it is 20 per cent or 21 per cent, and you take the downturn in the American economy, in the housing starts in North America, put all of that into consideration, and it all adds up to $140 just on the downturn in the economy in the North American market. You take the anti-dumping and the dollar and all of that, and it adds up to $200. There is $200 less today than they were getting in the same period of time. This time last year for a study they were getting around $450 a thousand; almost $200 a thousand less. Now, you just imagine today, you are selling a unit of something and you are getting that less, especially in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. That is a lot of dollars, Madam Speaker. That is a lot of dollars that individuals have to absorb, contend with, and still try to keep people hired. It is not easy, but they are all integrated systems. They are systems that all the chips must go to a pulp mill. We will not issue licences today, Madam Speaker. All of the smaller mills are grandfathered in, but any new mills, all the chips must go to a mill here in the Province. All the chips, all the bark, all the sawdust, the chips, all goes for hog fuel.

Just a few weeks ago, a couple of months ago, we participated in the official opening of the Cogen Plant at Kruger in Corner Brook. Fifteen megawatts of power all coming from hog fuel, Madam Speaker, that at one time it was put over the bank, blown into the woods and left there forever to just rot. That is being utilized now and that is a good thing. We must increase it because some of the mills around the Province, as people saw last week, are stockpiling some of their bark piles. We had a mill in Gander where there was a fire and so on. So all of this can be addressed later on, but we are getting there. We are getting there step by step and making sure that the industry is strong. We have to make sure that the industry is strong, Madam Speaker, and keep supporting the sawmillers here in this Province, and make sure that they are feasible and viable.

Two big companies in the Province: Abitibi in Stephenville, Abitibi Grand Falls, and Kruger in Corner Brook. We have Abitibi in Grand Falls that is doing very well. They have the proper AAC, out of over $2 million they have enough to keep the Grand Falls mill going. Viable, sustainable, and good for the whole Central Newfoundland area.

The one in Stephenville, Madam Speaker. We have a committee in place now looking into alternatives, looking into some way we can help Abitibi in Stephenville and try to keep that mill open. We must remember that over twenty years ago when Abitibi took that mill in Stephenville, they were told there was a guaranteed wood supply of some twenty years. Abitibi today, Madam Speaker, has the same wood today as they had yesterday, as they had last month, as they had ten years ago, as they had twenty years ago. The AAC might be a little less. In fact, with the reductions in our AAC in the last five-year plan, Abitibi took very little loss, something like 2,000 cubic metres or 3,000 cubic metres overall.

We have to find some way to keep that mill open in Stephenville. We have to work with the company. Like I said, we have a committee in place to do just that. Over the next few weeks we have to try to sit down - we are after having a number of meetings already, Madam Speaker. Some people are saying that the Labrador wood is the answer. If we had all the wood out of Labrador into the Stephenville mill, the whole AAC, the 290,000 cubic metres for the Labrador area that they need in Stephenville, we would want every stick down there, everything. Every little chip, every board, everything. But, as you know, Madam Speaker, the people in Labrador, and rightly so, they should be able to take everything out of the tree first, out of the log in Labrador before it ever comes to the Island. So, it would come to the Island in the form of wood chips or it would come to the Island in the form of pulpwood that is no good for log. The forestry in Labrador is old. It is boreal forest. It is a northern climate. It is all 120 to 200 years old. It is no good. It is falling down. It is rotten, taking two or three butt chunks off it before you can get anything out of it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Members opposite, they have a candidate now in Goose Bay who says: No, there is no wood going to Stephenville. No wood going to Stephenville. Put the mill in Stephenville down in Labrador. Now, that is a fellow who knows everything about the forestry, there is no doubt about that. But we contend, Madam Speaker, and working with the people in Labrador to make sure that forests are sustainable down there, to make sure they put a mill down in Labrador, and make sure that they get every bit of value-added they can out of the stick in Labrador before it comes to the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: That is just a few of the points with regards to those. The Kruger mill in Corner Brook, there is no doubt about it, they are doing well. They have a larger landmass in the Province. They can access that, and for everything incremental over and above their AAC, they have no problem because they have a bigger land base. Now remember, we cut the AAC this year. Remember, Madam Speaker, that we are not increasing our AAC in the Province. If anybody wants to come into this Province, any sawmill or paper mill and wants to increase their production, they must do it on fibre from offshore. They must do it on recycling that comes into the Province but they are not doing it with us going against our -

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. WOODFORD: Time up?

MADAM SPEAKER: Your time is up.

MR. WOODFORD: Just a few minutes, Madam Speaker. I know members are anxious to get away but I just wanted to mention the spray program of some $6 million.

MADAM SPEAKER: Does the member have leave?

No leave.

MR. WOODFORD: Eleven million dollars into silviculture this year and, Madam Speaker, $6.4 million into agriculture. So this government is doing everything possible to try to sustain the jobs in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bonavista North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARDING: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

I am pleased, as well, this afternoon to have a few minutes to speak on the amendment to the Budget motion as put forward by my colleague from St. John's East.

I was listening a few minutes ago to the hon. Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs when he was talking about the requests coming from this side of the House for funding for road upgrading and paving. I am sure the minister certainly felt that those requests were quite legitimate. I know that when I have been asking for requests for my own district, for the communities in Bonavista North, I am sure that he also agreed that those requests were quite legitimate.

I would also like to say, Madam Speaker, that I am glad - I give credit to the government for finding the answer to coming up with the money to take care of our roads, our health care and our education, when they said that the money can be found from our natural resources, from getting a fair share of our natural resources. The hon. minister is correct in saying that. But, what I do not give them credit for is the fact that it has taken fourteen years to find the answer to that problem.

Madam Speaker, I would also like to further comment on roads in my district again. I am still waiting to hear from the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation as to what we will receive. I do not know how strong a person in Opposition should come on when criticizing the government because you never know what could happen, but hopefully he is bigger than that.

MR. HARRIS: The stronger the better.

MR. HARDING: The stronger the better, the Member for Quidi Vidi is telling me.

Madam Speaker, one thing we know for sure is that the cost of maintaining those roads is now costing the taxpayer hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars more than what it should be. Not only the cost that is involved but also we are left with the downtime involved in repairing those roads, the disruption in services, the delays in getting roads cleared and sanded in the winter months. Lack of sufficient funding is also causing the edges of the roads to deteriorate and break off, thus costing more money.

Madam Speaker, a lack of a federal-provincial agreement that is resulting in a lack of attention and inadequate maintenance and upgrading to the roads in our Province, that is why we have so many roads in such bad condition, Mr. Speaker, and again I want to single out some of the roads in my district. In Noggin Cove in particular, and Frederickton, Main Point-Davidsville, Gander Bay, all of Gander Bay including the Gander Bay road, again, I say, Mr. Speaker. The roads in Aspen Cove and Ladle Cove, Musgrave Harbour, New-Wes-Valley and the Centerville area. I can only plead, Mr. Speaker, with the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to come up with whatever funding he can to take care of some of those problem areas in my district.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to make a few comments with respect to health care. We all know that the government has put extra money, the past few years, into health care, but even at that, Mr. Speaker, we are still falling behind with respect to a good health care system in this Province. Our young people are leaving, moving away, Mr. Speaker, to find work, and finding work they are paying taxes in other provinces where they should be paying them in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Last weekend, I heard that twenty-seven families moved away from the Bonavista area. Another six or seven families moved out of Fogo Island.

We are being left in this Province, Mr. Speaker, with an aging population and a greater and greater demand on our health care system. Last week, Mr. Speaker, I brought to the attention of this House the situation in Gander Bay of a mother and a twenty-year-old daughter who has cerebral palsy. This is a situation, Mr. Speaker, where a mother has been crying out for two years now for twenty-four-hour care for her daughter. A situation, Mr. Speaker, that should never be occurring in this Province today.

Last weekend, when I went home and attended the graduation of Lester Pearce Memorial High School students in Wesleyville, a constituent came along and told me that he heard me talking about that particular case. He told me, Mr. Speaker, that he has a brother in a similar situation and said it was about time that some people begin giving this problem the public attention that it requires. Mr. Speaker, these problems, these cases, are causing severe stress and strain on parents and family members in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, we have a government-operated seniors' home in Badger's Quay - the Bonnews Lodge - that is in serious need of upgrading and expansion. This home was built thirty years ago, and it was built at that time and designed for a completely different type of patient from what is being served there today. Rooms are far too small to accommodate equipment that is needed for moving some of these patients around. The electrical system in that building is completely inadequate. It is probably only a government institution that would get away with such a substandard electrical system. I do not think the ordinary resident in our Province would get away with a system like the one they have in Bonnews Lodge in Badger's Quay. Mr. Speaker, over the past two or three years now, the Brookfield-Bonnews Health Care Board has been trying to get funding to upgrade that facility and expand it, but to no avail.

There are also a number of Level I personal care homes in the Province that are in deep, deep trouble financially, and owners attribute a lot of that financial distress to the problems caused by government regulations. Workers' compensation premiums alone have been increased each year for the last three years, which is causing a strain on the operators of some of those homes. The closure of those homes, which is evident in a number of cases this year, will result in another exodus of people from this Province, and the other problem, more serious than that probably, is, where are some of those residents going to go after?

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to make a comment or two with respect to education. The Minister of Education keeps bragging about the great education system that we have in this Province, and keeps bragging about the great strides that we made in education, but only a couple of weeks ago the President of the NLTA was expressing his strong criticism about the budget expenditures on education, about the workload of teachers, the lack of preparation time for teachers, classroom sizes, lack of resource materials, among other things.

I do not know what education system our present Minister of Education is talking about, but it is not appearing in the district that I come from, and I would suggest that he call the Principal of Centreville Academy, Mr. Greg Drover, or call the Principal of Lester B. Pearson High in Wesleyville, Mr. Don Sturge, or the Principal of Memorial Academy in Wesleyville, Mr. Eli Cross. I am sure that the minister would come back with a different view than what he has been saying here.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARDING: Mr. Speaker, also, I want to made a comment with respect to the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs in regard to RAP, a program that has done a great deal of good things for the people in this Province. Mr. Speaker, in my district, in the central region, they are only dealing now with applications back as far as 1999. The only exception to that is people where they consider emergencies.

I would also like to make a brief comment with respect to the fisheries. My colleague, our critic for fisheries, yesterday made reference about the government having no plan for the fishery, and I believe that, that they do not have any long-term plan for the fishery. We are currently experiencing, as we all know, a severe problem with respect to the cod fishery in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, I do not know how close the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture has been to the crab processing sector of our fishing industry recently, because I have been talking to a number of owners, business owners, in the crab processing sector, and there are major problems in that area. I can tell you now that what is happening is a result, to me, in my view, of the inability of the government last year to have the two parties together, the processors and harvesters, to get them together in time to make an alternative to the solution to the Final Offer Selection process in determining crab prices for fishermen in the Province. That problem now, Mr. Speaker, is causing major problems in the crab processing sector, so much to the point now where that sector could probably even shut down any time at all. If that happens, in addition to the problems we have with the cod fishery, if that crab processing sector has to shut down for any period of time, it could mean devastation to a lot of communities in our Province.

Mr. Speaker, finally, I would like to make a few brief comments about the federal-provincial relations with this Province. As of now we have practically no federal-provincial relations at all, no roads agreements, no tourism agreements, no rural development agreements, housing agreements or anything at all.

One thing I would like to point out is that earlier this year, I think, or it was some time late last fall, the provinces, the federal government and the territories did meet in Ottawa to reach some kind of agreement, a better agreement with respect to health care in our Province. I remember at that time, Mr. Speaker, our Premier sided with the nine provinces in the agreement that was offered by the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada. But who did not agree to that agreement? The three territories - the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut - did not agree to the original agreement reached with the other provinces. What happened? Those territories went back to the federal government again and they ended up with millions of dollars extra for health care in their territories. Mr. Speaker, I have to ask, where was the fighting Newfoundlander at that time?

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, I would just like to finally comment again with respect to our federal-provincial agreements or non-agreements that do not exist today between our Province and the federal government. This has deepened recently with the relationship that has been caused by the fight between our Province and Ottawa with regards to the cod fishery.

Our Province cannot survive unless we have a better agreement with Ottawa, and in order to do that, this government needs new faces. It needs a new mindset. It needs a new attitude and it needs a new approach with Ottawa in order to get this Province on the rails again.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Is the House ready for the question?

We are voting on the amendment as put forward by the hon. the Member for St. John's East.

All those in favour of the amendment, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: Against?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the amendment defeated.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: I just want to say for the record that we truly appreciate the Member for Humber East and the Minister of Environment and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation for supporting our motion of non-confidence in this government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MERCER: To the point of order, Mr. Speaker.

My anticipated vote was much in favour of the actual motion. I do apologize and do withdraw that vote.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. WALSH: To that point of order, Mr. Speaker.

I believe the word I said was ‘aye'.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the main motion?

All those in favour of Motion 1, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: ‘Aye.'

MR. SPEAKER: Against?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion carried.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: We just passed the main motion now.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I have received a Message from His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor.

MR. SPEAKER: All rise.

To the hon. the Minister of Finance:

I, the Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, transmit Estimates of sums required for the Public Service of the Province for the year ending March 31, 2004. By the way of further supply, and in accordance with the provisions of sections 54 and 90 of the Constitution Act, 1867, I recommend these Estimates to the House of Assembly.

Sgd.: __________________________________

Edward Roberts, Q.C. Lieutenant-Governor

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I move that the Message be referred to a Committee of the Whole on Supply.

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

Committee of the Whole on Supply

CHAIR( Butler): Order, please!

Bill 3, "An Act For Granting To Her Majesty Certain Sums of Money For Defraying Certain Expenses of the Public Service For The Financial Year Ending March 31, 2004 And For Other Purposes Relating To The Public Service."

Resolution

 

"That it is expedient to introduce a measure to provide for the granting to Her Majesty for defraying certain expenses of the public service for the financial year ending March 31, 2004 the sum of $2,324,531,800."

On motion, resolution carried.

On motion, clauses 1 through 4, carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed a resolution and a bill consequent thereto, carried.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: I was waiting for the recognition, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Chair, I move that the total contained in the Estimates in the amount of $3,674,304,000 for the 2003-2004 fiscal year be carried.

I further move that the Committee report that the Committee has adopted the resolution and a bill consequent thereto, and that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

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

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

MR. BUTLER: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of Supply have considered the matters to them referred and have directed me to report that they have passed the amount of $3,674,304,000 contained in the Estimates of Supply for the 2003-2004 fiscal year, and have adopted a certain resolution and recommended that a bill be introduced to give effect to same.

On motion, report received and adopted.

On motion, resolution read a first and second time.

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I move that the main supply bill, Bill 3,

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Finance to introduce a bill, "An Act For Granting To Her Majesty Certain Sums Of Money For Defraying Certain Expenses Of The Public Service For The Financial Year Ending March 31, 2004 And For Other Purposes Relating To The Public Service," carried. (Bill 3)

On motion, Bill 3 read a first, second and third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper.

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

MR. LUSH: Order 6, Mr. Speaker.

I move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to debate Bill 6.

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

Committee of the Whole

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

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act No. 2." (Bill 6)

Shall clause 1 carry?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I just want to speak a few minutes this afternoon on Bill 6. Since it is a finance bill, Madam Chair, I would just like to speak briefly. It showed up on my desk today, and I am sure others in the House have seen it, a Maclean's magazine. It talks about Eight Great Escapes: Our Annual Guide to Summer Travel in Canada. One of the Eight Great Escapes as listed in this year's annual guide by Maclean's is the Great Northern Peninsula.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: If I could, Madam Chair, I would just read a few lines from it. Like I said, it is a finance bill that we are talking about here. I am sure I will be able to tie it together here in a few minutes if you will give me the time.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TAYLOR: Yes, I have been here two years. I am able to tie that together now.

It starts off, the first line, the first sentence, "There's nothing like a drive up Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula to help you understand your proper place in the grand scheme of things."

Madam Chair, I live five miles from the end of the road so I have a pretty good appreciation of my proper place in the grand scheme of things, I can tell you that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. TAYLOR: Madam Chair, I will just read a few lines. It says, "So, yes, the Viking Trail, which runs up the western side of the island, is jut the tonic for the jaded urbanite. There's so much to see, it can be overwhelming. Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site, is an absolute astonishment. Heading north, you pass the province's rawest, most remote stretch of shore. Want to sit in a boat a couple of hundreds metres from an iceberg made of ice formed in Greenland 15,000 years ago? Got a hankering to watch a humpback whale - one of the dozen different species sighted in the area - breach at close range? Whole stretches of the area look and feel just like the High Arctic. But this could be nowhere else but Newfoundland. You know that when you drive through places called Cow Head, River of Ponds and Wild Bight. Most of all, you realize it when someone you've known for a few minutes asks you to join them for a little something to ward off the cold."

At another place in the article, Madam Chair, it says, "On the western side of Newfoundland - where, in many place, moose outnumber people - it doesn't really matter how much your house assessment went up last year." It continues on.

Madam Chair, I wanted to speak a little bit on this article today and the fact that the Great Northern Peninsula is one of the Eight Great Escapes in Canada this year, as recognized by Maclean's magazine.

As I said, it is a finance bill and I do not know if the people in government in this Province recognize the value of the Northern Peninsula. I am not sure that they truly appreciate how great an escape it is to the Northern Peninsula. I look at how much out-migration that we have had on the Northern Peninsula over the past ten years and continuing today as we speak. As members know, I have mentioned it here in the House of Assembly over the past couple of days, about what is happening in communities like Green Island Brook. I know that some of these things are beyond the control of all governments, beyond the control of the government over there and would be beyond the control of us if we were there, to some extent, Madam Chair.

Madam Chair, unfortunately, for a lot of people today the great escape on the Northern Peninsula is for those people who are trying to find a way, and, unfortunately, in some cases, they have to go away to find a way. We debated the Budget here over the past couple of weeks. We have all had an opportunity to pass our opinions on it. I look at the Northern Peninsula Highway, for one, and this great escape, as Maclean's says, this great tourist destination, one of the eight great places to go in Canada this year and we have a highway that is just about all in excess of twenty-five years old. Thankfully, Mr. DeMont, I believe his name is, was kind enough when he splashed our name all over Canada, that he did not say -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TAYLOR: John DeMont, yes.

- that he did not tell people about the condition of our roads; he did not, when he mentioned Wild Bight, tell people when he told them how great a destination it was to the former Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, the former minister who managed to find $500,000 to put into the Northern Peninsula, The Straits & White Bay North District, last year for five kilometres of resurfacing in The Straits area, when we have signs up in the district now on the Great Northern Peninsula Highway, the Viking Trail, probably adding up to thirty-odd kilometres, thirty-plus. It is over thirty kilometres. It is twenty-something in one stretch and there is ten, I think, in another stretch. So there are thirty-plus kilometres just on the Northern Peninsula Highway in my district, about a 120-kilometre area, and 25 per cent of it has signs on it saying: rough road ahead. Please use caution, type of a warning.

Madam Chair, I hope that the government - and I want to speak on it here today because it is a great destination. It is a great escape for people in Canada who want to come to Newfoundland and Labrador and visit an area that has three world heritage sites, UNESCO world heritage sites in the area. One in Southern Labrador and two on the Peninsula. It has a number of other great attractions, as I have said here over the past number of days. I get the sense that this government only looks on the Northern Peninsula as an area to take stuff out of. They only look on it as an area where we can haul shrimp out of. They only look on it as an area where we can haul pulpwood out of, where we can haul sawlogs out of, and where we can haul people out of. That is the impression I get of the way this government has looked on the Northern Peninsula. It is, as I said, unfortunate that the investment has not been made. The people in Green Island Brook, who I spoke about in the last couple of days -

MR. BARRETT: (Inaudible) neglect.

MR. TAYLOR: I can tell you about the neglect that the PCs had for the Northern Peninsula. The PC government, when it was in, was the government that upgraded and paved the road from Deer Lake to St. Anthony, I tell the Member for Bellevue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: The vast majority, 75 per cent I would say, of the pavement and upgrading that we drive over on the Northern Peninsula right now was put in there by the Moores and Peckford Administrations, I tell the Member for Bellevue.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TAYLOR: I will talk about my district and you can talk about yours, I say to the Minister of Education. I will tell you what my problems are and the problems in my district, and I hope you will take the time to listen to the problems that are there because if you did, the people in Green Island Brook would not see 30 per cent of their population leaving in the next two weeks. That is what the problem is, and until governments look on the Northern Peninsula as an area for development as opposed to an area for extraction, then it can be no other than what we see it right now. It can be no different when we see fish trucks and wood trucks and everything else rolling down the highway while at the same time we see U-Hauls headed to Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia.

Madam Chair, I wanted to bring this up here today. I am certainly glad and I applaud Mr. John DeMont for a wonderful - John DeMont, he obviously lost his French heritage. I have to say that it was a great article and a great bit of promotional material for the Northern Peninsula. It certainly recognizes some of the good things that people have done on the Northern Peninsula. Yes, I do believe that government has made some good investments on the Northern Peninsula, but when I look at a highway that is twenty-five-plus years old, the vast majority of it, I have to say that when we are discussing a finance bill, and when we are discussing a budget, and when we are discussing the non-confidence motions that we just voted on there a few minutes ago, I would have to say that government needs to look a little closer at how they are making strategic investments in this Province.

The article says that in many places on the West Coast of the Province, moose outnumber people. Well, with the out-migration that we have seen over the past little while - I looked at a presentation by Newfoundland Statistics in Plum Point in November, and some of the ministers opposite were there when the presentation was made. I think it was a real eye-opener for many people, because while we know we have seen much out-migration from this area over the past number of years, we looked at it and seen that in this Province by 2016 - I think the numbers were something like this - for every one person less than the age of fifty, there will be two over age fifty. We all recognize that we have an aging population, not only in Newfoundland and Labrador but in many parts of this country, but we also saw in that same presentation from Newfoundland Statistics a very frightening statistic about area six and area seven - economic zone six and seven - the Red Ochre area and the Nordic zone.

We looked at that presentation and what did that one say? It said on the Northern Peninsula in zone six and zone seven, that by 2016, when the rest of the Province will have one less than age fifty for every two over age fifty, on the Northern Peninsula, under models that they were using last year, we would have one person under the age of fifty for every four over the age of fifty.

Madam Chair, I do not think people recognize in government how critical that situation would be if it actually comes to pass. I hope that it does not come to pass. I certainly hope that it does not come to pass, but I would have to say, if it is going to be prevented from coming to pass then the investments that need to be made in transportation infrastructure; the investments that need to be made in the forestry sector, in the Roddickton, Main Brook area; the investments that need to be made in reforestation and silviculture and thinning projects to enable the sawmills in that area to keep going and the policy decisions which need to be made to ensure that the materials, the raw materials that are harvested on the Northern Peninsula, whether they are fish or they are forestry products, that they are first and foremost utilized for those who are adjacent to the area first.

There is nobody on the Northern Peninsula who would want to see trucks stopped that are hauling fish off. There is nobody on the Northern Peninsula who want to see an absolute end to forest products going down the road. We all understand that there are circumstances and realities where some of this has to go somewhere else; but we, on the Northern Peninsula, with the out-migration we have experienced over the past number of years, and in light of the strong endorsement that we see in Maclean's magazine today of how great an area this is, we have to have the investments and the policy decisions which will make sure that this place can prosper in the future and that we do not continue to see this vast out-migration that we have seen in the past.

On that, Madam Chair, I think my time is getting pretty well concluded, and I thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I just have a couple of brief comments here on this particular bill. I will not have to speak then at third reading. I will just make a couple of points again. I made reference in Second Reading that we support the measures of this act, and, in fact, we have been calling for this change. Last year I spoke on it. I have addressed the issue in a news release in the past. When we separated the federal and provincial tax, what happened? The federal government allowed increases, and allowed people with disabilities to have a higher deduction. Our Province froze it at $4,234 roughly, and now they are going to increase it up to $5,000 in this bill here.

We should have moved along. What happened, once the tax got separated we were told that we would be paying, from 69 per cent of federal tax - we are being told it is now 55 per cent. That is not what happened in reality. While technically on one specific point you could be correct in saying that, on other points we didn't allow the disability to increase proportionately, we didn't allow deductions for seniors proportionately in the past, we didn't allow other deductions on students and in other areas. Personal exemption, in fact, escalated the same way. That is still frozen at $7,410. By that we have clawed back, basically. For seniors and elderly people now, many of them are paying over 100 per cent more provincial tax than federal tax, some as high as 300 per cent. So this will, at least, provide some way for people with disabilities to collect, at least partially, some of that inequity that is being moved and parallel the federal one.

Seniors benefits increased again, marginally, here too. That will allow them to have a little extra deduction.

The last particular point I want to make here is that it is an incentive, basically a business tax holiday, for new businesses that start. While some may advocate that, look, new businesses don't end up paying any tax at the beginning anyway. Because of their expenses and overall start-up costs, they don't get into the situation where they are paying taxes anyway. Well, if they don't they are going to pay none, but if they did get into that situation here now, at least it does allow qualifying businesses here, new types of business, to at least get the benefit of a tax holiday.

The toughest time in business - and I know that from personal experience. I got involved in the beginning and start-up of at least three different businesses, involved right from the embryonic stage up and it is always tougher getting started. There is a lot more work, a lot of personal input, sweat, input of cash, and time wise - a little start to people in the initial stage is certainly at least a benefit.

I won't delay this any further. I will just conclude by indicating that we will support this bill here at Committee stage, and certainly I won't need to rise again later today and speak at Third Reading. I have made my particular points.

Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

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

I would just like to make a few comments, if I could, about Bill 6, because I think it is important to note that really if there is any credit to be given to anybody for this bill, and I think there is credit to be given, it is to be given to an individual called Mr. Merv Green, who is a senior citizen who has advocated tirelessly for the disabled community on this particular piece of legislation. I just wanted to take the opportunity to acknowledge him and think him. I have met with him. In fact, he sat in the gallery during the Budget Speech and he was quite pleased with the recommendations that were made.

I also would like to say that the seniors' benefit is actually a cash benefit to our seniors. We have steadily increased it. We introduced it in 1999 and we have increased it again this year. We are quite pleased that it goes from $300 to $350 for a single and up to $700 for a couple. We are quite pleased with that.

In terms of the business, the very focused change on the income tax as it relates to new business, it is important to note, and I think it fits in very closely with what we are trying to do, because it is about focusing on and targeting particularly growth areas of the Province that can help reshape areas like rural Newfoundland, particularly focusing on technology, aquaculture, manufacturing, and all the pieces that are so important to grow our local economy, whether it is rural or urban.

I thank members for their comments and I am very pleased to speak to this bill in closure.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act, 2000 (No. 2)." (Bill 6)

On motion, clause 1 through 4, carried.

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

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Order 7, Madam Chair.

MADAM CHAIR: A bill, "An Act To Amend The Health And Post-Secondary Education Tax Act." (Bill 7)

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Madam Chairperson.

I just wanted to make a brief comment here that we support any movement towards eliminating the health and post-secondary education tax. I am not sure whether health and post-secondary education is the proper name for it now. It was brought in with the intent of that, but basically goes into the general Treasury. It is as broad as it is long. You can call it what you want. You could have called it some other tax, as far as we know, because it is dumped into the provincial Treasury, but we do support it.

We said from day one that a tax on payroll is a tax on jobs. The more jobs, the higher your payroll, and then you pay a tax. I think it is regressive that you would tax somebody because they are hiring people and they are increasing their payroll and contributing more to the Province. Maybe we should be looking at a reward or an incentive for people who are going to employ people, rather than put a tax on them. That is why we support, basically, increasing the exemption here.

I made a comment the last day, too, that I think out of the $80-some million that was taken in, in this tax, forty-two point some per cent of that comes from ourselves. We tax ourselves $42 million and then we pay it back. So it is an in and out item. The net amount to our Province, exclusive of our own provincial tax, is $40-some million. Basically, municipalities pay between 1 per cent and 2 per cent and the federal government, I think, is in the vicinity of about 7.5 per cent, roughly, the figure that they contribute. It is good to collect tax from other levels of government, but we might add that businesses basically are paying a particular tax. When you pay a tax on jobs, it has to be considered regressive. I cannot see any other term that most appropriately would describe such a tax.

Thank you, Madam Chairperson.

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

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

I would have to say, with respect to the amendments to the health and post-secondary education tax, that this government is moving in the right direction. Any society, any government, would prefer never to tax any citizen. Ideally, we would love to be in a situation where we were so rich and wealthy that we would not have to tax anyone. There are countries like that, but they are flowing a lot more oil than we are currently. They don't have our beautiful surroundings, I might add.

So I would say, Madam Chair, this is certainly a continued step in the right direction. I would say to members opposite, including the Member for Ferryland who just spoke, we, in fact, have a very good reward program. That reward program is called the EDGE program. We very much acknowledge new business that come to the Province and set up, and particularly in rural areas. This program - we offer 100 per cent tax rebate on both provincial corporate income tax and payroll tax.

I say to members opposite, we have a good reward program in place. In fact, it is a higher reward for setting up outside the greater Northeast Avalon than inside the greater Northeast Avalon, and over the last number of years consecutively we have raised the threshold on payroll tax so that we are continuing to encourage more employees into the system. We have also enhanced our EDGE program, which is a tax-free program for new businesses starting up particularly in areas where fewer businesses tend to set up.

I want to thank you very much for the opportunity to speak on this bill.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Health and Post-Secondary Education Tax Act." ( Bill 7)

On motion, clause 1 carried.

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

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Order 5, Madam Chair, Bill 12.

MADAM CHAIR: Order 5, An Act To Amend The City of Corner Brook Act, The City of Mount Pearl Act, The City of St. John's Act, The Municipalities Act, 1999 and The Urban and Rural Planning Act, 2000.

A bill, " An Act To Amend The City of Corner Brook Act, The City of Mount Pearl Act, The City of St. John's Act, The Municipalities Act, 1999 and The Urban and Rural Planning Act, 2000." (Bill 12)

On motion, clauses 1 through 5, carried.

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

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Madam Chair, I move that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

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

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

MS M. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, have asked me to report that Bills 6, 7 and 12 passed without amendment.

On motion, report received and adopted. Committee ordered to sit again presently by leave.

On motion, the following bills were read a third time, ordered passed and their titles be as on the Order Paper:

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act No 2." (Bill 6)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Health And Post-Secondary Education Tax Act." Bill 7

A bill, "An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook, The City Of Mount Pearl Act, The City Of St. John's Act, The Municipalities Act, 1999 And The Urban And Rural Planning Act, 2000." (Bill 12)

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

MR. LUSH: Order 3, the third reading of Bill 10, An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act." read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order paper. (Bill 10)

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

MR. LUSH: Order 4, Mr. Speaker, the third reading of a bill, An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act, Bill 5.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act." (Bill 5)

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

MR. LUSH: Motion 3, Mr. Speaker. I move that the House resolved itself into the Committee of the Whole on Supply to Consider Certain Resolutions Respecting the Imposition of Taxes on Tobacco, Bill 4

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

Committee of the Whole

 

MADAM CHAIR (Ms Hodder): Order, please!

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Tobacco Tax Act." (Bill 4)

Resolution

"That it is expedient to bring in a measure respecting the imposition of taxes on tobacco."

On motion, resolution carried.

On motion, clauses 1 and 2, carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed a resolution and a bill consequent thereto, without amendment, carried.

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. LUSH: Madam Chair, I move that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

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

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Burin-Placentia West.

MS M. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, and have directed me to report that they have adopted a certain resolution and recommend that a bill be introduced to give effect to same.

On motion, report received and adopted.

On motion, resolution read a first and second time.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Tobacco Tax Act," read a first time, second and third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 4)

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, I think that we have accomplished the business that we agreed to. I want to thank hon. members opposite, particularly the Opposition House Leader and the Leader of the NDP, for their co-operation in agreeing to do the business that we did today. We have completed most of the business that the government wanted, which was, in the main, Budget business. This was a Budget session.

Before making the motion to adjourn, in addition, I want to thank the Speaker, his staff and the Table officers for their work during the session.

Mr. Speaker, the Administrator, I believe, is coming and we will then do the motion of adjournment.

I cannot tell hon. members how long we will be adjourned. We could be back here again, because there are all kinds of things going on re the closure of the fishery, and the Constitution. Mr. Speaker, we could be back again faster than we would be in a normal session.

Things being normal, the House will be called together again in the fall. Some people are expecting that there could be an election by then, which means that there could be lots of changes in the composition on some sides of the House.

We thank everybody for their co-operation, as I said, particularly the Opposition House Leader and the Leader of the NDP, and look forward to some time off, from the House that is, because we all work. I wish all the members the best in the time off, be it long or short.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Mr. Speaker, you could hardly describe the political climate in Newfoundland and Labrador as being anything but normal today. I guess that sort of situation will resolve itself in due course, whenever that may be.

I want to, first of all, Mr. Speaker, thank you for, I guess, the guidance that you have provided to all of us in the House, whether we liked it or not, on occasions over this sitting, as always. I want to thank both you and your staff for that.

Before we leave, I would like to say, for members who have taken the opportunity of their own choice to retire from politics, particularly the Member for Burin-Placentia West, the Member for Gander, the Member for Lake Melville -

AN HON. MEMBER: St. John's North.

MR. E. BYRNE: I am saving the Member for St. John's North - everyone relax - for last. And the Member for St. John's North. I will deal with him now, seeing my colleagues were afraid I was going to forget him. He and I were elected in the same year, 1993. I want to wish -

AN HON. MEMBER: Stephenville.

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, and St. George's-Stephenville East. Sorry!

I want to thank all of the members who have decided, of their own choice, to retire from politics, on behalf all of us, seriously, on behalf of the official Opposition, to thank you for the contribution that you have made to politics in Newfoundland and Labrador, to the Legislature and to the people from the districts you represent. A heartfelt thank you to all of you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: For those of you on the government side who may not be coming back because of the voters' choice, I wish to offer you, on behalf of the official Opposition, our heartfelt thanks as well, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I don't know about the question as to whether we have unusual politics in Newfoundland and Labrador today. I have been here for thirteen years and I am not sure this it is any more unusual than it has been any other year in this Province. There are always significant issues at work and there is always the possibility, I suppose, of an election this year. I would suspect it is more likely than not that when we come back, when the House returns, it will be a differently configured House at least in terms of the numbers of people who are here, particularly in light of the voluntary offering by some people that they will not run again. In that tone, I want to say to them, and to everybody who serves in this House who may not be here the next time around, that it is - I think we all know - a great privilege to be elected to serve in the House of Assembly. Those who have been here - some for many, many years, like the Member for St. George's-Stephenville East who has been here I think the longest of those who are not seeking to return, and others like the Member for St. John's North, the Member for Burin-Placentia West, the Member for Gander, the Member for Lake Melville. The two rookies, I suppose, of those who are retiring would be the Member for Gander and the Member for Lake Melville. They have all made a significant contribution to the House and to politics in the Province. We thank them for that service.

I also want to thank the Officers of the House, the Speaker for his assistance, and those who have also made our jobs easier by looking after us, such as: the Sergeant-At-Arms; the Commissioners; those in Hansard who are expected to record our every word, whether we like it or not sometimes, who all provide a service to the House.

I want to wish all members well over the break and those who are running, to wish them good hunting. I will not wish you all success but I wish you a good campaign, if we do have one before we return. Given the calendar, I guess we have until December 31 to still have an election in the year 2003, if the Premier is as good as his word, and I am sure he is. I think the substantial likelihood is that before we are scheduled to return in November, there will be an election. We will all have an opportunity to place our arguments and our personalities and our records before the voters. We, in the New Democratic Party, look forward to that opportunity.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I just wanted to have one final word as a member of this Chamber and to express my thanks and appreciation to all of my colleagues on both sides of the House whom I have had the good fortune of serving with over the last ten-plus years. I am actually into my eleventh year now. I was thinking last night, every time the House has broken for spring it felt like I was going on my summer holidays from school. Well, this is my eleventh session and I am now graduating again from Grade 11. I remember how it felt then and I tell you, it feels every bit as good now.

I say this very sincerely, thank you to all of my colleagues. There is a lot of cordiality and there is a lot of comradery in this House. One thing I did notice when I came here first was that once you get on the floor of the House everybody seems to have a level of respect and appreciation for each other because we all get here through the same process, that is by going out and asking people to send us here. So, I say thank you, to all of you for what you have contributed to my life. If I have perchance, in the smallest way, contributed anything to yours, it was free and take it for the rest of your life with you. It is, I say, Mr. Speaker, a wonderful place to be.

I thought of the issue of debate in the House. I recall on occasion how compelling the debate is in the House. I came here with a singular view in 1993 about an issue of the day called, Privatization of Hydro. I remember coming here and I debated that in my mind as to what was right to do. I did an extensive poll personally, and that gave clarity to me as with respect to my constituents and they were clearly onside with me. Throughout the debate that ensued it seemed as though the Road to Damascus occurred in my life. For some strange reason, one night after hearing the current Premier of the day on TV making some comments, I had a change of heart. I saw the light on that issue as a result of the compulsion of debate that went on in this Chamber and as a result of sizing things up in a certain fashion.

I say to the people on the other side again, while the light holds out to burn the vilest sinner may return and you can come over with us.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: All we need is time to get the people in to move your chair.

Seriously, I am going to miss this, but I am going to miss it in a very, very enjoyable way. I say we have made a lot of friends here.

The hon. House Leader in the Opposition, I recall the night on TV that I said I was not running. He was the second person to call me and congratulate me. I thought that was classy, I say to the Member for Kilbride. I had some other calls but they were not voluminous.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: I say to the hon. member, Mr. Speaker, some of my colleagues I think appreciated the fact that I was moving on.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: For once after my announcing it myself they were not checking with my colleagues with respect to the state of my health, because if you are in government sometimes your colleagues have reason to check on the state of your health just to make sure that you are of sound mind, healthy body and you can carry on in the role that you might be in.

I say, Mr. Speaker, thanks for everything, most of all to the people of St. John's North who have sent me here three times in a row. I say thank you to them.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: The people of St. John's North are amongst the wisest, the most prudent and diligent, and most astute and the most sensible voters in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador; indeed, in the world. For the last four elections, including the last three, they have chosen wisely. I believe they have chosen well and I hope that they make the same sound, sensible, rational and well-advised judgement in the future. Whatever that will be, I am sure they will be right.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, the Administrator is running a little late but not too, too much.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is here.

MR. LUSH: He is here now, okay.

Just to thank all hon. members for their comments and to say again, for the five members on this side who are leaving, we are so grateful for the service that they rendered, the great contribution that they made to the Province, and the great contribution that they made to this particular side of the House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: It is the wish of His Honour the Administrator that all present please be seated.

MR. SPEAKER: It is my agreeable duty on behalf of Her Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects, Her Faithful Commons in Newfoundland and Labrador, to present to Your Honour a bill for the appropriation of Supply granted in the present session.

CLERK: A bill, "An Act For Granting To Her Majesty Certain Sums Of Money For Defraying Certain Expenses Of The Public Service For The Financial Year Ending March 31, 2004 And For Other Purposes Relating To The Public Service." (Bill 3)

HIS HONOUR THE ADMINISTRATOR: In Her Majesty's Name, I thank her Loyal Subjects, I accept their benevolence, and I assent to this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: May it please Your Honour, the General Assembly of the Province has at its present session passed certain bills to which, in the name and on behalf of the General Assembly, I respectfully request Your Honour's assent.

CLERK: A bill, "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act." (Bill 10)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act, 2000." (Bill 5)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act, The City Of Mount Pearl Act, The City Of St. John's Act, The Municipalities Act, 1999 And The Urban And Rural Planning Act, 2000." (Bill 12)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act, 2000 (No. 2)." (Bill 6)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Health And Post-Secondary Education Tax Act." (Bill 7)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Tobacco Tax Act." ( Bill 4)

HIS HONOUR THE ADMINISTRATOR: In Her Majesty' name, I assent to these bills.

His Honour the Administrator leaves the Chamber. Mr. Speaker returns to the Chair.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, just a couple of brief comments. I understand the House Leader will then move the official adjournment of the House and we take a break for some period of time.

Mr. Speaker, just to echo some of the sentiments that were expressed with respect to this particular Chamber and the democratic exercise that occurs here, and vigorous and rigorous debate in terms of making points and so on, again - and the statement was made by others - despite that, everyone who does come to this Chamber by the most democratic process of all, which is the electoral process, understands that we are a very special and privileged group, a small group of forty-eight, and understand and respect each other because of exactly that.

The fact that we have five people on this side leaving voluntarily, and they have already been mentioned, I think one of our members from Burin-Placentia West presented us all with a parting gift: Thank you for being my friend.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: As much as I appreciate the chocolate - I am a big chocolate fan, Mr. Speaker - this is probably one bit of chocolate that I will not eat, that I will probably keep and cherish, because that is one thing that we do, too, rigorous debate and taking positions even inside our own caucuses from time to time. The fact of the matter is, we have respect for each other and form actual friendships, and sometimes even friendships that cross different sides of the Chamber, as hard as that might be to believe, from day to day.

As well, I have heard one thing for sure. If the normal calendar is followed, it has been pointed out before, there will likely be some changes here before we come back again, if we follow the normal calendar. I even heard some rumours that point out, Mr. Speaker, when I was being interviewed by the media outside the House today, that there were some buses being painted and some posters being printed. That is what they told me, I do not know much about it, those kinds of things.

In any event, I would suggest that you enjoy the long weekend. It is absolutely cherished in Newfoundland and Labrador, after the winters we put in. Even myself, in my position, would not tamper with the twenty-fourth of May, I can guarantee you that.

Again, a special thank you to those members who are leaving, and a special thank you to everybody. Enjoy the recess, because under the normal course of events there certainly would be some changes in this Legislature by the real democratic exercise that will likely occur before we sit again. There may be business that will bring us back in the interim. Only time will tell that, but I certainly appreciate all the support and appreciate, again here today, a session which we conclude having focused on the budgetary process and the normal process of the kinds of things with legislation into the fall, but again to thank everybody for their full co-operation and to go on the record again as saying thank you to those five members who have served so greatly and so well and have been such great supporters of this government and me personally and, in fact, have become, despite challenges and even debates we have had amongst ourselves, great friends who we will stay in touch with and cherish over the years, long after all of us are finished with an active political life in a Chamber like this one.

I just wanted to make those few comments and wish everyone well. A group of us will meet again some time when we are called back together.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Before the hon. the Government House Leader presents a motion to adjourn, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the members for their support and co-operation over the years, I guess, having served for three terms as Speaker. It is a great honour for me to have done that, and I certainly want to thank all the members for the support they have given me over that period of time.

I want to wish the five members who are not returning, who have decided to leave, all the best in whatever your future might bring you, in whatever course you might take in life. I certainly want to wish you all the best.

I was reminded just a few minutes ago that, for most people who are running again, you have to win one election to get back in your seat. For me, it is going to be two.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: If I do not win the second election, then I have to look forward, of course, to another event, which is being hung, so I hope that I can return here to this Chair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, it is moved that when the House adjourns today, it adjourns to the call of the Chair.

Mr. Speaker, it is moved that this House do now adjourn.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned to the call of the Chair.