May 17, 2010                        HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                  Vol. XLVI  No. 22


The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): Order, please!

Admit strangers.

Statements by Members

MR. SPEAKER: Today the Chair welcomes the following members' statements: the hon. the Member for the District of Port de Grave; the hon. the Member for the District of Mount Pearl North; the hon. the Member for the District of Fortune Bay-Cape la Hune; and the hon. the Member for the District of Baie Verte-Springdale.

The hon. the Member for the District of Port de Grave.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BUTLER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, May 14, I had the honour to attend the celebrations with the forty-fifth graduating class of Ascension Collegiate.

The event began with a church service at St. Matthew's Anglican Church - Bay Roberts - under graduate leaders Jenny Smith and Justin Butler. An inspiring meditation was delivered by Reverend Amanda Taylor to the capacity crowd of graduates, parents and friends. The celebration continued with a delicious meal served to approximately 900 people at the Bay Arena, surrounded with their decor theme: Midnight in Paris.

Victoria Sheppard and Alex Morgan were chairpersons for the senior prom while an entertaining valedictorian speech was delivered by Zachary Barrett. All those who sang and did readings are to be commended. The class of 2010 chose as their theme: Looking into the Stars. This was very appropriate as 189 graduates were presented by their teachers, Ms Marjorie Mercer and Mr. Ron Noseworthy.

One of the many highlights for the evening was the crowning of the prom king and queen. The winners were Catherine Ralph and Ryan Mercer.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all hon. members to join me in congratulating Ascension Collegiate's class of 2010, and to wish them every success as they continue their journey to fulfilling their dreams.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in this hon. House today to recognize the Provincial Championship winners for Women's Senior Curling in Newfoundland and Labrador. This team, led by skip Laura Phillips, includes Diane Ryan, Jeanette Hodder and Marian Dawe. In March of this year, they competed in the National Championships in Ottawa, Ontario.

I would like to congratulate Team Phillips on their dedication and commitment to the sport of curling. I would also like to point out that this is third consecutive year that Mount Pearl resident Marian Dawe has been part of the senior ladies team that has represented Newfoundland and Labrador at the National Championship.

Curling has become a favourite pastime of many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. It promotes a healthy and active lifestyle, as well as incorporates teamwork and great sportsmanship.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all members of this House to join me in congratulating Team Phillips on yet another successful curling season and wish them all the best in future tournaments.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in this hon. House today to deliver accolades to the community of Conne River as they embrace technology to preserve their traditional Mi'kmaq culture.

This coming Wednesday, on May 19, the Miawpukek First Nation is launching a new and exciting Web site entitled: Footsteps that others may Follow. This site will enable Canadians to access accurate and informative sources to learn about the Mi'kmaq people of Newfoundland's South Coast, from their earliest days to contemporary settlement.

These footsteps may be examined from three perspectives – that of elders, the eagle or youth. I encourage everyone to visit their Web site at www.miawpukekfootsteps.com.

I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge MUN's Distance Education and Learning Technologies Centre, which has partnered with the Miawpukek First Nation of Conne River to create a virtual world depicting the Mi'qmaw where one can fish, paddle a canoe, and learn about healing powers with their ancestors from the 1800s as told through Chief Joe's book: Mununji'j Becomes a Man. I invite you to visit this Web site at www.storiesofconneriver.ca.

I commend the First Nations Trust, the Band Council, the school, community residents, Chief Misel Joe, Memorial University and Marlene Brooks for their exemplary accomplishments in preserving the culture of our Mi'qmaw people.

I ask members of this hon. House to join me in congratulating them for a job well done.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Baie Verte-Springdale.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. POLLARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is indeed a pleasure to rise in this hon. House today to acknowledge the outstanding achievements of the Table Tennis Team from Indian River High School, Springdale.

On the weekend of February 20, they captured the gold medal and thus the high-school championship banner at the 2010 School Sports Provincial Championships.

Each member displayed considerable poise, skill and sportsmanship as they embarked upon their quest to capture the title for two years in a row.

Although they received stiff competition, the team prevailed. The team members are: Hannah Pollard, Nicole Buckle, Kena Stuckless, Katie Mckay, Emily Edison, Jordan Osmond, Lawrence Downey, Nicholas Buckle, Kyle Pittman, Andrew Walker and Christian Pelley.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, some of these athletes competed at the Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games as members of the Central Team. Hannah Pollard captured two gold medals along with Nicholas Buckle, with Emily Edison and Jordan Osmond each picking up a gold and silver.

Their performances propelled the Central Team to a first place at the Winter Games. Coach Denise Simms and Indian River High School are to be saluted for fostering a positive climate in which students are able to excel.

Mr. Speaker, I invite all hon. colleagues to join me in applauding Indian River High School's Table Tennis Team and the Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games Central Table Tennis Team members for a stellar performance.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Statements by Ministers.

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: Mr. Speaker, I rise in this hon. House today in recognition of National Public Works Week which runs from May 16 to May 22 and marks the fiftieth anniversary of National Public Works Week in North America. This year's theme is, Public Works: Above, Below & All Around You.

National Public Works Week recognizes the tens of thousands of men and women who contribute to our society by ensuring that the comforts and necessities that we so readily depend on are working for the benefit of everyone in this Province and in this nation.

Mr. Speaker, every time we turn on a tap, navigate our transportation systems, enter a public building or dispose of trash or refuse, we are using elements of our public works. The contributions made to our society by the workers in this field are essential for maintaining the services and vital infrastructure that we all use on a daily basis.

Mr. Speaker, I recently met with Mr. David Moulton, the President of the Canadian Public Works Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, to sign a proclamation recognizing National Public Works Week in this Province.

It was a pleasure meeting with Mr. Moulton and I was so impressed to see the pride and respect he has for the role of public works in our society. This is the same pride and respect that I am privileged to see every day in all our provincial government employees working in the field of public works.

Mr. Speaker, the advancement of our society has, in a large part, been dependent on the efforts of those working in this field, and I feel it is a continuation of this effort, by this government, and all public works employees, that will see this Province continue to prosper and to grow.

Our commitment to public works in this Province is unwavering and is evident in our infrastructure strategy valued at more than $5 billion over the next several years and which is expected to generate 7,740 person years of employment in 2010-2011. Initiatives under this strategy include new construction and maintenance of hospitals, long-term care homes, schools, roads and other important infrastructure that will leave a legacy of public works projects for generations to come.

Mr. Speaker, I urge all hon. members and the public to recognize the efforts of men and women in our public works sector and the essential services that they provide to everyone in our society.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BUTLER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to thank the minister for an advance copy of his statement and to say that we are also very proud of the work those individuals do that has been mentioned by the minister as we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of National Public Works Week.

Mr. Speaker, whether we drive our highways, whether we operate our homes or our offices, their services are vital on a daily basis, as the minister has stated. Mr. Speaker, the national president he mentioned, is very impressed with the work that they do. We agree with that, Mr. Speaker. As they do our roads, street maintenance, solid waste collection and disposal, municipal waste water operations, storm water management, transportation, traffic control and so on, Mr. Speaker, they do a tremendous job. We want to commend each and every one of them, but, Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not say sometimes even though they do a wonderful job, sometimes their hands are tied. I reference the thirteen highway depots that were closed. I get calls from individuals who work with the department from time to time saying that we would love to be able to do more with summer maintenance on our roads and highways.

Mr. Speaker, the funding that the minister has announced is a wonderful thing. Hopefully, that will continue. I know that the depots that I referred to, it went through the court system and now it is with the Supreme Court. Mr. Speaker, not taking away from anything, we want to commend each and every individual who take part in the public service and to wish them every success in the future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I thank the minister for the advance copy of his statement. I, too, am happy to stand and congratulate the men and women of our Province, and other provinces, whose hard work provides us with so many important services. The services that we do not even think about that maintain our lives on a daily basis, as the minister points out, even from the turning on of a tap of water right through to driving on our highways. It is work that often goes unseen and is often unappreciated until something goes wrong. Then we complain and we do not think about the times that we should be thanking them for the great work they do.

It is really good to see a minister of this government giving credit to the workers for this work rather than asking to be congratulated, themselves, for putting an infrastructure in place that is essential to the work as government.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Further statements by ministers?

Oral Questions.

Oral Questions

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, last week in the House of Assembly the Minister of Environment stated that within days of receiving information last fall about health and safety concerns in Buchans she made it public. On page 9 of the CRA report on the Buchans site, it cites a Human Health Risk Assessment report that was commissioned in 2007, yet the information was not disclosed by her department publicly until the fall of 2009.

I ask the minister: When did you receive a copy of that health risk assessment report that was completed by Jacques Whitford in 2007?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker, I really want to thank the member opposite for her question because it gives me the opportunity to clear up the misinformation that CBC has put out there this morning.

Back in September 2007, the Town of Buchans did contact the Department of Environment at the time with an issue. Mr. Speaker, quickly we hired a consultant to go out and do a Human Health Risk Assessment. That piece of work was done in literally less than months. The report came to our office in December 2007, at which time my officials went out to the Town of Buchans, gave the report to the Town of Buchans in less than days. The Town of Buchans at that time, Mr. Speaker, asked to have a public meeting. That public meeting was held and my officials were there. In fact, Mr. Speaker, CBC carried the reports of that within days after the public meeting.

So, a completely wrong story this morning and I thank the member opposite for the opportunity to clear it up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just to get back to the Jacques Whitford assessment that was done, can the minister tell us when she received that report?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this report that was done by Jacques Whitford was done on a specific area, the Mucky Ditch, which was exactly what the town asked for. It came in December, 2007. I do not have the exact date before me, but within days, Mr. Speaker, officials from the department went to the Town of Buchans, met with the mayor and the council. They were very pleased with the work that was done. We held a public meeting, the public meeting was reported on, and that site was in fact remediated that very summer.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I understand from the minister that she did hold a public meeting going back to, I am assuming, 2007 in the community of Buchans.

I ask her to indicate the date that that meeting was held and if it was indeed a public meeting as opposed to a meeting with the municipality?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker, I suspect that the Leader of the Opposition is doing the same amount of research that CBC did on this, Mr. Speaker, and that is why I have to clear that up here this morning.

The public meeting was held March 25, 2008 and CBC, as well as many other media outlets, reported on it that following Monday.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Can the minister indicate to me if the Jacques Whitford report was presented to the town and to the public at that time and the report made available? Can she also tell me if she provided notification to the town in writing that she had those reports and what it contained?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker, not only did we give them the report, but if she wants to go into our Web site a lot of the information is up on the Web. So, that is how open we are, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to clarify, because the facts are important, and I ask the minister again: If she provided the information to them in writing, and if so, can she provide a copy of that for me?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker, there is one statement that she said that is certainly true and she should live by that, the facts are important. That is why I need to put the correct facts out there.

The report, not only was it up on the Web, but, Mr. Speaker, we went and hand delivered it to the town. I mean, you cannot get more interactive than hand delivering it to the community.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker, officials in my department spoke to the Mayor of Buchans this morning, because again, when these things are put out in the media there is a certain amount of alarm that is raised and we do not want that unnecessary fear and panic out there. Mr. Speaker, the Mayor of Buchans did not know where this story was coming from. He understood at the time that we went out, we gave him the report, he asked for a public meeting, we did the public meeting and the site was remediated. End of story, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Quite simply, I ask the minister again: Did you provide written notice to the Town of Buchans?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Environment and Conservation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I would assume that hand delivering a copy of the report would be better than a letter in writing but I can certainly go back to the department and see if it was put in writing. The main point here is that we gave them the report, we acted on the report, we did everything that the town wanted to do and the issue has been remediated, and the Town of Buchans and the Mayor of Buchans, whom we spoke to today, have absolutely no issue with it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate her doing that and to please provide us with a copy of that letter, if it exists.

Mr. Speaker, we now know that the minister also had the CRA reports regarding contaminated Abitibi properties in her possession since last year and that documentation was filed with the Quebec courts to justify the minister's claim of recovery of cleanup costs against Abitibi.

I ask the minister: When did you first discuss these CRA reports with the municipalities of Grand Falls-Windsor, Botwood, and Stephenville, and who did you speak with regarding them?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I guess she is recycling her questions from last week, but I will gladly give the answer again this week.

Mr. Speaker, what we did when those reports were being done is that it came to our attention that there was immediate health and safety concern in the community of Buchans. That is where we threw all of our attention, that is where we prioritized, that is where we acted quickly.

Mr. Speaker, in all the other communities, while there are environmental issues and that they do need to be remediated, they are not of a health and safety nature, Mr. Speaker. There was one instance in one of the reports I looked at in Botwood that I thought there may have been an issue, so what we did is we went out and we met with the Mayor of Botwood and the council of Botwood and that turned out to be a non issue when it came to immediate health and safety. Mr. Speaker, the Mayor of Grand Falls himself was in the media last week and said this is what is to be expected of an industry site and there are no surprises here.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: I ask the minister again, Mr. Speaker, quite simply, a very simple question, it does not take a long, complicated answer to provide the answer.

I ask the minister again: When did you first discuss the CRA reports with the municipalities of Grand Falls-Windsor, Botwood, and Stephenville, and who did you speak with minister?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker, as part of a Phase I assessment, part of that involved interviewing people who worked on the site, interviewing the community, interviewing the town council.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JOHNSON: Those pieces of work were done by our consultants. So the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor, the Town of Stephenville, the Town of Botwood was certainly interviewed along the way. Discussions were had with those communities along the way, but in the instance where there was immediate health and safety concern, we went out to the community in the Town of Buchans. In the Budget this year, to the tune of $9 million to remediate that site, Mr. Speaker. The tenders are going out in the near future. If, in any case, as I said last week, there was an immediate health and safety concern we would have certainly gone out immediately to those towns, as we did in Buchans, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is obvious that the minister did not undertake to meet with those groups at that time and if she did, why isn't she disclosing the information to the House?

Mr. Speaker, the CRA reports clearly identified environmental contamination at sites in the municipalities of Botwood, Grand Falls-Windsor, Stephenville, some of which would be dangerous to human health and some of which is harmful to the environment.

I ask the minister: Did you give written notice to these towns of those contaminated sites and provide them with copies of these reports?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker, it sounds like the Leader of the Opposition wants us to hold a public meeting, call all the residents in and say there is no issue for health and safety in your residence. That is not necessary, Mr. Speaker. Where it was necessary we went out and did that; exactly, that is what we did in the case in Buchans, Mr. Speaker.

If there had been an issue we would have did the exact same thing. I do not know how to put it any plainer and simpler to her, that this was an immediate priority; that is where we focused all of our attention in dealing with that issue and committing the $9 million to the people of the Town of Buchans so that the health and safety concerns would be addressed there.

All of these other issues are industrial issues. There was a piece of work done but there needs to be more work done. A Phase I and a Phase II assessments were completed on these properties but in order to know what the risk assessment is of these, that is exactly what we asked Abitibi to do, go do the further phase assessments and do the risk assessment, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Mr.Speaker, I say to the minister, it is not what we want it is what you are obligated to do as a minister. Mr. Speaker, under section 27 of the Environmental Protection Act it states that the minister shall give notice in writing to a municipality where the contaminated site is located.

Minister, I ask you again: Did you give notice in writing, once you obtained this information, and provide it to the Towns of Botwood, Stephenville, and Grand Falls-Windsor?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker, we did exactly what we were supposed to do. In the case of the Town of Buchans there was an immediate health and safety concern, Mr. Speaker -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JOHNSON: - and we acted quickly.

Mr. Speaker, I cannot tell the member opposite often enough how if this had come up in any of these other communities, Mr. Speaker, we would have done the exact same thing.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is having difficulty hearing the hon. minister and hearing the questions asked. I ask members for their co-operation.

The hon. the Minister of Environment and Conservation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, to leave the impression that there were health and safety issues, Mr. Speaker, that is totally untrue and unfair of the member opposite, too. She just mentioned that in the preamble to her question. That is not the case. Mr. Speaker, where it was the case we acted.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Under the act that the minister is obligated to follow in her duties in carrying out the role as Minister of Environment in this Province, Mr. Speaker, it says that she shall give notice in writing to the municipalities where these contaminated sites are located.

I ask you again, Minister: Did you give notice, and will you table the copies of those letters in the House of Assembly today?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker, yes, we provided notice where notice was warranted. Mr. Speaker, notice was certainly warranted in the case of the Town of Buchans. Mr. Speaker, in these other sites - look at the Grand Falls mill for instance. Mr. Speaker, that mill has been operating for 100 years, long before we had a Department of Environment, long before we had an Environmental Protection Act, Mr. Speaker. So these contaminants have been around a while.

The Leader of the Opposition leaves the impression that we are only doing this now that Abitibi has pulled out. Mr. Speaker, back in 2006 as part of the certificate of approval, we required Abitibi at that time to come up with a decommissioning plan, long before there was any talk of them moving outside the community. We have been working on this. The Department has been very diligent in ensuring that the environmental guidelines and quality for the people of those communities are certainly met.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to remind the minister that there is no distinction in our act between the environmentally contaminated sites and human health and safety risks. However, it is very clear what it requires you to do as minister.

I ask you again: Did you provide the written notice of these contaminated sites to those municipalities as was required of you as a minister?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Environment and Conservation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker, the people who live in these communities, the councils and the mayors themselves – I heard the Mayor of Stephenville on, I heard the Mayor of Grand Falls-Windsor on, we have spoken to the Mayor of Buchans many times, the Mayor of Botwood. They all know what is in their communities, Mr. Speaker.

We prioritize; we went out with the Town of Buchans and all of these communities, Mr. Speaker. There was contact made with the Town of Botwood. I personally made contact myself with the Mayor of Grand Falls-Windsor. Mr. Speaker, the Mayor of Stephenville full well knows on an industrial site that there is going to be environmental contamination.

The point that the member is missing, Mr. Speaker, is that these are not of a human health and safety concern. If they had been, we would have done the exact same thing we did in the Town of Buchans. I do not know why the member cannot get that, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister knows that she failed in carrying out her duties and she has no information to provide. She did not hold the public sessions in the communities as she was supposed to, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in the ministerial orders that were issued by the minister related to the Grand Falls-Windsor mill site, she states that contamination has migrated or unless remediated will migrate off the Grand Falls-Windsor site.

I ask the minister: If you feel that this contamination is migrating off the primary mill site, as stated in your ministerial order to the courts, why have you not disclosed this information to the public so that they can be aware of this risk?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker, speaking of failing in carrying out our duties, we had a line of questioning here started by the Leader of the Opposition today, it was completely based on an untrue story, not based on fact, and totally incorrect information. So, let's not go there.

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the Grand Falls mill –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JOHNSON: – we have security in place. We are continuing with the environmental effects monitoring on the Exploits River, we are continuing to do all of the sampling of the discharge that goes into the river, and to date, there has been no reason for concern there.

That is exactly why we are continuing to monitor it, Mr. Speaker. If something should come up that is of a human health and safety concern, the mayor of Grand Falls-Windsor can be rest assured that I will personally contact him myself.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the minister again: Why would you disclose information of contaminations and concerns about it in a court case, but not disclose it to the public in this very community that is affected?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker, the contamination on these sites is certainly a concern –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JOHNSON: – when it comes to an environmental perspective. They are on an industrial site. There is arsenic there in the ground from the years of the coal days.

Mr. Speaker, certainly, that is to be expected. However, if there was something on these sites that were of a human health and safety concern - they say if you repeat it often enough, eventually it will sink in. So once again, I will say that if it was of a human health and safety concern, Mr. Speaker, we would certainly be in contact with the town of whatever community it is, the people there, and if need be, public meetings will be held – but to call people into a public meeting, and to call all the residents in and say there is no issue of residential concern here just does not seem to make sense.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Back in March, we raised the issue of fifteen striking workers on the Burin Peninsula who were job coaches for people with disabilities. They have been on strike since November of 2009, and these employees were making anywhere between $9.37 an hour to $10.63 an hour. At that time, the Minister of Finance said that both sides remained far apart. Yet, we understand the cost to settle the dispute is only $17,500 additional income per year.

I ask the government today: Why are you leaving these fifteen workers, these fourteen disabled clients, out in the street for the sake of $17,500; yet, you are paying a Child and Youth Advocate $175 an hour and a CEO in this Province $35,000 a year in housing allowances?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There are twenty employment corporations in the Province that hire job support workers who in turn work with people with disabilities and help them perform their jobs in the community. Three of those are represented by NAPE, the other seventeen are not. Government is not the employer and government is not the negotiator, except for Burin where government, under the provisions of the Public Service Collective Bargaining Act, is the negotiator.

Negotiations have been ongoing. There have been lots of discussions between the parties, but, unfortunately, we remain far apart.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister knows that NAPE is the bargaining agent for these individuals. He also knows that any increase in wages will have to come from the Provincial Treasury.

So I ask you again, Minister: How can you justify paying out housing allowances to CEOs, $175 an hour salaries to others in the Province; yet, keep these fifteen people on the street for the sake of $17,500?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: As I indicated, Mr. Speaker, negotiations have been ongoing. We understand each other's position quite clearly. The two sides get together from time to time. Sometimes different people will talk to different Members of the House of Assembly, different members of government and when that happens we would get together but, unfortunately, we do remain far apart.

Mr. Speaker, groups like the Employment Corporation provide a very valuable service to people of this Province. Government values what they do and government supports them financially, but that does not mean they are employees of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. That does not mean they are entitled to whatever benefits, both financial and otherwise, that the employees in the Province get. They are employees of the Employment Corporation and not employees of government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It was this government who insisted that the same clauses that were in the last Public Service Commission contract also be in the Burin workers' contract, which include market adjustment, extended earnings loss and sick leave entitlement. However, on the other hand, Mr. Speaker, government is not prepared to leave in the reclassification review clause that the Public Service Commission employees will receive.

I ask the minister: Why would you treat these employees any different? Why would you expect them to have some of the same conditions in their contract; yet, have others left out that they want to have included?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, as I said these employees work for the Employment Corporation. They are not employees of the government. It is not appropriate to have employees classified under the government system when they are not employees of the government. This is the government's classification system and an outside board cannot commit to pay employees under the government's classification system. It is very simple.

Government is not the employer. Government, for the most part, is not the negotiator with the exception of Burin.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Obviously, government is becoming somewhat more choosey these days about what agreements they decide to get involved in because they had no problem getting involved with VON out on the West Coast a couple of years ago, which resulted in a minister in the Cabinet ending up resigning.

I say to you, Minister, the only way that this is going to get resolved is if the government is prepared to agree to the reclassification and put in the extra money in a contract for these employees. Are you telling me today that you are satisfied to leave these fifteen workers out in the street and the fourteen people with disabilities who need the service at home with no services?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: I think it is important to note that it was NAPE that took the employees out. Government did not force the employees out.

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated there are twenty of these Employment Corporations. The seventeen who are not unionized are earning $11 an hour and Burin is earning just under that, as is Port aux Basques. Mr. Speaker, government will continue to negotiate. We are prepared to be reasonable, but the offer that the employer has made in this circumstance is, in our view, fair and reasonable, especially in these very uncertain economic times.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, we know that the people in Burin today are on strike. We also know that there are two other groups in a strike position and they have given a strong mandate to their union, from what I understand, the people in Stephenville and Port aux Basques. For these people, Minister, you know it is just about the pay cheque – not just about the pay cheque but about the job, the job they do in providing services to these people.

I ask you, Minister: Will you commit today to do something to resolve this issue (inaudible) –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Did the hon. minister hear the question?

I ask members for their co-operation.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, if you would be kind enough to repeat your question.

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, we know, as I said, that there are two other groups in the Province, in Stephenville and Port aux Basques, that also have a mandate to go to a strike, and for all of these employees, Mr. Speaker, it is about providing services to their clients, to the people they represent. They earn very low wages.

I ask the minister today: Is he prepared to make this a priority of his government and put the resources there to get this settled so that these individuals can go back to work?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, with respect to Bay St. George and with Port aux Basques, government has no involvement as employer. We have no involvement - we are not the negotiator. Government does provide funding to the associations, because we value the work that they do; and, with respect to Burin, government will continue to negotiate with NAPE, but government has made a fair offer of 20 per cent over four years – I think 21.40 per cent is the actual offer - and under the circumstances, Mr. Speaker, that is a very fair and generous offer.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

Mr. Speaker, many concerns have come out as a result of the Wells Inquiry and the Gulf of Mexico disaster, around offshore worker safety and the environment. Mr. Speaker, last week the Minister of Natural Resources said she is confident that the C-NLOPB will protect worker safety and the environment even in untested deepwater drilling, and mentioned that they have a chief safety and a chief environmental officer.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Minister of Natural Resources to tell the House how many other personnel are working in health and safety and the environment portfolios at the C-NLOPB, besides these two officers.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources and Deputy Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of other officers. I know that there are three environmental inspectors, and there are several other people involved in occupational health and safety, Mr. Speaker. I will endeavour to get those exact numbers and provide them to the Leader of the NDP.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I had a follow-up question, but I will wait until I hear the full answer on the numbers before I ask my next question, but I will go on.

Mr. Speaker, since 1989 we have had draft occupational health and safety regulations for offshore health and safety. They have never been put in place, and are now out of date and need to be reviewed. Some of the safety problems that came up during the Wells Inquiry are a result of the federal and provincial governments contracting out their responsibility for health and safety to the C-NLOPB. The C-NLOPB reports to the federal and provincial Departments of Natural Resources, which are primarily concerned with production and development, not the safety of workers.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister: When are occupational health and safety regulations for the offshore going to be put in place?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Deputy Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, there are occupational health and safety guidelines in draft form. These form part of the authorization to drill in our offshore, and are required to be followed by the operators. Mr. Speaker, these OHS Regulations involved three jurisdictions: ourselves, the Province of Nova Scotia and the federal government.

These guidelines have been ten years in the making, Mr. Speaker, a complicated piece of work, but I am happy to report that all Legislatures of the three jurisdictions will be bringing that forward in the fall sessions of our respective Parliaments.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I certainly look forward to seeing that legislation when it comes to the House.

Mr. Speaker, given that a number of problems surfaced during the Wells inquiry, and a number of issues have been raised by local scientists that environmental monitoring has not revealed the extent of oil spills and their impact on sea birds, fish and other wildlife to the public, I ask the minister if she could tell us: What is the C-NLOPB's capacity to do research and get that information out to the public?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Deputy Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, certainly, some of that work will form part of the review that is ongoing. We have available to the C-NLOPB and to governments the effect of the wind, the waves, on oil spills on our offshore. Mr. Speaker, there is a great deal of science around the effect on fish. Up to this point there is not known to be any effect on fish from oil spills, although there is a significant effect if there is fishing gear in the area.

The most vulnerable population to oil spill, Mr. Speaker, are birds. There is significant science available on that piece, but we always look for other opportunities to increase the information we have and we support the C-NLOPB in that effort, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for questions and answers has expired.

Presenting Reports by Standing and Select Committees.

Tabling of Documents.

Notices of Motion.

Notices of Motion

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARDING: Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Member for Labrador West, the following private member's resolution:

WHEREAS Newfoundland and Labrador is home to one of the best undeveloped clean, green, renewable energy projects in North America at the Lower Churchill River in Labrador; and

WHEREAS Ontario, the Maritime Provinces, and the North Eastern United States are in need of affordable, clean energy sources; and

WHEREAS last week's ruling of the Rιgis de l'ιnergie in Quebec on a transmission service request by Nalcor Energy once again demonstrates that province's arrogance and discriminatory business practices, in particular their determination to see the Lower Churchill proceed only on their terms; and

WHEREAS this ruling is deemed by this Province to be completely contrary to the rules of fair, open and competitive access; and

WHEREAS this government is determined to proceed with this project in the best interests and for the benefit of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly affirms its full support for the approach of Nalcor Energy and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to continue plans to develop this extraordinary clean, renewable energy project, including two alternative routes to market, including the Labrador-Island Link, the Maritime route, as well as the pursuit of a separate 724 megawatt transmission service request into the Maritimes and New England.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Further notices of motion?

Answers to Questions for which Notice has been Given.

Petitions.

Petitions

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

MR. BUTLER: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure today to stand with yet another petition on behalf of the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador and, today in particular, Lark Harbour, Corner Brook, Mount Moriah, Curling, Springdale, South Brook, Grand Falls-Windsor, Trinity and Badger.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. BUTLER: Mr. Speaker, the petition reads:

WHEREAS the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have always built cabins or tilts away from our homes for hunting, fishing, berry picking or just spending time up in the country or places around our shores, sometimes just to get away from the stress of everyday living, a place to relax and enjoy the great outdoors; and

WHEREAS your government has come down hard on the thousands of cabin and trailer owners that are out on our land with eviction notices and forcing them to move without providing them with an alternative; and

WHEREAS Kruger Inc. has timber rights to approximately one-third of all forested land on this Island and is refusing the vast majority of applications for cabin development;

WHEREUPON your petitioners call upon all Members of the House of Assembly to urge government to have compassion on the citizens of this fair Province and allow them the right to enjoy what is rightfully ours. We were born on this land and should have the right to enjoy it.

And as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is just another petition of the many that I do have from residents throughout this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I know recently there has been some development with regard to the issue with the Whiskey Pit. I know the minister has stated to the media that there is no problem for anybody to go there and do camping on a weekend for a short-term period. Mr. Speaker, that should have been explained to the people back when they were all evicted. They were all put in the one barrel and -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask members for their co-operation. The member is having a job to hear the petition presented by the hon. Member for Port de Grave.

MR. BUTLER: Mr. Speaker, I understand fully because I have a job to hear myself.

Mr. Speaker, what government did here is just like if you have a box or a barrel of apples, if there is one or two in it that did something wrong, everybody was thrown out with the wash, Mr. Speaker. All those people want is a fair answer and they have been told - on May 10 they were told by officials within the department: yes, you can go to the Whiskey Pit but you cannot – I am sorry, you cannot go to the Whiskey Pit and camp on the twenty-fourth of May weekend or any other time and then two days after the minister walks over and tells us: oh, they can go there but they have to leave after three or four days and go back to their homes.

Mr. Speaker, believe it or not, those same people have been offered two plots of land. Coming out of one side of their mouth they are saying you cannot do this any more and now they are coming up with land for them to do it. I agree with that. I agree with that, Mr. Speaker. I agree with that because up in Wolf Pond the people were given an opportunity -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has recognized the hon. Member for the District of Port de Grave. The Chair is having difficulty hearing him by shouting across from one side of the House to the other. The Chair has recognized the member and I ask hon. members to show the courtesy of the member being allowed to present his petition.

The hon. member.

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

If the members opposite stood up and shouted with such velocity as what they are doing now on behalf of their constituents about this issue, it would not be a problem.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. BUTLER: It would not be a problem, Mr. Speaker. It would not be a problem.

They have petitions from all over this Island, and the Minister of Transportation and Works knows full well, he had his constituents taken care of like I did. Government went in, they plotted out the land, they gave them a piece of land, they are paying it back over a period of time but something they could afford. All the people are asking is sit down with us; consult with us so that we can come to a conclusion that will be applicable to everybody.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Further petitions?

Orders of the Day.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, before we do Orders of the Day, by leave, I am wondering if we could return to Tabling of Documents?

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. the Government House Leader have leave to return to Tabling of Documents?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: Tabling of Documents.

Tabling of Documents

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Deputy Premier.

MS DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, in fulfilling government's commitment of being accountable to the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador, it is my pleasure to table the 2009 Business and Financial Report for Nalcor Energy and the Consolidated Financial Statements for Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Orders of the Day.

Orders of the Day

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

MS BURKE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

From the Order Paper, Mr. Speaker, we will call Motion 1.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion 1, that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government, the Budget Speech. The Chair will now hear debate on the Budget Speech.

The hon. the Minister of Environment and Conservation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand up in this House today and speak to Budget 2010-2011. Mr. Speaker, a great Budget for the people of the Province. From young people, from newborns to seniors and every age in between; for health, for schools, for organizations, for tourism, for culture, for heritage, an all around really, really good Budget.

Mr. Speaker, there is so much to speak about in all of the departments that we have in government but, of course, I am going to take the opportunity to narrow in on some of the things that we are doing in the Department of Environment and Conservation. Certainly, twenty minutes is not long enough to talk about all the things that we are doing there in the Budget this year. I think I will highlight some now and then when we get to Estimates, I will have an opportunity to speak there.

Mr. Speaker, firstly, I would like to speak about the Budget commitment that we made to the people of the Town of Buchans; $9 million we have committed to the Town of Buchans to remediate the tailing spill area in the Mucky Ditch.

Mr. Speaker, this file goes back to about 2007 when the community first approached us to do a piece of work on the Mucky Ditch. As was incorrectly reported in the media today and as was incorrectly asked by the member opposite today, we did act very quickly, Mr. Speaker, when that request came to us in 2007. In fact, Mr. Speaker, by December 2007, a human health risk assessment report had been completed, public meetings had been held and the site was, in fact, remediated.

As a result of that risk assessment there were other issues that were identified, Mr. Speaker. Again, government acted very quickly. Twice, myself, I was out to the Town of Buchans. The Minister of Health was out, and on several occasions other than that officials from my department were out and spoke to the town.

Mr. Speaker, we are very pleased to report that $4 million of this $9 million will be going into remediating the tailing spill area. The tender documents are being drafted as we speak, Mr. Speaker, and that work will commence early this summer, in June, and we hope to have that work complete by the fall.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask members to take their private conversations to the outside.

MS JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker, this is very welcome news for the people of the Town of Buchans, and I have to compliment the member who is responsible for Buchans. She tirelessly brought this issue to our attention around the Cabinet table. There was absolutely no question when it came to putting money into remediating this site, Mr. Speaker. The Mayor of Buchans and the council in Buchans, in fact the entire community has been an absolute delight to work with, Mr. Speaker. They had very legitimate concerns, rightly so, and we have worked with them through this time, and come this fall, this year, Mr. Speaker, they are able to put that issue to rest.

Also in the Budget, through the Department of Natural Resources, there is $5 million allocated to remediate the tailings dam area. Mr. Speaker, that is also an issue of concern from an environmental perspective and a safety perspective, and certainly the Minister of Natural Resources can speak more in detail to that, but $9 million, a huge, significant commitment. It just goes to show that we take contaminated sites and the issues that come with it very seriously in the Province, Mr. Speaker.

In terms of, you hear a lot of rhetoric put forward by the members of the Opposition, how there are areas of concern in other communities as well. In fact, that is exactly why we issued the orders under section 99 of the Environmental Protection Act to Abitibi. There was a piece of work done, Mr. Speaker, but to explain it to the people in the public, this was a preliminary piece of work. It was a Phase I and Phase II environmental site assessment, and that involves doing a walk around the site, doing a historical review of documents, interviewing people who worked at the site, talking to the council, talking to members in the community. Then to Phase II, it is doing limited tests in the area to see if there is an area of concern.

Mr. Speaker, when those limited tests were done, that is when we issued the orders to Abitibi to have the further piece of work done, to have the Phase III assessments done, to do the risk assessment, to see what the actual concern is there, what the site specific parameters are when it comes to environmental regulations and then submit a remediation plan to us. Mr. Speaker, Abitibi has operated in this Province, particularly in the Grand Falls area for over 100 years. They have reaped and reaped the benefits of using the resources of the people of this Province, and all that we ask for is that they return the environment to the state that they found it when they came here. The best move that this government ever made, Mr. Speaker, was to expropriate those properties from Abitibi.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Where would we be today, Mr. Speaker, had we not done that? Abitibi would be gone off, they would be gone with our hydro assets and all the other assets, and we would still be stuck with the environmental issues today. Best move ever made by this Premier - and there have been lots of good moves certainly made by this Premier and this government, but by far, that was a very, very important issue that was tackled in a very quick time. Just to have the foresight to do that so that we were not stuck with all of the environmental issues, by far, one of the best things. Talk to the people of Grand Falls-Windsor and talk to the people of the other communities and they will certainly agree with the fact that this was one of the best moves that this government ever made.

Also in keeping in line with contaminated sites, we committed $1 million to do work in Hopedale. I have had many conversations with the member responsible there and also the Minister of Labrador Affairs as well as the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. This is the site - it is the former US military site in Hopedale, and we have been doing a lot of work over the years on that site. In fact, there was some remediation done last year, but also we commissioned a consultant to do a Human Health Risk Assessment and also to do a remediation plan. That is why we committed $1 million to further the work in Hopedale. So again, Mr. Speaker, it goes to show that we are very committed when it comes to cleaning up contaminated sites in the Province.

Mr. Speaker, certainly being in the Department of Environment and Conservation, one of the issues that come up on a daily basis is the issue of climate change. It is an issue not only for this Province, not only for this country, but certainly internationally. Here in this Province we are not a big contributor of greenhouse gases, but we are certainly on the receiving end when it comes to the impacts of climate change. When it comes to issues like storm surges, sea level rise and flooding, certainly some of our coastal communities are going to be vulnerable in that aspect. I am not saying it is not important to reduce emissions; we are certainly doing that and that is why we committed a significant amount of money in the Budget to the Office of Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Emissions Trading - certainly a mouthful.

Most of our focus is on the adaptation side and that is why we committed over $1 million dollars in partnership with the other Atlantic Provinces and the federal government to do a major piece of work on the adaptation piece. So we will be working with the municipalities, we will be working in Labrador, we will working with businesses and the university and so on to assist these communities when it comes to adaptation and look at things like flood risk mapping, look at things like the size of culverts and infrastructure and things like that that we need to place in the future to prepare ourselves for what may come with climate change and the adaptation issues.

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions and trying to reduce them, one of the things that I remember – it was really good when it comes to young people - when you go around to the schools and you talk about environment, recycling and climate change the school age children really, really get it. They are to be commended for all of the work that they do in terms of recycling and composting, but, Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to go to Corner Brook at a school there for the launch of the Anti-Idling Campaign. Now, as a result the entire Western School District has gone idle-free. Mr. Speaker, it was a really neat event in that the students actually prepared tickets where they could ticket their parents if they left their car idling while waiting for them outside the school or waiting for them outside a birthday party or what have you.

So, certainly when it comes to climate change and greening up the environment our young people in this Province really, really get it. They are certainly the future of the Province, so it is really important that they be the ones to get it. It is not to say that those of us who are not in school do not get it, and we are not doing our part, we certainly are, but it is a real breath of fresh air when you go out to the schools and talk to these students.

Mr. Speaker, not only do the young people get it, but businesses are really getting it. As you know, we have in our department a Green Fund. It was $25 million over three years and we have done some really fascinating work with that. In terms of greenhouse gas reductions, we have really accomplished a lot. In fact, known to most people in the Province we have committed $1.6 million to methane recovery at Robin Hood Bay. Mr. Speaker, this is a really interesting project because it has the potential of reducing greenhouse gases by 50,000 to 60,000 tonnes a year - certainly a significant reduction in greenhouse gases.

Some other really neat projects and there have been numerous projects - and we are in the process of updating the Web site to list the projects because the hope is that while one business, one fish plant may be doing it in one area, certainly fish plants in other areas, or businesses in other areas can look at the project that was done there and work it into what they are doing at their particular business so that everybody can reap the benefits in terms of greenhouse gas reductions. When you reduce greenhouse gas reductions it also equates into more money for the bottom line of those businesses. If you are reducing the reliance on fuel consumption and so on, you are certainly reducing the cost.

Some other really interesting things: We gave over $900,000 to a farming initiative, and this is for the installation of an anaerobic digester. This is necessary to capture the methane gas that is emitted by cows, so a really, really neat system there. Also, we provided over $1 million to Holson Forest Products on the Northern Peninsula and this is for the production of wood pellets. This is done in conjunction with a major initiative with the Department of Natural Resources to assist with the forest industry there.

We put about $250,000 dollars into the Browning Harvey bottling plant in St. John's, and that will help with their energy requirements and manufacturing process there, and even smaller amounts of money like $10,000 into fish plants like Northern Seafoods. This is a really neat system that installs the saltwater cooling system. Prior to installing this system, they would use about thirty-four litres of fuel per hour, Mr. Speaker, and because of the investment, through our department, they are expecting to get that fuel requirement down to six point eight litres per hour. A huge reduction in greenhouse gases, but certainly really good for that company in terms of cost reduction. This is something that could be applicable to other like businesses.

It just goes to show that not only do the young people get it and people who are not of school age but also the businesses are getting it and we are very proud to help them in the Department of Environment with our Green Fund.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to turn my attention to parks and natural areas. This year alone, we committed $3.6 million for the replacement of Crabbes River bridge. This is a bridge that had some impacts due to ice damage. It is a significant bridge in terms of tourism on the West Coast of the Province and it builds upon the investment that we had in our Budget last year of $2 million where we repaired and replaced over five bridges last year. We know how important the T'Railway is to the people of the Province from a recreational perspective, but also from a social perspective and an economic perspective because the spinoffs that are generated from people using the T'Railway in terms of using cottages and purchasing things at the store in terms of gas and so on. It is really a significant contributor into the rural economy.

I had the pleasure just recently, Mr. Speaker, of going to CBS and announcing $140,000 there to undertake design and construction work for the CBS T'Railway. That has been an issue there for some time because they are trying to find a balance for the ATV users as well as the people who use the trail for walking and skiing and so on. The Minister of Tourism was there with me that day, it was a really welcomed announcement. The new member for CBS - he was not even elected at the time. I went out to help him out in the campaign and he had already started on me in terms of trying to get the money and that was even before he was elected. So, I was very proud to take part in that.

In keeping with the department of parks, Mr. Speaker, in this year's Budget we committed $1.6 million to Salmonier Nature Park. Now Salmonier Nature Park, as all of you know, is an absolute gem in this Province. It is a multi-function centre. It not only promotes environment and outdoor education but it is also a site, as you know, for wildlife rehabilitation, research and nature-based tourism.

Mr. Speaker, this is one of the most visited interpretative facilities that we have in the Province. Since 1977, the park has hosted more than 1 million visitors. We have about 30,000 people who visit there on an annual basis. We did peak, at one point, at 60,000 people; an absolutely fabulous facility, Mr. Speaker, to see the wildlife, to see how they interact.

When it comes to the education aspect, thousands of students go through there each year, Mr. Speaker, and learn about the environment. It is really important to learn at that age what the environment is all about, the animals that live in it, how they interact with wildlife and people, and the surroundings and so on - an absolute gem.

This $1.6 million will be going into the design and prep work for a new wildlife care building there, Mr. Speaker, and also for a new discovery centre. We are really excited about those new construction activities. We are also going to be completing a new carpentry workshop. I have been to Salmonier Nature Park many times and the carpentry workshop and the wildlife rehabilitation centre are housed under one roof. That is something that we really, really wanted to change, not only for the animals who are rehabilitating but also for the people doing carpentry work and so on. It is great to see this investment, Mr. Speaker.

We are also going to be upgrading the park trails and also a number of exhibits there. You will not believe the number of young people who say to me: Can you find some money in the Budget, minister, for an enclosure for a coyote? They are really interested in the coyote and learning about it. So I specifically asked that this money cover that off this year.

Also, one of the other really important things in the department - and there are many. We have Crown Lands, we have environmental assessment, Parks and Natural Areas, water quality, caribou and moose, and the list goes on and on. One of the things that we have made a key pillar of this government in the past number of years, Mr. Speaker, is drinking water. We committed $21 million over three years between the Department of Municipal Affairs and the Department of Environment and Conservation.

I had the opportunity again this year, in March, to go to Gander for the Clean and Safe Drinking Water Workshop that they offer out there. It is done on a yearly basis. This year, in fact, had the highest attendance ever; there were over 350 delegates who registered. It is an opportunity for owners and operators to learn about small systems, to learn about emergency situations relating to the operation and maintenance. At that, we also give out awards, too. A volunteer of the year award, and an operator of the year award. The submissions that came in for all of these communities, and I think there were over forty, were glowing in and of themselves. Every single one of them were certainly deserving of the award. The two people who won the award, the recommendations that came in from the community just goes to show how much the people in these communities take the drinking water quality issue very, very serious for the people in their community that they represent.

Mr. Speaker, we know that this is the ten year anniversary of Walkerton and the issues there, and certainly the entire country and the entire North America has learned a lot from that. I am very pleased to state that the expertise that we have in this department is just second to none, Mr. Speaker. We get inquiries from places like Egypt and Nigeria, all over the world. In fact, Mr. Speaker, Walkerton itself has contacted our department to use some of the applications that we use in our training, in terms of our mobile training unit. We have a mobile training unit. Mr. Speaker, all any community has to do is call up the department and we will take the mobile training unit out to you, because we understand that some small communities do not always have the resources for the training. That is why we are willing to take it to them. Last year alone, Mr. Speaker, the department and staff went to 185 communities to do 185 training sessions.

Also, at the drinking water session this year, I was really delighted to launch our new water resources portal. This is the most advanced provincial water resources portal of its kind in the entire country, Mr. Speaker. We were just recently contacted by San Diego – there is a conference being held in San Diego, California, and they asked our Province to come down there and show the work. Now, this is done in conjunction with OCIO and there is a lot of GIS information. It is a one-stop shop for any piece of information that you want to know about water quantity, water quality, boil water advisories, THMs, what is close to the water source and so on. Absolutely, the only one of its kind in the country, Mr. Speaker, and we are taking it on an international basis. We will be down in California, or the staff will be down in California highlighting the importance of such a site and how it can be applicable to other communities.

Mr. Speaker, I guess with the time, with only twenty seconds left, I will have to take the next opportunity during the Estimates Committee to speak, because these are just some of the things in the department but I am going to need a whole other twenty minutes or more to talk about all of the wonderful things that are being done in the Trinity-Bay de Verde district. When it comes to municipal capital works, when it comes to roadwork and bridge work and tourism grants and heritage grants and money put into schools and money put into health care facilities, and JCPs and CEPs, the list goes on and on. It just goes to show, Mr. Speaker, the commitment that we put into – certainly my district is very, very rural and it just goes to show the commitment that this government puts into rural communities in the Province, Mr. Speaker.

I would just like to end with a quote. It is not only relevant to the department but it is relevant to everything we do in government, Mr. Speaker, and I believe it is a quote that certainly myself and all the members of caucus and Cabinet and the Premier himself tries to form our decision making around. That quote is: We do not inherit the resources from our ancestors; we borrow them from our children. Mr. Speaker, this is so true. So whether it is in the Department of Environment or whether it is in the Department of Health or Business or all of the aspects of government, this is a really important guiding principle to live by and I believe that we have done so in this Budget. It is a sustainable Budget, and, Mr. Speaker, it is a Budget that I am very proud to support.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board, on a point of order.

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

Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if I could have leave of the House just to revert to routine proceedings. I have a pre-commitment here, one pre-commitment that I believe has to be filed today, tabled today, so if that is in order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. member have leave to revert to Tabling of Documents?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the minister, by leave.

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Pursuant to section 26.(5)(a) of the Financial Administration Act, I am tabling one order in council relating to a funding pre-commitment for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of St. John's South and Deputy Speaker, speaking on a point of order?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Speaking on the main motion.

MR. SPEAKER: I do not know if the Chair's information is correct or not, but it is shown here that the hon. member has already spoken on the main motion to the Budget.

MR. T. OSBORNE: No.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair must have incorrect information. I call on and ask the hon. Member for St. John's South and Deputy Speaker to now make his remarks.

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

Mr. Speaker, I guess we are about a year away from starting the campaign for 2011, and undoubtedly we are going to hear members of the Opposition say that we should return to that party for government – we should return to the Liberal Party for government. That is the pitch we are going to hear and we will hear the reasons that we should return to that party.

MR. BUTLER: Loud and clear.

MR. T. OSBORNE: The Member for Port de Grave said we will hear it loud and clear.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I am going to just look at some of the facts and figures of the last full year that the Liberal Party were government in this Province, and the current year that we are now in government, and ask members of this House if we went to return to Liberal power and, I guess, ask the people who are viewing if they wish to return to Liberal power, Mr. Speaker, because the figures here speak for themselves.

We looked at, just as an example, equalization payments that we received back in 2002-2003 from the federal government, and compare that to the equalization payments that we are receiving in 2010-2011. Mr. Speaker, if you look at the equalization payments for 2002-2003 they were $1,000,158,000 or 30 per cent of the Province's income. Today, Mr. Speaker, when we look at equalization, we are down to $626,000 or 10 per cent of the Province's income. We are relying less and less on Ottawa today than we were in 2002. So I will ask - I will ask the Member for Mount Pearl North - do you want to return to reliance on Ottawa?

MR. KENT: Absolutely not.

MR. T. OSBORNE: No, absolutely not. We are becoming less and less reliant on Ottawa, Mr. Speaker, and it is because of the policies and the decisions that this government has made.

Mr. Speaker, you look at other federal sources of income from 2002-2003 versus today. In 2002-2003, 10.6 per cent of other sources of income came from the federal government, and that is down now, Mr. Speaker, to 10 per cent. Ten percent of what we receive, of revenue for the Province, now comes from the federal government. We are becoming less and less reliant. In 2002, no doubt, there were no offshore royalties recorded in 2002. There is no doubt about that.

MR. BUTLER: (Inaudible) here comes the truth. (Inaudible).

MR. T. OSBORNE: The Member for Port de Grave said: Here comes the truth. Well, I am going to tell you a lot of truth here while I am speaking. I have only seventeen minutes left to do it, but I will fit a lot of truth in. I will fit a lot of truth in while I am speaking, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Let's look at income taxes, personal income taxes. This year, Mr. Speaker, we are down to 13.5 per cent of our provincial revenue comes from personal income taxes. Well, let's have a look at 2002-2003: 15.9 per cent. We have reduced personal income taxes in this Province. We have reduced personal income taxes year over year over year in this Province.

Now I will ask the Member for Ferryland: Do you want to return to higher income taxes in this Province?

MR. HUTCHINGS: No.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Absolutely not.

I will ask the Member for Port de Grave: Do you want to pay more income tax?

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

MR. T. OSBORNE: No, absolutely not; absolutely not.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Let's have a look at sales tax: 12.5 per cent of our revenue generated in this Province now is from sales tax versus 14.6 per cent in 2002-2003. Do you want to return to that? I will ask: Do you want to return to that? Absolutely not.

I will ask the Finance Minister: Do you want to raise personal taxes? No, he does not.

I will ask the Member for Port de Grave: Do you want to raises taxes? Because that is what they were in 2002-2003 versus that what they are today, Mr. Speaker.

Let's have a look at where the money goes; because in the Estimates it shows where the money comes from and it also shows where the money goes. Let's look at social welfare, Mr. Speaker. We have paid out, in benefits and other social programs, $768 million this year versus $542 million under the Liberal government in 2002-2003. We are providing better benefits.

Under our Poverty Reduction Strategy, which has been hailed as the best in the country - many other provinces, Mr. Speaker, are now looking at what this Province is doing to reduce poverty. Part of what we have done in this Province was giving greater benefits to those who need them.

Now, have we solved all the problems? No, not by a long shot, but we are on the road to having the Province with the least amount of poverty, in Newfoundland and Labrador, versus what we were in 2002-2003.

Let's have a look at health expenditures. We have now $2,000,181,000 out of our provincial Budget is being spent on health benefits. What was it in 2002-2003? $1.16 billion; almost doubled in the seven or eight years that we have been government. That is almost double.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Do you want to return to $1.16 billion spent on health care? No, absolutely not. Of course, you do not. Now, have we solved all of the problems in health? No, not by a long shot, but I will tell you what –

AN HON. MEMBER: We are on the way.

MR. T. OSBORNE: We are on the way; $2.2 billion this year versus $1.1 billion in 2002-2003. That is the difference. That is the difference; this government is putting more and more dollars into health care. No, we have not solved all of the problems. You can double that again and you will not solve all of the problems, I say, Mr. Speaker, but I will tell you what: We have put twice as much money into health care as the previous government - in just over seven years.

Let's have a look at education: $1.14 billion, Mr. Speaker, we are spending on education. What was it in 2002-2003? It was $728 million. What an increase. What an increase in education spending in this Province, a tremendous increase, because we are putting money where money is needed the most.

I will ask the Member for Bonavista North: Would you want to go back to only spending $728 million on education versus $1.14 billion?

AN HON. MEMBER: No way.

MR. T. OSBORNE: No way. No way, you are absolutely right, because this government, Mr. Speaker, is putting the money where it is needed most.

Now, we could put twice as much money in education and still need money - because you need to spend within the financial resources you have available, absolutely, but this time next year they will be out banging on doors, pounding the streets, saying why we should vote Liberal. I am telling you right now, the facts speak for themselves, Mr. Speaker.

You look at protection to persons and property - an increase, Mr. Speaker - we are now spending $276,800,000 on protection and policing. What was it in 2002-2003? Because facts are important, Mr. Speaker, facts are important, and the facts speak for themselves: $166 million versus the $276 million we are spending today. That is the difference, Mr. Speaker. That is the difference in the government they provided and the government that we are providing.

Mr. Speaker, let's look at a Summary of Gross Capital Account Expenditures. You look at transportation projects, Mr. Speaker. This year we have $229 million in transportation projects. That is pavement, upgrades to infrastructure. What was it back in 2002-2003? Ninety-seven million dollars; $97 million, versus $229 million today. Now, Mr. Speaker, I will ask the minister for Labrador, do you want to go back to spending that amount of money that they spent on transportation?

MR. HICKEY: Never.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Never. That is the answer, never. No, sir, because I will tell you, the minister for Labrador knows the value in Labrador of transportation expenditures. He knows the value of transportation expenditures, Mr. Speaker.

If you look at spending on public buildings; $28.5 million today versus, in 2002-2003, $8 million, and you wonder why we had crumbling infrastructure in this Province, Mr. Speaker, after fourteen or fifteen years of Liberal rule? That is the reason, because they did not make the investments where the investments were needed.

If you look at educational facilities - now this one here, Mr. Speaker, I am glad you are sitting down - $164 million spent in educational facilities this year versus $5.5 million under Liberal rule. Let me repeat that because that is a significant change, and they will argue and say there is mould in the schools. Well of course there is mould in the schools, because the schools were not properly looked after. That infrastructure was not properly looked after for fourteen or fifteen years.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Not only have we found the mould, not only are we fixing it, Mr. Speaker, but we are looking for other schools that need upgrades and repairs. I will repeat that number again. They spent $5 million upgrading educational facilities versus our $164 million in this year's Budget.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. T. OSBORNE: That is why schools were crumbling, Mr. Speaker. That is why schools were failing apart. That is why we needed the upgrades. That is the reason we needed the upgrades. I will ask the Minister of Education, would you want to go back to spending $5 million on school facilities?

MR. KING: Absolutely not!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Absolutely not! Absolutely not, Mr. Speaker, because it does not make sense; it did not make sense then, it does not make sense now. When they go pounding on your doors - I will say to the people watching the House of Assembly proceedings today, when they go pounding on your doors telling you that you are better off with them, the facts speak for themselves. The facts speak for themselves; $5 million versus $164 million in keeping your children safe, safe breathing, safe air quality for your children in protecting that infrastructure. The facts speak for themselves.

Health care facilities, let's have a look at health care facilities. Mr. Speaker, there is a reason this book was red, and it was not just because it was printed by the Liberals. Mr. Speaker, health care facilities. In 2002-2003, there was $34 million spent on health care facilities. Well, guess what it is today? Guess what it is today – $125,963,000 spent on health care facilities. Now I will ask the Minister of Health, would he want to return to spending $34 million versus the $125 million we are spending today on health care facilities? Absolutely not!

MR. KENNEDY: No way.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Absolutely not! That is the reason the hospitals were falling apart, Mr. Speaker. That is the reason out in Corner Brook - the Minister of Finance and the Premier are replacing the hospital in Corner Brook and making arrangements for that, because that hospital is falling apart, the one that is out there today. Would you want to keep that hospital, I ask the Minister of Finance?

MR. MARSHALL: No way.

MR. T. OSBORNE: No way. No way is the answer. Do you know why? Because it is falling apart. They should have spent the money on it; they did not spend the money on it. We are putting the money into health care facilities.

Let's have a look at municipal infrastructure, $65 million was invested in municipal infrastructure under Liberal rule in 2002-2003; $65 million. What is it today? It is $275 million put into municipal infrastructure. That is the difference, I say. I will ask the Minister of Finance, would you want to return to that? Having municipalities, mayors, councillors banging on your door begging for money because they cannot afford to keep their streetlights on? There is still some of that today, there is no doubt; there is still some of that today. I will say to the Member for Port de Grave, there is not nearly as much today as there was back in those days.

If you look at municipal infrastructure programs, it is now 70-30 cost-shared for the majority of municipalities. What was it in 2002? Fifty-fifty. So municipalities – and it is 90-10 in rural communities. In rural communities it was 50-50 in 2002-2003. So councils in rural communities – in St. John's it is now 70-30, I am proud to say as the Member for St. John's South; 70-30 versus 50-50 dollars back in 2002-2003, and in rural Newfoundland, Mr. Speaker, it is now 90-10. Every dollar that a municipality in rural Newfoundland now spends on municipal infrastructure the provincial government gives them 90 per cent of that, versus 50 per cent back in 2002-2003.

Now, are all of the municipal infrastructure problems solved? Absolutely not, but I will tell you what, Mr. Speaker, most of the municipalities in this Province now have the financial means to carry out the infrastructure on an annual basis that they wish to do, because they have 90 per cent of the money coming from the provincial government versus only 50 per cent in 2002-2003. That is a big difference.

Let's look at resource development, because we are talking about expenditures here. This is a true investment, Mr. Speaker, because when we spend money on resource development our children and our grandchildren are going to get it back. I am going to talk a little bit now on what we are doing for our children and grandchildren in just a moment.

When we are talking about resource development, Mr. Speaker, we are talking about an investment that is going to pay back huge dividends down the road. It is going to keep oil revenues coming; it is going to keep nickel revenues coming. We are talking about an investment; 3.7 per cent of the provincial Budget in 2002-2003 was spent on resource development. That is up to 19.2 per cent today. Do you know why it is up to 19.2 per cent? Because we recognize that when you invest money in resource development, you are going to get it back down the road. You will get it back in ten or fifteen year's time probably tenfold.

In 2002-2003 there was $8 million spent on resource development, today it is $234.7 million. That is what we are investing to protect.

MR. KENT: That is incredible!

MR. T. OSBORNE: That is incredible, I say to the Member for Mount Pearl North. That is incredible. It is incredible because that is a pure investment in the future and future generations for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, let's look at the social sector for just a moment. In 2003, 68.9 per cent of funds were put into the social sector. That is up now to over 72 per cent, Mr. Speaker, because we are putting the money where it is needed the most. Our Poverty Reduction Strategy in this Province, which is being hailed across the country, Mr. Speaker, is working. We are seeing reduced numbers of people on social benefits, we are seeing more people employed; we are seeing people move from poverty. Our goal is to be the Province – we were in 2002-2003. This is another statistic to keep in mind. In 2002-2003 we were the Province with the highest level of poverty in the country. That is not the case any more. In fact, our goal is to be the Province with the lowest level of poverty in the country, and we are well on our way.

Mr. Speaker, let's have a look now at where – this is a summary of budgetary financing sources. In 2002-2003, 40 per cent of this Province's money came from the federal government. Today, it is 25 per cent. We are moving away from federal reliance. We are moving away from the demand on the federal government and our reliance on the federal government to be self-sustaining. We are moving away, Mr. Speaker, from having to rely on the federal government to be able to operate in this Province. We are finding ways to become self-reliant and it is working.

Mr. Speaker, let's have a look at some other statistics. One of those statistics, in 2002-2003, the provincial debt in this Province was $12 billion. We have reduced that to about $9 billion. So in addition to putting additional revenues where they are needed, into poverty reduction, into health care, into education, into health facilities and educational facilities, into municipal infrastructure, we are also paying off the debt. We are paying off the debt. Do you know what it means? I will say to the Member for St. Barbe: You know what it means. I know what it means. We all know what it means. To have a $9 billion debt, Mr. Speaker, means we are financing our children's future.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (Kelly): I remind the hon. member that his speaking time has expired.

MR. T. OSBORNE: By leave, Mr. Speaker, a few comments to clue up?

MR. SPEAKER: By leave?

MR. BUTLER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member, by leave.

MR. T. OSBORNE: I thank the Member for Port de Grave for the time.

Mr. Speaker, $12 billion, that was an average debt for every man, woman and child in this Province of $23,000. That is mortgaging your children's and your grandchildren's and maybe even your great grandchildren's future. That is what that means. Today, it is less than $18,000 per person, down from $23,000 back in 2002-2003. Our forecast, Mr. Speaker, is that we are going to have that drop to $16,600 per person by the end of the fiscal year this year. That is what that means.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. T. OSBORNE: We are helping not only to pay off infrastructure deficits, Mr. Speaker, but we are trying to pay off the debt that your children and your grandchildren own. That is what that means, Mr. Speaker. We have moved away from mortgaging our children's future and our grandchildren's future to paying it off. That is what that means. That is the answer when people come banging on your door in 2011, that is where this Province is headed. Do you want to change that? Do you want to change that I ask the Member for Bay of Islands? Would you want to go back to that, mortgaging your children's future? Would you want to go back to that?

MR. LODER: Definitely not!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Absolutely not!

Mr. Speaker, let's have a look at migration. Let's have a look at the migration numbers. In 2002-2003, there were 1,683 people more left this Province than came into the Province. That is a staggering number. That is a staggering number. What was it last year? Mr. Speaker, 2,332 more people came into the Province from interprovincial migration than left. So, not only have we turned it around from 1,683 left more than came in but we have 2,332 people more coming in from other provinces to live here

No, Mr. Speaker, they are not going to Fort McMurray any more and packing up their U-Haul trucks and packing up their children's clothes in suitcases to go there to try to eke out a living. No doubt, some are still doing it, but there is more people coming from Fort McMurray today to live here than there are coming from here to live there, and that is the difference. That is the difference, Mr. Speaker, and it is a huge difference. It is a difference of over 4,000 people when you add up the numbers.

Mr. Speaker, let's look at Income Support because that is a key determinant. In 2002, we had 28,454 families, not individuals, families relying on Income Support. That was a total of 50,783 people on Income Support. Well guess what? In 2004, it went from 50,700 to 49,278. In 2005, it went down again because our Poverty Reduction Strategy is working. It went down from 49,000 to 47,000 people on Income Support. In 2006, it went down again – why? It is because our Poverty Reduction Strategy is working. It went down from 47,000 down to 44,000 people on Income Support. In 2007, it went down again - absolutely. I will ask the Minister for Human Resources, Labour and Employment: Would you want to go back to Liberal rule and having 50,000 people on Income Support? Would you want to do that?

MS SULLIVAN: Absolutely not!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Absolutely not, Mr. Speaker, because we are headed in the right direction.

In 2008, we went down from 41,000 people on Income Support down to 39,000 people. Why? It is because the Poverty Reduction Strategy is working.

Have we solved all of the problems? No, not yet, but we are headed in the right direction, Mr. Speaker. Would you want to go back to having 50,000 people on social benefits? Absolutely not –

MR. KENT: Never!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Never! You are correct I say to the Member for Mount Pearl North, never, because we are headed in the right direction. Do we have the lowest level of poverty in Canada now? Not yet, but we are headed in the right direction.

In 2009, where did the numbers go? Down again. Why? It is because our Poverty Reduction Strategy is working.

I say to the Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment, it is going to go down again this year.

MS SULLIVAN: It absolutely will.

MR. T. OSBORNE: Absolutely.

The Poverty Reduction Strategy, it is working. That is the reason the other provinces are coming here to ask our advice, the advice of this government on how we solve poverty across the country. Have we solved all of the poverty in Newfoundland and Labrador? No.

MR. CORNECT: We are on the right track.

MR. T. OSBORNE: We are on the right track. We are on the right track, I say - you are correct, I say to the Member for Port aux Port, we are on the right track.

Let's have a look at the labour force characteristics for Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker. In 2002, there were 248,500 people in the labour force. What is that number today? Now, keep in mind there were 248,000 in the labour force. Today, it is 254,000, Mr. Speaker. Why is that? The reason that is, is because we are doing the right things. We are doing the right things in this Province. We are creating employment and that is despite an economic downturn in the economy. That is despite a world recession. This Province, Mr. Speaker, has weathered the storm fairly well. Yes, we have had the closure of two pulp and paper mills, but the numbers, there are more people now in the workforce in Newfoundland and Labrador than there were under the previous government despite the economic downturn.

Mr. Speaker, let's have a look at the number of people full-time employed. In 2002-2003, it was 174,300 people. Today, it is 184,300 people. That is 10,000 people more employed full-time; not part-time, not seasonal, full time, full-time employees. Over 10,000 more people employed today than there was in 2002-2003. That is significant, I say.

I ask the Member for Terra Nova, would you want to return to that? Would you want to have 10,000 less people working in the Province today than there are?

MR. S. COLLINS: Absolutely not!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Absolutely not! Absolutely not, Mr. Speaker. The numbers, they speak for themselves.

Let's have a look, Mr. Speaker, at the provincial and territorial general government revenues. The total revenue in this Province, Mr. Speaker, in 2002 was $4,000,078,000. Today, Mr. Speaker, because of the leadership of our Premier, the leadership of our Cabinet and our caucus, today, Mr. Speaker, no, it is not $4,000,078,000, it is $7,000,545,000. That is incredible!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. T. OSBORNE: That is an incredible number, Mr. Speaker, and it is because we are doing everything we can to stimulate the economy here, despite the economic downturn worldwide, to stimulate our economy and to get people working. To increase exports, to increase housing starts. We have seen tremendous increases, Mr. Speaker, in housing starts in this Province over the last number of years, and why? Because people are moving back to Newfoundland and Labrador to live. It is the best place in the country to live, it is the best place in the world to live, and people now have opportunity to move back and to be where they want to be.

Mr. Speaker, we have seen surplus after surplus in this Province under our government. Now that is not going to be the case this year, I understand that. I understand that. Because of the economic downturn worldwide, we understand. We are going to have a deficit this year, but, Mr. Speaker, we are doing everything we can to keep that as low as we can because we do not want to mortgage our children's and our grandchildren's future.

Mr. Speaker, let's have a look at some of the other numbers. Let's have a look at some of the other numbers, Mr. Speaker. Tourism, in 2002 – and we are talking about an investment now. We are talking about something that pays dividends. We are talking about something that helps the mom and pop operations, the bed and breakfasts, the restaurants, the tour operators in the Province. We are talking about something that creates economic stimulus. We are talking about something that helps the economy. We have seen tourism numbers increase in this Province year over year, Mr. Speaker, since we have come to government, and there is a reason for that. It is not just because all of a sudden the people of Ontario have discovered that Newfoundland is a great place to visit. Now that is true and they have discovered it, but there is a reason they have discovered it, Mr. Speaker. There is a reason we are getting more tourists from the United States. There is a reason we are getting more tourists from Europe.

I will tell you what the reason is; in 2002 we invested $31 million in tourism. In 2010, it is $63 million; more than double. I will ask the Minister of Tourism, would you want to have your budget cut in half?

MR. FRENCH: No, sir!

MR. T. OSBORNE: Absolutely not! There is a reason there are more tourists here, there is a reason the bed and breakfasts are doing better, there is a reason the tour operators are doing better, there is a reason there are more tourists in Newfoundland and Labrador this year than there was in 2002-2003. That is because we have increased the budget for tourism from $31 million to $63 million.

Mr. Speaker, let's look at the safety of our communities. Let's look at the RNC, for example. With economic improvement, with the oil industry, with more and more people coming into this Province to live, especially people from around the world and when you look at the oil industry - there is no doubt it creates a huge benefit to the economy, it creates a huge benefit socially - there are also challenges that come with that. We have seen it in Fort McMurray. We have all seen the programs on television where they talk about drug and substance abuse in Fort McMurray. There is no doubt that there have been some increases in substance abuse here, there have been some increases in armed robberies, people doing what they can to try to get the money to feed that drug abuse habit, but, Mr. Speaker, there is no way we will wipe it out completely. There is no way we will eliminate that completely, but we are doing what we can to keep our neighbourhood safer, to keep our community safer.

In 2002, Mr. Speaker, there was $20 million invested by our government into the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. Do you know what it is this year? Forty-five million dollars. I will ask the Minister of Justice - that is more than doubled - would you want your budget cut in half?

MR. F. COLLINS: No.

MR. T. OSBORNE: No. Would you want to go back to Liberal rule? Would you want to go back to seeing $20 million spent on the RNC? Absolutely not! We have gone from $20 million in almost seven years - it is not quite seven yet, it is six-and-a-half years. We have gone from a budget of $20 million in the RNC up to $45 million being spent on the RNC. There is a reason there are more drug seizures and arrests in recent months, and it is because we are putting the resources into the RNC that they need.

Let's look at the RCMP, $39 million in 2002 invested into the RCMP. Well, Mr. Speaker, this year we are spending $60 million in the RCMP. An incredible increase, I say, Mr. Speaker. Now, would you want to go back to only having $39 million? Because those are the questions that every member of this Legislature, that every person in Newfoundland and Labrador should be asking themselves when people start banging on their doors a year from now, when people start pounding the streets saying that we are the best people to represent you.

Well, let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, the facts and the figures, they speak for themselves. The wise leadership of our Premier, the wise leadership of our Cabinet and our caucus, Mr. Speaker, it speaks for themselves. Housing starts, Mr. Speaker, have seen a huge increase in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, I could go on for days here. I know I am on leave. I could go on for days. I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, if you look at the economic performance in this Province, if you look at the economic performance in Newfoundland and Labrador – now, no doubt we were not completely sheltered from the recession, the worldwide recession that hit, and as a result employment fell by 2.5 per cent. I already spoke about employment, and even though it fell by 2.5 per cent, our numbers of people employed – there are 10,000 more people employed today than there were in 2002-2003. So, Mr. Speaker, those facts speak for themselves. Even though there has been an impact and employment fell, we are still considerably ahead and we have weathered the storm of the global recession.

Mr. Speaker, I will tell you something else, we are going to continue to weather the storm. We have come out of this – we have fared better than any other province in Canada when it comes to the economy. We have done better than any other province in Canada. Why, because we are lucky? Well, maybe a little bit; maybe that is part of it. Maybe that is part of it, but you know the answer and I know the answer. The Minister of Labrador knows the answer and the Minister of Justice, he knows the answer.

MR. BUTLER: (Inaudible).

MR. T. OSBORNE: Now, the Member for Port de Grave, he just said he does not know the answer, but I will tell you something, the Member for St. John's North he knows the answer. The Member for Mount Pearl North, he knows the answer. Yes, we have been a little bit lucky. There is no doubt about it, we have been a little bit lucky, but the reason we have come out better than any other province in Canada is because of the things we have done over the past six-and-a-half years, the wise management, the leadership of our Premier, the decisions that our caucus and our Cabinet have made. Mr. Speaker, those are the reasons that we have come out of this recession better than any other province in Canada. Those are the reasons.

Would that have happened under the former government? Absolutely not! Absolutely not because we saw what happened, we saw -

MR. YOUNG: (Inaudible).

MR. T. OSBORNE: You are absolutely correct, I say to the Member for St. Barbe; we saw what happened under the former government. Out-migration continued to increase year after year after year. Well, guess what? We have turned that around. We have in-migration now and we are seeing that happen year after year after year.

Mr. Speaker, the Province's domestic economy, we have done much better than any other province in Canada. Labour income increased by 4.2 per cent which was the second best performance among all provinces. Now, ten years ago, other provinces in Canada looked at Newfoundland and Labrador as the Province that had our hand out - we always had our hand out looking for contributions from the feds. That is the way the rest of Canada looked at us. That is the way we were seen by the rest of Canada. We were always seen as being on the lam, Mr. Speaker, always with our hand out. That is not the way they see us any more. Not only has our Premier instilled a sense of pride in Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, not only do we have pride in ourselves, nut the rest of the country is starting to see Newfoundland and Labrador in a different light. Do we want to go back to the way things were? No, absolutely not!

Why do they see us in a different light? We are making the right decisions because we are doing the right things, because we are stimulating our economy, because we are creating employment. We are decreasing the demand on social benefits. Our Poverty Reduction Strategy, as I say, has been hailed across the country. Housing starts while down marginally from a nineteen-year high in 2008, Mr. Speaker, turned out to be the second highest performance in the country. Why? It is because housing starts are up over what they were seven years ago – considerably up. They were down a little bit because of the world recession, but they are still considerably higher. If you ask anybody in the real estate market, housing starts are up considerably over what they were a decade ago.

Is that all luck? Did it fall in our laps? Mr. Speaker, it is because of wise decisions. It is because of good management. It is because we are doing the things that need to be done to keep our Province on the economic course that it needs to be on. We are doing the things to ensure that our children have a better future than we have had, that our grandchildren have a better future than our children had.

That is the reason the rest of Canada, Mr. Speaker, is seeing this Province in a different light today than they did years ago. That is the reason there are more people moving into Newfoundland and Labrador than moving out of Newfoundland and Labrador. That is the reason there are 10,000 more people employed today than there was in 2002-2003 - full-time employed.

Capital investment growth ranked the forth among all provinces in Canada with Newfoundland and Labrador being one of only four provinces to record positive investment growth last year. Mr. Speaker, for that to happen in a global recession, to record positive investment growth in a global recession - we saw what happened in the United States. They did not see positive investment or positive growth. We saw what happened in Ontario. No, Mr. Speaker, they did not see positive investment growth either. We have seen what happened in the United Kingdom where they did not see positive investment growth, but we did in Newfoundland and Labrador. We did in Newfoundland and Labrador, and there is a reason for that. It is because we are doing the right things, and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador know it as well.

I am going to talk about another statistic when I am finished talking about these statistics because the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, yes, they know what this government has done. They know the leadership and the management of this government compared to previous governments.

Mr. Speaker, although the export sector suffered from the fallout of the global recession, consumer confidence in Newfoundland and Labrador remained strong – consumer confidence in Newfoundland and Labrador remained very strong, Mr. Speaker. Retail sales grew. Despite the fact that they fell in most other jurisdictions, they grew in Newfoundland and Labrador by 2.6 per cent - the strongest performance in all of the country, the strongest performance in Canada - one of only two provinces that actually recorded retail sales growth. Like I say, there is a reason for that. There is a reason, Mr. Speaker.

On this side of the House, we know what that reason is because we sit around the caucus table and we make the decisions that have led to these statistics. We have strategically made the right decisions, and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are happy with the decisions we are making. That is the reason consumer confidence is up as well because they know they have a stable government, a government that is making the right decisions.

Personal income grew by 3.9 per cent while disposable income increased by 4.7 per cent, and that was aided by tax cuts, I say. While many other jurisdictions are scrambling to find the income that they need to continue providing the services they provide, we have continued to cut income taxes in this Province. We have continued to provide benefits to the people of the Province. No, unlike other jurisdictions, I say to the Member for Bonavista North, we have not just made the cuts in income taxes to the high income earners. The biggest cuts in income taxes in this Province – you know where they were. You know where they were, I say to the Member for Bonavista North. You know where they were, I say to the Member for Mount Pearl North. You know where they were. They were not to the highest income earners – yes, they benefited as well, but the middle income earners benefited even greater than the high income earners, and the lower income earners, the working poor in this Province, Mr. Speaker, received the highest income tax breaks. We have made the biggest cuts in income tax to the lower income tax earners. That is part of our Poverty Reduction Strategy because we know that they need a greater level of disposable income - we know that.

Mr. Speaker, net in-migration, as I have already said, increased the Province's population. The Province's population was estimated to be 508,925, and that is an increase of 0.5 per cent, or 2,484 people. This was the largest percentage increase in the Province's population since 1983 – since 1983, Mr. Speaker. That is significant. When you think about it, since the collapse of the ground fishery in 1983, this is the largest increase in any year in in-migration. We are seeing a pattern of in-migration now, Mr. Speaker. It is not just a fluke. It is not just something that happened one year. We are seeing a pattern of in-migration in this Province and there is a reason for that. There is a reason for that. There is a reason.

Mr. Speaker, despite the recession –

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition is withdrawing leave.

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

I will have another opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to get up and talk about all of the good things that this government is doing, Mr. Speaker. I could go on for hours more; there is a lot here. There are volumes of this.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair recognizes the hon. the Minister of Government Services and the Minister Responsible for the Government Purchasing Agency.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O'BRIEN: Mr. Speaker, it is hard to get up here this afternoon and follow that act in regard to the knowledge that he talked about in this hon. House today in regard to the Member for St. John's South. He went over it and over it. As a matter of fact, he nearly went through the whole Budget. Yes, and I agree with him, I agree with him fully in regard to investing in our children and our children's future in regard to where we found this Province back in 2003-2004.

Let's reflect on that just a little bit. We were approximately $12 billion in debt - $11.8 billion, I believe, in debt at that particular time. Yes, we have reduced that debt by $3.7 billion over the last few years – and I mean only the last few years, not over the life from 2003-2004 up to today's date. That actually was reduced over the last three or four years only. That is what tells me in regard to the path that we are on.

The thing that I wanted to say in regard to finding where we were in 2003 as compared to where we are today is all about leadership, Mr. Speaker. It is all about leadership. It is all about taking this Province and having the backbone to stand up to other jurisdictions, up to the federal government, and the oil companies, or whatever had to happen, we had the backbone. We had a Premier that took the lead and the leadership in order to put this Province back on the right track to prosperity and also a future for our children's children. That is what it is all about.

Mr. Speaker, we have gone through a number of Budgets over the last number of years. As a matter of fact, I think this is the seventh Budget that has been brought down by the Williams government. Each and every one of them has been hard Budgets. I can only speak for the Budgets that I have been involved in but I tell you, this Budget of 2010 was probably the hardest one in regard to making the right decisions for Newfoundland and Labrador. As the hon. Member for St. John's South referenced in regard to his speaking here in the House of Assembly, yes, we are projecting a deficit of $194.3 million in this current year.

Why did we make that decision in regard to projecting a deficit, and nine chances out of ten running that deficit, unless some things changed in regard to this current year, in regard to the oil prices or whatever may happen in the future? I do not see that happening because we are only emerging from the economic downturn and the situation that we find ourselves in with regard to the global recession, not only here in Canada but particularly in the United States and particularly Europe. So we are going to probably be around that area of $194.3 million. The reason why we did that is because we had no other choice. We also have to reflect that there are nine other provinces and territories that brought down budgets for 2010 - as well, the federal government brought down a budget for 2010 - each and every one of them was in a projected deficit position, each and every one of them.

The key thing was that we had a better position than any of them. We fared far better in regard to those projected budgets than any other province in Canada and also if we reflect on to the federal government. That showed good fiscal management over the last four or five years in regard to how we governed this Province; how we invested strategically in various infrastructure projects; how we invested into our programs; how we invested in education; how we invested in health.

That is what we did; we sat back and carefully spent our money wisely, which you try to do in your household each and every day. Each and every day that you get up in the morning in regard to what you are doing in your household, you have to make sure that you are spending your money in the right way. You have to make the right decisions; you just cannot spend and spend and spend. You just cannot do it because it came back. We have seen that in past governments.

As the hon. Member for St. John's South referenced, and referenced many times, do you want to go back into Liberal rule? No, we would not, absolutely not. I do not think we are going to go back there any time soon regardless of a change in leadership, regardless in changes on the other side of the House, whatever they may do.

They are having their AGM in Gander. I do not know where they are having it because it certainly will not fill the Gander Hotel for sure. Maybe they are having it in a phone booth, as I just heard my hon. colleague reference, that they will have it in a phone booth. Because I do not think there is anybody too interested when you have the most popular Premier in Canada, the most popular Premier probably of all time, really when history shows in the future in regard to where he has taken this Province in 2003-2004 to where we find ourselves today, which is in a very short period of time, reducing the debt by $3.7 billion, making these investments in regard to the strategies.

I have heard this too, as well, in this House of Assembly; I have heard the members in the Opposition reference it is all about strategy. Absolutely! As a matter of fact, this Premier demands a strategy. Before he goes forward he wants to see a strategy that stretches out where you are today and where you want to find yourself eight, ten, twelve, fourteen, fifteen years down the road in regard to the issue and the strategy that they are developing. That is called planning. That is called planning for the future. That is exactly what it is. That is exactly what we have to do. We have to plan, and plan, and plan, and plan.

When we run out and we are getting nearer to the end of that strategic plan, whatever it may be, then we start planning again and move forward. That is the reason why I do not see the Liberals or any other party take government any time soon. Not that we are going to take the voters in this Province for granted. We are not going to take them for granted because this is their Province, this is our Province. They gave us the right to govern and we are going to earn that each and every day in this House of Assembly.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O'BRIEN: That is what we strive for. I see each and every one of my colleagues on this side of the House, and the colleagues that sit on the other side of the House show each and every day that they get the opportunity to get up in this House of Assembly, be it on legislation, be it on the budget, be it on whatever it may be, a private member's bill, they show each and every day how involved they are in regard to this government and for their district. They show it each and every day. They show it by the knowledge that they have in regard to – they might not be in Cabinet, as I am in Cabinet. So, really I am in tune to it each and every day.

I see my colleagues, the backbenchers as they are referred to, which I do not refer to them as backbenchers because they are a part of this government. They actually interact with me as a minister on any given day, giving me ideas they are putting forward in regard to my department that I have the honour to be the minister of this particular day. Well, God knows what it will be tomorrow, but in the meantime I am happy with it today. Certainly, I rely on their help, I rely on their participation, and I rely on the things that they say to me, be it here in the House of Assembly or be it in the corridors, or be it in a meeting, wherever it may be.

That is what makes this government what it is. It is because it is all about team. It is all about a full team. Regardless of how many members we have in the House of Assembly – and I have heard this said, as well, that you can have too many members. Well, I do not think so. I really do not think so, because each and every day - we interact each and every day, and I am sure the other ministers in this House can verify exactly what I am saying, that they get good, solid information, good, solid suggestions, from the MHAs on any given day, and we take it and we run with it. We might get the actual credit for it, when it comes down to it, because we run the department, but I do not have any qualms in getting up here in this House of Assembly and referencing the good information that I get from the various MHAs that interact with me as the Minister of Government Services.

The main thrust of this government is the leadership provided by our Premier, Danny Williams. He is the one who has the vision. He is the one who had that vision, he is the one who continues to have that vision, and he will continue to have that. As a matter of fact, I will reference an article that was in the National Post this weekend in regard to our Premier, and in regard to the kind of person that he is. They also went down through it, and that kind of stuff, and he made some remarks in regard to that particular article that I saw, that made him and makes him what he is today, and how he appeals to Canadians and appeals to the average Joe who is on the street. They believe and they can see how genuine a person he is in regard to his passion not only for Newfoundland and Labrador – that is where it is centred, absolutely - but also Canada as well.

I think the National Post reporter asked him if he was interested in regard to the federal scene, and becoming the Prime Minister of Canada, and I think he said: Listen, my focus is on Newfoundland and Labrador. I am at a certain age, and maybe I don't have time left in the old battery cells to go on to that, because by the time I finish then maybe I should retire.

I reference that and I say to myself, I wish that we had availed of the Premier's vision and his leadership back twenty years ago. Then, once he cleaned up Newfoundland and Labrador and got us on the right path, and whatever he had to do there in regard to the leadership, well then he could certainly go up to Ottawa and probably clean up the mess that we have there as well.

Not that this is not a great country, because it is. It is an absolutely great country. In the meantime, we have issues on the federal scene as well, and we have challenges there. We have a rising deficit that has to be addressed, and I am not sure if it is being addressed in the right way. What I am sure of is that our deficits and our strategic investments are paying off to the fullest in regard to the leadership that we find here.

We have to continue to invest in infrastructure. We have to continue to invest in our programs. That is the reason why we ran a deficit this year. Certainly, next year will show as well that we will have leadership, regardless – and, regardless of an election year, we will invest wisely. That is exactly what we do: we invest wisely, we get a bang for our dollar, we get maximum value for our dollar, and that is what it is all about, before we spend. That is what this government is known for. That is why we run in the polls in regard to what we see, in regard to the popularity of the Premier, the popularity of this party as the governing party of Newfoundland and Labrador. That is exactly what we do.

This year, the theme of Budget 2010 is: The Right Investments for Our Children and Our Future. Certainly, this represents a really sound and progressive fiscal framework with the right investments for the benefit of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians right into the future. Those decisions that are reflected in the Budget, and careful strategic management, will show that we have and will have and continue to have strategic management of the Province's financial resources.

When it comes down to the global recession, yes, we have not been immune to it, absolutely not. We have seen declines in certain resource sectors such as the minerals, such as fisheries and so forth, but because of the leadership and because of the wise investments that we have seen over the last two or three years, we have seen other sectors, such as retail, continue on a continuous growth. There is continuous confidence; there is continuous turnover of dollars in regard to the dollars that go around, which is a part of that economy. That is exactly what we need. That is exactly why, some of the reasons why, we weathered the global recession a lot better than other jurisdictions in Canada and the United States.

The resource sector, as well, we have to be careful because the global recession is certainly affecting the United States. There is a gradual movement out of the global recession in the United States. They are still weak in regard to certain areas, so we have to be very, very careful in regard to how we move forward and how quickly we do things and make decisions thereof in regard to that. So we have to be very, very careful when it comes down to the way we come out of this. It is a gradual process in coming out of the global recession. In the meantime, we will and we have certainly invested heavily with regard to our infrastructure stimulus package, and I have referenced in this House before that we started our stimulus package way back when, when we found this Province in the financial state that we found it in back in 2003-2004.

There are investments in my district as well, Mr. Speaker. We have seen continuous growth in my district, the District of Gander. We have seen people building houses; housing is up. As a matter of fact, I was talking to a gentleman in Gander this past weekend, and they had one of the developers there, I think, who developed something like fifty-odd lots. They put them on sale on a Wednesday, or whatever it may be, and fifty-one of them were sold on Friday. So that shows the confidence that they have, people have, in the economy of Gander. Gander is in a growth area.

One of the areas that we see growth in is with regard to the population base of our school system in Gander. We have three schools in Gander: Gander Academy, St. Paul's, and we have Collegiate. This year we are seeing the Department of Education invest $1.5 million in regard to the development of more classrooms in St. Paul's as well as some other areas that need to be redeveloped. This shows, number one, the growth area with regard to Gander and with regard to our youth and with regard to the students going to St. Paul's, and it also shows that education is on the top of their game as well. Not only are they addressing the issues that we have with regard to our aging infrastructure system, and the lack of investment with regard to the infrastructure back in the past, with regard to what the hon. Member for St. John's South referenced – that, yes, we have mould in our schools - but the reason why we have mould in our schools today is because of the lack of investment in previous years, previous to us taking government. Actually, I see that as a very wise investment because we have a growing population in Gander, so I certainly welcome that investment, and we are probably going to have to make some other investments in our other schools to address classroom issues, as well, and some other issues.

Also, we are seeing the redevelopment of the James Paton Memorial Hospital continue with $3.2 million, I think, in regard to that. That is just about nearing completion, as a matter of fact, one of the nicest, most modern hospitals in Newfoundland and Labrador today. It certainly has a great staff there. We are going to see some investments in regard to the MRI which will be up and running some time in the fall, in regard to the operation of that; I think it is around $300-odd thousand. We have various investments in regard to the multi-capital works out of Municipal Affairs in various areas of the district, not only Gander but the other communities as well: Glenwood, Appleton and Benton. I will keep, as the MHA, striving to get as much money as I possibly can because the more money that goes into the foundation of a community supports a growing economy and certainly we have to do that.

Mr. Speaker, I will go back - we have done some major, major things in regard to this Province. We have seen the Hebron development, the New Dawn Agreement. We have moved forward on the Lower Churchill. Yes, absolutely, we might have some questions in the House in regard to a decision in Quebec last week in the Quebec courts. That is setback, I suppose, in some ways, but as the Premier referenced, the decision is so bad that it is actually good because we can use that document now in the United States when we go down, or if the Premier actually goes down to meet with governors and that kind of stuff, and in regard to the Maritime provinces. We will go through the appeal process in regard to the courts in Quebec and the Supreme Court of Canada.

As referenced by the Premier, we are not going to wait for that either in regard to the developing of the Lower Churchill. We are going to move forward on the Lower Churchill. We were doing two parallel things in regard to the development all at the same time with research in regard to the Maritime route, along with the route through Quebec - which I cannot believe in regard to the decision that was made, but that is it. That is the way Quebec governs itself and that is all that is to it. In the meantime, we will move forward on that and whatnot.

We saw the Premier come home with $2 billion in regard to the Atlantic Accord. I heard the Opposition reference that $2 billion. They believe that it certainly put us on the path to prosperity. They put the value on that $2 billion in regard to all the things that you see and all the good things that you see happening throughout Newfoundland and Labrador on that $2 billion, which is as far from the truth as I ever heard because it is all about strategically investing that is what it is all about.

As a matter of fact, I was in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, I say to the hon. member, only on Friday, that is what I saw. I went out to rural Newfoundland and Labrador – you listen to the hon. members across the House, they think it is all doom and gloom. There are people living on the street and all that kind of stuff. That is what they would like to see. That is what they want to see, and that is the furthest from the truth.

I say to the hon. member, the Leader of the Opposition, two new schools going up in her district, all kinds of roadwork going on in her district, all kinds of investment going on in her district. I say to the hon. member: Instead of getting up and criticizing at times, get up and tell it the way it is. Tell it exactly the way it is. That is what I say to the hon. member. Get up and tell it the way it is.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. O'BRIEN: By leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. O'BRIEN: Oh, come on now. By leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. O'BRIEN: I will honour that, but I will tell you one thing, one thing I will say in closing, Mr. Speaker, there is no leave for that crowd after this today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member's time has expired.

The Chair recognizes the hon. the Member for Labrador West.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am certainly proud to have the opportunity as well to stand here today and to participate in the Budget Debate. The theme of this year's Budget of course is: The Right Investments For Our Children and Our Future. It is certainly a continuation of the investment strategy of the Williams government since coming to power in 2003.

This strategy of investing in infrastructure, in education, in cutting taxes –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind all members that the hon. the Member for Labrador West does have the floor.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I was saying, this strategy of investing in education, in infrastructure, in cutting taxes, in debt reduction, in securing agreements and many other things has certainly positioned this Province well on its way to the road of self-reliance, certainly much better than we have been any time in our history.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I hate to interrupt the hon. member while he is speaking, but I remind all hon. members again that the hon. the Member for Labrador West does indeed have the floor.

Thank you.

MR. BAKER: Thank you again, Mr. Speaker.

Thanks for the protection.

Certainly my objective and my main reason, I guess, for entering politics back in 2007 was to work with the Williams government to address the many infrastructure needs and other issues in our district which had been neglected by previous Administrations for many years. Certainly, the response of this government has indeed been overwhelming.

The level of investment in Labrador West is certainly unprecedented since 2007 - just let me elaborate somewhat. The Northern Strategic Plan, of course, which was launched in the spring of 2007, outlined a five-year strategy to address the infrastructure, social and foster economic prosperity for Labrador. In Budget 2010 we have invested another $158 million towards this strategy and we expect that by the end of the five-year strategy more than $587 million will have been spent on that particular strategy.

Of course, this government made two major commitments to my district in 2007 and the first, of course, was to replace the current hospital in Labrador West which has certainly reached the end of its useful life, and the other was to construct a new, modern, state-of-the-art campus for the College of the North Atlantic to replace the current campus which is in a building previously used as a primary school and certainly not adequate to meet the training needs of Labrador West.

On these developments, Mr. Speaker, we did certainly get started in the fall of 2007, but we ran into some site problems which set us back for a full year. These did not get resolved until the fall of 2008. Last year and this year, we have certainly made significant progress now and we are starting to move into high gear on those projects. The site work was completed last year in July at a cost of about $2 million. The contract for the water and sewer was ongoing all last year and is in progress again this year. So far we have spent over $2.5 million on that particular infrastructure.

In the health care facility itself, the design work is still ongoing. There have been quite a number of revisions to that with local officials and current stakeholders, but the contract for the installation of the foundation and steelwork was awarded just earlier this year and work will certainly get underway on that within the next couple of weeks, just as soon as the weather conditions allow.

The detailed interior design work is ongoing and that should be completed later on this summer. We expect to have the tender awarded for the bounds of the construction of this facility awarded by this fall in time for the construction to begin next fall in earnest on the completion of that building, which we expect will take about another three years. So by the end of 2013, early 2014, this investment of about $90 million should be completed.

The college itself, the contract for that – I think it was around $18 million – was awarded last August. The contractor has been mobilizing and finishing off some of the design work. As a matter of fact, he just moved into the site last week to start some of the plumbing work for that. The building should be enclosed by this fall, so that work can continue all winter and we will hopefully see this building completed by the end of 2011.

Of course, the major project for Labrador, affecting everybody in Labrador, has been the Trans-Labrador Highway. In Budget 2007 this government made a firm commitment to the people of Labrador that they would widen to national highway standards and hard surface Phase I of the Trans-Labrador Highway between Labrador West and Happy Valley-Goose Bay, a distance of 535 kilometres. In addition as well, Mr. Speaker, that same year, this government also committed to construct Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway between Happy Valley-Goose Bay and the Cartwright junction.

Certainly, to date, this government has not faltered on any of those commitments to Labrador. To date, $140 million has gone into Phase I, and this current Budget another $71 million, plus $7 million from the federal government has been committed to this project. Over 420 kilometres of the widening have been contracted, with about 310 kilometres completed so far, and plans are to have the balance of that work tendered this year. That work should see completion by the end of next year.

In the hard surfacing portion, a contract was awarded last year to do 86 kilometres of pavement on the Lab West end, and that work is ongoing. We should expect to see that work completed by the end of August this year. A contract for another 50 kilometres on the Goose Bay end is also about to get under way or it has started already.

So, Mr. Speaker, this government is definitely committed to completion of the hard surfacing of the Trans-Labrador Highway. We expect to see work continue on to the end of the construction season, from now until this work is finished within the next couple of years. The 287 kilometre section from Happy Valley-Goose Bay to the Cartwright junction, the connection was made last year in December, on time, as promised earlier. Certainly, this 1,150 kilometre stretch now between Labrador West and the border in Labrador South is certainly a red-letter day for all of Labrador; the first time that we have a complete road link from one end of Labrador to the other. This will certainly open up business possibilities, numerous business possibilities for the people of Labrador and will serve to bring us all closer together in the Big Land. There is another $10.3 million allocated as well this year for that portion to finish off some finishing touches on that particular section.

Mr. Speaker, in 2008 this government made some changes to the cost-sharing ratios for municipalities and this certainly has had a tremendous impact on the towns in my district, in Wabush and Labrador City. This changing of formulas has freed up hundreds of thousands of dollars for our municipalities to put into operating costs which would normally have been committed to capital projects. Under the new formula, Wabush now pays 10 per cent and Labrador City is at 30 per cent.

If I look at the multi-year capital projects which will be completed this year, under that formula the Town of Labrador City has saved over $763,000 and Wabush about $450,000, Mr. Speaker. As well, under the new Gas Tax Agreement this year, we have $1.2 million allocated to Labrador City and another $318,000 to the Town of Wabush. It is certainly a boost to the budgets of those two towns to put into services for the residents of my district.

There has been many millions of dollars as well invested since 2007 in my district, Mr. Speaker. We have spent about $2.5 million on road upgrades, on existing roads between Labrador City and Wabush. We have invested $630,000 for the emergency repairs to our library; $1.7 million was allocated last year to the Town of Wabush for their arena upgrades. We have put about $1 million I guess into water and sewer infrastructure upgrades in Labrador City; $1.7 million so far, or I think it is probably closer to about $2 million that has been invested so far in the new landfill site for Labrador West, with an expectation of another $2 million to $3 million required to complete that project this year.

We have also made, Mr. Speaker, in my district, tremendous improvements and investments in the justice system. A resident judge, full-time judge, Mr. Speaker, which we had not had in many years, was installed in the court in Wabush back in 2007, I think under your term as Justice Minister. A full-time Crown prosecutor was added in 2008. We opened a legal aid office last year with a full-time legal aid lawyer and staff helping a lot of people who are disadvantaged; people who could not afford to hire a private lawyer. This year, as well, we have added two sheriff positions to the local court, which is freeing up the RNC from performing those duties and putting it into their regular policing duties. As well, last year we invested $1.5 million to purchase housing for the RNC to help alleviate their recruitment problems. Mr. Speaker, we have done quite a tremendous amount for justice in Labrador West.

Now, I want to move into education, Mr. Speaker, because this is one of the areas where I feel particularly proud. I no longer have children in the education system, but I have a number of grandchildren who are coming into it and one moving into the post-secondary this year.

Mr. Speaker, our government believes that our goal to achieving self-reliance lies in an educated people; an education that is affordable, an education that does not leave a student heavily indebted and financially burdened. It is to make sure that the next generation is able to live here, work here and raise a family here. To achieve that, Mr. Speaker, we have invested in education like never before. This year's budget of $1.3 billion or 20 per cent of the total overall provincial Budget is unprecedented.

In my district alone, Mr. Speaker, in the K-12 system in the past year we have invested over $1.6 million for major exterior repairs. In the post-secondary, as I mentioned earlier, this year's Budget includes an allocation of $15 million towards the continued progress of a new campus for the College of the North Atlantic.

Besides that, Mr. Speaker, this current Budget includes an additional $1.9 million to cap the class sizes in Grades 6 and 9 which will see a fully integrated system now from K-9. The number of student assistant hours will increase by over 25,000 hours, bringing a total budget of almost $15 million, Mr. Speaker, to support students with special needs.

Previously, Mr. Speaker, we have eliminated school fees and extended free textbooks to Grade 12 with an investment of over $18 million in recent years; $13 million over five years is being invested to bring new skilled trades programming and equipment to schools across the Province. Despite the declining enrolment the new method of allocating teachers has provided additional teaching units in the K-12 system.

In post-secondary, as well, Mr. Speaker; we have included another $6 million this year to maintain the freeze on tuition, bringing the total investment to $77 million since 2007, certainly giving us the lowest tuition fees in this country.

The interest on the provincial portion of student loans, of course, was eliminated last year. We were the first jurisdiction to do that and this impacts about 49,000 people who are currently repaying their student loans. As well, we provide upfront needs-based non-repayable grants of $80 a week, which cuts in half the amount of money students, with the greatest need, would require to borrow.

We have also made, Mr. Speaker - particularly in my district - investments in skills training and the apprenticeship system. This investment of $2.8 million in 2007 is in response to the Skills Task Force looking at where we are lacking in required skills to meet the future demands of this Province. In Budget 2007, of course, this government is renewing that commitment to skilled trades with another funding of $4 million again this year. A portion of that funding, Mr. Speaker, and I would say is earmarked for continued training supports for the College of the North Atlantic in Labrador West.

Since 2007, Mr. Speaker, we have made considerable investments in apprenticeship training in Lab West. Which were non-existent prior to 2007, I might add. We are now offering apprenticeship training in three trades: in industrial mechanical, in welding, and in the electrical trades. As a matter of fact, the college was certified last fall to offer block training in industrial mechanical and just recently has received certification to offer block training for electrical trades. This will provide an opportunity now for residents of Lab West to do their apprenticeship training right at home and will open up considerable, and quite a number of opportunities for people who could not afford to uproot and have to move outside in order to take advantage of this.

Of course, the college is also offering a mining tech program which provides graduates with the necessary skills to obtain high paying employment with our local mining companies. As well, our high school students are able to avail of first year university courses at our local campus; again, saving money for people to be able to take advantage of those programs right at home as opposed to having to move away. Last year, as well, the campus offered a two-year program in office administration.

Mr. Speaker, my time is running out quite quickly. I just want to move into health care. This government is investing heavily into health care, at $2.7 billion this year or 37 per cent, which on a per capita basis is the highest money spent anywhere in this country. My district, as I mentioned earlier, will see an investment of $9 million toward the continuation of our health care centre.

In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, this year I set myself a number of objectives dealing with health care issues in my district. I am certainly happy to report substantial progress already in this Budget with kidney dialysis and with the improved air ambulance response, which was identified as top priority items by my constituents, Mr. Speaker.

In this Budget, a new satellite dialysis unit for Lab West has been announced, which will also add two additional nursing units at an investment of close to $700,000. This will allow residents of Lab West to take advantage or to be able to avail of kidney dialysis services, which prior to now, anyone needing that service had to uproot and move away because of the remoteness of Lab West from other areas that were offering this service.

Of course, medevac response times, Mr. Speaker, has been a hot button issue in Lab West for the last, certainly in the last year, following a number of very tragic incidents in our area, and I am happy to see that government has responded. I believe, Mr. Speaker, anyone who is objective minded at all will look at the move of the air ambulance to Labrador as a move that makes a whole lot of sense for delivery of this service, indeed for the entire Province. When you consider that Labrador, in land mass, is three times the size of the Island, to have two air ambulances stationed on the Island with neither one in Labrador did not meet the needs and the response times required for the people of Labrador West. In addition, Mr. Speaker, by an investment this year of $1.1 million to put a second medical flight team in place to go along with the air ambulance stationed in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, will make a tremendous difference to the response times of this medevac service.

MR. SPEAKER (T. Osborne): Order, please!

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

MR. BAKER: I ask for leave just to clue up, Mr. Speaker.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Labrador West, by leave.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, other improvements which the - I am happy to say the Minister of Health's –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The member's leave has been withdrawn.

MR. BAKER: Pardon?

MR. SPEAKER: The member's leave has been withdrawn.

MR. BAKER: Okay, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

It is my pleasure to stand in this House to speak to Motion 1, the motion as put forward by the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board. The motion is that this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government. I mention that, Mr. Speaker, because I think it is important to give some context to what it is that we have all been speaking to here in the House today. We are talking about in general the budgetary policy of government, and will we or will we not support the budgetary policy? When we talk about the budgetary policy, Mr. Speaker, we are obviously talking about the Budget document that was brought down by the Minister of Finance a number of weeks ago.

I am happy to stand here, Mr. Speaker, and to say to you today that it is a budgetary policy that I am very supportive of. I will try not to repeat a lot of what has been said but there has been a lot said today. People have commented upon, for instance, how the net debt of the Province has improved under this government; how through seven successive Budgets we have been working on making sure that we reduce the debt that people in this Province have to live with. We have been successful with that, how we have made sure that the per capita debt has been reduced; how we have invested into a whole bunch of areas, Mr. Speaker. Reference was made by an earlier speaker about the Poverty Reduction Strategy. I will reference a little bit later some investments we have made in the business strategies of the government.

There has been investments made in Child, Youth and Family Services, in particular, in this Budget, which we will be debating a Child, Youth and Family Services bill a little bit later in this House. There was a lot of investment in the youth of our Province through the Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy.

So there have been many things that this government has done over the last seven Budgets to show the kind of budgetary policy that we have. The thing that I would like to say, Mr. Speaker, about our budgetary policy, is that while it is cognizant of economic growth, economic stimulus and economic sustainability, it is also very, very cognizant of our social responsibilities and our social development agenda that we have for this government. So, we have been very fortunate to be able to find, what I would consider to be, the balance between the economic responsibilities that we have and being stewards of the public purse and the social responsibilities that we have and making sure that people do not fall between the cracks and that people who need help in our Province are able to be assisted and able to be helped by the policies and the programs and the strategies of government.

I am standing here to say today, Mr. Speaker, that I am very happy, as one member of this Legislature, to say that the budgetary policy of government relative to Budget 2010 is one I can certainly support, and I can say that because all I need to do is refer people back to our Budgets from 2004-2009 and people will see the kind of investments that we have made. People can see how far this government has come. People can see, more importantly, how far the people of the Province have come and how we have improved the situation for people in the Province and because of that, I think people will be happy to say that yes, they would support the budgetary policy and Budget 2010.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer, if I could, to a couple of specific items. It was brought up in terms of some of our business initiatives that we are doing and myself, as Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development and my colleague, the Minister of Business, we are the people within government who are tasked with ensuring that we have good relations with our business partners, to ensure that our businesses have an opportunity to flourish, to ensure that our businesses have an opportunity to expand and that businesses feel comfortable working here in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Department of INTRD, Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, is really the department for indigenous businesses or businesses that are already existing here in the Province and my colleague, the Minister of Business, is responsible for businesses that would like to come and set up operations in the Province or expand into the Province. I mention that because we work very closely together. We work hand in hand. It is not really a black and white area, there is a lot of grey between what we do. We have many examples of how we helped businesses come into the Province that might already have a connection here or businesses that have a connection here bringing other businesses into the Province. So, it is not all black and white. We do have a lot of overlap and it is important that we work together.

Budget 2010 has, in terms of its business development agenda, about $126 million allocated for business development initiatives in Budget 2010 - $126 million, Mr. Speaker. Those dollars, that amount of money is being used to make sure that we identify key sectors in this Province to ensure that we know the sectors that are going to be important to the people of this Province, the ones that we feel have future growth, the ones that we feel can bring long-term employment to the skilled workers that we have in this Province, the ones that can be sustainable, can set up operation here, and can last into the long term, into the future, those that can expand their operations – we have seen many examples of business expansion in this Province over the last four or five year – and those that will, most importantly, pay dividends for our future generations.

We are retaining our youth, Mr. Speaker – I referenced our Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy a few minutes ago. We are retaining our youth here in the Province. More importantly, in my opinion, as important as that is, I am glad that we are retaining our youth - I have three children between the ages of nineteen and twenty-five and I am glad that they have an opportunity in our Province to have a future. I say to you, Mr. Speaker, what is also very important is that our children are now coming home because they see opportunity here in this Province. I know many colleagues in this hon. House and I know many of my friends and business acquaintances and social friends outside of this House whose children have had to move away in the past who are now returning to the Province because there are opportunities here for them.

So the money that we allocated in Budget 2010 for business expansion and business development at $126 million is being used to make sure that the young people who are here now in the Province have a future and those that are coming back to set up shop in the Province, those young men and women who left, have gotten some work experience and are now coming back home and make sure that they have an opportunity to have long-term, sustainable, high paying, well skilled jobs here in this Province, and that is happening, Mr. Speaker.

We are cultivating in our youth a sense of entrepreneurship. The Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development has programs and has initiatives that try to foster a sense of entrepreneurship within our youth. People need to understand – and I believe our youth probably understand it better than my generation or the generation ahead of me did – that they can work for themselves, they can create their own opportunity, they can create and start their own business.

Growing up, I know my father used to say to me – and he was a civil servant, worked with the federal government for the majority of his life. He would say to me: You have to get a job with the government, Shawn; get a job with the government. Well I did not in my early days, I did not. I spent almost twenty-five years working in the private sector. I had my own business for fifteen or so of those years. I was happy doing that and I felt quite comfortable doing that. So, my generation was not necessarily following in the footsteps of our fathers where you went to work with – it may not have been government. I know people who have worked with companies and spent twenty-five, thirty, forty years in some cases working with one company. That does not happen today. It did not happen in my generation as much and I would make the argument that is going to happen even less in the generations to follow us. I would suggest to you that my children, for instance, I would say will probably have five or ten jobs in their career as opposed to having one or two jobs as a lot of people used to do. They change jobs a lot more. They are more willing to take a risk and move somewhere else for a job. They want to try different things. They want to explore more. They are not as attached to one employer as we may have been in the past. That speaks to the fact that there are more jobs available. That speaks to the fact that we have a more vibrant economy than we may have had twenty, thirty years ago, or fifteen years ago, the fact that there are more jobs out there.

The people now, the human resources, are more in demand so those that have the skills and those that have the abilities are able to be a bit more selective and are able to sort of offer themselves and barter themselves to the person who is willing to pay the highest wage or the person who is willing to offer the most challenge to them.

I think that is a positive thing and I think the fact that we offer our young people the opportunity to be entrepreneurs, the opportunity to start their own businesses, and the opportunity to create something themselves is positive because it can be started anywhere. It can be started in St. John's, Newfoundland if you wish. It can be started in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, in Labrador. It can be started in Deer Lake. It can be started down the Coast of Bays. Today, people have an opportunity to start businesses wherever they would like to start them. Part of the reason why our youth can do that, and others can do that, is because there is access to capital today. People need money to start businesses and we have provided, as a government, an opportunity for them to do that.

In our traditional businesses, we have lots of traditional businesses that are very successful and people can become employed in those. We also have people in our knowledge-based industries. Our newer sort of knowledge-based industries, you may be talking about things like health and life sciences, you might be talking about ocean technology, you might be talking about aerospace and defence. There are a lot of new industries that people can get into. Robotics is a big one. I have been to competitions with high school and junior school students who are dealing with underwater robotics, on ground robotics, unmanned aerial vehicles, planes basically, machines that fly, all being done robotically. The kids today, the young people today, I should not call them kids, the young men and women today are much more able to look at that, see opportunity in it and are not afraid to take a chance on that than my generation or my father's generation may have been to do that.

The youth today are going to contribute to our economic diversification. They are going to contribute to the growth of our economy and they are going to contribute to bringing new things into our Province because they tend to be more worldly, more aware of opportunities that are out there in the world, more likely to try to experience those and more likely to try to get involved with those.

I think that is a positive thing. I think it is important that we understand that by having people who are not afraid to take a chance, and government not being afraid to support them, I think can only bring good things to the Province and I think it will only mean better things for the Province into the future.

Mr. Speaker, I want to speak for a second on our social development agenda as well because as much as we talk about the booming economy, we know there are people out there, for a wide variety of reasons, which sometimes have difficulties. Lots of times it is through no fault of their own; it is life. Some people run into roadblocks in life and they need some time, they need a bit of help from time to time to get over or to get through those roadblocks.

We have done things in our Budget - for instance, in Budget 2010, just as an example, we have increased the thresholds with the Prescription Drug Program. We have drug programs now where people who are on lower incomes can access drugs and have them helped to be paid for, that did not exist before. So we have brought that in, and we have increased the threshold so that people now who are earning a bit higher income are eligible for those kinds of drug therapies and drug remedies that they would not have been able to take advantage of before.

Another one that I know people have commented to me on when I have been out in my district has to do with the insulin pumps. Initially, insulin pumps were for children who were twelve years of age or under, the government would provide the money for that, then it went to eighteen years of age, and in this Budget, the age is twenty-five years or younger. Eventually, hopefully, it may be for anybody who needs one, so that they can have. I, myself, am not familiar with them in terms of a personal experience, only from what people have told me, but I understand it is much better to have a pump than it is to be injecting yourself with the needles, and it means a better sense of health for people, it moderates their health better, they do not have the same kinds of issues they might have when they have to monitor it themselves. The more we can do to improve people's health and the more we can do to improve people's well-being, I think it is only right that we should do that.

The other thing we have done, Mr. Speaker, and again, I have had a number of people mention this to me over the last three months, has to do with the availability of dialysis throughout the Province. In this year's Budget, I know Port aux Basques, I believe, and Labrador City was two areas. I know in previous years, we have done in Carbonear, we have done it in Central Newfoundland and we have done it on the West Coast. People who needed dialysis used to have to be mobile and go somewhere to get it, go to a central location to get it. We have spread that out now. We have put dialysis units in a lot of other places in the Province so that people do not have to travel as far. People, again, it comes back to their own personal health. If you are not making somebody travel five or six hours every couple of days to get this service, and they might have to go for a half an hour or an hour, it is much easier on them, and it does not affect them in the same way, in a negative way, and so it is better for their health, and I think it is only right that government should be trying to do those things.

So, we do have a balance. This is the thing that I think I am trying to get out to people; we do have a balance as a government in our budgetary policy on the economic development agenda, on the business attraction agenda side, and as well, on the social development side. We are cognizant of both ends of that spectrum and we are trying to make sure in the things that we do, that we meet the needs of both.

We have to do that, Mr. Speaker, in a very financially responsible way. We are the stewards of the public's purse. We have many billions of dollars that we vote on here in this House of Assembly in the Budget - rough numbers, about $8 billion. When you talk about $8 billion and you put a couple of billion into health, a billion or so into education and you put hundreds of millions into other departments, that is a lot of money for people in this Legislature to be responsible for at the end of the day, for ministers and all the elected officials to be responsible for because we are the ones who are making those decisions as to where that money will be spent.

From our perspective, we understand that we are accountable for how that money is spent. We try to make sure, as we move forward, that we spend that money in the place where people feel there is some benefit and people feel it is - I will use the word - invested wisely. I do not mean invested in the sense of an economic sense in getting a return, I mean invested in the sense of putting money into our Province, into our own people, into our own communities.

When we put money into pavement, a very basic thing that people need, we try to be strategic about where we are putting that, we try to make sure that we get the best value we can for the dollars that we are putting out there. We want to make sure that the most people can benefit from that.

When we are constructing new schools; hundreds of millions of dollars of new schools being constructed, it is important that we do that – school construction and maintenance I should say, not just construction. I know in my own district of St. John's Centre, some of the oldest schools in the Province are in St. John's Centre - fifty, sixty, sixty-five years old. Those schools are in significant need of upgrading and in some cases tearing them down and building new schools.

We are going through that as a government. We are not just doing it in the districts for the members who are on the government side we are doing it for all districts. We are doing it for all districts because those schools that have been identified as priorities, and those areas that have been identified as having schools that are priorities, we are making sure that we spend the money in those areas.

We are doing it on roads, we are doing it on things like health, and we are doing it on things like education. I mentioned our youth in terms of we are spending and investing money in our youth to ensure that they have a Province that they will be happy to live in, work in and grow in. We are also doing it, Mr. Speaker, in a lot of other ways.

If I just think of the K-12 system and the things that we have done there in terms of the textbooks. I cannot tell you, when we made that decision a couple of years ago, how many parents I had in St. John's Centre when I would go to the parent-teacher meetings and go to assemblies at the schools - there are eleven schools in and around my district, some of the biggest in the Province. I cannot tell you how many parents would speak to me about the school books, how many parents spoke to me and said what a wonderful thing that was that we had free school books for children from K-12 years of age. It made a huge difference to some people living in the District of St. John's Centre in terms of being able to make sure that their children had all the resources that they needed to be the best that they could be while they were going to school.

We have also, in terms of some of the investments that we have made, just to stick with education for a second, I want to mention this as well because I think it is important and it crosses all districts, has to do with some of the things that were done in post-secondary when we talk about the fact that we have eliminated the interest on the student loans, the fact that we brought in needs-based grants. Those are things that have been immeasurable in terms of their support for our youth in our Province being able to access post-secondary education.

I, for instance, in St. John's Centre again, Mr. Speaker, I can tell you personal stories of people that I know who, while they were going to high school, were working twenty-five and thirty hours a week to help out because of the situation that their families were in, they needed to bring in a bit of income and going to post-secondary was not going to be something that they thought they would be able to do. When we made some of the changes we made to the student loan program and we brought in the needs-based grants, these young men and young women were able to apply, they were smart enough to go to post-secondary, and now they were financially able to afford to go to post-secondary. That is something that has really helped out people in my district and I am sure in many, many other districts across the Province.

I think it is important that we recognize those things and we speak to those things and speak to the kinds of impacts that we are having that help the person on the street. We oftentimes come into this House and speak of many, many dollars and multi-million dollars and big strategies and all that and it is important that we have those because those are the planning documents, those are the documents that take us thinking about the future and sort of guide us in terms of where we are going into the future. I always try to relate it back to how do it sort of work its way down to the person on the street and how does it help the person on the street. As long as we are doing that, as long as the decisions we are making in this House, as long as the decisions that I make as a Minister of the Crown and my office are filtering down and having a positive impact on the people on the street then I think we will be doing things that are right.

That is why I started my comments by saying I was happy to speak to Motion 1: That this House approves in general the budgetary policy of the government. That is why, Mr. Speaker, I am happy to stand up and say that I am happy to do it this year - I was happy to do it in 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005 and 2004. I will be happy to do it again in 2011 because I know the kinds of investments we are making are assisting the people of the Province, and I look forward to the unanimous support of the House when we vote on the Budget a bit later.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is certainly a pleasure today to rise in the House to speak to the motion on budgetary policy 2010-2011 for the upcoming year for the expenditures of government. I have been here since 2007 and had a couple of Budgets that I have gone through, Mr. Speaker, and gone through the process in terms of looking at government expenditures, where we are going to expend public funds and how that is tied to our vision for the Province, the direction and where we need to go, and what our priorities are, Mr. Speaker. That is so important, that we are able to direct – clearly outline to people where it is we want to go, what it is we want to do, and how our fiscal and monetary policies are tied to that, whether it is generating the revenues to meet those needs or identifying those expenditures through social programming, through infrastructure, whatever is needed, Mr. Speaker, to complete the job.

I listened to the Member for St. John's Centre in regard to some of the good points he made in regard to some of the initiatives that we are making as a government and I agree with him, that we are strategic. We are meeting the needs. It is a big job when people of the Province put you in charge of the Treasury and direct you to provide services for them, their families, and their communities as we build and continue to build as this government has done since 2003, since coming to power, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I had an opportunity, as I said, since Election 2007, to sit here in the House and to hear the Speeches from the Throne, and to hear particular Budgets which outlined the direction that this government wanted to take. I looked at the other day, actually, when this government came to power and the first Speech from the Throne in terms of where we were and what the vision was and direction for this Province. I just wanted to touch a couple of them in terms of how we have done. We have moved ahead from there, but it is just important to go back and look at where we were at that point in time and some of the ideas we had and what we wanted to do.

At that time we spoke of, and this government spoke of, Mr. Speaker, a new approach to government and economic self-reliance. We know we have done that in terms of the Premier of this government, initiatives over the past number of years, working to be self-reliant, being a have Province and putting our financial house in order. That was an initiative of this government back in 2003. We have worked hard towards it and continue to work towards it, and this Budget continues that process, Mr. Speaker.

We talked about spending more efficiently the revenues we receive and to generate new revenues to promote the growth of business, new investment and new jobs. We have seen over the past number of years, Mr. Speaker, that investment has increased in this Province. Certainly, the quality of life for our residents has increased. We have done a number of initiatives for small business and medium business, especially in rural Newfoundland, in terms of making them more responsive to the needs, making it easier for them to operate in the marketplace and environment in which they operate.

A number of initiatives back then in 2003, the Budget Speech spoke of, as I said, medium and small business growth, better economic infrastructure, Mr. Speaker. In terms of fees, red tape, those types of things, there have been a number of initiatives to reduce those to make it more competitive for the private sector out there, certainly in terms of assistance from departments like Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, in terms of programming. Actually, people say to me all the time, in terms of interactions with Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, in terms of the programs that are there, especially in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, that the programs are good, they can access them and they are what is required. That certainly came out of consultation with the business community, with the marketplace in terms of what is needed, and programs like that feed that need and are so important.

As well, the Department of Business, Mr. Speaker, here as well, in terms of programs and initiatives, in terms of accessing those and what is needed, that is government responding to what is out there to build the business aspect, the market, and overall, the economics of the Province.

We look at sustainable resource management, Mr. Speaker. What we are doing - and we know now in terms of a number of years ago - we outlined an energy plan, comprehensive in terms of all of our natural resources, how we have become a player in regard to the oil industry, with equity; being at the table in terms of the oil industry, in terms of driving a hard bargain, in terms that we are part of it. We do get a piece of the equity and we are players. That is so important in an industry that means so much to Newfoundland and Labrador, but it is one of many industries that are so important, Mr. Speaker. That is an important initiative of this government and we have done that.

With regard to our energy plan, as I said, it is oil and gas; it is hydro generation, wind generation, certainly other innovations in terms of looking at wind generation or energy generation. All of those things are required and are part of the energy plan. That plan looks to 2041 overall, in terms of, as we know, the Upper Churchill contract, in terms of that coming back to the Province, and that is - in terms of the government and looking at where we are going, we are looking at long-term initiatives. We are not looking at year to year. We are looking at five years out, ten years out, twenty years out. Decisions we are making today, investments we are making today to ensure that building a strong future for us today but certainly for our children and our grandchildren that come after us, to ensure that we do take our right place in this Canadian federation. We are well on our way to doing it, Mr. Speaker, and continue to do it with initiatives like these.

We also talked about a healthy environment, as well as a highly skilled workforce. There has been tremendous investment in skilled trades, in our primary and high schools, in our post-secondary. I will speak to those in a minute, Mr. Speaker, in terms of those initiatives that are so important. A competitive tax system, from a corporate point of view, and as well from personal income tax, this government strives to have the lowest personal income tax. We do now in Atlantic Canada, and that makes the environment in terms of people wanting to live, wanting to stay here, wanting to relocate back here. That is one of the things they look at, in terms of money that they make in their pockets. Overall, we know from an economic point of view that helps drive the economy when people have money to spend.

Mr. Speaker, as well, sound fiscal management. When this government took over it was necessary to get our financial house in order to make sure that fiscally we could sustain and pay our bills we had at that point in time. As we move forward, it certainly gave us a capacity to do things in terms of growth in the economy. That was done and continues to be done, Mr. Speaker.

Over the last five years we have roughly gone with a reduction in almost $4 million in terms of the overall liabilities of the Province and reducing our deficit which is so important, Mr. Speaker, from the fiscal management point of view. We all know when you have a mortgage or whatever expenses you have, liabilities, you are paying on that debt. There is interest on that debt. From a province with a reduction with that amount and through (inaudible) liability that means a huge reduction in terms of service payments and servicing that debt that we no longer have to pay. We can take that money and reinvest it, as I said, into infrastructure, social programs and things we need.

We also talked about addressing barriers for those who are often marginalized in society: women, persons with disabilities, people living in poverty, Aboriginal people and elderly. All of those groups, Mr. Speaker, it is fair to say when you go back and look at the past number of Budgets, each one of those looked at these groups I speak of, in terms of providing assistance to make sure that no one gets left behind. In terms of social programming, as our economy grows we can reach out and touch and to make sure, as I said, that no one gets left behind.

Overall, there were three priorities from this government. The original Speech from the Throne when they talked about priorities, an economy growing that promotes jobs, investment and diversification, and subsequent revenues, Mr. Speaker. As well, they used the revenues to finance lower rates, high quality social programs. I will speak to those in a second, Mr. Speaker, but we continue to do that in terms of expenditures, whether it is in education, whether it is in health care, just right across the board. As well, too, to make sure that we take our rightful place in Confederation. We maximize the benefits we receive from the federal government. We play a partners role, and I think in terms of being masters of our own destiny and doing what we as a Province feel we need to do, we have certainly been there and continue to do that under the leadership of the Premier, Mr. Speaker.

We talked about, as well - you go back to the last ten years in terms of how Newfoundland and Labrador has changed. Globally, we have changed. In terms of the commodity markets and how important that is around the world, we hit a blip a couple of years back. It seems like globally we are recovering, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Based on our sound financial planning, we did not take the hardest hit as a lot of provinces in this country, and that was basically due to planning we had done, decisions we had made and we continued to move forward. We will continue to do it. Again, we see this year that in the commodity market, certainly in the mining sector, we are hoping for continued improvements there. That will bode well for the Province in terms of our revenues and subsequently providing those services that are so important to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Mr. Speaker, I mentioned about education as well. We talked back then that the fuel of the new economy is knowledge. I do not think a government has increased investments in youth, in all of our children, like a government like this has. Whether it is primary, whether it is high schools, whether it is post-secondary, whether it is building schools – I know the other day in the Estimates for Education, the minister listed several pages of initiatives in terms of physical infrastructure that has been built on this Island, or is under repair, or new buildings that are on the list on the Island and in Labrador. The amount of infrastructure is amazing.

That is a commitment to our youth, to our kids, to our communities, rural Newfoundland, urban Newfoundland and Labrador. That commitment, this government continues to invest heavily in it because we see it as important because indeed knowledge, our youth, it is clichι, but they are the future and they certainly need to be equipped to meet the challenges. We are there to work with them to make sure they do meet those challenges.

The world has changed, there are emerging opportunities. We have set up a new corporation in R&D. That facet of expertise brings so much to your economy, brings so much to the people. We work towards that and invest in that, and again, that will benefit all of us, especially our youth.

Mr. Speaker, we have often spoken here and people spoke earlier, as well, in regard to the Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy that this government heavily invested in and announced just last year. That was an initiative that went out and spoke to youth from across this Province and well, from around the country, expats who were elsewhere in the country, in Ontario, in Alberta to find out first-hand what they believe Newfoundland and Labrador needed, where we needed to go. What we heard was that there was success to date in terms of post-secondary and what we are doing in post-secondary initiatives, in terms of environmental and the issues that we were doing, but as well there was great input there in terms of what we needed to do and a lot of those initiatives certainly continue. They are part of the overall plan of this government and we continue to invest in them.

Mr. Speaker, as well back then we talked about effective and efficient government in terms of making sure that we understand what is happening in Newfoundland and Labrador, all of Newfoundland and Labrador, in terms of being able to develop public policy that meets the needs. Certainly, this government, as I have mentioned, the Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy, that was a consultative process and something that this government does, consults, hears from people and then comes back and uses that for the input in terms of developing public policy that is reflective of the needs of the people. It is connected to the fiscal capacity as well of the government because, again, your capacity to meet the public needs is tied directly to raising of revenues, sound financial management and then directing that to your public policy which is so important.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to specifically just talk on a couple of items related to education which is so important to our youth. I certainly hear it in my district in talking to people. There has been huge investments since 2003 - a brand new facility, $12 million in Mobile; state-of-the-art facility in Witless Bay, K-6. We invested close to $1 million dollars last year to add on three additional classrooms. It was much needed, growing region. Smaller projects in Trepassey - Stella Maris investments there for the school itself, as well as Baltimore but there has been investment right across the board in terms of education.

If you look at, Mr. Speaker, per student expenditure in 2003-2004 in K-12 was about $7,412 and in 2010-2011, it is expected to rise to $12,220. That is an increase, Mr. Speaker, of almost 65 per cent from 2003-2004. Again in 2006, the annual investment of $6.3 million, which was mentioned earlier, for the elimination of school fees, once again that cost taken out for the parents and families of Newfoundland and Labrador so it did not need to be paid and this government is stepping in and picking it up.

In terms of responding to the educational requirement with students with special needs, we had $5.39 million was allocated over three years beginning in 2008 for the implementation of the ISSP report. Once again very important looking at, consulting with and finding out what we needed to do, making that commitment on a budgetary basis and moving forward with it, Mr. Speaker, which is so important.

Mr. Speaker, I mentioned post-secondary. We have become a national leader, certainly, in terms of the debt reduction for students in post-secondary education. Again, I know youth in my district that are dealing – at one of the post-secondary institutions always speak of that in terms of the commitment we made to freezing tuition rates. It certainly makes us the envy of many other parts of the country in terms of tuition fees and what is being paid in other jurisdictions in Canada.

We also introduced up-front grants which provide a portion of provincial student finance for grants in the form of a non-repayable upfront loan. Again, I hear of that in terms of helping students out. One of the biggest challenges we have in terms of our youth, in terms of their post-secondary education, is terms of debt, in terms of when they finish that up and make that step to the workforce, and that is something we identified in our Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy and certainly through apprenticeship programs and other initiatives that we put in place. We are investing in that and helping youth to make that transition from post-secondary into the workforce.

Again, with everything else that is happening in terms of developing of the Province, we are retaining more of our youth in terms of staying and finding employment and certainly building homes here and all around Newfoundland and Labrador, and some coming back as well. Our net in-migration as we know continues to grow, which is a good sign that the policies of this government, the directions we have taken over the years, are having a difference and people want to stay here, start their careers here, and certainly build a family which is so important for a growing Province, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I want a couple of minutes to touch on some of the biggest initiatives of this government in terms of decisions we have made that we now have the capacity to invest at an unprecedented level in terms of infrastructure, whether it is municipal, whether it is, as I said, in education, whether it is provincial roads, social programs, our poverty reduction program – huge investments. I go through my district from Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove south to St. Shotts. It is a big district. There are a lot of communities, rural communities, small communities, and up to 2007-2008 in the Budget when the Province brought in, for my communities, a ninety-ten ratio in terms of municipal cost-sharing, many municipalities could not access the kind of funding they needed to do upgrades in their communities.

What I have seen over the past couple of years is tremendous involvement of those communities and they have been able to access much needed infrastructure due to this new initiative that was brought in. I could go through every community that either has an application in or has actually received funding right from St. Shotts certainly down to Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove. That could be water systems, enhancements for the water system, it could be municipal infrastructure, it could be a building, or municipal roads, upgrading the roads. You name it, Mr. Speaker, those initiatives are there and it is important to our community. It is important to rural Newfoundland and Labrador in terms of sustainability. That is a word we often hear of, sustainability, in terms of being able to keep those small communities alive and well and let people have a choice. Let people have a choice in terms of if they want to live in rural Newfoundland. Certainly, we want to continue to grow it, that that is allowed and they can do it, and we can provide the funding and the public policy to allow them to do that.

Health care; again so important in terms of investments. We invested, again in the Southern Avalon and Trepassey clinic, about a $200,000 upgrade to X-ray and laboratory equipment in an area down there that has struggles but no doubt this government believes that we continue to invest, and certainly as an MHA, that we continue to invest and maintain the infrastructure that is needed by people.

As well, certainly parts of my district, a growing region. We look at Bay Bulls, Witless Bay, that area, the Goulds, tremendous growth and residential growth. We have a new lifestyle centre just started in Bay Bulls, a $4.3 million facility. Again, as part of our early learning initiative, that will proceed once built. We will invest over $1.5 million in terms of, to keep our early childhood initiative to get that program running with a sixty child day care, Mr. Speaker.

So, all of those initiatives, Mr. Speaker, are important. This government – I went back to 2003 and spoke of the first Throne Speech, or 2004, I should say. All of those priorities I talked about there, those three priorities, we continue to follow those. We continue to follow fiscal responsible policy and in doing that we are able to meet the needs of the Province. I certainly support this Budget and it is right on track for what this government wants to do.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. YOUNG: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In responding to the Speech from the Throne, I always start off and go to the infrastructure because the infrastructure that has been invested on the Northern Peninsula as ever been so important. It has been key to bringing things around, from our industries that we have, certainly based on the ability to be able to travel in between.

In fact, when I got elected it was one of the things that was important to us because it had become dilapidated to the point that it had been a deterrent to what we were able to do. We had taken things like our fishery, which we were exporting and bringing to other parts of this Province, and from there it was deteriorating the highway system to the point that other industries could not exist. I know back from - first-hand experience - being involved in the industry, is that in the tourism, it was not considered passable between the north part of the boundary of Gros Morne to Hawke's Bay.

Mr. Speaker, from that point of being deteriorated, to the point of today that on 430 we are doing the last section, the last ten kilometres between Portland Creek and Daniel's Harbour. That is certainly an important investment. It is a continuation. I remember first when I got - I was out there when we formed government, and at that time things were so tight. I had a very small allocation and I thought the only thing I could do with it was to extend on what the park was doing. The park at the time was doing their roads; that was under the federal government. I had just quietly extended on what the park was doing. I remember the next year, the Mayor of Parson's Pond was so upset with the conditions of the road there, and rightfully so, because it was going from crater to crater. She said well, you know, you have not done anything. I said I did, I just kept it a little quiet because I know the small bit I had done just was not going to satisfy the needs. So I had to go out and make sure that people understood that at the end of the park boundary you were not come to the end of the road and turn around. So, that is where we were to, and to see the changes on the go now, all the way from Deer Lake right on through to St. Anthony, it is a road that is completely redone, and is ever so important.

We are a people who depend on the tourism industry. We are fortunate enough to be in a cluster, Gros Morne to L'Anse aux Meadows to Red Bay to Labrador to Port au Choix, to all the things that we have developed in between. It has become an important part of the economy in the district of St. Barbe. It is now the second biggest part of the economy, it is has moved into number two.

I go out there and I see the things that this government has done, and I see the things that the people have done on the ground that has been able to make that happen. I spent this last weekend in Norris Point were we opened up Trails, Tales & Tunes. To see the effort that was put in by volunteers being able to bring the things together and the monumental effort that it takes at this time of the year, to get everything up and dusted off, and to have a quality product on the go that they have there and the commitment that they have – matched with the government. The government has certainly been supportive, but without the commitment of the volunteers that we have out there we would never be able to pull this off. You can have things like Gros Morne, but until you have the people who are willing to appreciate the value that that is, and to the community and the lifestyle on the go, and have people in that community step out and step up to the point where they go out there and create what we have, it is incredible, Mr. Speaker.

I can only tell you that to be in Norris Point this past weekend, when you are on the stage there - in front of the stage there actually, after the hon. Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation and myself had an opportunity to have a couple of words. Then after that, I suppose, the more important acts happened. To have the kids come out there with their teacher and to have the opening as they did, it was incredible. Then to be sitting there and having someone like Harry Martin come in and sit down and do a few tunes, to be in his presence was incredible. Then to have Daniel Payne, and then The Once all come onto the stage in Norris Point was incredible. What talent they were able to bring together just at the opening. Then all the things that came in through after that, to be able to bring it together; to be up at the seniors and having a bite after and whatever. The pride in that community, and the commitment they have in that community is certainly incredible, Mr. Speaker. It is a foundation of an economy out there that is growing, and the potential is incredible.

We are investing in this as a Province, and certainly no part of this Province is gaining any more from that than the District of St. Barbe by having what we have. As I said, you pull into Gros Morne, and to have what we have there, to be able to attract people from around the world. Of course, to have another major attraction on the peninsula, with L'Anse aux Meadows that is attracting people from around the world, but to have Port au Choix in there and having what they have to offer, and having things like we have - when you go to Hawke's Bay when you see the salmon interpretation - from our natural resources, being able to pool that together. It is a lot of hard work. It is a lot of dedication by a lot of people who put a lot of time and effort into volunteering because they want a better community, and they are bringing it together, Mr. Speaker.

One of the things that I have to say is that being out there and working with Parks Canada, because Parks Canada is making a significant investment into Port au Choix. Port au Choix has been in need, I think, of such an investment to refocus and to be able to go out there to draw the attention that it needs. That is going to be a very important investment to where we are going to be. Through Port au Choix, it is being able to go - I know in my backyard in Bird Cove, quite a similar product, as I say, from a tourism point of view. It pulls it together. We are working on having a commitment to be able to bring, through Parks Canada, which has been incredibly good to us for partnering with the community. A long time ago they had a view that they were there to preserve for the future and not to contribute to the local economy. That has certainly changed, Mr. Speaker.

One of the other things that is interesting, that is happening in the district that will bring a quality of life and is enjoyable, is that there are four communities that are having Come Home Years this year: Norris Point, Port au Choix, Shoal Cove-Reefs Harbour-New Ferolle and Bird Cove. So it is going to be interesting to be out there and to see those communities come alive to an even more and greater extent this year than normally. We do see an influx of people back in the summertime that brings back that life, because so many of us had to move away and so many of us work away that it gives that sense of pride in the community. It is going to be significant this summer in those communities, and I look forward to it and sharing with those people. Then, once again, it has been that investment there.

Mr. Speaker, still the biggest part of the economy of St. Barbe is the fishery. It is out there, it has had its challenges over the last number of years, and certainly this year is no exception. If you take the shrimp from Port au Choix on the north we have, on the peninsula we have four fish plants, we have a fleet of sixty-odd boats that are out there, Mr. Speaker. It is a very significant part of the economy. We have seen that those challenges that have been ongoing in the fishery have certainly been there again this year, and off to a late start.

A commitment from the minister, to be able to get out there and say that we are going to start working on the problems now for next season, instead of going out there and waiting from year to year and seeing the same and dance and go continuously, it is an unacceptable way of doing business, and we have reached a point where we have realized that whatever it takes to change that has to go. People who are in the industry realize that we cannot continue to go this way and that whatever changes it takes to secure a future that is more certain and more predictable and more timely, is certainly what we have to do.

I am out there doing what I can to bridge the gap between us changing from where we are today to where we need to be to have a productive fishery. That is certainly important and vital to the northern part of the Northern Peninsula, that economy. Not only in my district, but The Straits & White Bay North, is a fishery that goes - Mr. Speaker, of those troubles, once again, the lobster fishery, to the inshore fishermen, has been what has kept it together. We have seen very low prices in the last couple of years that have certainly taken out - and it has certainly put a lot of pressure on the inshore fishery because it has not been able to bring in the cash to be able to make the circle meet as such. As you know, the cod fishery has always had its issues with an opening date and a shut date and being able to sell your product. Those challenges have not been very kind, I suppose, is a way of putting it, to the inshore fisherman that has been able to go. So there have been a number of pressures and stresses there that certainly have to be dealt with. Key to that would certainly be the price that we can get for the price of cod, Mr. Speaker.

New Ferolle, one of those places that have played a vital role on the Northern Peninsula, for the inshore fishery, to be able to sell to has run into its challenges. It had a commitment from an operator that they would be there, but through one reason or another, it has not happened. The commitment has been there. I met again just yesterday evening with some concerned citizens and workers and the owner to get some sense of a timeline on how you are going to do this, because it sort of has been on the community, as we see it, a commitment not fulfilled. So in order to be able to track this and to be able to have some sense of that this is going to happen this year, this is not just going to be an ongoing promise and non-commitment, that the timelines are there - I have made a commitment to the people that the minister has made a commitment to me to meet with me tomorrow, and again next Tuesday, to be able to see that we can work through this. If not, that this community does not have to pay the price that it is going to have just through the lack of attention from someone that came in and may have not had the means or the ability or the commitment to foresee that through.

On any account, the community, as it stands today, is potentially the biggest loser of this. Certainly, the inshore fishermen that depend upon selling this - and that commitment have not been made. So that has to change. Working with the minister, I am sure that we would be able to bring that to a point that we can probably see that plant open and be productive and to have the confidence that have a future, and a prosperous one as we did a short while ago, Mr. Speaker.

The forestry is certainly important to the District of St. Barbe, but has certainly changed considerably from when Corner Brook Pulp and Paper was in and was certainly in need of the pulpwood that we had there. That dwindled as things got tightened up as the paper industry all over the world had changed and had come down. The inefficiencies had to be pulled out of the industry and you have to be very efficient in order to stay in that industry. So, the Northern Peninsula, being at the distance it is from Corner Brook, from where the mill is, there was some pressure to pull back. This government worked over a number of years to see that we stayed a part of that, and then it became obvious that it just could not be bridged any more. So, as we have realized that, there had to be a means to utilize the resource that we had on the peninsula. It was someone like a Ted Lewis in Roddickton who goes out there and is doing a very good job of being able to take and manage a resource and to be able to turn it a go.

So, to partner with someone like that is what we have found, to be able to go and to have a pellet plant in a place like Roddickton, and to be able to take our resources in and to bring it and have the support to see that that would come through and have an industry to continue on, on the Northern Peninsula, is ever so important. That is what the commitment that this government had made to an industry to see that it is there, that we still had an opportunity to have an economy based around our forestry as being utilized. We have an economy based around our forestry, because we certainly have tourism, from a point of view of outfitting, and all of things that we have is there. In many ways, we have come to realize that it has to be a balance. That we have to harvest that resource, as well as to utilize what the resource is as it stands, as through the wildlife that we have and all the things that it offers, Mr. Speaker.

One of the other things that is certainly exciting, and you look to the future for in this Province or in the district, and that is what we have on the have on the East Coast, we are hoping to find on the West Coast, and in the District of St. Barbe, and that is oil. Mr. Speaker, the investment that we made in Parson's Pond – this government has through Nalcor – is a commitment that gives us a certain sense that we are going to give what it takes to find oil, to explore it, that we will not fall ten feet short, if we believe that we need to go another ten feet, or if we need to move on, that is not going to happen. So having an investment with Nalcor as a partner in oil exploration in the Parson's Pond area where we have a history of oil exploration - I never knew how much until I was at a presentation last winter when a gentleman got up and did an incredible presentation about the history of oil in Parson's Pond. To go back and the number of wells that have been drilled there, or partially drilled and whatnot, I was certainly taken aback, because I thought there may have been a half a dozen to a dozen wells there instead of the number that it was.

So Mr. Speaker, the thing that gives us encouragement is just that we understand that what we have – giving the encouragement today is that we understand that the people that did the drilling did not go as deep as they should have. They only went about half the depth where you would expect to find oil. So that oil that is coming out of the ground, it is probably very reasonable to think that we are going to find that oil when, in all the history that we have in the oil industry there, is that we never went the distance that we needed to go in order to find that oil, Mr. Speaker. So I look at that with certainly encouragement in an industry that would happen – we have been finding the resource on the West Coast, but now to come in and to find that oil, if we can, up the peninsula and such, would certainly turn around the economy. It certainly would be unique. An economy based on the skills that we certainly have on the Northern Peninsula, because too many of us, in some senses, have been working in the oil industries in Alberta and all over the world. If we could bring that industry to the point that we could be out there - we certainly have the skills from the people who certainly lived their lives on the Northern Peninsula. So, it certainly would be an incredible thing to see that happen and I look forward to it as well.

That same afternoon in the presentation, there was another gentleman who had presented and he had come to the point that was reassuring - because in some ways I thought maybe a $14 million commitment, and a cut-off. The person who had sold the idea that it was good thing for us to be doing this had certainly assured us that this $14 million was a beginning, that we were out there and that we were going to find a means to impress upon the industry that there are possibilities in this neighbourhood. So when you understand the commitment that has been made, and that we are going to be able to come out and do what it takes to find and share that with the industry, to do whatever it takes to attract industry, it is certainly more than encouraging, Mr. Speaker.

One of the other things that certainly brings life and hope to the district of St. Barbe is the road opening up through Labrador, and St. Barbe being the connecting part of that. It certainly gives a lot of opportunity. It certainly gives endless possibilities, when you are on a peninsula which comes to a dead-end road and comes back, that you now become a part of a major loop. You think about all the possibilities that are happening in Labrador that are positive, that you are en route and you have a port that is at the end of this island part of the Province that is connecting to - well, through Quebec - the Labrador part of our Province, that certainly gives us incredible possibilities, to be able to have a share of some of the positive things that are happening in Labrador, and a share of the positive things that are happening on the island, because you become a connecting part. So, to see and work with this government and be able to explore the possibilities that we have right there, that would extend through my district on down through St. Barbe, with all of the things that we have from a tourism point of view, and a resource point of view, the possibilities are certainly incredible.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. YOUNG: Mr. Speaker, one of the things that certainly made all of this come together is the fact that the District of St. Barbe is a very large district. It is more than 300 kilometres from St. Barbe to Trout River, with thirty-four communities, Mr. Speaker. The fact that we had gone from 70-30 for those communities to a 90-10 was certainly a massive, significant decision that impacted the communities in my district in such a positive way that I do not think there is anything else that has been able to compete with that, in my mind; because it gave a certain sense of the people who are volunteering, who are bringing the things to the communities that they need, it gave them a certain sense that they could achieve what they wanted. Things become reachable, versus unattainable. At the point that we had been, things were unattainable at the 70-30. It was just not reasonable for us to go out there and expect that we could come up with that share of money to put the water lines and sewer lines back into the ground that were essential for our communities to function. If you are given something that is really unattainable, then the drive and the desire to be able to make your community better becomes somewhat of a challenge, in that you are deflated as you take it on. To be able to see the change in the attitude of community leaders, and to be able to go out there and take that on, it was certainly a significant decision, Mr. Speaker.

I think that is what gives a certain sense of, I suppose, a possibility of pride and all those kind of things, and you see it through the community leaders and you see it through things like in tourism. As I said, when you go out there and we have Trails, Tales & Tunes, the amount of commitment that individuals have put into that is incredible, and the amount that it is contributing to the economy is incredible, and the future that we have there. The people in those communities are able to sit down and enjoy entertainment that people are willing to travel halfway around the world to come and share. It is certainly very encouraging, Mr. Speaker. It is a quality of life that we have today that is very enjoyable, and it is growing; it is getting better.

We are on the right track, and it comes from a commitment that this government had made to rural Newfoundland and Labrador that has given us the quality of life that we have. We have challenges, but we have a future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): The hon. the Minister of Education.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the overwhelming endorsement and support of my colleagues but I have to say it is a hard act to follow, my colleague from the West Coast, the Northern Peninsula - a fabulous job - twenty minutes later. Congratulations.

It is indeed a pleasure for me, Mr. Speaker, to rise today and have the opportunity to have a few remarks in support of the fiscal policy and financial policy of government and, of course, most particularly our recent Budget, an investment in our children and our future. Indeed it was a good Budget, Mr. Speaker, for not only the Department of Education but a good Budget for the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: I want to make a couple of comments, Mr. Speaker, and I do appreciate the enthusiasm of my colleagues sitting around me, I really do, but I want to make a few comments relative to - I will start with focusing a little bit on my district and some of the investments we have made.

Mr. Speaker, before I do, I want to talk about students in the system for a moment, because I have had the opportunity, like many of my colleagues here over the last number of weeks, and we will continue for the foreseeable future, attending a number of events, graduation ceremonies at various high schools, in my own district in particular, but as well, Mr. Speaker, a number of events at the post-secondary level. Over the past three weeks or so, I have had the opportunity to join with my colleague, the Minister of Business, in his district for a number of events, and in particular the College of the North Atlantic, a graduation. I also had the opportunity, Mr. Speaker, recently to attend the last convocation for the Corner Brook campus of Memorial, Grenfell College. That was a great event, recognized by all as the last event of the old Grenfell College and the beginning of a new era. A new era, Mr. Speaker, on the West Coast, with a great investment on behalf of our government in this year's Budget, last year's Budget, and some future out-year commitments, to move the Corner Brook campus of Memorial University ahead, to help grow the college and focus on student recruitment. It was indeed a great event. The chancellor of the university was there with us, and the president and the vice-president for the Corner Brook campus. It was an event well-attended.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to mention those couple of things because it is at this point in time in the year when all of us who attend those events get the opportunity to not only recognize the achievements of the students, not only to recognize their achievements and to acknowledge that it is indeed a night or a day of celebration for students, but it is also a day of celebration for the parents and the guardians and the family members who put so much time and so much effort and so much support behind their children and their education. I want to take this opportunity to say thank you, publicly, on behalf of the department, on behalf of government, to all of the parents and members of the community who worked so hard, regularly, to support not only the K-12 system, and not only the post-secondary system, but also to support the students at all levels in the system, because certainly education is a partnership and we all recognize that we cannot truly see our students succeed to the best of their ability unless we have the full support and co-operation of parents and the community, as well as the system. So I certainly want to recognize them and say thank you to them.

Mr. Speaker, I want to move now, for a few moments, just to touch on a number of initiatives that we have announced this year in the Budget. It was indeed a good Budget, as I said a few moments ago, focusing on our children and our future.

One of the initiatives that we announced, which I think is going to be extremely important for now and for the future, is our intention to move forward with the Early Childhood Learning initiative, Mr. Speaker, an initiative that will be a cross-departmental approach, multi-departmental involvement. My colleague, the Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services, as well as the Minister of Health and Community Services, the Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment, and a number of other departments will be involved.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to touch on that one for a moment, because I think it is important for people to understand a couple of things: First of all, that we recognize, as a government, the value of formal programs, interaction and providing supports to parents at as early an age as possible in a child's life. We understand and we recognize that as children grow and the brain develops you can have a greater impact, Mr. Speaker, if you are able to work with children at an earlier age. So, it is our intention with this announcement in the Budget this year to certainly consult publicly and widely, through various child care organizations, early childhood educator organizations and individuals in the field. We are going to consult with parents and members of the K-12 system. The intention is that we would develop a policy and a framework document that will lay out for us what early childhood education will look like in this Province for the coming years.

Certainly, Mr. Speaker, from my perspective, I see a number of opportunities there. First of all, I think it is important that we have the opportunity to reach out to parents at as early an age as possible, preferably within the first six to twelve months that a child is born, reach out and provide support, first of all, and provide resources, both human resource support by way of advice and suggestions to parents on the kinds of things they can be doing with their children at home to better stimulate them and to better prepare them for their entry into kindergarten. It also will include some opportunity for some more formalized programs before children get to the kindergarten grade.

Right now, Mr. Speaker, we do have a pre-kindergarten program. Children are exposed to some formalized learning opportunities. They have the opportunity to come into the school system, to the kindergarten classroom in particular and a number of scheduled, formalized and organized opportunities in intervals throughout the year.

Mr. Speaker, we want to expand upon that. We want to provide greater opportunities for parents to avail of resources and support from trained professionals, early childhood educators whose training and background is in that particular area, so that by the time we move through the early childhood framework and children come in to kindergarten they will be far better prepared and far more ready to learn and take on the challenges that the formalized public system presents to them than perhaps they have been in the past.

That, Mr. Speaker, is certainly an extremely important initiative from the perspective of government. I know from the feedback that I have received all across the Province that parents and members of the general public are excited about the opportunity that it presents to us here in Newfoundland and Labrador. They are excited about becoming engaged in the consultation process and having an opportunity to provide their input as to how they feel that should look and how it should roll out in the coming years.

Mr. Speaker, a number of other important initiatives at the K-12 level that we continued with this year and introduced this year, we now brought our class size cap to the entire K-9 school system. Grades 6s and 9s this year were the last two grades to have that affect them. I am very pleased that we have been able to do that. We have this year, I think, in the order of about eighty teachers more in the system than we would have had prior to the introduction of the class size cap, and our new allocation model, which is focused on the needs of the students and the needs of the system.

That is extremely important not only for some of our larger centres, Mr. Speaker, where we have increasing class sizes, in particular some of the growth centres here on the Avalon, but it is also important in that it gives us an ability to try to continue to respond to challenging situations in the rural parts of the Province where enrolments have declined over the last number of years. In some cases, we have seen a sort of a petering off and stabilization of the enrolment, but in many cases, Mr. Speaker, we still see the student enrolment at the schools declining in the rural parts of the Province.

The investment of the teaching resources that I just referenced, Mr. Speaker, will allow school districts to work with localized school communities. In most instances, we will be able to meet the challenges that they are facing and be able to provide some extra resources and support.

In line with that, Mr. Speaker, we also introduced this year an increase in our student assistance allocation, an increase by 25,000 person hours per year in this Budget year alone. That is going to do a number of important things for students in the Province. One of the things it is going to do is it is going to provide us with extra support in the area of autism. Members of the House and members of the public who may be listening to this today would remember, particularly, if they are a family who has an autistic child or has a relative, that we did province-wide consultations this past year.

We took the opportunity to go across the Province and to go into a variety of settings and to listen not only to teachers in the system who deal with these children on a daily basis, but we also invited input from members of the public, from parents and grandparents and brothers and sisters who are living with children with autism on a daily basis. We invited their input and gave them the opportunity to come in and speak to us about the challenges that they face not only in the home, Mr. Speaker. For those of us - including myself because I have a family member who is affected by this – who are affected by this, we recognize that there are many, many challenges that parents face at home when their children are not in school. We recognize that, and certainly my colleagues in a number of other departments are doing their best to work with parents and support them.

We also recognize, Mr. Speaker, that parents face some unique challenges when their children enter the K-12 system. So we took the opportunity and provided the opportunity for parents to talk to us about how we could improve the service for their children and, equally as important, Mr. Speaker, how we could improve upon the way in which parents are approached and how we deal with them in the K-12 system to try and relieve some of the stresses and some of the pressures that they feel in their interaction with the school system and in the interaction with the teachers and school administrators.

Mr. Speaker, their frustration is not born necessarily out of any one particular individual performing in a manner that creates frustration, it is born out of a systemic flow of information, if I might use that phrase. We are not always as cognizant as we ought to be to parents and members of families who have some unique challenges not only with autistic children, but there are many parents out there who have children with Down syndrome and learning disabilities and many other challenges that those of us in the public who are fortunate enough to have children who are part of the regular mainstream and do not face those challenges, many of us, Mr. Speaker, do not understand and do not have a good appreciation for the challenges that some of the parents face who have children with these kinds of disabilities or challenges that require extra attention and different approaches in the K-12 system.

This was a great opportunity through the consultation process for us to gather some information and hear what parents had to say. As I said a few moments ago, the increase in the student assistant hours gives us the opportunity to provide further supports and to address one of the issues that was raised through all of the consultation process across the Province.

Mr. Speaker, the other message that I keep hearing and my colleague, the Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, spoke about this a few moments ago, and that is we keep hearing constantly from parents about how pleased they are, particularly parents from families who are financially challenged, how pleased they are that, again, we are continuing with the free textbooks for students in K-12 and that we have continued our financial support in this Budget for the elimination of school fees. Mr. Speaker, you cannot underestimate the significant impact that has had on the lives of not only children but whole families. I hear my colleague, the Minister of Human Resources, cheer that on a few moments ago because certainly in her department, through a number of strategies that we have worked on and most particularly our infamous, number one in Canada Poverty Reduction Strategy, Minister, I say to you, recognized nationally -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: A strategy that is recognized nationally as one of the best in the country, Mr. Speaker, and I acknowledge and thank my colleague for her work and her leadership in that file.

Mr. Speaker, while this is an education initiative I am speaking to, it certainly fits right in there with poverty reduction. I hear that over and over again and certainly it has been a real pleasure that we have been able to maintain that strategy and continue to focus on poverty reduction.

I also want to make a couple of comments, Mr. Speaker, before my time expires, on some of our infrastructure investments because we had some really good investments this year, both in terms of new schools but also in some major extensions and renovations of school facilities. I want to mention these because a number of my colleagues who are sitting here in the House of Assembly today have worked extremely hard on these projects. They have advocated extremely hard on behalf of their constituents. The people who are listening will know who I am talking about when I mention the projects because we are talking about, again, in excess of $100 million investment in new schools and major reconstruction and renovations, Mr. Speaker. No small feat, no small feat. Through this Budget process many tough decisions had to be made in many departments, Mr. Speaker, including my own in Education, but I want to mention these projects because the individuals who are sitting here in this House today, who have lobbied hard and worked hard, not only with me as the minister and government but with their own constituents, deserve to hear the projects mentioned.

Mr. Speaker, in no particular order, I will mention that we have reaffirmed our commitment to a new school in Virginia Park. We have announced a major extension and redevelopment continuation over the last couple of years, work we have done for Roncalli Elementary in Airport Heights. Mr. Speaker, we are going to do a major extension for my colleague, the Minister of Government Services in Gander, St. Paul's Intermediate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: As well, Mr. Speaker, my own Parliamentary Secretary - a school project in his district that is important to the residents there. Certainly, I know he recognizes the importance of this project because of our continued focus and investment in the skilled trades in this Province, Mr. Speaker. We are going to do an expansion of New World Island Academy, which will include a full skilled trades' suite for the students in that particular part of the Province. A very important project, Mr. Speaker, and a reaffirmation by this government that our focus is on ensuring that students in all parts of this Province get a quality education and they have the tools available to make sure that they have those opportunities.

As well, Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the Minister of Human Resources, has been a strong and vocal voice for the redevelopment of Exploits Valley High in Grand Falls-Windsor. That is a major project, Mr. Speaker, but by the time it is done it is going to provide great opportunities and improved opportunities for the students of that area. Of course, a project that covers many districts right here in the capital region is the announcement of a new West End high school. I certainly want to mention that one as well.

Mr. Speaker, I am very mindful of the clock there and, given the hour of the day, I think I will thank members for the opportunity to speak and I will sit down.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS BURKE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Before I move a motion to adjourn, I would just like to remind the hon. members that the Resource Committee will continue their review of Estimates of the Women's Policy Office at 6:00 o'clock this evening.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the hon. the Minister of Natural Resources, that this House do now adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is properly moved and seconded that this House do now adjourn.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock tomorrow, being Tuesday.

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