March 31, 2011                          HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLVI   No. 8


The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): Order, please!

Admit strangers.

Today the Speaker is happy to welcome members from the Nunatsiavut Government who are sitting in the Speaker's gallery. The Speaker would like to welcome President Jim Lyall and his Executive Council: First Minister Daryl Shiwak, Minister Johannes Lampe, Minister Glen Sheppard, Minister Susan Nochasak, Minister Dan Pottle, and Minister Patricia Kemuksigak.

Welcome to the House of Assembly.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Speaker would also like to welcome the Level III graduating students from Mealy Mountain Collegiate from Happy Valley-Goose Bay -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: - located in the District of Lake Melville. The group is accompanied by teacher, Ms Deanna Miles, and by their principal, Mr. Gary Barrett.

Welcome to the House of Assembly.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Members

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair would also like to welcome the following members' statements: the hon. the Member for the District of Bellevue; the hon. the Member for the District of Burgeo & La Poile; the hon. the Member for the District of Baie Verte-Springdale; the hon. the Member for the District of The Straits & White Bay North; the hon. the Member for the District of Port au Port; and the hon. the Member for the District of Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

The hon. the Member for the District of Bellevue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. PEACH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in this hon. House today to recognize North Atlantic Refining in Come By Chance for being named as one of the top twenty-five employers in Atlantic Canada for the second consecutive year. This award recognizes companies that lead their fields in creating progressive workplaces and providing exceptional benefits that are a cut above others in their field.

Mediacorp Canada says that North Atlantic was chosen based on such attributes as exceptional employee health benefits, long-standing employee social activities, employee communications, training and community investments.

Mr. Speaker, it was also stated that North Atlantic Refining stood out because of the employee retirement savings program, health coverage benefits that extend through retirement and their three-week vacation package after one year.

North Atlantic was chosen from a list of 2,750 Canadian businesses and was one of three Newfoundland companies to reach top twenty-five.

Mr. Speaker, North Atlantic has 550 dedicated employees to make and market some of the cleanest fuels in the world for customers both here in Newfoundland and Labrador and around the world. North Atlantic contributes $160 million to the provincial economy, $60 million in employee's wages and benefits, $100 million in local business recruitment and $500,000 for direct community support and local charities.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all the hon. members of this House to join me in congratulating North Atlantic Refining for the great achievement of placing twenty-fifth among the Atlantic Canada employers, and also to thank them for their contribution to the economy of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Burgeo & La Poile.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to congratulate nine firefighters from my District of Burgeo & La Poile on successfully completing hazardous materials, known as hazmat, technician training on March 6, 2011.

In 2007, Port aux Basques got a hazmat response trailer. At that time, only one person was trained as a technician, and Fire Chief Jerry Musseau had been lobbying the Fire Association to have additional firefighters trained for the past two years. The first stint of hazmat technician training was from February 15 to 21, and the final three days were from March 4 to 6. The training was completed by seven volunteer firefighters from Port aux Basques and two from Isle aux Morts.

The training involved a mock spill from a leaking drum and cylinder. The technicians had to stop the leak, assess the situation, and go through the decontamination unit to remove hazardous material from their suits. Paramedics were also on the scene to record vitals before and after the exercise. The team will look after the area from Rose Blanche to Steel Mountain.

Chief Musseau felt that with a lot of dangerous goods coming off the ferry at Port aux Basques, it was very important that we have a fully trained team in the area to help if necessary.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all members of this House to join with me in extending congratulations to the seven volunteer firefighters from Port aux Basques and the two from Isle aux Morts on successfully completing this technician training.

Thank you.

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.

As I rise in this hon. House today, I am beaming with an abundance of pride. At the end of the Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador awards banquet, Riverwood Inn of Springdale was the recipient of the H. Clayton Sparkes award.

This accommodation of the year award is in recognition of quality service, commitment to the tourism industry, and also to a solid contribution to the community in which they operate.

Obviously, Mr. Speaker, in all of these aspects, Riverwood Inn was and is a leader. It is a tremendous asset to the area and to the industry. In fact, it is a testament to what can be accomplished when people work together to fulfill a particular vision.

The modern four and a half stars luxury inn features eleven rooms of the highest standards in comfort, décor, and services. Nestled in a quiet, picturesque valley along Indian River, Riverwood Inn offers a stress-reducing environment to the weary traveller.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully ask all hon. colleagues to join me in extending my accolades to the owner, Mr. Chad Wells, to Ms Tracey Penney, the general manager, and to all the staff of Riverwood Inn for capturing one of Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador's prestigious awards and for their extraordinary contribution to the tourism industry.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in this hon. House today to congratulate Sabrina Whyatt, a former resident of St. Carol's, who recently completed the filming of her first music video entitled, All Over Again.

The video, which debuted on CMT last week, was filmed with the help of television producers who also do work on the Newfoundland show, The Republic of Doyle. It was a two-day production, and feedback from around the Province and Canada so far has been phenomenal.

Sabrina is no stranger to this Province, she was a well-known face on NTV News, she also owned the magazine Off the Rock, and she is a proud fisherperson who owns a fishing fleet in Newfoundland and Labrador. Now Sabrina is branching out into country music, and her first album will be released this summer.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all members of this House to join with me in congratulating Ms Whyatt on this exciting venture and to wish her well in her future endeavours.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CORNECT: Mr. Speaker, I rise today in this hon. House to congratulate the fine athletes from the Stephenville-Bay St. George-Port au Port area who participated in the 2010 Canada Winter Games from February 11 to 27.

Mr. Speaker, I am extremely proud of the fact that these athletes have had the honour of representing our great Province, Newfoundland and Labrador, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. As everyone knows, it takes commitment to become a highly-trained athlete and to excel in a sport. Badminton coach Mike Alexander and team members Justin Noseworthy, Bryan Downey, Emily Alexander, and David Alexander, Chloe Deaves, a member of the provincial curling team, and William Forsey, Jillian Forsey, and Erica Noonan, members of the ski team, have proven their athleticism through hard work, dedication, and endurance.

I would like to especially recognize Erica Noonan, Mr. Speaker, on her outstanding double bronze medal performances in the para-Nordic women's 1,000-metre sprint, and the standing 2.5 kilometre freestyle races, and for the honour of being Newfoundland and Labrador's flag-bearing person at the closing ceremonies.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all hon. members of this hon. House to join me in congratulating these outstanding athletes from the Stephenville-Bay St. George-and Port au Port area.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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 stand in the House today to recognize and congratulate the staff and volunteers of the Macpherson Family Resource Centre. The Centre is a Daybreak East End Downtown Family Resource Initiative and a project of Daybreak Parent Child Centre.

The Centre first opened its doors November, 2003. With a dedicated space and the active support of the school administration, teachers and families, the program quickly grew and by the fall of 2005 there were fifty-one families registered. In 2005, the Centre provided three playgroup programs per week with an average of 105 visits by families per month.

Now in 2011, the Centre has eighty families registered and offers four drop-in playgroup programs per week and two Parent Child Mother Goose programs per week.

The Centre supports children and their families by providing a safe, non-judgemental environment. It allows children to explore and learn through play the beginnings of language, math, and social skills - like caring for a friend. For parents, the peer and community support offered by the Centre means friends, skill development, a listening ear, and a shoulder to cry on.

These supports are also important for the many new Canadian families who attend the Community Connections program. These families have often come from refugee camps and this group is one of the few ways these families have of socially participating in their new community.

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all honourable members join me in congratulating the Macpherson Family Resource Centre, especially Maureen Bethel and Janet Kergoat, volunteers and school staff on their nine successful years of operation and wish them continued future success.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Statement by Ministers.

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in this hon. House today to acknowledge the recent increase in the number of participants in the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program, or the NLPDP, particularly the Access and Assurance Plans.

The Prescription Drug Program, Mr. Speaker, provides financial assistance for the purchase of prescription medications for residents of Newfoundland and Labrador and consists of five main plans: the Foundation Plan, 65Plus Plan, Access Plan, Assurance Plan and the Select Needs Plan.

Mr. Speaker, utilization of the Access and Assurance Plans was lower than anticipated. The Access Plan gives individuals and families with low incomes access to eligible prescription medications based on net income and family status. The Assurance Plan is offered to individuals and families with high prescription drug costs, whether from one extremely expensive drug or the combined cost of different drugs.

In order to increase uptake of these plans by eligible residents, a Province-wide marketing campaign was launched in November, 2010, and ran until February of this year. The campaign consisted of a television commercial; print and online ads; and, promotional materials, including a brochure mailed to every household, posters and referral cards.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to say the campaign was a huge success as we are seeing a significant increase and participation of both plans. In comparison to the same time last year, the number of applications by eligible residents under the Access Plan increased by 40 per cent between November 2010 and February 2011. In addition, the Assurance Plan has seen an increase of 28 per cent during the same time frame.

Affording necessary prescription drugs can cause a significant amount of stress and financial burden on individuals and families who struggle to pay for medications. Last year, Mr. Speaker, our government invested approximately $142 million in the Prescription Drug Program. This included approximately $16.2 million for the Assurance Plan, as well as almost $8.9 million for the Access Plan to ensure individuals in need of assistance continue to be eligible under this plan.

I would also like to note, Mr. Speaker, that the expansion of the Prescription Drug Program to support families and individuals with low incomes is one of the most significant initiatives supported through our provincial Poverty Reduction Strategy.

We will continue to make substantial investments in the provincial Prescription Drug Program and I strongly encourage all eligible residents to apply for financial assistance under the program.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

I am glad to see that there have been more uptakes on the program. It is still amazing the number of people out there in the Province who do not understand how they can sometimes access these prescription drug programs. Mr. Speaker, we must not forget that even though these programs are in place they do not cover all drugs, and there are still many cases where people who have a dependency on medications are not covered under our system. I know the minister is aware of this. He worked with me, last week, on another case for a child who needed to have medications covered in this Province. Thankfully, Mr. Speaker, we were able to resolve it, but there are cases where there are still gaps.

I encourage the government to continue to look at this program carefully, but also to look at other costs that are associated with health care in this Province. There are still many people in Newfoundland and Labrador who are being referred to St. John's for many kinds of treatments and therapies where they have to stay for extended periods of time. We have raised many of these issues in the House of Assembly and this comes at a tremendous financial burden to these families in many cases. Especially when they are here doing cancer treatments such as chemo and radiation, when they are doing dialysis because the services may not be offered in their own areas, and all of these things as well, Mr. Speaker, are causing financial burdens to people in the Province who have to access health care.

I ask the minister and the government opposite to be cognizant of this and to continue to enhance programs that will meet the needs and meet the financial needs of what these people need in order to access health care in our Province.

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

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

I, too, thank the Minister of Health and Community Services for an advance copy of his statement. I am very pleased to see that the Access and Assurance Plans have increased enrolment due to the ad campaign. I was glad when the ad campaign started and I am glad to see there has been success.

I think that it would be good, and if the minister could tell us at some point, if there is a plan for ongoing advertising either to do blitzes at various times throughout a year or a lower type of ad campaign throughout the year because there are always new people who would have to come into the program and still people who do not know about it. As hard as we try, it is still hard to get messages out there. It would be good to know whether or not the campaign will be continuing.

I would also like to point out that we still have a problem in the Province in that many people still have to co-pay a high proportion of cost, higher when compared to other provinces in Canada and especially with Atlantic Canada which creates financial hardship. I would like to hope that maybe in this year's Budget we are going to see an alleviation of that by a change in the proportion of the co-pay plan.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Further statements by ministers?

The hon. the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS POTTLE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to inform hon. colleagues about a recent event that saw Aboriginal women gather to share wisdom and experience while celebrating their valued leadership in our communities.

During the 2011 Provincial Aboriginal Women's Conference, mothers, daughters, and granddaughters came together for two full days of sharing and learning. The theme of this year's conference: Strong Women, Strong Communities – Advancing Aboriginal Women's Equality was very fitting; today we see many women in the Province taking on leadership roles in their communities and in government. The fact that we have a woman Premier and two leaders of the other parties are women is a notable example.

Mr. Speaker, this was the sixth annual Aboriginal Women's Conference, which the provincial government is pleased to support financially and through the hard work of the Women's Policy Office. Myself, and my hon. colleague, the Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, had the great pleasure to address delegates. We were pleased to tell about how, through programs such as the Violence Prevention Initiative, the Poverty Reduction Strategy and the Northern Strategic Plan, we are working hard to improve the lives of women in the Province, including Aboriginal women.

We spoke of how it is essential that Aboriginal women are given every chance to pursue educational, training and employment opportunities specifically those available in our own communities or in non-traditional occupations such as trades, science and engineering, the world of business or positions of leadership. As a government we are working to remove barriers so women from all walks of life can fully participate in these growing sectors.

The provincial government is working with female entrepreneurs and community organizations to create greater business opportunities for women. This is achieved through working with existing and potential women entrepreneurs to identify business development opportunities. These were just a few of the examples explored during this year's gathering of Newfoundland and Labrador Aboriginal women.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand with Aboriginal women in this Province as we work to improve circumstances for ourselves and for all women of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the minister for a copy of her statement.

As an Aboriginal woman in this Province, I am always pleased to support programs and initiatives for women in Aboriginal communities and those that work on behalf of Aboriginal communities, Mr. Speaker.

It is not a menial task in this Province; it is a very difficult job and I know the hon. minister knows that very well. Mr. Speaker, Aboriginal women in Newfoundland and Labrador have not only led by example in our communities but they have given voice to many issues – voices around poverty, voices around health care, voices around crime in our communities, education; all the things that are important to us as a society. They have been the voices that have brought many issues to the forefront. They have asked and lobbied government for action on many of these issues.

While I know, Mr. Speaker, that talking is important – and I know the importance of these women's conferences – I also know the importance of action and I know right now today there are Aboriginal communities in this Province that need action, I say to you minister. They need action when it comes to housing. They need action when it comes to social programs and they need people to stand up and ensure that these investments are going to be made in their communities so that it takes a lot of stress off them as the leaders and as the voice for Aboriginal people in Newfoundland and Labrador.

We would support you investing money in these communities, investing in these programs that would help all of those Aboriginal women out there today who are working so hard to make our communities a better place for us and our children.

Thank you.

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 her statement.

I was happy that this year I was able, once again, to attend the dinner that was part of the conference. It is always the highlight of the year since these conferences have started. It is wonderful to meet with the women representatives from the Aboriginal women's community around the Province. It is also very important because it is a way of increasing the visibility and the voice of Aboriginal women in this Province as well. A voice which needs to be heard because of the wonderful presence that these women have in their communities and have always had in their communities.

Last year's conference talked about how Aboriginal women can get involved in the resource sector opportunities and this year, of course, we had the Advancing Aboriginal Women's Equality. It will be a real challenge to us as a Province as we continue to develop the resources in this Province, especially in Labrador, to make sure that Aboriginal women have equal opportunity for paid work and good paid work in the resource development that is going on, Mr. Speaker.

I look forward, as we continue with these conferences, maybe next year, to hear more about what actually is happening in terms of Aboriginal women getting more access to the jobs that are there and in a way that helps develop their communities and their own lives.

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, on Monday, 26,000 litres of offshore drilling mud were spilled from the Henry Goodrich on the Newfoundland Grand Banks, yet the public are only finding out about this today. I thought that government had dealt with this issue of reporting spills in the offshore, Mr. Speaker. I ask the government today: When did you know about this and why was it not reported at that time?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SKINNER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, there was a spill of some 26,400 litres of a synthetic drill mud that occurred on Monday. It was spilled from the Henry Goodrich while it was drilling a hole out there in what we refer to as the Ballicatters Well. The mud has sunk to the floor. The company and C-NLOPB have sent down remotely operated vehicles to test the seabed floor. There does not, at this point – the analysis is still ongoing –appear to be any environmental damage and we will continue to work with the C-NLOPB and Suncor, the company, to ensure that the mud that was spilled will be cleaned up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister did not answer the question around reporting. After everything that we have been through in this Province, it is not good enough that it takes three, four days for this kind of information to get out there.

I ask you again today minister, in light of what we have seen in the past and commitments that your government has made in reporting these particular spills: Why is it that this one was not reported and not made public until now?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SKINNER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it is the regulatory body, the C-NLOPB, that is monitoring and responsible for the reporting and regulation of the offshore. They posted the information to their website, which is the process that is to be followed. That information is available for the public and for anybody else who wishes to see it. That information is on their website as we speak today.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My next question is for the Premier, and I see she is all dressed up in her finest today, Mr. Speaker, to go down to see Stephen Harper this afternoon. Mr. Speaker, I should remind the Premier of the Little Red Riding Hood story –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to pose her question.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I should remind her of the Little Red Riding Hood story because I would not want the wolf to devour her because there are no woodsmen left to rescue you, Premier, after you closed down all the pulp –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JONES: – and paper mills in Newfoundland and Labrador.

My question, Mr. Speaker, for the Premier is: we want to know what concessions that you have given up to get Stephen Harper's so-called support, which is what we are hearing at this stage, on Muskrat Falls. You are quoted in the media –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to pose her question.

MS JONES: That was my question, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that chauvinistic remarks are being made by the Leader of the Opposition. I find it very offensive, Mr. Speaker, in this day and age to have those kinds of comments preface any question that is being addressed to me. Mr. Speaker, I do not need rescuing – I do not rescuing from a woodsman or from anyone and particularly not from you.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there have been no concessions of any kind made to the Prime Minister or anyone else in this Province or in this country, nor will there be.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry if the Premier is offended because I said she is all dressed up to go to Stephen Harper's party –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JONES: I am sorry about that, Premier.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JONES: Answer the question now. You are in the media and you are saying that you have accepted the conditions that Stephen Harper has offered you. What are those conditions? Tell the people of the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I never heard of anything so foolish before in my life. I do not care who is speculating about what might have been said or what might have been given up. She is asking me a direct question: Have concessions been made to the Prime Minister for anything, Mr. Speaker, including Muskrat Falls?

I am telling you, Mr. Speaker, telling this House, and telling the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, no, there have not.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: She must be struck amazed again today, Mr. Speaker, because I will tell you this: She is quoted in the media as saying she has accepted Harper's conditions.

Tell us what the conditions are, Premier.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, because something gets quoted, because you read it, does not make it true. Otherwise, the National Enquirer would be a much more popular magazine than it is, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: I certainly have not indicated to anybody, media or otherwise, that I have accepted any conditions with regard to anything, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We do not know what the conditions are that she has accepted, but we may find out at some point down the road.

Mr. Speaker, let me ask her this, because right before the writ was dropped, Prime Minister Harper flew to Quebec or whatever, signed off the agreement on Old Harry, put it in writing, and gave it to the people of Quebec. This is my commitment.

What did he give to Newfoundland and Labrador, I say to you, Premier? What was the trade-off for you to get any support at all on this particular loan guarantee? Was Old Harry a give-up for Newfoundland and Labrador to make that happen?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, I am embarrassed for the Leader of the Opposition. She does not even understand the kind of process that is required to settle a boundary dispute.

Mr. Speaker, we have not been able to settle the Old Harry boundary because there was no mechanism in place to do it. We were able to settle the Nova Scotia one because Nova Scotia has an accord and we have an accord. Quebec needed an accord with the federal government so we could enter into a discussion around the Old Harry boundary, Mr. Speaker.

There have been no discussions on where that boundary might be. There has been no process of ratification begun, Mr. Speaker, but thank God, finally, after fifty years, we have a process in place where we can do that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, the Province of Quebec, the very province who said they would not support loan guarantees for Newfoundland and Labrador, all of a sudden, Mr. Speaker, have a written commitment from Harper on Old Harry, that the Premier knew nothing about, had no details of, was not at the table, was not included, and provided no representation for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, last week she said transitions can be difficult, when she referred to her former colleague, Mr. Williams, who she is not speaking to these days. Well, we know, Mr. Speaker, that transitions are not that difficult because members on the other side are all out there supporting Stephen Harper today and they could not trust him a few years ago.

I ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker: What concessions are you giving up on behalf of the people of this Province to try and get some kind of a bait and deal from Stephen Harper?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, when Newfoundland and Labrador negotiated its Atlantic Accord with the federal government, I will guarantee you that the provincial Government of Quebec was not sat up at the table, Mr. Speaker, because they had no business being there. That is the same for Nova Scotia when they negotiated their agreement with the federal government, Newfoundland and Labrador was not there, Quebec was not there either.

Now, Mr. Speaker, because Quebec has an accord with the federal government, we finally have a process that we can draw on to settle the boundary dispute. I say again, Mr. Speaker, there are no concessions to anyone with regard to anything. Mr. Speaker, you do not always need to give concessions, you just need to make good sense.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We know there were conditions and we know that Quebec got what they wanted, Premier.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today on behalf of Chelsie Coombs. She is an eighteen-year-old Memorial student who suffers from a debilitating chronic pain disease called neuropathic pain. She was hospitalized for 100 days in Eastern Health's facilities and is currently bedridden at the Miller Centre. The family has not been able to get a response from the minister, the Premier, or Eastern Health as to why there are no treatments and interventions and services available in this Province to treat her pain.

I ask the minister, or the Premier today, if one of you will tell us why nothing is being done to assist Chelsie and her family, and why her case is not being addressed?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Although we invest $2.7 billion annually in the health care system, there are always situations where families or individuals feel that their loved ones are not happy with the treatment or being treated properly.

Every day, Mr. Speaker, we have thousands of people who go through the health care system. I am aware of this case but, as the hon. member opposite I am sure is aware, I cannot comment on details of the case pursuant to section 39 of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

I am informed that numerous meetings have taken place, Mr. Speaker, with this family, as late as a couple of days ago, and maybe even today. If this individual is willing to provide me with a written consent then I am certainly willing to discuss the case, either in the House of Assembly, on the Open Line or elsewhere, but until such consent is given I cannot discuss the details of the case.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am sure if the minister had responded to them they would have absolutely gave you their consent.

Mr. Speaker, in January of 2010, Chelsie was transferred to a Halifax rehabilitation centre and for the first time she had a team of specialists and proper therapies. She started to make significant progress and got back the use of her legs and other vital functions. When she was transferred back to Newfoundland and Labrador her condition regressed because there were no therapies available to her.

With all of the abundance of oil resources that we have seen in this Province, why are we not offering these vital therapies to chronic pain patients like Chelsie? Why do they have to leave Newfoundland and Labrador to get this service?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I think the hon. member opposite is aware of that. There have been a number of issues raised by this family with Eastern Health that have been dealt with through Eastern Health. It is not simply one issue. I did, by the way, reply to a number of letters over the last few days that have been received either by the Premier or myself in relation to the family.

Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated, there is always going to be situations where we do not have the services required, or the family, or an individual is unhappy with the situation.

The member opposite referred to a situation earlier today: 11:30, I think it was Thursday night, an e-mail was sent to me by the Leader of the Opposition in relation to a young child and a need for a prescription. By 2:30 p.m. the next day, Mr. Speaker, we had straightened that situation away.

When these situations come to our attention, we try to deal with them. I am informed, Mr. Speaker, that Eastern Health is working with this family. As I have indicated, Mr. Speaker, once written consent is obtained from the family then I can certainly discuss the details of the case.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am being told by the family that they have been unable to have any contact with Eastern Health. They have been trying to get meetings with Vicki Kaminski and they have been unable to get those particular meetings. In fact, the treatments that are required - it is one thing to say we do not have the service; it is another thing to make an effort to provide it. From what I understand, the services they need are not complicated and they are not overly expensive.

I ask the minister today, if he will take it under advisement to start the process to provide the services, such as hydrotherapy, to patients in Newfoundland and Labrador like Chelsie who need it but do not have access to it?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Speaker, my concern, as the Minister of Health for the Province, is the health and well-being of all of our residents. We do the best we can on a daily basis, Mr. Speaker. There are thousands of workers in the health care system who provide the best care possible. We are putting significant amounts of money into the health care system.

In terms of new services or expanding services, we are always willing to look at that, Mr. Speaker, in terms of helping our public. Because that is the question, how can we best serve the public of our Province? Mr. Speaker, tough decisions have to be made. On the one hand you can expand one service but then we have cancer drugs, we have the issues with the recruitment of doctors. We have to put significant amounts of money into the health care system. We cannot be all things to all people, Mr. Speaker.

As for this particular family, again I can check into it but I have been informed that meetings have taken place and discussions have taken place as late as Tuesday past. Now, if that is not correct, Mr. Speaker, certainly I will get back to the hon. member but I think that that is, in fact, the case.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Doctor Anthony Clevenger, a research, wildlife biologist at Montana State University this morning released a report here in Newfoundland and Labrador entitled, Moose vehicle collisions and their mitigation in Newfoundland, which clearly states that Newfoundland and Labrador's government is misleading the public and they are inaccurate when indicating that there is little to be done, other than put the responsibility on motorists to avoid collisions with moose and by clearing brush from sides of highways to increase driver visibility. The report further indicates that those measures have proven to be ineffective in both Canada and in the United States.

I ask the Premier today: When will your government consider taking effective measures including moose fencing to make our highways safe for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, when it comes to moose-vehicle collisions on the highways of Newfoundland and Labrador, I do not think there is any member on either side of the House who would not want that to go away.

I, for one, commute two hours a day over terrain that is conducive to moose. I have come upon accidents. To say that we as a government would sit back and do nothing is as far from the truth as anything. We are, given the resources that we have, doing everything that we can to mitigate and to make the highways of Newfoundland and Labrador as safe as possible, including doing some brush cutting, public awareness, and other things that we hope are being effective in helping to cut down on these accidents.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

With all due respect, Minister, this biologist is saying that the programs that you have in place right now are ineffective and they are misleading to the public in terms of real action against what is happening with the moose population out there and the accidents that are being caused.

Mr. Speaker, over a year ago, the former Minister of Environment indicated that she was developing a five-year moose management plan. Today, we would like to see a copy of that plan, but we are being told that it does not exist.

I ask the minister: Why do you continue to drag your feet on this issue? When can we expect to at least see some start on the plan that you promised over a year ago?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WISEMAN: Mr. Speaker, as my colleague has just indicated, this is a very sensitive issue and one that we are all very much concerned about when we hear of people having accidents on the highway. It has impacted many people's lives and their families.

One of the unfortunate things about this whole discussion, Mr. Speaker, is it is fraught with misinformation. Just a couple of days ago, for example, we were informed by the RCMP that the information being distributed in the public domain about the number of moose-vehicle accidents is, in fact, inaccurate. In fact, they acknowledge themselves that the information that some of their offices have supplied has been inaccurate. So, there is no real way of knowing the number of moose-vehicle accidents that actually occur is the fact of the matter, Mr. Speaker.

The member opposite just referenced a study released today. That, too, has many inaccurate facts embedded in that report, Mr. Speaker. So as we try to –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister obviously told me absolutely nothing in that answer, I will say to you, Minister.

So, Minister, let me ask you this: Because you already committed, your government did, and your predecessor in the department committed to do the plan more than a year ago, are you going to do the plan? Will you call together the stakeholders, such as the Save Our People Action Committee and others out there, because we understand today they are not able to even talk to government at this stage for some reason, will you call these people together and start some movement on a management plan with regard to moose in this Province on our highways?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WISEMAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Let me finish my answer I was giving a minute ago. Mr. Speaker, fundamentally, we have inaccurate information out in the system. The number of moose that are existing in the Province, Mr. Speaker, they have been on a steady decline for the last five years, contrary to what people are talking about and are suggesting that there are rapid increases.

The number of moose-vehicle accidents, I say, Mr. Speaker, again the information that is in the public domain is inaccurate. Again, with respect to the moose quotas, we have already published next year's moose management plan, Mr. Speaker, that maps out the number of moose licences to be issued next year. Again, the suggestion has been that the number of licences issued on an annual basis has been in decline, whereas in the last five years we have been steadily increasing the number of licences issued a year. Next week, we will be announcing a significant increase in next year's quota, Mr. Speaker. All a part of that plan that she refers to –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, let me tell the minister what else has been increasing. Since you guys took government in 2003, at that time there were 363 moose accidents being recorded, collisions on our highway. Today, Mr. Speaker, there were 741 in 2010. Mr. Speaker, that is an increase in the number of vehicle-moose collisions that we are seeing on our highway. Those statistics itself should be a reason for government to act.

I say to you: Are you prepared to call the stakeholders together, start taking this issue seriously and take some action on it?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WISEMAN: The member opposite obviously did not listen to my earlier comment. On March 11, I have a letter here from the Chief Superintendent of the RCMP acknowledging that the information that their offices have supplied previously is inaccurate. The 700 figure that she references is totally inaccurate, Mr. Speaker.

Unfortunately, the information was supplied, it is out in the public domain, but it is inaccurate. Despite my commenting to that effect, the member opposite gets up and repeats it so that it actually resonates further in the public domain, and that is unfortunate, Mr. Speaker. It is a sensitive issue, one that we need to deal with, one that we are working through and managing.

In the moose management plan that she references, there are many components to that that I have already shared here this morning, Mr. Speaker. Fundamentally, we do have an issue that we are managing and working our way through. The moose management plan is a piece of that, but in the interim we cannot be out there suggesting that –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Further questions?

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

MR. DEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, last week I raised the issue of people receiving inadequate compensation of claims they filed with the provincial government due to Hurricane Igor. The minister stated his hands were tied because of federal guidelines. Today, we learned from the media, and it is somewhat surprising, that 500 of some 1,400 claims or so that have been put in looking for government assistance with rebuilding their lives after the hurricane have been denied the support they needed.

I ask the minister: Is this government prepared to come forward with a subsidy to help those who fall outside the federal government guidelines and are denied assistance in getting their lives back on track?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister Responsible for Emergency Preparedness.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O'BRIEN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is correct that we have to follow the federal guidelines in regard to any compensation due to a disaster, and that is prevalent right across Canada in any province that we are in.

If the hon. member had done his research, he would have seen that those denied claims were claims that were denied for various reasons, insurable perils, or whatever it may be. If they were not covered by us, we also dealt with the various organizations, the non-charitable organizations, such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army, that have stepped in to take over those claims on our behalf.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DEAN: Mr. Speaker, I understand there are various reasons why things are turned down. I appreciate that, that is a good piece of information, but I already know that. I think it is also unfortunate that we would suggest that one-third of the claims that were received, or were processed, have been denied and we would hand them off to the Red Cross or the Salvation Army for processing. That seems to be kind of an unfair thing for government to do.

I would ask again, those who have been denied, those who will not get assistance either from these organizations or from the federal government program, is this government prepared to help them to get things back on track?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O'BRIEN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I would like to correct the hon. member in regard to his last comment in his closing remarks. We are on track in regard to Hurricane Igor. As a matter of fact, 75 per cent to 85 per cent of the claims that have been submitted have been closed and dealt with, and the householders have been compensated. As well, there are some complicated files in regard to home replacements that we are working our way through. As I have said in this House, and I have said in media sources, we do not see any of the householders who have been affected by this unprecedented disaster on the Open Line shows, because our people are working closely with the people affected and making sure they are taken care of.

We have to go through the process. We have to see what is left over. At the end of the day, the Province may very well be responsible for 10 per cent to 20 per cent of the total claim. We have to see and we have to follow the proper guidelines at the end of that process.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DEAN: Mr. Speaker, in today's article on Hurricane Igor in the Clarenville Packet, one of the claimants who was denied states the federal guidelines are unfair.

I ask the minister: Given that storms like Hurricane Igor will occur more often, and given the federal government's Disaster Financial Assistance Agreement is clearly not meeting the needs of those who need disaster assistance, will he commit to approaching Ottawa to do a review of this agreement so that it is more responsive to the needs of those affected in future times?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O'BRIEN: Already done, six weeks ago.

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, good long-term care and home care is essential for people to be able to live their lives in dignity. Mr. Speaker, we have heard from a sixty-five-year-old man who waited in an Eastern Health ICU bed for over seven months because the resources were lacking allowing him to be placed close to his family and friends on the Northern Peninsula. His lengthy stay in ICU caused great stress on his family and has been highly damaging to his health.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Minister of Health and Community Services: When can we expect a long-term care and community support services strategy to help people, such as this gentleman, who have fallen through the cracks of our current system?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I have indicated in this House on a number of occasions we are working towards the completion of a long-term care strategy.

What is a strategy? It is a plan. It looks at what we have done in the past. We have built numerous facilities; we have invested $256 million. What are we doing today? In the recent past we consulted with numerous groups, Mr. Speaker, nineteen communities, over 500 people attended sessions. What are we going to do in the future? We have to look at, Mr. Speaker, that our long-term care facilities are full. There is almost 100 per cent occupancy rate in St. John's and throughout the Province. What did we do a few weeks ago? We contracted with a private agency to take forty long-term care beds so the very people that the NDP is talking about could come from the acute care beds into a long-term care type of facility and we criticized for that, so I am not sure exactly what it is she is looking for.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

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

Mr. Speaker, the reason this man was held in the Intensive Care Unit here in St. John's is there was no ventilator in the hospital in St. Anthony. Even if there were, there was nobody trained to use a ventilator, and that is why he was kept here for seven months, and kept in ICU.

I ask the Speaker: Will having resources like this available everywhere in the Province be part of the plan he is talking about?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am aware of the case that the Leader of the NDP is speaking about, but what we are looking at in terms of a plan, Mr. Speaker, is the preventative approach, first and foremost. We outlined yesterday, $700,000 in Wellness Grants; we will be announcing $200,000 in Age Friendly Newfoundland and Labrador Grants, and $200,000 in Wellness Grants.

So we want our seniors to remain healthy, to stay in their homes, Mr. Speaker, and to be happy and healthy as long as possible.

Then, Mr. Speaker, we want to and we are dealing with home care as we have dealt with over the last period of time with an investment of approximately $90 million. We are looking at increasing home care. We will have to look at, Mr. Speaker, what to do with relatives who are looking after their loved ones, especially in rural parts of the Province.

We have to look at dealing with our personal care homes, Mr. Speaker; how can we help them remain viable? We have to look at our long-term care facilities. So we are taking a global approach in trying to address the issues that are out there.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday at the Medical Association's Senior Summit, NLMA President Dr. Pat O'Shea talked about the ill effects on elderly patients being forced to wait for care in emergency departments. Senior patients are becoming sicker while waiting for care.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister: Will he realize how major this problem is – and it is much more than offering preventative care? Will he work with Eastern Health and consult with the NLMA to support solutions that make sure seniors do not get sicker while waiting for treatment?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Speaker, again, I am aware of this issue. It is one that we heard of during the Long-Term Care Consultation Sessions where medically discharged individuals were taking up acute care beds. So we contracted with Chancellor Park for forty beds to address the very situation raised by the member opposite.

The other thing we did, Mr. Speaker: In The Isle of Notre Dame and Twillingate district we opened up five acute care beds that were not being utilized throughout the year and put in a five bed restorative unit to deal with the type of situation that the member opposite talking about. So that seniors who are staying in acute care beds are moved from acute care beds into a restorative unit, into Chancellor Park, where they receive the help they need. So we are already addressing the situation.

Again, Mr. Speaker, she criticized us the other day for contracting with Chancellor Park to address the very situation she is criticizing us for today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time allotted for questions and answers has expired.

The Chair is always reluctant to interrupt during Question Period, but I ask hon. members when they take part in Question Period to be cognizant of the language that is directed at other members. While language might be acceptable to one member, it may not be acceptable to other Members of the House of Assembly. So I ask members to have some sensitivity when they are addressing members of the House. Let us show respect to each other.

Presenting Reports by Standing and Select Committees.

Tabling of Documents.

Tabling of Documents

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wish to table the activity plan – there are three activity plans; one for the Pension Investment Committee of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador Pooled Pension Fund; another one is the Government Money Purchase Pension Plan Committee Activity Plan; and the final one is the Newfoundland Government Fund Limited Activity Plan.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Further tabling of documents?

The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

MR. SKINNER: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to table the 2011-2013 plans for Nalcor Energy and the Chicken Farmers of Newfoundland and Labrador. These plans provide an overview of key planning priorities throughout the 2011-2013 planning cycle.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Further tabling of documents?

The hon. the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

MR. O'BRIEN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, in accordance with the Transparency And Accountability Act, it is my pleasure to table the 2011-2013 Business Plans for the Northern Peninsula Regional Service Board and the Central Regional Service Board.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Further tabling of documents?

Notices of Motion.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As mover of the motion yesterday with respect to referring a matter to the House Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections, moved by myself, seconded by the Member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair, I withdraw that motion and I would like to move the following motion:

WHEREAS the Speaker of the House of Assembly has appeared, and has admitted appearing, at a public event of a partisan nature intended to support and promote the candidacy of a particular party and/or candidate;

BE IT RESOLVED that this matter be referred to the House Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections.

Moved by myself, the Member for Burgeo & La Poile, and seconded by the Member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair.

MR. SPEAKER: 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 The Straits & White Bay North.

MR. DEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased this afternoon to be able to stand and offer this petition. I will read in the prayer.

To the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS we the students of French Shore Academy in Port Saunders from the towns of River of Ponds, Hawke's Bay, Port Saunders, Port aux Choix and Eddies Cove West appreciate the facility we currently learn in; and

WHEREAS unfortunately the sense of fairness and equality existing at school is absent on the outside due to essential services not equally available in all our towns; and

WHEREAS the lack of high-speed Internet in River of Ponds, Hawke's Bay and Eddies Cove West puts some students or our school in an unacceptable disadvantage at learning today in the twenty-first century;

WHEREUPON your petitioners call upon all Members of the House of Assembly to urge government to direct funding to ensure high-speed Internet services are provided in these towns to allow equality and fairness for all members of our student body.

And as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this petition is an important issue. It is one in this case that is initiated by students from a school that services four or five communities on the Northern Peninsula, not in my district, but yet they sent me a copy of it. I have been asked if I would bring it forward for them into the House of Assembly and I do that gladly because it is a big issue. It is an issue that at this present time - as people in this Province, we do not see this government really addressing the issue in terms of putting a plan in place of knowing that within a certain time frame or whatever the case might be that communities in this Province can expect to have high-speed Internet services.

What is somewhat ironic about Hawkes Bay, in particular, is that the cable actually runs through the community. Now I accept the fact that I do not know the technical issues involved in tapping into that particular cable, if you will, but I do know that back in 2007 this government spent $15 million on broadband.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DEAN: At this point, there really is no particular plan as to where it is going. It is about students who do not have access to the Internet in terms of the way that students in other parts of this Province do. Obviously, it handicaps their training. It is a disadvantage. In Hawkes Bay, for example, there are several larger businesses there that – I know of one for sure that had to put in their own satellite system or whatever, costing tens of thousands of dollars so that they could have access to high-speed Internet and do their business properly.

Mr. Speaker, it is not good enough for the minister across the House to try and throw it back and shun it and this kind of thing, because this is a real issue. All the residents of this Province are asking is that the government would deal with it and show us a plan so we can understand how we will have access to high-speed Internet.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Further petitions?

The hon. the Member for the District of Burgeo & La Poile.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to enter a petition at this time on behalf of the residents of La Poile, which is in my District of Burgeo & La Poile.

The petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

WHEREAS the people of La Poile must use the provincial ferry system in order to travel to and from La Poile; and

WHEREAS the people of La Poile and visitors are required to wait at the Town of Rose Blanche-Harbour Le Cou from time to time for ferry services; and

WHEREAS there is no restroom, waiting area at the Town of Rose Blanche-Harbour Le Cou where users of the ferry service may utilize washroom facilities; and

WHEREAS citizens of all ages including men, women, children, seniors and disabled persons require washroom facilities as a basic human need in the course of their travels and particularly while awaiting the transit systems; and

WHEREAS it is an abuse of human dignity as well as health and safety regulations to allow such degrading and dehumanizing circumstances to continue;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to immediately construct and operate a waiting room, restroom facility at the Town of Rose Blanche-Harbour Le Cou such that all users of the provincial ferry service which operates out of La Poile may be able to utilize such waiting area and washroom facilities.

And as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, so far, this is my third petition on behalf of the people of La Poile in this need of theirs. This is probably one of the few locations in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador where a provincial ferry service operates that we do not have such a washroom facility. It is just absolutely unacceptable, unnecessary, and as I say, it is degrading and dehumanizing when people, in the worst of weather sometimes, in the dead of winter, who happen to be waiting for the ferry service - they take a taxi, for example, down from Port aux Basques to get on the ferry, the taxi cab drops them off. They have nowhere to go, there is nowhere to stand in out of the elements. If the ferry is delayed at all they literally, physically have to wait in the cold, and if they need to use a washroom or bathroom facilities, they actually have to go behind the buildings and up behind the rocks.

That is just totally, absolutely, unacceptable, Mr. Speaker, in this day and age, that anybody should have to subject themselves to that kind of treatment. If you are going to provide the ferry service, I think there is a reasonable expectation that if you are there waiting for the ferry, or you get dropped off from the ferry and you are waiting for someone to come pick you up, that you should have access to a washroom.

We know that the Member for Lake Melville, when he was the minister, absolutely insulted the people of Ramea and Grey River, he stuck a porta-potty out on the head of the wharf. Now, I must say, in all due to respect to him, we pounded him enough in Question Period and in petitions that he subsequently did. I hope the current Minister of Transportation can see fit in this year's Budget to provide this minimal of standardization for the people who use the ferry system.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Further petitions?

Orders of the Day.

Orders of the Day

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

MS BURKE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We will start the Orders of the Day, Mr. Speaker, by doing the third reading of bills.

Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the hon. Minister of Government Services, that Bill 4, An Act To Amend The Public Accountants Act, be now read a third time.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion that Bill 4, An Act To Amend The Public Accountants Act, be now read a third time?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

The motion is carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Amend The Public Accountants Act. (Bill 4)

MR. SPEAKER: Bill 4 has now been read a third time and it is ordered that this bill do pass and that its title be as on the Order Paper.

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

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

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the hon. Minister of Health and Community Services, that Bill 5, An Act To Amend the Smoke-Free Environment Act, 2005, be now read a third time.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion as put forward by the hon. the Government House Leader that Bill 5, An Act To Amend The Smoke-Free Environment Act, 2005, be now read a third time?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

The motion is carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Amend The Smoke-Free Environment Act, 2005. (Bill 5)

MR. SPEAKER: Bill 5 has now been read a third time and it is ordered that this bill do pass and that its title be as on the Order Paper.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Smoke-Free Environment Act, 2005", read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 5)

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

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the hon. Minister of Municipal Affairs, that Bill 6, An Act To Amend The Standard Time Act, be now read a third time.

MR. SPEAKER: It is properly moved and seconded by the hon. the Government House Leader to adopt a motion that Bill 6, An Act To Amend The Standard Time Act, be now read a third time.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

The motion is carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Amend The Standard Time Act. (Bill 6)

MR. SPEAKER: Bill 6 has now been read a third time and it is ordered that Bill 6 do pass and that its title be as on the Order Paper.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Standard Time Act", read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 6)

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

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the hon. Minister of Municipal Affairs, that Bill 7, An Act To Amend The Municipalities Act, 1999, be now read a third time.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader moves that the House adopt a motion that Bill 7, An Act To Amend The Municipalities Act, 1999, be now read a third time.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

The motion is carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Amend The Municipalities Act, 1999. (Bill 7)

MR. SPEAKER: Bill 7 is now read a third time and it is ordered that the bill do pass and that its title be as on the Order Paper.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Municipalities Act, 1999", read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 7)

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

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the hon. Minister of Justice and Attorney General, that Bill 8, An Act To Repeal The Law Reform Commission Act, be now read a third time.

MR. SPEAKER: It is properly moved and seconded by the hon. the Government House Leader that Bill 8, An Act To Repeal The Law Reform Commission Act, be now read a third time.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

The motion is carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Repeal The Law Reform Commission Act. (Bill 8)

MR. SPEAKER: Bill 8 has now been read a third time and it is ordered that Bill 8 do pass and that its title be as on the Order Paper.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Repeal The Law Reform Commission Act", read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 8)

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

MS BURKE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to call from the Order Paper, Order 8, second reading of Bill 9.

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

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

I move, seconded by the Minister of Health and Community Services, that Bill 9, An Act Respecting Correctional Services, be now read a second time.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that Bill 9, An Act Respecting Correctional Services, be now read a second time.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting Correctional Services". (Bill 9)

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased today to rise in this House and introduce Bill 9, An Act Respecting Correctional Services. Mr. Speaker, this is one of the most significant pieces of legislation brought from the Department of Justice in a number of years and represents a major advancement in corrections in this Province.

This bill, Mr. Speaker, will replace the Prisons Act, An Act Respecting The Penitentiary, which was proclaimed back in 1969, and the Adult Corrections Act, which created the Division of Adult Corrections, and the adult probation program back in 1975. While there have been some minor amendments in the legislation, Mr. Speaker, both statutes are woefully outdated. They do not reflect contemporary practice, and they are silent on issues which should be codified in law.

Mr. Speaker, in April 2008, the provincial government, under the guidance of my colleague, the current Minister of Health and Community Services when he was then the Minister of Justice, commissioned an independent review of adult corrections in Newfoundland and Labrador. Six of these recommendations in that report, Decades of Darkness Moving Towards The light, dealt with a review of corrections legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to reference some of that report where the government was authorized to review and do jurisdictional analysis of correctional legislation across the country in order to lay the foundation for the preparation of our correctional legislation. One of the things that were noticed, Mr. Speaker, during this jurisdictional analysis was that the old Prisons Act, as compared to other legislation across the country, did not have any kind of rehabilitative or reintegrative approach in the legislation. For example, other provinces use the terminology the Correctional Services Act while we use the terminology Prisons Act. We use the word prisoner in our legislation while other jurisdictions use the words offenders and inmates. The terminology of the then current legislation was far from being anything like what we are looking for today in terms of rehabilitation and rehabilitative approach.

As well, Mr. Speaker, in the old legislation, for example, I will tell you how outdated it is today, the only correctional facility that was mentioned in that legislation was the Salmonier Correctional Institution, which has been closed now for over seven years. Mr. Speaker, terms pertaining to inmates in the old legislation were not defined. For example, terms such as administrative segregation had no definition or explanation in the legislation. Such an important concept as discipline was not addressed in the old legislation, search and seizure procedures, which are so important. Very little attention, Mr. Speaker, given to programs for offenders, Aboriginal offenders were not referenced at all, and there was no provision in there for any kind of a significant grievance procedure.

So, that was some of the background as where we are coming from with respect to the old legislation. As well, Mr. Speaker, that review looked at the prison regulations and the correctional and conditional release regulations and found that the regulations were far from adequate in terms of dealing with professional codes or professional conduct, inmates' rights, rights of members, training of staff. It also made reference and terminology to such things as isolation cells, which, of course, today are referred to as segregation cells. There was no reference, either, in those regulations, Mr. Speaker, to a grievance process for inmates, nothing in it with regard to search and seizure of contraband, use of force and so on.

With regard to the rights of prisoners, Mr. Speaker, which actually this new bill is based on as one of the principles, the only reference to rights of prisoners in the old act was written correspondence. It did not reference any rights whatsoever that a prisoner might have under the Charter.

Mr. Speaker, the recommendations in that review dealt with the need to thoroughly revise and modernize corrections legislation. As I mentioned, these recommendations cover the areas ranging from the need for the terminology to reflect a more rehabilitative approach, to the need to ensure that inmates' rights are respected, including a disciplinary process with independent adjudication, which I will reference later.

Mr. Speaker, the response to those recommendations in that review by the Department of Justice is to replace that antiquated legislation with a new, modern, state-of-the-art Correctional Services Act.

Mr. Speaker, as in the case of all Canadian jurisdictions, this act will consolidate institutional and community correctional responsibilities so that it reflects the administrative and operation integration of both adult custody and community corrections. This act, Mr. Speaker, will provide a legal framework for a safe, secure and a humane correctional system for inmates and staff.

The question rises: Why so long? It is over two years since that review was done. Well, there are two main reasons for that, Mr. Speaker. First of all, a lot of preparatory work has gone into the preparation of this act: the jurisdictional scanning, the meeting with the stakeholder groups has taken a lot of time; a lot of careful diligence has gone into the preparation of that act. Secondly, Mr. Speaker, the priorities that came out of that review were: training, programming, and then inmate services took priority over the recommendation to put the act in place.

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, in order to create this new legislation, the Department of Justice completed a comprehensive jurisdictional scan to determine best practices across the country. A discussion paper was sent to key stakeholder groups that were invited to participate during meetings and submissions and briefs. Interested members of the public were also invited to submit comments.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that twenty-seven stakeholder groups were invited to participate. While a large majority of these participants were from the community, consultations also took place with three other departments: Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs, the Women's Policy Office, and Health and Community Services.

Nineteen meetings, Mr. Speaker, were held with stakeholder group representatives. Officials from my department met with, among others, community organizations, advocacy groups, women's groups, and Aboriginal organizations who all offered their perspectives on what this new legislation should contain. Members of the public, as well, provided written responses.

The good thing about all of this, Mr. Speaker, and I am very pleased to note, is that all of that consultation process should prove extremely valuable. I am pleased to note that a large majority of the recommendations and themes that came out of the discussion groups have been incorporated into the proposed legislation.

Mr. Speaker, one of the tenets of this new act is that it will be shaped by principles. That is extremely important. These principles will serve as a guide as to how this act is to be interpreted and how it is to be administered. These principles are vital to the achievement of a modern, effective, and progressive correctional system. These principles, Mr. Speaker, reflect the general direction in which this government and the various stakeholders would like to see corrections move in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, section 4 of the act lays out the principles on which this act is based. They refer to such principles as, "the protection of society shall be given paramount consideration in making decisions… under this Act". It is followed, in section 4, by principles which emphasize the importance to community safety of programming and services that are designed to rehabilitate and reintegrate inmates and offenders back into the community. It is based on the principle of training and career development opportunities for staff. It speaks to the importance of a workplace environment that encourages integrity and professional accountability. Mr. Speaker, it also sets up an expectation that while offenders have to obey supervision conditions and correctional facility rules, they should be subject to the least restrictive measures necessary.

What this act does, Mr. Speaker, it enshrines that offenders are entitled to fair treatment, with access to effective grievance and disciplinary procedures, and we will talk about them later on. It also enshrines that corrections policies and programs and practices be non-discriminatory, and that they be responsive to the particular needs of women, particular needs of Aboriginal peoples, and those offenders with particular mental health and addictions requirements.

Section 4 of the act, in Part I, deals with principles that will determine the direction of corrections, will determine how this act is to be interpreted. These principles, Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned before, are vital to the achievement of a modern, effective, and progressive correctional system.

Mr. Speaker, the report of, Decades of Darkness: Moving Towards the Light, also states that the Prisons Act should be modified to include areas that would ensure inmates' rights are respected. This has been accomplished, Mr. Speaker, by what are arguably the two most significant features of this act, the robust grievance procedure and a disciplinary process.

Mr. Speaker, some of the highlights of the new act, as I mentioned, two of the main ones that pertain to inmate rights is the fundamental right of offenders to be able to file complaints about issues arising from their involvement with the correctional system while ensuring that there will be no negative consequences arising from the offender's participation in this grievance process. Now, Mr. Speaker, the details of that grievance procedure will be fleshed out in regulations.

Section 19 of the act spells out Inmates grievance procedure. It says, (1) "There shall be a procedure for fairly and expeditiously resolving inmate grievances on matters within the jurisdiction of the chief superintendent, and the procedure shall operate in accordance with regulations made under paragraph 48(d)."; which, of course, gives the Lieutenant-Governor in Council authority to make regulations on a grievance procedure.

Mr. Speaker, the act also establishes a new disciplinary process, a rather progressive one, outlined in section 20 of the act, (a) "reviewing breaches by inmates of the regulations or of the rules of a correctional facility". Currently, Mr. Speaker, the disciplinary court in correctional facilities for minor matters is held by a commissioned officer. The commissioned officer makes a decision on minor breaches. If it is a serious breach, it is conducted by two commissioned officers. Both parties have right of appeal to the assistant superintendent and eventually to the superintendent of prisons. Mr. Speaker, that system has been criticized as being less than independent. As a matter of fact, there are some people who will refer to it as a kangaroo court because of the internal nature of the process.

Mr. Speaker, this new disciplinary process will be procedurally fair and in line with the principles of fundamental justice. It incorporates the best practices from the Correctional Service of Canada, as well as Alberta and the Yukon, which are the two latest jurisdictions to improve and update their corrections legislation. This new procedure will involve the hiring of a full-time hearing adjudicator from outside of corrections to adjudicate all offences in which internal charges have been laid against an inmate, a new and innovative system of discipline.

Section 20 states, the minister may appoint hearing adjudicators to conduct disciplinary hearings in accordance with the regulations for the purpose of reviewing breaches, determining punishment. They may be appointed for five years and reappointed, they may dismiss a charge against an inmate without a hearing, review evidence and so on. If there is an appeal from that independent adjudicator, Mr. Speaker, then the minister can appoint special adjudicators to conduct the appeals of decisions made to the main adjudicator. Again, these adjudicators are appointed for terms of five years.

An inmate or the superintendent who wants to appeal the decision of the hearing adjudicator to an appeal adjudicator – and eventually, Mr. Speaker, appeal can be made for judicial review. That procedure is laid out, Mr. Speaker, in section 20 to section 23 in the act. It is one of the main tenets, main significant provisions of this act.

In terms of inmate's rights, Mr. Speaker, the two most significant features of this act are the robust grievance procedure that will be allowed and the new disciplinary process to be put in place. Now the lead adjudicator, the hearing adjudicator, will not be hired, of course, until the policies and guidelines are in office so that this act can be proclaimed.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to security, the new act clearly sets out the circumstances, for example, for searches of inmates; section 27 and section 29 lay out the procedure for the searches of inmates, which may be necessary from time to time in any correctional institution. The search of inmate's clothing, search of his cell, search of belongings, these are all standard activities within a correctional facility but the proper guidelines for searches, including strip search, are laid out in the new act. As well, Mr. Speaker, the act lays out the procedure to conduct routine searches of visitors entering or leaving the facility, guidelines for that. The act as well has a provision for the search of staff members; none of this was in any of the previous legislation.

It also provides, the legislative authority, Mr. Speaker, in section 32, for the illicit drug testing of inmates. If the authorized person in the corrections believes, on reasonable grounds, the offender has taken an illicit drug then there are provisions in the act, Mr. Speaker, for drug testing.

There are also provisions in the act, Mr. Speaker, which give express authority to seize and dispose of contraband under section 31. It sets clear guidelines in section 26, Mr. Speaker, for the reasonable use of force.

Now, Mr. Speaker, these guidelines are all very necessary. We are dealing with a particular environment where safety and security is the main concern. These guidelines, Mr. Speaker, promote inmate safety; they promote the security of inmates and enhance the safety of both correction officials and inmates in our institutions.

As well, Mr. Speaker, the act deals with communications under section 24. Mr. Speaker, communication with the outside world is critical to a person serving time in a correctional facility. It allows him or her to have contact and maintain relationships with significant others on the outside, and also cope with being incarcerated, and facilitates post release planning.

Mr. Speaker, given the environment restrictions needed to be placed on communication for safety and security reasons, this act, Mr. Speaker, balances such procedures with inmate's rights.

Privileged communication, Mr. Speaker, between an inmate and a person, of course, listed in the regulations when they are done, such as communication with a family doctor or the Office of the Citizens' Representative will not be read, or listened to, or otherwise monitored by staff members or any other monitoring system unless there are reasonable grounds to believe that this communication is not the subject of privilege. That is an important part, Mr. Speaker, and an important provision in this new act.

Mr. Speaker, one of the main principles of this act allows the act to recognize unique needs of women offenders and provide for policies, programs and practices to reflect gender differences. It also allows it to be responsive to the particular needs of women at all stages of their sentences. Of course, that means the staff must be in place, equipped, and trained to effectively help women.

Section 6(3), for example, of the act states: a superintendent of a correctional facility that houses female inmates, must have knowledge, skill and education to allow that person to understand the unique challenges and needs faced by female inmates.

The legislation also provides, Mr. Speaker, for policies, programs and practices to meet the needs and the culture of Aboriginal offenders on page 32.

Section 45 says: "The director shall coordinate and encourage wherever possible… (ii) specific programming and services to (A) reflect the needs and culture of aboriginal offenders, (B) provide for the particular needs of female offenders, and (C) to provide for the specific needs of offenders with particular mental health and addictions requirements and other classes of offenders that are identified by the director as having special requirements."

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, the act provides for specific needs for offenders with particular mental health and addictions requirements. This issue has gotten quite some discussion in the last few days. Since the release of the Decades of Darkness, Mr. Speaker, substantial improvements to mental health and addictions programming are among the many strides taken by this government in enhancing programs and services within our correctional facilities. Mr. Speaker, even though this act is not yet proclaimed, this act spells these types of provisions. That is not to say, as I just mentioned, that we have not already been involved in some of the provisions, the motives, and the services mentioned in this act.

For example, Mr. Speaker, if I might for a moment mention, since the release of the Decades of Darkness: Moving Towards The Light, just two years ago, we have spent an excess of $7 million on our corrections system. We have put a number of services in place to enhance mental health services to inmates of all provincial prisons. Mr. Speaker, these include the provision of psychological services to inmates of all provincial prisons. Every prison and every correctional facility in this Province now have access to psychological services. We have invested heavily in the provision of mental health training for all staff of all institutions.

At Her Majesty's Penitentiary, Mr. Speaker, we have hired a full-time psychologist, an addictions coordinator, and a second nurse. We have an innovative in-reach and transitional planning program for clients with mental illness. That is offered in partnership with the Department of Health and the Canadian Mental Health Association, Mr. Speaker. These people work with mental health issues in the facility and then continue to follow those people as they get out of the institution and help them reintegrate and assimilate in society. It is a program, Mr. Speaker, that has gotten rave reviews and very positive reports from everybody involved in our correctional facilities. We also have, Mr. Speaker, a continuous in-take addictions program that is offered through the John Howard Society.

Mr. Speaker, as well, and probably one of the most significant things we have done – again as a result of recommendations in the Decades of Darkness report – we have put into place a multidisciplinary team which is in place and in operation and has been at Her Majesty's Penitentiary for the last two years. This team is consultative in nature, Mr. Speaker, and it includes a psychologist, it includes a nurse practitioner, it includes a general practitioner, it includes a psychiatrist, it includes representatives from the front-line security staff, it includes representatives from classification, and it includes representatives from the Canadian Mental Health Association. This team meets regularly, Mr. Speaker, to engage in case conferencing and to discuss aspects of mutual concern relating to mental health clients. Mr. Speaker, we are quite pleased, quite proud of the work that we have done on behalf of people in our institutions who suffer from addictions and mental health issues.

Mr. Speaker, it is not possible to address all the issues pertaining to women, Aboriginals, and those with mental health issues in the act; but, again, these issues will be appropriately covered in the regulations, where applicable, and also in policy.

Mr. Speaker, what I have presented in the last thirty minutes or so represents some highlights of a very comprehensive piece of legislation. It is arguably as progressive as any in the country. Officials in my department have worked diligently to create this new Correctional Services Act. The bill follows the advice that was gleaned from the independent review of corrections. It updates and modernizes our current legislation. It incorporates the best practices of other Canadian jurisdictions and it reflects the general spirit and intent of the recommendations from all the stakeholder groups.

Mr. Speaker, what it also does that will prevent what happened in the past, will prevent the neglecting of this legislation for forty-two years, it passed a statutory review of this act to take place every five years.

Mr. Speaker, it was mentioned in the media in recent days that we have abandoned the Decades of Darkness report and the initiatives. In fact, it was specifically stated that this minister has abandoned the good work done by previous ministers in light of the decisions in the last few days with psychiatric services at HMP. That is rather unfortunate, Mr. Speaker, that the person who made that statement was not very informed and the comments coming from the stature of the person who made it, obviously, he has not been in tune with what we have done in corrections in the last two years.

Mr. Speaker, with the proclamation of the Correctional Services Act, seventy-four of the seventy-seven recommendations contained in the correctional review, Decades of Darkness: Moving Towards the Light, will have been either completed or in various stage of progress - seventy-four of the seventy-seven. I think we have done very well, Mr. Speaker, in two years with those recommendations.

In regard to the corrections, Mr. Speaker, we are no longer moving towards the light, we have moved well into the light. Since the release of the review, this government as I mentioned before, I want to reiterate, we have put more than $7 million into the revitalization of Newfoundland and Labrador's correctional system resulting in significant enhancements in programming and services. It represents the greatest advancement in corrections in this Province in more than a quarter of a century.

I am very pleased with the progress, including the preparation of this act which will provide the necessary legal framework for providing a safe, secure, and humane environment for both inmates and staff. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to introduce Bill 9. I request the support of all hon. members in passing this significant bill and look forward to their participation in this debate.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (T. Osborne): The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate an opportunity to have a few words with regard to Bill 9. I listened attentively to the minister's introduction of it in second reading. There are some great words there – some great words. I guess the question is: Once this becomes law, is this Administration, and particularly this minister, prepared to live with what the law will be?

Now, we had a briefing, and I appreciate the fact that the briefing was arranged yesterday with officials of the Department of Justice. We all knew most of the people there, of course, we have dealt with each other in the past, very informed people, people who try their best, people who consulted with numerous people. I asked, in fact, who did you consult with? I was indeed provided with a list of the people they consulted with. I will get back to that later. Some people, for example, had meetings with the minister or the staff preparing this piece of legislation. Some people had both a meeting and submitted a brief. Some people put in a brief only, and there were some who were asked to participate who did not participate. I will come back and take a look at some of the stakeholders later and the various roles that they played in it.

As the minister says, the intention of this bill is to update, modernize, and bring our correctional facilities in this Province into the modern age. We have been for years and years - I believe it was in 1967 we had one of the acts that are now being replaced here and the other one was in 1975. Even the most recent one was some thirty-five years ago. Of course, lots of changes have taken place since that time in our correctional facilities.

Now, there are different kinds of facilities, of course. Everybody heard about HMP, Her Majesty's Penitentiary, down here in St. John's. There is another facility in Stephenville, of course. There is one in Clarenville, which houses women prisoners. There is another one in Bishop's Falls, we have a facility in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and we have some smaller lock-ups, commonly referred to, in Corner Brook, Lab West and so on. So all of it, now, they are all correctional facilities, or will be, pursuant to this new law.

A lot of the things that were hodgepodge before, never ever brought under an umbrella of a piece of legislation as to what it should provide: who is going to run the facilities; how are they required to administer the facilities; what about protecting the staff; what about protecting the inmates; what are the rights, if any, that an inmate has; what are the rights that staff have vis-à-vis their interaction with inmates when it comes to searching, recording, telephone conversations, for example, vetting their mail that they might send out to family or anyone. A lot of that was done on policy before, but a lot of it was not accurately spelled out in legislation as to what you could and could not do. This is an attempt, of course, to set a framework, a guideline to look after all those things.

Now, probably the most important section here is the one that will take place after this becomes law, because all we have here is the skeleton, actually. This is the skeleton. Under section, I believe it is 45 - no, excuse me, not 45, under section 48, that is what is going to put the flesh on this skeleton – the meat, the bones, the muscle, and everything else. That is the section that allows for the regulations to be made. There is just about every regulation that you can imagine that the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, that is the Cabinet, is going to be able to make in order to breathe some life into this skeleton, put the flesh and organs into it, and make it work. That is where the challenge will be.

It is no good to set-up the guidelines and the parameters for a modern day law that administers the correctional facilities of our Province yet not make the regulations that are absolutely necessary in order to make that work. That is where we may have some concerns, and I will get into those concerns as to the ability of the department or certainly the minister's actions in the last little while which bring that seriously into question.

You question what you say one day, but as people say, actions tell a lot more than words. We have seen the actions and we have heard the words of the minister in the last couple of days which I submit were absolutely contrary to the spirit and intent of the bill that he is introducing in this House today. I will get into the details of that. I know he is going to disagree with what I am going to say. Once I lay out the details, it is the public of the Province – they have already spoken pretty decisively, I would submit, when it comes to one of these issues.

I am referring, of course, to the issue of prescription drug use in our correctional facilities and the recent report of the Citizens' Rep, Mr. Barry Fleming; how the minister treated it when he first got it and how the minister retreated within forty-eight hours; swallowed himself whole, ate his words, turned around and did something then to try to appease the public that was very, very upset about his actions, and tried to put a good light on a situation that he had made bad. I cannot put it any gentler because those are the facts. He flip-flopped in forty-eight hours. He had no choice and he admitted he had no choice. The public outcry frightened him to death and he retreated in haste to try to make himself look good. I just hope, I live in hope that once this bill we are dealing with here on correctional facilities becomes the law, I hope that the regulations that come to be under section 48, and I hope that the interpretations and good faith that is supposed to brought to bear to make this work is going to come with it, because we have not seen that in recent times.

With regard to the Citizens' Rep report, just for those who do not understand, there are a lot of people in the public who might have been busy, away, now they have an opportunity in front of their television, maybe they would like to know the story. The story, of course, impacts directly this piece of legislation and how it is used.

We have a penitentiary called Her Majesty's Penitentiary. The issue, which is dealt with right in this very bill today, (inaudible): what, for example, will be the rights of inmates when it comes to prescription drugs, those inmates who have mental illness. It has been an issue for years and people are saying, what is the problem, first of all, because some people feel that once someone does the crime, you do the time, you put them away in HMP; you throw away the key and who cares what happens. That is not a very open-minded approach to take to it in my view, because these very people, albeit they did a crime, albeit they need to be punished once convicted for doing the crime and put away in HMP or whatever, they are still number one, first and foremost, human beings.

Secondly, there is going to come a day when they are going to be released. If they enter HMP, or Her Majesty's Penitentiary, with a mental illness – and that is not foreign, by the way, because according to statistics, every single one of us here in the House of Assembly, and every family has someone who is afflicted with some form of mental illness. It is not like we are talking about something years ago, you might sweep under the rug if somebody was depressed or had some form of mental issue; we have all faced it in all of our families.

Back to the prisoner who gets put away in HMP who had a mental illness. What do you do? Do you take his drugs away from him or her? Well, that is what has been happening in a lot of cases at HMP. We have a certain psychiatrist who has worked at HMP for a number of years and he is what they call a conservative ‘prescriber' of drugs to these people. He acknowledges people who have mental illnesses of some form and his practice admittedly is that he is a conservative ‘prescriber'.

There have been incidents where people who may have been receiving drugs in the community from their own psychiatrists and doctors for years, but they happen to commit a crime, they happen to go to HMP to do their time, which is a good thing, but once they enter there that particular psychiatrist knocks their drugs down – and in some cases eliminated them. You can imagine, of course, that if somebody has been maintained or had their condition stabilized for years because of a drug, and all of a sudden it is taken away from them, the consequences to that individual, but not only to that individual, but anybody who is around them, whether you are a guard or whether you are another inmate, if that person is off their meds.

Anyway, there were so many complaints about that, that the Citizens' Rep of this Province – who, by the way, was appointed by this very same government; a gentleman by the name of Mr. Fleming was appointed. He is one of the persons, for example, who the minister consulted as a stakeholder in order to come up with this new bill. He, Mr. Speaker, submitted a brief about what should be in this new bill. Anyway, Mr. Fleming, having had these complaints, went off to do an investigation, which he is perfectly entitled, in fact, required to do – maybe he is not required; it may be may instead of shall – under the act that governs his activities that this government passed and adopted.

Anyway, Mr. Fleming went off and did his investigation and he came back. He confirmed that, yes, that particular psychiatrist who works at HMP, who is paid for by the government, does have these conservative practices in terms of prescription drugs for inmates. He concluded that prisoners who found themselves in that situation were treated unfairly as citizens, not only as inmates but, as citizens of our Province, were treated unfairly. He recommended that the Department of Justice, instead of keeping that particular psychiatrist there, should go to public tender and let someone else have a crack at providing the psychiatric services to HMP. Mr. Fleming did a thorough review. Mr. Fleming consulted with dozens of people, not only inmates; he consulted with other psychiatrists and so on and made his conclusions.

I do not know of any other report - in the Province, in its history since we have had a Citizens' Rep - that has been rejected outright, out of hand by the government. Lo and behold, Mr. Fleming, who this government put forward as being a credible person, best person for the job, who we unanimously voted for in this House to be the Citizens' Rep, he never had his report in the public domain two hours when the Minister of Justice was out saying, rubbish. It is just as well if he had called it rubbish, rejecting it out of hand, he said. Guess what his reason for rejecting it was? We rejected it, he said, because Mr. Fleming did not have the expertise to come to the conclusions that he did upon which to base his recommendations. That is because Mr. Fleming is a lawyer, he is not a psychiatrist.

MR. F. COLLINS: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General on a point of order.

MR. F. COLLINS: Mr. Speaker, I fully expected the hon. member to bring up this issue and use it today to try to hijack this act, but I want him to stick to the truth and to the facts. At no time ever in this debate over the last couple of days was the word, rubbish, ever used in reference to this report except when the member just did it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader, to the point of order?

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: No, Mr. Speaker, just to continue my –

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate your ruling that there was no point of order raised by the Minister of Justice. Now I can get on with my speech without interruption, hopefully.

Back to Mr. Fleming; his report was rejected by the Minister of Justice, who just stood on his feet, because he never had the so-called expertise to come to the conclusions that he did and therefore make the recommendations that he did. That is the reason the Minister of Justice gave outside the doors of the House of Assembly or somewhere here in this building, somewhere on Monday. Now, let's just take a look at that explanation, shall we say, that the minister gave. I do not accept it because the guy who said it was not an expert in what he did. He is a lawyer, Mr. Fleming is, he is not a doctor and he is not a psychiatrist, so therefore he could not have given us any reliable recommendations and conclusions. That is what the minister said; twist it all he wants to.

Now, let's give you some examples. Justice Robert Wells, for example, just recently did a year long inquiry, still in process, about the unfortunate and tragic Cougar crash in this Province. If I recall correctly, Justice Wells is a Justice of the law, a lawyer. I do not think he is a helicopter pilot. I do not think he works in the offshore at any time. I do not think he knew much about safety in the offshore or the oil fields of Newfoundland other than general knowledge, unless he might have done some cases that involved it. Justice Wells delivers his report to this government. I never heard anybody in the government saying we do not accept Justice Robert Wells report because he is not a helicopter pilot or he is not a technician. In fact, the government accepted his recommendations when it came to a separate safety board to govern our offshore. That is one example where expertise was not called into question.

I will give you another example, Justice Margaret Cameron. This government, after the Opposition put their feet to the fire enough times, agreed several years ago to have an inquiry into the breast screening in this Province, and we all know how unfortunate and tragic that turned out to be. Justice Margaret Cameron, again, a Justice; I do not believe she is a medical doctor, I do not believe she is a cancer specialist. She did a public inquiry. She came up with her report and brought it into this government, made several recommendations, dozens. The government said: thank you very much, you did a great job; we are going to follow them. The Minister of Health has been giving annual updates at least on where we are with the recommendations that she put forth. I did not hear anybody in the government saying she was not an expert.

All of a sudden, within twenty-four hours - I understand the minister actually received the report on the psychiatric treatment of inmates at HMP on a Friday from Mr. Fleming, and he was out on Monday saying he was not going to accept it because he did not have the expertise. That is why I say, Mr. Speaker, I live in hope when it comes to the correctional facilities in this Province that this bill is supposed to bring into the modern age. It is no point in having a piece of legislation in this Province which brings us into the modern age if the very people who sit at the top of the pyramid when it comes to seeing that correctional facilities work properly in the best interests of correctional officers, administrators, and inmates, gives such swift, out the door responses to things that are supposed to deal with the very same facilities and what goes on inside them. It is most unfortunate, that within three days of rejecting Mr. Fleming's report, we have the minister up preaching about how we are going to improve the correctional facilities in the Province.

The minister, of course, that is just how he rejected it. Thankfully, the people of this Province watch the media, Mr. Speaker. The people of this Province, the Open Lines went crazy, the media went crazy, the mental health groups in this Province went crazy, and sure enough, the minister said: I will relent, I will relent. I had to do something to fix this. I acted so quickly when I read the report on Friday, kicked it out the door on Monday, I obviously must have done something wrong. Now, I give him points for having the ability to at least admit that he is wrong. That is a good thing. That is good, I admire that. At least the man knew his initial reaction was exactly that, a reaction, and that he should not have done it in the first place. It takes a big man to do that sometimes.

So, he did a complete flip-flop. He turned around then and said we are going to change that now. We are going to send it off, the same issue, for a peer review. We are going to send that off. I guess we will wait and see again what is going to happen now on that issue with the peer review. The saga continues. Stay tuned, as the Minister of Finance always says on everything. Stay tuned, and you will get your answer down the road. Now, that is that issue.

In talking about correctional facilities, and I named off a bunch of them, there is something else this minister had his hands into when we talk about correctional facilities that was very disappointing to the people of this Province. I refer, of course, to what happened to the intended extension that was supposed to go on the facilities that already exist in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

I do not know if he has something against Mr. Fleming or if Mr. Fleming's reports agitates him or what, but I do believe Mr. Fleming was involved at that time in doing an inquiry, an investigation into how people, particularly Aboriginal women, were treated in Labrador when they were incarcerated. It became a major issue. I will not get into the graphic details which became public. The government's response to it at the time was: We need to fix it.

Mr. Fleming made his report, said that it needed to be fixed, and made some recommendations. The government said: We are going to put money into that. We are going to put an extension onto the correctional facilities in Happy Valley-Goose Bay so that we can improve it. That is the first start. We need the physical infrastructure so we can at least put programming and services in place to make sure that kind of stuff does not happen any more.

That was great for everybody who saw it, a great improvement, greatly needed. Lo and behold, what did we find out a couple of years after that announcement was made? By the way, it was only found out because the Opposition probed the government's Budget a couple of years later. We had Estimates meetings and said: Excuse me, Minister, where is the money that was supposed to be in the Budget? You started two years ago with money budgeted for this extension of that correctional facility in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, what happened to it? We were in this House in Question Period for several days with this member forcing the Minister of Justice to give us some answers on what happened to the money.

Finally, we got a couple of admissions. He admitted that we were no longer going to put the extension on the correctional facilities in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and only admitted it after it was brought up here in the House of Assembly under questioning. At no point in time were the people of this Province ever told that this government's commitment to extend the facilities in Happy Valley-Goose Bay was scrapped, never, and he admitted it after. Then, he needed some wiggle room. He could not even come right out fully and say that it was scrapped, so he came out and said: We changed our mind. He did not tell anybody, did not tell a soul that we had changed our minds, and just deleted the money from the Budget. The project was on hold for God knows how long, and God knows how long the people of the Province might have waited for him to tell us, because he certainly never told us of his own accord. He told us when he had his feet put to the fire and the facts were evident for everybody to see. That was the only time that we were informed.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, he said: We have delayed it. I do believe, if I am correct, those questions about the extension in Happy Valley-Goose were asked in this House in last spring's sitting, 2010. The minister's wiggle room then was: We are doing a complete review now of all of the correctional facilities in the Province to come up with a comprehensive strategy and plan to see where we are going to go.

I do believe this is the spring of 2011, we are twelve months later. I have not heard a peep about where the plan is, when we are going to get it, any indications of what we need, not a peep. That is not surprising, folks. That is not surprising because you get out of this minister what you squeeze out of him. That is the only time we get information. By the way, he is not unique. You only get out of this government whatever you squeeze out.

That is two incidents where, when it comes to correctional facilities, we have had two reports from the Citizens' Rep, both of them, albeit are well-intentioned recommendations, ended up in the dustbin.

I do not know, like I said, what it is about Mr. Fleming that this minister will not accept any of the reports or follow through on what he says, but that is two very current circumstances that this has happened.

When we went to the presentation – and I appreciate it by the way, the people who gave it, good people, knowledgeable people in the department yesterday who gave us a briefing. They did a slide presentation for us. One of the slides leading right off in the presentation says: This bill, once it becomes law, will provide a continuity of programs and services from prisons to community. A great goal. We are going to provide a continuity of programs and services from prisons to community. In other words, if someone is an inmate, what are the programs they are going to have available to them when they are in there, for example, whether it be recreational, whether it be what your food is, what is your prescription if you need drugs and that kind of thing; can you take training if you want to get some skill while you are behind bars so that you have a skill, when you get out, that you can utilize and probably keep you on the good path rather than the bad path; what kinds of services were available to them while they were in prison such as the psychiatric drug piece?

When I saw the slide, my first question was: It talks about from prisons to communities, the programs and services, a great thing, but what about from the communities to the prisons? Don't you have a major breakdown if someone is convicted and they are going to be imprisoned or someone is on parole and you revoke their parole and you are going to yank them back inside and they have an issue such as a mental health issue? It is no good to talk about what you are going to do just from the prisons out, what are you going to do when you are taking them in?

Now, obviously the people who gave the briefing felt those issues were better left to the politicians and the ministers rather than at the bureaucratic level. I had no problem with that, but we did have an opportunity, of course, before the briefing and since the briefing to do a comprehensive reading of the bill.

I refer, Mr. Speaker, to clause 18 in the context of the comments I just made. When I read it, it says very clearly, it talks about inmate assessment and plans. I will read it for the record because I think it is very important in the context of my comments. It says, "As soon as practicable after an inmate has entered a correctional facility, an assessment of the inmate shall be made in a manner compatible with the length of the sentence, the inmate's status and the nature of the offence, and, if applicable, a plan shall be prepared for the inmate." Now, I am assuming there always was some policy, administrative procedures in place whereby obviously we have not been putting people behind bars for years and never creating a plan for them. Now, it would specifically, in legislation, say that you have to make a plan for them.

Then it says, "A plan referred to in subsection (1) shall assess the inmate's correctional needs and the appropriate programs to meet those needs to (a) support the inmate in developing accountability and being rehabilitated, healed and reintegrated into the community; and (b) deter and reduce offending behaviour." That is what the plan was supposed to be geared to, to come in, and you gear up a plan. Obviously, a plan will be different if somebody is there for five years versus if they are there for five months. That makes common sense. You are not going to get into a two-year carpenter program if somebody is only in there for two months. What is the point? It might give them a start, but they hopefully would not get time to finish if they are gone in two months, and hopefully they are not coming back anymore.

It talks about healed, and it talks about rehabilitation. How are we ever going to accomplish healing somebody, which is right in the law, rehabilitating them, if we had the circumstance that I referred to earlier whereby someone who has a need for drugs to stabilize them, to help them with their mental illness issue, if we have someone down there who chops it and cuts off their medications? I would think it is pretty short-sighted.

We have had cases where the psychiatrist, for example, who treated the person out, said they need this. All of a sudden this other person does the diagnosis and says: no, chop-chop, it is done. He admits he does it simply because he does not like to prescribe drugs. He is a conservative prescriber. What about the impacts on the people? I do not care if you are a criminal, a convicted person or not, you are still a human being. It is written right here and going to be in the law. How can we be here today talking about bringing this into law, how modern it is, and how good faith everything is when we have seen the actions that I just referred to within the last few days, and how this minister has treated the Citizens' Representative? The two fly in the face of each other.

I would also refer, Mr. Speaker, to section 45. Section 45 is very, very important, again in terms of what I say I am going to do, what my intentions are, and what I actually do. Section 45 says: The director shall coordinate and encourage wherever possible (a) the activities of the correctional facilities; (b) both in the correctional facility and in the community programming and, where available, programming that is evidence based, and – this is very clear, Mr. Speaker, the director shall also be overseeing specific programming and services to reflect the needs and the culture of Aboriginal offenders. I just dealt with that issue. We saw what they did with the intended extension up on Happy Valley-Goose: provide for the particular needs of female offenders, and (c) – and this is where the crux comes – provide for the specific needs of offenders with particular mental health and addictions requirements and other classes of offenders that are identified by the director as having special requirements.

Now, you cannot make it any clearer than that, Mr. Speaker. This is not something that is going to come about in subordinate legislation, such as regulations, which they are going to do. This is right in the principle act. It says here, the director shall provide for the specific needs of offenders with particular mental health and addictions requirements. That is pretty specific, and I would like the minister to give an explanation of how does he make jibe what he did with the Citizens' Representative's report this week with bringing forward this bill right now? Because if we are going to see this kind of flip-flop from this minister every time something goes on in our correctional facilities, what is the point of passing a law? What is the point of passing a law if that is how he is going to treat it?

Mr. Speaker, you talk about another one of those slides they showed us yesterday in the presentation. In it they say, things that inmates would do. One of the things they are explaining to us, to educate us about this bill, is they said we are going talk about how inmates must obey rules. That certainly makes sense; if you are in the institution, you are a prisoner, you must follow certain rules. They talk about restrictive measures they can take within the institution, and they talk about fair treatment of inmates, fair treatment. Now that word rings out when I saw that in that slide presentation, fair treatment for inmates, because guess what? That is exactly what the Citizens' Rep said on Monday in his report is that the inmates in question who needed the psychiatric treatments were denied fair treatment.

How can we accept on a Monday the minister saying: we are not going to listen to his report, put it in the dust bin? Not even on the shelf, they just threw it in the dust bin. He did not even say I will read it later. I read it he said, throw it away. I am not going to follow it. Now he turns around two days later and does a flip-flop and says: well, we will go and get a peer review now because everybody started to shout and scream, all upset about it. I will look at this again now, he said. My best way out of this now is to look at this again. So, I will send this off for a peer review. God knows, when we will ever hear back. I do not know what peers he sent it to but I hope they do not take so long to get this back as they do the information about what we are going to do with the correctional facilities, the report and review that he is doing. We have been a year waiting for that. God forbid, if an inmate down there might need some prescription between now and the time that he comes back with this.

MR. F. COLLINS: Stay tuned.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Yes, I say to the minister, he says stay tuned again. He is catching on to the Minister of Finance, stay tuned. What I say to the minister, that is not good enough to tell the inmates or anybody else in this Province, the families of these inmates who need this treatment. That is not good enough to say to people who are in our institutions, albeit they are criminals and deserve to be incarcerated, stay tuned. We know this has been a problem for years and it has been incumbent on you, minister, to do something about it. You had the ability to do something about it this week, and you put it in the garbage can. That was your reaction to it. Do not tell the families of these people who are in these institutions and correctional facilities, Mr. Minister, stay tuned. They will let somebody stay tuned at the end of the day, if that is what you are going to tell the people of this Province. If that is what this government and its ministers are going to tell the people in this Province, stay tuned, we will deal with you when we get a chance. It is not acceptable. It is just not acceptable.

Mr. Speaker, I have twenty minutes left. I think a lot of my comments actually relate to the specific sections of the bill. There are forty-eight of them or so. I have comments on about forty-five of them and I can do that in committee. I will not delay things right now because we will get another opportunity but there are a few other comments I would like to make with the remaining time that I have.

I talked about the women's facility that was intended but was scrapped up in Labrador, nobody knew. I talked about Mr. Fleming's report and how that got treated.

Probably one of the biggest things about correctional facilities we have heard in this Province in the last two or three years is the condition of Her Majesty's Penitentiary. It was built back in the 1800s. I had the benefit of touring it some years ago. It is a horrible place to be housed if you are an inmate. The minister, I am sure, has had the tour; every Minister of Justice that has ever been a minister, that is one of the first things you undertake to do.

It definitely needs to be replaced. We have heard minister after minister in the last few years – and now they are going to say: You were minister. Why did you not get it done when you were there? I think our Minister of Finance himself acknowledged the financial restraints that existed before we struck the lottery – before you government struck the lottery – with the increase in oil prices in the 2000s.

MR. MARSHALL: In 1997 and 1998 you had oil.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Thank you, Minister, for reminding me. I appreciate, Minister of Finance, that you reminded me that we had the oil in 1997 and 1998 –

MR. MARSHALL: – and 1999 and 2000.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: – and every year, I do believe, Minister, there were still deficits because the government of the day tried to do what they could with the money that they could, number one; and number two, most importantly, Mr. Minister, let us go back and review what the price of oil was, if you would. If you want to equate that into your comment and maybe tell me what money there was floating around in 1997 and 1998.

MR. SPEAKER (Kelly): Order, please!

I remind the hon. member to keep his comments attached to the particular bill that is (inaudible).

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I agree. I digress, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Finance got me totally thrown off here talking about things of the past.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I say to the Minister of Finance: He and I are going to get an opportunity to tangle our words down the road a little bit once he delivers his Budget, because I am sure I am going to get at least three hours to speak to that. Now, I would appreciate if the Minister of Finance did not interrupt me anymore while I am trying to address this most important and serious issue here concerning the correctional facilities.

Back to HMP, and people watching, of course, want to know where the focus should be. I know what they are focused on, and I hope they are focused on the minister's answers when he gets up to answer these questions I have been posing. I hope they watch him very closely as to what his response is.

The focus ought to be on: What are we going to do with our facilities here? Do not just pass a grandiose bill and say: We are going to do this inside, we are going to give this program, we are going to give this kind of service, we are going to set-up all kinds of administrative rules, and we are going to have action plans for inmates. Guess what? If you are supposed to do all of that and your biggest institution is a pig pen, a pig sty; that is where we are going to try to conduct these programs and provide these services. That is where we are conducting this.

What did the minister say recently? The last number of reports that I have heard him put out, the feds should put the money into the penitentiary, he says; the feds should put the money into the penitentiary. They yank down successive solicitor generals, federal ministers who represented Newfoundland's interest, such as Mr. McKay. They have all been down here and traipsed through HMP, and everyone of them, time after time, all members of the Harper government, everyone of them members of the Harper government, Mr. Speaker, refused to commit any money to even refurbishing, and certainly to replacing HMP.

The government, provincially, first and foremost – and this is where the deflections come in, Mr. Speaker – the deflection when it comes to correctional facilities, particularly HMP, is when the provincial government and this minister says it is a federal responsibility to do it. It is not the responsibility of the federal government to build HMP; it is not the principle responsibility of the federal government at all. I certainly believe they should put their money in the pot, and a good chunk of it if we can get it; absolutely, I think they should.

The last I heard was – because all kinds of figures, and figures change, God only knows the figures change – the latest I heard was $100 million that it is going to cost to replace HMP. We will put in 30 per cent; they should put in 70 per cent. That is one of the figures that I heard bandied about. I do not know – and if that is changed now, if this minister is on record as to what if the federal government would agree now to build an HMP – what are your latest cost estimates of what it would be, and what portion is this government requesting from the federal government. Once I know that portion that will tell me what portion I assume you are prepared to put in yourself as a provincial government. It will be interesting if the minister could give us that kind of information.

At the end of the day, that information, Mr. Speaker, does me no good; does nobody in this Province any good, no matter what the figures are that the minister might give me back. I have asked for them just as a courtesy to see what the latest was, and I mean the latest since the break off of negotiations on HMP. The federal government put out a press release – the Minister of Safety, I think they call him, or Solicitor General put out a press release – about a year ago and said we are not going to build anymore prisons in Canada. That is what he said. Now, that is kind of hard to believe given what they call the ‘Harper tough on crime' type legislation. I do not know where he is going to warehouse them, he is going to put everybody in jail but he is not going to build anymore jails and everybody knows the current prisons we have are all overstuffed. Anyway, that was made known a year ago.

The provincial government keeps plodding along. I have heard the minister out last summer or last fall probably saying still talking to the feds, still wondering about the feds if we are going to get that prison, still talking to them, think they should come to the table, throw money in. He went off to the Attorney General's ministers conference in the fall, put it on the agenda, the table, talked about it with somebody up there he told us. Finally he had to be smacked dead-on right bold between the eyes and the federal government came out and said: We are not going to build or help build an HMP in Newfoundland and Labrador. How much clearer – as if he needed a year to figure that out.

Let us get beyond that. The question becomes, now that we know where the feds are not going to build a prison here in this Province; they are not interested in contributing any money to it as we understand it today. What is the minister going to do now? HMP did not get any younger; Newfoundland and Labrador Housing did not go down and refurbish it to make it anymore liveable or usable. It is still the piece of junk that it was and we have known it to be, it still has to be replaced.

Where is the minister going to go now? The biggest institution in our Province is going to become subject to this law, Mr. Speaker. What are we going to do? What is the point of this, as he says, modern-day legislation, if we are going to keep the people who work in that institution, who are inmates in that institution, what is the point of a piece of legislation if you are going to keep them down in HMP in its current form, dilapidated, outlived, gone? Stand up and talk about grandiose correctional facilities, law we are going to pass here, modern age. My God, the minister was over there shouting from the rooftops today.

Well, it is a good chance he was not shouting from the rooftop of HMP because he might have gone down through the roof; that is how bad that institution is. That is what we would like to hear from the minister. Maybe we can use some strategy this time on the federal government when it comes to corrections. The former Premier used them on the equalization piece, everything from tear down flags to you-know-what. Put them in the cruncher when we needed to, to get a commitment.

What a better time now, the federal election is on, I am sure we are going to see all kinds of pressure tactics to get correctional facilities in this Province. We are going to see our provincial ministers and government out saying to the federal government: You have held out on us long it enough when it comes to correctional facilities. Now, we want your commitment that we are going to get something for HMP. Let's look forward now, folks, between now and May 2, and see if we see any minister in this government publicly say that. Let's wait and see if that comes out. Let's see if we have any talk of correctional facilities in the new few weeks. Let's see where our Minister of Justice is on that one when he struts around with the federal candidate. Let's see where the commitment is then, and that is the way we have played the game lots of times, Mr. Speaker, when it comes to getting these facilities.

Anyway, to conclude, Mr. Speaker, the minister says that this act, Bill 9, which will become an act and law in this Province, was shaped by principles. There is no doubt it was, a lot of very knowledgeable people have input into the crafting of this piece of legislation. I pointed out my concerns. My concerns are of a more day-to-day basis that, I appreciate the principles, appreciate the new law, but we need to see that the government has the right intentions and the right spirits about what they are going to do about this. We, quite frankly, have not seen that by this minister's actions when it comes to correctional facilities as recently as this week. We just have not seen it, and that is unfortunate.

As to some of the stakeholder groups who had input into the drafting of this bill, Mr. Speaker, it is very important and very telling actually when you read the bill itself and you see some of the sections there as to the fact that their input, no doubt, found its way into the bill. I refer, of course, to one of the stakeholder groups that were both at a meeting and submitted a brief was the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women. We also had the Women's Policy Office involved.

It is very obvious, from many of the sections here, that when it comes to how we treat women inmates from the physical accommodations that they have to any special needs that they have, that that has been incorporated into this new bill. That is great to see. That is a case where I appreciate the consultation being extended, the invitation to have the consultation by the department, and the fact that these women's groups took the time to not only come to a meeting, but also submit their own brief as to what they felt were deficiencies in the system and how it might be improved.

Also, not women in general, but the Innu made a presentation, and the Aboriginal groups. Because, apparently, from what the people gave us yesterday and explained to us yesterday in the technical briefing, the treatment of Aboriginal women in our facilities has not been particularly good, and they have special needs and they need special programming services. That will be addressed, if the proper regulatory body follows from this bill, once it is enacted.

The John Howard Society made a presentation. There is probably no other more significant stakeholder group than are concerned about inmates' rights and so on. They have always been actively involved in what concerns inmates. In fact, a gentleman who gave us a presentation yesterday used to be a former executive director himself, now working with the Department of Justice, and I do not mind mentioning his name, Mr. Carlson; fantastic man, very knowledgeable. He even taught courses at the university involving those types of issues, prisoners, our prison system, laws, and so on. A man who probably the biggest part of his body is his heart, when it comes to doing things. I had the pleasure of meeting him several years ago, and he did an excellent presentation to them yesterday; a guy who, as we would say out in the bays, is top shelf. Albeit he is no longer with the John Howard Society, or maybe he still is, he is certainly with the Department of Justice, he indicated yesterday, but a fantastic gentleman who certainly would have made a great contribution to this particular piece of legislation.

I noticed, Mr. Speaker, some absences, though, from the list of stakeholders, and I am assuming the list is complete. We had the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women, the Canadian Mental Health Association, St. John's Native Friendship Centre, Nunatsiavut Government, and Mokami Status of Women. So a lot of women's groups had involvement in there, no doubt. It also involved the Stella Burry Community Services Group.

I do not know if this is telling, maybe the Minister of Justice might have an explanation, but I noticed neither the Legal Aid Commission nor the Law Society either came to a meeting or submitted a brief. I am just curious if the minister found it odd that these people who are involved in the criminal justice system to such an extent, particularly the criminal Bar of the Law Society that have so much involvement, and the Legal Aid Commission that have involvement with people who find themselves as part of the penal system, the criminal justice system, and subsequently in our institutions or our facilities as we now call them, did not make a presentation. So, I am curious and I am sure that the minister will comment on that. Maybe he will not, that is up to him, but I was just curious as to why it did not happen.

The only thing I would like to conclude with, I do not know who the minister was talking about in his submission when he commented that he was – and I stand to be corrected here and I am sure Hansard could correct me. The minister said he was disappointed, I believe, in what a certain individual did this week vis-à-vis what he said or did about the report. Now, the minister did not identify the person and I do not know who he was talking about, but when you do that, when you just throw out a name that you are disappointed with somebody in how they did something, that is good in the sense that you do not identify anybody in particular, but it is bad in the sense that nobody knows who you were aiming your guns at when you made the statement.

I do not think the man's name was ever mentioned. I could see for privacy reasons maybe that the minister did not want to mention it. The downside of that, Mr. Minister, I would say, through the Speaker, is that cast aspersions probably upon other people who do not even know. I think in the interest of fairness to that individual – I have my suspicions who you were talking about, but I do not want to say any names here in this House either because that may be the wrong person and then I have harmed somebody else.

I will not even get into the fact that it is unnecessary. If you felt that it was appropriate to make those comments, that is fine, but to do so in the manner in which you did, Mr. Minister, without saying who it was, can leave a lot of people impacted by that statement. I think that is unnecessary and would be unfortunate. I do not believe for a moment that is where the Minister of Justice would want to leave that.

In my view, it is either cut to the chase and say who it is and why you are peed off rather than just make a general statement like that and leave everybody subject to suspicion as it were. I just think that would be fairness to the person. I do not know if it is a female or a male that the minister was talking about, but I think that would be appropriate, at least an explanation of why you did not explain the person and who it was. That would be appropriate as well.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity. I am down to a minute or so, so I will not take up anymore time on this debate. I look forward to, when it gets to committee, having further comment on each of the sections.

Thank you.

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

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

I am pleased to have the opportunity this afternoon to speak to Bill 9. I thank the government side of the House and the House Leader for letting me get up right away to speak and not go back over to that side first before I had a chance to speak. I have an engagement later, so I needed to do it right away and I thank the House Leader for that.

This is an important bill and I think it is certainly well overdue. I know the minister has alluded to that because the two acts that it is replacing, one, I think, dates back to 1967 and the other one to 1975. Our Prisons Act and our Adult Corrections Act are quite outdated and outmoded when it comes to looking at today's mentality and today's values with regard to correctional institutions and incarceration.

We have had many references this afternoon already to the 2008 report, the Decades of Darkness. I would say that the two bills that are being replaced are two bills that exist and have existed during the decades of darkness. I guess what we are all hoping for now with this new legislation is that this new legislation is helping us move away from the decades of darkness that were identified and reported to us in 2008, and that we have a piece of legislation that is going to bring us into the future.

I am very pleased with the fact that the legislation does allow for a review of the legislation every five years, so that hopefully we never again will slip into a situation of where our correctional services are operating in darkness. That with reviews every five years, as the legislations allows, we will make sure that we will keep our correctional services up to date with the best possible practices that one can have.

The Opposition House Leader mentioned that we did have a briefing, as indeed we did. We were part of that briefing as well. I was very happy to have that opportunity. We were told at the briefing that the department, and those from the department who were involved in the drafting of this legislation, did look throughout Canada - including the provinces and the territories - to see what legislation existed. They found that the legislation in the Yukon was felt to have been the most modern legislation. I understand this legislation does use the Yukon legislation as a model but also draws on practices that are happening in different parts of the country, not just in the Yukon. Having said that, I will not repeat things that were said – or try not to anyway, it is unnecessary to repeat things - by the minister and the Opposition House Leader with regard to the general background of the legislation.

I would like to say right up front though, it was noted by the Opposition House Leader, and I want to note it. I was very pleased, and I thanked the officials for giving us the list of the stakeholders who were contacted to be involved in consultations during the process. We got those yesterday in short order after we requested them, but when I looked at that and saw that the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador had obviously been contacted - because I think the twenty-seven names that were given to us, all of those organizations had been contacted and I understand contacted in writing as well, and for some reason the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Legal Aid Commission, both did not – it looks like anyway. I have to say, it looks like – respond to the offer from the department as it was doing the drafting of the legislation, because it is indicated on the document that we have that they did not respond.

That bothers me, because some of the issues I am going to bring up are issues that I think have - a couple anyway - quite a legal side to it. I will be asking the question and looking for an answer from the minister. I would think that if the Law Society had read the legislation they would have had questions around the same piece because one of the pieces I am going to raise, we have had discussions with a lawyer who understands criminal law very well, and I think that lawyers would have a concern over a couple of the points I am going to raise. I suspect if they did not respond - the minister does not even know why they did not respond but if he does have any answers to that, I, too, would like to hear the answers as to why the Law Society chose not to respond. As I said, I will not be surprised if he does not have an answer but I felt it was really important to name that issue.

The current status of where we are in the Province is that the actual act allows for a very wide interpretation of certain powers granted to staff. It is an overall statement I am going to make up front and it is something I am going to speak to more in-depth. I think we have to be very careful that we do not have wide sweeping powers or wide sweeping statements or definitions either. We have to be sure there are always legislated checks and balances, because in dealing with correctional services we are dealing with a system in which power plays quite a role, because you have people who are incarcerated, who in actual fact have some rights lifted from them. Not all of their rights, but they do have some of their civil rights lifted.

We always have to make sure that in our correctional institutions and facilities, that in those facilities there is protection. There can be a temptation, we are all human - when a group of people or an individual does have legislated power over another group or over another individual there can be a temptation to push that role of authority too far. There always is the possibility that when you have a group who do have some of their civil rights lifted, they may deal with others who may actually abuse their power over them and abuse their authority.

The legislation has to make sure that everybody is protected. Yes, we have to make sure that the staff and those who are involved in correctional facilities are protected and we have to make sure that inmates are protected because inmates, people who are incarcerated have rights. They have human rights. Sometimes the lifting of a civil right can veer towards people even ignoring human rights. So this is something that we have to be really concerned about.

I am going to speak specifically – not to all of the bill, obviously, that would be too difficult – I am going to speak to the areas of concern that I have. My first area of concern is section 25. It is an important section because section 25 is dealing with what is called disclosure. What it is talking about is that when an inmate is communicating to somebody outside of the facility, now you do have authorized persons who are going to have the right to indicate in the communication that the communication is coming from somebody who is in a correctional facility. That is one aspect of 25.

Section 25 will also give the right for a correctional facility to have the ability to record telephone conversations, for example. Not that those telephone conversations will be listened to while they are happening, but they may be recorded and there may be a point in time in which that recording may have to be used for some reason.

So there are things in here that I can understand why they are there, but the thing that concerns me is the use of the words, "An authorized person". When you go to the definition of an authorized person at the front of the bill, an authorized person is "the chief superintendent and the superintendent of a correctional facility". It also includes individuals and groups of individuals who are designated by the superintendent to also have certain powers. That term "authorized person" relates to sections 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, and 32.

I have a real concern about this use of "authorized person" being left fairly wide open because there is the potential for abuse because of the fact it is so wide open. When we are talking about this thing of communication and privileged communication, there is the danger of losing control of the rights of the inmate, if the people who are authorized become too large a group. So, I have some concerns that the legislation is left so wide open when it comes to authorizing people to be involved in this whole issue of inmate communication, especially when it comes to a privileged communication.

This is another point that I am very concerned about, Mr. Speaker. The bill talks about privileged communication, however, the definition for privileged communication is not in the legislation. The definition for privileged communication comes under section 48, which indicates all of the areas – and there are many of them, over thirty, I think – all of the areas where the Lieutenant Governor in Council, or that means the Cabinet, is in charge of the regulations. So, the definition of privileged communication is going to be in regulations that are going to be written up at some point down the road. Those regulations do not come to the House of Assembly. I do not know if the same kind of consultation will be carried on when the department writes those regulations and when Cabinet approves them.

The devil is in the details in this one, and I am really concerned, because when we look at section 25.(2), we are allowing an authorized person – for whom there is a very, very general definition – so we are allowing an authorized person, who may intercept a privileged communication, and we have no definition for privileged communication. So, I think it is extremely problematic that this section has been left so wide open. I think it is literally rife for the potential of abuse, and that is my concern. I am not saying people will do it, but the potential is there, and we really cannot allow that potential. So, section 25, if we do not know right now what the privileged communication is all about – as a lay person, I do know for example you have client-lawyer privilege. I am going to have to assume that that is one of the privileged communications. Does it also include clergy? Does it include somebody they have a medical relationship with? We do not know – we do not know what privileged communications are going to be affected by interception by an authorized person whom we do not know who that person could be or what group that person might come from.

I have to say to the minister, I am really concerned about this and I do not know why especially the definition of privileged communication has been left outside of the legislation, nor that of authorized persons. I think there should be direction for the chief superintendent and superintendents to help them in deciding who can become authorized persons when it comes to these particular sections. The particular sections where this authorized person term comes in, they all have to do with areas of dealing with an inmate where rights could be infringed. I think there needs to be more protection in there. I am looking for a clearer thought from the minister as to why this has happened. I really am concerned that the definition is left out.

There is another section that I have grave concerns about as well. This section has to do with a grievance procedure. Now, a grievance procedure is extremely important. The grievance procedure is under section 19 and it is followed by a section called Discipline. Under section 19 we are told that, "(1) There shall be a procedure for fairly and expeditiously resolving inmate grievances on matters within the jurisdiction of the chief superintendent, and the procedure shall operate in accordance with regulations made under paragraph 48(d)." We were told in the briefing – no, actually upfront in the bill, in the explanation of the bill itself, we are told that this bill would "establish an inmate's grievance procedure allowing inmates to file, without negative consequences, complaints about issues arising from their involvement with the correctional system".

We are told the bill is going to establish an inmate's grievance procedure. When I come over to section 19, all I see is there shall be a procedure. We have nothing in the legislation outlining what that procedure is going to be. That is going to be part of regulations. That is very problematic, Mr. Speaker. I am very concerned about it. When I asked about that in the briefing I was told: Well, we did not want to make the bill too long. Well, I do not think we decide what is in a bill by how short or how long the bill is going to be, we decide what needs to be in the bill.

I question a decision that would say that the procedures should not be in the bill when we are told upfront in the explanatory notes that one of the reasons for this bill, one of the purposes of this bill, is to actually put a procedure in place. Yet, we have no details on the procedure. I find that very problematic, especially when I come to the next section, section 20, which is about discipline. This discipline is the disciplining of inmates. Now, it is not the disciplining of staff, it is the disciplining of inmates.

When we look at this section, it has actually four sections to it under the division of the bill called Discipline. So when it comes to the discipline of an inmate, we have four whole sections spelling out, in great detail, the discipline of an inmate. I am glad it is there. It does allow for an appeal. It does allow for if an inmate is not happy with what has happened. With regard to discipline, there is an appeal process and that is all there.

So, my question is to the minister: Why was so much effort put into having all the detail around the discipline area – and I think it should be there – yet not have the details spelled out of a grievance procedure, which is greater than dealing with appealing something that has happened under discipline? The grievances are on any matter within the jurisdiction of the chief superintendent.

So, we have all of this detail on disciplining, yet no detail on a grievance procedure. I think that is very problematic. I really cannot support this bill because that piece, in particular, is missing. I am not making judgments. We all know human nature. We know how institutions work. We know how systems work. We just cannot say that good intentions are enough. We have to make sure that there is written protection at all times. I think in the areas that I have identified, Mr. Speaker, we do not have protection. We all know the saying: The road to hell is paved with good intentions, but an awful lot of things happen along that road to hell, don't they?

I am not satisfied that there are safeguards there for everyone. There are some areas where I am not sure there is going to be enough limits on powers because I have to wait for the regulations to see that. We do not have clear definition of powers. I am hoping, that is all I have to do is hope, that the regulations are going to have in them what I want.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I have used my twenty minutes, and I thank you very much for the opportunity.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair recognizes the hon. Member for Topsail.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is my pleasure to have an opportunity to participate in this debate this afternoon on Bill 9, An Act Respecting Correctional Services. This afternoon, as this debate has taken place, Mr. Speaker, I have listened attentively to the debate and the presentations by the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, as well as the Member for Burgeo & La Poile.

I particularly would like to thank the minister who brought this bill forward this afternoon, who gave what I believe is a very comprehensive explanation on this bill. He took his time this afternoon to outline some of the aspects of this bill, and how it is going to change how business is being done, and how it is going to improve the current legislation that exists.

Mr. Speaker, this particular bill will repeal and replace the Prisons Act and the Adult Corrections Act, which are both existing legislation. Now, with the Prisons Act, it was enacted in 1969, and while having had some amendments since then, has been around for a very long time. If you have a quick look by the Prisons Act, you will see that the phraseology used, the principles that are contained within that act, or that you can read from reading the act, are really outdated. As well, the Adult Corrections Act, which was enacted in 1975, very similarly, I believe there has only been one amendment to that act. I stand to be corrected, but I believe only one amendment to that act since it was enacted in 1975, a very long time.

This bill, Mr. Speaker, will establish fundamental guideline principles as to how the act is to be interpreted and administered, and requires staff to follow those principles while exercising powers and performing duties or functions under the act.

Mr. Speaker, I know the Member for Burgeo & La Poile this afternoon had indicated, and I cannot repeat his exact words, but he had talked about how, under section 48, the section for regulations was, I think he called it, it is where the meat is on the bones, or words to that effect. The impression I got from his comments this afternoon was: That is really where the important parts of sections of this act are really continued. I do not necessarily agree with that. I understand what he was saying, and there is some truth in it, but what I believe, in this particular act, is paramount in all of it - and that word is actually used in it; it is under section 4, which are the principles. I know the Member for Burgeo & La Poile also took some time in his opportunity to speak to this bill this afternoon to talk about the principles, but I believe that section 4 is primarily one of the most fundamental, important parts of this new bill. I want to take my time this afternoon, my few minutes that I have to speak to this bill this afternoon, to talk about the principles and the importance of having the principles contained within this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, these principles are similar to other legislation in Canada. These particular principles, which I am going to get to in a few minutes that are contained within this bill, are similar to, and we believe, will improve on those that are contained in the federal government's Corrections and Conditional Release Act, as well as the Yukon Corrections Act, and the Manitoba Correctional Services Act, all which have principles contained within those acts and stated in those acts. Mr. Speaker, I believe that what is contained in here will be maybe even an improvement over what has already previously been stated.

Mr. Speaker, what the Department of Justice has done in reaching this act, there have been a number of steps that have been taken. Probably the most notable was the consultations that took place with some twenty-seven stakeholder groups throughout the Province. Those consultations that took place resulted in a number of recommendations, thirty-three recommendations, and most of those recommendations have now been contained in this new bill. As I refer to these principles, one of the most profound recommendations that came out refers directly to those principles which I am going to talk about momentarily. What is really important is that the Department of Justice and the government took the time to consult with a large number of stakeholders, very much respected stakeholder groups within the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in the development of this legislation. That was a very important step for the Province to take in developing this legislation. I think they are to be commended for taking those steps.

It is very similar again to other members, when I was researching this bill and how it came to be and the history of the bill and the work that has been done by the department, there are several recommendations that came out of those stakeholders and, as said, they are now contained within the legislation.

I want to go back to section 4 of the bill, if I may, which refers to principles. Under section 4 it refers to this act and the regulations made under it shall be interpreted and administered in a manner consistent with the following principles - shall be. So, these principles are required to be followed. It is not something that you may or may not do; it is something that has to be done.

The first principle there is, "(a) the protection of society shall be given paramount consideration in making decisions or taking actions under this Act". Mr. Speaker, paramount consideration is a very strong term. It is a very clear term, it is a very strong term and it is very easy to understand, that above all else paramount consideration must be taking place when actions are being taken under this act.

It also indicates, "(b) the safety of the community will be enhanced by addressing, as far as possible, through programming and services designed to promote rehabilitation and reintegration, the needs and circumstances of offenders that are related to their offending behaviour". That, as well, Mr. Speaker, is a very important principle that is contained within this act. That the act and the regulations will be governed under these principles, as I said, is a very important one relating to the needs of offenders.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to refer to the next section contained within the principles that refers to staff. I want to take a couple of minutes to talk about this particular section because it indicates that, "(c) staff members will be given (i) wherever possible, appropriate career development and training opportunities". That is the first part of this section, "wherever possible, appropriate career development and training opportunities".

Mr. Speaker, throughout my life, I can tell you, I have gotten to know many of the staff, correctional officers who work in Her Majesty's Penitentiary here in St. John's and the other facilities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. I have worked on the West Coast in policing, myself. I have worked on the West Coast of Newfoundland, in Corner Brook, where there is a facility contained and joined, part of the RNC headquarters that is located in Corner Brook. There is a lock-up facility that is used there as well.

There are facilities in Stephenville, which back when I worked on the West Coast I visited many times in my career and got to know some of the staff members and correctional officers who work within our justice system. I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, without any hesitation, many of these people who work in the correctional systems have a difficult job, they have a tough job. They have a tough task to do and a very difficult function to carry out for society. They carry that out in a very professional manner, and I can tell you, they carry it out with dedication, Mr. Speaker. They are very skilled in what they do. They carry out their duties in a manner that is ethical. That is to be commended.

Most people I know have not had the opportunity, and probably do not want to have the opportunity, to find themselves inside a prison, either as an inmate or visiting a family or friend, or for any other purpose; but, if you have ever had the chance to go in there, I can tell you, it is a difficult job. It is a difficult job to be working on, in many cases very closely with offenders who are housed in our institutions. They get to know each other very, very well and it is a tough job to do. At the same time they are doing that, these correctional officers must always be alert and aware of their surroundings, they must be alert of those who are around them, and they must be prepared and ready to handle any circumstance.

I know recently, in the last couple of years, you see in mostly American television, sometimes in Canadian television as well, there are many programs of different types, some documentaries, some for pure entertainment, which will follow police around, watch police doing their activities and the work that they do. There are also some of those programs that now deal with and will allow some insight into detention facilities and correctional institutions in different parts of the United States, and probably Canada for that matter. We all get a little bit of insight as to what it may be like to work in or to be inside a correctional institution. You get an understanding, you can get some understanding of how difficult a task it may be and how hard it may be to do their task and their job on a regular basis.

Mr. Speaker, this new act will include principles that will guide our staff members, and will also, as I mentioned, provide for appropriate career development and training opportunities. We have to make sure that the staff who work in corrections have the skills and ability to do their jobs. This principle of providing appropriate career development and training opportunities for those staff, I think is a very, very important one and cannot be overstated.

Staff members will be given, "a workplace environment that encourages integrity and personal accountability and that is consistent with the relevant Code of Professional Conduct established under section 11". Section 11, under this particular piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker, is a section which indicates that, "The director may establish Codes of Professional Conduct that will apply to those categories of staff…" who work within the facility.

Mr. Speaker, the principles carry on. I am getting to a very important one that I want to talk about this afternoon, just for a couple of minutes. It is a principle that talks about staff members even further. It talks about the overall principles of the corrections. It indicates that "policies, programs and practices will respect age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic differences and be responsive to the particular needs of women and aboriginal peoples, the needs of offenders with particular mental health and addictions requirements, and the needs of other groups of offenders with special requirements."

Mr. Speaker, this is a very important principle that is all inclusive and encompassing of all inmates, no matter of their age, gender, sexual orientation, their ethnic, cultural, religious, or linguistic differences that may occur. These principles ensure that those circumstances will be provided with equal and fair treatment. Mr. Speaker, that is very important, and these principles are not contained in the current legislation. It is very important for all of those who find themselves incarcerated or find themselves within our institutions, that these principles exist for the protection and best interest of all of our inmates.

So, Mr. Speaker, section 4 is the one that I wanted to focus on today. I have done that. I would like to again thank the minister for his presentation today in introducing this bill. It was a very comprehensive presentation. It was very informative. It is a very detailed bill and the time I have this afternoon will not allow me to go deeply into other aspects of it. I am sure further debate will include other aspects of this bill this afternoon as we continue in the debate.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Those are my comments for this afternoon.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair recognizes the hon. the Member for Lewisporte.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I was sitting there listening to the Member for Topsail talk about this bill, I was wishing I had a voice like the Member for Humber West, the newest member. Yesterday when he was speaking, and he did such a great job, security was telling me they could hear him out in the main lobby. He did a great job, Mr. Speaker, and a great voice that he has.

It is certainly a pleasure to speak today on Bill 9. The passing of this bill is going to assist in the provision of a safe, a humane, and a progressive environment for inmates and correctional officers at all of our correctional facilities in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I thank the minister for bringing in this bill. I listened attentively as he explained the various aspects of the bill. I listened to the other speakers this afternoon, and I am going to try not to repeat too much of what the other people had to say. I will take about ten minutes to just touch some of the highlights that I see, Mr. Speaker.

It was on April 18, 2008, the then Minister of Justice, who is now the current Minister of Health, announced the appointment of an independent panel to review the operations of adult corrections in the Province, as part of the Department of Justice's commitment to ensure a safe environment for both the corrections staff and for those in custody. The panel was mandated to provide recommendations on policy, procedures, and administration, with a goal of improving the living and the working conditions of correctional facilities in Newfoundland and Labrador. In their deliberation, Mr. Speaker, the panel had 275 meetings, fifty-seven of them being with staff and private contractors, ninety with the inmates or ex-inmates and their families, and twenty-eight meetings with other stakeholders. On December 8 of 2008, the report Decades of Darkness – Moving Towards the Light was released.

Recommendations were made in many areas in that report, Mr. Speaker. Seventy-four of the seventy-seven recommendations that were made, as I have heard the Minister of Justice say, have been acted on, with over half of those recommendations being fully implemented. That is good progress, Mr. Speaker.

Of course, the next logical step, once that report came in and the recommendations were being acted on, was to update the legislation with respect to correctional services. Of course, the old Prisons Act, as was already said here today, is archaic, enacted in 1969, and then the Adult Corrections Act, which was proclaimed in 1975, is also outdated. The legislation that we have before us today will update and modernize the legislation, bringing the law more in line with the proven best practices of today's world.

The legislation, Mr. Speaker, is important to the staff that work in the correctional facilities, it is important to the inmates, and it is also important to the community at large. I just want to touch briefly on each one of those.

With respect to the staff; well, the staff at our correctional facilities need support in order to effectively deal with the clientele that they interact with on a daily basis. An array of unique circumstances and challenges exist within the prison system, sometimes the staff are called on to act quickly, to make decisions in the blink of an eye in order to bring potentially dangerous situations under control. In some instances, Mr. Speaker, staff members have had to intervene in order to save lives. This legislation will bring a better level of support and protection to the staff.

The legislation is also very important to the inmates, Mr. Speaker. It is important for their safety, for their security, and for rehabilitation purposes. In many cases, the offenders, they may be angry, hostile, violent, have addiction or emotional problems. None of them, I would say, Mr. Speaker, none of them want to be in prison. Offenders have rights. They have rights to due process, to justice, and to also get the needed programs that will assist them in their re-entry into society. In this regard, our government has greatly improved the programs and services that they deliver since the report, Decades of Darkness – Moving Towards the Light. There are now contracted psychological services provided in all our correctional institutions. In fact, at HMP, Mr. Speaker, there is a full-time psychologist on staff. Her Majesty's Penitentiary also has an addictions coordinator, and has hired a second nurse. We also have the most innovated in-reach program for mental health needs in the country. There have been eighty-two additional staff hired since October 2008, with eleven more in training, targeted specifically for the Newfoundland and Labrador Correctional Facility for Women in Clarenville.

In compiling this legislation, Mr. Speaker, a jurisdictional scan was completed to see how correctional services compared across the country. The whole purpose in doing that review was to acquire best practices and procedures from other areas in the country that we might be able to incorporate in our legislation. Several themes emerged from the consultation with the different stakeholders, as well. It was felt that both staff and offenders need a code of conduct; as well, that inmate rights need to be protected and that fair treatment was important. It was also felt, Mr. Speaker, that the unique needs of female inmates and Aboriginal people need to be considered when dealing with their issues. Programs need to be culturally sensitive and relevant to unique groups. Another theme that emerged from the consultations is that the community should have opportunity for input, and that there needed to be an adequate array of programs and services to effectively deal with mental health and addiction problems.

One of the highlights, Mr. Speaker, of this legislation, that I see, is that there is an emphasis on security. It has been recognized that one of the basic needs of human kind is a need to feel safe and secure. Providing for the proper safety of inmates and staff is foundational to the success of all other programs and services being delivered in our correctional facilities.

Section 19 of the act is a very important section that deals with grievance and disciplinary process that is guaranteed in the legislation. The act does consider the special needs of women inmates and also of Aboriginal people. In fact, Mr. Speaker, this section of the act is touted as being one of the most progressive, if not the most progressive of anywhere else in the country.

There is continuity between prison and community, and to ensure we stay in tune with societal needs with respect to the operation of our correctional services, Mr. Speaker, a five year review – after five years, a review of the act – is mandated. Mr. Speaker, this act represents a balanced legal framework that is effective, it is fair, it is humane. It reflects the recommendations of the correctional review. It is progressive, modern, and it does incorporate the best practices in place throughout our country today.

The whole purpose of this act is to improve the effectiveness, the safety, and the culture of our correctional facilities, for the inmates, for the staff, and for the community at large. We know, Mr. Speaker, it is very important for the community at large. We have a stake in this as well, not just the inmates, not just the staff. When the inmates rehabilitate, when they re-enter back into the community, it is to all of our advantage to know that they have had good programs that they were able to avail of while they were there, and that these programs helped them, assisted them as they re-entered into society to become productive, law-abiding citizens.

Mr. Speaker, this is a good bill. I think it is comprehensive. I think a full review has been done. As is the case with lots of things that we do as a government, there is a lot of input been sought, people have had a chance to have their say, people have influenced the legislation, they have influenced the way this bill was put together. Mr. Speaker, I think it is a great piece of legislation, I look forward to its passage, and I look forward to it becoming legislation in this Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BUCKINGHAM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is certainly a pleasure to rise today and to put forward a few thoughts I have on Bill 9, An Act Respecting Correctional Services. I guess when you start to look at legislation, particularly a new piece of legislation like this, you need to sort of pull back from the idea that legislation dictates to us how we do everything day to day, how we do operational things, and understand that legislation is designed to provide a philosophical framework which goes down to certain levels as to prescribing what needs to be done. For the most part, it provides an overarching framework that allows us to state exactly where it is we are, what it is we are trying to do, and then create the situation where appropriate policies and procedures and regulations can be created.

We have a situation where - and if you look at the back of this legislation, there is quite a list of areas where regulations can be made. These regulations get down into very, very fine points, even as much as what the prisoners should eat. You have create a piece of legislation that allows you to make up the regulations, create the policies that will allow you to make things efficient, make things effective, and as has been stated by a couple of speakers so far, humane and safe, and put all these things into a mix whereby you have also left yourself some flexibility to change as situations should dictate.

This government is committed to providing a safe and progressive and humane environment for our inmates, and also for the correctional officers who staff the facilities. As the Member from Topsail indicated, and he has much more knowledge of the prison system than I do, from his former occupation, it is a tough gig; it is a tough job in there. This type of legislation really allows us to reinvent that wheel. In many ways, we were boxed in, cornered in by the current legislation that exists, some of it being very old, some of it very reflective of old ways of thinking. As you move forward, and as you may, in fact, have new ideas about how the correctional facility should run, you may be limited in where you can go because the legislation prevents you from going in a particular direction.

So, in many ways, by creating this new piece of legislation, we get to reinvent that wheel, we get a chance to do it right again. We have done that through a process where we have not just again, as I have said on a few other times standing on my feet, sat in an ivory tower and just sort of prognosticated about how things should be and then send down an edict from on high. If you look at the process that has happened here, there has been a lot of consultation and consultation in a number of different ways. There have been invitations directly to stakeholders, we know who is involved and we go out and we say: Come in, tell us your perspective on this. It is not just from groups who might be interested in just the penal system or the legal system, but also groups who are interested in the Aboriginals' roles within the system, women's roles, people who have mental health issues. All of these groups were brought in as part of a consultation to allow us to create the best legislation possible, because really, by putting this here today, we have a clean slate.

We have, to my mind, filled this slate with all of the best practices that are available. Yet, at the same time, recognized that things can change and built into this a condition that sometime within the next five years, we look at this in a very real way that says, if things have changed let's force ourselves – even though it is the right thing to do, but to have it in legislation is not a bad thing either – to turn around and say, we are going to look at this in a real way and make some changes, and that five-year limit is there.

Now, Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Justice indicated, Decades of Darkness: Moving Towards The Light, gave clear directions that the current legislation needed to be changed. What we do here today is part of our delivery on meeting the deficiencies that were identified by this corrections review.

The Prisons Act of 1969, the Adult Corrections Act of 1975, when we look at how much has changed in this world, even just things like forms of communication which is in here, you understand that there is very much a need to be updated.

We have created a situation where we can take the correctional facility and integrate it into part of a continuous, holistic approach to the rehabilitation of the inmates. It does not just become a situation: Well, you have done your time, you are out the door, best of luck with it, see you in a couple of weeks. It is a situation where we bring in resources from the outside, they have a good, realistic assessment of where the inmates are and there is a plan made for success, not only within the walls of the prison but also for the support services that will be required when the person leaves. The person does not come out as just a cold case where they have to integrate with other agencies, start all over again; a very frustrating process to be sure. All of these situations are part of a continuum of rehabilitation that this legislation really, in fact, allows us to do. Mr. Speaker, certainly this is an opportunity for us to get it right and this legislation, I think, is going down that road.

When you look at the consultation side that brought us to this place, it is very indicative of what this government has done over the past number of years. One only has to go through a few departmental Web sites, read the newspaper, look at a few ads to understand that this government is all about collaboration, is all about consultation. We understand that there are groups out there who have vested interests in any number of things. For example, some of the things we have looked at are the consultations with regard to long-term care. I was at that particular consultation myself and when you see the stakeholders in the room, you know they are engaged, you know they are listening to each other, and you know they have a chance to network and bring forward the best suggestions that they have as we put forward the strategy for long-term care.

Budget consultations are a feature of the Budget process every year. Poverty reduction, we did not just write it and see on our laurels, Mr. Speaker, we saw that as a living document, one where the strategy needs to change, where it needs to be reactive, where it can be improved, and consultations allow us to do that.

Some of the other ones we have done, for example, the Minerals Strategy, Early Childhood Learning Strategy. Again, the wisdom is out there and we would be remiss if we did not go out and actively look for it. We have gone and asked the stakeholders to come in, but we have also made it very open that anyone who is interested in being involved does have the opportunity to get involved.

As part of the response to Decades of Darkness, Mr. Speaker, I would just like to outline a few things that have happened, at the risk of repeating maybe some of the things some other speakers have said. Ninety-three correctional officers have been hired with eleven who will graduate tomorrow. Now, not all of these are new positions, some of them will replace people who are retired. We do plan for that type of thing as we go along, but you see an overall increase in the number of people involved in being correctional officers. That can only serve to reduce the stress on the people who are already in the system.

Some of the people I know who are in the correctional system, when you sit down and talk about their jobs, the stress is very obviously there. A lot of it deals with overwork, doing double shifts, or whatever way things happen. Undoubtedly, as we see across a lot of sectors, the infusion of new human resources can only serve to make the current resources better improved.

We looked at a number of programming issues. We looked at a number of infrastructure things. Again, there are quite a number of areas where we have seen the improvements are needed, we have acted on them, and then there are a number of things that have come directly out of Decades of Darkness that we have moved forward on in a very real and tangible way. I think when you go down through that list you will understand that we have reacted appropriately and in a timely manner.

One of the other things that will happen, as a result of Decades of Darkness, is this whole business of developing new partnerships as we look to provide the continuum of care. Groups such as Turnings and the Canadian Mental Health Association have all been invited to be part of what is going on.

Just some of the capital things, and I will finish off with these, Mr. Speaker: We have put $400,000 into the West Coast Correctional Centre; over $1 million into the Newfoundland and Labrador Correctional Centre for Women in Clarenville; $260,000 into the ventilation system at Her Majesty's Penitentiary; improvements in the various holding cells; and surveillance systems. All of which serve to make the environment that much more conducive to the people who live there everyday, not just to the inmates but also to the officers who work there.

Mr. Speaker, it is important that we establish the rules of the game. It is important that everyone understands that the rules of the game are in place and that people will be treated fairly. At the end of the day, the best result will happen not only to the inmate but by extension to the community as a whole.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I ask the hon. minister if this his bill.

If the hon. Minister of Justice and Attorney General speaks now, he will close the debate on second reading.

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and make some comments in closing the debate. Before I do, I want to thank my colleagues, the hon. Member for St. John's East, the hon. Member for Topsail, the hon. Member for Lewisporte, the hon. Opposition House Leader, as well as the Leader of the New Democratic Party for their contribution to the debate today.

I want to respond, if I can for a few moments, to the comments that were made by the Opposition parties, first with respect to the comments made by the Opposition House Leader. I can only deduce from his comments, Mr. Speaker, that he absolutely and totally supports this bill because he went for a full hour and said very little, if anything, about the bill. He went on a complete rant in a number of directions about the federal government and the federal election. He talked about a new penitentiary, he talked about the extension on the institution in Labrador, and he talked about the federal election. He wanted to get into a debate on oil until the Speaker cut him off. He wanted to go all over the place except talk about the bill. I can only assume from that, Mr. Speaker, he completely supports it. His rant, Mr. Speaker, would put Rick Mercer to shame.

He raised an interesting question: Is the minister prepared to live with the law? I find that really amusing because then he went off on a complete rant about the media issues of the last day on psychiatric services at Her Majesty's Penitentiary. He tried to hijack the act, Mr. Speaker, with getting back to that issue. He talked about the thorough review that Mr. Fleming did - his words, thorough review - and the expertise that the person had to do that review comparable to the expertise that the hon. Madame Justice Cameron had and the hon. Justice Wells had.

I say to the hon. member it is a far different ball game with respect to the expertise that Madame Justice Cameron had at her disposal in terms of medical evidence on breast cancer, and a far different ball game with respect to the safety and engineering expertise that Justice Wells had at his disposal. I do not think there is any comparison, no comparison whatsoever with what was in Mr. Fleming's report. The hon. member being a lawyer and a former Minister of Justice, if he read that report, there is no way that he would have been able to justify the recommendations made in that report, nobody could. That is the position that this minister took and this Department of Justice took on Monday –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. F. COLLINS: We did not accept the report because it was flawed. It was flawed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. F. COLLINS: That was our position, there was no flip-flop. We said: Okay, it was flawed; we will do our own report.

Mr. Speaker, let me quote for you. This morning in the media, Dr. Ladha, who is one of the most eminently qualified and respected psychiatrists in this Province, was interviewed this on the Morning Show. He was responding to a question by Jeff Gilhooly. He said: All medications are essential. We've had them since 2000 BC. "If we didn't have medications today, for example if we didn't have penicillin today, people would still be dying of infections early in life and women would be dying, still be dying in childbirth of infections. So medications are important, just as penicillin, antidepressants, anti-psychotics, anti-anxiety agents, pain agents, sleeping agents, are extremely important. However, we have to appreciate the context in which these medications are prescribed. A prison population with respect is a difficult population to work with." - Dr. Ladha's words. "One has to be cautious in prescribing medications in that environment because in that environment there is drug abuse, there is bartering of medications, there is trading of medications." Dr. Ladha is one of the most eminent, qualified psychiatrists in this Province.

He also mentions, I quote Dr. Ladha, "I think you have to understand that it is not only painkillers such as OxyContin or drugs like Ritalin that are abused. Even the simplest anti-depressants and anti-psychotics have become the drug of abuse in certain people's hands." Mr. Speaker, I never cease to be amazed at the creativity and the ingenuity of the people in the drug trade and the inmates in the correctional institutions, what they will involve themselves in, and the extent that they will go to pursue drugs. It is just an amazing experience, a really eye-opening experience to see that.

To say that the report was a thorough review, quoting the member, a thorough review; rubbish, I say to the hon. member, rubbish. All this bit about this minister being in contradiction with what I am saying in the act, that my actions are contrary to what I am saying in the acts. He has tried to hijack a perfectly good act. He has tried to hijack the act with an illogical, unreasonable argument on that issue.

Mr. Speaker, he spent most of his hour on that, so that was his main issue. He spent his hour on that. He also raised a question: The Legal Aid and the Law Society, why were they not contacted? I do not know why he did not find that out at the briefing; the hon. Leader of the NDP did and she answered the question for him. They were contacted but did not participate. Mr. Speaker, from the irrelevance of his talk today, I came up with the deduction that he completely supports the bill so I am very happy with that – I am completely happy with that.

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the NDP voiced some concerns about wide-sweeping powers of unauthorized persons in the correctional system to be involved with matters of security. Matters, for example, like communication, and I mentioned this earlier, because this was a concern I knew she had. As I mentioned earlier, communication to the outside world is critical to inmates serving time in a correctional facility because of the contact with the outside world, it is so important to them.

It is a prison environment, it is a correctional environment, there has to be rules, there has to be checks and balances. I agree with her, there has to be checks and balances and for that reason there have to be provisions in this act which speak to security and search and seizure and disclosure and so on. We need a balance and this act provides that balance, Mr. Speaker.

She also raises questions about privilege. She said there is no definition of privilege, and the Opposition House Leader mentioned this. The real meat of this act will be in the regulations. That is what gives it life and that is what puts meat on the bones. The regulations will address a lot of the issues that she raised. The regulations give us latitude, Mr. Speaker; they give us some time to adopt over time, and items of privilege would be solicitor-client privilege which she indicated. The Citizens' Rep, in his discussions with people inside the facility, would be privileged. The communication between an inmate and his doctor would be privileged information. All that would come out in the regulations.

The Leader of the NDP also, Mr. Speaker, was concerned because there was nothing in the legislation with regard to grievances as opposed to discipline. There was a progressive provision on disciplinary measures in the act but not for grievance was her complaint and she was very concerned about that. Again, I come back to the regulations. The regulations give us the latitude to produce that. Mr. Speaker, section 19, which was the section she was concerned with, with regard to grievance procedures says, "(1) There shall be a procedure for fairly and expeditiously resolving inmate grievances…", which are brought out in the regulations. Fairly and expeditiously. Mr. Speaker, the regulations have to be governed by those two words, by that provision in the legislation. So I think we can allay her concerns in that.

As well, the provision on discipline speaks to a legislative appointment, appointment by Cabinet of a hearing adjudicator and appeals adjudicator; that has to be spelled out in the legislation. The regulations will have equal force, Mr. Speaker, for both grievance, and even though the legislation spends much more time on the disciplinary procedure than on the grievance procedure, regulations will treat both with equal force.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I want to refer to something that I was reminded of by the hon. Member of St. John's East in his comments, of the graduation tomorrow in Clarenville of the correctional officers. There are eleven correctional officers graduating in Clarenville tomorrow, the first time that recruit session has been held outside of St. John's. These things are being held outside the city in areas where there are correctional facilities so that we will have a base of people available for work in those facilities. I am very delighted to see that, and I will be very proud to attend that tomorrow, as well, on behalf of the department.

So, Mr. Speaker, again in closing, let me say that we are extremely proud of this piece of legislation; it is one of the greatest advancements in corrections in a number of years, it has a lot of preparation, a lot of good work, it will set the course, Mr. Speaker, for corrections in this Province for years and years to come.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Is it the pleasure of the House that Bill 9 be now read a second time?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

The motion is carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act Respecting Correctional Services. (Bill 9)

MR. SPEAKER: Bill 9 has now been read a second time.

When shall Bill 9 be referred to a Committee of the Whole House?

MS BURKE: Tomorrow, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Tomorrow.

On motion, a bill, "An Act Respecting Correctional Services", read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole on tomorrow.

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

MS BURKE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SPEAKER: It 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 Monday.

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