April 21, 2011                       HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                  Vol. XLVI  No. 20


The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): Order, please!

Admit strangers.

Statements by Members

MR. SPEAKER: Today, the Chair welcomes the following members' statements: the hon. the Member for the District of The Straits & White Bay North; the hon. the Member for the District of Port au Port; the hon. the Member for the District of Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi; the hon. the Member for the District of Humber Valley; the hon. the Member for the District of Bay of Islands; and the hon. the Member for the District of Kilbride.

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 House today to congratulate the HCC Huskies Ball Hockey Team of St. Anthony that won gold at the 3A Boys Ball Hockey Provincial Tournament that was held in St. Anthony this past weekend.

Ten teams from across the Province competed in the two-day tournament, with Dorset Collegiate of Pilley's Island and HCC Huskies of St. Anthony competing in the championship game. The winning team played a fantastic game and won with a score of 6 to 4. Not only were they proud to have won the provincial championship banner, but they were extremely proud to have done it in front of their home crowd.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate each player of the winning team. They are: Jonathan Young, Ian Warren, Steven Fowler, Alexander Campbell, Alexander Powell, Jamie Spearing, Adam Davidson, Grant Young, Zachery Hedderson, David Budgell, Jordan Richards, and Matthew Carter.

I also wish to extend my congratulations to the coaches, Brendan Reardon, Daniel Bock and Jeff Blackler. Their hard work, relentless effort and attention to detail have certainly led to their team's success.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all members of this House to join with me in congratulating the HCC Huskies Ball Hockey Team and their coaches and wish them the best of luck as they participate in future competitions.

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 recognize and celebrate the deserving volunteers and athletes who were nominated for the Stephen Awards. This Annual Awards Banquet Night sponsored by the Towns of Stephenville and Kippens was held on April 16 as part of National Volunteer Week to which the theme was "Volunteers – Stars in the Community".

The Citizen of the Year Award went to Dianna Kung of Stephenville, who is involved with the Duke of Edinburgh Program, Girl Guides of Canada, Canadian Cancer Society Relay for Life, Stephenville Middle School Breakfast Program, Salvation Army Church, Pioneer Boys and Girls Clubs and the Sir Thomas Roddick Hospital Auxiliary Committee to name a few. I commend Ms Kung for her countless hours of volunteer work.

Also, Mr. Speaker, other Stephen Awards presented that night were: Lauren Henley was honoured with the Youth of the Year award for her outstanding volunteer work with the Stephenville High School Humanitarian Club, the School French Club, student council, figure skating coach, and a member of the Relay for Life Run for the Cure. William Forsey won the Junior Male Athlete of the Year Award, Erin Boyd was presented with the Junior Female Athlete of the Year Award, and Don Cormier was awarded with the Senior Athlete of the Year honour.

Mr. Speaker, also that evening, sixteen Certificates of Merit for Outstanding Volunteer Work were also presented to individuals for their exceptional work in the community. Congratulations are extended to: Erle Barrett, Kevie and Robyn Bennett, Cecilia Burke, Ricki Collins, Chris Cooper, Domonic Drew, Theresa Duffney, Sheila Felix, John Harnett, Cynthia Hawco, Sean Hillier, Susan Oates, Stephen Penney, Liz Porter, Dorothy Preston, Heather Shears, Jan Smith, Betty Lou, Guy White, and Roseann White for their hard work and dedication and their contribution in making our area a better place to live and work.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all hon. members of this House of Assembly to join with me in congratulating all of the award winners and nominees of the Stephen Awards for their invaluable contributions to the community, the region, and the Province for they are truly stars in our communities.

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, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand in the House to recognize one of the most talented bands to come out of St. John's in years, although I would not want to be a judge in that contest.

Mr. Speaker, on April 16, the Idlers were announced as winners of the 2011 East Coast Music Award for World – and they have a fan over here, I think, Mr. Speaker – for World Recording of the Year for their album Keep Out. The Idlers join numerous other Newfoundland and Labrador musicians who received awards at this year's ECMA's, and all deserve to be congratulated, Mr. Speaker.

The amazing talent of musicians from this Province is staggering, Mr. Speaker, and it is especially good that all forms of music from Newfoundland and Labrador are now being recognized. From traditional to rock, folk to country, and now reggae, Mr. Speaker, our musicians are making their mark on the Canadian music scene.

The Idlers have had an amazing career to date, and have received rave reviews from across the country for their unique sound. The Coast in Halifax says: "[The Idlers] give 100 per cent. You would be hard pressed to find a band with the energy of these guys." Frank Leffredo in Thunder Bay, Ontario calls the band: "A smorgasbord of sound… a non-stop intelligent dance party." The accolades just keep rolling in for this amazing band.

Mr. Speaker, the Idlers are off on tour this summer to Ontario and Nova Scotia, and we wish them all the best as ambassadors of Newfoundland and Labrador's thriving music scene.

I ask all hon. members to join me in congratulating the Idlers on their ECMA win, and wishing them continued success.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Humber Valley.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KELLY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in this hon. House today to recognize a group of outstanding young students at Elwood Regional High School in Deer Lake. I attended a Shave for the Brave function in a packed gymnasium on Friday, April 15. At this event there were fourteen individuals who had their heads shaved. This consisted of students, teachers, and public participation, including Salvation Army Major Wayne Pike, their current principal, Mr. Jamie Park, and their former principal and current MHA also participated.

The bleachers were filled with students supported by teachers, parents, and community well-wishers. Mr. Speaker, this Shave for the Brave event raised over $5,500 for Young Adult Cancer Canada. This event was the brainchild of Mackenzie Bingle, a fifteen year old Level 1 student who had been letting his hair grow since December 2009 so he could donate his hair for a wig for a cancer patient. Once it grew long enough to cut, he decided to have some fun with it, and organized this event. He raised $2,000 himself, which is indeed a remarkable achievement.

Mr. Speaker, Heather Lequant, a Level II student, was the only female who shaved. She raised $1,695 towards this outstanding cause. The hair that Mackenzie and Heather shaved will be sent to the Canadian Cancer Society Wig Program through Pantene – Beautiful Lengths. All funds raised during the Shave for the Brave helps us offer programs at no cost to young adult cancer patients and survivors who truly need them. Young Adult Cancer aims to help young adults dealing with cancer by offering programs to inspire, inform, support, and connect with other survivors.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all members of this House to join me in congratulating the participants, organizers and volunteers in this Shave for the Brave event.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LODER: Mr. Speaker, I rise in this hon. House today to recognize one of the most important tools provided to our young people in today's society, the DARE program or Drug Abuse Resistance Education.

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, April 15, I attended the Sacred Heart Elementary DARE graduation in Curling under the leadership of Constable Robert Edwards of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

Mr. Speaker, thirty-eight Grade 6 students went through the program, teaching them the hazards of drugs, peer pressure and bullying situations, and it gave them the tools to say no when the situation arises.

Since the program started to take off in full force in 2008, Mr. Speaker, 760 Grade 6 students in Corner Brook went through the program. I am happy to report, Mr. Speaker, the RCMP also started classes in the three remaining schools in the beautiful District of Bay of Islands and they will graduate before the school year ends.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge today the winners of the Sacred Heart graduation. Top DARE graduate awards went to Morgan Meade and Catherine Samms. Penmanship awards went to Caitlyn Garcia, Rebecca Myles, Kennedi Boland, and April Butt.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask all members here today to acknowledge our police forces, graduates of the DARE program, parents, and teachers for providing those important tools to our most important resource in Newfoundland and Labrador - our young people.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DINN: Mr. Speaker, I stand in this hon. House today to congratulate the community of Goulds on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of its Winter Carnival.

For twenty-five years, the Goulds Winter Carnival has been very successful in Goulds. The schedule of events has changed over the years but the enthusiasm for these events is still very high. The carnival usually runs for ten to twelve days each year in late January or early February. This year's carnival started on February 3 with the carnival kind and queen contest.

On Friday, February 4, a very successful lip-sync contest was held with a full house in attendance at St. Kevin's Junior High School. During the next ten days there were card games, talent contests, senior's fun day, three dances for different age groups, merchandize bingo and a Lions Club breakfast.

The Winter Carnival finished up with a volunteer appreciation night on February 13. All winter carnival events in Goulds are sponsored by service groups who use the winter carnival as a way to raise funds. Many people, young and old, are involved with the organizing and running of winter carnival events; the winter carnival committee always takes the lead role.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all hon. members of this House to join me in congratulating the community of Goulds, the Goulds recreation committee and the winter carnival committee on the twenty-fifth anniversary of its Winter Carnival.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Statements by Ministers.

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WISEMAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker

I rise in this hon. House today to recognize April 22 as Earth Day, a time for us to reflect on our actions and recognize the need for ongoing environmental education and continued action. Since its inception in 1970, Earth Day is recognized as the birth of the modern environmental movement and is based on the premise that all people have a right to a healthy, sustainable environment.

The theme of Earth Day in 2011 is A Billion Acts of Green, with a focus on generating a billion acts of environmental service throughout the world. The act can be a very simple one such as washing laundry in cold water or using a reusable shopping bag. Whatever the action, Earth Day is an opportunity to demonstrate the power of everyday individual acts of green. Collectively, these acts will not only have an impact on our individual homes and communities but on global carbon emissions.

Mr Speaker, to celebrate Earth Day, the Multi-Materials Stewardship Board is participating in a number of activities to promote the importance of waste reduction and encourage families across the Province to cut their waste in half. The MMSB is participating today in an Earth Day fair at the Fluvarium where they will host a 3R family hike focused on learning simple Reduce, Reuse and Recycle habits from nature. In addition, the MMSB has been promoting the Get-to-Half at school message all this week in Topsail Elementary and will be teaching youth at the Villanova Junior High to "rethink their way to half." The MMSB is also promoting Earth Day messages through creative online applications and social media, encouraging people to "give it up" for Earth Day.

Mr. Speaker, we all must work together and do our part to help create a healthier and cleaner environment for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren. There are many young Newfoundlanders and Labradorians all over the Province who show their commitment to the environment every day through the promotion of recycling in their homes and their classrooms. Our children of today are the environmental leaders of tomorrow.

I encourage everybody to make the extra effort this Earth Day to do something positive for our environment. Mr. Speaker, all of our actions, big or small, make a difference. We have an obligation to ourselves and to future generations to protect and conserve our environment. A healthy environment means healthy people, vibrant communities, and a better Province for all of us.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BUTLER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

I want to say that we encourage all of those getting involved in Earth Day today, since its inception in 1970, I think the minister stated. He referenced education, and we have to say that is very important to educate our young people. We also have to say we think there are many things in this Province we should be able to do on our own and clean up our contaminated sites from the past.

Mr. Speaker, he went on to mention many programs to reduce, reuse, recycle, and other programs. I think it is very important that, as he stated, our young people are the future and it is good to see them getting involved. They should be commended for that.

He ended his comments, Mr. Speaker, by making the statement "to future generations to protect and conserve our environment." Mr. Speaker, I have to say that over the last period of time, it is almost like this government has been encouraging consuming more when they talk about plasma TVs and so on. I think they are trying to justify Muskrat Falls.

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the MMSB, and hopefully they will have enough funds to take part in Earth Day next year, seeing as they are going to spend some $4.3 million to transport our used tires out of this Province to Quebec.

So, Mr. Speaker, in closing I just want to commend all of those involved, and hopefully everybody will get involved to make this place a better place to live.

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 for the advance copy of his statement.

It is important for individuals to do what we can to reduce the amount of waste we generate in landfills. The Multi-Materials Stewardship Board does need to continue the kind of promotional work they are doing, and we, as individuals, do need to take part in the kind of actions that they are promoting; however, individual actions and promotional programs are not enough. Governments also have to play a role in many things that individuals cannot do alone. One example is that we all pay $3 on our tires and thought the $3 was going to get our tires recycled. Here, we now know that the tires are going to go up in smoke. So, that is not responsible on the part of the government.

Also, Mr. Speaker, I would like to see this government get more involved directly –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: - with more energy efficiency programs, not just for government buildings but to help with other buildings in our society as well. We also need a vehicle emissions reduction program to help people convert to cleaner driving.

Mr. Speaker, there are so many ways that we have to help take care of our environment. Another way that we really have to take responsibility in this Province is with our mining industry.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: We need to make sure that we do not continue allowing mining companies to ruin ponds in order to put mine waste disposals in there instead of the life is naturally there.

Mr. Speaker, we have to do more than just name Earth Day for tomorrow, we have to make sure as a whole society and not just individuals that we work to take care of our earth.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind hon. members that the Speaker is having difficulty hearing members identified to speak.

The hon. the Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, a summer job is often a young person's first exposure to the labour market. It is a great way to establish positive life-long work habits and to understand the value of earning a living.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform my hon. colleagues of the provincial government's commitment to student summer employment throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. We are proud to deliver student summer employment programs, such as the Student Work and Service Program, commonly known as SWASP, the Level I, II and III Student Employment Program, and others from within our provincial Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy. I am pleased to announce today, Mr. Speaker, that in Budget 2011, we will invest a total of $3.9 million in these programs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, the Level I, II and III Student Employment Program helps high school students secure work with not-for-profit organizations, community-based agencies and municipalities in summer recreation, heritage and community improvement projects. This year, this program will support approximately 550 projects and employ more than 700 high school students.

The Student Work and Service Program, Mr. Speaker, assists individuals currently attending or who plan to attend a post-secondary institution and it matches them to both for-profit and not-for-profit employers for the summer.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, through the Youth Retention and Attraction Strategy we will continue our support for Shad Valley, a not-for-profit organization focused on identifying high potential future achievers, both nationally and abroad. They offer youth internships for level I, II and III students who can benefit from an enriched four-week internship in a field of their choosing. Through an investment of $50,000 our government will help offset the cost of students from this Province participating in Shad Valley programs at universities across Canada. About fifty students will participate in similar programs right here at Memorial University.

We will also deliver a new project called PERCΙ with the Economic Development and Employability Network of Newfoundland and Labrador. Through a $50,000 investment, this initiative will encourage young post-secondary students from francophone populations outside Newfoundland and Labrador to return home to the Province and gain an attachment to the labour force with a local employer.

By directly supporting student summer employment, the provincial government is focused on creating opportunity, reducing students' debt, and building a better future for our young people.

In total, Mr. Speaker, our government will match 1,360 post-secondary students with employers for meaningful summer employment this year. I encourage our students to be safe on the job, to gain new experiences, to learn new skills, and to enjoy our great Province.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BUTLER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to thank the minister for the advance copy of his statement. This is a wonderful statement, no doubt about it, to see that government is putting funds in to help our students again this year. I believe there is an increase over last year. I think it was something over 600-plus last year and this year it has gone to 700.

That is very encouraging to help our young people get prepared for the workforce; however, they do still have some problems and challenges. We know the unemployment rate of young people in our Province is still around 24.8 per cent; many of them when they leave high school and university and get into various trades, they do have to go outside our Province. I want to say to the minister: I think the $3.9 million invested here is far better than the $4.3 million to transport tires up to Quebec.

Mr. Speaker, having said that, I want to wish all the students, as the minister did, a safe and wonderful summer. Hopefully, at the end of the day when they go into the workforce, they will be able to get a job right here in their own Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I, too, thank the minister for the advance copy of his statement. This is a wonderful program, and I am very glad to have the minister bring it here to the House today to be recognized. The first job is an important milestone in a young person's life, whether it is a first job as a summer job or a first permanent job, it is all the same. This program is very, very welcomed. I am really delighted to see that it has a special focus on non-profit, community-based work because not only are the young people then getting a job, but they are also working in an area where they are being opened up to the values of working in the community and of helping others. So, these projects do look all very worthwhile, Mr. Speaker.

I am very glad, too, to see the program PERCΙ, so that we include those who come out of the francophone culture. I think that is extremely important.

What I would like to see the government do, Mr. Speaker, is monitor this year, in particular – I know it is not the first year – and to see if the $3.9 million is adequate. See if there are students who actually do not get to go into the program because it is not large enough. I do not know if it is or not, I am just saying it would be lovely to see if we need it to be larger next year that it will be.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I do look to hearing a report from the minister on how this summer's program goes.

MR. SPEAKER: Further statements by ministers?

Oral Questions.

Oral Questions

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

MR. DEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this week's Budget highlighted what many in this Province already know, that our core industry is not on this government's radar. The people of Port Union who are with us in the gallery today are one of the many who have been excluded, or feel they have been excluded from this year's Budget. The Port Union plant experienced significant damage last fall by Hurricane Igor, and 180 displaced workers have been expecting approval for a regional pilot project they put forth to the minister.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister today: Why have you not got back to the people of Port Union on this proposal, and why was their request ignored in this Budget?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this government is well aware of the difficulties being experienced in Port Union. Three ministries are involved on this file: Fisheries and Aquaculture; Human Resources, Labour and Employment; and Municipal Affairs. A number of meetings have been held with membership and union representatives, the town and the company, Mr. Speaker. Yes, a proposal has been received and is being reviewed. Hopefully, we will work together again with the membership and with the companies and with the community and find a way forward. When we find that way forward, we will also find the way to financially support it.

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.

I want to say we are pleased to see the Premier speak on the fishery, and I say that sincerely.

Port Union, Mr. Speaker, became the fishing centre of Newfoundland and Labrador under Coaker, and with the leadership that has been given to this fishery so far, what Coaker is remembered for building, this government will remembered for destroying if they do not soon do something with it.

Mr. Speaker, the Finance Minister, in his comments after the Budget, said that he saw things as sizzling. Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that things in Port Union and many towns like Port Union involved in the fishery do not see it as sizzling today.

I ask the Premier: Will she commit today to bring forth a more meaningful workplace adjustment program so that people displaced from the fishery can afford to keep food on their table and not have to worry day in and day out about what their future holds?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, I grew up in a fishing community. All of my family were fishers. The issues that face this industry are long and it has a long history, some of it very good, some of it very troubled. We are not through the crisis yet. Many challenges face us before we can get this industry back on its feet.

We are working towards that, all of us together all have the same goal in mind, Mr. Speaker. The question is, how do we get there and how do we get there in a realistic way, in a way that works for communities, works for people and gets this industry where it needs to be?

Mr. Speaker, we have never walked away from communities in trouble in the eight years we have been here. We did not walk away from Stephenville, we did not walk away from Grand Falls-Windsor, and we did not walk away from Harbour Breton. Mr. Speaker, we are committed to finding a way forward and when we find that way forward we will financially support it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. DEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I agree that the issues are long and so on, but when it comes to walking away I can tell you right now there is a community that I know in my district, the Town of Englee, that definitely believes that the government of today walked away from them a few years ago when they closed their fish plant.

Mr. Speaker, some of these people have been doubly hit, as they are on their own for repairs from Hurricane Igor without any support from the government. Mr. Speaker, the only thing in the Budget for the traditional fishery, as I mentioned yesterday, was $150,000 to tear down old abandoned fish plants.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the Premier again is: Will the plant in Port Union meet the same fate? If so, when can we expect to see restructuring in the fishing industry that will not happen through personal bankruptcy but will happen through an organized and a proper plan, and not be on the backs of people like those from Port Union?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this government has been quite clear; in terms of the fishery, we have to have a plan that not only rationalizes but restructures. Mr. Speaker, it is critical, we limp from crisis, to crisis, to crisis, to crisis. Families are not well-served by that, Mr. Speaker, workers certainly are not, and communities are not either. We are going to continue to put all our resources towards finding that way forward, working with the union, working with workers in plants and working with communities, Mr. Speaker.

There are no easy solutions – there are not easy solutions because they would have been found a long time ago. Slapping money at it will not work either, and we cannot do that over and over again. It is a difficult time. There comes a time when you really have to stand your ground, do the hard work, and make the hard decisions. We believe we are there, Mr. Speaker, but we are going to work together to find a solution.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier needs to be reminded that families and workers in the fishing industry are not served by your government's ad hoc approach to crisis in this Province's industry either.

Mr. Speaker, the people in the fishing industry are looking to this government for direction. Yesterday, members on the opposite side stood in their place and said that the fishing industry would restructure itself and attrition would take care of the direction that the industry was going in.

I ask you today, Premier: Is that your attitude? Have you held your hands in the air like most of your caucus members, and going to allow this industry to settle itself through attrition in Newfoundland and Labrador?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, in the nearly eight years that this Administration has been charged with the governance of this place, a number of proposals have been brought forward to try and put the fishery on a stable footing. Mr. Speaker, the messages have not always been consistent.

I remember very well sitting here in this House during RMS and being told by members opposite and people from the gallery to mind our own business and let the market take care of it. We all remember those days. We certainly remember them over here.

We do not believe that; we do not believe that. We think there is a role for government in terms of the restructuring and rationalization of our fishery, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: We are going to work together to find that solution, Mr. Speaker. It is not going to be easy, it is not easy now. It is not easy for the people who are in the gallery today, but we are not going to walk away from them. We will find a short-term solution for that plant, Mr. Speaker, and hopefully we will find a more fulsome solution for the whole fishery.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This government's record in eight years on the fishery speaks for itself. Premier, I remind you that you walked away from the people of Englee and you gave temporary measures to the people of Jackson's Arm. Where are they today? Now the people of Port Union are looking to your government for direction as well. Well, Mr. Speaker, this government's approach to the fishing industry was initiatives like RMS where they tried to push policy down the throats of people in the industry, and the people fought back.

Premier, I say to you today, people expect more and they expect leadership in this industry. When is government going to make substantial investment in the fishing industry and lead forward the restructuring of this industry so that people in rural Newfoundland and Labrador can live in their communities with dignity, with sustainability and with stability, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for the fact that the members of the Opposition are at least motivated enough to ask a question. Because when we came in 2003, Mr. Speaker, the Town of Arnold's Cove was threatened. The plant was going to close; the quotas were going to be sold. Not only did they not ask a question, they never wrote a letter, never made a phone call, Mr. Speaker, to help that community. We stepped in, that plant is operational today. So you can add that to the list of communities that we do not walk away from, Mr. Speaker, and we will not walk away from Port Union either.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, but the Premier and her government have already walked away from the industry and they have walked from rural Newfoundland and Labrador in doing so.

For eighteen months your government led the people in this Province's fishing industry to believe that your MOU was going to be the path forward for the fishing industry, that you were going to lead a process of restructuring and eighteen months later, $800,000 of hard-earned people's money in this Province was spent and your government threw your hands in the air and walked away.

What kind of solution is that, I say to you, Premier, for the fishing industry in this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Mr. Speaker, we can stand, we can play the politics of this and shoot barbs back and forth across the way but that never finds us a solution.

I am pleased to see the people from Port Union in the gallery today, Mr. Speaker, because we have to put in an interim measure. We already have, through the ministry of HRLE, two people on the ground and there will be another person going down next week, after the two meetings that we have had with them. I would like to report to the people of Port Union that yesterday myself and the Minister of Municipal Affairs met with the company to see what things we could partner with them to bring forward measures to support the people.

In terms of the MOU, Mr. Speaker, there is no one more interested in this Province than this Premier, this government and this minister in finding the way forward. I look for the responses that have come back and I hope they allow us to get back to finding the permanent solution so that we do not end up in these situations every spring.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Actions speak louder than words and it is time for that minister and government to take some action in the industry.

Mr. Speaker, Stephen Harper is back in Newfoundland and Labrador today and we are seeing electioneering at its finest, reiterating promises that he made to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians twice now but yet failed to keep.

Mr. Speaker, he is saying today that his promise on 5 Wing Goose Bay still stands, a promise that he has already broken twice to the people of Lake Melville and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I ask the Minister of Labrador Affairs today: What do you think minister when it comes to Stephen Harper's election promises? Is the third time the charm for the people of Lake Melville?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HICKEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It just shows, Mr. Speaker, how out of touch she is with the people of Lake Melville and 5 Wing Goose Bay. The federal government placed $40 million in a new airstrip, the longest airstrip up on 5 Wing Goose Bay. They also invested in a new air terminal building. They promised 650 troops that we did not see, but we did not see them anywhere across the country. Let me say to the hon. member: While your government was there what did you do? What did your Premier of the day do when he went to Germany and did not even as much as go to see the German Parliament that thanked him for the low level flying that was happening in Happy Valley-Goose Bay at 5 Wing Goose Bay?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask members to direct their commentary to the Chair.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, very few people in Newfoundland and Labrador today take Mr. Harper's promises seriously with the exception of the members across the way. Mr. Speaker, there is a serious issue at stake here, I say to the Minister for Labrador Affairs. The base in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, 5 Wing Goose Bay, Mr. Speaker, is the cornerstone of the economy of the central Labrador region. It is the hugest contributor to sustainability in that particular region and, Mr. Speaker, under the current federal PC government it has continued to be downsized.

I ask the minister today: What do you have in terms of a commitment on 5 Wing Goose Bay today from Stephen Harper that was any different than the two commitments he made in the past and never kept to the people of this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, as the Leader of the Opposition knows, we have written all three federal party members and asked for their views on a number of issues, Mr. Speaker, which we will make public before the election.

Mr. Speaker, she needs to go – Mr. Harper is in Newfoundland today, I suggest you go and have a chat with him and find out what his commitment is and what he has to say, because nobody over here has to answer for Mr. Harper. We answer for the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Progressive Conservative Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and we welcome every opportunity to talk about the great things we are doing for this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

When the Premier and her government saddles themselves to Stephen Harper as they have done in this election and have thrown caution to the wind and have gone out and taken the word of Stephen Harper in this campaign when he has broken his commitment to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians on so many occasions, then I think, Mr. Speaker, they need to answer for their actions.

Mr. Speaker, Labrador has been and will continue to be long into the future a major contributor to the provincial economy, contributing millions and millions of dollars on an annual basis. Yet, we have seen no long-term vision in this Budget for Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier today: Why is there no commitment in this Budget for upgrades to Phase II and Phase III of the Trans-Labrador Highway, something the people of Labrador are crying out for?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is so concerned with our relationship with Prime Minister Harper. I suggest to her that she pay a little bit more attention to her own federal leader, Mr. Ignatieff, who wants to delay timelines on the JSS project so Davie Shipyard in Quebec could be included. Competition against Marystown, Mr. Speaker, not a word – not a word, Mr. Speaker –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Ignatieff who is prepared to do a coalition with the Bloc Quιbιcois who will certainly put the gears to Muskrat Falls and any –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: - other kind of development on the Churchill River. Mr. Speaker, in terms of Labrador, our government's commitment to the people of that region of our Province has been exemplary, Mr. Speaker; more investment in Labrador in the last eight years than there has been in the former twenty-five.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier forgets that she wrote off Marystown, she wrote off the JSS contract and she wrote off Kiewit, Mr. Speaker, when all three government departments failed to meet the grade in terms of doing what was necessary to secure those benefits for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Mr. Speaker, there is no vision in this Budget for Labrador. There was no money for Phase II or Phase III of the Labrador Highway. Mr. Speaker, there is nothing in this Budget to address the growing concerns that are happening in the Strait of Belle Isle ferry service and the challenges that is presenting in that region of the Province.

I ask the government: When are they going to commit to some long-term solutions for the people of Labrador in transportation infrastructure?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it is important the Leader of the Opposition's relationship with Mr. Ignatieff because of his alignment with the Province of Quebec. His particular relationship with the Bloc Quιbιcois will have significant impacts for the Newfoundland and Labrador people, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, they have aligned themselves with Hydro-Quιbec on the development of the Lower Churchill. Now they are aligning themselves once more with the Bloc through their relationship with Mr. Ignatieff and promotion of Mr. Ignatieff.

Mr. Speaker, we are investing billions of dollars in Labrador in the Trans-Labrador Highway, in colleges, in schools, in long-term centres, Mr. Speaker, and in schools in her own district. The list goes on and on and on.

We acknowledge the contribution of the people of Labrador and we make sure that they get their fair share.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There is no one more aligned with Quebec than the government opposite. They have given out contracts to Quebec companies to build schools in this Province, build hospitals in this Province, build roads in this Province, build long-term care facilities in this Province –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JONES: – and now they have given a contract to a Quebec-based company to do the design and procurement around the Muskrat Falls project. So let us talk about, Mr. Speaker, who is doing business with Quebec.

Yesterday, we saw we are going to send our tires to Quebec to fuel energy for Quebec customers, Mr. Speaker. So no one is more attached.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister this, because there is no commitment in this Budget for Labradorians. There was nothing to address the growing needs of marine service on the North Coast of Labrador and in the Strait of Belle Isle, nothing to address Phase II and Phase III of the highway –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the Leader of the Opposition to pose her question now.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I would be happy to do that.

My question to the Premier is this: Why is that you failed to address the high cost of commercial generated diesel power on the North and South Coast of Labrador?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition chooses to ignore the Agreement on Internal Trade. She should know a little bit of something about it, Mr. Speaker. I know she only spent a small time in the Cabinet –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: – but at least she should have learned some basic facts.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Her disparaging remarks about SNC-Lavalin, that has a fifty-year history in this Province, employs hundreds of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians - unaware, or appearing to be unaware, being cute about investments in Labrador. Over $3 billion in the last seven-and-a-half years by this government was invested in Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

Mr. Speaker, today there is a yard sale going ahead in St. John's. NewLab Life Sciences, formerly Newfound Genomics, is selling off their lab equipment after laying off two-thirds of their staff late last year. This happens after a year of failed negotiations with government over equity funds. This yard sale represents the end of the commercialization of life sciences in this Province and a profound failure in government industrial policy.

I ask the minister: Why has government taken no action to maintain this industry here in this Province?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Mr. Speaker, we certainly realize the importance of this sector to the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador. This sector to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has been one to which we have paid a great deal of importance, Mr. Speaker. To the particular company that he refers, we have invested, from my department alone, $1 million in the last couple of years, and as well RDC has invested $400,000. Just today, there is another $250,000 being invested in that company. I do not call that ignoring this particular company or the sector, Mr. Speaker.

Apart from that, we have invested millions and millions of dollars into the sector. When time permits, I will go through the list of that as well.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Yes, you can hold your list, Minister, until we get some more answers on Genomics, if you would.

According to the gentleman who spoke out about this in the media, you never had time on occasion to stay in the media, Minister, according to that gentleman that I heard on the media today.

Now, Minister, you know that it looks like NewLab Life Sciences facility in Grand Falls will be closing as well. This facility was touted by government and this minister as the core of a new industry for that region. Now, that it has been shown to be a mirage, government likes to be there when it is time for the announcements, when it opens, but government obviously, in this case, has run away in an opposite direction when the bad news comes.

I ask you, Minister: What do you have to say now to the people of Grand Falls-Windsor who had been committed to and were hopeful of this project succeeding now that your department has not stood by this company to help it succeed?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, let me address the first part of the epistle there, I will get to the question in a moment, but let me talk to the first part of this. He made some reference to the fact that I walked out of a meeting, a meeting that I did initiate and a meeting that I did hold with that company, Mr. Speaker. Let's set the record straight. I walked out of that meeting for a period of ten minutes because there was an emergency in my family. My daughter had a car accident, and Dr. Gulliver well knew that at the time. I was called out to address that issue, and I make no apologies for being a parent.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, when I walked out of the meeting, I left him also in very good hands. I left for about ten minutes until I was able to get the emergency services people to my daughter who was in a ditch on the side of the Trans-Canada Highway at that time. That is the reason I was not at that particular meeting for that ten-minute period.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

I thank the minister for her explanation about her personal circumstances. Maybe if she had let that be known to Dr. Gulliver, it would not have become an issue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I say, again, Mr. Speaker, if Dr. Gulliver had known that, which obviously he did not when he made that statement in the media, he would not have been making that statement.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, the 2006 Throne Speech referred to NewLab Life Sciences as a goal medal success, but now government treats it as an also-ran. The company is not looking for a handout; they are looking for a hand up. They have a contract with Eastern Health to conduct tests on genetic samples, but Eastern Health has decided to go elsewhere. Rather than honour the contract they had with NewLab Life, Eastern Health sent their work to either MUN labs or outside of the Province and no public tenders were called -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member knows quite well the time allowed for asking questions. I ask the hon. member to pose his question now.

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

My question for the minister is: Why is Eastern Health ignoring their contract with NewLab and using other labs outside of the Province without any form of public tender?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WISEMAN: The delivery of health services, Mr. Speaker, and the provision of laboratory services in the Provinces is run by the four health authorities. In this particular case, Eastern Health is the one that has the arrangement with this particular company. It is their responsibility to ensure that we get lab tests done in this Province that are of quality, that are reasonably priced. Their contractual arrangement is between Eastern Health and this particular company in question.

The Department of Health and Community Services is having some discussions with Eastern Health to better understand what went on in this particular circumstance. Clearly, the relationship is between Eastern Health and the company in question and not directly with the Department of Health and Community Services.

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, the response of the Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services yesterday to my questions concerning those who need child care was nothing less than cynical. Yesterday she said that family child care spaces can be established within a week or two, but the minister should know that this is virtually impossible. She should know that there are not enough staff even to license and monitor homes that take in children.

Given this, Mr. Speaker, how can the minister guarantee that family child care spaces can be created within two weeks?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Well at least now she has moved from her position that it is not enough, and we see her moving along to accepting the fact that we are creating 400 new spaces, so that is a good thing.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker, we are very dedicated to working with the people who are interested in setting up family child care centres. Mr. Speaker, in this Budget we have put money aside to do a promotional campaign. We are working with the Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development to assist anybody around the business side of things in running a business. We are partnering with AECENL, the Association of Early Childhood Educators Newfoundland and Labrador, and we are partnering with the Family and Child Care Connections.

We will do whatever it takes to assist these people both financially and from a supportive business perspective to get these homes up and running as quickly as possible so that people will have the much-needed spaces available to them.

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.

I thank the minister not to put words in my mouth. I, in no way, said that I believe she is coming up with 400 spaces because I do not believe it.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services said on Monday that government is committed to a ten-year strategy. The Speech from the Throne led us to believe that something really big was coming in this year's Budget and we have been hearing the story for three Budgets now. This Budget threw a pittance at child care, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the Minister: Will she recognize the urgent need for child care, and will she present to us, sooner rather than later, a comprehensive plan for accessible and affordable child care?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is really unfortunate that the member opposite has the pessimistic attitude that she does because on this side of the House the glass is always half full for every one of us, Mr. Speaker. If you call a pittance $3.2 million for child care spaces over two years and $3 million for a child tax credit that is going to put money back into the pockets of parents who need it, $6.2 million is nothing to snuff about.

Now, we can stand on our record. Since we came into government in 2003, we have increased spaces by 50 per cent. Just in the last couple of years we have added another 168 spaces through our capacity initiative. This is another 400 here, and, Mr. Speaker, we have plans for nearly 500 more which will be announced over the coming years. Mr. Speaker, that is nothing to snuff about. We have a great record. We recognize that we have a ways to go, Mr. Speaker, but we are on the right track and we certainly have an optimistic attitude on this side of the House.

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.

Yes, it is a pittance, the same way that $250,000 for home care is a pittance.

Mr. Speaker, this morning a daycare provider was concerned that there is no ceiling on the rates that daycare centres and family care homes can charge parents. The minister said Monday that there is a subsidy available, but in past years when daycare centres raised their rates, parents receiving the subsidy would either have to make up the difference or take their children out.

Mr. Speaker, with no universal child care system and no control over rates currently charged, how can the minister say she is making child care more affordable and accessible for all parents?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Mr. Speaker, I guess it depends on the day of the week that you come to this House because time and time again we hear we are spending too much, we are not spending enough, this is pittance, it is not enough. Mr. Speaker, $6.2 million is nothing to snuff about.

Now, we have dedicated to a ten-year strategy, Mr. Speaker. Under that, we are going to look at regulated rates, we are going to look at regulated wages, but in the interim we are not going to sit back and do nothing. That is why we have a great child care tax credit that will go on top of the current federal and provincial child tax credit that were already there.

Mr. Speaker, this is putting money back into the hands of parents who need it the most, to give the most –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Sorry.

People who already have money get the tax credit, she says. Mr. Speaker, but as she said herself, there are surcharges and this money can be applied to this tax credit.

Mr. Speaker, for two people who earn minimum wage with two children, $5 a day I think is very affordable.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time allotted for questions and answers has expired.

Presenting Reports by Standing and Select Committees.

Tabling of Documents.

Notices of Motion.

Answers to Questions for which Notice has been Given.

Petitions.

Petitions

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

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand today and I present a petition on behalf of the residents in the District of The Isles of Notre Dame.

Mr. Speaker, people in this particular district are not happy with government's decision to basically take five acute care beds out of their health care facility and have them redesignated for other use. Although people in the area wanted to see restorative care beds placed in their hospital in Twillingate-New World Island area, Mr. Speaker, they did not want to lose five acute care beds. They sent a petition to the House of Assembly, and I will read the prayer of the petition:

WHEREAS there were fifteen acute care beds in the Notre Dame Bay Memorial Hospital Health Centre; and

WHEREAS five of the acute care beds closed last summer and did not reopen in the fall; and

WHEREAS the availability of acute care beds is critical to the people of Twillingate-New World Island; and

WHEREAS the shortage of acute care beds is resulting in people being denied admittance to Notre Dame Bay Memorial Hospital Health Centre; and

WHEREAS the people of Twillingate-New World Island do not want to see their health care services cut;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and ask the House of Assembly to urge government to reinstate the five acute care beds in the Notre Dame Bay Memorial Hospital Health Centre.

Mr. Speaker, people all over the area of Twillingate and New World Island, all of the communities in that region, and I have listed a number of them in the House of Assembly on other occasions when I have been presenting this particular petition, but there are people from communities like Durrell, Herring Neck, Bayview, Moreton's Harbour, Valley Pond, Bridgeport, Summerford, Virgin Arm, Cottlesville, Twillingate, Carter's Cove, Too Good Arm, Cow Head and there are a whole host of them, Mr. Speaker, of communities where people have signed this petition because they are not happy with the decision that government has made.

Mr. Speaker, not only did government close down the five acute care beds for the summer and not reopen them in the fall, but they then redesignated those beds to restorative care and actually went out and made a public announcement –

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Business, on a point of order?

MR. DALLEY: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. DALLEY: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition continuously stands in this House – obviously, she does not have her facts right on this petition. There are seventeen acute care beds in the Twillingate facility, Notre Dame Bay Memorial Hospital. There are seventeen beds available as a result of the new improved services in restorative care. There are still seventeen beds available (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

I ask the hon. member to carry on with her petition.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Member for The Isles of Notre Dame is smart enough to stand in his place in this House and try to make smart comments –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS JONES: - but I would like to remind the member for the area, if he was paying attention to his constituents he would know the information that I provided on the fifteen beds is what is in their petition. So you go back and tell your constituents now, Member, that they do not know what they are talking about, the thousands of them who sent this here. You go back and tell them as their MHA, I am sorry but you do not know what you are talking about, and maybe then you might be able to get…

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member that her time for presenting the petition is up, and I remind hon. members that petitions are wishes of constituents. It is not meant to be entered into debate here. It is to present a petition and present the petition only.

Further petitions?

Orders of the Day.

Orders of the Day

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair called further petitions; nobody stood.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member does not have to start showing disrespect for the Chair. The Chair called for Orders of the Day; nobody stood. Now, if the hon. member wants to revert to petitions, I suggest he ask for leave of the House or ask the Government House Leader to return to petitions.

This kind of an attitude is certainly not going to be tolerated here, by any member of the House showing disrespect to the Speaker. It is not going to be tolerated.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MS BURKE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I assume we are at Orders of the Day.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to do the third readings of bills before we return to the Budget.

Mr. Speaker, with that I move, seconded by the hon. Minister of Justice and Attorney General, that Bill 17, An Act Respecting the Mandatory Reporting of Gunshot and Stab Wounds, be now read a third time.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It is moved and seconded that Bill 17, An Act Respecting The Mandatory Reporting Of Gunshot and Stab Wounds be now read a third time.

Is it the pleasure of the House that Bill 17 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 Respecting The Mandatory Reporting Of Gunshot and Stab Wounds. (Bill 17)

MR. SPEAKER: Bill 17 has now been read a third time and it is ordered that Bill 17 do pass and that its title be as on the Order Paper.

On motion, a bill, "An Act Respecting The Mandatory Reporting Of Gunshot and Stab Wounds", read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 17)

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

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the hon. Minister of Natural Resources, that Bill 27 –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is having difficulty hearing the hon. the Government House Leader.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MS BURKE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will repeat, Mr. Speaker, that I move, seconded by the hon. Minister of National Resources, that Bill 27, An Act Respecting Forestry Professions, be read a third time.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion that Bill 27, An Act Respecting Forestry Professions, 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 Respecting Forestry Professions. (Bill 27)

MR. SPEAKER: Bill 27 has now been 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 Respecting Forestry Professions", read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 27)

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

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the hon. Minister of Natural Resources, that Bill 28, An Act To Amend The Health Research Ethics Authority Act, be now read a third time.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion that Bill 28 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 Health Research Ethics Authority Act. (Bill 28)

MR. SPEAKER: Bill 28 has now been 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 Health Research Ethics Authority Act", read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 28)

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

MS BURKE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to call, under Motions, 1.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion 1, that this house approves in general the budgetary policy of the government, otherwise known as the Budget Speech.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

I appreciate an opportunity to have a few words in response to the Budget that was announced by the Minister of Finance on Tuesday, the 19th. Now, under the rules, of course, there is a certain process when it comes to the Budget process. It is dealt with differently than a legislative process would be handled. In this case, the minister gave his speech on Tuesday past. I believe he actually used one hour and eighteen minutes to deliver his speech, according to the Table Officers, and that gives me double that, or up to three hours.

Now, I am not certain at all, of course, if I am going to be here three hours. I have managed it in the past, despite some back issues and whatever. I did manage to make do, but it gets difficult sometimes, particularly if the members opposition heckle and shout at you when you are making certain points. Hopefully, that will not happen today, they will restrain themselves and be respectful of the speaker this afternoon and listen intently, because much of what I have to say, of course, the people of this Province are interested in hearing it, hopefully, and will want to hear it because it gives a different perspective.

In the process – and I think it is appropriate to take a moment just to outline the process. There are even members in this House, I am sure, who are not aware of the full budgetary process. The minister delivers his speech, which has been done. The next order of business is that there are a number of committees struck in the House consisting of House members that deal with the items in the Budget. For example, there is a committee that deals with general government and legislative committees. The various departments that would come under that would be Business, for example; Environment and Conservation; Fisheries and Aquaculture; Innovation, Trade and Rural Development Department; Natural Resources Department; Tourism, Culture and Recreation Department. There are about eighteen different departments under the Budget. They all have to be considered and they need to be considered in detail.

Some people assume that the Budget is announced, we come in here and ultimately vote on the Budget after a few days of debate and that is the end of it. Actually, there is a whole process that goes on outside the confines of the House of Assembly called the Estimates process. Each of these departments either get referred to one of the three committees of this House that deal with the Estimates, because that is all a Budget is, of course. A Budget is a group of Estimates that each department brings forward and says: Here is what we estimate our expenses to be for the forthcoming year, and therefore this is what we expect to spend.

In that, they do not only tell you what they expect to spend next year, this year of 2011-2012; they also contain what they estimated last year or budgeted last year, and the revised figures. They gave that Budget last year. Now, a year later, when they do this year's Budget, they have some idea of what they spent. They have been living with that Budget for that year so they can give you some pretty accurate figures. Not totally accurate because there is some stuff that comes in to clue up the books even after March 31 in order to make it finally accurate, and the Comptroller General gets at it then and makes sure it is all right.

In any case, those Estimates Committees, that is when you get to drill down in a bit of detail. In the House each day, for example, you can ask questions of any minister here, or the Premier, and you get an answer back, sometimes; not often, but sometimes you might get some kind of answer back. Some ministers are more forthcoming than others when it comes to their answers. Some have even suggested that it is called Question Period. It is not called answer period, so why should I give you an answer? That is kind of rude and disrespectful of the process, but some ministers do try to give a proper response.

In any case, now that the Budget has dropped, these various departments go off to the Estimates Committees. That is where each member on the Committee, for example, has an opportunity to question the minister, the deputy minister, his directors, or his ADMs – whoever he or she brings to the Estimates with themselves, the minister brings – we in the Opposition, the Official Opposition members, the Leader of the Third Party, and even government members get to ask questions of that minister and his or her department to find out and drill down into a bit of detail as to what is going on here.

Now, there are a couple of little issues with it. Number one, it is not televised. Truthfully, if the Estimates Committees were televised, it would be very, very informative for the public. Not only do you see the face of the politicians, the MHAs who ask the questions, or the minister who responds to the questions; you would actually get, watch, observe, and understand the details of the exchange of information that takes place in an Estimates Committee.

For example, we are limited in this particular case. The Official Opposition in the House of Assembly only gets twenty-six minutes of questioning four times a week; hardly enough and never enough to ask the myriad of questions that exist that we want to ask a government – certainly not the minor details of something, and the give and the take. That is where you do that stuff, in Estimates.

Last evening, for example, the Estimates were held last evening in the House, after it closed, for the Department of Natural Resources, and Forestry and Agrifoods. It commenced at 5:30 and they were here until after 11:00 o'clock last night. The Leader of the Official Opposition was there, the Leader of the Third Party was here, researchers, and so on, asking questions. I understand it was an invaluable exchange of information.

It is stuff you might wonder about as a critic, for example, of that department to say: Well, how many people do you have hired here? What money are you spending there? Why are you spending that money? Why do you have that policy? Is that necessary? You get to have that great exchange of information.

That happened last night in that particular department, Natural Resources, and it was, as I say, over five hours. The Leader of the Opposition and the researchers who were there told me this morning that it was a fantastic exchange of information. It lets you know and get a better feel for the department that not only does the minister deal with but you as a critic are supposed to understand as well.

That is not better just from the sense that you are more informed or that it gives you more information to unload on the minister in Question Period. Quite often, I find what happens is because you had that exchange in Estimates, you do not need to ask a question when you get in Question Period. Because what you may feel is a very serious issue going on in that particular department, once the minister or his officials gets an opportunity to explain it to you, you understand full well the logic of why such and such exists, why a decision was made or why it was not made in a certain fashion. A lot of times in Question Period you do not get that opportunity.

Because it is so in-depth and because it is so informative, that is why I feel it ought to be televised. I know the minister risks being embarrassed if he is on TV and does not have an answer and so on, that may be one of the reasons they feel it should not be televised. I am sure cost is not the issue. We pay for the linkage hook up. Compared to a lot of the things that we spend money on, having our Estimates Committees televised would not be an exorbitant matter, especially when we are running super, super surpluses as the Minister of Finance tells us. I think that is great –

MR. DENINE: You had the opportunity to (inaudible).

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Yes, I say to the Member for Mount Pearl North - I believe it is now - please do not be disrespectful and disrupt me, I say to the minister. I would also…

MR. DENINE: (Inaudible).

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I do not intend to be argumentative, I say, Mr. Speaker, to the Member for Mount Pearl South here. If he wants to be disrespectful to me for the next three hours when I am on my feet - if he wants a question answered, feel free to ask. I do not intend to enter into a shouting match with him, but I will have him know that it was the former Administration that brought cameras into the House of Assembly.

MR. DENINE: That is a good point.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: That is right. At that time, Mr. Speaker, it was the year before –

MR. DENINE: (Inaudible) done the full meal deal.

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

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Again, Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and the Member for Mount Pearl South could stop being disrespectful for a moment and listen, I will certainly give him the information. I have no problem whatsoever with him standing on his feet and explaining his case. This is my moment right now to give my talk and hopefully he will be respectful enough to allow me the opportunity to do that. Anyway, Mr. Speaker, if I can continue now without the disruption from that particular minister again, that will be fine.

Back to my Estimates piece; if it were televised it gives the people an opportunity, as I say, to understand the issues in detail. Now some ministers I am sure might think: well, maybe someone is going to try to hijack me because we are on camera. I do not get to give a nice flat answer or I do not get to be evasive because I am on the spot, I am on the camera. The upside to that is minimize, Mr. Speaker. If not even minimize, totally eliminate it because not everybody can be expected to retain every single piece of information that goes on in a department, and I do not care what minister you are. You just cannot possibly keep track of every single detail of every policy, every program and every letter that comes in or e-mail that comes in. That is why I believe it is important, and the minister does have his or her officials with them so that it does not have to be the minister who responds to the question. If the matter were televised in Estimates and the minister wanted to say: look, excuse me, I do not have that information. Is there anyone here with me who has it? You are the director of such and such: Do you have that information, for example? At least the information gets conveyed and the people would see what the issue is, hear what the issue is, and hear the response. I think that is just another step in the process of being totally open and totally accountable.

Now, I have raised this issue for the last four or five years and made suggestions that it be done. Obviously, this government does not want to go there, which raises the question: Why would you not want to go there? Are you afraid somebody is going to find out something that they should not find out? Because it is going to come out anyway, whether you find out through an FOI or you get it in the form of a brown paper bag that somebody slips you or envelope or the media find out, or someone talks to you. The issues ultimately come out. You can only keep it covered and hidden away and secret for so long. Quite often, of course, it is best when it does come out. When it comes out, usually if it was handled properly in the first place it would not be a problem with having people understand what it was all about.

Now, as part of that process, when these Estimates are done for all of these eighteen different departments, some of them are done right here on the floor of the House, for example, everything comes back here to the House again. Members have their debates and comments from each side. There are timelines involved but, ultimately, at the end of the day, that process could take anywhere from three weeks, four weeks, five weeks, depending on how many amendments, non-confidence motions there are, sub-amendments, but ultimately, at the end of the day, the Budget would get voted on.

What the people in the Province are going to see in the next five, six weeks is going to be an Easter break, now starting this evening. That will go on for a couple of weeks during the Easter recess. We are back here on May 9; I think is the date, and then we will pick up from today. The Estimates will resume again and so on and the debates will resume here in the House of Assembly.

For people who follow this channel regularly - and a lot of people do follow the televised channel regularly - that is what is going to happen. Basically, there will not be a lot of legislation done in the next number of weeks; it will be dealing with the Budget issues. Some people think it is the most exciting time or interesting time in the House of Assembly because you actually hear MHAs. You have pretty wide latitude when it comes to the Budget Speech and Budget response as to what you can say, because everything in that particular document talks about either a policy or money is being spent and so on. So, you have pretty wide latitude as to what you might want to talk about. That is why some people consider it probably the most interesting part of the process of the Legislature.

Now, as I say, that all ends up with the Estimates, the voting, commentary, and at the end of the day, we are here probably some time in – we are certainly here in May month. We are going to be here some time toward the latter part of May, shall we say, getting the process done. That is the general process of the Budget.

I am going to be, not deliberately, but certainly in the nature of a speech when you are trying to respond to a document that consists of all these various documents I have here in front of me; one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight different documents were produced as part of the Budget process. It is pretty difficult to give a speech in reply that deals with - of a totally consistent nature. Because usually with eighteen departments, and each department having different responsibilities, different amounts of money, and different programs and policies – so, it is pretty general; pretty treetop stuff, as I say.

There will be some incidents throughout the next few moments when I am speaking that I will drill down into some detail, comment on a few things that have raised concerns with the public and so on, on a particular issue, in a particular department, but for the most part you are sort of at the treetop level. Bear with me if I seem to be scattered on occasion from one topic to another.

Now, probably a good place to start is this little pamphlet called the highlights package. It is very helpful for anybody who just wants a quick overview of what is in the Budget, where we stand from money coming in or a revenue point of view, where the money is going out and so on, and what we spend it on. I notice the unique graphics they have on the government Budget this year. I am assuming blue, of course, everything is blue these days. We have blue windows in Confederation Building. I understand they are even looking for blue fire trucks now, but there was some problem with the international coding on that. Anyway, the blue and the wave - again, not being a critic but one who likes a bit of graphics and creatively in graphics, I notice that we are on the downside of the wave, number one; the wave is absolutely down. I notice with all of the wording that they have in the logo, the last one, the furthest out on the bottom part of the wave highlighted is vision. I do not know if that is telling us something, or maybe it is just my critical nature of looking at their packaging.

I will tell you, it certainly does not compare with the graphics that I have seen when it comes to our Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation. Because I must say some of the ads I have seen coming out advertising our Province in the media in the last few years from the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, the work is just simply fantastic. It highlights our culture, our people, and our traditions. I have had people from all over this world who happen to either see them other places in the world, or have been here and seen them themselves, and they are just astounded by some of the work that was done on that.

Anyway, that is just an interesting comment on the covering, but, of course, the devil is in the details, so we will get inside of this little book. To begin with, probably the easiest place to start, because I am more of a graphic person than I am a written person, is the very last two pages in this little pamphlet. It is very helpful. They take a pie chart, we call it, and they split it up. The first one says this is where the revenue comes from. This hopefully will be informative to some people who might be listening and want to know: Where does our revenue come from? The Minister of Finance and the government can only sit down, of course, and decide where you are going to spend your money if you have some idea of where your money came from and how much money you are likely to have.

According to this pie chart that I am looking at here, taxation brings in about 39 per cent of the revenues that we get in this Province. That is for this year. This is all of the Budget documents of this year, 2011-2012. That is some $2.993 billion. That is the kind of money we are talking here by the way. We are talking billions. We are not talking any millions or hundreds of thousands here, we are talking big dollars. Just imagine it is like a household in Newfoundland and Labrador, for example, there is your pot of money and you are wondering how much you have in that pot every day. In the case of Newfoundland and Labrador, that pot gets $2.993 billion put in the pot from taxation.

That taxation, of course, is from a number of different sources. There is personal income tax. There is corporate tax. There could be gasoline tax. There could be tax on liquor. There are all kinds of different taxes that provinces and countries have that take the money out of your pocket. It is not just what you pay in personal income tax, for example, there is a whole myriad of things that you pay taxes on. Just about 40 per cent, 39 per cent of what is in our pot right now comes from the taxation angle. It could be taxes on corporations, companies, for example, the mom-and-pop store on the corner to the bigger corporation that might function in the mining industry or function in the offshore industry. It is all in the form of taxes.

The second biggest single chunk of revenue is the offshore royalties. That was some 28.7 per cent or $2.2 billion. As you can see, if you put into the pot what comes from taxation and what comes from the royalties offshore, we are over 60 per cent, almost 70 per cent of the revenue in our Province comes from taxation and the offshore; almost 70 per cent from two single sources of revenue.

Now there is some that comes from investment, a mere 2.8 per cent. Fees and fines, those are from any of us who have been unfortunate enough to have a fine, speeding ticket, or stuff like that, all that goes into the government pot; or, if you had to pay a fee, you might be, for example, going to get Crown lands or whatever and you had to pay your annual rental fee on your Crown land property, all of that goes into the fee structure and gets paid into the pot. Again, it is fairly small compared to taxation or revenues, it is 3.1 per cent.

Then we get some from the federal government. Now you heard back some time ago, of course, that we were a have-province and some people were under the illusion that just because we were a have-province we did not get any more money from the federal government, they figure we are paying our own way on everything. Of course, that is not correct; we do still get money from the federal government for certain things.

There is one category called Health and Social Transfers that brings us some 8.1 per cent from the federal government. That is only fair ball, by the way, because the way the system is suppose to work. We all live in Canada, we pay a federal tax, and we pay a provincial tax. The federal tax that you pay to your federal government, you hope to get something back for in return. We do get something back. It certainly can be argued whether we get enough back. Usually, it is based upon your per capita, in other words: your population. If you have a small population, you get less than you would if you were in Ontario for example. The bigger the population the more you paid into the pot, so therefore the more you take out. That is the basic logic. Then sometimes you have to balance that with special needs that come up. Albeit you might have a small population, there are certain pieces of infrastructure that you need that the federal government says: Yes, we will deal with that on a special above and beyond basis than your regular transfers.

Anyway, we take 8 per cent from health and social transfers; the Atlantic Accord gives us this year in the 2011-2012 Budget some 7 per cent from the federal government; and Other Federal Sources, 6.8 per cent, so just about another 7 per cent. If you add all that up, you have the seven and seven which is fourteen, and eight, we get 22 per cent in this year's Budget from the federal government. If you take the 70 per cent that we are getting from taxation and from oil royalties and you add to that the 22 per cent that we get from the federal government that gives you over 90 per cent. You have 92 per cent of your Budget revenue just in those three segments: federal, taxation, and offshore royalties. The rest, as I say, consists of investment income that we might get, some fines and fees, and from other provincial sources, which are not enumerated here on this little chart but certainly can be found in the details of this batch of documents that I have here.

That is where the money comes from. The point I am trying to make here is that we are dependent on basically three ways to pay our way. The bulk of it is taxation, royalties from the offshore or from the mining industries, and the federal government piece that comes to us. Then the question is - and I am just talking again treetop here - where do we spend it? We know how much we have coming in. According to this, the estimated total revenue for this year 2011-2012 is $7.677 billion in the chart that I am looking at here, amount estimated for 2011-2012 total revenue income. Now, that is a far cry, of course, from where we were. We spend a lot more money today than we spent ten years ago; we spend a lot more money today than we spent eight years ago. In fact, I am going to come back later. I have a chart here that I put together myself – not one the minister had, but one I actually put together – just to try to keep track of where we were to where we are in terms of some of these expenditures, not only global expenditures but also departmentally to show where we have gone in the last eight years or so. Actually, I took it from 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011; up to this year.

Anyway, back to my chart here. We have our money put in our pot, as I say, from royalties, taxation, and the Canadian government. Then we have to start paying out things. It is the same thing in your house: You have to pay a light bill and phone bill, you have to pay your property taxes, you have to repair your roof, you have a hole down in the basement, you have a window broke out, and you have to paint your fence. All of those things have to be paid for.

Governments operate no differently. There is a whole pile of things that need to be paid for: different programming needs to be paid, there are health needs, and there are education needs. So if you look at the chart of where the money goes out, there are some pretty big sectors there as well.

The Minister of Health and Community Services was out yesterday, I heard him on several of the media sources, talking about just how much our health care takes out of our budget each year. Anybody who lives in this Province knows that health care is the number one priority with anybody. We all might like more schools, we all might like more income in our pockets from our pay cheques, and we all like better roads to drive on, and so on. When the chips are down, the number one thing that everybody needs – not a case of liking, but what you need – is you need your health care needs attended to and looked after properly.

Out of our Budget, out of the full, 100 per cent whack that is in our pot, 39 per cent comes out for health care – 38.5 per cent, actually. Now, if you go back to the chart I just gave you, I said revenue coming in was 39 per cent from taxation from the federal Canadian, corporate taxes, and everything else. So if you just do the simple equation, every cent of money that comes into this Province by way of taxation – whether it is provincial, federal, or corporate – every single penny goes out to health care – every single penny.

Health care takes 39 per cent of our pot and 39 per cent of our pot came from the taxation; a pretty even trade off, almost to the dollar in terms of trade off.

As you can see, that is a pretty big chunk. You have 40 per cent of your revenue, every dollar - can you imagine in your household, if every dollar that you have in your house; if I were to tell you today that every time your cheque came from your employer that you had to take forty cents out of every dollar that marched into your home and pay it out in health care? That is what the Province is doing, paying out forty cents on the dollar in health care.

In the Education Sector; just about 20 per cent, 19.6 per cent. Again, that is a lot of money into education. When I say education of course, that is a pretty broad category. There are all kinds of programs. We operate our schools in the Province, for example, we have to build schools; we have to pay teachers; we have to pay teacher's aides; we have to run Memorial University; we have Sir Wilfred Grenfell. We have the College of the North Atlantic that has to be operated and paid for. You have to keep the lights on in these places and so on. There are books that these students need to use. Twenty percent goes out of the pot for education.

Then you have what they call the General Government Sector and Legislative Branch, another 22.4 per cent. In other words, that is running the House of Assembly, running the offices of the House of Assembly, whether you are the Chief Electoral Officer or you are the Auditor General or the Citizens' Rep. All of that stuff gets paid for out of the Legislature budget. Plus, of course, then you have everybody who works for government. Anybody who lives in the Province, we all know somebody who works for the provincial government. They are in our communities, whether they are social workers, whether they are teachers, general government pieces. It might be an inspector for gasoline tax, it might be a fish inspector, and it might be an inland wildlife officer. It could be somebody who works for the Child Support Enforcement Agency. It could be any number of people who works here in Confederation Building. All the deputy ministers, ADMs, everybody who works for the Premier's office, everybody who works in the Opposition research office. A whole pile of money goes into that, about 22.4 per cent.

Then it is called the Resource Sector; 4.4 per cent is what we spend in our Resource Sector and the Other Social Sectors, 15 per cent.

Now, if you look at, it is easy to see where it goes, basically. The two big chunks go to health and education; 60 per cent goes out to health and education, and everything else in this Province has to be paid for from the Budget. Some might ask, why only 4.4 per cent on our Resource Sector? Because you notice, going back to the pot again where I talked about revenue coming in, we showed Offshore Royalties at about 30 per cent. When it comes to our fishing industry, our forest industry, our mining industry, our offshore industry, 4.4 per cent goes back into expenses that we pay out on our Resource Sector. So that just gives you an overview of where the money gets spent.

Now, the minister gave some interesting figures as well on the economy, that is of course a piece of it. How is your economy functioning now? Where do you expect to go in the future and so on? He talks about the economic performance of 2010. We did not fare too bad, given the tsunami – the economic tsunami I called it, of a couple of years ago. There were some countries in the world that were pretty well devastated. Places like Portugal, Greece, and the United States took a slam. They are still not fully recovered yet. We in Canada fared pretty well. We did not get into the banking issues that a lot of countries had. We had some pretty good banking laws which helped us survive a lot of the negativity that some other countries and economies had. We bounced back pretty good. Here in the Province, we did fairly well compared to a lot of places as well.

Our real gross domestic product, for example, in 2010 grew by 5.6 per cent, the highest amongst all provinces. That is not bad stuff. That is good stuff for us as a Province. When your gross domestic product, or your GDP as they commonly call it, is growing, it bodes pretty well for people who live in this Province. When it comes to our economy being in good shape, people having jobs and opportunity, at least, to have a job, and opportunity to do well, versus somewhere where you live when you have negative GDP, just the opposite. We live in a positive place in that regard.

Investment grew by 32 per cent to over $6.5 billion. Now, none of this is explained, and I am sure the Minister of Finance will take an opportunity sometime throughout the Budget Debate to give us some more detail on some of that stuff, like the nature of the investment that grew by 32 per cent. Real exports are estimated to have increased by 4 per cent due to a significant increase in mineral output. I checked the figures today, and I am not sure if the minister checked them, but in last year's Budget - I asked him, actually. I said you are pretty optimistic on your Budget. I said, it looks like you are expecting mining royalties to increase next year by 60 per cent. I said that seems pretty optimistic, big growth.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: That is right. I tell the minister in case he has not, but I am sure he has, I ran the figures today and apparently it is 63 per cent. So, not only were you off, you were off in the wrong way. In the right way, they went up three points more than you had anticipated.

It just goes to show something about the budgeting process, that you budget based on estimating. You hope that things go well. You hope that you have the right information to make the right assumptions so that at the end of the day you are not too far off and you are where you had hoped you would be when you delivered your Budget.

Sometimes things go wrong that throw it off that you have no control over. That is one of the sad parts about our economy, that it is based upon oil and mining. When you run into the economic woes that the world ran into, our iron ore that comes out of Lab City and Wabush, we were not making much money off the mining at that particular time because they were not getting any prices for it.

The same thing happens with the barrel of oil. The barrel of oil, I believe, yesterday was trading at $108 or $109, it fluctuates a bit, but over the course of a year it can be a major fluctuation. I do believe even within the last twelve months it was down to $54 a barrel. It gradually came up to the $80 mark, then the $90s, and of course we have been on a real surge in the last two or three months.

When your economy is based on the oil like that, you sometimes have a concern that if you undertake expenses that you are going to have every single year, but all of a sudden if something goes wrong in your income then you are in trouble. For example, if I go out and buy a car, I live in a certain kind of home, and I buy a certain kind of furniture, it is great as long as you have your job and you are making the money that you were making when you bought those items. If you lose your job, or if you get sick and you cannot work, all of a sudden you have these expenses that you have every year or every month but you do not have the same income to pay those expenses, to pay your credit cards, and whatever. That is when the trouble starts. People in the Province often hear the word these days of sustainability. That is the whole question: Can you sustain what you have set yourself up for?

In the last eight years since this government took office, we have more than doubled the annual expenditures; doubled. When they took office back in 2003 in October, their first Budget came in 2004. The Budget was a little over $3 billion. Nowadays, we are spending over $7.6 billion, more than double. The issue of whether or not we needed to double it and what we are spending it on is one thing, but the sustainability issue comes into play because now that we have ramped it from $3 billion to $7.7 billion we are basing that on this oil staying like it is. Obviously, if the bottom goes out of the price of a barrel of oil, how do we pay the bills then? That is when you end up going into deficits.

Fortunately, for the Province right now, the Minister of Finance is telling us we are okay for this year. We had a surplus last year; we are going to have a surplus next year. Then there are going to be a couple of rough years, and that is admitted to, and hopefully then if the oil stays where it is we will be okay and we will get back in shape again and stay. I guess the question is: If we are going to have a couple of rough years, when we have those rough years what do we do? Do we have any money put aside in the cookie jar to help us when we have a rough year or are we going to say, we will just incur deficits for those two years? If you have reserves, of course, it is nice to have that money in the cookie jar so that you can say we are going to spend this. We do not have quite that amount of money, but we have some in the cookie jar to help ourselves.

There is an issue of debt here. If you cannot pay your bills, of course, you go in debt. Right now, I believe the figures, according to this minister, the Minister of Finance right now. He is saying, for example, he is forecasting a surplus of $485 million for next year. So, it looks like we are going to be pretty well off next year. We are not going to be worried about going in the red or anybody coming and seizing any of your property because you could not pay your bills next year.

The net debt is expected to be $8.2 billion. Now, that is a lot of money folks, $8.2 billion that we owe. I think it translates into something like $17,000 per man, woman and child in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. That is the figure right now. It used to be higher than that. Granted, it was higher than that, but fortunately the government were very fortunate that they could have some surpluses in past years. They had surpluses. By the way, the government will have you believe they caused the surpluses.

This government, for example, that took over under Danny Williams in 2003, they would have you believe that they are responsible for, and bring all this money into the pot. That is where people do not get hoodwinked. That is when people who listen intently to the TV and so on and watch the programs, they know. This government is entrusted to manage the money, to administer the money. Hopefully, they can be somewhat creative and decide and come up with ways to make more money. Not only rely upon what somebody handed to you – and I say handed to you, I mean literally handed to you. For example, this 40 per cent that I am talking about - 30 per cent that comes out of the royalties, the government would have you think that they actually created that.

Our monies basically in the oil industry come from Hibernia, White Rose, and Terra Nova. Those are the three that are producing. To my knowledge, there is no other oil producing field in this Province right now. That money that is in their pot that they are spending right now belonging to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians came from, in the oil industry, Hibernia, White Rose, and Terra Nova.

There are some plans; they talk plans about doing other things, admittedly. Be the first one to admit because you have to tell the truth. Hibernia was designed by the former Liberal Administration, okay? There is nobody who does not know that. They would have you believe that it was a Conservative government, a Tory government that created Hibernia.

There was one Conservative individual who played a large role in that and he deserves full credit. That is the current Lieutenant Governor who at that time was a minister of the federal Crown, in the federal Liberal Party. They had some problems, one of the companies that was supposed to do Hibernia were not prepared to carry on. It had gotten expensive. They did not know if they had the money to put into it and they were going to draw out and we may never have had a Hibernia.

Thanks to Mr. Crosbie at the time, who was the federal minister, he managed to convince the federal government to buy a share into Hibernia equivalent to the company that was leaving. That worked out to be 8.5 per cent. The feds put in their money, Hibernia proceeded, and I believe in 1997 we saw the first oil out of Hibernia. I do believe from 1989 until 1996, it was Premier Clyde Wells who was Liberal. From 1996 on to 2000, it was Premier Brian Tobin who was Liberal, I do believe. That was the Hibernia span, just so there is no confusion in anybody's eyes as to who the government was that made the Hibernia piece possible from a provincial government perspective. That is Hibernia. The other one that is producing money is White Rose. That was done under a Liberal Administration as well. Before this crowd ever took over government that was there; and likewise, Terra Nova, that was done by a Liberal government. It is almost like winning a lottery. You come into the government, you formed the government in 2003, and you got White Rose, Terra Nova, Hibernia, the price of oil goes up, puts all this money in your coffers and you are left there to spend it and you say: We created a surplus. We created a surplus, they say. Now, nothing could be further from the truth. If a barrel of oil goes from $50 to $110, this government over here had absolutely nothing to do with seeing the price of a barrel of oil go from $50 to $110, Mr. Speaker. That is absolutely regulated by world oil prices, world demand. It could even be a war that causes issues that leads to the price of a barrel of oil to spike.

Let's put some of the facts together. Number one, this Administration was not responsible for the creation of the oil project on our offshore. They are not responsible for the price of a barrel of oil that happens offshore. They are not responsible for how far and how fast we produce it offshore. That is determined by the oil companies. Our government has no say in how fast you can produce it. If the oil companies had their way, they would probably like to pump it all out overnight, when the prices are top.

The people of the Province, they are not fooled when they hear this government say: We created a surplus. You won a lottery is basically it. You walked into a situation where the offshore oil platforms were existing, or were created by Liberal Administrations, the price of a barrel of oil escalated fortunately putting money into the coffers of the governance of this Province and now they have to spend it. Now, it is true, the government is planning on expanding Hibernia. Again, you had nothing to expand if you did not have Hibernia in the first place. They are planning on an expansion of White Rose. Again, you would not have an expansion of White Rose if you never had the White Rose. That is just the oil industry.

The other big industry, of course, that is putting money into the coffers is the mining industry. This government would have you believe that they were in somehow, some fashion connected to the money that goes into the revenue pot from the mining industries. Now, I do believe the biggest producers when it comes to the mines in this Province: the Iron Ore Company of Canada out of Labrador City, and you have Wabush Mines in Wabush. I do believe they were back decades ago, maybe even on the watch of that gentleman called Joey Smallwood. I think it goes back that far in IOC. I think he was still around as Premier.

Of course, the newest one, the gem of the mining industry some say today, is Voisey's Bay. Mr. Speaker, let me tell you did we have a tussle getting this government, and particularly the former Premier, to acknowledge that was a good deal. I was here, the deal was cut. Unlike this government which cuts a deal and does not give you the details of the deal, I happened to be Minister of Justice at the time we did the Voisey's Bay deal. I was intimately involved in it. The House of Assembly was opened, it had closed. The deal happened to be struck when the House was closed. The government of the day said: Let's take it to the House of Assembly. Let's actually take the deal, the statement of principles on Voisey's Bay, put it into the House of Assembly, let everybody get up and have a say. We will even have special rules so that you can debate the issue. They were agreed between the then Government House Leader, Premier and the Leader of the Opposition who by the way was Mr. Williams, the official Leader of the Opposition at that time.

We came here in the House in June, a special session, and debated Voisey's Bay. Every single Conservative Tory Member of the House of Assembly, and some of them are still here, stood on their feet and condemned Voisey's Bay – condemned it. A terrible deal, a terrible deal, you are giving away the resources. You can drive a truck through the contract. There are more off-ramps in the Voisey's Bay deal than there are on the 401 expressway, they said. The person who said it was the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Williams.

I was the second-last person to speak. My questions to him were simple. Rather than just say that there are off-ramps on this deal for Voisey's Bay, could you tell me where they are and what they are? You have been a lawyer of longstanding, much longer than I had; he had four or five more years at the Bar than I had. I said: Maybe I am missing something here. God forbid, if I would want to be party to a deal that somebody was going to take us to the woodshed on. I said to him: Can you tell us where the off-ramps are because we would like to know? You are in business. You run a cable business. You have been a lawyer of longstanding. Just do not make these statements. Tell us where the off-ramps are in the Voisey's Bay deal.

So anyway, we were never told. He would never, ever say where the off-ramps are. All he would say was: give-away, bad deal, off-ramps. That is all that was ever said. Then, of course, he became the Premier. I kept asking him in numerous Question Periods. I would say: Premier Williams, you are in government now. You run the shop. You run the show, now. Now that you are there, you have seen the deal, you have met these people, you are dealing with it, Voisey's Bay is a year or two years in now, can you tell us now what the problems were with the deal? I never got an answer.

That went on until about 2008. All of a sudden in 2008, I look in the paper this morning, The Telegram, and there is a picture of the Premier stood on the back of a piece of machinery up in Voisey's Bay. The caption was: The Premier proclaims Voisey's Bay great deal. I thought that was pretty good. Seven years after condemning the deal and saying that the former Liberal government had given it away, the very same man who did that finally, when the truth had smacked him in the face and had no alternative, had to admit it was a good deal. We should not have to drag the truth out of somebody like that.

Anyway, I digress a little because I started this comment by saying this government had nothing to do with the creation of the offshore drilling, Hibernia, White Rose, or Terra Nova, which they did not. This government had nothing to do with Voisey's Bay, which they did not, and which is currently taking place, the major, major development down in Long Harbour which is going to employ hundreds of people cost of millions and millions of dollars to be spent, to say nothing of the open pit mining that is going to take place up in this Voisey's down the road. This government is spending monies that former Administrations created to allow them to spend. So, let's give credit where credit is due.

Now, that is not to say there are not some good things that have been done. I can appreciate being a government you sometimes get called upon to do stuff. You have people beating on your door. No matter what you do, it is never enough, never enough. There are always going to be needs that cannot be contended with, but I guess the magic of being a good government is that you have to prioritize and you have to put the money where it is best used, where the most people are helped and so on. That is where we get into some of the issues of where we put the money in this year's Budget.

Before I move on, I think it is important to talk about as well, we looked at the chart as to where the money came from and the basic areas. There are two, as I say; there are only two basic areas. Health and education take 60 per cent of it. The minister talks about standing strong on infrastructure, standing strong on innovation, standing strong on energy. I am going to come back to the energy one because the energy piece, of course, Muskrat Falls comes into that, and there is a lot of things about Muskrat that the people do not know about yet and the public do not know about. They are catching on little by little because the information is seeping out little by little. We are not getting much from the Minister of Natural Resources. We are certainly not getting much from the Premier. We get some grandiose statements in the form of we are going green, and this is great, the cheapest, most affordable power you are going to get in the future. I have heard that one response in Question Period here for the last five weeks. You do not get a lot of substance, but there are a couple of little pieces that are trickling out.

I will come back to that, because Muskrat deserves a little commentary in and of itself, because it is so important to the people of this Province, and it is going to be so important in October. Come October, everybody, of course, in this House is going back to the polls, or most of us are going back to the polls. There might be a few who are not going to run again. When they do, of course, they have to knock on the door, and you have to tell that voter how you feel and where you stand on Muskrat Falls. A part of telling him or her is that I am the person who is asking for your vote, and by the way, if you vote for me – if you are a Conservative member – I guarantee I will double your light bill. I want your vote. You vote for me and I will go to the House of Assembly, I will vote, and you will get double the light bill. Please vote for me. That is what the Conservative members, PC members, are going to be saying at the door. That is what they are going to have to say at the door because that is the truth of it. Whether you are the Sergeant-at-Arms in this House of Assembly or whether you are an MHA, they are going to knock on the door, the truth is they are going to say, whether you are a Page in the House of Assembly, if you have your own apartment and pay your own light bill, please vote for me and I will double your light bill. That is the truth. That is a factual, true, absolute statement that cannot be rebutted. It is not rebuttable, absolutely not rebuttable and this government cannot refute that statement. That is where song and dance gets you in trouble because you can song and dance, you can gloss things over, you can make all kinds of statements to people about spin and how to spin a project, but there are certain bottom lines to every project. The Minister of Finance is smiling at me over there and he knows that what I am saying is correct. He knows what I am saying is correct because there are certain truths that cannot be hidden.

Now you might try to justify: Yes, they are going to double, but they would have doubled anyway. You might use that argument. You might say: Well, yes, they are going to double but they would have doubled anyway, so do not complain about it. It is going to happen anyway, so why wouldn't you vote for me? That is the argument that the government would give you. That is called spin because there are a few things missing when you use that scenario: They are going to double anyway. There are a few unknowns in that. Number one, how do you know they are going to double? Give me the information that shows me they are going to double. We do not have any of that information. We asked for it numerous times. If you go back and check the record, the Premier undertook to table it in the House before the Easter break. It is not done. Unless she is going to walk in before 5:30 p.m. and do it, she did not get it. She undertook that in Question Period one day. She never gave it to us as she said she would. She said she was going to table it.

Anyway, I digress again because Muskrat is so important, it is not just a digression, Muskrat Falls is going to be so primary, paramount, and important to the people of this Province that it certainly does not need to be made fun of because it is a very serious issue. It is an issue that is going to slam every single Newfoundlander and Labradorian in the pocketbook, whether you live on Waterford Bridge Road, or you live on Water Street in St. Barbe, or you live on Water Street or Army Hill in Port aux Basques, you are going to get a double light bill. This is not a rural versus an urban problem. This is not the fishermen versus an offshore issue. This is an issue that transcends every single citizen of this Province. You are going to get your light bill doubled because of Muskrat Falls. That is not a threat. That is what everybody tells you and that is what everybody knows to be the truth, even the government tells you that. They are expecting you to take it in, hook, line and sinker and say nothing about it.

Maybe it is an appropriate time, since I am on this issue; I have to get into some of the departments because this is important. I think I have given a pretty comprehensive overview. I would like to get into some of the departmental issues.

There are a couple of good things in the Budget. The minister is going to get up later on and say I did not say anything good about the Budget. There are a few good things. Again, you can hardly spend $7.7 billion and not do somebody some good. I would be a fool to stand up here and say that you spent $7.7 billion and did not do somebody any good. I do not think anybody is going to believe that. There is obviously some good. We pay teachers, we pay doctors, we pay social workers, we build schools, and we build hospitals. That is all good stuff. Nobody is going to deny that is not good stuff. We could not exist as a society if we did not do those things. The more money we can put into those things, obviously the better it is. We need good roads. We need to attract industry to our Province. That is all good expenditures.

Then, every year, of course, there are a few different things that happen if the government has the money and they can afford to do it. This year, for example, on the HST portion for residential energy - I know the NDP like to claim full credit for this. I actually delivered a petition two or three times in this House on the HST thing. It came from my District of Burgeo & La Poile, the petition was generated, a lady by the name of Elizabeth Harvey. I even acknowledged her in petitions. She asked me if I would deliver a petition in this House on the HST piece. I agreed to do it. The lady really knows her stuff. She has been into a lot of issues, whether it is about helping veterans, whether it is about people who have energy costs, whether it is about helping dialysis. She is a very concerned citizen who makes herself known. The Member for Lewisporte, for example, has dealt with her as well. She is a lady who is very concerned in her community.

I brought the petition here to the House of Assembly. She asked me and I did it several times. Lo and behold, I have to say, I was absolutely surprised that the government decided to take the provincial portion of the HST off the home energy.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, maybe if the members can carry their conversations outside of the Chamber because I find it very difficult to talk here and be heard above them. I am supposed to have the floor here and I cannot hear myself think.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I will remind all hon. members that we have recognized the hon. the Opposition House Leader to speak, and I ask for their cooperation.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your protection.

Mr. Speaker, back to the HST thing again. As I say, I was absolutely astounded that the government did it, but it was a good move, definitely positive.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Thank you.

As these members know, I always tell it like it is, absolutely. So that means everything I say as well, I am assuming I get your equal applause because I tell it like it is.

Now, Mr. Speaker, back to the HST. There is an unfortunate little outside wrinkle with the HST piece, though. Like I said, I made the petitions and the Leader of the New Democratic Party was publicly out there on TV as well. Everybody was clamouring for it. It surprised everybody that the minister and her government gave it. Actually, most people from what I have heard in the media these last two days since the Budget was delivered have been very thankful for it happening, but surprised that it happened. That seems to be the reaction that I am getting out there.

It is an across the board thing, too. It is not something that was just given based on need or based on income. The government said: We are giving it to everybody. Whether you live on Elizabeth Avenue here in St. John's and your light bill might be $800 a month, or if you live down in Ramea and your light bill is $500 is a month; no matter if you are making $20,000 a year or you are making $500,000 a year, everybody gets treated the same when it comes to that.

Some people disagree with that. Some people, particularly if you are of socialistic NDP-type leanings, are of a view you should not be paid. You are making that much money, you do not need it, so do not give it to them. Other people think: No, no, we all have heating bills and whatever. I have even heard the argument some people have said: Get serious now, the person who lives in St. John's in some big fancy house over in King William Estate, they made a choice to build a house that is $2 million, they made a choice to burn electric heat, so if they are making enough money to live there they should pay their own light bill and not get the rebate. Now, I cannot argue with that and say that is not a fair argument. People are entitled to make that argument and say: No, why would we give it to that person? Why wouldn't we keep it back from that person and give extra to the people who are in a lower income position?

Anyway, whether they are right or they are wrong, the government made the decision and it has been done. That is why you are a government, so you make that decision. Which, by the way, my suspicious nature lets me believe, and I will say publicly, I do not think there was a lot of thought went into that kind of logic as to whether it should be everybody or it should be income-based.

There is no question that October 2011 was the principle consideration for the program applying to everyone. Of course, I refer to the election because it is called an election goody. We want everybody to know that we are a good government. We are going to let everybody know so we have to take it off of everyone. That is called an election goody. It is good, as I say a positive move, and hopefully we as a Province can sustain ourselves and the levels that we do that we can leave it off forever and a day.

There might come a time when we as a Province fall on hard times again and we will see more tax increases and we will see that stuff happening. For now, and based upon what the Minister of Finance is telling us, we are going to be okay for the next few years. I do not know if anybody has given any thought to where we are going to be when the oil runs out, that is another issue. At least for the next couple of years we seem to be doing okay.

The other thing about the HST piece that is going to be lobbed off – and I realize as well from listening to the media yesterday, I actually heard the minister, I believe he was in his district out in Corner Brook and he called in to the Open Line show yesterday morning to Randy Simms. Very legitimate questions being asked: How do we get it? Do we have to apply to get your rebate, or does, for example, Newfoundland Power who sends you your light bill, will Newfoundland Power knock it off your bill so that your bill just comes less that portion and then Newfoundland Power will fix up with government? A far more simplistic, helpful system to the consumer if you can do it that way, it saves all the paperwork; if there are 200,000 households in this Province, it saves 200,000 people having to get all the paperwork through our mail system, get it filled out, get the papers from Government Services. Some people do not know how to fill out the forms quite frankly. I spend a lot of time as an MHA doing that quite often.

I say to the minister and I mean this in all seriousness, if we can make the system that we are going to have for that simplified so that you save the people the trouble; just have Newfoundland Power, or Newfoundland Hydro, or from whomever they buy their energy, let them take that portion right off everybody's tax bill. I think that would be in and of itself a very positive move about this positive election goody that we have here. Just make it administered and implement it properly.

The other piece about the energy thing is while the minister was announcing this on Tuesday – which was good – we have another little piece unfolding about energy over in the place called the PUB and I hope people do not take me wrong when I say over in the PUB because I am not talking about the pub, I am talking about the Public Utilities Board of course. The reason the two are connected is because Nalcor, who runs the Province's energy warehouse they call it, Nalcor has made an application to the Public Utilities Board to increase their bills by 7 per cent. Now, some people are going to think they just misunderstood what I said but I am absolutely clear. Nalcor last week to the Public Utilities Board or the week before made an application to increase their rates by 7 per cent.

Everybody in this Province who buys their power from Nalcor – and, by the way, if you buy your power from Newfoundland Power, Newfoundland Light and Power you are still getting your power from Nalcor because Nalcor sells it to Newfoundland Light and Power – which includes just about everybody here on the Island, everybody in the North East Avalon – for example, St. John's, Lewisporte, Grand Falls, Port aux Basques, Burgeo – Burgeo, I believe, is on the hydro system – you are going to have a 7 per cent increase in your bill from Nalcor. That is going to happen and it is going to happen in 2011.

Nalcor, who this government owns, is over to the Public Utilities Board saying increase the bills by 7 per cent and the Minister of Finance is over here Tuesday saying we are going to give you back 8 per cent. Now, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are no fools; they know that there is no sleight of hand here, you are not fooling them. You gave them 8 per cent, Tuesday, in the Budget and over here Nalcor, which they own by the way – they are the only single shareholder in the world of Nalcor, Newfoundland government – Nalcor is going to take back 7 per cent of that 8 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of people, I am sure, did not know that; never made the connection between the Nalcor rate application to PUB and the government's announcement on the HST. I think if you take 8 per cent that they are giving you, and you take the 7 per cent that Nalcor is going to claw back from you, I do believe the math on that is about 1 per cent. That is just using the simplistic case. Now let's get into some further details on that. According to the Budget documents, the 8 per cent that people are going to get does not click in anyway until October. Best case scenario, it is going to start in October.

Now, we hope, because you have to remember now, the election is in the first week of October. I think it is the second Tuesday of October, if you want to check the calendar. So that means if the program does not start until October 1, 2011, the election will be over before you ever get your bill to find out if you got your cut. That is pretty nifty calculation, I would think. That is pretty nifty calculation. It is pretty close in time, is it not? We are going to give you that 8 per cent cut, which is really a 1 per cent cut, and we are going to give it to you on October 1. Now, we do not know how we are going to do it. We do not know if we are going to make you write out a piece of paper, make an application to send in and get it back, or we do not know if we are going to get the energy companies to knock it right off of your bill.

So there are little details around that election goody that are missing. We hope, at the end of the day, that it stays a goody. We hope it is a goody at the end of the day, because it is certainly not sounding good to me. If you want to talk dollars, it is like telling someone, I am going to give you $8, but over here you are paying out $7 because of a rate increase, so I have a dollar. Well do not tell me I have $8. Why did you not just tell me you are going to give me a buck, if that is the case?

That is fact, by that way. Anybody in Newfoundland and Labrador who has access to a computer can go online right now, flick in Public Utilities Board, and verify that what I just said about the 7 per cent is absolutely correct. Absolutely correct. Now, I am sure there might be some problems. The Public Utilities Board looks at these things very carefully, as to whether the 7 per cent rate application should be accepted.

Of course, sometimes it is the case – you know, what they say, it is not what you know, it is who you know. You have heard that saying. Guess who is the Chair of the Public Utilities Board? Chair of the Public Utilities Board is none other than the former mayor, Mr. Andy Wells. Now, we have not heard a lot out of him lately; he has been pretty quiet since he got into a little spot of trouble about some fundraising issues that were going to go on for him, I believe, an honourary dinner or whatever else that was going to get done when he spoke out on some provincial issues after he got appointed to the board. He got pretty quiet after that. We have not heard much out of him since.

Again, he was a political appointee of this government. I have no doubts that when it comes to having, shall we say, a kind face over at the Public Utilities Board that this government has one over there.

I am surprised some of the media have not made the connection between the 8 per cent goody we are getting and the 7 per cent clawback that we are going to get with the rate increase by Nalcor. God knows, when the 7 per cent clicks in; it may even click in before the goody is supposed to start – it may click in well before the goody is supposed to start. We do not know. It depends on the Public Utilities Board and when they render their decision.

That is stuff we throw out as food for thought because the way the budget process works of course, you have to give credit where it is due, but you also have to raise questions when questions need to be asked and people need the full information. This government always has not been the kind of government that gives you all of the information. We have heard the word secretive fly around here. The secretive government, we have heard that.

When you talk about Nalcor, I can get information out of the United States Secret Service easier than I can get it out of Nalcor. That is true! I can get money out of Fort Knox easier than I can get information out of Nalcor. That is the truth! This government passed a piece of legislation on Nalcor. First, they created Nalcor, the big company. Then they came back a little while after – it was almost like it was sneaking stuff – we will get this first and then we will get this other piece added on and then we will do something else with it. It was a progressional thing.

We ended up in this House of Assembly, now that they had Nalcor created, and they said we have to put some special rules around Nalcor because we cannot just let anybody in the world – we certainly do not want any Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who might be curious as to what their government is doing with their money poking around and finding out what is going on. So, they passed a special law, a special law in this House of Assembly – we voted against it, by the way, the Leader of the NDP, the Leader of the Liberal Party, myself, the Member for Port de Grave, voted against it, spoke out vehemently against it because it is almost like a communist state where you are hiding secrets from people. Everybody else in this Province, for example, if you bid on government work – most everybody, unless there are some exceptions or exemptions you can get for special reasons – you are subject to the Public Tender Act.

We know Eastern Health does not subject it. I asked questions in Question Period today about that, about the genome company. It is obvious that Eastern Health does not have to comply with that either whenever they feel like it, as indicated today by the information I obtained and raised here in Question Period.

Anyway, Nalcor does not have to comply with the Public Tender Act, the process that is supposed to make it fair that if people are going to bid for government work or government services that they want to want to make some money off of, to make sure that is fair, and that government just does not give the money to its buddies. You cannot call up and want a job done or whatever, and say: Come over, Jack, you are going to get this contract. There is a process.

For example, I have a constituency office that I am supposed to run for my constituents to help them out. Sure, I can hardly buy toilet paper for the office without going to get three bids or three quotes on it. I have to, actually. That is the truth. I do not belittle it, but that is how serious it is. If an MHA here wants to go and buy toilet paper for their constituency office, you have to go get three quotes, absolutely, because it means you are spending the government fairly.

Guess what? Nalcor, who this year alone is going to be given $348 million of your money, taxpayers' money, they do not have to tell you one thing about what they do with it. They do not have to comply with any such three quotes or Public Tender Act because they passed a law saying they are secret. We do not have to tell. We do not have to tell. That is the truth.

The Minister of Finance is a pretty upfront fellow, and he cannot deny one thing that I just said. Nalcor does not have to tell anybody, any person in the population of Newfoundland and Labrador, diddlysquat if they do not want to. Guess what? The most amazing of it all, Nalcor does not even have to tell the Auditor General of this Province what they are doing.

They passed a special law. We went through that issue years ago. Could the Auditor General get in and audit the books of the House of Assembly? Yes, he gets in here and audits the books of the House of Assembly. He did not for a long time, but got in here, does it now, and should. He could not get into Memorial University. He still cannot get into the C-NLOPB. I think that is being negotiated. He has the Auditor General of Canada, Ms Fraser, onside with him on that one. I think that is going to happen as well, from what I hear; but no Sir, he cannot get into Nalcor. No way. We get here in the House and the Premier has been asked questions, I kid you not, the Premier of this Province has been asked questions every single day that the House has been sitting about Muskrat Falls. Anybody who has followed it in the House of Assembly proceedings or has followed the media knows that. This Premier has said day after day after day: We have given you all you have asked for; the information is there for you to see. Why are you asking for this information again that we have already given to you?

Mr. Speaker, we have had several meetings with Nalcor, we have raised these questions here in the House of Assembly numerous times, every single day, of this Premier and Minister of Natural Resources. We still do not have the information. When push comes to shove, which it has on a couple of occasions, the Premier has been so embarrassed with saying I gave it to you, knowing she has not given it to us, that she has actually stood up and said, I cannot give it to you because the law will not let me give it to you if it is commercially sensitive.

Can you imagine now? What can you not fit under commercially sensitive? I know everybody is not lawyers, but if you go into the website again, on the web, and search out the law. You can do all this on the web, just look under the Nalcor act and look up the definition of commercially sensitive, stuff you cannot get at because it is commercially sensitive; it is about four pages long. There are about four pages just to define what is commercially sensitive and telling you, you cannot get at it. Now this is a government that expects everybody to buy into Muskrat Falls. Yes, not even talking about Muskrat Falls, the deal itself yet, I am just on the Nalcor piece, the corporation that is doing it.

You talk about blind faith, well maybe in some circles, religious quarters or whatever, that is the way you should and ought to operate. That is not the way you have and should or ought to operate in a democracy. When you live here and you live and run a government that people pay the money into, they have a right to know what you are using their money for. Do not say: I am going to tell you twenty years out; they ought to know now how it is going to be used and what it is going to be used for. The people of this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador will never know what the money was spent on until after it is spent and whether it was ever properly spent. Will not know until after the fact because they say believe me, believe me, and accept what I am telling you because it is absolutely factual.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I had the unfortunate circumstance of taking this government at its face value once before, in the same resource sector, not in the creation of electricity but in another natural resource area called the forestry. I took this government at its face value, believed them, and realized after the fact that I ought not to have. That is about Abitibi. AbitibiBowater – that was a company that operated here in our Province, as many people know. They do not operate here any more. The first incident of course where they closed down a mill – a mill ended up closing – was in Stephenville. It is pretty close to the district that I represent. I know a lot of people of Stephenville, lived there, practised there, still have a lot of good friends there. Yet, at the time the Premier of the day, his way of dealing with the CEO of the company was at one point reported in the media – our Premier's way of dealing with the CEO of Abitibi, who looked after both Stephenville and Grand Falls – he was the big CEO up in Montreal – the Premier said: He needs a fastball up the side of the head. That was his way of dealing with it – he needs a fastball up the side of the head.

Well I think everybody who worked for Abitibi in Stephenville got a fastball up the side of the head. They certainly do not work for Abitibi any more. This was a government that is supposed to be innovative – I have heard this word – strategic, helpful.

MR. POLLARD: Caring.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Caring, as our good member from Baie Verte always says, but yet he was not caring enough to deliver a petition into this House on behalf of his constituents that we had to deliver. Do not talk to me about caring. I am on a very serious topic here right now.

Mr. Speaker, back to Stephenville because that is crucial, was crucial, still crucial. Abitibi closed its doors in Stephenville, the cost of that will always, I do not know if you can measure the cost in terms of the human cost. The people who lost their jobs, the people who had to leave the area to go away, and the people whose normal work habits of getting up in the morning, going to work, and coming home to their families, they no longer have that because they either moved away permanently with their families or they are into a more forced travel situation now because they have to commute to work somewhere in Alberta or central Canada and come home.

That was this government who was on watch when that happened. This is a government who loves to take credit. As I say, they are there for the press conferences, they are there for the photo shots, but you close down a mill, you throw a few bucks at the town, and you say thank you very much and you are on your own.

Now, let me move on to Abitibi and Grand Falls-Windsor, the Central area, and the second one. A year or two later, the same company is on hard times again. Abitibi probably has no more control over global prices of what they can get for their newsprint than, as I say, the government of this Province has over the price of a barrel of oil.

I am not saying the government did not try to find a way, but they were not successful in finding a way. They have not been successful in a lot of cases of finding a way. That is what measures your creativity and your innovation. It is not picking up the pieces after something has gone and saying: We were great and pat ourselves on the backs because we managed to replace that industry with something else. It is about how creative and innovative you could be to make it continue to exist in the first place. That is where the measure of your governance is going to come in.

Proper governance is not measured by how many communities or how many major businesses or small businesses closed down on your watch, and you tried to replace it with something else. How many businesses did you salvage if you had applied yourselves or had the ability to apply yourselves and your resources that we have in this Province properly?

For example, I will use it in a context again of credit. I am always accused by this government of not giving credit. I heard mentioned across the floor today, Arnold's Cove. Take the Member here from Bellevue District, for example. That is a very important industry in his district. I know that gentleman who represents that district comes from a fishing background himself. He has been in the industry and understands the industry. That was a case where the current government did something very positive. I would be the first one to admit that. That was a case where the lifeblood of a community was not extinguished. The government found a way to make it work, and it is still working. That is positive.

It is unfortunate that we do not see that from this government when it comes to other initiatives. We just cannot simply let the Abitibi's of Stephenville and the Abitibi's of Central close because we cannot find a solution.

Back to my original statement, when I mentioned Abitibi, originally, I took this government at its face value as to what was going on with Abitibi. They were in trouble. Everybody reads the newspaper. It does not have to be The Globe and Mail, it could any newspaper and you knew they were in trouble. They had spent successive months and years trying to negotiate different union contracts so they could get lesser wages, cut down and be able to survive. It did not work out. Those were union-management issues and they tried.

We found ourselves here in December, I do believe it was, 2008. We were summoned to the Premier's office. The House was in session, we were going to start that day at 1:30 p.m. We were all summoned up to the Premier's office. You have to come up, there is something special happening. We went to his boardroom and he said: We are expropriating Abitibi in Grand Falls-Windsor. They are going to go into bankruptcy. We have to protect our forest resources, we have to protect the industry, we have to protect the people of the area, and we need to do this because they might do this overnight. We have to act promptly, quickly, boom. Take us at our word. We do not have time to contest this. We do not want you going into the House and raising questions about this. We do not want dragged out debate on this. This is not responsible if you drag out debate on this. We need this done. Accept our word on this. Right from the former Premier Danny Williams of this Province to this gentleman, to the Leader of the Opposition, to the Member for Port de Grave, that was what we were told. Premier, it is not a problem. That is why you are the Premier and that is why we have to trust your judgement on this issue.

We came here in the House and in the course of an afternoon, without a shot being fired, without an argument being made or without a question being asked because that is the way it was put to us in Opposition, we took the Premier and his government at their face. The vote was unanimous. Nobody in this room was going to vote to do anything to hurt anyone in this Province if we could help it. That is the exact way it was portrayed to everybody. We have to protect ours and our own. It was done.

We left the meeting and we went to a special meeting then with Nalcor. The same gentleman who is today looking after the Muskrat Falls deal, the CEO, Mr. Ed Martin, was the gentleman who led the presentation, the briefing for us out here in the boardroom. He said: This is what we are doing. We are taking back the forest resources. We are not touching the mill. We do not want the mill. The mill is full of environmental issues. It has been there for years, decades. We do not want that mill because it is only going to cause us problems and headaches, but we need to protect what we can protect and what we can reuse in the future; for example, the forest resources was the big thing.

Now, in the midst of this we were also told, by the way, there were a couple of companies that had generating facilities up on the river. One was Fortis on the Exploits and another one was NL I think is the pronunciation, but it is actually Enel, but they pronounced it NL up on the river. We are acting so quickly, we realize we are going to be negative because we expropriate, we are going to hurt these companies that are innocent bystanders, but we have to do it. We will fix up with them and keep them whole at the end of the day. That was the explanation that we were given, not only by the Premier but by Mr. Martin. He had his back up there. He had his lawyers there with him, his engineers, and everybody else.

The reason the Premier did that, of course, and set up that briefing was so that we would have a comfort level to come into the House and at least have some background understanding of the expropriation legislation. So, we expropriated it and there has been nothing but trouble and expense since. This government will try to duck the bullet when it comes to Abitibi in Central. As I say, you can apply all the resources you want, and you should, in trying to help the people out there who were negatively impacted, in trying to replace the industry in the area, whether you do it in a number of different industries or you can get the mill reactivated in some capacity. I understand from our Estimates Committee last night in talking to the Minister of Natural Resources that that may well be imminent, and hopefully something positive will come of that. Apparently there were several bids of interest shown in that facility, and hopefully something can come of it.

The bottom line is since we expropriated Abitibi, we have had nothing but cost and problems. I do not mean it is a problem to look after the people who were affected by that closure. I do not mean it is a problem to try to do something to help people out in terms of another industry. That is all good stuff. You have an issue you had to deal with. The problem is: Ask yourself why we ever expropriated in the first place? Ask yourself. I just said, day one, we were told: We did not want the mill. Well, guess what? Problem number one was we took a mill. They overlooked it. The biggest piece of Abitibi that we did not want was the paper mill itself in Grand Falls-Windsor. They did not want it but we got it. Now, God knows what we are in for with that mill. We have had security costs on it ever since. Everybody admits there are environmental issues there with that paper mill that was used as a paper mill for decades. We do not know what is in that. Abitibi, of course, quite smartly - they thought they were anyway – says: You took the mill, we do not own it; you look after it. That was mistake number one.

I will come back to the mill piece again and the environmental liabilities. Just remember the picture I started off with. We took AbitibiBowater's assets in Central Newfoundland to protect them and to protect the people. Number one, we took a mill we did not want; number two, we wanted to protect the forest resources. Guess what, folks? There is legislation in this Province already on the books, it was on the books the day we did the expropriation which says, and still says, that if you cease to operate the mill in Grand Falls-Windsor, you lose your rights to your timber. That was there. We did not need to expropriate to take back the rights to the forest, they were ours. The minute that Abitibi ceased to be Abitibi as a paper mill, their rights were forfeited. The Members for Grand Falls – there are two of them – are aware of that. It was bantered about for years and years that you have to keep number seven going because if you do not you lose the rights. You have to keep this one going or you lose the rights to the forest.

We did not need it to get a mill that we did not want. We did not need to expropriate to get the forest that came back to us automatically the minute they ceased to operate a mill. So, what else did we get out of this deal? We received two power generation facilities up on the Exploits River, Fortis owned one, Enel owned the other. Guess what? Two-and-a-half years later, just last week, the Minister of Natural Resources is up saying: A little announcement here, we are going to give Enel $73 million for the generation facility that we took as part of the expropriation. They still have not settled with Fortis. We still do not know what this government is going to have to pay Fortis for what they have up on the river. Guess what? They never had that generation for years and years, they only ever got it because they did the expropriation. So, we end up with a mill that we did not want. We got our forest resources that we always had protected with our legislation without the expropriation. We just paid out $73 million for the Enel generation up on the river that we never owned from day one anyway, and obviously, we are not going to need once we get this big Muskrat on the go, because we are only capable of using 40 per cent of what Muskrat is going to give us. Now, mind you, what they just paid $73 million for, that only generates 15 megawatts. We are getting 823 megawatts out of Muskrat Falls and we can only use, by the government's own figures, 40 per cent of it.

So, the minister gets up and gives this bright, big answer: Oh, we took it because it adds to our energy warehouse again. Yes, 15 megawatts that we are going to pay $73 million for. We do not know where we are going to put the other 40 per cent surplus we got out of Muskrat. Because we know Emera is getting thirty-five years of free power taking 20 per cent of it, we are going to use 40 per cent of it, there is 40 per cent left of Muskrat, and here we are out paying $73 million. You would not know from the minister's statement last week that he got a great deal on a power generation station. Little did he tell anybody that we have to pay it because we took it in the first place from them and now we are expected to pay for it. I never heard that explanation from the minister. I never heard that explanation. I am sure, I am absolutely positive that there is not a single member of the government side who knows the background on that, what I just explained.

MR. KENT: The minister does.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Oh, I hope the minister knows, I say to the Member for Mount Pearl North. I hope he knows. If the minister did not know, I would be very surprised. My concern is not that the minister did not know. My concern is that the minister never told the full story to the people about it. You would not know but we just bought a brand new car or something. You would not know but we just bought some super duper generation station, the fact that it was tied in to our expropriation piece.

Another little berry, Mr. Speaker, that the people of this Province probably do not worry about, because unless it hits you in your pocketbook sometimes you probably do not give it the same consideration as you would if you have to take it out of your own pocket. There is a thing called NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Act, and guess what? Abitibi, whose main headquarters is in the United States and who is a party to NAFTA, they said: Just a minute, guys. That little expropriation trick you pulled on us is contrary to the rules under NAFTA. They told the Canadian government so, lodged a complaint in the tribunal that deals with these issues if you breach NAFTA, and the Canadian taxpayers, which includes us 500,000 mortals in Newfoundland and Labrador, by the way, the federal government had to pay Abitibi $130 million.

Let's do the math. We took Abitibi. So far, Abitibi walked off with $130 million. One of the companies up on the river got $73 million. I think that is somewhere around $200 million we will say. The piece is: We have not paid Fortis yet for theirs. We do not know what they got yet. Guess what? The biggest single piece of it is: None of this was necessary. We did not want the mill. We did not want the generation. We had the forest back under the other laws that existed, so what did we get from that exercise of expropriation of Abitibi? Done under the guise of protecting people, protecting our resources, it turned out to be a bigger boondoggle than Sprung Greenhouse will ever be. That, by the way, was a PC initiative as well. We were going to grow cucumbers. The problem is we were going to grow them for about $8 a cucumber and sell them for fifty cents a cucumber and somebody figured out after that is not good business. We scrapped that cucumber deal.

Before I leave the Abitibi piece, because that was a very, very important deal that went terribly wrong, I say to the Member for Mount Pearl South –

AN HON. MEMBER: North.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: North. I get confused; you look so much alike – North, South.

Mr. Speaker, the Member for Mount Pearl North, it was an important deal. It was a deal that went wrong in the case of Sprung and Abitibi was a deal that went wrong. It is about the Budget because so far you, who represents one of the forty-eight districts in this Province and the people, we have just paid out, to say nothing of what we have had to put in to helping people with their lives, that is all good money spent, trying to rebuild and re-attract business to Central Newfoundland for what happened, my point I am making here, a very valid point, is that it cost taxpayers so far $200 million. We do not know how many more millions it is going to cost us and that is a budgetary issue because at the end of the day somebody pays the piper.

Mr. Speaker, back to the mill again, because we talk about contingent liabilities or liabilities in your Budget is a very important issue. Now, we did Estimates yesterday with the Department of Natural Resources, it has been acknowledged by the Minister of Natural Resources that there is absolutely nothing in the Budget for the environmental liabilities associated with the mill that we now own. Everybody knows there was a big court case on that, we lost in the first round, and the court in Quebec basically said: You took the mill, you took what is with it, and you have to clean it up. The Province has appealed it to the Supreme Court of Canada. Hopefully that decision is reversed, so that we, the people of this Province, are not on the hook for the environmental cleanup. Because I can assure you, based on what it cost to clean up Hope Brook Gold Mine in my district ten years ago, I can imagine what it is going to cost to clean up the Abitibi mill. It was something like $26 million at the end of the day to clean up the Hope Brook gold site. I can imagine what it is going to come to, to clean up the mill.

Anyway, that is a Budget issue that this government in its vision, as they say on their booklet: vision - vision sees everything usually. If you have twenty-twenty vision, Mr. Speaker, you see not only the bright spots but sometimes if you see a pothole in the road you are suppose to see that as well. This government would have you believe that there are no potholes in the road. They would have you believe there are no potholes such as the environmental liabilities of this Province.

The people of the Province who are watching this might wonder: Why is that important to me? You use these phrases like environmental liabilities and so on, lawyer talk, put it in common sense phrases for us. What do you mean? Well, it means a lot because the way the world works today, if you mess up your environment, you have to clean it up. We have messed it up in cases like the Abitibi mill and we have to clean it up. If you take the money that you have in your pocketbook to clean up places like the Grand Falls-Windsor mill, you do not have money to do the other things that you want to do with that money, such as education and health.

The point here is there is an environmental liability that is going to cost somebody money. Right now, unless the Supreme Court of Canada decides otherwise, it is going to be this Province that pays for it. If we are going to have to put $150 million or $200 million into cleaning up a mill that we took accidentally, that is a mistake. If we had not accidentally taken it, we would not be on the hook for the liabilities. That is an important budgetary issue. That $150 million or $200 million it is going to cost the people of this Province to clean up something that you were not supposed to have in the first place and be responsible for could be used in a lot better ways.

Now, that is just the mill. When it comes to the environmental piece – and I am referring here, Mr. Speaker, to the Auditor General's report. The Auditor General of this Province, in addition to pointing out about the sustainability of where we are going, for example, can we pay our bills on a go-forward basis – and he has raised that question for a number of years and he has raised it in this report, the most recent one, again – he also talks about the environmental liabilities issue. It is like it does not exist. It is like the old phrase: Whistling by the graveyard. You do not know there is anything wrong or anything amiss, and the next thing you know you are in it. You did not pay any attention to it.

The Auditor General of this Province has pointed out that this government – and by the way they have been here for eight years or nine years – has nothing set up on their books for environmental liabilities. That is a mirage. That does not exist. Nobody is going to have to pay for that. You talk about good financial, fiscal managers of the economy, yet one of the most important, possibly costly ventures in our Province, an environmental cleanup, and we do not even put that in the books. We do not have a plan. We do not even have a plan for that, let alone come up with an estimate or a guesstimate even. We do not even have a plan.

This is the crowd who are telling the people of this Province: Trust us, we are the best managers. You are managing money that you never, ever had or created in the first place and you are not doing a particularly good job at it. You certainly have not shown any creativity or innovation for anything new, other than grow on projects that already existed. I think you had a pretty good template for the offshore when you did Hebron. You are pretty stupid if you cannot follow what was already done three times before. It is a pretty good template, and pretty easy to negotiate and tinker with how you are going to deal with mining companies if you have had it done with a Voisey's Bay type of deal. It is pretty easy to do that because those templates were there.

You have not been too successful on the industries in this Province that do not have the template, for example, the fishery. That is a shocking one. It was the first time today in this House in this session, five weeks - the first time - despite numerous questions, that the Premier stood on her feet and addressed the fishery issue. Why, you ask yourself. Why does the Premier of this Province who herself grew up in a fishing village not answer any questions about the fishery except for today for the first time? I think it might have something to do with the fact that the galleries were filled with people from Port Union. Maybe that was a little bit of embarrassment to her. She could not say today she was not getting up. She was embarrassed today so she had to get up and take the fishery questions.

With all due respect, I would rather hear the Premier get up and speak about the fishery issues because guess what, even though she does not touch a fishery file or seem to want to touch a fishery file, I think she knows a lot more about it than the Minister of Fisheries – absolutely. We asked questions here in this House of Assembly last December and the only thing we received out of the mouth of the Minister of Fisheries was: MOU, MOU, and MOU. That is all we heard: MOU, MOU, MOU, and everybody in this Province was starting to seriously wonder is there anything else that the man knows.

He told us for months and months and months: It is all in hand, we have this MOU going on, we are looking for solutions, and we are working with the stakeholders in the industry. We are working with the processors, we are working with the harvesters, and we are working with the FFAW. We are going to all come to the table and we are going to get a plan. We will decide what it all cost, how we are going to restructure and on we go with our fishing industry. Meanwhile, do not ask me any questions until the process is complete. He gets the report, Mr. Speaker, and I would say it was the fastest report that ever came into the government coffers that went into that round filing cabinet that we keep next to our desk. It went right in the garbage bucket, right in the garbage can. He never even took it to the Cabinet.

Can you imagine the fisherpersons in this Province, whether you are a union, processor, harvester, or plant worker? A man stood up in this House of Assembly and public stages all over this Province for twenty months and said: We are getting the right report done. We are going to be there to look after you. He took it and within forty-eight hours he put it in the can. This was after having 153 days, he said, to fine-tune it before he released it and never even took it to Cabinet.

Then last week, he could not fudge any more, Mr. Speaker, because there was no more MOU to deal with. He had buried that. He was asked a few questions about the shrimp industry on the Northern Peninsula and cuts, and the answers were pathetic. They were absolutely, Mr. Speaker, nonfactual. He did not refer to shrimp once in response. It was absolutely shameful the responses that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is giving to the people in this Province who are involved in the fishing industry, bereft of answers and bereft of help. If all you have to offer is platitudes, then that is not good enough. It is people's lives that we are tampering with. It might not have the same focus if you live on the Northeast Avalon; it is all the focus if you live in rural Newfoundland, and ought to be.

Yes, you talk about pointing out positives again, I will give the government a bouquet again for what they are doing down on the South Coast when it comes to aquaculture. Again, it was the former Administration that started it. They cannot take credit for starting aquaculture in Newfoundland either, folks, believe it or not. They put some more money into it because we have surpluses, but they did not start it. It was started under a Liberal watch, again. It is another one, in case some of the members here are so recent they are not aware of that. A lot of the Conservative members who are in this House of Assembly actually believe the rhetoric that they started these things. They bought into that. They believe that.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, that is just a couple of comments on the fishery and what is not being done in the fishery. Let us delve into a couple of –

AN HON. MEMBER: Delve into the Budget.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I will delve into the Budget, I say to the Member for Mount Pearl. I just came across a little clipping that is a Budget one too. You remember, folks, last year we were all proclaimed to be a have province. We are such a have province that we are going to have a party. I pick up the weekend paper on Saturday, April 16, this year and we talk about a party, a party that we never had. It reminded me of the old song, Wasn't That a Party. This was a case where it definitely was not a party.

Guess what, folks? I am willing to bet, Mr. Speaker, that there are people in Newfoundland and Labrador who never happened to read The Telegram last week who are not aware that this government spent $174,000 on a party that did not take place. Now, can you believe it? You talk about waste, Mr. Speaker. This is the crowd who are the good managers of your money, I say to the Member for Mount Pearl South. I say trust us, we will look after your money. Imagine, Mr. Speaker, $175,000 for a so-called party and they forgot to have the party.

You have all heard me talk about my Joe Chesterfield and whatever. Joe does not have $175,000, folks. I am sure he is not very pleased to know that this government spent $175,000 to plan for a party and did not have the party. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are pretty good at having a party when we want to have them. We can cause them just about anywhere, any time. It usually does not take us that much money to have one.

Mr. Speaker, there are some issues here too that the minister needs to respond to in due course. I have mixed this obviously with all these issues – I am not making light of this stuff when it comes to Abitibi, this is very serious stuff when it costs us. I may say some of this stuff in a joking vein but the theme here is very, very serious, it is about spending people's money, it is about being good administrators, it is about what you are doing with people's money.

Another one yesterday, for example, we asked a question. The Minister of Finance, in fairness to him, he was at a function in Corner Brook I believe and the Minister of Health and Community Services, who was the former Minister of Finance, took the question. Anyway, the question was - and I put it to the Minister of Finance now to be answered again when he gets an opportunity in his debate, in his response. It is pointed out in this year's Budget that we are increasing the net debt. The net debt of this Province is increasing. We are up to 8.2, I believe, this year, Minister. I will get back my little, small pamphlet book I had here.

MR. MARSHALL: We were down to 8.2 and we are going to 8.6.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Yes, we were down to 8.2 in net debt; after this year, despite the surplus, we are going to go up to 8.6.

My question to the minister is: The pensions, as I understand it in this Province, are underfunded. We all knew they were underfunded. We know that the Premier, formerly, who got some of the Accord money, it my understanding, got lumped into unfunded pension liabilities, all of it was lumped in there, a great move. For a lot of people, their pensions, that is their life savings basically to support themselves. It is still underfunded.

The Newfoundland and Labrador teachers' plan, as I understand, is underfunded. The Newfoundland and Labrador public service, everybody who works for the public service in this Province, is underfunded. There are a number of them: the MHA fund, a whole pile of different pensions that comes under the ambit of government is seriously underfunded and $600 million were underfunded last year – actually, $588 million, the increase up from $588 million.

Now, my question of the minister was: Why were we short the $600 million? Apparently, it was an increase of $600 million in the underfunded portion. Our question was directed to the minister yesterday and the minister's response was basically: Well, the markets dictated it. Now, I am just wondering, that did not seem to be a comprehensive enough answer because we all know that two or three years ago when we had the economic tsunami we will call it, the global disaster economically, that yes, everybody's pension took a pounding whether you had an RRSP in the marketplace, everybody, you could have lost anywhere from 30 per cent to 50 per cent or more because of the markets. I do not know, maybe I am just dealing with a better manager, but in the last two years the investments have come back like 100 per cent. If you had $100,000 in your RRSP and you lost $50,000 of it because of the markets declining during the global disaster, most of that has come back. Everybody I have talked to, friends who had RRSPs and whatever, and looking at your own investments, people say: Yes, it pretty well bounced back. Some have been lucky enough to do even more than total recovery. I am just wondering why our pension funds would be almost $600 million, $588 million underfunded? It is certainly not based on the market; otherwise, it is time for the government to look at who is managing their money, because I do not think that is the record that everybody else has. Like I say, in fairness to the minister, he was not able to answer that question earlier, but hopefully, we will get a more comprehensive answering to that.

I have dealt with some of the fisheries issues in the Budget. As I say, we have seen no investment in this Budget. It is absolutely frightening, the lack of investment we see in this Budget in the fishery. Now, the minister can get up and you ask him what the real investment was, and he says: Well, we put in $300,000 to extend the Coastal and Oceans Management Program. That is big stuff. The biggest, most promising piece was in the aquaculture. As I say, accolades to the government for putting that in, but what else have we seen of any substance put into the Department of Fisheries for the other pieces of the fishery? The fishery is not just about the aquaculture piece. That is a very positive, glowing piece that would probably grow on its own, actually. What about the other sectors of the fishery that we see absolutely or very little being done with?

I allude, of course, again, and refer to my comments about MOU. When we talk about restructuring and where we are going with the fishery, all I hear from this minister is: If you hold your breath long enough, you sit back, it will restructure. It will restructure itself. I think there are a lot of industries can go that way. Do not worry about it, we are not going to have to deal with 20,000 people in the fishery down the road, because if we wait another five years, there is only going to be 1,000 or 2,000 left anyway, and then we do not have to deal with the issue.

I have a few comments on the environment. I will just flip through some of the departments. We will get into this in real seriousness when we get into the Estimates. I do not know about anyone else in this Province, but environmental issues, environmental assessment, the environment seems to be one of the bright lights, new departments advancing in time. Yet, the Department of Environment and Conservation cut $7.6 million from its budget. Environmental Management and Control was cut by $3 million; $2.2 million was put into Hopedale. That comes back to one of these remediation projects I referenced earlier. This is only one year of funding, I believe Hopedale had other monies put into it in last year's budget for cleanup. It is very weak on the environment when it comes to the Budget this year. I think one of, or if not the only department in government that had its budget cut this year was the Department of Environment.

Also, we noticed from talking to the minister in Estimates again, and I refer to the Auditor General's report, which I waved around earlier and talked about, which there has still been nothing done about and no money referenced in the Budget to do anything about, and that is about contaminated sites. They have no handle whatsoever in the Department of Environment on contaminated sites. They do not have a clue, according to the Auditor General, when it comes to getting a handle on a number of contaminated sites in this Province, what is involved, how they are going to be cleaned up, how they need to be cleaned up and so on.

Education, the total department, as I said earlier, one of the bigger departments; next to health, it is the biggest one. Between health and education, I believe I said seventy cents of every dollar that we spend in this Province goes to health and education.

There are some things put in there, and repeated, some things were there before: $1.3 million for Early Childhood Learning Strategy; $11 million for computers and interactive whiteboards; $94.5 million for new and continued K-12 infrastructure; $6.4 million to maintain the MUN freeze, and at CONA. That is good stuff. Again, an initiative, by the way, that was started with the former Liberal government. The PC government did not start the tuition freezes, just in case people get mixed up in the facts after a while. They think all of this stuff came from this government. The tuition freezes at Memorial University and the College of the North Atlantic were first implemented by the Liberals. You have not seen any improvement in it, you have not seen them reduce the tuitions; they maintain the freeze. They have been eight years frozen in the same position. They would have you believe they did a great thing. They kept it in place, what the former Liberal government implemented. They have not reduced it any. They would have you believe they froze it in the first place. That is absolutely not correct.

There is no new school for the west end of St. John's. That has been a pretty controversial topic in the city; no new school in there for St. John's. No extension to Beaconsfield Junior High. The NLTA, by the way, for the minister – the minister was out of town yesterday, so I am not sure if you were informed on all the commentary. Randy Simms on Open Line, I think, today described it. He took a couple of days; Randy had to get more questions asked and more information given to him. I think today I heard someone say - I did not hear him myself - he gave it a B. I think that is what he said; he would give it a B.

Anyone who knows Randy Simms who is the Open Line show host, we are only into day two, he has to dig into this a bit further yet. I am sure that is only a preliminary assessment by him yet because he is a pretty thorough fellow. He delves into things pretty good. For example, on Muskrat Falls, he is offside with the government there. They do not like Randy Simms' position on the Muskrat because he is so well-respected in the Province on his Open Line show and he has influence with so many people every day. Randy is out there saying: I have problems with this Muskrat Falls. He is taking the time to look at some of the fine print; he is taking time to analyze the deal.

He is not like a lot of MHAs, for example, on the government who have not raised one question, took everything hook, line and sinker. They were told it was a good deal. They have not raised one question, probably went to a briefing with Nalcor, took everything in hook, line and sinker and said: We do not need to ask any questions because these people did it right. They do not make any mistakes. No, I guess they did not make any mistakes on Abitibi either. They did not make any mistakes there.

MR. F. COLLINS: They all fell asleep (inaudible).

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Yes, I say to the Minister of Justice I agree with you, they probably did fall asleep at the briefing. I agree with you, Minister. You are absolutely right, Minister, they probably fell asleep at the briefing that they got as government members, yes sir.

To the minister anyway, the NLTA came out yesterday and said this was a missed opportunity. The Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association came out in response to the Budget - I have a few moments left, I just want to run it through the minister, I have gone through education, I have touched upon the environment, I have touched upon fisheries, and I have touched upon wastefulness like parties you did not have, and Abitibi and all that stuff. I have touched upon the Muskrat briefly. I would need about ten, twelve hours and I would certainly appreciate it if you would ever give me the leave to do that, to really, really get into Muskrat Falls.

Back to the minister and some of the reaction, the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association calls the Budget a missed opportunity. They said it is a status quo Budget with all of their recommendations ignored. Now, I am not telling fibs here. I am not telling lies out of school. That is the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association, folks. Those are the people who teach all of our children and grandchildren in this Province who came out and said this government missed the opportunity, status quo, with all of their recommendations ignored. There was nothing on additional resources for inclusive education, nothing on teacher allocations in special education, nothing on small rural schools, nothing on large high school classes, nothing on funding for substitute teachers, and nothing on professional development and family leave. Now, that is just one group, the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association.

Mr. Minister, also the Federation of Students came out and said more could have been done to improve access and reduce debt. That ties in with what I just said earlier about the freeze. They are very appreciative that you froze their tuition and have kept it frozen, which the Liberals started doing back years ago. They all appreciate that. They are also saying you have not done anything in eight years to improve access and reduce debt. That is their wording; I did not create the wording. Apparently 15,000 of them signed Fund the Future postcards and sent them to government. They were expecting more out of this Budget. There were no new announcements on financial assistance.

Now, that is two major groups in our society, Mr. Speaker. That is the Federation of Students and the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association. I believe somewhere I have a list of some other people who commented.

The minister is cute, you know. The Minister of Finance is pretty cute. He will go out and talk to the bankers: Oh, the bankers back me, or the accountants back me. The chartered accountants institute back me. You notice it is always from a business perspective to show that maybe we are on the right track fiscally, economically, and whatever. Yet, when it comes to anybody in this Province who is impacted socially, this is where you get some of the commentary. These are the teachers of our Province who are concerned about our children and grandchildren. These are the students of our Province who we claim to have so much respect for. I have heard the Minister of Education, successive Ministers of Education, and the Premier get up and talk about the students are our future. They are our future. Well, that is the response from the Federation of Students and that is from the teachers.

A lot of the members who sit in the PC caucus are retired teachers; you understand where I am coming from and who I am talking about. You understand that. The Member for Baie Verte, the Minister of Business, the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, they were all former teachers, the Minister of Transportation, they understood that. That is not what the group out there thought you did; they thought, from a Budget point of view yesterday, that you might have left them a bit short. The new Member for Humber West, they all thought you might have left them a bit short.

Now, let me see who else: the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. I did happen to hear the minister's response to Mr. George. Bradley George, who is the President, I guess, or CEO, or Executive Director of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, he gave it a C. He gave it a C. That was the comment, I heard him say that. He referenced it in terms of your spending, he said it is unsustainable. You should focus on jobs and debt and you should dump the payroll tax. That was his opinion.

Now, you cannot slam people any more, folks. You might have gotten away with that for seven or eight years under the former Premier because he beat up on a lot of people. A lot of people who you are hearing from today in the media with their budgetary comments, you would not have heard them two years ago. You would not have heard them last year when he was here, but you are hearing some of these people speak out now because there is a different level. There is more of a comfort level that people now feel that we can actually speak out without getting chastised. We are not going to get a phone call from the boss up on the hill telling us we are going to get a fastball up the side of the head if we do not behave ourselves. That is over. That is not on any more. This is a gentler, sweeter Premier, as somebody said in one of the articles in the paper last week. You are starting to hear some of these comments now. People would not speak out before. The St. John's Board of Trade is no fan of it.

These are just some sectors. I do not know, maybe the members on the government side might figure that you drop the Budget here on Tuesday and everybody fell in love with it. There were a few good things in there as I say if you look at the surface and you say we are giving you 8 per cent on your HST, but then you did not tell them the story about taking 7 per cent of it back with the Nalcor increase. When people only see a piece of it they think they have a great deal, but I am just trying to point out to the people and even some members here in the House that not everybody thought it was such a great Budget. A great Budget is an A. That is an A Budget. The best Randy Simms gave it was a B. The best Bradley George gave it was a C. The Board of Trade gave it a thumbs-up and then said no.

You had certain groups, for example, who were thrilled who got a particular program or a particular piece of infrastructure. For example, the Consumers' Health Awareness Network, which Mr. Ralph heads up, and the Canadian Mental Health Association, they are obviously pleased that there is even an indication we are going to get a new Waterford Hospital - obviously pleased. That is a singular comment upon a particular piece of the Budget; we are going to get a new hospital. I hope it does not take them as long to get a new Waterford as it has taken them to build the hospital up in Lab West. I was there in 2003 when we first heard the announcement on Lab West in the Budget of 2004. I do believe this is 2011, seven years later and fifty-six announcements later about what is happening up in Lab West and the hospital is still not open. I hope the Waterford does not take that long. I certainly hope it does not.

Anyway, I can see why these people would be pleased with those, as I say, singular type, one-time budgetary items. The Waterford is not going to be a one-time. In order to replace the Waterford Hospital, I would suspect we are going to be seeing that in Budgets for years to come. It is going to be something like the James Paton Memorial Hospital. Because I know back in the Liberal days when we were in government, there was always money for refurbishment and renovations going into James Paton. I notice in this year's Budget it is still going in again. It is a constant need when you have health care institutions.

The Western Star seemed not too impressed. The Member for Humber West would have read that. The Member for Humber East, who is the Minister of Finance, certainly would have seen it. From what I read, they are not too impressed. They referenced words like rural negligence. The Federation of Municipalities were pleased. I heard the gentleman out -

MR. DENINE: (Inaudible).

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Yes. See, the Member for Mount Pearl South cannot believe that I actually tell the whole story. I say who is pleased and I say who is displeased. He cannot believe that I just said that the Federation of Municipalities president said it was a good Budget. That is absolutely what he said and he liked it, of course, as I am sure every mayor and councillor in this Province liked it because their Municipal Operating Grants were increased.

Mind you, there was confusion again in the different board rooms where they set up the Budget lockups where they explained to everybody what was happening because we had –

MR. SPEAKER (Kelly): Order, please!

I respectfully ask the hon. member to address the Chair.

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

It is just that I am being distracted again by the Member for Mount Pearl South, Mr. Speaker. He poses questions, yet he is down in the other end of the House and I have to address my answers to you, but I will certainly do that, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, there was a little issue about MOGs in the sense of – and I am glad it was clarified, and the clarification came down on the right side of things. Because they talked about communities under 1,000 getting 50 per cent, communities between 1,000 and 2,000 getting so much, and it was confusing whether it was going to be 10, 20, or 30 per cent, and how it was going to just come out of that pot; and secondly, was it going to be one-time funding. According to the Estimates responses that the Minister of Municipal Affairs gave to our critic, the Member for The Straits & White Bay North, in the Estimates yesterday morning, he has indicated that it will be in some form or other; it is intended to be permanent. So, that is good news for the municipalities.

The way he explained it was that, if you, as a municipality – and I will just use some round figures. If you, for example, have a $10,000 MOG this year, next year, yours will be $15,000 under this Budget, and hopefully it will be permanent. We may have a new system of deciding what the MOGs are going to be. The minister personally explained to me, when I asked him about it, that it is very complicated, the one that we have now, and he may have to resort to a new system, but he fully intends that there will be a continuation of the MOGs.

Now mind you, there is no doubt, let us not kid ourselves again, that is an election goody. There is an election in October, and one of the groups that the government wants on side, of course, are the municipalities. So, what do you do to get the municipalities and all the councils and the mayors onside with you? Let's give them an increase in their MOGs. Guess what? The same president, the same federation, the Federation of Municipalities, has been asking this government for that for years and years. For years and years, Mr. Speaker, they asked this government. By the way, the minister stands up and says we have had successive years of surplus, six out of seven, I think he said, six out of seven or five out of six, we have had years of surplus, yet, lo and behold, God bless, in a Budget before the election that is coming up in October, they say to the municipalities, we are going to give you a few dollars.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

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

There were Ms Payne and Ms Furlong with the various unions. Ms Furlong, of course, heads up the Newfoundland Association of Public Employees; very impressive leadership in the group, a very large group, as well as Ms Payne. There was nothing in it for workers, was their commentary.

Now, so far, if you take the students that we have at university and CNA who are on the negative side – let's have a set of weigh scales here - they said, that is people and that is votes, because that is what the government did this for, was a vote. So, you have all of your teachers in the NLTA, you have your students over in CNA and MUN, you have the leadership of NAPE, you have the leadership through Ms Payne's group, that is all so far: Well, there is nothing extra special in this for us. You have the Board of Trade, who represents a lot of businesses, saying nope. You have the Canadian Federation of Independent Business saying nope. Now, that is a little bit of negativity. The Telegram–

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I am going to have to ask for your protection, and if the members could be quiet because I cannot hear myself think.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, The Telegram, nope was their answer. There is higher debt in here, talked about future deficits, and have a problem. The Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women is very happy, very happy. They have $46,000, I think it was, to be spread around amongst eight of them. They were profuse in their support for the government. Great stuff. Again, they are very singular, do you notice? They are very singular groups, right? They are very singular, like the provincial status of women. The Nurses' Union, you talk about women, the bulk of those people in the Nurses' Union are women. What did they say: nope. Some of their references, Mr. Minister: inadequate child care; minimal health care attention; money for doctors but not for nurses.

MR. MARSHALL: (Inaudible).

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I am just passing on the information, Mr. Minister; I am not making any of this up.

Personal care home association, if there is anything been talked about on the airwaves in the last few years about being mistreated. Mr. Lane is out there all the time slamming them, subsidy increase too small.

That is just some of the reaction that we have had. So, it has not all been positive. I am sure you can find some who say it is positive. I heard Ms Kaminski of Eastern Health say. Now, all paid government employees, no doubt, a lot of these people who speak out in favour of it happen to be people who – she takes her pay cheque, Ms Kaminski, from Eastern Health. She works for the government. I would not expect her to come out as the head of Eastern Health and say: No, it is a terrible Budget. I would not think she would say that even if it was terrible. I would not expect that, I am sure there is nobody in this good Province of ours would expect Ms Kaminski, who is the CEO of Eastern Health, to come out and say this is a bad Budget against her minister and this government that pays her pay cheque.

Now, let's get back to some more of the department stuff. Forestry and Agrifoods, the forestry management budget is $3.4 million less. You talk about money that we put into our resources again, as I commented earlier on when I started off, or lack of, 4.4 per cent of the Budget. Mr. Speaker, $3.4 million less in forest management. Agrifoods development budget is $500,000 more than last year's budget; $1.1 million over three years for forest research and innovation; $250,000 to implement the Agriculture and Agrifoods Action Plan, focus on food security and new commercial initiatives; $500,000 for new equipment for the Animal Health Lab. Apparently, from what we see there – and we could be wrong, and again, the Minister of Agrifoods will certainly correct us when he gets an opportunity to speak - it looked like there was only $150,000 there to encourage new farming, which seems to be a bit short on the take.

Natural Resources, the minister was asked - we are still waiting, of course, as I said earlier, we would like to hear some facts on the Fortis settlement. Please, when the minister does the Fortis deal on the properties up on the Exploits, do not try to guise it under we just bought a great asset for ourselves that we fully want and we hoped we had built it in the first place, and it is going to add to our energy warehouse. Don't fudge the people. Why don't you tell them this time, Minister, when you get the Fortis deal: Look, we took this when we expropriated a mill, that we did not intend to take, and now we have to pay the piper? Why don't you tell you us, Minister, some of the detail, like included, for example in the $73 million we paid, so much of which went to Sun Life, because they, I guess, had a loan in the thing, and the others to the company. How much did we pay as a part of that deal for future profits? It would be interesting to know.

I have been involved in a few expropriations. Normally, if you go in, you have a business and I come in and expropriate your business, it is interfering with my business; you took it away from me. All of a sudden you have to make a decision: Do I keep it? If I keep it, how much do I compensate them? If you happen to expropriate from me a business that was generating me profits, I just do not want to paid for the asset that you took, I want something in payment for the profits that I am going to lose because you took it. Guess what? The courts award monies for those things. I never heard the minister give us the breakdown on that. Maybe he did last night, I know he had a late night. They were at it five-plus hours, I believe, in Estimates. I will double check with my colleagues who were at the sessions last night, but they were looking for the details as to how much was for penalty.

The Minister of Finance knows, he has a legal background. If I went in and seized something from you that was making a profit, I just do not pay you for the article that I took from you. If I took profits from you, future profits, there has to be compensation for that. I am just wondering, on the Enel deal on the river, out of the $73 million that we paid them, how much was for the asset we took, the generation facility, and how much was for the loss of profits that they were going to make? These are just questions that people ought to know, because you want to know, at the end of the day, did we get what we supposedly paid for? Forget the fact that we should not have had it in the first place, and did not want it in the first place, we only did it as part of the Abitibi expropriation.

Now, the Muskrat Falls, Mr. Speaker, it is five past five, I am not going to get an opportunity this afternoon to get into Muskrat, because Muskrat Falls is at least a five, six-hour discussion in and of itself.

Tourism, Culture and Recreation, the departmental budget is down overall, 4 per cent from last year. It is great to hear about the increase of tourism because every time there is an increase of tourism, of course, it impacts my area, particularly through Marine Atlantic.

We always had the cargo freight service, of course, but whenever tourism figures go up generally, generally it impacts my area as well, and that is great. My neighbours and friends work at Marine Atlantic, and businesses associated that live off the tourism industry. So, I hope the tourism figures go through the roof, and that we cannot possibly tend hands without six runs a day getting them in to the Island. It is great to see. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why people would not want to come here anyway, and it is great to see that they are coming in such numbers.

I would be absolutely remiss if I did not take a few moments to talk about the Department of Business. This is the department, as everybody knows, that was created originally by Premier Williams as a pet peeve. It is something like that Ottawa office that he created that we pay the rent on but has not opened the door in for over a year. He created the Department of Business because it was going to attract business to the Province. He said we are going to set up a budget, we are going to give it a minister; it is going to be unique. I have been the critic for the department for the last number of years, and they switch ministers in and out. There have been so many ministers in and out of the Department of Business that they took the hinges of the door and made it a revolving door. That is how many have been in and out.

I asked each successive minister: Tell me what you do with the money. Last year, for example, they had different pots of money, the Business Attraction Fund – and I will get out my Estimates book here because I would not want to give any improper information here. I like to be absolutely factual here, Mr. Speaker. The Department of Business, this is the only department in the existence of any government in the world, that I am aware of, that it costs more to staff it than what they create - absolutely true. It cost more money to run the Department of Business last year than they actually put out to people, usually - absolutely.

I will give you an example. One of the funds that they have in that department, and remember now, the name, the motive for this, the reason this department exists is because it is supposed to attract business to the Province. They have a special initiatives fund. Last year, they were authorized to spend almost $8 million. They spent $2 million. Imagine, they had $8 million they could have used to attract business to this Province and they only spent $2 million of it.

The other one, of course, the one I always watch when I go to Estimates with the Ministers of Business, the Business Attraction Fund, and I will even read it; "Appropriations provide for large scale strategic investments in business ventures and infrastructure for the purpose of attracting business to the Province." There is $25 million. How much was spent last year? There was $1 million.

Mr. Speaker, that is farcical and that has been the history of the Department of Business since its existence. How can you hold yourself out as a legitimate business department and exist when you have $25 million to attract business and year, after year, after year, after year you spend $1 million out of $25 million. Now, I do not think you need to be a master magician or mathematician to figure it out, that you are not accomplishing your purposes. If your purpose for existing is to attract business and you do not spend one-twenty-fifth of what you could spend, I do not think you attract much business and people see that. Yet, you will hear this department say: Oh no, we are doing great stuff. We are doing great stuff.

Those are the facts, I am reading from the Estimates book, Mr. Speaker. This is not my document; this is one of the documents that the Minister of Finance in this Province gave to us here Tuesday. It says the Department of Business had $25 million and they spent $1 million, and they have said that for the last six years. They claim to have a reason to exist. The current Minister of Environment who was the former Minister of Business knows that of which I speak is absolutely true, the paper is there, the figures are there, the facts are there.

Mr. Speaker, that is something like the office they have in Ottawa, I just alluded to it briefly but I have to mention it again. You talk about budgetary items and waste. This is where this falls into the Budget. This is the crowd who had the party – or did not have the party I should say that cost $175,000. Mr. Speaker, we are paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars for an office in Ottawa that has not had anybody in it for over a year. There were stories and pictures that came out of Ottawa showing the office door, showing the newspapers piled up outside and nobody home, and we are paying the freight on that. We are paying the freight.

This government sat back, we asked them questions here in the House last spring: Are you going to continue it? If so, are you going to put anybody in it? We asked again in the fall. We have not gotten around to it they said, we are thinking about it, we are not sure. Well, anyway, you knew as long as Premier Williams was on watch he was not going to get rid of it because that would have been a sign of a failure and he was never going to be prepared to admit that he could screw anything up. You can be sure as long as he was here he was not going to close it because that was his pet peeve, that was his baby. He was not going to show any failures on his watch.

Anyway, the new Premier comes on: We not sure what we are going to do, we will think about it. The other day in Question Period we asked again, because they seem to think that this is not costing anything. Oh, do not worry about it, we are just paying for a subscription, we are paying for an office, we are paying for a worker, do not worry about it; it is a couple of hundred thousand dollars, $300,000 a year.

She tells us the other day: Yes, we are going to appoint someone. We are going to appoint somebody soon. Now, I do not know, maybe it is a good spot now for Ms Matthews because we know they tried to sneak her onto the C-NLOPB and that all backfired. That did not work out. I have not heard a word on that. So, maybe that is the plan. Maybe the plan now is for the government to take Ms Matthews and put her in as the Citizens' Rep, we call it, in Ottawa. Maybe that is the plan.

Everybody is anxiously waiting to see because - and I say this factiously – we know that office produces so much good work. We know they produce so much good stuff that we just cannot wait to find out who they are going to put up there next. I used to call it the Dr. Feelgood Limousine Service. When I asked in the House one day: What did the former person who was in that office who was making all this money do? They said: Well, he is a busy fellow. He goes to the airport. He picks up our ministers who go up there. He brings them back to the meetings. He arranges the meetings. I said: Do you get any reports from these people? Well, yes there are reports that come back. Well, can we see them? What does he talk about? Who does he meet with? Well, we cannot show you that because that all goes to the Premier.

We, in this Province, are continuing to pay out $300,000 a year, there is nobody in the office, do not produce any reports and that is okay by everybody. That is okay with this government who says: We are good managers of your money. We are great managers. Trust us with your money because we are definitely doing the right things.

The Minister of Business, I have to pull away from it because there is so much there I could stay there for three hours alone on the Department of Business. The only thing I have heard out of them, announcements basically, in the last number of years has been the Red Tape Reduction Strategy. In fact, the former member who was the Member for Terra Nova got up one day and it was really humorous actually. He was the Minister of Business and he got up to announce that the Red Tape Reduction Strategy had a great success because they had created three new strategies that he was implementing. I said: That is pretty good. You are the Red Tape Reduction Strategy and you just created three more strategies, created more red tape. That is the Department of Business, Mr. Speaker.

There are a few good things in Transportation and Works.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: As I say, the members opposite, they think I only give the bad news; I give some of the good news too. I gave credit last year for the good news when it was announced about the dialysis for Port aux Basques. It was definitely need, good to see it. Now, mind you, I still need, not a porta-potty, I still need a washroom for the people of La Poile. As the minister knows, I have made numerous petitions in this House. It is absolutely disgraceful to leave the people in that community without a washroom when they use his provincial service that he controls. He expects them to use the service, yet they do not have a washroom to go to. It is embarrassing.

I have literally, physically been there myself, in February month, and you are waiting for the ferry and you have to use the washroom. You are nowhere near anyone's home, you are nowhere near a public building that you might be able to use the washroom, and you have to sneak up behind a rock. Now, that might be okay if you are a fellow like myself, but if you are seventy-year-old woman it is not very appropriate. It is not very appropriate if you are a seventy-year-old woman. The minister has his budget there, so hopefully he will do something with that. We have seen some advances, the new ferries that are being constructed and so on. That is great stuff.

I found it unique, though, that the picture used in the local media, I think it was today or yesterday, when they talked about the Budget and they had different clips and they had the written clip next to the photo. They talked about Transportation and Works in a positive light, yet the photo they had was from the Strait of Belle Isle Ferry Service, which we all know is in a complete shambles right now. It is just funny the way they had it juxtaposed, trying to suggest that somebody was doing good. Yet they used a photo from the very service that is probably the most troubled one at this moment as we speak, and, as I know, the minister has been trying to grapple with.

I have been trying to get some information in terms of what has happened in parts of the district, Mr. Speaker. I know out in my area, not my exact district but next door, the people in Stephenville East-St. George's are very concerned and wondering if they are going to get their Bailey bridge replaced in the Codroy Valley. I believe my colleague asked a question of the minister in Estimates today. There is no indication that it is there. Now, it probably is. He indicated that the money apparently had not been allotted and that it was a high priority and whatever. Anyway, it is probably an election goodie, and if so that is great for the people of the Codroy Valley, if it happens. God forbid if it does not happen. It might not be such a goodie if it does not happen.

It is a big issue, Mr. Speaker. The people in the Codroy Valley have had it for thirty-plus years. They use it not only to get back and forth to their homes and to get to work, but it is a major tourist link that actually allows you to circumvent the valley. Instead of having to go in one end and drive back the same way, you can actually circulate through the Codroy Valley. The residents use it that way, the tourists use it that way, and the businesses use it that way. In fact, there have been numerous letters to the editor in the past while indicating how it has negatively impacted their businesses.

I hope that it does happen. I have a lot of friends who live there, business people who live there. So, I hope that the minister does find money as well for that particular initiative. It is not only good politically for the minister, but it is good for the people. It is something that ought to be done and I certainly hope it does happen. That would be a positive thing. So again, we look forward to the bridge.

The Leader of the Opposition, of course, is terribly disappointed that there was no funding commitment for upgrades to the Trans-Labrador Highway Phase II or Phase III, only funding to continue the paving and widening. As she has indicated in her questions in Question Period and in her commentary to the media thus far, this government has shown not much commitment to Labrador despite what the Minister of Labrador Affairs might try to suggest.

Labrador, Mr. Speaker, contributes a huge amount to this Province in terms of not only cultural things; I refer, of course, to the economic contributions that they make. We have had the mine in Wabush, we have had the mine in Lab City, we have Voisey's Bay which is ongoing there, and there are apparently six or seven new mining ventures which are scheduled to happen. We need to see as a Province, as a people, and as a government that we put something back into the area from which we take a lot. There is the fishery, of course, that comes from off the Coast of Labrador as well.

It is very disconcerting when you hear people who know the area, are from there like the Leader of the Opposition, who make those kinds of statements and the Minister of Labrador Affairs just simply gets up and prates as if to say: Oh, we are giving them their fair share and so on. Obviously, those are not the sentiments of the Leader of the Opposition who has represented that area long before we ever heard of the Minister of Transportation, knows everybody up there. It is certainly not the sentiments of the MP for the area who has a more global geographic spread over the district than the Minister of Labrador Affairs. Just to get up and make platitudes from the minister is not good enough.

Innovation, Trade and Rural Development, again, is getting to be almost comparable to the Department of Business when it comes to help for business. We had the case today of genomics. Genomics was raised in Question Period today, Mr. Speaker. This was supposed to be a bright spot, and the government touted it in its Throne Speech as the gold prize. These people were into the sciences that were going to commercialize this issue and make us the be-all and end-all when it came to that new industry.

I have to point this out to the Minister of Finance as well because it is amazing what is happening in one department and what is unfolding as you speak. For example, I quote from the minister's speech the other day on page 42 when he says, "Now the time has come to turn the focus to home. This is where the golden opportunities are. Oil, gas, minerals, hydro, fish, farms, flora, fauna, oceans, aerospace, genomics, robotics…", et cetera. Well, Mr. Speaker, genomics will be no more according to the gentleman who started it. Everybody had high praise for it, the government placed its gold medal ribbon on, it is down the tubes - down the tubes. This is the government that is so inventive and creative.

Mr. Speaker, it is good to see some money going into the aerospace industry again. They are trying to expand it into the defence industry. It is good to see that. Again, the members of this government would have you believe that they actually started the aerospace industry in Newfoundland and Labrador. It was the former Liberal Administration under Premier Tobin that cut the deal with Mr. Dobbin that started the fabrication facilities out in Gander. That is where it started, folks. It was not this government that created that.

There is going to be more than $128 million to the department's existing business and economic development programs, going to be available to the Province's small and medium-sized businesses. That is great stuff, but we just have to hope that it gets out through the door. It is no good to put it in the bank if you do not let anybody get at it, because then your stated intention of making it useable by people and creating employment and creating business just does not happen. There is $14 million over three years, including an additional $8.3 million, to increase innovation and research in the fishing and aquaculture industries. Now, I commented on that earlier, Mr. Speaker, that that was a very worthwhile project. So, there are some good things there.

Mr. Speaker, it is getting near time for me to clue up. Before I clue up, I did want to pose a non-confidence motion. I understand from the Government House Leader that was the plan for today. My three hours would be up when I conclude with my non-confidence motion. We are out of here, I guess, then until after Easter, if that is okay.

Mr. Speaker, just to clue up here, there are some good things in this Budget. Nobody in this Province can suggest that there is not, but there are a lot of questions raised about the sustainability, there are questions raised about increasing our debt, and there are questions raised about our unfunded liabilities. There are questions raised particularly about the major, huge contribution of $348 million in Nalcor and whether that is an appropriate priority versus other issues and concerns that we have in this Province. As we get into the debate further, of course, I will have another opportunity to make some comments.

There are concerns. Yes, there are some positives moves here, and yes, we believe the government has spun it. Like I say, they are giving every resident an 8 per cent break on your HST, but Nalcor over in the other corner, over in your other pocket, is taking 7 per cent back with their rate application to PUB. So, you have to tell it both ways. They are not giving you eight, Mr. Speaker. If I am putting eight in your right pocket and I am taking seven cents out of your left pocket, that is only one cent. You are only one cent better off, Mr. Speaker, in that case. That is the kind of stuff that the people need to know.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, despite the fact that there some positives, I still do not have confidence in the government that brought forward the Budget, and certainly the Budget.

I, as Member for Burgeo & La Poile, move, seconded by the Member for Port de Grave, that all of the words after "that" be struck out -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): Order, please!

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: - in the Budget motion and be replaced with the following, "This House condemns the government for its failure to develop and present fiscally responsible programs to address the economic problems of rural areas of this province –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: - and bring forward a plan that generates sustainable economic growth that builds on the projects developed by previous administrations."

I guess, Mr. Speaker, we just need a ruling on whether that non-confidence motion is in order.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has looked at the non-confidence motion as put forward by the hon. the Opposition House Leader and it is the normal non-confidence motion that is moved. The Chair considers the non-confidence motion to be in order.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I just confer with the Government House Leader. I am assuming, Mr. Speaker, after that is normally given I would have a further hour to speak. I understand that the intention is to adjourn.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KELVIN PARSONS: I can speak; that is not an issue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MS BURKE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will confirm that, according to the rules of our debate, the Opposition House Leader will have an hour to speak on the non-confidence motion. I know we all certainly are eagerly waiting for that; however, with that and it being the last day –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS BURKE: - before our break, I move, seconded by the hon. Minister of Natural Resources, that this House do now adjourn until May 9 at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that this House do now adjourn.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

The motion is carried.

This House now stands adjourned until 1:30 of the clock on Monday, May 9.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until Monday, May 9, at 1:30 p.m.