November 23, 2006 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS Vol. XLV No. 29


The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Hodder): Order, please!

Admit strangers.

This afternoon we would like to welcome to the Speaker's gallery, Mr. Alain Frecker, the grandson of Dr. Alain Frecker and Mrs. Helena Frecker. Dr. Frecker was the Minister of Education for many years, as well as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, in addition to his role as Chancellor of the University. We welcome to our House today his grandson and namesake, Alain Frecker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Members

MR. SPEAKER: We have members' statements today as follows: The hon. the Member for Lake Melville, with leave; the hon. the Member for the District of Bay of Islands; the hon. the Member for the District of Placentia & St. Mary's; the hon. the Member for the District of Grand Falls-Buchans; the hon. the Member for the District of Mount Pearl; and the hon. the Member for the District of Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair.

The hon. the Member for the District of Lake Melville, with leave.

MR. HICKEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to congratulate the thirty-first Labrador Creative Arts Festival, which took place in Happy Valley-Goose Bay from November 15 to November 21. The Labrador Creative Arts Festival has given children from across Labrador an opportunity to come together, to interact, and to express themselves in art, music and theatre.

This year's theme of the festival was: Putting the pieces together. It showcased sixteen different performances dealing with issues like resettlement, conserving heritage, and the challenges of growing up in rural Labrador. Each play is written and performed by students, including the stage, lighting and sound crews.

The Labrador Creative Arts Festival was an idea that has grown into a tradition, and for thirty-one years the Labrador Creative Arts Festival has fostered creative thinking, an appreciation of the arts, and helped reinforce a sense of Labrador identity.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, the Labrador Creative Arts Festival deserves to be showcased in a proper venue. Our government committed $1.9 million in this year's budget for the creation of the Mealy Mountain Auditorium performance centre, and I am pleased to report that we have recently awarded a contract to prepare the site for construction.

This government supports the arts in Labrador. We see the great work the committee has done with the festival, and we want to make sure the Labrador Creative Arts Festival continues for years to come.

I would like to ask all hon. members of the House to join me in congratulating the committee of the Labrador Creative Arts Festival on a successful celebration of arts, and congratulations to all of the students from across Labrador who participated in this year's event.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to send a sincere note of thanks and appreciation for the MHAs dinner that was held last evening by the Canadian Diabetes Association.

I would like to acknowledge that this dinner was attended by members on both sides of the House, and I know I can speak for all, that we all enjoyed the dinner, the camaraderie, and the opportunity to become even more aware of diabetes and how it can affect the quality of life, and the support that is needed to fight it.

This event was made possible by the support of the pharmaceutical industry, which is also a partner in the fight against the dreaded disease. We appreciate hearing the excellent speech given by Dr. Carol Joyce, an oncologist at the Health Sciences Centre, who provided medical information and statistics surrounding this disease.

As well, the personal account by Jim Macdonald of the RNC, of the trials and tribulations of living with this, was very much interesting and informative.

We would like to acknowledge the message shared by Melita Paul, a diabetic field worker in Labrador who works with the Aboriginal people who suffer from this disease. As we know, the incidents of diabetes is also on the rise in the Aboriginal community, which makes Melita's work very important.

A thank you should also be sent to local chapters and organizers Jerry Young, Carol Ann Smith, and to the Atlantic Chair, Jim Carey, for all of their input and effort.

Two important points were taken from this dinner. The first is the fact that there are a number of diabetic therapies that are not yet available in Newfoundland and Labrador. Also, the event drew attention to the fact that a diabetic pump is a valuable medical necessity for people who suffer from diabetes but, unfortunately, it is one that is often too expensive to afford by many.

Mr. Speaker, I will conclude by saying that it was tremendous to see the partnerships that are involved in overcoming diabetes and in the way that we, as MHAs, are being asked to become more educated and aware of all aspects surrounding the disease itself, the treatments available, and the amount of funding and support needed to support the diabetes community and their struggle.

Again, I am certain I speak for all members of the House when I say that we are now in a better position to advance the concerns and issues of this disease which affect constituents in our districts. Hopefully, we can better help in the process of ensuring that, as a government, we do everything we can towards the journey of a bright light overcoming this dreaded disease.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. F. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure today to rise in this hon. House to congratulate the school community of Placentia, including the teachers, students and parents.

On October 19-21, Laval High School and St. Anne's Academy hosted the seventeenth annual Provincial Student Leadership Conference, the theme of which was: Blazing the Trail. It provided an opportunity for 400 students and their leaders from sixty-seven schools across this Province to come together, share ideas, develop leadership skills, and make lasting friendships.

I was pleased and privileged to attend the opening ceremonies while my colleague, the hon. Member for St. John's North, along with the MP for the Avalon riding, attended the closing ceremonies.

Ordinarily, Mr. Speaker, the logistics of holding such a large conference, including meals, banquets, entertainment, transportation, billeting and so on, in such a small community would be ominous. The tremendous success of this conference is a tribute to the great leadership abilities of those two high school committees, along with the support of community groups, organizations and businesses. I might point out, Mr. Speaker, this is the second time in ten years that this school community has hosted this conference.

Mr. Speaker, this conference was a display of youth leadership and it was a weekend filled with unmitigated energy - inspired by a host of motivational speakers. It was a true reflection and reinforcement of the message in this government's Throne Speech, that our future is our youth. It was evident from the conference that our future is in good hands.

I ask this hon. House to join with me in congratulating all those involved in the conference.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Grand Falls-Buchans.

MS THISTLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate Mr. Doug Butt of Grand Falls-Windsor, who recently received The Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal.

The Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal is given to women and men who have served as peace officers for at least twenty years, with at least nineteen years on the front lines exposed to risk.

Peace Officers are employed by recognized organizations including: the Canada Border Services Agency, Parks Canada, the departments of Citizenship and Immigration, Environment, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal was created June 22, 2004, and since that time Mr. Butt has been the first and only person from Newfoundland and Labrador to receive this award, and it is also the first time being awarded to a person with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Butt began his career with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Grand Falls-Windsor, where he spent his first four years. He then transferred to Port aux Basques where he was a fishery officer for more than twenty years. In 1993, he returned to Grand Falls-Windsor and was appointed to the position of Field Supervisor and he is currently the acting Detachment Supervisor in Springdale.

At the Ottawa ceremony in May, 2006, Governor General MichaŹlle Jean stated that the medals served two purposes: the first to recognize achievements and the second to inspire others to reach and surpass themselves.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all members of this hon. House to join with me in congratulating Doug Butt, recipient for the Award of The Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Mount Pearl.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DENINE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Today, Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to Warrant Officer Richard Francis Nolan. Ricky, as he was known to his peers, a former resident of Mount Pearl.

He was a member of the 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, based in Petawawa, Ontario. He was one of four Canadian soldiers killed during an assault on Taliban fighters in Panjwaii district, sixteen miles west of Kandahar, Afghanistan on September 3, 2006.

Mr. Speaker, as a student, Ricky enjoyed school and participated in many extracurricular activities. He was also a member of the 807 Kinsmen Air Cadet Squadron. While in Cadets, he won many awards and his dedication and commitment to the Cadet movement paved the way for his military career.

Mr. Speaker, recently I attended the Remembrance Day ceremony, along with you, in Mount Pearl. Ricky's mother, Maureen, attended the ceremony as well. She laid a wreath in remembrance of her son. The Mount Pearl - his former squadron - 807 Kinsmen Air Cadet Squadron also participated in this ceremony.

Mr. Speaker, to say the least, it was a very emotional ceremony. You and I attended that ceremony and we viewed the parade as it left the parade area and Ricky's mom was in front of us. We can only imagine what was going through her mind when the 807 Kinsmen Air Cadet Squadron in Mount Pearl passed by. Memories, I am sure, reflected back in her mind at that time and it was very moving.

Mr. Speaker, Ricky will be remembered by his family, friends and his military comrades for his strong work ethic, exceptional leadership, devotion to his family and platoon, and his unmatched zest for life.

Mr. Speaker, Richard Francis Nolan paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country. I consider him a true hero. I ask all members of this House to join with me in extending our deepest condolences to his family.

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to rise today to congratulate Dr. Brendan Lewis, Chief Orthopaedics at Western Memorial Regional Hospital in Corner Brook, who was elected President of the Canadian Orthopaedic Association at the association's annual general meeting held in Toronto this past summer.

Since 1991, Dr. Lewis has practiced orthopaedic, trauma and spinal surgery at Western Memorial Regional Hospital in Corner Brook, including arthroplasty and sports medicine. He is Chief of Orthopaedics at the hospital and is the Clinical Assistant Professor of Surgery with Memorial University's Medical School.

Mr. Speaker, in the organization sixty-one years, Dr. Lewis is only the second Newfoundlander and Labradorian to achieve this position. He is past President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Orthopaedic Association and served on the board of the Canadian association. He is a member of the Atlantic Provinces Orthopaedic Society and the American Academy of Sports Medicine. Dr. Lewis has just concluded his final term on the Board of Regents at Memorial University, which he held since 1997.

 

Some of his accomplishments include receiving the first Dr. Craig Lovey's Teaching Award for excellence in teaching of Family Medicine Residents. He has developed a teaching CD on whiplash and back injuries which was distributed to 1,600 family physicians in Atlantic Canada.

Born in Colliers, he completed his MD at Memorial University with speciality training at both Memorial and Dalhousie Universities followed by sub-speciality in spine and trauma at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Lewis now lives in Corner Brook with his wife Dolores. They have two children, Danielle and Brendan.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all member of this House to join with me in congratulating Dr. Brendan Lewis on becoming President of the Canadian Orthopaedic Association.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Statements by Ministers.

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

MR. SPEAKER: A point of order has been raised by the hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In the House today, the Member for the Bay of Islands did not adhere to Standing Order 25 in statements. We followed member statements in the House, and we have followed a non-political rule and it has been respected very much so here in the House, Mr. Speaker.

It does state in our Standing Orders that: Statements by members shall not be used to comment on aspects of provincial government policy or to reflect on a decision or direction of the House. The subject matter of a member's statement may be an anniversary, historic event, some particular accomplishment, the death of a notable person, matters of local, provincial, national or international significance of a non-contentious nature.

Mr. Speaker, today the Member for Bay of Islands spoke about numerous aspects. He said there were a number of diabetic -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we have procedures that we have agreed to, by both sides of the House, and I sat on a committee that brought this in.

When you indicate that there are a number of diabetic therapies that are not yet available in Newfoundland and Labrador, that contravenes the intent of this and the explicit nature of what a statement is all about.

He said: We draw attention to the fact that a diabetic pump is a valuable medical necessity for people who suffer from diabetes but, unfortunately, it is one that is often too expensive to be afforded by many.

Further he said, Mr. Speaker, they should be more educated and aware of all aspects of the disease, the treatments available, the amount of funding and support. He went on to say that we are now in a better position to advance the concerns and issues of this disease which affects our constituents. He said: Hopefully, we can better help in the process of ensuring that, as a government, we do everything we can to journey towards the bright light of overcoming the disease.

Mr. Speaker, I agree with all the things he said, but it is abusing the principles of the House and the purpose on which a statement is given. There is a time for that, but this is not the time. We should adhere, Mr. Speaker, to the rules that were agreed by all members of this House when this statement was first adopted.

MR. JOYCE: Sit down, you fool!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair just heard the Member for Bay of Islands issue an unparliamentary word, and I ask him to stand and withdraw the word immediately.

MR. JOYCE: I withdraw it, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate an opportunity to respond to the outrageous comments of the Government House Leader here. We have not even gotten into Question Period and, lo and behold, he is blowing a fuse already. God forbid if it was over a serious matter.

The Member for the Bay of Islands gave a member's statement here today about the Canadian Diabetes Association. He prefaced his comments by saying he was so pleased to see that in a totally non-political atmosphere all the MHAs were invited to go to a dinner that was intended to be absolutely non-political, and indeed was absolutely non-political, held at the Holiday Inn last evening. Every person in this House of Assembly was invited to attend, as I understand it, if you are one of forty-eight MHAs in this Province. In fact, the Member for Humber Valley attended; the Member for Windsor-Springdale attended; the Member for Conception Bay South attended; the Member for Topsail attended; the Member for Terra Nova attended; the Member for Trinity North attended; the Minister of Business and Member for Gander attended; the Member for Lake Melville, the Minister of Transportation and Works, attended; the Minister of Health and Community Services, the Member for St. John's South - the Minister of Health, of all persons, absolutely, in attendance - should have been and was; the Member for Bonavista North, who I understand himself has some diabetic issues, he was sat at my table with me and we discussed them, about how all of us have been impacted in our lives, either personally or with family and friends who have diabetes; the Member for - who else? Well, that is ten persons, Mr. Speaker.

Over here there were: the Leader of the NDP, the Leader of the NDP was in attendance; the Member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair; the Member for Labrador West was there; the Member for Bellevue; the Leader of the Opposition was there; the Member for Grand Falls-Buchans was there; the Member for Torngat Mountains was there; the Member for Grand Bank was there; and the Member for Bay of Islands.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I would ask the hon. member if he could conclude his comments on the point of order that has been raised.

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Now that we have identified exactly who was at this meeting, there were ten Tory members, eight Liberal members and two NDP members at this Canadian Diabetic Association meeting - which, by the way, and the Member for the Bay of Islands said, was done to educate, and it was very informative.

Now, if we want to get technical - I refer the hon. Government House Leader - I do believe that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation just rose in his capacity as the Member for Lake Melville and again announced about the good the government just did by putting money in an auditorium in Labrador.

I do not know how we are going to run the rules here, but if we are going to take a totally non-political, unbiased situation, such as the Canadian Diabetic Association, and try to make some waves about it and get upset, maybe you should look at your own crowd first.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is aware of the matters that have been raised. The Chair will take them under advisement.

The Chair also notes that there were two incidences this afternoon when there might have been some variance, and the Chair takes note of that. The Chair also acknowledges that members' statements are presented to the Speaker in advance and that the Chair takes some responsibility for these matters.

The Chair will take guidance from the House and will assure that in the future there is some stricter adherence to the rules. The Chair apologizes if there are any members who feel offended by these particular matters. The Chair accepts some responsibility for the members' statements that went by my desk today without, perhaps, adequate scrutiny.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Statements by Ministers.

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to update the House on the work that has been completed so far on our review of the forest industry on the Island. We have just concluded a series of important public consultations on how best to grow and diversify the forest industry on the Island.

These consultations are part of our larger review and will feed into the Forest Industry Competitiveness and Strategy Study that a consultant will complete for us. The contract for that study will be awarded shortly.

The study will assess the current state and structure of the industry and provide a path forward on the demands and opportunities of, and is responsive to, the global economy.

Mr. Speaker, this study will assist in the formulation of policy that will guide the future development of the forest industry. A similar study has been completed for Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: The Strategic Plan to Develop Labrador's Secondary Manufacturing and Valued-Added Wood Products Industry was released earlier this month.

A key component of the Island study is the public consultation process that my parliamentary assistant, the Member for Trinity-Bay de Verde, led on my behalf. Six consultations were held across the Island, with opportunity as well for individuals to make written submissions.

Mr. Speaker, the forest industry is particularly important to rural parts of the Province, where this industry is based. This process enabled individuals and groups with an interest in the forest industry to express their views and opinions as we move forward with a plan for growing this industry.

We received presentations from individuals as well as representations from integrated sawmillers, the pulp and paper industry, the Newfoundland and Labrador Lumber Producers' Association, the Canadian Institute of Forestry, economic development associations, logging contractors, forest sector unions, environmental and wildlife organizations and outfitting camp operators.

Mr. Speaker, these presentations have provided us with a great deal of information from a great number of knowledgeable sources. Issues raised include the need to review current royalty rates, access to timber, wood scaling methods, value-added potential, and an early retirement program for older loggers. The key theme, however, was on the value of the industry to rural Newfoundland and Labrador and the need for those closest to the resource to work together to overcome the challenges facing the sector.

All verbal and written submissions will be compiled into a report that will be provided to the consulting firm undertaking the Forest Industry Competitiveness and Strategy Study.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to sharing the results of this study with my colleagues and the people of the Province once the work is completed.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the minister for an advance copy of the ministerial statement. I just noticed one thing there, the contract for the study will be awarded shortly. I hope it goes through public tender like it is supposed to and most contracts in the Province should do.

Mr. Speaker, the forest industry is very important in Newfoundland and Labrador. I know out my way, in Corner Brook, it is very important to the whole region. To rural Newfoundland it is very important, and for all different parts of the Province in rural Newfoundland it is very important.

Mr. Speaker, it is no more evident how important it is than in Stephenville. Here we had a commitment from the Premier that the mill would not close. Here we had a commitment from the Premier to the union. When he met with the union he said that he would expropriate the mill. Here is the mill union, on their own time and energy, went out and found a consultant, now trying to get $30,000 to bring down to do the study for the consultant -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. JOYCE: Thirty thousand dollars, I say to the minister, he should have met with them. Here it is, the government will not even go out and meet with them and give them $30,000, pretending to offer them $150,0000. You want to talk about helping out rural Newfoundland, a sawmill for all of Central Newfoundland for logging, it all affected Stephenville.

Here now, the Premier will not meet with them and here we have somebody coming out and saying how interested we are in the forestry program when the union out in Stephenville are still fighting - they sent us information this week - still fighting this week to try to get a meeting with the Premier and the minister, to try to get $30,000 to bring down a consultant to possibly open up the mill.

Once again, Mr. Speaker, here we see a government, during a polling period, sending out -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

MR. JOYCE: By leave, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Does the member have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No.

MR. SPEAKER: Leave has been denied.

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

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to thank the minister for the advance copy of her statement.

I am very pleased to see these plans that are being put in place. I am particularly pleased to see some thought being put into value-added manufacturing in Labrador. It is certainly better than taking lumber out of Labrador to go to a liner mill in Stephenville.

I would also like to say that I like the fact of the breadths of the people who made representation at the hearings, and I would encourage the minister to work with other ministers in related departments for an interdepartmental approach with regard to how the forestry industry interfaces with the environmental and wildlife industry as well as the outfitting camp operators. I think that we need a comprehensive approach to bring all of these industries -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has expired.

Further statements by ministers?

The hon. the Minister of Business.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O'BRIEN: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to provide an update on the red tape reduction initiative. In August 2005, we announced a plan to reduce red tape throughout government, setting a goal of reducing regulatory burden by 25 per cent over a three year period. This initiative is an effort to provide businesses and citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador more efficient access to government services and programs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. O'BRIEN: The red tape reduction initiative reflects our focus on implementing smart initiatives to foster a business-friendly climate and to increase efficiency for all residents of this Province, as promised in our Blueprint for the Future.

On October 2 of this year, I provided an update on the success of the red tape initiative. The activity up to June 30, 2006, showed that 16,910 regulatory requirements were removed from the system. That is 5.41 per cent of our objective to reduce regulatory burden by 25 per cent in the next three years.

Mr. Speaker, the results of the red tape initiative are already getting noticed by the business community. In August, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business presented an award to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, in recognition of our commitment to increased efficiency through the red tape reduction initiative. This tremendous achievement is the result of our commitment to enhance ease-of-use for our clients, individuals and businesses of this Province, and it reaffirms that we are headed in the right direction.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Grand Bank.

MS FOOTE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

It is interesting to see that he is providing an update on the red tape reduction initiative. He might want to talk to his colleague about the duct tape initiative.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, any time we can do something to ensure there is a reduction of rules and regulations to try and help business in this Province, particularly small business, then we should do that. What this government is doing is continuing a trend that governments before have done, and I recall that previous governments have taken on the same initiative.

I applaud the Member for Terra Nova, who I understand actually chaired the committee, for the work that he has done in the past on this particular initiative. What this government has to ensure does not happen again, of course, is that we see some of these rules and regulations that we make sure that are taken out of the system do not creep back in.

I applaud the government on this initiative which is keeping in line with what governments before have done. Again, I applaud the Member for Terra Nova for his hard work.

Thank you.

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

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I, too, again thank the minister for the advance copy of his statement.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is having difficulty hearing the hon. member. The hon. member has a limited amount of time, and I ask members for their co-operation.

The Chair recognizes the hon. the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, who will begin her statement now.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you again, Mr. Speaker.

I am very happy to see this kind of initiative. I am sure it is needed, and it is good to see it moving forward, but I would encourage the government to also look at red tape that ordinary citizens have to deal with as well, not just that business has to deal with.

I would hope that the same effort would go into seeing that the availability of services, especially under Human Resources, Labour and Employment, move as smoothly as things are wanted to move for the business sector.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Further statements by ministers?

Oral Questions.

Oral Questions

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. REID: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions are for the Premier, and again they concern giving gifts to his friends.

Mr. Speaker, in the late 1980s, the Mayor of Calgary at the time indicated that he did not care if Eastern Canadians froze to death in the dark. That mayor later went on to become Premier and, as we all know, Ralph Klein is about to retire later this year. This summer, at a Premiers' Conference held here in this Province, our Premier gave Ralph Klein and his wife sealskin fur coats valued at $8,000 as a retirement gift, I might add, Mr. Speaker.

Can the Premier tell us today what Ralph Klein or his wife did for this Province that would allow us or make us believe that we had to give $8,000 of taxpayers' money as a retirement gift?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, I cannot do enough or spend enough money here to help the sealing industry in this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: What this is, it is an opportunity to have the senior statesman in this country, a man who has been Premier of the wealthiest province in the country for thirteen years, whose wife was a champion against addictions in crystal meth and brought in the initiative, the crystal meth initiative that has gone right across the country, has also been part of the OxyContin initiatives, these two people are leaders in the country, and for us, as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, to give them an opportunity to proudly wear seal coats from the sealing industry in this Province is money well spent, and I would spend it again.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. REID: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have heard a lot of answers and non-answers in this House, but those are the lamest ones I have ever heard in sitting here in eleven years.

Mr. Speaker, we have hospital pharmacists looking for wage increases, we have out-migration at an alarming rate, we have schools that are full of mould, yet the Premier can spend our precious tax dollars so freely.

Can the Premier justify why he believed it to be acceptable to give $105,000 worth of gifts to the Premiers and their guests during this conference, including $35,000 worth of sweaters?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, if I may just expound, first of all, on the last question.

We have a sealing industry that is under siege and we have to do absolutely everything we can, nationally and internationally, to help that industry. It is an important industry to rural Newfoundland and Labrador and that is why I championed it on Larry King Live and took on the McCartneys on live international television, and we made a lot of ground there.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, in answer to the question as to why we gave these gifts to heads of provinces, heads of states in this country, whose support we need and we have for the Atlantic Accord, whose support we needed and we have for fallow field legislation, we were giving them rural Newfoundland and Labrador arts and crafts, sweaters knitted by Newfoundlanders for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Those gifts all came from various members of the arts council. We spent a significant amount of money in the arts council. We had a fundraiser the other night, we brought in the cultural and the arts community. We have invested heavily in the arts community and this is about promoting rural Newfoundland and Labrador. If you do not like that, I make no apologies.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. REID: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Let me get it straight, you gave Ralph the fur coats to support the sealing industry, you gave the sweaters to support the agriculture industry. Let's talk about some of the other ones, the entertainment - how about the entertainment expenses? During this three day conference the taxpayers of this Province spent $132,000 keeping thirteen Premiers entertained with music and comedy.

I ask the Premier: Do you consider this a priority in the Province, a priority that includes a $75,000 fee for a one-hour musical performance by one band?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, I find it very acceptable. I find it to be money well spent. I take my greatest pride, as Premier of our Province, in showcasing every single bit of talent and music and culture that we have in this Province. If I have an opportunity to showcase that culture and that music, not only to the Premiers and their spouses and their staffs, but to international media, national and international media, and we take a group like Great Big Sea, recognized internationally all over the world, and this government has invested in them, we take someone like Rick Mercer, who is a tremendous talent, who has a national audience, one of the biggest national audiences on television, and we invest in him, then we take a whole showcase of our talent at The Rooms and we pay for them to preform, by God, that is money well spent.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Sit down, boy.

MR. REID: I am not going to sit down, I say to the Minister of Finance.

He talks about how proud he is to spend this kind of money, when we have youth in this Province who cannot afford diabetic pumps because this government will not compensate them for it.

Mr. Speaker, it appears that the Premiers also had a very good time being wined and dined by the taxpayers of this Province. We have the agriculture and the sealing industry covered. Maybe we are going to cover off the wine industry and the alcohol industry next, are we?

Mr. Speaker, does the Premier believe that $100,000 is an acceptable expenditure on sightseeing tours that provided beverages of various sorts to the Premiers and their guests?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, there was a budget of about $1.25 million, basically, for this entire conference. You can rest assured that the cost to Alberta had to be significantly more than that. Albertans told us after it was over that we beat them to the punch. We basically put on a better performance for our Province than they did.

We took them - I am sorry, the Member for the Bay of Island obviously has a problem with the fact that we took the Premiers and their staff to the West Coast, so that we could showcase the Bay of Islands and Humber Valley and Corner Brook and Gros Morne and show off our tourism establishments. That is what we did. We took them there and then we took them back to the East Coast and we showcased the East Coast.

We showcased our talent, our music, we showcased our crafts and our manufacturing ability in rural Newfoundland, we showcased our land and we showcased our people because we gave them a good time and they talked about it all over this country.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair recognizes the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. REID: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just imagine, what the Premier just said. He said: We beat Alberta in the show that we put off. The richest province in the country being out done by spending money by the poorest one in the country. You should be ashamed of yourself, Premier, to make a comment like that; totally ashamed of yourself.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. REID: Now, Mr. Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair recognizes the Leader of the Opposition and asks him to put his question.

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, continuing on with gifts that are costing taxpayers money, significant amounts of money, let's talk about the fibre optic deal again today. Yesterday, in a briefing with officials from the Department of Innovation and Trade, I asked how it was determined that this deal required $15 million of taxpayers' money. The only answer that I got was that the companies required that amount from government. That was the only answer I got from officials from the minister's department.

Mr. Speaker, will someone over on that side of the House tell me, and tell the general public, why we are investing or why these rich multi-national companies need $15 million of the taxpayers' money from this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: First of all, Mr. Speaker, one of the first people out of the gate on this particular issue, before he realized he could make partisan, opportune, political hay on it, was the hon. Leader of the Opposition, went on Open Line he said, after the Aliant mishap and the fire, I understand that the 911 service went down as well. You know, it is almost like we were hit with a nuclear bomb. That is what he compared the incident to. I think that, obviously in this day and age, especially in the capital city region, we should have a backup in place for emergencies alone, if nothing else. That is what he said.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: We agree with what he said, but, Mr. Speaker, if I could just elaborate. The reason that $15 million is going in there is because this government, over the life of it, will save $400 million. It will create 1,650 person years of employment. It will immediately give us back $20 million in taxes. It will create $120 million in income. That does not count what it is going to do for health care, for education, for competitiveness, for business attraction and for cutting costs. That is why the $15 million was invested.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. REID: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I, like 99.999 per cent of the people in this Province listening to the Premier and his cronies, thought that there was only one fibre optic link in this Province, and so did the Premier if you read his words in one of the newspapers at the time.

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the officials do not know why we are spending this money. The Minister of Innovation does not know, because I have asked him. The Minister of Business does not know, because I have asked him why we need to contribute $15 million to these rich multi-national companies. But, Mr. Speaker, there is one individual in this House of Assembly who knows all about this deal and why we put in the $15 million. That is the previous Minister of Business, the Premier of the Province today.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier to rise and tell us what reason Dean MacDonald and Paul Hatcher, both members of your Business Advisory Board, gave you, when you were the Minister of Business, to convince you to spend $15 million of taxpayers' money.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Those gentlemen that he just named and, once again, tries to malign, as well as other people he has tried to malign, gave me no reasons because I knew the reasons. I have been in this business for twenty-five years. I know the value of it, and I have just told you the value.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: We have a situation where the College of the North Atlantic, Mr. Speaker, one of our learning institutions, is paying $4,000 a month for something for which they could be paying $25 a month. Canarie is using one-third of its cost, one-third of its entire national cost.

We have already talked about a piece of equipment that you could pay $6 for, they are paying $4,000 for it. The company Persona is paying $400,000 for something they should be paying $25,000 for.

The benefits are there. I can keep repeating them - they obviously do not want to listen - but he did not explain why he said we needed it. How can he stand up in this House now and say we do not need this system when he was on Open Line to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador saying we do? It makes no sense.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair recognizes the Member for Grand Bank.

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, if it is such a good deal, why is the Premier so adverse to opening it up to a public inquiry?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, this cable deal is like a piece of rotting meat; the longer it is out in the open, the more it smells.

The minister, or anyone else in government, has not provided believable answers to the questions we and the public have been asking.

I ask the Premier: To whom was this unsolicited proposal delivered when it came to government, and when did you personally become aware of it?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, the first time I became aware of this proposal was when a conversation occurred between myself and Dean MacDonald and he indicated to me that he was going to make an application to government for this proposal. He indicated at that time that he was making the application to the federal government for funding for this proposal. Subsequently to that, he asked for government support to get this money from the federal government. That was the contact.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Grand Bank.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS FOOTE: The second part of that, Premier, was: When did you become aware of it? Can you give us a date?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Absolutely not. I do not know the date. I have no idea of the date. I had a conversation with the gentleman. He indicated it was going to happen. I mean, I don't write down every single time someone has a conversation with me, but I do acknowledge a conversation. What is wrong with that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Grand Bank.

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, according to a government source, this proposal came to government while the Premier was Minister of Business. When he made himself Minister of Business, he did so because he wanted to be hands-on. Now he expects us to believe that a proposal of this magnitude would be brought to government and not to his attention by the source.

Premier, what was the involvement of you and your department with this proposal when you were the Minister of Business?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, whatever the hon. member is trying to imply, there is nothing untoward or anything improper about this process. This proposal was submitted to INTRD. It was not submitted to the Department of Business. It did not go through the Department of Business; it went through Innovation, Trade and Rural Development. That is exactly where it went, and that is the normal process.

Of course, the hon. member opposite is a former minister and she knows that, but she is still trying to imply impropriety and something wrong with this, and still trying to put a slur on this and talk about a public inquiry. I mean, where does that go? Do we now go back and start to review every single business transaction that has ever happened with this government?

The Member for Grand Falls-Buchans, her brother does business with this government all the time, a very reputable business person, and when he and his companies come with a proposal we take them in good faith and we deal with them in the normal course. If we have to bring him in to a public inquiry or an independent inquiry, or anybody else, any other people who do business with government - what does she say about when she was in government and the Apollogate or Country Ribbongate? You are so cute to use the term cablegate, let's talk about some of the other transactions that (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair asks members putting the questions and members giving answers to keep your answers to approximately a minute.

The Chair recognizes the Member for Grand Bank.

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, the reality of it is that there is a perception of conflict and, if the Premier is so adamant that there is no conflict, why not open this up to public scrutiny?

Mr. Speaker, it is a fact that the Premier was also Minister of Business when this deal was considered by government. As Minister of Business, he must have known that such approval of funds would break the department's policy of not putting government money into companies that compete and take business away from existing companies.

Why, Premier, did you and your government ignore policy and agree to put $15 million of taxpayers' money into this consortium made up of friends, board appointees and former business associates?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, first of all, with respect to an inquiry, the public need to understand very clearly here that this government has openly and accountably and transparently said that the Auditor General can look at this, and should look at this, and will look at this. We have placed the faith of this House of Assembly in his activities, his scrutiny, his job, and what he does.

There is also obviously no objection whatsoever to the Registrar of Lobbyists also looking at the propriety of this transaction, because there is nothing wrong and nothing negative has been done.

With regard to why this particular money has been spent: $15 million has been spent because it will save the people of Newfoundland and Labrador $400 million. It has been spent because this is a truly rural company. It will bring opportunity into rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

I just want to read you an e-mail that was sent to me from a gentleman in rural Newfoundland today. This is very important, because this is the impact it has on rural communities. I have -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Could I just finish up, then, Mr. Speaker? I won't read (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair acknowledges that the hon. the Premier has already spent about a minute and ten seconds, and under our routine I would prefer if we could now go to the Member for Grand Bank again.

MS FOOTE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I, too, could bring in e-mails from rural Newfoundland questioning this expenditure of money when their needs are so great out in our Province today.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of ITRD claims that there were only eight meetings over eighteen months, the length of time the proposal was in the system. Are we really expected to believe that a company comes forward with a notional unsolicited proposal, has eight meetings, and comes out the other end with $15 million?

On Monday, this same minister could not tell me who he had met with, but the following day he gave me a list of meetings he had - including himself - which he did not know, obviously, on Monday he had a meeting.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS FOOTE: I ask the minister: When did you become aware that this project was approved?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Mr. Speaker, what I would like to know is whether the Member for Fortune Bay-Cape la Hune or the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile has had any interest in this particular project. Do you see the benefits of the fact that we are going to bring fibre optic into your community? We are going to bring it into Ramea, which is part of your district, down in the Burgeo, Ramea area. It is going to go across into Harbour Breton. It is going to go into Marystown. It is part of a dedicated revival that we are trying to do for the South Coast of this Province, for rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: If you had to ask two years ago what the future of Belleoram was people might have been concerned, but now we have a thriving aquaculture industry started in Belleoram. Hopefully, the brother of the Member for Grand Falls-Buchans will have a great project in Belleoram and we will support that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: We are trying to revive Newfoundland and Labrador and you are getting up on the one side and speaking out of one side of your mouth and saying we are doing nothing, and when we try to do something, you criticize it. Get your act together!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

What a sham! What a sham! I have been up in this House with petitions for two days, asking for a washroom for the ferry service between Burgeo and Ramea, and this Premier gets up and talks about $15 million and what it is going to do for Burgeo. Look after some of the basic needs first.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. PARSONS: My question is for the ever public minister, a very straightforward question to the Minister of Industry -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: Innovation, whatever you want to call him.

AN HON. MEMBER: Duct tape.

MR. PARSONS: Duct tape, whatever.

Minister, a very straightforward question, nothing political about it: You mentioned on an Open Line show a couple of weeks ago, within the past two weeks, you, in fact, read on the Randy Simms Open Line show, VOCM, in the morning, the detailed MC from Cabinet where this decision was made. I assume, the fact that you read it over the public airwaves, you should have no objection to actually tabling it in this House today, what you read.

Would you now agree to table what you read, that MC, in the House today?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, let me say this, I did read the MC over the airwaves. I did find out, subsequently, that I was not allowed to do that, but in the interest of trying to be as open and accountable as possible and to lay out to people what we had committed to do and what we will do when the legal text is finalized, I did that, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, as I understand it, the rules stipulate that MCs are not allowed to be released. OCs are allowed to be released. So, Mr. Speaker, no, I am not prepared to table it because I am not allowed to do it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Now, there is a minister who did not know on Monday who he met with and when he met with them. He comes back Tuesday and tells us: Oh, yes, I recall now who I met with. Oh, yes, I met with them. I actually forgot that.

Here is a minister who gets up today and says, I never checked to see if I was allowed to do that, but he bragged on the Open Line show that here we are the most open and accountable government, reading an MC.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. PARSONS: If you are so flashy, Mr. Minister, and so open and accountable -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I do not believe that the House was able to hear the member put his question. Could he put the question again, please?

MR. PARSONS: A very simple question, Mr. Speaker, a very simple question.

This open and accountable government - and I am pleased that this is open and televised and we have media here because we see the farcical attitude here - get on the open airways -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The member is given extra time to put the question. I ask him to do it immediately.

MR. PARSONS: They will not show it. They have not showed it. He said he will not. That is the reason, Mr. Speaker, they also want the Auditor General involved, because they know the Auditor General will not get it either. I challenge them to be forthright and have the guts to do it.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I can only assume that we are in debate because he did not ask a question yet.

The fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, speaking of open and accountable, if he wants the MC, go get the transcript from the radio station.

Mr. Speaker, he can sit down and wait. He had his chance. He can sit down and wait until I am finished. If he wants to find out what people think of this, listen to what Harry Tucker had to say, the Senior Enterprise Strategy Advisor for Microsoft Consulting Services, New York. There are many knowledge or data services, oriented companies and sectors -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TAYLOR: Yes. Why don't you pay attention? Maybe when you get your next briefing, Mr. Speaker, we will bring the debate down low enough so that you can -

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader, time for a brief question.

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, maybe we will simplify things because it is quite obvious that we are not going to get anything out of the minister over there on a forthright basis. Maybe he could at least tell us verbally then - can he tell us verbally the date when the decision was made by Cabinet? Now, that is pretty simple. That is not revealing any paperwork. Can you tell us the date that Cabinet made its decision, please, Minister?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, as my memory serves me, it was October 26. That was the date. October 26, 2006, Mr. Speaker, when it took place.

Now, to go back to revisit a little bit of the ground that is here because the people on the opposite side -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Under our rules, we now are at twenty-six minutes, and I would have to draw the House's attention to the fact that our rules say that at this stage I must go the Member of the New Democratic Party.

The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. R. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources.

Yesterday, Consolidated Thompson, owner of the Bloom Lake iron ore deposit near Labrador West, announced they entered into an exclusivity agreement with the owners of Wabush Mines until January 12 to complete a due diligence review of Wabush Mines's assets. Obviously, while this announcement has the potential to be very positive for the area, many questions need to be asked.

Could the minister inform us if she has had any discussions with either Wabush Mines or Consolidated, and, if so, what the results of these discussions may have been?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we are very pleased to see here a potential development that can hold great benefit for Western Labrador, and particularly Wabush. However, we need to have a lot more information, at this point in time, as to what the development plans are. We have already had a discussion with Wabush Mines and I am meeting tomorrow morning with Consolidated Thompson to find out what their development plans are in this area.

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

MR. R. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the minister if she would ensure that if this proposed deal goes through, that the operating company, Consolidated, would have to continue to mine the current deposits at Wabush, in addition to the 5 million to 7 million tons per year from Bloom Lake, and that the pension plan and other benefits for workers will be protected. In addition to that, will the minister make a commitment to keep up to date and share any information with the local union involved and the community as a whole?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Our government will be very involved in monitoring this situation. We will ensure that whatever happens here happens for the best interests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. I have already been in contact with Mr. Skinner. I will keep in close contact with Mr. Skinner. I will keep in close contact with all of the interested parties in the Wabush area and we will continue our discussions with Consolidated Thompson and with Wabush Mines.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. R. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Given the past history of development in Labrador, some of which we have not been too pleased with over the years, will the minister also make a commitment, along with the Minister of Employment and Labour, that the job opportunities that will be created as a result of this development will first and foremost flow to residents of Labrador?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, we are very aware of all of these issues, and again I will reiterate that we will be very, very vigilant and ensure that the best interests of the people of this Province are protected when we are talking about resource development.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time for Question Period has expired.

Colleagues, before we proceed further, the Chair would like to acknowledge a former member, Mayor Bill Hogan, from the Town of Placentia, and the Town Manager, Mr. Ed O'Keefe, who are in the Speaker's gallery. I welcome them to our House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Presenting Reports by Standing and Select Committees.

Tabling of Documents.

Tabling of Documents

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Pursuant to section 5 of the Local Authority Guarantee Act, 2005, I wish to table the attached list of guarantees provided to local governments to enable them to arrange interim financing for capital projects. This annual report includes those loan guarantees that were issued between November 22, 2005 and November 17, 2006.

Further, Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the following: the Newfoundland and Labrador Municipal Financing Corporation statement; the Newfoundland and Labrador Industrial Development Corporation; and the Newfoundland and Labrador Government Sinking Fund.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Further tabling of documents?

Notices of Motion.

Notices of Motion

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

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

I give notice that I will ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, An Act To Remove Anomalies And Errors In The Statute Law. (Bill 49)

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I give notice, as per Standing Order 11, that the House not adjourn at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, and further that it not adjourn at 10:00 p.m. on Monday.

MR. SPEAKER: Further notices of motion?

Answers to Question for which Notice has been Given.

Petitions.

Petitions

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

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate an opportunity to present this petition on behalf of the people of Ramea and Burgeo who use the ferry service and who need a washroom.

We have had mention here about fibre optics and everything else going into the South Coast, and if that all happens that is fine stuff. Anything that is going to help rural Newfoundland, God knows we need it employment-wise and anything else - money expended, restaurants and hotels. Whatever we can get to go down on the South Coast we should have, but what we need before we can even expect to properly utilize all of that is a washroom.

I am pleased to see that I spoke about this here Monday and Tuesday, and I am pleased to say - and I thank the Minister of Transportation and Works, and I say this publicly now because I realize it is being televised and the people in Ramea and Burgeo will hear it - that the Minister of Transportation and Works indicated to me yesterday, after the petition, that he will indeed instruct his officials to immediately investigate this matter, and hopefully we can have something done. Even in the short-term, I say to the minister, if it is a porta-potty or two - even if we can get a porta-potty or two for now - so that we can get rid of this health debacle that we have, when you have people who have to get out of the their vehicles and crawl amongst the rocks and behind sheds in order to use the washroom. It is just totally unacceptable.

I appreciate the minister approaching me. I just let the people know, via the public airwaves, that the minister has given those instruction to his persons, and hopefully we will see porta-potties - and, by the way, it not only on the Burgeo side; because, given our big tourist industry, of course, we have people over in Ramea who are waiting for the ferry to come back and it is nice if they had a place to go as well. So it is, I think, a decency issue here we are dealing with, and I appreciate the fact that the minister is going to do that.

I would hope, even before the House resumes sitting again on Monday, we could have a couple of porta-potties. This is something on which we don't need a big consulting study done. We don't need any big investigation done. I am sure we don't have to go - I will even agree in this case that this would be an acceptable case where you would not go to public tendering and don't call for a Request for Proposals. We just need a couple of porta-potties and everybody will be okay.

I pray, along with the people of Burgeo and Ramea, we will indeed get something done in the immediate future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Orders of the Day.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If I could, with leave of the House, move first reading on a bill on which notice was given today so we can move to get it printed and circulated. It is Bill 49, An Act To Remove Anomalies And Errors In The Statute Law, for first reading.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General shall have leave to introduce a bill entitled, An Act To Amend The -

The Chair did not get the full title. I am wondering if the Table could bring me the script.

It is moved and seconded that the hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General shall have leave to introduce a bill entitled, An Act To Remove Anomalies And Errors In The Statute Law. (Bill 49)

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion that the minister shall have leave to introduce said bill?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay'.

Motion carried.

On motion, the hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Remove Anomalies And Errors In The Statute Law," carried. (Bill 49)

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the bill be now read a first time.

Is it the pleasure of the House that Bill 49, An Act To Remove Anomalies And Errors In The Statute Law, shall now be read a first time?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay'.

Motion carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Remove Anomalies And Errors In The Statute Law. (Bill 49)

MR. SPEAKER: Bill 49, An Act To Remove Anomalies And Errors In The Statute Law, has now been read a first time.

When shall the said bill be read a second time?

MR. SULLIVAN: On tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: On tomorrow.

On motion, Bill 49 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to consider Bill 23 and Bill 43.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to consider Bill 23 and Bill 43, and that I do now leave the Chair.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay'.

Motion carried.

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

Committee of the Whole

CHAIR (Fitzgerald): Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Bill 23, Order 2.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Committee is ready to hear debate on Bill 23 -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

I ask hon. members for their co-operation. The Committee is about ready to hear debate and the Chair cannot hear what members are about to say, or even what members are saying right now. If you would be kind enough to kindly refrain from shouting across the House and take your conversations outside, the Committee would appreciate it.

Bill 23, An Act To Establish A Health Research Ethics Authority For The Province.

CLERK: Clauses 1 to 4.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

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

I just wanted to say a couple of words very quickly on this particular bill, and more to read into the record. I do have a couple of amendments here that were proposed by the Leader of the NDP, and they are in the official form, so I will read those into the record when we get to those, I say to the Chair.

I also want to read into the record again a suggestion by the Leader of the NDP. We understand that we cannot change the explanatory note of a bill, but just to have this read into the record. Again, I thank the Leader of the NDP for her valuable input and the co-operation that we have received from her on this particular bill.

Mr. Chair, just to have read into the record: The Health Research Ethics Authority will be charged with the general supervision of all health research involving human subjects conducted in the Province, assuring that all research is carried out with respect for individuals and communities and carried out for their good, both in the present and in the future, and free and informed consent lies at the heart of ethical research involving human subjects in the project. As used in this policy, the process of free and informed consent refers to the dialogue, information sharing and general process through which perspective subjects choose to participate in research involving themselves.

Having said that, Mr. Chair, I thank all members for their involvement in this bill, and in particular the Leader of the NDP.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi and the Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairperson.

I really thank the minister for what he has just done, and I am very pleased with the wording that he has read into the record. I have to say, though, I am disappointed that we were not able to have that wording and that important meaning put into the body of the bill.

I understand the legality of it. If we were to put it into the explanatory note - one does not vote on the explanatory note when voting on the bill, therefore there is no way to make changes to the explanatory note once the bill has come to us. I had hoped that there would be a way to put some kind of a statement of principles into the bill.

I was told by officials from the ministry that they spoke to the legal people and, in actual fact, one does not put principle statements into bills. I have to say, I was disappointed with that answer because I am aware of bills - for example, bills on sustainable development, bills on environmental assessment. There are bills that I am aware of where you do have statements of principle.

While it has been read publicly, and I know the minister agrees with the intent that he has read and agrees with the values that I was concerned about, I still am disappointed that there was not a way in which we could have had those principles and those sentiments entered into the bill. I would like to put on the record my concern, that as a House we look at that whole issue of whether or not bills can have statements of principle or values in the body of a bill.

Thank you.

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I am just going to have a few words with regard to this bill, and certainly the amendments that the minister put forward on the last sitting of the House I think, or on Tuesday I believe it was - some amendments to this bill. Those amendments, of course, came about because the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi felt that a bill of this nature should have a public information component to it to ensure that the people out there in the Province know what their rights are and their privileges are.

What Bill 23 does, it is an ethical bill, Mr. Chair, that looks at any - or I guess the terms of ethics that will be around any kind of research that is done with regard to humans and genetics in the Province. Certainly, that is necessary because while we have a great deal of that work occurring right now within our health care system and within the university, looking at various diseases and so on, we also have a great deal of it being done by private companies out there in the Province. Some very good pieces of research, I might add, and some very good work that is being carried out throughout various communities on various diseases.

It is important that they have a proper code of ethics and legislation to guide them in that work but it is also equally important to ensure that people know what their rights are, that they have a choice and that they know the information they are providing to these companies or to these researchers is going to be guarded, it is going to be in privacy, and that there is not a violation of that, and if there is a violation, what their rights are under the particular act for any kind of recourse that they may want. Mr. Chair, ethics in anything is very important and I understand that one of the pieces to this motion that the member wanted to put forward and add to the Explanatory Note of the bill could not be done and the minister did read it into the record, but we all know that words are just that, if they are not part of legislation or enacted in law. You can get up and read whatever words you want into Hansard, make all the speeches that you want in the Legislature, but if it does not become law, it does not have any real practice out there in terms of addressing what the problem or the need is. I think it is important to point that out because quite often we have heard many members in this Legislature at one point stand and take a view on a particular issue, but in subsequent years change that particular view.

I am going to quote something from the Minister of Finance and the current Government House Leader, because it was only back in 1999 where he made comments and I think this demonstrates the point I am trying to make very effectively. That is: Just because it is spoken, just because it is added, does not mean it is law and it does not mean it is enacted. Back in 1999, when there were some issues around pharmacists in the Province and a lot of the pharmacists were resigning from various positions within the hospital and so on, the Minister of Finance currently was very distressed over this, Mr. Speaker, and, in fact, rose in his seat many times in this House of Assembly in December of that year to question the current Minister of Health.

I want to read to you what he said. He said: For the past several years in St. John's alone there has never been a time when there has been a fully trained complement of pharmacists in our hospitals. There have been numerous pharmacist vacancies all over the Province. Many have been advertised, and for some not even one applicant has applied. I ask the minister: What is being done to address the serious shortage of hospital pharmacists?

It was a big concern to him, Mr. Chair. In fact, he was so concerned that he could not believe that there were pharmacists working in this Province making anywhere from $12,000 to $20,000 less than what they would receive in one of our neighboring provinces in Atlantic Canada.

Mr. Chair, he claimed, and I quote this: I want to ask the minister - this is what he said - will she ensure that this growing and very serious problem we are having with hospital pharmacists is resolved by paying a competitive salary like is being done in some other medical specialist areas?

Now, Mr. Chair, what he was asking in 1999 - and it is all recorded in Hansard, it is all out there - was that pharmacists be given a one-off agreement, that they be looked at separately, that this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed in the Province. The same member, the same minister, two weeks ago was out there in the media saying: We don't do one-off deals. We are not going to do a one-off deal with the pharmacists.

Mr. Chair, by getting up and reading something in the Hansard or standing up and asking a question in the Legislature, it does not mean that it would be enacted up on, followed through on, fulfilled in anyway, and lest of all, legislated, Mr. Chair. I want to make that point because we have seen it, not only on this occasion from the current Minister of Finance and Government House Leader regarding pharmacists, but we have seen it on other issues as well. More recently we have seen it on pharmacists, whereby in 1999 he had a view and a perspective that because of the shortage they need to be paid more money, they need to be on an even keel with our neighboring provinces such as New Brunswick and PEI and Nova Scotia, and also making the point, Mr. Chair, that if a one-off deal is required to do that then it should be done. Well, today he is the Minister of Finance, controls the books of the Province, knows that they can afford to deal with the desperate situation that is out there, but chooses not to for other reasons.

I say to the minister: I am sure you are reading that into the Hansard in good faith and I am sure that you are adding it to the discussion in good faith, but the reality is that it does not have any impact upon this law once it becomes enacted.

Now, Mr. Chair, the Code of Ethics, I think, as I was saying earlier, is important and it needs to be done. I know of several cases I talked about the other day in debate of research that is being carried out around the Province. I know, just in my own district alone, which we deal through the hospital in St. Anthony, most of the patients, there is a program going on there and I think it is probably even overseen by Pat Parfrey here in St. Johns's. This piece of work being done through the Grenfell Labrador health board out of St. Anthony is looking at a number of bowel related diseases in families. It is all about genetics, of course. We have, I think, anywhere from sixty to 100 people, maybe more, who are enroled as part of that program and have been for the last couple of years. All the information, all the data that is collected on them on a regular basis, Mr. Chair, is being used in this particular research.

I certainly would hope, and I know that they would hope and have a lot of comfort in knowing, that the information they are providing for this valuable research is going to be protected, kept in the uttermost confidence, Mr. Chairman, and that there will be no violation of their human rights or violations of their privacy. That is very important.

Mr. Chairman, I do not have any problems with this bill. I think that medical research these days is taken very seriously, and I certainly see the benefits of doing any kind of medical research or genetic research if one, of course, is to stay on top of any kind of cures, remedies and treatments that can be used in all of these diseases, and it is always beneficial to challenge the past effectiveness of research. I think everybody would agree with that, basically to ensure that it is still effective, that it is still accurate, and that it is still efficient in the kind of treatments that are being used.

I think, in this Province, what we have seen is some very good quality research from a lot of physicians. Right now, there is a fair amount of work being done around arthritis. I know that has been a very significant piece of work that has been undertaken by some prominent physicians in our Province. I also know that there has been a lot of research around Parkinson's disease. I actually know individuals who participated in that research and feel that, because of their participation, they have been able to slow down, I guess would be a word I could use, the progression of their disease. They feel that they have been given a better quality of life for a longer period of time because of that.

Mr. Chairman, I think it is all of our responsibility to ensure that we have ethical standards that promote, respect and protect the health of all individuals and their rights in our society. I certainly hope that this bill goes far enough in terms of endeavoring to do that.

I think that the addition of the public relations piece, in terms of the public knowing what their rights are under this particular law, is very important, and know that if they do participate that they will be doing so knowing that their privacy is protected and, if not, that there is a recourse for them to have that dealt with.

That will conclude my comments.

Thank you.

CHAIR: Order, please!

Bill 23 consists of thirty clauses. If it is okay with the Committee, what we will do - the Table has two amendments: one for clause 5 and one for clause 9 - we will call the clauses inclusive and receive debate and the amendments on the two clauses that the Chair has identified.

A bill, "An Act To Establish A Health Research Ethics Authority For The Province." (Bill 23)

CLERK: Clauses 1 to 4.

CHAIR: Shall clauses 1 to 4 carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Clauses 1 to 4 inclusive are carried.

On motion, clauses 1 through 4 carried.

CLERK: Clause 5.

CHAIR: Shall clause 5 carry?

The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

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

On clause 5, we are looking to renumber clause 5 as subclause 5(1) and the following subclause be added immediately after it as clause 5(2), "The authority shall have responsibility to enhance public awareness of the ethical dimension of health research involving human subjects."

CHAIR: It is moved by the hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services that clause 5 be amended.

The Chair rules that the amendment is in order, and he will read the amendment again into the record.

"Clause 5 of the Bill is renumbered as subclause 5(1) and the following subclause is added immediately after it: (2) The authority shall have responsibility to enhance public awareness of the ethical dimension of health research involving human subjects."

Is it the pleasure of the Committee to adopt the said amendment to clause 5?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Amendment carried.

On motion, amendment carried.

CHAIR: Is it the pleasure of the Committee to adopt clause 5 as amended?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Clause 5, as amended, carried.

On motion, clause 5, as amended, carried.

CLERK: Clauses 6 to 8.

CHAIR: Shall clauses 6 to 8 inclusive carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, clauses 6 through 8 carried.

CLERK: Clause 9.

CHAIR: Shall clause 9 carry?

The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

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

On clause 9, subclause 9(3) of the bill is deleted and the following substituted as clause 9(3), "The authority shall, within 2 business days of its receipt, refer an application made to it under subsection (2) to the research ethics board or a research ethics body approved by the authority under section 8."

CHAIR: It is moved by the Minister of Health and Community Services that clause 9 be amended.

The amendment would read, "Subclause 9(3) of the Bill is deleted and the following substituted: (3) The authority shall, within 2 business days of its receipt, refer an application made to it under subsection (2) to the research ethics board or a research ethics body approved by the authority under section 8."

The Chair rules that this amendment is in order.

Is it the pleasure of the Committee to adopt the said amendment to clause 9?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, amendment carried.

CHAIR: Is it the pleasure of the Committee to adopt clause 9 as amended?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Clause 9 is carried with amendment.

On motion, clause 9, as amended, carried.

CLERK: Clauses 10 to 30.

CHAIR: Shall clauses 10 to 30 carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Clauses 10 to 30 are carried.

On motion, clauses 10 through 30 carried.

CLERK: Be it enacted by the Lieutenant-Governor and House of Assembly in Legislative Session convened as follows.

CHAIR: Shall the enacting clause carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

The enacting clause is carried.

On motion, enacting clause carried.

CLERK: An Act To Establish A Health Research Ethics Authority For The Province.

CHAIR: Shall the title carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

The title is carried.

On motion, title carried.

CHAIR: Shall I report Bill 23, An Act To Establish A Health Research Ethics Authority For The Province, carried with amendment?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Bill 23, with amendment, is carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill with amendment, carried.

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I now call Bill 43, the Vital Statistics Act.

CHAIR: The Committee is ready to receive debate on Bill 43, An Act To Amend The Vital Statistics Act.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Vital Statistics Act." (Bill 43)

CLERK: Clause 1.

CHAIR: Clause 1.

Shall clause 1 carry?

The hon. the Member for Carbonear-Harbour Grace.

MR. SWEENEY: Mr. Chairman, I would just like to say a few words.

I asked the minister, the day the bill was introduced, I think it was on Tuesday, a couple of questions. I have not received an answer and I was hoping that I would receive those answers.

I know we spoke about fees, and I referred to this government as the government that taxed people from the cradle to the grave. I am just concerned whether or not the additional fees that would be paid to the officers who are issuing these certificates in the various localities, where that extra revenue would come from. I am just wondering, would that be passed on to the consumer, as was apt to happen in the past, any changes in the fee structure and everything. Because the minister in her comments, before she sat down, I thought I heard her say that the fee was going to change, or the rate of fee was going to change from $20 to $50. I am just curious as to where that extra $30 is coming from.

I do know the difference, by the way, that this a fee that is being issued to a person in the local community who issues a record to the provincial government of a birth or a death. After so many are issued, then there is a very small percentage of that money sent out to that officer who is out there in the community. The correct title is the Registering Officer, which, in all likelihood, I think would be a member of the clergy, of whichever denomination.

I am just wondering, if there is going to be an increase in fees to the ordinary consumer when they present themselves at the Department of Vital Statistics or at Government Services where you go now to get you birth certificate or you have to go and get your death certificate. Well obviously the person who has died is not going to get their own death certificate, but their spouse or their loved one would be able to purchase their death certificate. Would they expect now an increase in cost in that particular field?

I have to say, I was really surprised when this government raised or put a fee on the death certificate, because the death certificate, I guess since Confederation, was free. When this government, a few years ago in its attempt to find extra revenue, decided to charge an extra $25 - now over the past three years I have asked that these fees be reduced from time to time, and the only fee, I think, that is being reduced - and that was in the last year's Budget - was the polar bear licence. That was dropped, I think, from $133 or $135 down to $105. I can safely say, Mr. Chair, that did not have any impact on anybody in my district, I can tell you that. As a matter of fact, if I had known that the Premier was in the hunt, I should say, for sealskin jackets, I probably would have advised some of my constituents out there who need a few dollars - and I know many of them who would not mind having an extra dollar - to tell them to get some polar bear licences and see if they could avail of the Premier, and see if he would buy a couple of jackets off them made out of our great polar bear hide. It would be a wonderful fur coat.

As a matter of fact, I think Premier Klein would look wonderful with a big white fur coat, floor length. As a matter of fact, he could even leave the head attached for a hood. I think that would be very fitting for a man who said that, when he was Mayor of Calgary: Let the crowd down East freeze to death. I would certainly like to -

AN HON. MEMBER: Freeze to death in the dark.

MR. SWEENEY: Freeze to death in the dark, yes. Thank you, colleague.

Mr. Chairman, this bill, as I see it, could end up being another increase in fees to the consumer. I think, if we are going to try to outdo Alberta by an extra $700,000, we should try to outdo Alberta in its fees. The cost of licencing a vehicle in Alberta is certainly not $180 a year. The cost of getting a death certificate in Alberta is not $25. If we are going to outdo our wealthier brothers on the mainland, let's do it in a way that is going to benefit our people.

I think, since we are talking about this and looking at all the fees that are here, there are some-160 fees, in excess of 160 fees, which hit an increase. I do not want to see a fee like the death certificate increased and putting an additional cost onto the people of our fair Province here. I do not think we want to outdo Alberta in that category. As a matter of fact, I do not think they wanted to outdo Alberta in giving out fur coats either. Whatever the case might be, I am glad the Premiers and everyone else who came to the Province, had a great time, and I hope it was not at the expense of increased fees.

Mr. Chair, I would like to get an answer to that question, whether or not the extra costs of the fees going to the registering officer in a particular locality, would that be passed on to the consumer?

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Business.

MR. O'BRIEN: I just want to respond to the hon. member's remarks in regards to fees. He, I think, referred to the only fee that was reduced or eliminated in last year's 2006 Budget was the polar bear fee. Well, thirty-four fees were reduced or eliminated in Budget 2006 and put $1.5 million back into the hands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and businesses. I would not be able to name them but I certainly can. I will get the information for you in regards to those thirty-four fees, I say to the hon. member. The significant piece is, that thirty-four fees were reduced or eliminated. Also the amount of money - I think the payments will be, in regards to this piece, made at a rate of $50 per 100 units or fifty cents each, which is up from $20 per 100 units or twenty cents each.

Certainly, this is a good bill. It is consistent with normal government practices for many other fees. I see it as a necessary piece, to have consistency within government and consistency within legislation. I just wanted to clarify, in regards to fees in general, that the 2006 Budget saw fit to put $1.5 million back into the hands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and I think that is a significant number, Mr. Chair.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Carbonear-Harbour Grace.

MR. SWEENEY: I thank the Minister of Business. It is nice to see him on his feet responding to my question. I still do not think that he answered my question: Would that fee be increased to reflect the cost of the extra $50, or the extra $30 of the payment to the returning officers?

Anyway, it is interesting to note that the $1.5 million was just enough to cover the cost of the little party that the premiers had when they were here visiting in the Province. It is very interesting to know. I do not think they were charged any fees to participate in any of the proceedings.

MR. HEDDERSON: (Inaudible).

MR. SWEENEY: It brought a lot of money here that was already here, I say to the Minister of Tourism. I know one thing it brought, it made a lot of sheep cold for this winter with the number of sweaters that were handed out here, I tell you that.

I say to the Minister of Tourism, it is good to see the arts community getting something from this government because I can certainly tell you, they had to wait long enough until they put the pressure on this government to get anything from them; I can tell you that.

Mr. Chair, with the cackle that is happening from the other side -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SWEENEY: Oh, that is the minister of rural development over there, the former Mayor of Mount Pearl, the fellow who knows all about rural development.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair has recognized the Member for Carbonear-Harbour Grace.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

I ask members to restrain themselves. If they want conversations, take them to the outside.

The hon. the Member for Carbonear-Harbour Grace.

MR. SWEENEY: Mr. Chair, I recognize your struggle to get respect for your position here in this hon. House.

Mr. Chair, I still have not received an answer, and I know full well that the Minister of Business says that the money goes into general revenue. I know all about that. I know how all that stuff works. What I am wondering is, if it is the intent of this government now that if there is money going into general revenue that the extra $30 per 100 licences or per 100 documents is also going to be charged to general revenue, it is going to be paid out from there. What I am asking is: Do we anticipate a fee, an increase in fees at Vital Statistics, to cover that extra cost? I am sure that if a government is going to bring itself in line with other departments, or a department is going to bring itself in line with other departments, they should have a plan in place. The minister said on Tuesday that she was going to increase the fees to $50 per 100 documents, which again is a pittance for all of the work that has to go into that and the amount of people coming and going to the various clergies' houses and offices trying to get that information.

That is the question I am trying to ask, Mr. Chair: Will there be an increase in that fee at the department of Vital Statistics? Will those fees increase?

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: Shall clause 1 carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Clause 1 is carried.

On motion, clause 1 carried.

CLERK: Be it enacted by the Lieutenant Governor and House of Assembly in legislative session convened as follows.

CHAIR: Shall the enacting clause carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

The enacting clause is carried.

On motion, enacting clause carried.

CLERK: An Act To Amend The Vital Statistics Act.

CHAIR: Shall the title carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

The title is carried.

On motion, title carried.

CHAIR: Shall I report Bill 43, An Act To Amend The Vital Statistics Act, carried without amendment?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Bill 43 is carried without amendment.

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

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I move that the committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

CHAIR: The motion is that the committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

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

MR. SPEAKER (H. Hodder): The hon. the Member for Bonavista South and Deputy Speaker.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred and have directed me to report Bill 23 carried with amendments, and Bill 43 carried without amendments, and ask leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair will first deal with Bill 43.

The Chairperson of Committee of the Whole reports that the Committee have considered the matters to them referred and have directed him to report that Bill 43, An Act To Amend The Vital Statistics Act, has been passed without amendment.

When shall this report be received?

MR. SULLIVAN: Presently.

MR. SPEAKER: Presently.

When shall bill 43 be read a third time?

MR. SULLIVAN: Presently.

MR. SPEAKER: Presently.

On motion, report received and adopted, bill ordered read a third time presently, by leave.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair will now call the motion relative to bill 23.

The Chairperson of Committee of the Whole reports that the Committee have considered the matters to them referred and have directed him to report that Bill 23, An Act To Establish A Health Research Ethics Authority For The Province, has been passed with amendments.

When shall this report be received?

MR. SULLIVAN: Presently.

MR. SPEAKER: Presently.

It is moved and seconded that the said amendments be now read a first time.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

CLERK: First reading of amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the said amendments be now read a second time?

Is it the pleasure of the House that the said amendments to Bill 23 be read a second time?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

CLERK: Second reading of amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: When shall Bill 23, An Act To Establish A Health Research Ethics Authority For The Province, be read a third time?

MR. SULLIVAN: Presently.

MR. SPEAKER: Presently.

On motion, amendments read a first and second time, bill ordered read a third time presently, by leave.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I now move third reading of Bill 43, An Act To Amend The Vital Statistics Act.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that Bill 43, An Act To Amend The Vital Statistics Act, be now read a third time.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt a motion that Bill 43 be read a third time?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay'.

The motion is carried.

CLERK: An Act To Amend The Vital Statistics Act. (Bill 43)

MR. SPEAKER: Bill 43, An Act To Amend The Vital Statistics Act, has now been read a third time and it is ordered that the bill do pass and its title be as on the Order Paper.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Vital Statistics Act," read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 43)

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I move third reading of Bill 23, An Act To Establish A Health Research Ethics Authority For The Province.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that Bill 23, An Act To Establish A Health Research Ethics Authority For The Province, be now read a third time.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion that Bill 23 be read a third time?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay'.

The motion is carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Establish A Health Research Ethics Authority For The Province. (Bill 23)

MR. SPEAKER: Bill 23, An Act To Establish A Health Research Ethics Authority For The Province has now been read a third time, and it is ordered that the bill do pass and its title be as on the Order Paper.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Establish A Health Research Ethics Authority For The Province," read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill23)

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I now move for second reading of Bill 41, An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act And The City Of Mount Pearl Act.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded the Bill 41, An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act And The City Of Mount Pearl Act, be now read a second time.

The hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased today, again on behalf of my colleague, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, to speak at second reading to Bill 41 entitled, An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act And The City Of Mount Pearl Act.

I have had some discussions with my colleague opposite, the critic in this area, the Member for Fortune Bay-Cape la Hune, and he, I would imagine, will be speaking to this in response.

Mr. Speaker, this is essentially a housekeeping bill. It is nothing more than that. The bill will repeal Schedule B of both acts, that is the City of Corner Brook Act and the City of Mount Pearl Act. These schedules outline statutory duties for senior administrative positions in both cities.

While it was traditional to include such provisions in municipal legislation, Mr. Speaker, it is no longer considered necessary or appropriate. The current Municipalities Act which was enacted some seven years ago, in 1999, was the first municipal statute in this Province that did not contain such provisions.

The Municipalities Act gives each of the 280 municipalities governed by it the authority to establish whatever positions they deem necessary for the effective administration of their respective municipalities and the authority to determine the appropriate duties and responsibilities of each position.

The statutory duties outlined in these schedules no longer reflect the effective operation of a modern municipality, and the statutory positions to which these duties are assigned are not reflected in the current administrative structure of either of the two cities.

Mr. Speaker, the repealing of these provisions will afford both cities, Corner Brook and Mount Pearl, the same authority and flexibility for the creation of administrative positions and the determination of duties and responsibilities for these positions that is afforded to all 280 municipalities that operate under the Municipalities Act of 1999.

Furthermore, and in conclusion, Mr. Speaker, the bill repeals a number of other provisions of both acts that make reference to Schedule B. It further repeals Schedule C of both acts, which outlines statutory election forms that became redundant with the enactment of the Municipal Elections Act in 2001.

Mr. Speaker, as can be seen, these are essentially housekeeping matters. I now move second reading of Bill 41, An Act To Amend The City of Corner Brook Act and The City of Mount Pearl Act.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay-Cape la Hune.

MR. LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just a few words on this particular piece of legislation. In fact, I think I might have been the minister in 1999 who brought forth the piece of legislation that deemed that all of the towns and communities outside of the cities here did not have to follow the position of outlining to senior staff in their councils, in the municipalities, duties which they should or should not do.

At this particular time it was realized, I guess - and the minister said that it is housekeeping, and to some extent it is - that at the time the legislation was introduced, the City of Corner Brook Act and the City of St. John's Act did not allow for this particular change to occur. We recognized that in the modern municipalities, especially like in the City of St. John's and in Corner Brook, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to outline the statutory duties for senior administrative positions in their municipalities. In fact, with so much of multi-tasking going on within these offices, then there is no need for the act to outline what these duties should be. That should be left up to - and in this particular case it is going to be left up to the City of St. John's and the City of Corner Brook to do just as the other 280 municipalities in the Province deem necessary to do.

With that, Mr. Speaker, as I said, it is housekeeping and there is no need for further explanation on that.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, if he speaks now he closes debate at second reading.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the hon. member for his supportive comments and his concurrence that this particular act is simply one of a housekeeping nature.

With those few comments, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill 41.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt a motion relative to Bill 41, An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act And The City Of Mount Pearl Act, and that this bill be now read a second time?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay'.

The motion is carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act And The City Of Mount Pearl Act. (Bill 41)

MR. SPEAKER: Bill 41, An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act And The City Of Mount Pearl Act, has now been read a second time. When shall this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole?

MR. SULLIVAN: Presently.

MR. SPEAKER: Presently.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act And The City Of Mount Pearl Act, read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House presently, by leave. (Bill 41)

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I now call second reading of Bill 42, An Act To Amend The Taxation Of Utilities And Cable Television Companies Act.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that Bill 42, An Act To Amend The Taxation Of Utilities And Cable Television Companies Act, be now read a second time.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Taxation Of Utilities And Cable Television Companies Act." (Bill 42)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Like Bill 41, this too is of a housekeeping nature. It is entitled, An Act To Amend The Taxation Of Utilities And Cable Television Companies Act.

The Taxation Of Utilities And Cable Television Companies Act, which governs the municipal taxation of utility and cable TV companies, was enacted, Mr. Speaker, in 1993. At that time, in light of the significant impact that this new legislation had for both municipalities and the companies being taxed under its provisions, the act contained a number of transitional provisions that provided for a two-year phase-in period for the new tax structure. These provisions have been redundant since 1994 and, consequently, Mr. Speaker, are being repealed. Obviously, the transitional period expired in 1994.

Mr. Speaker, the amendments proposed under this proposed legislation, under Bill 42, reflect government's commitment to simply make government more efficient and effective. The repeal of the provisions outlined in this bill, and others before the House under the Department of Municipal Affairs, will mean a significant contribution to the department's attempt and required reduction under the red tape regulatory requirements.

In conclusion, it is simply a housekeeping matter. It helps reduce the red tape that we often find in many of our pieces of legislation and the repealing of this provision, again, as a consequence of that effort.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay-Cape la Hune.

MR. LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I was just looking across the floor at some of the members there and I would think that people like the Member for Bonavista North, the Member for Mount Pearl, the Minister of Natural Resources, the Minister of Transportation and Works, people who were involved in municipal government, would realize why this particular piece of legislation was brought in, in the first place, in 1993. It was because of the number of municipalities across the Province that were really charging large taxation numbers to cable companies and to Newfoundland Hydro and to Newfoundland Light and Power. In many instances, large tax rates, large mil rates were being ascribed to these particular companies to balance a budget. Through the federation at the particular time, and government, they realized that there had to be some uniformity in place. As a result of that, there was legislation brought to the House to make it uniform but it was for a two-year period transitional, I guess, if you want to call it that, phase in. That particular phase in part of the legislation is still being written in it. What we are doing here now is taking out the two-year pilot project. It has become really standard policy for government to regulate the cable companies, utility companies, phone companies and whatever so that the municipalities across the Province can be uniform in the amount of money that they can tax these utility companies for. That is what this is about, just repealing, as I said, the pilot project and making it permanent.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I conclude my remarks.

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs speaks now he will conclude debate at second reading on Bill 42.

The hon. the minister.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, I thank my colleague opposite. His experience is shining through. His experience during his tenure as Minister of Municipal Affairs affords the hon. member the knowledge and the experience to show good legislation. I do appreciate, on behalf of the Minister of Municipal Affairs today, the hon. member's support and concurrence.

Mr. Speaker, again it is a housekeeping issue. The hon. member opposite referred to that as well. I now move second reading of Bill 42, An Act To Amend The Taxation Of Utilities And Cable Television Companies Act.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt a motion that Bill 42, An Act To Amend The Taxation Of Utilities And Cable Television Companies Act, be now read a second time?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay'.

The motion is carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Amend The Taxation Of Utilities And Cable Television Companies Act. (Bill 42)

MR. SPEAKER: Bill 42, An Act To Amend The Taxation Of Utilities And Cable Television Companies Act, has now been read a second time.

When shall this bill be referred to a Committee of the Whole House?

MR. SULLIVAN: Presently, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Presently.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Taxation Of Utilities And Cable Television Companies Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House presently, by leave. (Bill 42)

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I now move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to consider Bill 41 and Bill 42.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to consider Bill 41 and Bill 42, and that I do now leave the Chair.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay'.

The motion is carried.

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

Committee of the Whole

CHAIR (Fitzgerald): Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I now call, in Committee, Bill 41.

CHAIR: The Committee is ready to hear debate on Bill 41, An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act And The City Of Mount Pearl Act.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act And The City Of Mount Pearl Act." (Bill 41)

CLERK: Clauses 1 to 4.

CHAIR: Shall clauses 1 to 4 carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Clauses 1 to 4 inclusive are carried.

On motion, clauses 1 through 4 carried.

CLERK: Be it enacted by the Lieutenant-Governor and House of Assembly in Legislative Session convened, as follows.

CHAIR: Shall the enacting clause carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

The enacting clause is carried.

On motion, enacting clause carried.

CLERK: An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act And The City Of Mount Pearl Act.

CHAIR: Shall the title carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

The title is carried.

On motion, title carried.

CHAIR: Shall I report Bill 41, An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act And The City Of Mount Pearl Act, carried without amendment?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Bill 41 is carried.

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

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I now call Bill 42.

CHAIR: Bill 42, An Act To Amend The Taxation Of Utilities And Cable Television Companies Act.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Taxation Of Utilities And Cable Television Companies Act." (Bill 42)

CLERK: Clause 1.

CHAIR: Clause 1.

Shall clause 1 carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Clause 1 is carried.

On motion, clause 1 carried.

CLERK: Be it enacted by the Lieutenant-Governor and House of Assembly in Legislative Session convened, as follows.

CHAIR: Shall the enacting clause carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

The enacting clause is carried.

On motion, enacting clause carried.

CLERK: An Act To Amend The Taxation Of Utilities And Cable Television Companies Act.

CHAIR: Shall the title carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

The title is carried.

On motion, title carried.

CHAIR: Shall I report Bill 42, An Act To Amend The Taxation Of Utilities And Cable Television Companies Act, carried without amendment?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Bill 42 is carried.

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

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I move that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

CHAIR: The motion is that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

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

MR. SPEAKER (Hodder): The hon. the Member for Bonavista South and Deputy Speaker.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred and have directed me to report Bill 42 and Bill 41 carried without amendment, and ask leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairperson of Committee of the Whole reports the Committee have considered the matters to them referred and have directed him to report that Bill 41, An Act To Amend The City of Corner Brook Act And The City of Mount Pearl Act, be adopted without amendment, and Bill 42, An Act To Amend The Taxation Of Utilities And Cable Television Companies Act, be adopted without amendment.

When shall this report be received?

MR. SULLIVAN: Presently.

MR. SPEAKER: Presently.

When shall the said bills be read a third time?

MR. SULLIVAN: Presently, with leave, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Presently, with leave.

On motion, report received and adopted, bills ordered read a third time presently, by leave.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I move third reading of Bill 41.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair acknowledges that leave has been granted to proceed to third readings.

It is moved and seconded that Bill 41, An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act And The City Of Mount Pearl Act, be now read a third time.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion that Bill 41 be now read a third time?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay'.

Motion carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act And The City Of Mount Pearl Act. (Bill 41)

MR. SPEAKER: Bill 41, An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act And The City Of Mount Pearl Act, has now been read a third time and it is ordered that the bill do pass and its title be as on the Order Paper.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The City Of Corner Brook Act And The City Of Mount Pearl Act," read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 41)

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I move third reading of Bill 42.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that bill 42, An Act To Amend The Taxation Of Utilities And Cable Television Companies Act, be now read a third time.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion that Bill 42 be now read a third time?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay'.

The motion is carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Amend The Taxation Of Utilities And Cable Television Companies Act. (Bill 42)

MR. SPEAKER: Bill 42, An Act To Amend The Taxation Of Utilities And Cable Television Companies Act, has now been read a third time and it is ordered that the bill do pass and its title be as on the Order Paper.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Taxation Of Utilities And Cable Television Companies Act," read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 42)

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I now call Motion 1.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion 1 has been called, which is a Supply bill.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SPEAKER: All rise.

The message from His Honour is dated 20 November 2006. It reads as follows: As Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, I transmit Estimates of sums required for the Public Service of the Province for the year ending 31 March 2007, by way of Supplementary 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, ONL, Q.C.

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I move that the message, together with the amount, be referred to the Committee of Supply.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the message, together with the bill, be referred to the Committee of Supply.

All those in favour, ‘Aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay'.

Motion carried.

Committee of the Whole on Supply

CHAIR (Fitzgerald): Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Bill 45, is a Supplementary Supply bill in which we have placed any warrants that were issued since the sitting of the House, we have included in this Supplementary Supply bill. I tabled it here in the House on Monday, so everybody would have had a copy of each of these specific ones. I will just elaborate and explain each particular one there now. What you see here on your bill, on the schedule at the back there of $882,600, that is one that was issued under the Legislature. I will just elaborate on each aspect of that.

The first, there was a Special Warrant of $250,000 that was issued on September 1 of this year to provide additional funds to address additional responsibilities assigned to the Office of the Auditor General pertaining to audits of the accounts of the House of Assembly and the review of constituency allowances. At the time, it was indicated that the Auditor General would need extra resources to be able to carry out this. We had to move, with the House not sitting, to have a Special Warrant for that amount. We received a budget, obviously, for that amount and what would necessitate that. It was dealt with by the Internal Economy Commission, which members on both sides of the House sit on that. That was discussed and approved at that level.

There was one issued on September 18, 2006, under the Legislature also for an amount of $544,800. That was to cover the cost of the Turner death review investigation, of which $244,500 was for that out of the $544,800. Also, renovations, furnishings and pre-boundary redistribution costs of the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer was $200,300, and unanticipated legal expenses for the House of Assembly, $100,000. So, this warrant was for $544,800 for those three specific areas makes up that total.

There was one issued also under the House of Assembly on October 12, 2006, a Special Warrant of $87,800 to provide additional funding to be able to conduct a by-election in the District of Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi. Traditionally, Mr. Chair, as most people know, there are not budgeted items for by-elections because they are unanticipated. In this particular case, I think it was in - I cannot remember the exact time, somewhere around May, I think, or around - after June, I think, that we were informed, subsequent to the Budget in March, that the member would be resigning his seat there subsequent to that.

There was one issued for $550,000, the Department of Business, launching of a new brand logo and strategy. That was on July 11, 2006. Under Municipal Affairs there were ones totalling $5,809,000 issued on October 12, 2006, to provide additional funds for disaster assistant expenditures that are mainly associated with the Stephenville, the North East Coast and the Burin floods.

Also, there was a Special Warrant under Municipal Affairs that covers an amount, as you can see on the attachment, it adds up, with this amount of $5,331,000 on October 27, to provide for a separate Community Enhancement Program to deal specifically with fish plant workers' programs in communities where there was insufficient work to allow workers to qualify for employment insurance and to provide, secondly, for application of the Fish Plant Workers Employment Support Program to workers of the Marystown FPI plant and the FPI trawler crew members whose trawlers landed catch in Marystown that were covered under the employment roles of that specific plant.

In total, these amounts add up to $12,572,600, Mr. Chair, that we felt were in the opinions of the ministers of the respective departments and, of course, the Financial Administration Act indicates that the ministers of the particular departments will indicate that there is not sufficient funding to cover these initiatives. In the case of the House of Assembly here, it would have come to the IEC in that specific case, that its representatives in the department, technically under the Office of the Speaker.

So, that gives a little overview of the specifics on each of these. If anybody needs the details, I will provide it. I think you will find that these were tabled on Monday. I am sure the Table would have other copies if anybody wishes to have these.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Grand Falls-Buchans.

MS THISTLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

I am rising today to speak to Bill 45. I was kind of surprised, because I remember when I was in the government that the critic who is now the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board, he detested Special Warrants, or he told us he did. Whether he did or not is hard to believe, or maybe it was a conversation piece during debate, but if anyone were to look up Hansard and look at all the debate the current Minister of Finance had when he was the critic on Special Warrants, it would fill many books.

Today he is standing in his place and he is looking for authorization to spend roughly $12 million. Now, he did outline some of the needs for it and most of them are urgent, I have to say, except there is one I do not think is all that urgent and that one comes out of the Department of Business, and that is for branding. Branding, $550,000. Now, there is a lot of commentary on branding, whether or not it was necessary, and does the branding really depict who we are as a Province and as a people? When I see three flowers flopping in the wind, I do not know if that depicts who we are today. Are we really a strong people, when I see three flowers flopping in the wind? What happened to our -

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

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I just want to make sure it is accurate, what is on the record. I do not want to be getting up. If the information is accurate, I will accept it, but I have never indicated - I have indicated the inappropriate use of Special Warrants in compliance with the Financial Administration Act. I have no problem with the appropriate use of warrants and proper legislation, but that is not what I said in the past and the record will show that.

CHAIR: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Grand Fall-Buchans.

MS THISTLE: I certainly agree, Mr. Chairperson, that there is no point of order, but I know he is a bit edgy. He is three years on the job, you would think the corners would be rounded out a bit now and he would be smoothed out a bit but he is still a bit edgy if somebody happens to bring up something that he said when he was the critic. So, I mean that goes with the territory.

Anyway, I was talking about branding, and there is a special warrant. A special warrant, as the minister indicated, is something that is urgent and you cannot find money in your department to cover that particular expense.

Now, when I look back at the Department of Business appropriations that have been on the record of this Legislature for the past three years, it was always a mystery, the Department of Business budget, because we never did get anybody who would stand, when we had our public Estimates here, we never could get a minister or the Premier, who was the Department of Business minister, we could never get him to stand up and explain the budget of the Department of Business.

Now, whether or not they had $550,000 kicking around in that Department of Business to start a branding program, I do not know, because it is still a mystery from day one to this day; however, I expect we will see the new Minister of Business hop up when the Estimates come this year because the Premier has now taken himself out of that department, as of July 5, and we have a new minister there now. So, hopefully, when we have the Estimates this year, he will be able to answer to everything in that department. I am sure there will be a lot of questions that we will have to ask that Minister of Business when the Estimates come around.

Talking about the branding, do the three flowers flopping in the wind depict us as we are today? That is the question I would like to ask the government. Do you feel as helpless as looking at those three flowers flopping in the wind? Is that the way we are today?

I opened up my mailbox yesterday here in St. John's, while I am in here for the week now while the House of Assembly is open, and do you know what was in my mailbox? It says: Work out West - a whole new book - Work out West. You wouldn't believe it. You would not believe it. These are companies out in Alberta who are going to tap into our natural resources, and our natural resources are the people of this Province.

When the Premier said in 2006 that we have rounded the corner, yeah, we rounded the corner up on Kenmount Road with 9,000 people rounded the corner. They even saw such an opportunity to drain on our people again that they decided to print a whole book. There are over thirty companies here in Alberta wanting our people to go and apply for jobs out in Alberta. It says: Work out West.

Now, when the contract was given to a public relations firm to develop a logo, a symbol of who we are as a people of this Province, they came up with something unique, a pitcher plant, three lonesome flowers blowing in the wind. That cost our Province over $1 million - over $1 million.

I heard, today, the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile. He got up during petition time and he asked the Minister of Transportation and Works if he could put a toilet around the ferry that runs from Burgeo to Ramea. That is despicable, that there has not been a toilet put there for the people of the Province to actually go and relieve themselves instead of having to head for the bushes. That is despicable.

Do you know something? When I was coming into the House of Assembly today, I was stopped by a young man and he said: I have some mail for you. I said: Who is it from? He said: Minister Hickey. Well, I said, that ought to be interesting. So, when I got to my desk here, I opened up the mail and this is what it said. He was asking me what I thought was important in my district next year in the way of doing up provincial roads. I wrote on the bottom: What a joke! What a joke!

It was only when the House of Assembly -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MS THISTLE: They are very sensitive, now. They are very sensitive.

It was only when the House of Assembly closed in the spring that I met with the Premier of our Province, eyeball-to-eyeball, in a special party that they had for the Clerk of the House who was retiring, John Noel. I said to the Premier: You know, I have been on my feet day after day on petitions on the Buchans Highway. What are you going to do about that situation? You are getting all kinds of money from Aur Resources; there are 250 people working up there who were not up there last year.

Do you know what he did then? The Premier called over the Minister of Transportation and Works. That person was only on the job three months after that. He is now the Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development. He said to that Minister of Transportation and Works: Go out and see what you can do on that Buchans Highway, and see if it can be corrected.

Do you know something? I thought I had the Premier's promise then. He eyeballed me face to face. He called a minister. I was talking to him; he was only two feet away from him. He called the Minister of Transportation and Works, who did not even stay in that job three months - he is now the Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development - and he told him to come over and fix the situation.

Do you know how he fixed the situation on the Buchans Highway? You have to listen to this. You have to listen to it. Do you know how the Minister of Transportation and Works fixed the problem on the Buchans Highway, with the broken shoulders? It is laughable. It is laughable. He sent up the employees of Transportation and Works with cans of paint - now, listen to this - and they sprayed the edges of the highway. That was his solution to fixing the cracks of the broken shoulders. What they sprayed, they sprayed the gravel; there was no highway to spray. They sprayed the gravel on the Buchans Highway. That was his solution to fixing the broken shoulders on the Buchans Highway.

Now, today, I get a letter from Mr. John Hickey, the Minister of -

CHAIR: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member - she knows full well the rules of the House - to refer to members, colleagues, either by their district or by the executive position that they represent.

MS THISTLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

I apologize. A slip of the tongue is no fault of the mind.

The Minister of Transportation and Works asked me what do I think we need done in the District of Grand Falls-Buchans. Well, now, do you know something? I am going to pen a lovely letter to you. I am going to pen a lovely letter to you.

I know next year is an election year, but if you cannot do any better than the last minister who was in the job, don't even send me the letter. That is what I would say to you.

Now, this is a money bill. This is a money bill. Last week, last Friday, the cancer clinic opened in Grand Falls-Windsor and -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MS THISTLE: Mr. Chairperson?

CHAIR: Order, please!

MS THISTLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

For the benefit of the viewing audience, the government side were thumping their desks and they were saying, what a member, and they were referring to my colleague, the Member for Windsor-Springdale.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS THISTLE: I agree that he had a lot to do with convincing his government to make that decision.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS THISTLE: Now, it is too bad the Premier of our Province did not acknowledge that, because when he cut the ribbon he never invited the Member for Windsor-Springdale. There was no one in sight belonging to the government. That was too bad, because I know he worked hard. He was not invited to the front table nor was he invited to cut the ribbon or be a part of that group. The big picture was in our local paper, which was too bad. Do you know something? I am glad the cancer clinic is there and the real people to benefit from it are the people who need it, and it is going to be a huge help to the cancer patients in Central Newfoundland, particularly in Grand Falls-Windsor and surrounding area.

I do thank the government for making that happen. It was a considerable amount of money. It took a lot of effort from a lot of people, particularly the patients themselves, many of who were seen on that actual first clip that was done by Colleen from NTV. Actually, I think there is only one of those patients still living which was very sad to see. The facility is there now and many lives will be enhanced by actually going and walking into those pleasant surroundings and getting the privacy and dignity that they need.

I want to thank everyone who was involved at this time. It is certainly a wonderful facility and we are glad to have it.

When I was going into the cancer clinic last Friday, there were a group of pharmacists who had stopped the Premier and they were trying to get the Premier's ear to let him know that they had a very serious issue and it needs to be address. They gave me a bit of information. Of course, I know them all personally. Although there were negotiations last August for the Allied Health Group, pharmacists had a really big issue at that time that did not get addressed. It seems like it is being swept under the rug.

I think I have to tell you about some very important statistics about pharmacists in this Province. There are vacancies. As of last Friday there were twelve vacancies at Eastern Health, there were six at Central Health and two at Western Health. What does that mean to a person going into a hospital for treatment? That means that pharmacists who actually prepare medications for patients are not there. They are not there, or the people who are there are working under stress and they are working too many hours a day.

In fact, it is interesting to note, that out of the thirty-two graduates from MUN School of Pharmacy this year, in 2006, out of the thirty-two graduates - how many do you think stayed in this Province to work as pharmacists from the MUN School of Pharmacy, those who graduated this year? There were thirty-two who graduated. Can anybody guess how many people stayed in this Province, how many pharmacists? There are no hands up. There were nine. Nine! Nine pharmacists out of thirty-two who graduated this year are staying to work in our Province. What does that say?

We are ripe for the picking. When Alberta companies, over thirty of them, make up a booklet and put it in the mailbox of people in this Province -

CHAIR: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member that her time for speaking has lapsed.

MS THISTLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

Maybe I will get another opportunity in the afternoon.

Thank you.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Business.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O'BRIEN: Mr. Chair, I would like to speak to Bill 45. It is An Act For Granting To Her Majesty Certain Sums Of Money For Defraying Certain Additional Expenses And Costs.

I listened intently as the hon. Member for Grand Falls-Buchans was speaking. I think she started off her speaking notes with the new launch of our new brand signature and logo; a very important piece of work by this department, my department, the Department of Business. We certainly are - and I might interject from the beginning just to put it into perspective, that the Department of Business is actually the smallest department within the government and operating with the smallest operating budget for any line department under the current government. We have only fifteen employees to date.

Once we made the determination that additional funds were required we followed the proper procedures and requested a Special Warrant for that amount. The special amount that we asked for, Mr. Chairman, was on the brand. We went through a process in regards to developing a brand signature and logo for this Province. The simple reason is, when we did an audit of government logos out there we found that there were forty-three different versions of the logo out there used in regards to government representing this Province in Canada, in North America, internationally. Certainly, any business person, or any person really, would understand that within consistency comes confusion, total confusion. We had no identity on the world stage. We were doing a poor job in regard to how we marketed our Province to the world, and that is exactly what we were doing.

Certainly, as seen in other jurisdiction, and also in regard to corporations, your brand signature is one of the most important tools that you might have in your tool kit to promote your corporation or your province or your country.

We went through the process, and I think that our new brand is very well recognized. It is very well accepted. I think I have done, since the launch, maybe about fifteen or so speaking engagements all over Newfoundland and Labrador. I presented the animation and full process and a full presentation on the new brand. The response is unbelievable.

For someone to get up and refer to the new brand and the signature, and certainly to refer to our flower, the picture plant, as three old flowers swinging in the wind I think is disrespectful. We went with a stylized version -

MS THISTLE: Point of order.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Grand Falls-Buchans on a point of order.

MS THISTLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

I know the minister who has actually brought in this new brand is a bit touchy, but I did not say: old flowers. I said: Three flowers blowing in the wind, is that what depicts our society today?

CHAIR: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Business.

MR. O'BRIEN: The new brand signature reflects us as unique, creative, and distinctive as a people and as a place, the same as that provincial flower is unique, distinctive and creative in regard to how it survives in places that nothing else would survive in. That is exactly what it as all about, and also established us as a wonderful place to visit, a wonderful place to work, a wonderful place to establish a business, a wonderful place to just live and work your life. That is exactly what we want to do, and that is very, very important as we move forward in regard to attracting business to this Province.

Certainly the brand signature is very, very important, and very important to the Department of Business in regard to how we present ourselves to the world. We are currently in conversation at various levels with twenty-three active leads in the Department of Business. I say that, twenty-three active leads. We only have sixteen employees or so, and certainly we are working hard in regard to promoting business and promoting the business investment attraction to this Province from elsewhere in the world.

I do not see, to be honest with you, and I think the business community has proven by the Boards of Trade, the Chambers of Commerce all across Newfoundland and Labrador - before we ever, ever launched a brand - expressing time and time and time again how important it was for us to develop a new brand, because we had forty-three different versions out there. Just think about that, forty-three different versions, and those are only the ones that we identified. These all existed in the past. This is a new government. They all existed in the past; we had to get rid of them. To me, when I found out that there were forty-three different versions that were logged, I said that just about anybody who had a computer was developing their own brand. So total, and I mean total, confusion.

Also, the price of the brand was approximately $1 million, which is in line, which is certainly in line, with any other jurisdiction, and I will quote: Nova Scotia spent $1.4 million in regard to developing their brand; Manitoba spent $2.1 million; and the City of Montreal, lo and behold, spent $23 million in developing their brand.

I, as a business person, always recognize that the name recognition and the brand is one of the most important assets that you can have as a business in regard to how you market your business to the public. That adds right to your bottom line. If you go to sell your business - and I am just taking that as an example, when you go to sell your business - your name, your brand, is given an asset piece in regard to what your business is worth. That is exactly what this is all about. It is positioning ourselves in the world market, which is a competitive market. We are not the first to do this. This is being done across many jurisdictions and we have to get ahead and have to, at the very least, keep up with our competitors.

I just said that this will help position Newfoundland and Labrador as a preferred place to live, visit, work and establish a business, and this in turn strengthens our economy. You know, that is what this is all about, strengthening our economy, diversifying our economy. That is what it is all about.

Certainly, yes, absolutely, you could get up - and I see members opposite get up - and say you could have spent the money elsewhere, and all of that kind of stuff; but, listen, you know, in order to meet the challenges ahead of us, we have to strengthen our economy. You cannot just do it unless you do it right. One of the things that we needed was a new brand signature. Certainly I am very, very proud of it, as the minister responsible. I am certainly sure, and have seen right across Newfoundland and Labrador, that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador love it. I get standing ovations. I get ovations every time I show that animation.

I have to speak to the animation. What a wonderful piece that was, done by an artist, a recognized artist, a world artist, an artist who was nominated for an Oscar in regard to his work, in regard to the animation and the pieces that he does. It is artwork. Then, we went through the process in regard to choosing a vocalist for the lyrics. You have to listen to this. I say to the hon. member opposite: Listen to how we went through the process.

There were twenty-eight women who auditioned to do their vocal version of that lyric - twenty-eight of them at first. We shortlisted it down to four, but there was always this voice that kept coming back to us. Each and every time it came back to us. We shortlisted it down to four, so we sent it back to them. They did it in different versions: Celtic, as it is today, jazz, and other things. At the end of the day, we went straight back to that original voice, that haunting voice. We did not know up until then, because we were not a part of that process, that was a fifteen-year-old youth from this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. That told me right off the bat that I, this department, this government, was on the right path, because she auditioned on her own. She is not a professional, like some of the others who did, and no disrespect to the professionals, but she was a kid, fifteen years old, and she is attached to that brand signature now forevermore. I commend her for that, and I thanked her for it. Certainly, we try to highlight her in regard to the official launch down at The Rooms.

This is all about clearly communicating. That is what it is, and we wanted that. The approximately $1 million that we spent on brand includes everything. It includes the development, includes the animation, includes all the advertising, so we are well within the budget of any other jurisdiction. That is exactly what this is, so I am certainly glad that I - and, I had to go to a special warrant because our department is lean. We did not have, as the hon. member said - that they had $550,000 booting around the department with nothing else to do. That does not exist in the Department of Business, because we are just lean and we do not have that kind of budget, so we had no other choice to go with anything else but a special warrant because we needed it. We had to get our brand signature, and we had to get our brand signature as soon as we could, because it is so important in regard to presenting ourselves in the global marketplace, so that is what that is all about.

The other ones that are there in regard to this bill, Mr. Chairman, are certainly warranted as well. I mean, as the Government House Leader and Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board indicated, one is there for Municipal Affairs. Half of it is included in regard to disaster relief, so who can predict that? You know, we needed it, we had to deal with it, and that is all that is to that.

Then, the other one was in the Community Enhancement Program, specifically to fish plant workers and trawler workers who landed their fish on the South Coast, I believe, if I can remember right. That is what it was all about, so that took up $11,140,000.

Then you have the Legislature. The Legislature, absolutely - there is $882,600. We have a by-election. We have things with the OCIO, et cetera. It is the regular operations of the House of Assembly. I cannot see how anybody could, to be honest with you, question this special warrant, because certainly we do not like to do special warrants. We have said that publicly.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I remind the hon. minister that his time for speaking has expired.

MR. O'BRIEN: Just a second to clue up?

CHAIR: Does the member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

CHAIR: The hon. the member, by leave.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. O'BRIEN: It will only take me a second to clue up.

Certainly, I cannot see anybody having a problem with this expenditure, to be honest with you. I was about to say that, yes, we try not to do special warrant when we possibly can, but nobody can predict the things that happened there in regard to Municipal Affairs. Business has a lean budget; we needed $550,000, and the Legislature is normal operating costs.

I will end with that, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for letting me speak on this bill.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MS MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairperson.

I am very happy to rise and speak to Bill 45.

First of all, I would like to look at a couple of the expenditures outlined in the bill. I have to say that I had to smile a bit when I read the third one, a special warrant because of the by-election in the District of Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi. I think I am worth it, and I am going to work hard to show you that I am.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS MICHAEL: Thank you all for your support; however, when I come to the expenditure with regard to the branding, I do have a few things that I want to say. As I read it, the $550,000 was for the launching of the new brand signature logo and strategy. That is a lot of money to go towards the launching. That disturbs me. I had no idea how much of the million, or slightly over a million, would have gone to the launching. I wondered, actually, how that money was spent. It disturbs me to think that so much money was put into the profiling. I really think it could have been done with less money. Why do I say that? I am looking around at the things that are happening around us in the Province, things that we are saying we do not have money for. I am seeing money, in my perspective, being wasted.

We have a school out in Paradise, for example, where the children now, for the rest of this school year, have to go to four different schools. If planning had gone into the needs of that school two years ago, a band-aid would not have been put on it, it would have been dealt with then. What I see happening in our Province is that we do not have a plan. We do not have a plan that looks at our whole social infrastructure and how we are going to maintain that infrastructure. I would like to see plans that say we know the problems we have in schools, and not wait for the crisis moment, and to start making the plans so that we do not have crisis, that we have things taken care of before they fall apart and we do not have the lives of hundreds of children and their families disrupted for a whole school year because their school is not healthy, it is not fit to be in as a building.

We know that there are buildings all over the Province like that. I remember reading this summer a comment by somebody who had been visiting here, who said that he found the schools in our Province to be on a par with schools in developing countries. That embarrassed the life out of me. I would like to have that taken care of. I would feel prouder if we had schools that were topnotch schools and we are not ashamed to have people go into, than I would be of a new logo. That would make me prouder as a Newfoundlander and Labradorian. That would make me much, much prouder.

I think of the school in my own district, the Virginia Park school, for which there are plans put together by the school board, and we are still waiting for a decision from the Cabinet to say, yes we approve that plan. The people in Virginia Park have been working on this for years, they should not have to be waiting all this time for the final approval. When is that final approval going to come? Is it going to come as easily as the approval for these requests is going to come here today? I do not know. The people in my district do not know. They are waiting. We need to know. I need to know. They need to know.

I think of the housing issues again in my district, the things that I experienced when I was campaigning. I was at Regatta Terrace one day meeting the people in Regatta Terrace - I do not know how many of you know Regatta Terrace, it is row housing, Newfoundland and Labrador Housing, going down Quidi Vidi Road. As I was talking to people in one of the houses I decided just to lean up against the railing, you know a little bit tired after all the walking that day, and I almost fell off the concrete patio that goes along their terrace. Why? Because the railings in front of that housing are not anchored correctly. Instead of each plate having four bolts in it, because the plates require four bolts, there are only two bolts in each plate diagonal from one another. I went along every railing and checked it, and every railing was like that. Everybody in those houses - what is it, twenty-odd houses in Regatta Terrace? - are in danger some day of leaning or falling against that railing and the bolts not holding. Surely to goodness, we have enough money to put four bolts in each of the plates in that railing. If we had $550,000 to launch the logo and the strategy, surely we have money for four bolts in each plate along those railings.

The other thing that I saw when I was down in Regatta Terrace, I was shocked at the way in which the housing is configured. To save money, instead of having steps leading up to each door there are steps in between each door. What I have learned is, when somebody is sick in those houses and an ambulance has to come, they literally cannot get the stretchers in the door of the house where the person is because you cannot take the stretcher up the steps and turn it by the railing and get it in the door. So, that was done to save money. Put steps up to every single door. How would we feel, as people who own our own houses, how would we feel if we could not get a stretcher into the house for somebody who was sick inside? People who live in social housing have the same rights that we have. They do not own their own homes but surely to goodness they deserve to have those little - what? - privileges. That is not a privilege, that is a necessity, to be able to have a stretcher go into your house.

Another thing I observed in my district when I was campaigning, on Newfoundland Court, for example, a lot of really good work done to the housing. I was really pleased. There has been a lot of work done to the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing on Newfoundland Court. What else did I see? The grounds are so awful that the children cannot play outside their houses. There is gravel all over the place. They are not safe to play in the gravel.

If we want issues, you know the minister said: What are the options for the funding? You know, options for funding is what I am talking about. If we want to know where to spend our money I could stay here from now till doomsday and give them the examples in our Province right now where we can be spending money; the housing issue.

Let's think about the hospital and wait times. I have a friend right now whose sister has been nine days waiting for her chemotherapy to start, nine days at the Health Science. The reason why the chemotherapy cannot start is because there are not enough personnel to handle all of the beds in the unit where she would be. It is not that there isn't a bed for her to get into, they could only handle so many at a time.

We are not going to deal with the wait time issue unless we put personnel back in our hospitals, unless we put nurses back in our hospitals, unless we put more LPNs back in our hospitals, not remove them. This is what we have to do. We have to hire people. By hiring people, is that an expenditure? It may be an expenditure initially but it is going to be money coming back because nurses who have left the Province will come back if there are more jobs, nurses who are graduating will not leave the Province they will stay here. As they stay here they benefit the economy. We have got to start seeing the expenditures of more workers, whether it is pharmacists, whether it is nurses, whether it is LPNs, whether it is teachers, whether it is social workers. We have got to start seeing these not as expenditures but as ways in which we build our economy in this Province, as ways in which we improve the economy by improving the lives of our people and having employment opportunities for them.

Options: We have all kinds of options. Let's think about last night. Last night was talked about earlier. I was there. I heard Dr. Carol Joyce make her presentation. Every pump that diabetes patients use cost between $5,000 and $7,000. It has been proven that these insulin pumps save the lives of people. Mr. Jim MacDonald, who made his presentation last night, showed us how his life has been saved by having the insulin pump. I was sitting next to a young twenty year old who told me her story of how her life has been saved by an insulin pump. You know, maybe it would take $20 million to supply all the people with diabetes in the Province with insulin pumps, but if we do they will not be in ten years time or twenty years time requiring the health care that they are going to require if they do not get the insulin pumps. They will be the people on dialysis and the cost of dialysis per year is an awful lot more than the cost of an insulin pump for a person. These will be the people, if they do not have insulin pumps, who will be dying from heart failure much earlier than they should be dying. If we want another example of where we could be putting money, we can be putting money into the care of people like people with diabetes.

We do not have to be looking. Our Province is falling apart.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I remind the hon. Leader of the New Democratic Party that her time for speaking has lapsed.

MS MICHAEL: This is fine. I will leave my comments lie for there, Mr. Chairperson, and I will look for another opportunity later to say more.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Terra Nova.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ORAM: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Again, as usual, it is an honour to stand in this House today to talk about some of the achievements, I guess, of this government. I really have not had the opportunity to congratulate the new Leader of the New Democratic Party. We were at a function together last night, as she had just mentioned, dealing with diabetes, and it is a serious disease. I just want to take the time to congratulate her, of course. I did not even get a chance to speak to her there.

There have been many comments back and forth about this information session, I guess, for the lack of a better term, that we went to last night dealing with diabetes. I can tell you that our family is actually hit with diabetes. My oldest daughter is a diabetic, she is an insulin dependent diabetic. We had some good information that was exchanged last night. The pump was a issue that came up and it keeps coming up here in the House today. To say that the pump actually saves lives alone, it is not just the pump that saves lives, of course, it is the insulin that saves lives, and the pump is merely another piece of equipment that is needed to help people get through diabetes. Currently my daughter does not have a pump and she does not want it at this point. That does not mean that people should not have pumps, but the fact is, it is not a thing that you have to have to save lives. I believe this government is certainly moving in the right direction and that one of these day we will be able to provide funding for those who would need funding for pumps, insulin pumps, and the like.

I just want to talk about a few of the accomplishments again that this government have had. I was listening to Open Line just a little while ago and there was a very interesting conversation that went on by a member from the opposite side who said - and I will not say, I quote, because I am not exactly sure if I am going to give the exact words, but it was something to the effect that this government has done nothing since they got elected. I thought to myself, well, boy, I tell you what, there is something gone wrong somewhere because the list of accomplishments that I see that this government does, this is just a small number.

MR. REID: I agree with you on that one (inaudible).

MR. ORAM: The Leader of the Opposition - I sat and listened to the other speakers who were here today and I would expect the same courtesy if he would not mind. I can tell you right now, and I can certainly say to the Leader of the Opposition, that we have a number of accomplishments as a government. If I start today, I can tell you that I would not be able to get through all of these things, if I had from now until twelve o'clock tonight. We will not be able to sit until twelve, but we might be able to sit until ten tonight. I can tell you that I will have the opportunity just for a few minutes to talk about what we have done.

The Minister of Business was on his feet today talking about red tape reduction, and I was pleased to be involved in red tape reduction, Mr. Chair. We did a lot of great things in this Province in terms of red tape reduction. Wherever you go in the Province - and I have gone around for years and I have been involved in business for years, and I can tell you that whenever you go to a government office there is always red tape, there are always barriers. It is so difficult to get work done within government, but I can tell you that this government is moving forward, and not only are the people that use the services of government pleased with what is happening with red tape reduction, not only those people, but I can tell you now that the employees of government, the people who work on the front lines with government, are very pleased with what is happening with red tape reduction. We have already eliminated 16,900 regulatory requirements, and that is a huge accomplishment in such a short time. I can tell you, that this is positive for business.

In fact, I was very pleased to accept an award on behalf of the Department of Business and that award was given to us by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business in our efforts to reduce and eliminate red tape in this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ORAM: I was told, as well, that this is the first award that was ever given in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I heard a member opposite a little earlier talk about this and she was saying: Ah, this is an initiative that we have done, that other governments have done over the years. We have done all of this. It is all good and that is nice to see, but the fact of the matter is that it will probably all just build up again, the regulations will all just build in again and it will not mean a whole lot. I can tell you right now that the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which actually supports and is involved with a number of businesses across this Province, they endorse this initiative completely. We are very pleased with that today.

When I look at red tape reduction, I think about all of the times we sat around the table and we discussed the things that slow business down. I can assure you today that this government is cognizant of anything that slows the progress of business in this Province. We want to be sensitive to business in this Province because we believe, we truly believe, that business will be the thing that will help rural Newfoundland and Labrador. It will not be the government jobs or the government handouts and all those little things that we put out there all of the time. They are all good. You know, government has a tendency to put out these programs, the Community Enhancement Programs that are used, but that is good for the short term. That is not necessarily good for the long term. We need long-term sustainable employment in our smaller areas, in our rural areas, and I can tell you this government is on top of that; we are working towards that. We are supporting business, and again I am so pleased and proud to be a part of that.

This government has increased the small business tax credit from $200,000 to $300,000 for four years. This is to, again, revitalize business in the Province, to attract business to this Province. That is what we need. We need to attract new dollars in this Province.

We eliminated $1.5 million worth of fees in many areas as a part of red tape reduction. Now, again, I have heard some comments about the fees. Again, I was involved in that particular initiative and it was a funny thing because, when we sat around the table, you know, when we sat around the table and we talked about the different fees, the polar bear licence fee came up, no question about it. We could have left it there, we really could have, because the amount of money that actually reduced or, I guess, took from the government coffers was very little, there is no doubt about that, but it was something that we wanted to get off the books. There was no need of it, and we got rid of it, and it is over and it is done, but we did a lot more than reduce just polar bear fees, I can assure you of that right now. We did a lot more than reduce polar bear fees. In fact, there was a food establishment licence in this Province for small business and it was crippling small business. We looked at that. It was a $600,000 cost to the government Treasury, and we said: Do you know what? To support small business, more specifically in rural areas and rural communities that find it very difficult, we are going to eliminate that fee all together - not reduce it, we are going to actually eliminate it - and that is exactly what we did.

We realize that there was a burden on licences, for instance, for people who had mills, and we reduced that fee to $100 compared to when it was $300. We also saw the electricians fee, where electricians would have to pay a licencing fee every year. We reduced that as well. This all totalled $1.5 million.

In fact, I will tell you, one of my personal favourites, we eliminated a fee for a rabbit licence. Now, that seems like that is not a big deal but, you know what? I remember back years and years ago - and it was not this particular government that is here now, but it was a government before this government and they were certainly not of this colour - I remember when they brought in a fee for a rabbit licence. I was sitting in my living room watching this and I thought: Boy, oh boy, now we have to pay for a rabbit licence.

Well, today we do not have to pay for a rabbit licence. We have reduced that fee. It may be insignificant, but to my nephew-

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) 1.8 million rabbits.

MR. ORAM: That is right, 1.8 million rabbits.

I can tell you that to my nephew, for instance, this was a big deal. He did not have to pay for a rabbit licence. He could go down to the store and pick up his rabbit licence. It is a part of our culture, it is a part of our heritage, and we are very proud of it.

The greatest thing, I think, that we have done as a government since we have been elected, in a short time, is that we have helped deal with education. We have certainly done a lot of work in education. One of the great accomplishments that we have had, that previous governments have thrown around, talked about, is the elimination or reduction of school fees. We have done that.

MADAM CHAIR (S. Osborne): The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. REID: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I do not mean to interrupt you, and I will give you the extra time on the end, but you talked about eliminating the polar bear licence fee. I have to ask you the question: Are we allowed to hunt polar bears? I always thought that you were not allowed to hunt polar bears; so, if we are eliminating the fees, who was being charged to hunt polar bears?

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Terra Nova.

MR. ORAM: From what I gather, from what I remember when we were doing the fee, and I am not exactly positive on this, I say to the Leader of the Opposition, I think the Aboriginals and native people certainly have the right to hunt polar bears. That would be the only - that is what I said, it was a very small amount, but the fact was that we wanted to get rid of it, we wanted to eliminate it, and it certainly helped our Aboriginal community.

Without being interrupted again, I just want to talk about the school fees and how we reduced school fees $6.3 million. Again, to some people it may not seem like a big deal. To a number of people they may feel that, you know what, school fees were not a real big deal. I can afford it. It is not really something that is going to break me. But I know of families, certainly in my community, in my district, that find it very difficult to pay those school fees each and every year. It is not easy when you have two or three kids that you have to pay the fees for, you have to go out and buy the clothes for, and all the different things that are associated with getting an education in school today. This government was very successful in reducing school fees. Again, a very, very good initiative.

Also, $5.3 million was allocated in Budget 2006 to reduce the age of school buses. Our school buses were depleted. Our school buses have not been upgraded for years and years, and this government took the initiative to put the money back into our school buses.

We reduced teacher stress; $250,000 to review the teacher allocation model, the review of an ISSP/Pathways model. You know, I was into a school the other day and, Madam Chair -

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member that his speaking time has expired.

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

MADAM CHAIR: Does the hon. member have leave?

By leave.

MR. ORAM: I was into a school the other day, Madam Chair, and, out of a class of twenty-nine children, twelve of those twenty-nine needed ISSP - twelve of twenty-nine. As a government, we realize that our ISSP situation may not be working as it needs to, and we have warranted a review to look at the issues that are associated with the ISSP.

I could go on and on talking about the accomplishments. In fact, do you know what? I am still on the first page, so I am certainly hoping to get an opportunity to speak about the great things that this government has done, and certainly we are going to see more in the future.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Port de Grave.

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

It gives me pleasure to be able to stand and take a few moments to speak on Bill 45.

MR. SULLIVAN: Say something good, now.

MR. BUTLER: The Minister of Finance said to me: Say something good.

I will try to do my best, Sir. You gave a fairly good explanation starting out. I just want to comment on some of the issues. Under the one, I guess it was under Business, the special warrant for $544, 800, I just want to make a comment with regard to the $244,500 for renovations and furnishings. I am wondering what percentage of it went for the pre-boundary redistribution versus the furnishing; because, if a lot of it went for furnishings, I would have to say there are a lot of furnishing gone somewhere. I am wondering about that one.

The other one, with regard to the special warrant for the $87,800, I have to say that is money well spent. We all know the lady from Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) support her?

MR. BUTLER: Yes, I am just wondering if that money would have been put forward if you only knew the outcome. Probably that would have been reduced a little bit.

Madam Chair, with regard, under Municipal Affairs, to the special warrants for the Community Enhancement Program, I have to say that is a good program but I have to bring forward my concerns with regard to that, because first when it was announced I had the grand total of $30,000 for the district. Twenty projects came forward for the Community Enhancement Program. After that, I did speak with the minister and his officials and we got it raised up to, I think, a little over $50,000. Still, there were only nine projects that could be approved and they were for very little amounts of money.

Today, Madam Chair, I have to say there are people in my district now who cannot get on those programs because of the number of hours they require, and I cannot say they are all working in fish plants, but there are many people there who will not get their EI this year through the enhancement program in my district, I can assure you of that.

Madam Chair, the Minister of Finance asked me to say something good. I was watching him today - and I just want to stray a little bit from the bill, because it seems like he is overworked. He is the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board, the Member for the great District of Ferryland and Government House Leader.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BUTLER: I can't understand why the hon. member would be given such a heavy burden when we have such wonderful - we have a wonderful member, a good member from Terra Nova. I cannot understand why the Member for Terra Nova could not be appointed as Government House Leader.

Then when we look across the House - what about the Member for St. Barbe? Another gentleman who could be Government House Leader, but I guess he is going to be thrashed out this time, he has competition. Look at the Member for Mount Pearl, a very qualified individual. I cannot understand why he was not recognized for Government House Leader and our Minister of Finance would not have all this extra burden on him.

The Member for Trinity North, I am sure he would make a good Government House Leader, but then again, probably they had concerns about him because we did on this side at one point in time. The Member for Topsail, who was in the Cabinet, would make an excellent Government House Leader, Madam Chair.

You talk about spending money: No problems with the warrant for the $12 million. It is just wonderful -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. BUTLER: - to know that if we had the other $15 million, what could be done in many districts in this Province. The $15 million we heard talk about over the last couple of weeks, I just think about what that would do for the people out there who had their offices closed, not only in my district but twenty other communities around this Province, the HRLE offices. I can imagine what it would do for the schools. I have called upon the minister on a couple of occasions to see that the air quality control is dealt with in every school in this Province, and we hear each and everyday a little bit from certain areas. I understand that the one at Amalgamated Academy has been taken care of, but there was a minor issue there. I spoke to the chair of the school council and they think that one is under control, it is not as major. I mean, you have to look at the people in Paradise, how they had to fight for their rights. To know that an investigation is not called to see that the air quality control is looked at in every school.

Madam Chair, we talk about health care, the pharmacists. It was only, I don't know if was today or yesterday, I was reading in our local paper how the Minister of Finance in his day, when he was in Opposition - the question he put forward. He could not understand why the pharmacists in this Province were not brought up to the standard. Here we are today, we do not have the money to do that but still we have $15 million. A lot of people say we are against the fibre optic deal. That is not the issue. It is the $15 million - this couldn't work with all those billions of dollars those corporations have. They had to come to our government and say this cannot work unless we get $15 million from you people.

We talk about general practitioners, a lack of general practitioners in our Province, and I can go right back to my own area and what is happening. We hear talk about health care and what is happening in the emergency rooms. There is a lack of general practitioners. I do not blame the government totally for that. Those people, I guess they move on to other areas, whether it is in our Province or in the country. I will give you an example of a clinic in Spaniard's Bay that used to have two general practitioners and now they only have one. If that doctor happens to be off and you call the clinic, you are transferred to another clinic. The last message you will receive is that if it is an emergency, go to Carbonear hospital. I do not care who it is or what their complaint is, everyone thinks it is an emergency. All of a sudden at that hospital - and not only in Carbonear, I am just referencing that one because it is in my area, but regardless of where you go to, that is the issue - there are so many people going there that they cannot be dealt with properly. The people are overworked in those hospitals and they just cannot deal with it. I think if there were more general practitioners - that is only one area of the Province.

Madam Chair, like I said earlier, we talk about training people, getting more people in the workforce, and we are talking about out-migration. Everyone agrees that all down through the years a certain number of people had to go away to work, that is their choice, but we have never seen the like before, when you see 9,000 people lined up to go in to get an application put in and hopefully get work out West. When you look at that, and we are talking about how we have to get our tradespeople to come back home or we have to train more young people, we are going to be short workers in a very few short years. Well, if you only brought all our tradespeople a one-way ticket, you could bring 15,000 of them home with that $15 million. The only thing about it, the work is not here for them now. That is why they have gone out West.

Another issue is, this past summer we had the opportunity to travel to different areas of our Province and speak with the people on the Northern Peninsula, the West Coast, Central Newfoundland and -

MR. HICKEY: You enjoyed driving over all our roads (inaudible).

MR. BUTLER: Well, some of the roads. I say to the Minister of Transportation, I enjoyed driving over all of them. Some of them were a little rough and I am sure that will be taken care of.

It was sad to sit back and listen to the people, the stories they had to tell about how their communities were just about totally wiped out and had to go out West to look for work. I mean, they are not looking for make-work projects on the Northern Peninsula and different areas of this Province. They want good jobs, good paying jobs. Unfortunately, the time has come where they have to move on.

As I said earlier with regard to our schools, there are many issues that can be dealt with and air quality control is one them. I mean, there are other issues. We know for a fact that some of the schools do not have a cafeteria. In this modern day and age now where government has the money - I know the Finance Minister has said from time to time that there is a little downturn, and we understand that. I guess that all happens with the closure of the oil well for a little while, but I guess it just goes to prove that we have to take everything into consideration. We have to realize how important it is, what the fishery is to this Province. From time to time we come here to the House of Assembly, we debate different bills, whether it is the FPI or what have you, the Raw Material Sharing, but it comes down to one thing, regardless of who takes control of it - and I totally agree that the federal government has dropped the ball on this one over many years and hopefully, our government will see to it that that issue has been dealt with.

Madam Chair, the Member for Terra Nova, he mentioned that people on this side of the House say that this Administration has done nothing.

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member that his speaking time has expired.

MR. BUTLER: Just a couple seconds to -

MADAM CHAIR: Does the hon. member have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

MADAM CHAIR: Leave is granted.

MR. BUTLER: I reference the Member for Terra Nova, in closing, when he said that people on this side say that the present Administration has done nothing. I have never, ever said that. I believe that every government, since Confederation, have done what they have tried to do to the best of their ability. We also hear it back from the other side, that the former Administration, for fifteen years, did nothing. I do not agree with that either. I think every individual -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. BUTLER: I do not agree, that they did not do anything for fifteen years.

AN HON. MEMBER: Almost, not quite.

MR. BUTLER: No, no. I can stand and list many things that were good, that were done over the previous fifteen years.

In closing, Madam Chair, I am sure I will be given an opportunity again later on. If anything can be done, just one thing, it is with regards to getting a message out with regard to the Community Enhancement Program. I believe that if government can do it, if there is $15 million to go to fibre optics, I think there should be more money put into some of those other programs so that the people of this Province will benefit from them.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

MADAM CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. DENINE: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I am pleased to get up here this afternoon and support Bill 45, totalling amount to $12,572,600 for expenditures of the House.

Madam Chair, from time to time these are some of the things that happen in government, unexpected expenses that come up. This is the way we have to make sure it comes to the House so it is approved by all members here.

Madam Chair, this allows me the opportunity to talk about our government's achievement over the last three years. When we came in here three years ago, to say the least, we were left with a mess. The deficit was high and we really had nowhere to go but to do some very, very careful thinking of how a budget is going to be. The next budget that came in was better. The one beyond that, the third one, was even better than that. Prior to the consultations - and I know the Minister of Finance, the President of Treasury Board, is going to go out and listen to all of the people and see what they have to say, and I expect there will be good things coming in the budget. I do not know what they will be, I have no idea right now, but given our track record -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DENINE: Well, we had an awful lot of good news last year, and I am going to get into that.

Education - I am Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Education - that alone has certainly made some improvements.

Let's take the school fees - my hon. colleague from Terra Nova mentioned that - $6.3 million to get rid of schools fees. Now, what did that do in our educational system? That did a number of things.

Number one, when parents went out to get their children clothes for the new school year, which we all did, and our parents did it for us, that gave them a little bit of extra money to spend on that type of thing, or on different things for lunches, et cetera, et cetera.

Number two, what it did, it reduced the amount of stress that teachers had to put up with in the classroom, because no longer did the teachers have to go and collect money from children; and, without knowing the background of the children, some of these children may not be able to pay those fees. Therefore, the stress was reduced from the teachers and also from the pupils, and that was a very, very positive thing.

Now, I believe - I may not be correct, but I believe - when the election came around, the Opposition now, the then government, said: Well, let's do away with school fees. All of a sudden they thought, hold on, there are school fees out there. They didn't realize they existed. We got rid of them.

Also, what we did in the school education area, we gave the instructional fee - it was $80 - we put that up to $150. Now, people will say: Well, what did that do to the operations of the school?

A number of things. Number one, because if they could not pay the school fees it was not collected, because some of the children could not afford to pay for it. Number two, they were guaranteed that money without any effort of collection. Number three, they were able to put more money into the needs of the school rather than let it suffer and do fundraising. Those are some of the things that have happened.

Madam Chair, we also put money into technology. We are going to develop two new programs in technology to prepare our children for the future, so that they are able to cope with the skills that are necessary in the future. We have put in place twenty-five schools that are going to pilot this project, and with that comes an investment over $100,000 of new equipment in those schools. That is what I call progress. That is what I call vision. That is what we did as a government, and I am very pleased. As a former teacher, I can say that we are doing something really, really concrete.

Now, some of the members on the other side mentioned some of the air quality, and the fact that there were problems at Paradise Elementary. We worked through that with the district, and the district deserves a lot of credit in working through this, we know that, but what we were saddled with was thirteen years of neglect on the envelope of the schools, and what caused the mould was the dampness that was getting in through the roofs and the windows. That is where it came from, because that is exactly where mould comes from; it is from dampness. That is exactly what we had to do, and we put in millions and millions of dollars. We put in roofs this year and last year probably equal to about ten or twelve football fields. Now, if you look at the size of a football field, and look at the size of school roofs, you will know how much we are after doing with them, and we have to do that because of the neglect that happened over the years.

Now, Madam Chair, when we go into health, we look at health, one important thing we did this year - and I congratulate the minister and the parliamentary secretary who was the chair of the committee - we went out and did consultations with our seniors out over the Province on what the seniors had to say about healthy aging. What are their issues? These consultations are now completed and I wait for the chairperson of the committee from Trinity North to submit the report to the minister. I am sure the minister will share that with all of us, and give us a direction in which way we are going to go and what we are going to do and what we can do to help it out.

Madam Chair, the Member for Grand Falls-Buchans - is that correct? She always says I get it wrong, but I think it is Grand Falls-Buchans.

MS THISTLE: You are right this time.

MR. DENINE: I got that right? Thank you very much. I did want to get it right the third time. I know I made a mistake a couple of times.

In Central Newfoundland - for the first time today, she gave credit to this side. What we did, Madam Chair, what we did when we first came in, the money was not there to put the cancer clinic in Grand Falls. I think the price tag was around $4 million or $5 million, I believe.

Madam Chair, our government were very sensitive to that issue, so what we did -

MR. REID: You closed it.

MR. DENINE: The Leader of the Opposition, what we did, for his information, is that now we have two - not one, but two. That is two cancer clinics, and they are serving the people of that region quite well.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

The Chair is having difficulty hearing the Member for Mount Pearl.

I ask the members for order.

MR. DENINE: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I sat here and listened attentively to the Opposition. They are obviously not listening to what I have to say.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. DENINE: Madam Chair, what we also did, we added $6 million to increase the monthly subsidy for personal care home operators - $6 million. We also are providing $30 million for long-term care facilities in Happy Valley, Corner Brook and Clarenville. That is our commitment. We made that commitment, and that is what we are going to do. So, Madam Chair, we are moving ahead -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. DENINE: - we are doing things that are positive and we are moving ahead with vision, not with narrow focus but with vision.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DENINE: We are not spending money, ill-spent money over here, what happened over on the other side.

Now, one way, and I want to mention -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DENINE: Well, that is what we had to do. We had to come back into government to correct the mistakes of thirteen years of neglect. That is what we did.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DENINE: Madam Chair, we took the Atlantic Accord money and we put it down on teachers' pensions. Now, Madam Chair, people said: Why did you do that? Because it was very strategic in the financial situation of this Province, because for every year we do not have to pay interest on that debt it goes back into our revenue. That is what vision is. Now, I would really hate to see what the Opposition would have done with that money.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. DENINE: Thank God we were here. They probably would have squandered it and had nothing to show for it, but we will have something to show, forever and a day, because we do not have to pay on that $2 billion.

Madam Chair, there are a lot of things we have done. Also, into health care, new MRI machines, six dialysis machines, free dental for children up to the age of fourteen or sixteen. That is what we have.

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member that his speaking time has expired.

MR. DENINE: Can I have just one minute, Madam Chair?

MADAM CHAIR: Does the member -

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MADAM CHAIR: There is no leave. Leave has been taken.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Madam Chairperson.

Having been sufficiently enlightened by this side of the House today, I move that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MADAM CHAIR: Order, please!

The motion is that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MADAM CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

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

MR. SPEAKER (H. Hodder): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. John's West and Deputy Chair of Committees.

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

The Committee of Supply have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report progress and ask leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: The Deputy Chair of Committees has reported that the Committee have met, made some progress and ask leave to sit again.

When shall the Committee have leave to sit again?

MR. SULLIVAN: Tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: On tomorrow.

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

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I move that the House do now adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that this House do now adjourn until Monday, November 27, at 1:30 of the clock.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against, ‘nay'.

Motion carried.

This House now stands adjourned until Monday, November 27, at 1:30 of the clock in the afternoon.

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