April 2, 2012                         HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                 Vol. XLVII No. 17


The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Wiseman): Order, please!

Admit strangers.

Statements by Members

MR. SPEAKER: Today we will have private member statements from the Member for the District of Port de Grave; the Member for the District of Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi; the Member for the District of The Straits – White Bay North; the Member for the District of St. John's East; and the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLEJOHN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand in this hon. House to recognize Mr. Vernon Petten for his fifty years of volunteer service as Treasurer of the Port de Grave Pentecostal Tabernacle.

Mr. Speaker, a special service was held recently celebrating Mr. Petten's fifty years as treasurer of his church. He received notes of congratulations from our Premier and from former pastors of the church. As well, Mr. Petten has travelled on several church missions to countries like St. Lucia, Zambia and Montserrat building schools and churches for those less fortunate than ourselves. He devotes many hours to the Gideon's where he is, you guessed it, their treasurer. Mr. Petten is well known throughout the district for his many years of community service and volunteerism.

I ask that all members of this House join me in congratulating Mr. Petten on recognition of his dedicated service to church and community.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I rise today to recognize a constituent, and one of the Province's outstanding artists.

Jillian Keiley, founder of Artistic Fraud theatre company, has been named the next artistic director of English theatre at the National Arts Centre.

For at least the next four years, Jill will bring her own magic touch to one of the largest stages in the country, this country's foremost showcase for all the performing arts. Happily, she will also continue to direct one show a year here at home.

Anyone who has paid even cursory attention to Newfoundland and Labrador theatre in the past couple of decades knows about Jillian Keiley's extraordinary body of work. We all have our favourites - my own was Emile's Dream, but Fear of Flight, Tempting Providence, Under Wraps and Oil and Water are other stunning examples of the unforgettable production she has given to us.

Jill is directing Andy Jones in his adaptation of Moliθre's Tartuffe this summer at the New World Theatre Project in Cupids, then heads to Ottawa.

I ask all hon. members, Mr. Speaker, to rise and join me today in congratulating Jillian Keiley on being appointed artistic director of English language theatre at the National Arts Centre.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate a team from my district which celebrated a couple of firsts on the weekend of March 22 through March 24.

The St. Anthony Polar Bears under twenty female hockey team won the Provincial A Tournament, held in Whitbourne. Mr. Speaker, just making it to this level of the tournament was an accomplishment, as it was the first time any team from St. Anthony has ever competed in the A division. This makes the team's win even more worthy of congratulations.

Last year, the Polar Bears won in the C division. This would normally have moved the team up to the B division, but Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador thought the team's talent and determination merited the leap to the top division. The young women on the team, some of them as young as fourteen are: Sarah Blake, Sarah Cull, Holly Earle, Johanna Elliott, Brooke Noseworthy, Kerry Patey, Joanne Payne, Megan Pynn, Heather Richards, Dana Saunders, Rebecca Sexton, and Karley Slade. The coaches are Barry Pynn and Tonya Noseworthy.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all hon. members to join me in congratulating the St. Anthony Polar Bears under-twenty team for their historic win.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in this House today to tell you of the fiftieth anniversary of my Alma Mater, Gonzaga Regional High School.

Gonzaga High School officially opened for classes on September 4, 1962. Since then, thousands of students have passed through the hallowed halls, and Gonzaga holds its place in Newfoundland and Labrador's educational history. Mr. Speaker, I, myself, am among those alumni. As I told this House last week, my time at Gonzaga and the teachers I encountered there were major contributors to the person I am today.

To celebrate the school's anniversary, a committee of volunteers has put together several events. These events include the fiftieth anniversary Alumni hockey and tonight's "Gonzaga's Got Talent" event at the Arts and Culture Centre.

I encourage all graduates, former teachers and staff of Gonzaga to visit the official Web site for more details of upcoming events to help us celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of one of Newfoundland and Labrador's best high schools. The address for that is www.gonzaga50.ca.

Go, Vikings!

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

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

I rise today to recognize and congratulate Mr. Paul Osmond of Channel-Port aux Basques upon his receipt of the Canadian Coast Guard's Commissioner's Commendation. This is the highest award the Coast Guard gives to its service members.

The award was presented to Mr. Osmond in Ottawa on December 6 by Coast Guard Commissioner, Mr. Marc Grιgoire. Mr. Osmond was also presented with an award of distinction by Deputy Commissioner of Operations, Ms Jody Thomas.

Paul is a leading seaman aboard the CCGS Henry Larson. The ship was stationed at Resolute Bay on August 20, 2011 when a First Air charter flight crashed near the community's airport. Mr. Osmond, who is a Coast Guard rescue specialist, flew by helicopter from the ship to the scene, along with three other crew members. They were first on the scene where unfortunately only three of the plane's fifteen passengers survived.

When he is home in Port aux Basques, Mr. Osmond volunteers his skills at the Bruce II Sports Centre, and is also a volunteer for Red Cross Disaster Services.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all members of this House to join with me in extending congratulations to Leading Seaman Paul Osmond on his receipt of this prestigious award. All the best to Paul and his family.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Speaker is somewhat surprised today that all hon. Members did not take advantage of the opportunity to wish the Clarenville Caribous congratulations on winning the Herder, but despite my surprise, we will move on to the next order of business.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: We move on now to ministers' statements.

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, small and medium-sized enterprises are becoming increasingly more innovative. This is leading to new economic and business opportunities at home and abroad.

Expansion into new markets is critical to the success and future growth of any business. This growth is not only benefiting the companies themselves, but the communities in which they operate, and the Province as a whole.

Export-related activities are important generators of wealth and prosperity, and contribute to the social and economic development of Newfoundland and Labrador. They create jobs, stronger communities, and stronger companies. In terms of direct and indirect employment alone, export activities create one in four jobs in our Province.

The strength of the local business community is a result of strong partnerships, combined with the provincial government's strategic programs and services. This has created a business-friendly environment where enterprises can succeed and develop their export markets.

We as a government want to celebrate those successes and the entrepreneurs who live in our towns and our communities.

Recently, at St. Francis School in Harbour Grace, I had the opportunity to meet with the next generation of innovators and business leaders. While speaking with these young minds, I launched a call for applications for the 2012 Export and Innovation Awards.

These awards recognize individuals, businesses, groups, and institutions that have excelled in the areas of innovation and exporting.

Applications are open for three awards: Innovation in Business, Distinction in Innovation, and Exporter of the Year. They will be reviewed by a panel of judges and announced at a ceremony on May 25 at the Delta Hotel and Conference Centre in St. John's.

Previous winners represent a diverse range of industries such as Hi-Point Industries in Bishop's Falls, and Dynamic Air Shelters in Grand Bank.

I encourage all businesses to submit an application. I also call upon all members of this hon. House to submit an application for a successful business in their district. The deadline for applications is Friday, May 4, 2012.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his advance copy.

Truly small business is the backbone of a modern economy. Small business happens when somebody sees an idea, sees a need, and fills it. These are the same people who pledge all of their funds, they commit all of their time and family resources, and they struggle, generally, scrimp, save, work day and night, and make a success. Sometimes after five years, ten years, or fifteen years, they become an overnight success. So it is indeed encouraging to see the minister with this statement. Clearly, export opportunities are very important to small business.

This brings me to some of the subject matter of the recent federal budget, wherein I saw the cuts to ACOA. One of the agencies that ACOA funds is the community-based development banks, the small banks that provide venture capital to small businesses throughout all of Atlantic Canada. I certainly hope that the minister will advocate to the federal government that any cuts to ACOA, if at all, are certainly minimal and that they not be focused on the operating budgets and the lending budgets of the small, community-based development banks.

I thank the minister for his announcement on the awards. Clearly this will be distributed through my district as well as all others.

Thank you.

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

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

I would first like to congratulate previous recipients and encourage small to medium export businesses in all districts to submit applications for this year's award.

Our strategic location as the most easterly point in North America should serve as a driver for rural and urban exports. This, of course, is given that the government chooses to further invest in advanced telecommunications and IT infrastructure to bridge regional investment gaps.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize a very important milestone for the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services.

On Friday, March 30, I visited Happy Valley-Goose Bay to welcome the ninety-five Child, Youth and Family Services staff who transitioned from the Labrador-Grenfell Regional Health Authority to the department. This was a wonderful opportunity to meet with new staff and to share in acknowledging that together we have completed the transition process.

Mr. Speaker, the amount of groundwork and preparation that went into the regional transitions was significant. To transition approximately 700 staff in a span of one year is no small feat and I would like to express my appreciation to all Child, Youth and Family Services staff as it was made possible by their hard work, dedication, and co-operation.

Since the beginning, our government stated that we are committed to transforming and revitalizing child, youth and family services from the ground up. This meant more than just the creation of a line department. This meant undertaking key systemic improvements that allow our frontline staff to better serve our most vulnerable children and youth. This includes the redesign of the new provincial organizational model, proclaiming the new Children and Youth Care and Protection Act, establishing a new Training Unit and Adoptions Division, and creating a new Quality Assurance Division.

Numerous other improvement projects are being finalized, including a new continuum of care for children in need of protection, a comprehensive child care strategy, and a review of our Behaviour Management Program as well as the Adoption Act, to name just a few. Every program area is being assessed and the department is implementing a quality improvement process to track performance.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to building upon this strong foundation as we continually strive to offer the best possible supportive services to children, youth, and their families throughout our Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

I thank the minister for an advance copy of the statement. We want to commend CYFS on this milestone. The new department was announced in March 2009 and now we have a transfer complete from all social workers from the regional health authority to the department. These social workers do face many challenges. According to the workforce report in 2011, April, there was a total of thirty-nine vacancies within the four regional health authorities; twenty-five of those in the CYFS division.

Government has said they are adjusting caseloads and supervisors for these social workers to make the caseloads more manageable. We commend government for these actions and hope that we stick to this commitment. We hope the adjustment in caseloads will help decrease the challenges that are faced by social workers, as well as enhance the services for children and their families.

We have over 700 children in care, and of those over 200 are from Aboriginal communities. Social workers have to deal with these difficult issues, not just working with the children but with the families as well. These social workers, as well as all others in this Province, do tremendous work. We certainly appreciate their effort and significant contributions.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for St. John's Centre.

MS ROGERS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I, too, thank the minister for an advance copy of her statement. I congratulate staff in the department for working hard to accomplish this huge transition while maintaining services. I hope that the new continuum of care for children in need of protection will include more social workers so caseloads do become manageable and children and families get the attention that they need.

More resources must go towards prevention in helping families so fewer children have to be removed from a home. Providing more resources to families and investing in prevention must be part of protecting and safeguarding children at risk.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Oral Questions.

Oral Questions

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, the PUB concludes that the information provided by Nalcor in the review is not detailed, complete, or current enough to determine whether the interconnected option represents the least-cost option for the supply of power to Island Interconnected Customers over the period of 2011-2067 as compared to the Isolated Island Option.

My question to the Premier: What are we going to do now?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, while I must say that I am disappointed and puzzled by the report from the PUB, nevertheless my responsibility as Premier is to make sure that all the information that is available to us is made available to the people of the Province before we go to the sanction decision.

To that end, Mr. Speaker, we have engaged MHI to review all the sanction numbers, Decision Gate 3 numbers. They will be made available, as well, pending reports, especially those on natural gas and wind. When all of that information is in the public purview, Mr. Speaker, which we expect will not be until probably the end of June, we will call the House together for a full debate in case the House is not sitting at that time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

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

Almost $1 billion has been spent on this project to date. I ask the Premier: Are you now prepared to stop spending taxpayers' money on this project until a full, independent review of all options is completed?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, when you are looking for a full, independent analysis which is what we were trying to do with the PUB review wherein we spent nine months and over $2 million and did not get any recommendation from the PUB, the value we got from it was the report from MHI. Otherwise, the PUB walked away from its responsibility, the terms of its mandate, to give us a recommendation. A recommendation that had already been endorsed by Navigant, by Manitoba Hydro, by the Consumer Advocate Mr. Johnson and his expert Knight Piιsold, and Dr. Wade Locke. They all concur that it is the least-cost and we need the power. The PUB was not able to arrive there.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, government's much hyped PUB report on Muskrat Falls is not what they were expecting. It is amazing that even though the government did all they could to limit the scope of the PUB's review, they came back with a damning report.

I ask the Premier: Are you going to discredit the PUB report, just as you have every other criticism of Muskrat Falls?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I did not get a report from the PUB. After nine months and $2 million, the reason that the PUB put forward was they could not make a recommendation because they did not have sanction numbers, Decision Gate 3 numbers. Mr. Speaker, they had known for a long time, as has everybody else in this Province, that those numbers would not be available until June. When they asked for an extension, they only asked until the end of June. How were you going to get the numbers in June to have MHI do an analysis and write a report to the end of June? It is very puzzling, Mr. Speaker, but be that as it may, my responsibility is to the people of the Province. Members opposite have been demanding a debate. Your request is now being accommodated.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, the PUB concluded that the information which government made available during the review was considerably less detailed and comprehensive than the information that Nalcor has today.

I ask the Premier: Why did you withhold this information from the PUB, and will you now commit to making all information public as we have called for on many occasions?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the terms of reference that were given to the PUB asked for recommendations on two critical questions that had been raised time and time again about the Opposition as to whether or not we needed the power and whether this was the least-cost option. They were to base that information on the feasibility numbers that were provided in Decision Gate 2; that is their mandate. What they have come back and said – we are not prepared to make a recommendation unless we have sanction numbers, Mr. Speaker. The question is, when they asked for an extension at the end of December to the end of June, it was for public consultation purposes. Nowhere in any of their communications with us have they indicated that they needed sanction numbers for a recommendation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, the PUB stated that government has been relying on Decision Gate 2 numbers for Muskrat Falls. These are concept studies or feasibility level stage numbers. Additionally, the PUB said that the numbers government put forward for the isolated-island option are even less detailed.

I ask the Premier: Why are you so confident in this project if only 5 per cent to 10 per cent of the details have been worked out?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we have explained time and time again as we move through this process that it is a gated process, where you identify a number of activities in one gate and you complete all of them before you move to decision two. What we have in decision two gate, Mr. Speaker, is the result of a feasibility study that answers fundamental questions and allows you to make a decision on whether or not to go forward. That information was solid enough for us to move into the next tranche of the examination of this project. We provided all of that information in the mandate to the PUB, the mandate they accepted to review those numbers (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, the PUB has put up a giant stop sign on this project. They stated that there seems to be a strong and widely held belief that supply options such as natural gas, additional wind, and Upper Churchill power could be viable options.

So I ask the Premier: Will you now allow for the detailed study of all options, including natural gas, to meet our energy demands up to 2041?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the very first thing I suggest for the Acting Opposition House Leader is that he read the PUB report, because it does not say any of that. What it does say – there is no new information, Mr. Speaker, in the PUB report. All of the information that is in the report that was released on Friday has been in the public domain for some time. What the PUB has said is that they are not prepared to make a recommendation on the two fundamental questions, even though Navigant was able to; even though their own expert was able to, Manitoba Hydro; even though the Consumer Advocate and his expert, Knight Piιsold, and Dr. Wade Locke, were all able to make recommendations and qualify the results, the PUB has refused to do so.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, the MP for Labrador, Peter Penashue, has emphatically stated that the federal government will not reverse its decision to close the Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John's.

I ask the Premier: Since it is obvious that your letter-writing campaign with Ottawa is not having an effect, what are you now prepared to do to intensify your efforts to have the sub-centre in St. John's remain open?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: (Inaudible) centre since the decision was made. We put innovative ideas and offers of partnership before the federal government in order to maintain the centre, Mr. Speaker. We will continue to press our case. It is disheartening that so far it has fallen on deaf ears, Mr. Speaker. We remain very, very concerned.

My most recent meeting on this was with Rear-Admiral Gardam, who is responsible for all of this, Mr. Speaker, and again reiterated my concerns and asked for his vigilance in terms of what is happening off the waters of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, we have learned that the requirement to be fluent in French to be transferred through the JRCC in Halifax has been dropped because the Quebec sub-centre is remaining open.

I ask the Premier: In your discussions with Ottawa and the Prime Minister, have you confirmed that the Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre in Quebec will remain open while the sub-centre in St. John's closes?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, when I have conversations with the Prime Minister, with Minister Ashfield, with Minister MacKay, I concern myself with the issues concerning Newfoundland and Labrador. I know that the minister has spoken in the Parliament of Canada to say that the Quebec marine sub-centre will close. As well, Mr. Speaker, it is at a later date.

Mr. Speaker, all of my efforts are focused on Newfoundland and Labrador, not on Quebec.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo - La Poile.

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, last Thursday the federal government released their budget, which included massive cuts to ACOA, Marine Atlantic, and other programs essential to this Province. It also announced the layoffs of 19,500 federal civil servants. In response, the Premier casually dismissed the local impact, stating effects would be minimal.

My question to the Premier: Do you still believe in the minimal impact of the federal budget on this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, none of us at this point in time can speak cogently about the effect of the federal budget on Newfoundland and Labrador because we do not have the detail. We are guessing. Until we get more detail, there is not much we can say in a definitive way, other than to say any impact on frontline services to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador is not acceptable. We are very, very concerned about job losses in this Province where the federal government is already under-represented.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, now that the talks have once again fallen apart between OCI and the locked out trawler men, will the Premier move to settle this strike or will she just declare this Province to be a scab labour jurisdiction?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Let me just say, as a government, obviously we are very saddened that talks have broken off. I just found out about it within the last few minutes, Mr. Speaker, and obviously we are disappointed. We continue to encourage them to work through the process. We have conciliators available. They have been working with a conciliator thus far, and I encourage both parties, Mr. Speaker, to stay at that table. It is certainly the benefit of everybody when that happens and I encourage them to stay at the table.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, a year ago the federal government committed in a letter to the Premier to defend Canada's sealing industry in costal and northern communities that depend on the hunt. The Province has also stated to keeping this industry alive. The word from the industry is that we need a stronger and more aggressive approach, not just soft commitments.

I ask the Minister: What action is this government taking to step up the campaign to ensure the long-term survival of this important industry?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is a very good question, a very timely question. We have been engaged with the sealing industry for quite some time. I am not sure what part of the industry that my critic, the member opposite, has been talking to, but certainly not relaying the same message in the House that we are getting from the industry.

We have made representation to the Senate Committee just Thursday past; I was there myself. We made representation to the federal minister at least on three occasions. We continue to work on marketing opportunities. If the member is versed in the subject, I am sure he is well aware of the challenges, the political challenges that we face in Russia and China. It is not a question of people wanting the product. There are some bureaucratic and political red tape we have to get through, Mr. Speaker, but we will continue to push hard. In the interim, we are continuing to work on a daily basis with the industry about some support for this year.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, the harp seal population has now exploded to over 10 million, requiring 14 million pounds of seafood annually to survive. That is over fifty pounds of seafood for every pound landed in our Province. Clearly, our seafood industry cannot survive if seals eat everything in the ocean.

I ask the Minister: When can we expect integrated management plan that addresses research and harvesting to manage this explosion and to protect our fish?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am very pleased to hear the member opposite is reading my Tweets, my Facebook posts, and he is becoming engaged and interested in the industry. I thank him for that, and I thank you for offering your support.

I would however, like to point out that the very essence of the question you ask is a federal issue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KING: Sealing is not a provincial jurisdictional issue. Sealing is not a provincial issue, Mr. Speaker, when it comes to quotas and harvesting. We make representation on behalf of the harvesters in our Province to the federal government, but it is clearly a decision-making issue that rests with the federal government. I suggest to the member – based on what he is saying, that he is supportive of government's position – to join with us in our continued advocacy for the same.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, on April 7, 2011 this Premier wrote to the Prime Minister stating that our fishing industry is overcapitalized without providing any hard evidence. In fact, the real problem in our fishery is underutilization; too much of our seafood is shipped out of our Province with little or no processing leaving our 100-or-so plants without raw material.

I ask the Premier: What plan does this government have to ensure our small seafood processors get enough raw materials to survive?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I politely would ask the member opposite if he would be prepared to table or at least share with me the information that he is putting before this House. What he has just shared with you is clearly not the indication that we get from the industry, Mr. Speaker.

There are a number of significant challenges, but the challenge around most of the product going out unprocessed is categorically false, I say to the member opposite. I am prepared to provide a briefing with my officials, if he would like that.

The biggest challenge of resource leaving this Province that the public raised concerns with was around yellowtail and red fish. As we speak, none of that product is leaving this Province unprocessed, Mr. Speaker. Crab, shrimp, and lobster, which are three mainstays of this industry, all go through some form of processing in this Province with the exception of live lobster for live market.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, in response to the Premier's 2011 election letter to Mr. Harper, the Prime Minister committed to introduce legislation in its first sitting this year to give our Province a formal role in the management of the fisheries.

I ask the Premier: What initiative have you taken to ensure that the federal government lives up to that commitment?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, for those watching at home and in the galleries, I hope you are paying attention to the line of questioning. It was about two questions ago the member opposite suggested that this government have responsibility for managing the fisheries. He just acknowledged in the last question that he does understand, in fact, that the federal government has responsibility for managing the fishery. I say to the member opposite: At least be forthright and share with people, who has complete jurisdiction and responsibility, if you are going to talk about fisheries and put questions in this House that are very important to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member knows full well that we continue to engage with processors, harvesters, and all who have a stake in the fishing industry. If there is one thing that this government will do, Mr. Speaker, is we will fight until our dying days to make sure that the interests of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and those who make a living from the sea, are protected.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Mr. Speaker, in The Telegram this weekend the Premier spoke of –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: – 600 federal government jobs in the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Speaker recognizes the Leader of the Third Party.

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

In The Telegram this weekend, the Premier spoke of 600 federal government jobs in the Province and noted that she anticipated a loss of between twenty and thirty jobs. There are actually thousands of federal jobs in the Province and the cuts could number in the hundreds.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: How could she have been so wrong about the number of people working for one of the biggest employers in this Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I take full responsibility for the miscommunication. It was entirely mine. I meant to say 6,000, between 250 and 300. I omitted a very important zero in all of those numbers; the fault was mine, not the newspapers.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Between 6,000 and 7,000 workers, and it will be hundreds of jobs that will be lost, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, with the report of the Public Utilities Board today with regard to Muskrat Falls, government's best attempt to thwart real discussion and debate on the Muskrat Falls proposal has failed.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: Once Nalcor really has the proposal ready to be looked at, would she allow the PUB to do a full review, and then, once government is properly informed, a real debate on nothing else but Muskrat Falls in this House?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we provided a mandate to the PUB. Nine months later and $2 million later, Mr. Speaker, the PUB says that they are not prepared to make a recommendation unless they have sanction numbers – sanction numbers that they would not have been able to do that piece of work on even if we had given them the extension to the end of June, Mr. Speaker. I do not know how long they were intending to do this review.

Mr. Speaker, while I put that forward time and time again in this House, members of the Opposition kept telling me that it was completely unacceptable and that they wanted a full debate here in this House, Mr. Speaker. We are going to provide all the information to them and to the rest of the people in the Province and we are going to have a debate right here (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

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

It is this government, Mr. Speaker, who were the ones who gave an incomplete feasibility study to the PUB. They knew what they were doing. They asked the PUB to make a decision on a feasibility study and they never told that to the people of this Province, Mr. Speaker. The Premier has been touting her experts on Muskrat Falls for months –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: – while ignoring the recommendations and conclusions from a wide range of independent experts, Mr. Speaker. Now, the Public Utilities Board has concluded the information provided by Nalcor is not detailed, complete, or current enough to make such a determination.

So I ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker: Will she finally heed the advice of the experts out there who have been putting out the information, or is she determined to gamble taxpayers' money and proceed with this proposal without in-depth study?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I suggest to the Leader of the Third Party that you do some homework as well and read the terms of reference to the PUB. They were asked to make their recommendations based on Decision Gate 2 numbers – feasibility numbers – very clearly stated in the terms of reference. I also suggest that you read the report as well, because in the report the PUB acknowledges that based on Decision Gate 2 numbers that it is the least-cost alternative, Mr. Speaker.

MR. KENNEDY: (Inaudible) sixty-five.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Page 65. The same conclusion arrived at by Navigant, Manitoba Hydro – their expert, I might say, Mr. Speaker – the Consumer Advocate, and Dr. Locke.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Mr. Speaker, I love the way the Premier delights in interpreting this report the way she wants to interpret it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: I cannot use it as a prop, Mr. Speaker, but it is sitting here on my desk, and believe me, I have just spent the last two hours combing it.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier has taken delight in quoting MHI conclusions regarding the least-cost –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: Mr. Speaker, the Premier has taken delight in quoting MHI conclusions regarding the least-cost option, without paying any attention to the risks and uncertainties that MHI itself pointed out regarding load and reliability of the transmission line. The board concludes that the gaps identified by MHI – and I point out all the gaps have to do with the interconnected option – in Nalcor's analysis –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: – have the potential to significantly impact the viability of their Interconnected Island Option.

So, will the Premier now admit that serious doubt has been cast on Nalcor's conclusions and direct (inaudible) –

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 Third Party was so poorly impressed with Manitoba Hydro that she did not present to them. With all of the knowledge that she professes to have on hydro generation, power generation, you would think that was something she would have looked forward to.

Mr. Speaker, she refers to Manitoba Hydro. I am happy to tell her that we have engaged Manitoba Hydro to do a complete analysis of sanction numbers, Mr. Speaker, and Decision Gate 3 numbers. All of that information will be made available to her and to others in preparation for the debate here in the House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Leader of the Third Party.

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

Mr. Speaker, I point out to the Premier that it was the PUB I did not make an oral presentation to. In my written presentation, I pointed out I had been muzzled by the mandate of the government and therefore did not take their time.

Mr. Speaker, the PUB was loud and clear about their many concerns regarding the Muskrat Falls proposal. It noted that industrial customers had serious concerns and suggested the PUB, under its statutory mandate, should have the opportunity to further review in an open and transparent way the areas of concern outlined by both the board and MHI.

So I ask the Premier: In light of this damning report, will she mandate the PUB to do further review?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We have always made it clear that we would consider all of the information and reports, including the PUB. We have always made it clear also that the Decision Gate 3 or sanction numbers would be crucial in terms of making our decision.

So what the Premier has announced here today, Mr. Speaker, I thought the Opposition would be happy with. They will have their opportunity of a full, special debate on Muskrat Falls. An independent expert, Mr. Speaker, has been engaged who will continue their work and provide the information. We have indicated that we will provide studies on natural gas and wind, Mr. Speaker. So everything I thought they were asking for we are giving them today.

Mr. Speaker, as for the conclusion of the PUB, essentially their recommendation is no recommendation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Since the beginning of the Muskrat Falls proposal, I have been asking government to slow down and examine all of the options available in the short and medium term on the Island for electrical generation. Government has consistently and categorically refused to even consider doing it. Today the PUB says Nalcor's load forecast does not demonstrate an immediate need for the significant amount of new generation Muskrat Falls would produce.

So, Mr. Speaker, in light of today's PUB report, I ask the Premier: Will she now direct Nalcor to do an independent, in-depth study of the many Isolated Island Options?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this government alone has spent eight years planning this project. Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Third Party says she spent two hours reading the report. I suggest you spend two more because in the report the PUB acknowledges that –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: - it got the reliability information from Nalcor in March but have not read it nor commented on it, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. KIRBY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This government has said that it will replace the provincial student loan program with a new needs-based grants program.

Can the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills tell us if this new grant program will be in place when the academic year begins next September?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS BURKE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to remind the hon. member that Newfoundland and Labrador is touted as having the best student aid package in the country.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, back in the 1990s, the Liberal government at that time took away the grants that students received. Mr. Speaker, this government has been instrumental in bringing back the grant program as part of the student aid package in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, at this time – and the program is already in, we would like to expand the program within this mandate. Mr. Speaker, at this time students who borrow will not have to pay back the first 60 per cent of the provincial portion of their student loan because that is a grant at this time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. KIRBY: Mr. Speaker, we know that the minister has recently hired a high-priced consultant to look for places to cut in her department.

I ask: What is this government going to do if this consultant decides that the promise to phase out student loans is a promise that should be cut?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister Responsible for Advanced Education and Skills.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, I can say that the consultant, or any consultant we have hired who is helping us look at any initiatives or any work that we do in this department will be very supportive of our initiatives within the student loan program and where we are moving and our reasons for doing that. As I said, we have the best student aid package in the country, Mr. Speaker. We eliminated the interest on student loans and we have had a tuition freeze in place since 2004, Mr. Speaker. We will stand on our record for what we are doing for students.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

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

Mr. Speaker, the PUB points out many issues around transmission line design criteria and lack of adherence to best practices in their work.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: Why did she not direct Nalcor to use best practices in all instances in the work they have done?

MR. SPEAKER: I am sorry, but the time allocated for Question Period has expired.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

Tabling of Documents.

Notices of Motion.

Notices of Motion

MR. SPEAKER: The Minister Responsible for Advanced Education and Skills.

MS BURKE: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, An Act To Amend The Student Financial Assistance Act. (Bill 15)

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

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that, under Standing Order 11, I shall move that this House not adjourn at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 3, 2012, and further I give notice that, under Standing Order 11, I shall move that this House not adjourn at 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 3, 2012.

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

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, I give notice of a motion, seconded by the Member for Bay of Islands, to reaffirm the principles of disallowing the export of unprocessed seafood:

WHEREAS the fishery is the lifeline of hundreds of communities in our Province, with both the harvesting and processing contributing significantly to personal incomes and regional economies; and

WHEREAS the shipping out of unprocessed seafood negatively impacts our people, communities and Province; and

WHEREAS provincial legislation is already in place to restrict the exporting of our unprocessed fish products; and

WHEREAS there is a growing concern that the community unit will become even less of a beneficiary of one of our most important renewable resources; and

WHEREAS this government is already on record as stating that our people and our communities must be the primary beneficiaries of our fish resources; and

WHEREAS there is increasing evidence that other countries are benefiting greatly from our unprocessed, raw seafood products; and

WHEREAS there are warnings that our Province is running out of time to diversify its economy before oil runs out and we will be left with insufficient money to pay the bills;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this House of Assembly encourages the provincial government to immediately recommit to the principles of disallowing the shipping out of unprocessed resources in order to protect regional and provincial economies; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this House of Assembly encourages the provincial government to work with the federal government to adopt a policy that if a company is unable to process its quota allocation, then it must be obligated by law to offer it to other processing companies at cost and a reasonable profit margin as determined by the industry; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this House of Assembly encourages the provincial government to adopt a policy that in cases where it is absolutely necessary to ship out unprocessed fish, to ensure the survival of the industry in the long term, it must be shipped out for only a definite time frame, and a company exporting unprocessed seafood has, first, to reapply for the export licence annually; and secondly, it must pay a fee to the Province, as is done in many other industries, so that our people and our communities continue to benefit from this natural resource.

MR. SPEAKER: Further notices of motion?

Answers to Questions for which Notice has been Given.

Petitions.

Petitions

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for Bay of Islands.

MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand with a petition today:

WHEREAS the Premier has the authority under the Public Inquiries Act to establish a public inquiry into a matter of public concern; and

WHEREAS there have been several tragedies in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador where search and rescue responses have been called into question; and

WHEREAS the Burton Winters tragedy has increased the awareness of search and rescue capacity in Newfoundland and Labrador; and

WHEREAS the Maritime Search and Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John's is scheduled to close on May 8, 2012;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to establish a public inquiry into search and rescue in Newfoundland and Labrador.

As in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I present this petition here today on behalf of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. As we all know, there are many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who depend upon the sea for their living and use the land for living and for recreation, and because of the harshness of the environment, we need good search and rescue in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, as we all know, the sub-centre is going to close in St. John's, but we just found out that the one in Halifax will remain open. It is imperative that we have such a good search and rescue here that there is never a question on the ability and for people to be able to call for search and rescue.

This petition, Mr. Premier, is asking the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador to hold a public inquiry so that we can look at all aspects of search and rescue in Newfoundland and Labrador, so that all aspects are examined, and ask the federal government also to partake in the inquiry, so that we can ensure that no matter how small or how big the issue may be in Newfoundland and Labrador, that we have the capacity, we have the ability, and we are prepared for any event to try to help any person in need, and save as many lives as possible in Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker.

As we have seen over the last little while, there have been incidents where search and rescue has been called into question – the protocols have been called into question, Mr. Speaker. What we need is an inquiry where we can set down the protocols. In a public inquiry, Mr. Speaker, there will be recommendations made that are followed by the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. We would improve search and rescue in this Province, we would improve the capacity for the people who are supplying search and rescue to help every resident in Newfoundland and Labrador. We can instill confidence again in the people of Newfoundland and Labrador that everything is being done that can be done to ensure that lives are not at risk and that everything possible is put forward to help.

Mr. Speaker, I present this petition on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand today to present a petition to the hon. House of Assembly of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled the petition of the undersigned residents humbly showeth:

WHEREAS the moose population is in decline in Moose Management Areas 40, 45, and 1 due to overkill of female and calves and the extended season; and

WHEREAS increase to licences, including female only, calves, and either sex; and

WHEREAS the extending of the moose season is having an impact on all animals; using ATVs or snowmobiles destroying and pursuing animals in winter yards. It is no longer a hunt but a kill;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to discontinue female only, calf, either sex, return hunting season dates back to the last week of November and reduce licences.

As in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

This is a petition that has been presented all around in the District of The Straits – White Bay North. It is a significant concern to the people, not only recreational hunters but outfitters that the population is in drastic decline in the area and there needs to be immediate action, and 2013 certainly will be too late. We need to have action right now where we look at reducing the number of licences.

Right now, with the season being extended, there are snowmobilers that are going in, chasing female calves that are pregnant. They are aborting their calves and it is having a big impact. We cannot have a sustainable hunt if we do not protect the female population there so that they continue to have calves. We really need to look at doing something to ensure that the outfitting industry remains viable in the region. It is a $40 million industry across Newfoundland and Labrador. The people in my district, the recreational hunters and the outfitters, are saying that it is in decline and action needs to be taken.

I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. KIRBY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a petition on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. This is a petition for anti-scab legislation. The petition is:

WHEREAS strikes and lockouts are rare, and on average 97 per cent of collective agreements are negotiated without work disruption; and

WHEREAS anti-temporary replacement worker laws have existed in Quebec since 1978 and in British Columbia since 1993, and successive governments in those provinces have never repealed those laws; and

WHEREAS anti-temporary replacement workers legislation has reduced the length and divisiveness of labour disputes in other jurisdictions; and

WHEREAS the use of temporary replacement workers during a strike or lockout is damaging to the social fabric of a community, the local economy, and well-being of residents, as evident in the recent use of temporary replacement workers by both Ocean Choice International and Vale in Voisey's Bay;

We, the undersigned, petition the House of Assembly to urge government to enact legislation banning the use of temporary replacement workers during a strike or a lockout.

As in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, we saw the damaging impact of the absence of this legislation in this Province when workers in Voisey's Bay went on strike for eighteen months, which is an incredible amount of time for workers to be off the job and unable to be able to provide for their families in the way in which they would otherwise want to. We have seen this ongoing problem now with Ocean Choice International having their trawler, the Newfoundland Lynx, out there working with scab labour on board. I understand that the boat recently went ashore to be re-scabbed, Mr. Speaker.

I think that there is plenty of evidence out there; I know the Minister Responsible for the Labour Relations Agency said several weeks ago that he has read two articles on this, one in favour and one against. I just encourage the minister to read more widely in that research because there is certainly a lot of evidence out there that this is progressive legislation that we need in Newfoundland and Labrador. I hope the government will listen to these petitioners during this legislative session and enter that piece of legislation.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, I rise again on a petition dealing with the Animal Protection Act.

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

WHEREAS the current Animal Protection Act was enacted in 1978 and is woefully inadequate; and

WHEREAS it has been almost two years since the Animal Protection Act was passed in the House of Assembly but has not yet been proclaimed; and

WHEREAS the inadequacy of current animal protection laws is of grave and immediate concern to the SPCA; and

WHEREAS the new Animal Protection Act would ensure much more severe punishment and ultimately reduce instances of these crimes;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to immediately proclaim the new Animal Protection Act.

As in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, this is important legislation, but it is important to a very small group of individuals who are unheard. That is our animal friends. The animals – people's pets, their livestock, wild animals – all need the protection of this government. We have recently seen instances of horrific animal cruelty and I am absolutely positive that it is a concern to everybody.

This piece of legislation has been passed for nearly two years, so clearly it should not require very much effort or very much initiative for the government to be able to finally proclaim this important piece of legislation. The animals cannot speak for themselves, so we much speak for them; fortunately, they have their own lobby group through the SPCA and others who will keep coming forward and insisting this legislation be proclaimed.

Public education will be important to educate people as to animal rights, but clearly we need the enforcement arm; that is what these petitioners are humbly seeking, that this Animal Protection Act be proclaimed.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is a petition to reinvest in rural broadband initiatives.

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

WHEREAS in the District of The Straits – White Bay North, despite the $4 million Rural Broadband Initiative announced on December 22, 2011, only one community, Ship Cove, is slated for broadband coverage; and

WHEREAS the communities of Pine's Cove, Eddies Cove East, Bide Arm, North Boat Harbour, L'Anse aux Meadows, Great Brehat, St. Carol's, Goose Cove, Grandois, and St. Anthony Bight still remain without services; and

WHEREAS many small businesses within the district rely on Internet to conduct business; and

WHEREAS broadband Internet permits a business to be more competitive than the slower dial-up services; and

WHEREAS broadband Internet enhances primary, secondary, post-secondary, and further educational opportunities;

We, the undersigned, petition the House of Assembly to urge the government to re-invest in the rural broadband initiatives in Newfoundland and Labrador.

As in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

It is absolutely essential, in this day and age, that we have access to broadband Internet. In many of the communities which I listed, there are very limited businesses currently operating, and this just goes to show the hindrance, the inability to advance a community and a region without having such basic infrastructure as broadband Internet.

The government has been doing a good job in making these investments to increase communities, but it needs to be more and they need to really have a strategic telecommunications plan to ensure that many communities are not missed.

We talk about the export potential, and the minister made a statement today about the opportunities. Well, we do not have opportunity for export and for small business development, home-based businesses, if we do not have broadband Internet. There are eleven communities there in my district that does not have it and they are calling on the minister to listen to their concerns so we can have and build stronger, more vibrant communities in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker

I present another petition here today.

WHEREAS the current Animal Protection Act was enacted in 1978 and is woefully inadequate; and

WHEREAS it has been almost two years since the Animal Protection Act was passed in the House of Assembly but has not yet been proclaimed; and

WHEREAS the inadequacy of the current animal protection law is of grave and immediate concern to the SPCA; and

WHEREAS the new Animal Protection Act would ensure much more severe punishment and ultimately reduce instances of these crimes;

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to immediately proclaim the new Animal Protection Act.

In duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, I am after presenting petitions on this now for a number of weeks and for several days per week because I think it is such an important issue for the animals in Newfoundland and Labrador. The work has been done on this. We need the regulations. We need them proclaimed so that the people who are going to be out helping to protect our most vulnerable, the animals, do have the tools and the mechanism so they can help the animals. Then we may even, at times, be able to stop it before it happens.

Mr. Speaker, we have noticed in the media for several weeks and several months particularly some of the animal cruelty in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. We have been hearing about it all across the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I think it is incumbent upon the government, Mr. Speaker, that this act be proclaimed so that the people who are in this field can help protect the animals and to bring the people who abuse animals to justice. To ensure that they get a bit more than a slap on the wrist, Mr. Speaker, this act should be proclaimed.

It has been over two years, Mr. Speaker. The regulations in this should have been done. We know there are many people asking to have this legislation done. We know the regulations will enhance the ability for people to enforce the rules and to ensure better animal protection for all of the animals of Newfoundland and Labrador.

So, Mr. Speaker, I ask the House to urge the government to get the regulations in place so that we can move ahead with this act. It is becoming more and more important, more and more vital everyday because we hear of animal abuse in the Province, and it is becoming more severe.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

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

If I could go back to the Notices of Motion, specifically the motion read by the Member for St. Barbe. We neglected, pursuant to section 63.(3) of the Standing Orders, to give notice that that is the motion to be debated on Wednesday. I am asking for leave that I be allowed to rise here now after Notices of Motion to read that in.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

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

I believe the motion has been read in, and that is the motion to be debated.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The Speaker acknowledges that the motion that the House will be dealing with on this Wednesday coming will be the motion read into the record by the Member for St. Barbe earlier this afternoon.

MR. SPEAKER: Orders of the Day.

Orders of the Day

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the hon. the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador, to ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, An Act To Amend The Registration Of Deeds Act, 2009, Bill 14, and I further move, Mr. Speaker, that the said bill be now read for the first time.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the hon. Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador have leave to introduce Bill 14, and it be now read a first time.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the minister shall have leave to introduce Bill 14 and that the said bill be now read a first time?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Motion carried.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Registration Of Deeds Act, 2009", carried. (Bill 14)

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Amend The Registration Of Deeds Act, 2009. (Bill 14)

MR. SPEAKER: This bill has now been read the first time.

When shall the bill be read a second time?

AN HON. MEMBER: Tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: Tomorrow.

On motion, Bill 14 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

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

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, I refer to Order 9, I call from the Order Paper second reading of a bill, An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act. (Bill 11)

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I move, seconded by the Minister of Transportation and Works, that Bill 11, An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act, be now read a second time.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that Bill 11, An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act, be now read a second time.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act". (Bill 11)

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

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This bill is An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act. I think we will find we have in this House of Assembly from time to time debates that are very important to the history of the Province. For example, the Premier announced today we are going to have a debate – it looks like sometime in July or late June – on the Muskrat Falls Project. That will be a very important debate for the future of our Province and to ensure that our seniors and people on fixed incomes have the lowest possible electricity bills that are possible.

Sometimes in this House we have to deal with certain matters which are not as important. We have to deal with technical matters and housekeeping matters to clean things up. That is what this bill is doing today. It is looking at the Liquor Control Act, which became enacted in 1973, I believe. The regulations under the Liquor Control Act, known as the Liquor Licensing Regulations, came into effect in 1996.

Many of the provisions of the legislation have become outdated. Sometimes in order to do a review of the legislation, government has higher priorities in other areas, and certain acts that need to be reviewed are delayed. Many of the provisions are outdated and many of the provisions in the legislation do not contemplate the realities of what the real world has become and what modern business practices are, what the modern business environment is in 2012.

This particular legislation is to provide about three amendments to the Liquor Control Act involving – first of all, there are going to be some new definitions. I can remember quite a few years ago I was in Toronto and my son was being looked at, at the SickKids hospital in Toronto. I was able to meet some of the other parents and some of the kids there. One of them invited me out to lunch. We went to a restaurant and it was something I had never seen before; it was a restaurant that had in it its own brewery. It was something called a microbrewery, in which you had a restaurant and you had the brewery there. That was all new to me.

Now, I understand that this business concept is now becoming popular in the country; I know we have one here in St. John's now. The problem is that the law and the regulations have not necessarily kept up with that. Therefore, this legislation is going to do a number of different technical things. We are going to bring amendments into the act to bring in some new definitions; we are going to define the meaning of brew restaurant; we are going to define the meaning of the word microbrewery. We are also going to remove a requirement that beer that is sold for off-site consumption has to be sold in a package of six or more. That will be the second amendment. The other amendment will be to allow a brewer who owns and operates a brew restaurant to sell beer either by the glass or the open bottle to guests at meals for consumption at the brew restaurant.

As I said, Mr. Speaker, the Liquor Control Act received royal assent in 1973. That act governs the distribution and sale of all liquor in Newfoundland and Labrador. The three amendments address changes in the operating environment in the Province since that legislation came into force.

Mr. Speaker, currently the act defines a case to mean a sealed package, carton, or container containing the number of bottles of beer not fewer than six that may be prescribed by the Liquor Corporation under the Liquor Corporation Act. Mr. Speaker, section 28 of the act requires that beer sold by stores also has to be sold by the case. That means that beer must be sold in packages of six, Mr. Speaker, or not less than six.

As most of us are likely aware, beer may be purchased in increments of less than six. Liquor stores offer for sale variety packages. They offer gift packs of beer, particularly around the holiday season, and those packages contain less than six bottles of beer. Certain types of beer may be bought by the can, the individual single can, or it can be bought by the one-litre bottle. This is certainly less than six in a package, the requirement of a case.

In 1979, the legislation was amended, which included the requirement to sell by the case, Mr. Speaker. When this amendment was first introduced, the evolution of marketing techniques such as sample packs or gift packs had not reached the beer industry. In recent years, beer has been packaged in more creative ways. A person can purchase a four-pack of beer which contains one bottle each of four different types of beer. A person can purchase a single can of imported beer. A person may purchase a gift pack of two bottles of beer with a branded beer stein included in the box. These are marketing tools that were not contemplated in 1979, Mr. Speaker, but these are the realities of the world we live in today.

It is important that the laws of our Province reflect the values and the realities of today's society. Laws must remain current to today's ways of thinking, Mr. Speaker. That is why we are amending the act to remove the stipulation that beer must be sold in package sizes of at least six containers.

Mr. Speaker, removing the requirement that beer has to be sold by the case does not allow for the breaking open of a six-pack of beer for the purposes of selling the individual contents bottle by bottle. The amendment requires that beer be sold in a container and package sizes that are approved by the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, known as the NLC.

The NLC has published a product listing, Mr. Speaker. The product listing names all of the products that are available for purchase through the NLC and its various agents, and it discloses the price of those products. The listing also states the container sizes and the number of containers in the package that are available to be purchased. No products are permitted to be sold unless they are approved by the NLC. The product listing is the vehicle by which the Liquor Corporation communicates the approved package and the container sizes of alcoholic products.

Further to this, Mr. Speaker, products must be sold in the particular packaging, as indicated on the product list, in whole and unchanged from the specifics of the product listing details. Mr. Speaker, the product listing can, and in fact does, specify that some beer are to be sold in packages, or cases, if you will, of six, twelve, or twenty-four. This is the traditional packaging sizes of bottles of beer. This amendment does not and will not change this, Mr. Speaker. The amendment just allows for recent developments in packaging of beer products outside of what has been the traditional case.

Mr. Speaker, in addition to that, as I said earlier, the amendments to the legislation will also address an issue related to the evolution of the craft beer market. It adds definitions of a brew restaurant and microbrewery to accommodate the operation of microbreweries and restaurants from single premises. The term microbrewery is not currently defined in the legislation, so the amendment will define a microbrewery to mean a small capacity brewery that produces less than 5,000 hectolitres or approximately 120,000 dozen bottles of beer per year. When the act was first introdced in 1973, the microbrewery was not contemplated, Mr. Speaker. As I said earlier, this is a relatively new phenomenon. It is a new commercial entity that has grown in popularity in the country.

A brew restaurant definition will be added to the act and it will mean a restaurant that is housed within a microbrewery. Currently, this type of arrangement operates under two licences; one licence for the brewery and a separate licence for the restaurant. Mr. Speaker, the current licensing structure does not contemplate the ability of a restaurant, under any circumstances or conditions, to sell beer by the bottle or by any other means for removing the beer from the premises. As we all know, if you are in a restaurant and it is a licensed restaurant and it sells alcoholic beverages, you cannot remove the alcoholic beverages from the restaurant. In fact, Mr. Speaker, the act prohibits a holder of a restaurant licence from selling any alcoholic products for the purposes of removing that drink from the premises.

This amendment will provide that a brewer may operate a brew restaurant within the brewery, and like any other restaurant, may continue to sell beer by the open glass or bottle. So, obviously, if the microbrewer is operating a restaurant, the microbrewer will be able to sell the product that is being brewed on the premises by open glass and bottle. Currently, a restaurant licence allows a licensee to sell alcohol by the open bottle or glass to customers for consumption at meals, but on the premises. A licensed brewer may keep for sale and sell alcoholic liquor produced by the licensee to the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, and to a person who is licensed to sell beer. There is no provision in either a restaurant licence or a brewer's licence that permits a patron to purchase beer brewed by the brewery for consumption offsite in the absence of a brewer's agent's licence.

So, brew restaurants are a phenomenon not contemplated in 1973 when this act was enacted and came into force. As there is no class of licence that allows us to address the unique conditions under which these types of businesses operate, this amendment is intended to do just that. Under the legislation we have now, a restaurant which operates within the walls of microbrewery is not permitted to sell its own product – its own bottled, unopened product – to a patron for that customer to take it home. The brewery may sell the brewed beer to the restaurant for services within the restaurant, for consumption within the restaurant, but cannot allow a patron to buy and bring any home, unless there is dedicated commercial space and a brewer's agent's licence. This means that the restaurant, which is housed within the microbrewery, is not allowed to process a transaction to sell beer to a patron for removal from the premises.

Currently, a brewery is not permitted to sell the beer they brew to a customer who is not either the NLC or licensed by the NLC to sell beer. This means that a patron cannot legally purchase beer to take home at a restaurant or at a micro-brewery that is not licensed as a brewer's agent. So, to be licensed as a brewer's agent, there must be a separate commercial space from which the brewery may operate a retail operation. This amendment will allow a brewery or a brew restaurant to sell beer to a person who is not otherwise disqualified from purchasing beer.

The restaurant of course offers the equivalent of the commercial space. The restaurant operates a cash register and processes payment transactions. It would be unrealistic, it would be onerous, and it would be burdensome to require that an enterprise build an additional four walls to create a dedicated commercial space solely for the purposes of selling its product for removal from the premises. To section off a part of the restaurant where patrons would have to go to purchase product to take home with them seems unnecessary, in that the restaurant itself is the equivalent of the commercial space.

Mr. Speaker, it has been the goal of this government – the goal of the Minister of Business through the years, the role of the Minister of Innovation, Business and trade – to reduce red tape for local business people. It has been a goal of this government to promote the Province as a place that is favourable to business and to remove obstacles where possible to allow businesses to prosper and to flourish. This amendment will allow a microbrewery which operates a restaurant to sell its own product within the walls of the restaurant without requiring the additional construction costs associated with building a dedicated shop. It will allow the business to make use of existing infrastructure to conduct its business, thereby reducing costs to the business.

Mr. Speaker, this amendment does not allow all restaurants to sell beer for removal from the premises. It is not appropriate to permit all restaurant licensees to sell beer by the unopened bottle. It does not remove the authority of the restaurant to offer beer for sale by the glass or open bottle for consumption with a meal. A restaurant will continue to be permitted to sell the product of the microbrewery in this manner. The introduction of these amendments regarding a brew restaurant allows for those businesses to sell their products in quantities of less than six bottles for consumption off-site while maintaining the integrity of the restaurant license. It allows for the customization of requirements and responsibilities for the operation of this new and unique commercial venture.

Further to this, Mr. Speaker, it is proposed that a new class of license be created for a brew restaurant. This new class would be outlined in the regulations and would permit the holder of the license to sell beer by the glass or opened bottles to its patrons at meals. This is the same condition that exists for licensed restaurants today. It will also allow them to sell the unopened product they brew on-site to customers for consumption off the premises. This new class of license would remove the requirement to create a separate retail area for this purpose to meet the legal requirement for a microbrewery restaurant combination to offer its products for its customers to take home with them.

Mr. Speaker, with that, these simple amendments will simply allow this new type of commercial operation that exists in all parts of the country to exist here with no onerous expenses that would impact the success of the business.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister mentioned Muskrat Falls, Mr. Speaker, so I assume I am allowed to have a little comment on Muskrat Falls as you bring everything into the House. The only difference with this and Muskrat Falls – this was not forced in the House like Muskrat Falls debate was forced to have in the House, Mr. Speaker.

This bill here is a bill that was brought in by the minister. It is more housecleaning than anything else, Mr. Speaker. I remember going into other countries where the microbreweries are a business in itself, and Newfoundland and Labrador now has one and several that may expand with this.

Mr. Speaker, the minister brought in about the regulations by Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation. We need to let the public know that all regulations will be enforced by the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation. They will not be able, as the minister stated on several occasions, to take alcohol outside the premises and just to drink as they see fit. These restaurants and microbreweries are going to be guided by Newfoundland and Labrador regulations also, Mr. Speaker.

As we know, back years ago – and I know some of us probably did not avail of it, the four and the six packs; and the business has changed with some of the promotions. This is something that this bill will help as we move forward, years ago – we are just catching up now, because all those regulations that were in place, and promotions for the breweries in Newfoundland and Labrador have changed a lot over the years, Mr. Speaker. This bill here is just keeping us current.

Back years ago – I think the minister mentioned that this bill was back in the 1970s – I do not think microbreweries were even discussed at the time, and we did not know much about it at the time, Mr. Speaker. I remember I was in Germany back in the early 2000s, the middle 2000s. There were over 5,000 microbreweries in Germany – over 5,000 in Germany. It is a small business entity on its own. One would set up and people would come there, especially if you have some kind of specialty beer. A lot of people would come there just to try it, and with the service of a good meal, Mr. Speaker, it is a small entity. This can promote and help foster small businesses in some of the service area and the restaurant's area, Mr. Speaker, which is very good for Newfoundland and Labrador.

I know the minister mentioned on many occasions about the ability not to be able to take alcohol out of these restaurants. My understanding of it, that is in place as we speak now, for all establishments in Newfoundland and Labrador, not just microbreweries but any restaurant that serves alcohol. Just to let the public know, these microbreweries will have the same stringent regulations as the eating establishments have now, Mr. Speaker. There is no cause for alarm that these regulations are helping to foster any illegal activities. Because you are in a microbrewery, it is just another way. I know in some places that I have visited, the microbreweries, you can actually sit down and watch the product being made; which in itself, it is a pleasure just to sit down and watch how it is being made. Then you can sit down and see the end result and try the end result, Mr. Speaker. Again, it is a bit of a novelty for Newfoundland and Labrador, but over the years it has expanded into some good business opportunities for some people and I look forward to expanding on these opportunities.

Mr. Speaker, the minister also mentioned where, right now as we speak – and I know some of the microbreweries here, they have two licences. I know the minister mentioned that sometimes it becomes a bit encumbering, where you go to one restaurant which can serve alcohol and operates under one licence and now they have to operate under two. It becomes a bit encumbering upon the business itself. This bill is just bringing it in line with all other regulations from Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, and just moving on with the times.

Mr. Speaker, this bill itself is more of a housecleaning bill. As the minister mentioned, it is more of a bill just to bring things in line and to ensure that we are moving ahead with the times. I encourage the small business of micro brewing in Newfoundland and Labrador, because it does have a unique culture and a unique style for people, visitors coming and for tourists coming in, it would be great.

Mr. Speaker, I will end with that, and I know the minister is glad to bring this forward just to have this done so that we can move in line with all of them. Mr. Speaker, we will be supporting these amendments because it is great and hopefully will create more business with it.

I just want to stress again, and the minister stressed it on several occasions, that these will in no way be able to operate without going to the regulations that are set down by the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation. There is no way that there would be any safety put in jeopardy over these new regulations.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CRUMMELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is with great pleasure to rise in the House to speak on Bill 11. Good points from the member opposite there, from the District of Bay of Islands. You are right on the mark; you have captured the essence of the changes in the legislation.

This is an excellent example of deregulation that is good for the consumer and good for the manufacturer and is reflective of today's real world. Mr. Speaker, prior to becoming an MHA, I worked in the brewing business for almost twenty-five years. I do have very extensive knowledge of where the industry has come from and trends relating to where it is going.

While Bill 11 is An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act, it can be best described as a necessary piece of housekeeping. That is the word that we are using and we all agree to update the legislation. I would like just to take a few moments to explain the background surrounding the amendments.

Mr. Speaker, this would amend the act and it has three key components: "define a ‘brew restaurant' and a ‘microbrewery'; remove the requirement that beer sold for off site consumption must be sold in a package of 6 bottles or more; and…" – three, to allow a brewer who owns – "…a brew restaurant to sell beer by the glass or open bottle to guests at meals for consumption at the brew restaurant"; and allow brewed beer on the premise to be sold for consumption off the licensed premise in sealed containers and package sizes approved by the NLC.

Mr. Speaker, Newfoundland and Labrador has a rich brewing tradition that dates back to the days when our ancestors first arrived in great numbers in the late 1700s and the early 1800s. The first major brewing operation was established in 1827 by Charles Fox Bennett on Water Street West who later became Prime Minister of the country of Newfoundland at the time. The Bennett brewery became a fixture in this Province ever since. As a matter of fact, Dominion Ale, its roots go back to then, it is still brewed today by a brewery here in the city.

The second major brewery was founded in the late 1890s and it was called the Newfoundland Brewery. That became, actually, Molson later in 1962. Later, the Bavarian Brewery was founded in the early twentieth century.

Mr. Speaker, there are still many people working in the brewing industry today whose fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers worked in these early breweries. As you well know how industries work, sons get employed as fathers move on and, today, there are people working in the brewing industry who can trace their roots back to the early 1800s. That tradition of fine brewing beer in this Province is being maintained as we speak.

Twenty years ago there were just two breweries producing beer for the domestic market in Newfoundland and Labrador. Today, there are two microbreweries and one brew restaurant, in addition to the two traditional breweries. Today, the Newfoundland and Labrador brewing industry produces 425,000 hectolitres of beer a year, which is about 10 million dozen beer annually. Of that, the smaller breweries produce and sell in total about 4,000 hectolitres, or approximately 100,000 dozen of beer a year.

Mr. Speaker, the necessity to identify the differences between traditional brewers, microbreweries, and brew restaurants is important in legislation and even more important in the regulations that are derived from the legislation. Mr. Speaker, the smaller breweries operate with different business models and require some unique consideration with regard to regulations and even taxation. This is recognized by both the large traditional breweries and the smaller breweries.

Mr. Speaker, regarding packaging format and the removal of the requirement that beer sold off-site retail consumption in a package of six bottles or more be removed is not only synchronizing legislation with recent changes to NLC regulation, it is reflective of the trends in the global beer market that consumers in Newfoundland and Labrador have embraced. Mr. Speaker, for many years packages for off-premise retail sales were limited to six-packs and twelve-packs. Today, as a result of consumer demand, global trends, and the growth of microbreweries and brew restaurants, several pack sizes can be found on the shelves at the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation stores, liquor agency stores, and brew agency stores, including large format single serve packages, typically 500 millilitres, and larger two-packs, four-packs, innovative packing, like mini kegs, and even very, very large format sized bottles.

Mr. Speaker, when we look at consumer trends and why consumers are looking for smaller pack sizes, we only need to look at what is happening in the wine industry, for instance. Years ago, consumers gravitated toward their favourite wine, while today consumers want to try different wines at different occasions. Today there are hundreds of brands of wines to choose from as a result of consumer demand. The same could be said for the beer category and how the average consumer has shifted from a primary one-brand loyalty to a circle of brands. The average consumer still gravitates toward their favourite brand but will often choose other brands with different characteristics depending on the occasion.

For instance, a light beer drinker going to a pub might prefer a pint of heavier dark beer. On special occasions, this consumer might buy up to a more expensive imported brand. So, many consumers might have one anchor brand or five or six other brands they drink on occasion. By reducing the pack sizes, consumers now have the option of purchasing single serve two-packs, four-packs, whether to sample a product or just to have some different brands in the fridge. It is simply for convenience.

Mr. Speaker, it is also important to mention that consumers are trending more to off-premise consumption at home and at the cabin versus on-premise consumption at bars and restaurants. It is interesting to note that twenty-five years ago the split between off-premise sales and on-premise sales was approximately 75 per cent, 25 per cent respectively. Today, that split is closer to 85 per cent off-premise and 15 per cent on-premise, so the deregulating of pack sizes is good for the consumer from the convenience point of view.

Today, the brewing industry supports over 300 jobs in brewing, packaging, and distribution, many of which are very high-paying jobs. Mr. Speaker, suppliers, contractors, and other business can account for dozens, if not hundreds, of indirect jobs. The brewing industry is important to this Province and we, as a government, must ensure we do all we can to keep the jobs here and keep these breweries viable.

Mr. Speaker, government has consulted very closely with the industry players and has spoken to many over the last few days. In fact, they all agree this will have a positive impact for both the breweries, big and small, and the consumers. The amendments will also bring existing Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation regulations into alignment with the Liquor Control Act.

For these reasons, Mr. Speaker, I believe all hon. members of the House should support Bill 11.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to speak to Bill 11, an amendment to the Liquor Control Act. It is certainly very positive to see changes to this act, which is mainly housekeeping, to basically bring things up to speed, as the minister and other members stated.

With changing trends, seeing that we do have microbreweries and brew restaurants in the Province, these need to be included. For some time, we have been going outside the regular packaging of six, twelve and twenty-four and that bottles have been sold. This is an immense opportunity for us to really support small business in our Province and we must do things to ensure that they are not burdened by unneeded regulation, so it is very encouraging to see that reduction of red tape with the dual licensing and things like that being talked about.

Now, I have had the opportunity to live in the Czech Republic, which is a beer nation, and certainly they have many microbreweries there, as in Germany. Throughout my travels of many countries in Europe and across Canada, I had the opportunity to take in and visit many microbreweries, as in Granville Island microbrewery in Vancouver, and seeing what they have. It is not only about being able to try a sampling of different beers that they produce, but to also take a tour and to also look at the product development that they have. They have a complete store with a bunch of different products and sales.

With that, we are really fostering an opportunity to enhance small business development. Right now we have microbreweries here in the city; both are in the member's District of Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi. There is an immense opportunity to go outside the city and look at where we can go into developing microbreweries and brew restaurants across Newfoundland and Labrador. It is very encouraging to see these types of changes in the act itself.

I do want to ask a question about why we have set – it is a concern, I guess, why we set the limit of what qualifies a microbrewery to 5,000 hectolitres per year. This is something that the Minister of Finance said: It is approximately 120,000 dozen beer. In Nova Scotia, the qualification for a microbrewery is producing fewer then 15,000 hectolitres per year. That is an extremely big difference; so, what happens when a microbrewery wants to produce 10,000 hectolitres? What do they have to do then? Are they at the same competitive level then as the larger corporations, which the Member for St. John's West had just noted are producing in the millions of dozens per year? Are they going to be faced at an unfair advantage? We are putting a specific number here in the act itself. Should not something like this have been dealt with in the regulations where we put the limitation as to what defines a microbrewery?

I do want to say though that this is a good thing to be putting forward, the brew restaurants and the microbrewery into the Liquor Corporations Act, because we do have opportunity as we develop our small rural regions and look at doing more public houses and more social spaces, but also to tap into the history of what it means to microbrew and some of the local samplings of different regions; that is what is happening in other provinces across Canada.

With that, I would just like to see that also the Liquor Control Act – where it is a very antiquated act – a full review of that may need to be considered in the near future.

So I certainly support the measures that have been put forward, because they are mainly of housekeeping duty, and I am very happy to see that we are bringing things up to speed to get with the times here in Newfoundland and Labrador when it comes to brew restaurants and micro-breweries; the one concern is the limitation of the 5,000 hectolitres, whereas other provinces have a much larger percentage. Maybe the Minister of Finance will address this.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board speaks now, he will close debate.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I certainly would like to thank the hon. Member for The Straits – White Bay North, and the Member for Bay of Islands, and the Member for St. John's West, for their comments and taking part in this debate. I do not think there is anything more to add. I think everybody is supporting this legislation.

I will certainly undertake to find out why the limit is 5,000 hectolitres of beer and not 10,000 or more, and it might be a good idea to, rather than have it in the act, to put it in the regulations so that it can be amended from time to time. I will certainly get that information and report.

As everyone has said, this is modern legislation; it is to modernize the legislation with respect to a business reality, and we look forward to the passage of this legislation. We can move on to the next bill.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Motion carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act. (Bill 11)

MR. SPEAKER: This bill has now been read a second time.

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

MR. KING: Tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: On tomorrow.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act", read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 11)

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

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Member for St. George's – Stephenville East, pursuant to Standing Order 11, that the House not adjourn at 5:30 o'clock p.m. today, April 2; and I further move, seconded by the Member for St. George's – Stephenville East, pursuant to Standing Order 11, that the House not adjourn at 10:00 o'clock this evening as well, Monday, April 2.

MR. SPEAKER: It has been moved that the House do not adjourn this evening at 5:30 p.m., nor does the House adjourn at 10:00 o'clock this evening, Monday, April 2.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Motion carried.

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, I call from the Order Paper, a bill, An Act To Amend The Consumer Protection And Business Practices Act. (Bill 6)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I move, seconded by the Minister of Innovation, Business and Rural Development, that Bill 6, An Act To Amend The Consumer Protection And Business Practices Act be now read a second time.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that Bill 6, An Act To Amend The Consumer Protection And Business Practices Act, be now read a second time.

When shall the bill be read a second time?

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Consumer Protection And Business Practices Act". (Bill 6)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is a pleasure to rise today to have an opportunity to speak to this bill, An Act To Amend The Consumer Protection And Business Practices Act. This is a bill which will add a new division to the current act. The act is separated into divisions, which I will get into during my comments this afternoon. This is to add a new division governing what we refer to as distance service contracts. A distance service contract is defined in the bill as a contract or "…means a service contract for cell phones, residential phones, internet, cable and satellite television and remote surveillance, and includes the goods used in conjunction with the service contract".

Mr. Speaker, what that involves is anyone who has a contract with a provider for any of the items I just listed, including cellphones, Internet and home phones and so on, all of this will be included under a definition of a distance service contract. It also includes the goods used in conjunction with that service contract, such as a cellphone itself. Sometimes a person will enter into a contract with a cellphone coverage provider and as part of that contract they will actually be given a cellphone as an included part of their contract. It may be provided with a satellite dish, as an example, or also you could be given a PVR, a personal video recorder, that comes with the service contract or is part of the service contract that you have entered into with the provider.

Mr. Speaker, the bill provides for consumer protection in various ways, and that is what this is about. It is about protecting the best interests of consumers. It is looking out for their best interests. We know that of the items listed included in this distance service contract, cellphones, residential phones, Internet, cable and satellite television or remote surveillance, we know this is going to, potentially, have an impact on many people in Newfoundland and Labrador. I know there is going to be a significant amount of interest in this particular bill.

Essentially, the bill requires plain language contracts that are clear; to make it easy for consumers to understand what is actually contained in their distance service contract. This is about plain language for consumers. It is about plain and clear language for consumers in distance service contracts. It will allow consumers to make informed decisions when choosing a service provider.

We all know that sometimes when you are trying to make a decision about what service to enter into, because there are a variety of service providers for the services that we have listed here, sometimes it can be difficult trying to understand the difference in what one person or one company is offering versus what a separate company is offering when they are not using common language. They are using different jargon sometimes. This will allow consumers to make informed decisions when choosing a service provider.

The bill essentially, as well, wants to ensure that it is fair to both consumers and suppliers, and provides for fair business practices, clear information on contract cancellations and other related cancellation fees. We hear this from time to time, Mr. Speaker. In my department, we quite frequently will receive complaints and inquiries from members of the general public who have tried to cancel a contract. They have moved, they need to cancel a contract or make amendments to their contract and run into difficulties when doing that, unaware of the fact that they maybe had entered into a two-year or three-year contract and now have difficulties in trying to either relieve themselves from that contract or to make amendments to the contract. This bill will ensure that we have fair play for both the consumer and the service provider.

Part V of the Consumer Protection and Business Practices Act currently governs two types of consumer contracts. These are types of contracts where a consumer and supplier would conduct their business. That is a direct sales contract, which is known as Division 1 in the act. There is also Division 2 in the act, which is a distance sales contract. Not to be confused with what we are talking about today, being a distance service contract, Division 2 is a distance sales contract. This may sound a little bit confusing at this point in time, but I am going to take a few minutes to explain this as I move forward.

What I would like to refer to as a normal or a typical way of doing business would be when a person wants to enter into – for example, I will use a cellphone contract with a cellphone provider. A person would go to a mall or go to a retail outlet and you conduct business at that retail outlet.

Well, there are also times when we conduct business or retail business in other ways, and one of those is a direct sales contract. That is when a direct sales contract is entered into with a person at a place other than the suppliers' place of business or a marketplace, auction, or trade fair, agricultural fair, or exhibition. So, it is a place that you enter into an agreement with someone, you conduct business with someone at a place other than the normal place you would expect to do business, other than a retail outlet, other than a kiosk at a mall or a business centre.

Sometimes, a direct sales contract is entered into at a person's home. Maybe a person would sometimes solicit business by going door to door, or sometimes you can agree to meet somebody and you can meet them at another place – a restaurant or a coffee shop. We know of places or times where direct sales exist through those types of forums as well, at a place other than the supplier's normal place of business.

There is also a distance sales contract, Mr. Speaker. That is a contract that is entered into from a distance, which means they are not entered into in person, but rather either through the Internet, or by telephone, or by fax, or other electronic means. We see this very commonly today, Mr. Speaker, where a person would enter into a contract through a distance sales contract. We see it through television, through home shopping networks. People broadly and widely throughout Canada and North America today will make purchases through telephone shopping networks, or through infomercials, which advertise through television on a regular basis, where you can call a number and enter into an agreement to make a purchase right there over the telephone. Also, what is very popular today is Internet shopping, where you can use the Internet to purchase goods from a supplier that could be located anywhere in the world. We know that is broadly used as well. So, any types of business that you would contact through any of those means, through a distance, on the Internet, or telephone, by fax, or other means, would be considered to be a distance sales contract, which is Division 2 in the Consumer Protection and Business Practices Act.

Division 3 – as we are talking about today is a new part of the bill – will govern another type of consumer contract, being the distance service contract, and that is the one we are talking about here today. It is important, Mr. Speaker, to distinguish between the three types of consumer contracts: the direct sales contract; the distance sales contract; and the distance service contract. As I said, the focus of the existing types of consumer contracts, being the direct sales and the distance sales contracts is the manner in which the sales contracts are entered into. That is about the way you conduct the business to come to an agreement – either directly or at a distance. That is what those two divisions are about.

The focus of a distance service contract is how the service, as I talked about, the cellphone, the residential phone, Internet, cable, satellite television, or remote surveillance is provided for in the contract and how that is delivered from a distance. It could be entered into by direct sales or over the phone by distance sales, in either one of those manners. Therefore, a distance service contract can also be a direct sales contract or a distance sales contract. If a distance service contract – Division 3 in the act – is also a direct sales contract – Division 1 in the act – or a distance sales contract, which is Division 2, both Divisions 1 and 3, or Divisions 2 and 3 of the act will apply. There is a combination. I know that sounds confusing so I am going to take a minute to try to explain that.

The act covers these different forms of contracts. Because you enter into a distance service contract through one of the two means that are currently in the act, both divisions in that act would apply. The rules under both of those divisions in the act would apply in the protection of the consumer. Not just one or the other, both of those would apply. If both of those applied in the process to reach an agreement through a distance service contract – so if you enter into a cellphone agreement or let's say remote surveillance is one of the ones that are covered under this. That is generally an alarm system that a person would have in their home, quite often sold on a door-to-door basis through a direct sale, when a person will come to your door and offer you the services of an alarm system for your home. If that was the case, you have a direct sales contract entered into for a distance service contract. Both sections, both divisions of the act would apply to those contracts. It would be required that the service provider, the person selling the contract, abide by the requirements of the legislation for both of those divisions.

Mr. Speaker, there are two different types of distance service contracts which are addressed in this bill; one being a fixed term distance service contract having a specified term, while the other one is an indeterminate term distance service contract not to have a specified term. The difference being there is that a fixed term distance service contract would be one where if you purchased a satellite television service, a cable television service, a home phone service, or Internet service that you agree to a period of time, two years or three years are quite commonly seen. Sometimes with Internet and home television, you might see a one-year agreement; cellphones, very commonly, require three-year agreements. That is referred to as a fixed term service contract.

An indeterminate term distance contract would occur in a cellphone case where a person has their own personal cellphone, and they would go to a retail outlet and buy what is commonly known as a phone card, for example, where you can apply minutes, data, or service to use on that particular phone. In that case, it would be an indeterminate term distance service contract.

While complaints related to distance service contracts are heard from consumers all across Canada, Mr. Speaker, regulation of these types of consumer contracts is fairly new. Newfoundland and Labrador will be the third province to pass such legislation. Amendments to the Quebec's consumer protection legislation came into force on June 30, 2010, and amendments to Manitoba's consumer protection legislation are expected to come into force sometime this spring.

This bill was drafted based on a review of both the Quebec legislation and the Manitoba legislation. It has many similarities to the Quebec legislation, but there are also provisions of Manitoba's new legislation, which we have included and incorporated into our bill as well.

I mentioned about complaints, Mr. Speaker, because just recently, in the last number of weeks, I have noticed some media reports in relation to this very issue, this very issue about distance service contracts. Just last night, I heard a media report of a person in Canada who traveled outside of the country, traveled to the United States, and when returned, according to the media report had, I believe it was, a $12,000 cellphone bill after a two-week vacation out of Canada, traveled to the United States.

That was $12,000 of what is known as roaming charges. Sometimes roaming charges are not clearly understood by consumers; they are not clearly known to consumers of what roaming charges, when they apply, and what those charges will be. What a distance service contract division in the Consumer Protection and Business Practices Act will require is for the service provider to provide in clear language, so the consumer fully understands, what it is that is contained in that contract. In that contract it will clearly articulate when roaming charges would apply and what those charges would apply. Our intention is to let consumers fully understand the contract that they are actually entering into.

This bill does not regulate suppliers that provide distance services. It regulates the consumer contract itself so as to provide consumer protection in areas where there are currently no enforceable measures in place. To clarify that, Mr. Speaker, what this means is – how cellphones operate, and I will use that as an example, or how satellite television operates, with the services that are received, the signals you actually receive in your house; we are not talking about regulating that. That is regulated by the Government of Canada; that is regulated by Industry Canada. What you actually see, the channels you receive, and the content of the information that is available to you when you purchase that satellite television service, is regulated by the federal government. That is not what this bill is about.

This bill is about regulating the contract you enter into to obtain those services. That is where our responsibilities lie; when it comes to consumer protection, it is about protecting the rights of consumers who are going to purchase a service. So the people of Newfoundland and Labrador want to purchase a satellite service, or telephone service, or home phone, or cellphone service, Internet service; it is about protecting their rights and ensuring that the suppliers are fair to all those consumers.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DAVIS: It provides consumer protection in various ways, and as I mentioned, fair and clear distance service contracts are the intended outcome here. This bill will prescribe information that suppliers must disclose to consumers prior to entering into a distance service contract, including information respecting all charges, terms, and warranty. It will establish the circumstances under which a consumer or supplier may cancel or amend a distance service contract, something that, quite often, is not clearly understood by consumers today. It will prohibit – and this is a very important one, Mr. Speaker – unilateral modification to material elements of the contract. For example, if you sign up for a cellphone contract for a three-year period, and you agree that I am going to pay X number of dollars per month for a certain amount of data or talk time, then what this bill will do is it will prohibit the unilateral amending of those charges by the supplier during that contract period.

It will prohibit unreasonable cancellation fees, Mr. Speaker, unreasonable cancellation fees, while allowing suppliers to recover some of the cost for equipment that was rebated as a contract incentive. I want to take a minute just to talk about that one, because that is one that we quite often will hear problems or issues with.

Again, recently in the media, I heard a circumstance where a person moved, and when they moved to another location, the provider that they had originally had their service with never had service in the area to where they moved, and that created a problem for the consumer. So, what this bill will do is outline very clearly, under those circumstances, that it will prohibit unreasonable cancellation fees. Quite often you will hear someone say: Look, I have had my cellphone contract for a year or two years, as an example, and I have a year remaining, but I am moving and I no longer need it, and I need to get out of it; they will be quite surprised, on occasion, with the fees that they have to pay.

So what this bill will ensure is that it will prohibit the unreasonable cancellation fees, while allowing the suppliers to recover some of those costs for equipment that was rebated. Rebated, I mean, is that when you enter into a distance service contract to obtain cellphone service, and as part of that distance service contract the supplier agrees to provide you with what they might call a free cellphone, or a cellphone for no charge; well, we are going to refer to that as a piece of equipment that has been rebated as part of your agreement. So, to be fair to both the suppliers and the consumer, we are going to allow for cancellation fees, but there is actually a formula to reach what the cancellation fee should be as contained in the bill.

It will establish rules regarding the use of security deposits. It will stop charges for services that cannot be accessed due to damaged or defective equipment that is under warranty, unless the consumer is responsible. If you have a piece of equipment that comes with your distance service contract, any piece of equipment might come, if it be satellite, your satellite dish or it could be a PVR, for example, if that PVR fails, it is a warranted piece of equipment that fails and it takes you some time to get that repaired and you are not able to access the service that you have actually entered into a contract to receive, then under our bill you will not be able to be charged for that service.

As well, Mr. Speaker, it is required that the total monthly cost to be included in advertisements be disclosed. That is a very, very important one, is that the total monthly cost to be included in advertisements to be disclosed. It is a case where sometimes you will see advertised a certain service at a certain rate and by the time you enter into your contract you determine it is significantly higher than what was advertised. This bill sets out to prohibit that from occurring.

Mr. Speaker, to conclude my comments at this point of the debate this afternoon, I would just like to point out that the provisions of the bill are primarily related to the information that must be disclosed to consumers, the form of the contract, renewal of the contract, amendments of a contract, cancellation of a contract, cancellation fees, security deposits, warranty and advertising. Mr. Speaker, I expect that this bill, as I mentioned very early in my comments, will be welcomed by the members of the House. I expect it to be welcomed by members on both sides of the House and I expect it to be welcomed by members of the general public as well, because this is being designed and developed in their best interests and also to be clear to the service providers. To be fair to both, the people who are providing the service and the consumers, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador who are entering into the contracts.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to take my seat at this point in time. I look forward to listening to other members of the House in the debate this afternoon. I look forward to their comments.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (Verge): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. Barbe.

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, I have reviewed the bill and I would like to review the act, maybe in a little more detail to make more useful comments when we get further down the road in this bill.

The bill is easy to support; however, I would like to see it go further. I would like to see it go further in two particular areas. One area where I think the bill could go further is maybe dealing with more classes of goods and services. What we are looking at is a bill that regulates distance transactions, so that when people from away sell these services here our people are protected. In fact, I do not know why that would not be the case with all goods and services. We live in a society today which is a highly mobile society. Besides being mobile, we are technologically advanced so that we can do Internet shopping and we can order things, sometimes not always knowing what we are going to receive and hopefully we will get a fair bargain in the deal.

Another area where I think the bill could go somewhat further is that I believe our consumer protection legislation should all contain provisions whereby anybody who is doing business in this Province attorns to the jurisdiction of this Province for any lawsuits that ensue. What I mean by that is we can have fine consumer protection legislation. If one of our consumers has a problem, gets into some trouble and the vendor is in another jurisdiction, that vendor can still easily go to court in that jurisdiction, can obtain a judgment in that jurisdiction, and come back and enforce the judgment in this jurisdiction.

Different jurisdictions in North America, primarily in the United States, are known whether they are protective of their consumers, protective of their companies, protective of their residents and citizens. I would hope our Province would systematically move toward being recognized as a place that looks after the people who live here. By comparison, I would look at the State of Delaware in the United States. It is well known that Delaware is a good place for you to incorporate; it is good place to set up consumer contracts. If you have a Delaware contract, then it means that the law of Delaware automatically applies to that contract. Not so with this bill, as I can see it at this point. Hopefully, that will happen at some point in time; however, if we have a legal environment that is similar to the Delaware environment, then it would go a long way to protect our consumers and our corporations from being victimized by people in other jurisdictions.

I look forward to ongoing discussion and debate of this bill. Hopefully, we can have it cover more ground and also make it much more effective if consumer legislation of this nature or contract is going to be litigated. It is not much point in having legislation that protects our consumers if somebody files a lawsuit in Ontario, in Alberta, or in British Columbia, they get a judgement there, they come back and enforce that judgement here, and our consumers never had an opportunity for their day in court because it was just too expensive to go to that jurisdiction and defend themselves.

So, again, I have no difficulty supporting the bill, but I would like to see it made bigger and certainly beefed up from that point of view.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Member for St. John's East.

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It gives me great pleasure to speak to the amendment to the Consumer Protection and Business Practices Act. There are a number of things we would like to bring forward. We think that this is a very good start to some long needed changes.

It seems that since the advent of the android, a lot of consumers are being left behind. In some cases, they have been wired into agreements that usually do not work out to what was initially intended. Sometimes the language of these bills is a little bit hard to keep up with. That may be because of modern times. It may be because of the way people are doing business these days. Either way, it is good to see that the provincial government is addressing this on behalf of the consumer. We know that this has been in the works now for awhile.

No doubt, the dynamics of the marketplace have changed radically over the last couple of years and this is just an example that, in this case, government had no other choice but to redress this particular piece of legislation in that regard. I cannot go forward without saying something about the federal government in this regard. I do not think the federal government has been reacting positively to the consumers' needs when it comes to this. The federal government, particularly, are in charge of different bandwidths when it comes to the use by the consumer. They are supposed to be in charge of regulating some of these particular concerns. I think they just left this on the shelf too long, to the point that the Province had no other choice but to address these concerns on the part of the consumer and the taxpayer out there.

To know that the Province is going to be looking out for this is great, but I think we have to remember the federal responsibility when it comes to taking management. Particularly, I think this falls under the jurisdiction of the CRTC. Knowing that the federal government is finally starting to address the competitive needs of the marketplace, in particular freeing up some bandwidth just last week I think it was, probably about four or five business days ago, before the Newfoundland government actually came out to address the problems with the legislation on behalf of the Newfoundland and Labrador taxpayers. It is good to see but, again, I do not think that we can let the federal government off the hook when it comes to this.

I understand that we are not the only province that is dealing with these problems. There are five or six other provinces out there that have been dealing with the same concerns. Of course, we are meeting that need here with the changes to this piece of legislation. Again, it is a good thing to see. It would be nice to have uniformity amongst all provinces. It is just another sign, to me, because the federal government could not go and mediate something like this amongst all provinces, I do not know if the federal government wants to have the responsibility over communications any more and it is a direct move, as far as I am concerned, for the federal government, on their part, that actually proves a little bit more about the case of downloading. I do not like that. I simply do not like that. This is a necessary cost that the Newfoundland and Labrador government is being forced to take over. Again, all I can see here is that the federal government is shirking its responsibility.

I would like to start off here, I think, by quoting some numbers when it comes to reflecting the direct cost on the Newfoundland and Labrador consumer as well as the Canadian consumer here. One study that I looked at in my research on this particular piece of legislation came from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Amongst sixty-eight operators that they surveyed, they showed that Canadians were paying amongst the highest on average of all the other OECD countries for roaming data charges. The US was number two on that list. You figure that with about 345 million consumers down in the United States that they would have been number one. The last country on that list happened to be Greece. It is understandable with their economic troubles, but the differences in price, I think, went anywhere from $26, I believe, a megabyte – I believe that is the way that is measured – down to about $4 in the country of Greece, if you compare it on US dollar terms.

The question has to be asked, because of the lack of competition that actually exists in the marketplace, up until now, and I think the federal government is probably trying to address the problem now; there is a need for enforcement as a result of that because companies, in fact, are not competing when it comes to that.

It is my personal belief that whenever you are talking about a three-year fee or a three-year licensing structure, that there is a problem right there with that. It kind of limits the possibility of having competition and therefore the possibility of lower rates. One of the things that I would be looking out for when the regulations come out is the length of time that some of these contracts are set out for. The shorter the time period – probably it may be a year in some cases, but if you are talking about a year versus three years, you are talking about less of a market that is going to be cornered and have their backs to the wall. That may be a predetermining factor as regards to how much consumers are out there paying, for example, for cellphone coverage, that sort of thing.

I would be looking towards the regulations hopefully – and again, I have gone through the legislation; some parts of it are a little bit complicated, others are pretty understandable. The one thing that I did not see there as regards to the regulations, of course, when they come in, is an opportunity for the consumer to back out of certain elements of a contract, for example, if it is not needed. I would suggest that the regulations, when they do come out, the possibility of having a little bit of a cooling-off period where the consumer has time to actually go – maybe they would like to consult with friends or something as regards to the plans that they have – and then come back to the company and say, well, I am not going to need this particular part of the plan, so I would like to make a reversal of that decision that I made as regards to that.

We are lucky in one regard as members of the House of Assembly and as Cabinet ministers, that we actually have people who look at our cellphone plans. For example, if they know that we are going to be in a point where we are going to be travelling around a lot, they will go and do the digging for the proper contracts for us whenever we travel. Consumers out there do not have that same advantage. They do not have that same advantage, Mr. Speaker, so that is the reason why I would hope that there would be regulations covering that little bit of a cooling-off period. I will refer to that, because maybe there are elements of a particular contract that is not agreeable to the consumer out there. I would ask the government, and we would certainly hold the government in this regard to stand up for consumers when it comes to that sort of thing.

We also feel that there should be a capped price on data for going on-line, as in the European Union. There are twenty-seven countries over there; they have a cap on prices when it comes to on-line data usage. Just hearing some of the horror stories as regards to the cost of data, it is actually to the point where it is unbelievable. It is a bit hard to understand how sometimes the consumer can get nailed for some of the bills that they are ending up with.

As well as that, Mr. Speaker, I think there should be a rule on what I would like to call ghost billing. There are some consumers out there at the end of their contract period who actually get billed again. Sometimes at the end of the contract, they would have, for example, an e-account where they are actually dealing on-line with some of these companies. When the contract is over, of course, your account and everything is all closed up. The next thing you know, you actually have the company sending you another bill in the mail and it is almost impossible to get hold of that company for an explanation of the charges. We have seen that more than once.

One person fairly close to me has had that happen. It was only for a small cost. I think it was about $5 or $6 or something. Still, that company had the opportunity in this regard – the possibility – of ruining somebody's credit because there was a $6 charge here that could not be accounted for by the consumer, yet no way to get a hold of the company at the same time. I would ask government, in their regulations, if they would consider that and have that looked at.

The question in that regard should be asked about mail notifications rather than using e-mail and getting hold of a company. When you are free and clear of all of these charges, that when you know personally that you have paid for all of these charges, and that you have no more expectations of this company, the company actually send you out something – I guess we will call it snail mail, some sort of a mail notification, something on paper that the consumer can run with in case this same company comes back and tries to collect more money.

The only other thing I have to worry about in some regards is: Who is going to be monitoring this? As far as I am concerned, there is a little bit of federal downloading here. There may be some administration needs that the Province is going to have to address. So it is an added cost. Yes, it is a good thing that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is looking out for consumers' needs in this case, but there is a little bit more administration there with no way for the federal government to be accountable for it.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, just one or two more thoughts to this because, again, we think this is pretty good legislation; there are pretty good changes being made here, and we are fully supportive of it, but we think it has to go a little bit farther. There are some costs that some consumers out there are being tagged with, particularly when it comes to megabyte billing. One person I know was told that in their contract they would be paying $8.95 for a download of 1 megabyte of data. When they actually went down to the States on a trip, they were shown to be $3 they were being sold for down in the States. When they got home again, there was still an $8.95 charge in Canadian billing when the megabyte usage was actually less down in the States. So, this is a case where consumers have to be aware. We, no doubt, know now that government is fully aware of the problem and we are glad to see them address it.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will finish up my comments by saying, again, that the federal government needs to get all provinces together onside when it comes to legislation like this. We know they have been making moves as regards to freeing up the cellphone markets, in particular in the 700 range, which is quite valuable. Hopefully, they will attract more competition into the marketplace now when it comes to, particularly the cellphone and Android usage, that sort of thing, and data downloading; hopefully, the government will not have to have their fingers any farther into the pie than what we have to in this particular case.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I recognize the Member for Lake Melville.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RUSSELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to rise today in this House to speak to Bill 6, An Act To Amend The Consumer Protection And Business Practices Act.

The purpose, Mr. Speaker, of these proposed amendments are really twofold. One, we look to further protect the residents of the Province when they enter into contracts concerning the goods and services we are going to be talking about in this bill. Secondly, these amendments modernize the act itself. What they do is they basically bring in relative terms, if you will, Mr. Speaker, to ever increasingly technical products and the contracts that go with it as well. I believe, Mr. Speaker, these are very progressive and they represent a government that will adjust to changing times and that will modernize our legislation in order to keep up with the technologies in order to completely be focused on the protection of the residents of the Province.

The amendments proposed today are specific to the various services that most of us in this House have and most people across this Province have as well that they avail of in their everyday life, which include Internet, cellphone, residential phone, cable, satellite TV and remote surveillance services. If we were to look back even ten years ago, Mr. Speaker, we would see a different time when it comes to these products, these services and our interaction with them and the actual suppliers who provide the products and services, as well. Basically, it comes down to the technology involved, that it is much more complex these days.

Times have indeed changed, Mr. Speaker. Everyone has a cellphone for work and for recreation. Basically, we live in a time of Twitter and Facebook, Mr. Speaker, where people are using them for political purposes, they are using them for fundraising, social groups and what have you. Everybody is connected to everybody these days over the World Wide Web. Even if you are not ‘Facebooking' or Tweeting, Mr. Speaker, you are still buying services, you are still buying products, you are still playing games, and you are still doing your banking online. In a lot of cases, people are using it for video and music for entertainment, as well. That comes from, of course, all over the world and from all corners of the world.

I will take a minute, Mr. Speaker, and relate this to my own household in terms of what we are talking about here and these services. If you are like me and you have a couple of kids, you are perpetually linked to the technology as these kids are perpetually linked to these devices. They seem be almost sewn on sometimes, Mr. Speaker. They are using them in their social networking. They are even interacting with their own schools and using them for educational purposes, let alone the recreation that has become part of their everyday way of life. Basically, you have kids talking to kids, kids talking to Web sites, and the Web sites keeping them all bundled in their own little groups, Mr. Speaker.

If you were to take a handheld, a PC, or a gaming console away from the kids, you would certainly see a major confrontation. I know I would in my own house. I guess the tactic now has become a fearsome weapon in the arsenal of the parent in terms of discipline. Take away that stuff and the kids will start to listen. I think that is what you will see.

I will use my daughter as an example. You will see with my daughter a continuous stream of texts that she has to respond to day in, day out. It seems to be perpetual. We also see that they are sharing videos now. They are commenting on these videos on Facebook and other social media sites and, basically, the ability to browse the Web at any time and look at fashion, which is what young ladies like to do.

With my son, Mr. Speaker, it is a totally different type of interaction with this level of technology. We have online gaming across the Web. Of course, everybody enters into the contracts for not only the Web services but for the gaming services as well. We have multi-player worlds which become battlefields for hundreds and thousands, tens of thousands of children and youths, if you will, Mr. Speaker, across the world. They come together, not only people in the Province or in the country, but across the world. They come together to fight and destroy each other, if you will, in that online reality where they have real-time audio and voice capability. They are looking for the bragging rights that come with that.

This is just normal, everyday stuff, Mr. Speaker, but it occurs in just about every household. With every single one of those services, Mr. Speaker, there comes a contract. This is what we are here to talk about today because the proposed amendments to this act will allow us to regulate the contract, Mr. Speaker, in order to better protect the consumer, which is what this is all about.

So it comes down to the contracts associated with not only the devices, the services themselves, Mr. Speaker; basically, these are technologically advanced by any standard today. So, whether or not you are talking about the bundled services, where most residents, now, Mr. Speaker, have cellphone, Internet, regular phones going into the households; they are also bundling those services across family members as well, and having multiple cellphones, et cetera.

So, whether or not you are keyed into the kids and their massive demand for stimuli, or whether or not you are recording your favourite show while you are at work, on your PVR at home, or you are just setting your alarm system at night, Mr. Speaker – you have a contract for each and every single one of these, and basically, they are becoming increasingly complex. Me, particularly, I spend a lot of time checking the NHL standings to see if it is really still this bad nightmare, the ranking of my beloved Toronto Maple Leafs. Basically, you check the web as much as you like; they are having a rough year, and it looks like that is going to continue.

All joking aside, once you enter into a contract, Mr. Speaker, in the past it seems you are at the whim of the supplier in most cases. Basically, these are a part of our everyday lives, so just about everybody in the Province is going to benefit from the proposed amendments to this act, Mr. Speaker. I think it is easy to say that everybody, at some time or another, we have had some level of difficulty in dealing with a supplier, or some level of dissatisfaction with the product and or service.

Basically, this act will further protect us as consumers in the great Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and it becomes modernized. So, basically, not only will you see us being protected about the basic contracts, but also the additional and optional services that up the technical complexity, if you will, about these contracts.

So, right from the get-go, clause 1 amends the very definitions within the act to include cellular services, residential phones, cable and satellite TV, remote surveillance. What you will see is there is housekeeping at the first part of these proposed amendments, Mr. Speaker. So, once the housekeeping stuff is done, the real benefits to the consumer, to the end-user, the people that have signed on the dotted line for these contracts, occur later on in the act. Basically, we see a new division, as the minister mentioned in his preamble to the proposed amendments. This is for the governing of distance service contracts. It is very specific to what it talks about, and includes all the different interpretations that are used in this new division.

We see the real meat of these amendments, if you will, Mr. Speaker, occurring in section 35, talking about cancellation fees, distance service contracts, fixed term distance service contracts, indeterminate term distance service contracts, security deposits, and rebates. It is section 5, Mr. Speaker, where we see a reborn relevance, if you will, to this act in relation to today's technology and the product servicing offerings, and, like I have said many times, the increasingly complex contracts that come with these.

Basically through these definitions and through the amendments to the act we see the act become transformed, Mr. Speaker. It becomes specific and drills down into the details of these services, the additional and optional services that I talked about before; it also includes suppliers to fully disclose, Mr. Speaker, not only the very basics, but it requires a complete breakdown of everything: the rates, the fees – whether they are monthly or otherwise – for each service and any additional cost that may be charged for those additional services to the consumer, Mr. Speaker.

Now, for the first time ever, I think, this legislation provides for fair and transparent contract terms, Mr. Speaker, that do drill down into those details. It will include everything from air time restrictions, geographical restrictions, service coverage areas, long distance, and, as mentioned by the minister, roaming areas as well. We all have that story, the same one that the minister relayed to the House here, Mr. Speaker, about the trip across Canada, the trip abroad, the trip down south, wherever you have gone and you have seen people using those cellphones, only to come back the next month and see the gigantic bill that nearly scares them right out of their boots.

This is now going to protect the consumer to make sure that this does not happen and that at the very least that they have been in plain language, Mr. Speaker, in a minimum of ten-point font, they have been basically notified of what those changes are going to be.

Mr. Speaker, to kind of sum up here, what you are seeing is we have everything now; we have drilled down into the details about the realities of dealing with these types of technological products and services. Basically, we are requiring these suppliers that are distributing these products and services to come at us with clear language, very in-depth descriptions of rebated goods. We have all seen those ads, zero down. That is not the case; there is always a catch. The roaming charges, and – one more point, Mr. Speaker – the data usage, which is very important if you have kids because they are doing the face time on all these handheld devices, the cellphones nowadays; they are downloading games, they are downloading apps, they are sending videos across the web, and if you do go over your daily usage limits, you will definitely see that on the bill, Mr. Speaker.

Basically, this gives the consumer a fighting chance to be able to stand up for themselves. We have heard the minister mention unilateral amendments to the contracts and the prohibition of that. We have also given the consumer, Mr. Speaker, the ability to opt out of any contract at any time for any reason, which is something that is going to be very, very popular, I think, with the average consumer, the average resident if you will.

In closing, I will just say basically that, one, I am in support of these amendments, of course, and I think that we have two really great points about these amendments that are really going to have positive affect, if you will, on the consumers of Newfoundland and Labrador. The first being that this legislation now becomes relevant to present day and the realities faced with these technological products and services and the very technical contracts that come with them, Mr. Speaker. Second, it provides clarity to the consumer. This is the most important point, Mr. Speaker. Basically, clarity to the consumer about what exactly they are entitled to upon entering these contracts and how they should be treated as consumers. That is important to this government, that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador be treated fairly. These contracts will now require specific details and disclosure on behalf of the supplier before entering, during the life of the contact, and after they are expired as well.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you for allowing me to talk to this bill here today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

If the hon. the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador speaks now, he will close debate in second reading on Bill 6.

The hon. the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the hon. members who participated in this debate this afternoon: the Member for St. Barbe, the Member for St. John's East, as well as the Member for Lake Melville. I would thank them for their very positive reflection on this bill that is before the House this afternoon, An Act To Amend The Consumer Protection And Business Practices Act, Bill 6.

In response to some of the comments that I did hear this afternoon, I would just like to take a moment to clarify a couple of the sections that are actually outlined in the bill. I will try not to go into too much detail on those particular sections, Mr. Speaker.

One of them, section 35.4, does outline a requirement for a supplier to notify the consumer ninety days to sixty days before the expiry date of the distance service contract, provide written notice to the consumer of expiry date of the contract; and, where applicable, the supplier's intent to renew a contact for an indeterminate term.

What will happen now is a person who enters into a distance service contract, when the distance service contact period of obligation expires then, quite often, what will happen is the person just continues to receive the services from the distance service provider, but unknowing that there may be opportunities for the consumer to renew the contract, there may be benefits to the consumer renewing the contract, the consumer may be waiting for an opportunity to change suppliers or to end the agreement. So under this act what will happen is that the supplier will now be required to notify the consumer ninety days and sixty days before the expiration of the contract that it is actually – and notify the consumer in writing by the way, I say to the hon. member who brought this very important point up, and I appreciate that. They will have to notify the consumer in writing that the contract is coming to an end.

I would also like to flip over, Mr. Speaker, to section 35.2 of this as well just to highlight that this particular bill outlines more than two dozen requirements in a distance service contract, that the supplier will now have to provide to the consumer in a clear, easy to understand language. It includes such requirements as: the supplier's name, business address, telephone number and, where applicable, fax number and e-mail address – and that is just one of the more than two dozen that are listed under this bill – the date and place of the distance service contract, a detailed description of each one of the services to be provided. I am not going to go through all of them, Mr. Speaker, but there are a couple I would like to point out.

Three of them together here refer to the rates and what must be paid. One of them actually states, "the total amount the consumer must pay each month". In a new distance service contract – because when this comes into effect it will be effective for new contracts on a go-forward basis – it will require that the supplier provide the total amount the consumer must pay each month. So that must be clearly articulated in the contract so there is no misunderstanding.

It also will have to outline the term and expiry of the distance service contract, how long the distance service contract is in effect for and when the expiry will be. That has to be outlined at the beginning when a person enters into the contract. Then as I spoke about just a few moments ago, ninety and sixty days prior to the expiration of the contract, the supplier must notify the consumer in writing of the pending expiry of the contract.

It also requires that the rates for exceeding usage limits, where applicable, be outlined in the contract. With respect to distance service contracts for cell phones, notification that roaming charges may apply – and that has to be clearly articulated in the contract – notification of the number of included airtime minutes and data usage, where applicable; and, per use charges for incoming text messages, e-mails, and subscription text messages, where applicable.

I pointed out for the members, as these were some of the items that were mentioned in the debate today, I appreciate their support for this bill this afternoon. I would like to reiterate what my colleagues have said. This is a good piece of legislation for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, it is a good piece of legislation for the consumers of Newfoundland and Labrador, and it is going to go a long ways under distance service contracts to protect their best interests.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Is it the pleasure of the House that the bill be now read the second time?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Amend The Consumer Protection And Business Practices Act. (Bill 6)

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

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, I call from the Order Paper, Order 5, second reading of a bill, An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act, 2000, Bill 4.

MR. SPEAKER: Just before we recognize that, can I go back to the Deputy Government House Leader? I did not ask direction as to when Bill 6 would be referred to a Committee of the Whole.

MR. KING: Tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: Tomorrow, thank you.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Consumer Protection And Business Practices Act", read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 6).

MR. SPEAKER: You were calling a Bill number.

MR. KING: Order 5, An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act, 2000.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

I recognize the Member for Bay of Islands, who was speaking on this bill in second reading when we finished last time.

The hon. the Member for Bay of Islands.

MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will just have a few minutes to clue up my few remarks that I had last time. Again, this is An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act, and this is the rebates for the volunteer firefighters. I know the Minister of Municipal Affairs is over there saying what a good job I did the last time. I know, minister, a lot of times when I do speak on behalf of volunteer firefighters, it is usually good comments, because I recognize their work and I know you do also. I know you support beyond that and I just thank you for your kind words and your kind comments, because we both recognize the work of the volunteer firefighters and we know how much work they do, Mr. Speaker. I thank the minister for his kind words.

Mr. Speaker, I attended the HIS fireman's ball about ten days ago – the Hughes Brook-Irishtown-Summerside fireman's ball – and there was a large crowd there. I spoke about this bill, and I mentioned in my few words that I had how the government was bringing in this bill and it was a good bill for all volunteer firefighters. They were pleased that the bill was being brought forward and that we were going to support the bill also.

One of the things that I spoke to before about the volunteer firefighters was the hepatitis B, Mr. Speaker. I spoke to the Minister of Health on it and I wrote her on this here. The startling information that I received at the fireman's ball, which I knew – then again, when you get it in writing from the boys and hear they had about thirty-two calls last year, the HIS firefighters; they go from Hughes Brook to Summerside, which is probably about 10 kilometres or 12 kilometres distance. They had thirty-calls: four were for fire, four were for car accidents, and the rest were for medical.

That is why the hepatitis B, Mr. Speaker, for these volunteer firefighters is so important, because they do such a service now. They go beyond the original scope of duty with their firefighting and now it is into medical. I will bring it forth again to the Minister of Health to try to include hepatitis B for these volunteer firefighters.

As I mentioned before, Mr. Speaker – and I know it happens all over Newfoundland and Labrador, all rural parts, and not just the Bay of Islands – a lot of the first responders now are volunteer firefighters in medical calls. We have to try to recognize that somehow and try to help mitigate the possibility of any medical problems they may have. That is one way that we can do it, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I have to bring this up, because I remember the former Member for Mount Pearl South – he used to be the minister of volunteerism – used to go to some of the firemen's balls, Mr. Speaker. In my opinion, and of a lot of firefighters who I spoke to in the Bay of Islands, when he attended a firemen's ball, he used to always try to make it political in some way, Mr. Speaker. These volunteers, then, at the firemen's ball, wanted to be recognized for their services, and it would become political.

I spoke to the former Member for St. John's South about it before, and I explained to him that a lot of the times when you go – and I know the Minister of Municipal Affairs here now, when he recognizes the volunteer firefighters, it is done because of the service they provide, not because of a political nature. I spoke to the former member before and I explained to him that a lot of times, it was not the proper place to turn on politics, because the volunteer firefighters, part of this bill is to recognize their services and to recognize the valued contributions they make all throughout.

When I had a few words last time, I mentioned to the Minister of Municipal Affairs about Cox's Cove. Wayne Payne called me. First of all, if anybody knows Wayne out in Cox's Cove, Wayne called me and gave me a piece of his mind. He said: How dare you call me your friend? We are good friends and we are good buddies, so that was Wayne's first comments to me. Of course, if anybody knows Wayne, that is just Wayne. Wayne also asked me to bring up to the minister in this debate: When the minister heads out to Meadows, or if it is before that, could he drop down to see the fire truck?

The fire truck in Cox's Cove, Mr. Speaker, is 1983. I think they were close on the list last year to receive a fire truck. I know there are only so many you can give out, and this is in no way and by no means a knock on the minister or the government, this is just something Wayne asked me to bring up. The truck is 1983, it definitely needs a replacement. They thought they were going to be fortunate enough to get one next year.

If the minister is ever out and has time, they would like you to go down and have a look. I say to the minister, these volunteer firefighters are out on the edge of the North Shore and they need it for their services because it is hard for anybody else to be a backup to them. Mr. Speaker, Wayne asked me to bring that forward and mention it because it is very important to the town and it is something that the possibility of a new fire truck –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) from a PC government.

MR. JOYCE: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. JOYCE: The minister said to me, it came from a PC government. I would be more than pleased if a second one came from a PC government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JOYCE: You will not see me complaining, I can tell you that. I do not mind that, Mr. Speaker. You will not see me complaining. What is good for the Province is good for me, and if it is coming from the PC government – I think the Minister of Child, Youth and Family Services brought that up, and I thank you very much for that. I have no problem with that whatsoever.

He asked me to mention that minister, and if you are ever out that way, it would be an open door for you to drop down and visit the boys. Even though Wayne says I am not his friend, Wayne does sometimes stretch the truth. Like I told Wayne in a bit of jest, I told Wayne to buy a dog; he phones me so many times, to leave me alone for a while. Walk the dog for a little while.

Mr. Speaker, Cox's Cove does a lot of work for the people in the area, so do all of the other firefighters in the whole Bay of Islands. This is just a small recognition of the valuable contribution they make to all of us.

One of the groups I notice that is not included in this, Mr. Speaker, are the firefighters in Corner Brook. They are not included, they are paid. Mr. Speaker, if I am allowed to say a thank you to them also because the service they provide to the City of Corner Brook, when you have the hospital and you have the school, you have the long-term care facility, it is pressure. Anytime you get a call, especially if you get a call for any major institution in Corner Brook, the pressure is on the firefighters to ensure the safety of all the people in those institutions. I want to recognize the firefighters from Corner Brook who provide a valuable service to the residents of Corner Brook and the surrounding area. I might add also, the firefighters from Corner Brook usually respond to any other incidents within the radius on the North, South Shores, Steady Brook, Mount Moriah, so I want to recognize that group also.

Mr. Speaker, I will end on that note. I just wanted to thank all of the volunteer firefighters all throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, not just the Bay of Islands but all throughout Newfoundland and Labrador for their valuable contribution. The government is doing the right thing on this by amending this Income Tax Act so that they can receive their rebate.

MR. JACKMAN: (Inaudible).

MR. JOYCE: The Minister of Education said that I am going to soon be over there with you. That is what he said. Mr. Speaker, I am not sure who is over there that is going to accept me. That is one of the problems over there. It is hard to accept someone who speaks their mind and is always standing up for the people, Mr. Speaker. It is hard to accept, I have to say.

The government, it is a good gesture, it is a great cause. I know people - and I mentioned before, York Harbour, Lark Harbour, Glenn Savard, the Fire Chief - all throughout the Bay of Islands, Mr. Speaker, provide a valuable contribution, not just to the firefighters – and this is the point I want to make sure the people in the Province understand. Firefighting now is the smaller part of the duties. It is the medical that becomes a major part of their work now. This is why it is so important with this Hepatitis B. I know I am harping on it, Mr. Speaker, but I was asked to by the volunteer firefighters. I know Colin Tucker was at the fireman's ball in HIS ten days ago. Colin also mentioned how important it is. Colin asked me again to support HIS on this because it is good for all volunteer firefighters. Colin asked that I pass the word on to the minister. Colin said you can drive the fire truck, Minister, coming in but you need training wheels because you do not want to damage the truck. That was from the fire chief, but he welcomes you into his town and he is looking forward to the summer for you to be in town, Minister.

I will sit down on that, Mr. Speaker. Once again, congratulations to all the volunteer firefighters and all the paid firefighters in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, because as we all said, we do not appreciate them until we need to call them. When we call them we appreciate how much courage they have because when we are running from a building, they are running to a building to help out. When you have the pressure of a hospital that you have to maintain to make sure there is safety if there is fire, or a long-term care facility, or a university, or if it is a high school or an elementary school, it is a lot of pressure on any firefighter, but it is extra pressure on the volunteer firefighters.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to have these few words, and I thank the government again for recognizing the contributions of the volunteer firefighters.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am delighted to rise in this hon. House today and speak to Bill 4, which certainly recognizes the importance of our firefighters here in Newfoundland and Labrador. I know a lot of firefighters, actually, from my region – I have worked with them for quite a while – and it sure means a lot to get this recognition for them. Overall, in this Province, we have about 6,400 firefighters. Of these, 5,900 are volunteers, so it is quite astounding. As the hon. member across the way just mentioned, we are running from a burning building and these people are running toward the burning buildings. So, quite an incredible job they do.

Over the last few years – in my district, for example, I have twenty-one communities, and over fifteen fire departments, and recruitment has been an issue at times. So, we are certainly, as a government, committed to working with these volunteer fire departments and doing what we can to support them. I certainly believe that this tax credit is going to be a very valuable instrument in helping us with our recruitment efforts in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, in particular.

Our government places a very high priority on firefighting safety. In addition to initiatives such as this, we are investing, through Fire and Emergency Services in the Department of Municipal Affairs, a great deal of dollars into fire departments. Certainly, since 2003, well over $20 million has been spent to support the fire departments, Mr. Speaker.

When you think about what firefighters do, it is not just running into the burning buildings, which certainly is probably one of the most significant dangerous –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Apparently one of the Pages has informed us that one of the jugs that they were pouring water out of may have actually been broken. So I would ask members not drink any more water there now, there could be some glass gone down in one of the glasses.

We will go back to recognize the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune in a minute to finish, and after she is finished her comments, we will take a brief recess to replace the glasses.

The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We might need them here today.

Anyway, I was speaking just now about what firefighters do, actually. In addition to rescuing us in times of need in fires, they have a very important role in the community. They go about to our classrooms; they educate young children on the importance of firefighting safety, how to be safe and prevent fires, and how to avoid potential hazards that may exist. In rural, remote areas like mine, Mr. Speaker, they also undertake a lot of search and rescue activity.

I have the privilege of living in rural Newfoundland and Labrador on the water. Where I live the fire department, every winter, engages in training activities. With a growing aquaculture industry, our fire department has to be prepared not only for activities which occur on land but which occur in water. They have an ice rescue board where I watched them in the middle of January all out overboard diving and practising what they would need to do in the event of an emergency. So, quite an amount of dedication and hours are put in on a volunteer basis by our firefighters, men and women, and we certainly are quite thankful that they exist, and that they have the courage and bravery to act on our behalf in times of need.

I also had the pleasure this weekend of attending a firemen's ball – there were two in my district; one in English Harbour and one in St. Alban's. Both myself and my CA attended the two events. She attended one, and I attended the other. We were quite pleased at the number of long service awards that were being passed out. My congratulations to all of you out there as well who certainly have been with your fire departments for a long time and are doing an incredible job. Sometimes we might take them for granted; it might not always be top of mind that these volunteers are out there. When there is an emergency or a fire, we can count on them to come to our rescue any time of the day or night.

Getting back again to speak specifically to this tax credit, I was explaining a little bit to the fire department and some members what it entails on Saturday night, but certainly everyone very well versed overall. I was quite impressed to visit a number of my fire departments over the last year where we saw a large, great size piece of bristol board where the fire chief tracks attendance and tracks training initiatives undertaken and participated in by every single member.

This initiative is going to require, on behalf of the fire chiefs and the fire persons themselves, to really keep track of their time because there is a minimum requirement of 200 hours that a fire person has to complete each year in order to receive this tax credit. Our tax credit is mirrored, I guess, toward the federal tax credit. What it translates into, if you actually complete 200 hours of service, is a non-refundable tax credit of about $231. When you couple that with the federal tax credit, a volunteer fire person is able to receive up to I think it is slightly over $450 in the non-refundable tax credit.

One of the questions that I often get asked is, what does it entail? What do you have to record? What activities are eligible? What is listed as eligible activities for these firefighter services are responding to and being on call for firefighting and related emergency calls as a firefighter. That would include all your other activities as well, attending meetings held by the fire department and participating in required training related to the prevention or suppression of fire.

Mr. Speaker, a person has to have in excess of 100 hours of these types of core activities in order to be eligible for that tax credit; however, there are some secondary services that count towards the tax credit as well. These can include the number of hours devoted to education out and about in the community to various groups, and it can also include some of the maintenance work that takes place on your firefighting vehicles. Again, this element of services has to be less than the primary or core services which I just listed previously. It is going to be very, very important for fire persons and their fire chief to keep track of all of this. From what I have seen in my fire department at home, the ones I have been to, they are certainly doing a great job with that.

Mr. Speaker, I also wanted to say before I clue up, that in addition to the great investments that the fire departments have been receiving from our government since 2003, I am really impressed with the amount of volunteer fundraising that they do as well. In a conversation I had with the Fire Chief of St. Alban's on Saturday night, in the last two years, in a small community with a population of a little over 1,000 people, they have raised over $20,000 towards their equipment. It is nice to see that the ethic -

AN HON. MEMBER: How much?

MS PERRY: Over $20,000 in a small town - the ethic of not relying solely on government but getting out there, rolling up your boots to raise the money is still alive and well in rural Newfoundland and the support of the people is clearly evident in the amount of contributions they have been receiving.

Mr. Speaker, I will just wrap up on that note and say our government, once again, is very, very committed to supporting our firefighters and everything they do. We look forward to working with them as they bring new ideas forward for support and we will continue to do what we can, where we can to support these most valued people. Congratulations to all of you firefighters out there and keep up a great job.

Thank you so much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

As I previously communicated, there is a little bit of concern about some broken glass that may be in one of the drinking glasses. We are going to take a brief recess now to have that matter taken care of. We will ring the chimes and we will be back soon.

Recess

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

We will now resume debate on Bill 4.

I recognize the Member for St. John's East.

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It gives me great pleasure to talk to this piece of legislation today, considering that this was an integral part of the New Democratic platform back in 2007. It is nice to know that we can come forth with an idea and that government will adapt the idea or adopt the idea and carry it forth. It is really nice to see that the NDP can come up with ideas from the NDP money tree and it is nice to know that government can pluck of its fruit. In this case, it is a good thing.

Mr. Speaker, this has been a long time coming. Even though it has been this long, we are glad it is coming through as late as what it is, compared to what we could have had. It is a couple of years behind, but again playing catch-up when it comes to this. It is too bad at the same time that – again, it seems to be a theme today – the federal government is not doing its job. This particular idea of the tax credit fell behind when it came to dealing with it on a federal level. This bill right now is retroactive to January 2011.

I will bring forth just a couple of points to it because, of course, our party is very much in favour of this tax credit. It is a long time happening. As my friend the hon. Member for Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune has said, there are 5,900 volunteer firefighters who have been waiting too long for this piece of legislation to come through.

The other thing I would to bring up with regard this is that a piece of legislation like this is going to have to have some monitoring. It may be incumbent on some municipalities out there to keep proper logging and that sort of thing, or for firefighters to keep proper logging of the hours that they are putting towards the tax credit. That may entail a little more paperwork than usual but the benefits for that should be well worth it.

Again, not too much that I can say that is against this, but the other thing that I would like to say is that we need to go a little bit further when it comes the things that our volunteer firefighters and our working firefighters should be getting and that is a comprehensive coverage when it comes to various types of protection against some of the cancers that are out there, the work-related cancers that some firefighters out there face. These people, these men and women, are facing everyday exposures from God only knows what chemicals that are out there. It could be wood burning to asbestos fibres that are released into the atmosphere; these men and women are out there handling the hoses and saving lives, so I would like to bring that forward.

I would also like to talk about, I guess, some of the forestry units out there that are going to be meeting the challenges when it comes to firefighting out there. We know that right now we are dealing with the problems of global climate change and there may very well be more pressures on our forestry services as a result of that. At the same time, our volunteer firefighters sometimes are the first ones to be answering the call when it comes to a forest fire breaking out in various areas of the Province in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I would like to bring those points forward but, again, we need to address the firefighters' presumptive cancers in the Workplace Health and Safety Compensation Act. I think we would be going a very long way to recognizing some of the other inequities that volunteer firefighters are dealing with; again, hopefully, sooner rather than later.

Mr. Speaker, I guess I will leave it with that and say that this is another piece of good legislation that is being brought forward by this government. Again, it is too bad that the federal government were so late in coming out with this. This is proactive all the way back to January 2011.

Mr. Speaker, I will leave it at that. I cannot say anything too much out of the way when it comes to this piece of legislation. It is a very good piece of legislation and, again, long overdue.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I recognize the hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

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

It certainly is a pleasure to rise and speak to this bill today. It is long awaited and certainly very anticipated by all volunteer firefighters out and about in our Province and doing the work that they do.

The purpose of my standing to speak to this today, it is something that has affected my district. I was hearing it on the campaign trail. After the election it was something that I discussed with various volunteer fire departments.

There are times when we stand in this House, and you have some very heated disagreements over various pieces of legislation. This is one that you also have to stand up and say when something is being done right, and that is certainly one of the cases here. This is a bill that that everybody is in agreement, an amendment that everybody is happy with; we are doing something great for the people out there that are, in my mind, doing perhaps the most dangerous volunteer work that exists. I cannot think of any volunteer work out there that is as potentially life-threatening as what they do.

This is a great day today. The people who are working in volunteer fire departments – one of the issues I was a little bit concerned with that was out there was the number of hours that they had to do, volunteer hours per year. I believe it was 200. That was a concern, because many small fire departments actually cannot physically do that many hours; they only have so many meetings, so much training.

It is my understanding now that it has been clarified to include the on-call hours, which is a great thing. As my friend mentioned, this is something that – especially volunteer fire departments will have to make sure that their paper trails are documented correctly, that there is a proper log taking in the number of hours. A lot of people in my district, and I know they have gone around for a week on end with their pager on. They still have to live their lives, but they are always on call. There is always the fear that they are going to get that call. The fact that these hours are being recognized is great.

A lot of them do hours that are not recognized, the stuff that contributes to the cultural fabric in your towns, whether it is the parades, whether it is bonfire nights, whether it is security for events. The local fire departments just in my district alone have contributed to so many things, and I am sure this relates to every member across who has a volunteer fire department in their district.

The services that are being provided are so very valuable. This is a very minimal cost. If we were to take the cost of what it would be to pay volunteers for what they do, it would be astronomical. For us to make sure that they have this little benefit for the work they do is a great thing. We are certainly in support of it, looking forward to it getting done, and getting done quickly. I am just very appreciative of this opportunity to stand up and speak for the fire departments in my district.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

If the hon. the Minister of Finance speaks now he will be closing debate on second reading of Bill 4.

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am delighted to see that this piece of legislation has the all-party support in this House. I thank the Opposition and the Third Party for supporting this as well. It just goes to show that all of us regardless of our political views have nothing but the greatest feeling of respect and admiration for those who volunteer to protect our homes and our property and to donate all the hours that they do away from their families for our benefit. This is a way, a small but important way, that we show our thanks to them.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Is it the pleasure of the House that the said bill be now read a second time?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act to Amend The Income Tax Act, 2000. (Bill 4).

MR. SPEAKER: This bill has now been a second time.

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

Now? Tomorrow? Presently?

MR. KING: Tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: Tomorrow.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act, 2000", read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill 4)

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

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, I call from the Order Paper, Order 1, Address in Reply.

MR. SPEAKER: Address in Reply.

I recognize the Member for Bonavista North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CROSS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

All I can say is: Wow. Finally a reality, finally here; as I continue in my maiden address, I guess I will be able to enlighten you on what I mean by finally here.

I would like to start by congratulating all hon. members on both sides of this House; indeed, this is an honourable place to be. We say that word many, many times, but we have to come here with that in mind: that this is an honourable House and that there is honourable business taking place here. I would also like to extend very sincere congratulations to the Sergeant-At-Arms for his appointment, being a rookie here with us in this House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CROSS: I would like to say that this is a team effort, all the way around. I guess that is a perfect segue into my first comment, because I really want to say that my being here, the fact that Eli Cross is standing here today, is not a singular accomplishment; it is a team effort. We always have kids when we are teaching sports in school, or in minor hockey, or in other places where a team is there; we always say to our kids: There is no I in team. A team is made up of a collective bunch of individuals who all strive to give their best. They give their individual best, but that makes a collective best by all included.

I would like to say that Eli Cross chose this team, this team that I am part of, and I chose that many, many years ago because I have been involved in the political life of my district and of my Province for many, many years. Also, because there was a nominating meeting, this team also chose Eli Cross. That is a significant feat for me. What is even more significant is that, just shortly after, Bonavista North chose the both of us.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CROSS: I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the fact that there was a nominating meeting and that there was another individual who put his name forward to represent this great team in the election. In the middle of August, a very warm time of the year, not when you are expecting to be in a campaign, I would like to recognize the fact that Mr. Grant Burry spurred me on to want to win this even more. He was a great candidate to be a member of this team as well, but there could be only one winner, and we vowed that we would work together. Shortly later, there was an election. In that election there were two other worthy adversaries. Mr. Paul Kean was running for the red colour in this election. Paul and I worked together many years ago. He was the coach of a hockey team while I was the teacher manager. I fundraised for him. When we met at the beginning of this election, I said: Paul, I am not fundraising for this campaign for you. We agreed to disagree on our points of view, but again he would have been a strong candidate.

Then I also met for the first time Mr. John Coaker, who came forward and offered. Again, it is one of these things that when you stand to offer for public life, you have to realize that everybody who stands here stands as I do. We offer our best. We offer what we think is the best. If we cannot give our best effort, then it is not good enough.

I would like to also say some thank yous. The first thank you is to our leader and Premier. She is the motivating force, the final force that wants me to be so strong on this team, this collective team that is on this side of the House. We compete against each other, not to get ahead of each other, but the best in each of us brings out the best in everyone else. We bring a team to this Province that you will not find anywhere else.

I have an old Chinese proverb to say to our Premier: It is not the cry but the flight of the duck that leads the flock to flight and then to follow.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CROSS: You can cry all you want, but your flight is what is getting us forward.

I would like to say a special thank you to the voters of Bonavista North. They put a trust in me and I am not taking their trust lightly. This job is twenty-four seven, 365, for the next four years minimum, and I am hoping to extend on that. I would also like to say a special thank you to the team who came together to support me. There were two waves of support. There was a financial support and a moral support, and without either you cannot really run a successful election campaign. So I would like to say a thank you to them.

Then the final thank you goes to family, for without family, without parents who drive you to want to be your very best, and a grandmother who says look, if you cannot give your best do not do it. If you cannot give your best effort do not do it. I would be remiss if I did not mention my father and mother, because you cannot say one without the other. I cotton on that to when we come here we stand up and a little slip of the tongue sometimes you might say the name of our Province. I cannot say mom without thinking dad, as I cannot think of Newfoundland without thinking of Labrador. It is one of these things that go together.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CROSS: I have two siblings, Florence and Bill. I will give you a little tiny, final little bit of humour before we are finished. When we were growing up we were called three things by my dad: stump, gump and plump. Guess which one I was? It was a sign of his love, his enduring love for us that bonded us together and we made certain things together.

He was a member of this House and there are times when I have peered towards the Speaker's chair because when the House was on the tenth floor many, many years ago he sat in that chair in a similar role as the current gentleman who is occupying it right now, Mr. Speaker. It is indeed, when I look that way and I stand here that I always get a tingle in the back of the neck, that urge is always there, that feeling of reverence and humility is always there.

Now very quickly – that is only the first page and I think I am gone almost halfway down, so I could be here for a long time. My political story started in 1967 - I will speed up right now. In 1967 a little seed was planted. There were three young boys who went to visit a helicopter on a wharf in Greenspond. John Lundrigan was running in a federal election, and I was one of the three boys met by this weird helicopter – we did not see them very often – and the gentleman there was looking for someone to pay a few dollars to, to canvas Greenspond with posters. I believed, at the end of that campaign, it was the effort that I took that got John Lundrigan elected.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CROSS: I sincerely felt that I was magnificent at ten years old.

Then, ladies and gentlemen, and Mr. Speaker, the next part of my political story comes to 1975, the forerunner, George Cross, my father – first man to win an election, other than a Liberal, in Bonavista North.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CROSS: They told him it could not be done, and the more often they told him it could not be done, the harder he tried. He actually went into houses and stuck his foot in the door with the history book for 1932 to prove that it was not the dirty Tories that caused the big shemozzle and then we went into Commission of Government, and people started to listen to his story, and they respected him as an individual.

I will give you one more quick little quirk. There was a gentleman he ran into during the election said: Mr. Cross, great man, loves you to death, you are the wrong colour; but, I tell you, if you and the Liberal man were out in the water, I would pull you out first.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CROSS: Mr. Speaker, 1989 was the gamble. Tides were moving out, Eli Cross thought, I am going to be a politician now. I took on a very formidable adversary in 1989, Mr. Thomas Lush – if I can say his name – but at that time it was a gamble, because the tide was going out. I was full of fire and wanted to be a part of this. So, I had to lay that aside after 1989. So then I got my political education, I got involved in municipal politics, and that is first when I met our Premier, who was also in municipal politics at the time. Although she probably cannot remember me, I can remember her, and I followed her career as it went on. I cut my teeth as the last Mayor of Wesleyville and the first Mayor of Badger's Quay-Valleyfield-Pool's Island-Wesleyville-Newtown-Pound Cove-Templeman, because we did not have a name. We were in the coffee books as the longest name of any town in Newfoundland, but the next guy who became mayor took the name New-Wes-Valley, and that sticks today.

In 2002 – I will just call it the renewal – a Mr. Harding proved it could be done again in Bonavista North, and in 2011, I look at it as my dream realized. This little guy – I used to be known as Little Eli in Leading Tickle. That is as much as I will say about that story. The thing is, I started, my very first pay cheque – and it is sort of convenient and I will wrap this together now – as an employee in this building. I was hired after I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Education, thought I could take on the world and I was not one of the lucky ones to get a job right away so I went to work in the motor pool down at the end behind the daycare. That is the humblest of humblest places to have begun, to have been there. That was the time I drove ministers around, I drove secretaries around, and I delivered the mail. I can remember picking up the then Premier at 3:30 in the morning from the motor pool when he arrived at the airport, and I would have three ministers in the car because he wanted a meeting at 4:00 a.m. That was dedication and that was a work ethic that would bring you around.

I am going to take you on what I thought was going to be a five-minute tour of Bonavista North, but I guess it is going to be about two minutes. Bonavista North is not the largest geographic district in this Province, but if you leave from my house and go to one end and then go to the other end it will spoil a five-hour trip because if you have to get in every single little harbour, point, island, hamlet, and whatever then you just have to get everywhere. You have to stop every once in a while to take a breath, but you also have to stop because there are places that would take your breath away. That is how I feel about my district.

To leave New-Wes-Valley and go to Trinity and down to Wings Point and return, like I said, would take you five hours to consume. In that expanse, there are seven town councils, there are eight local service districts, there are four K-12 schools, two K-3 schools, two K-9 schools, a cottage hospital with two clinics, four fish plants and satellite landing facilities, twelve parks and walking trails, eleven volunteer fire departments, an experimental cranberry farm, and many, many manufacturing enterprises. Through all of that, Bonavista North has been recognized, we are not a place where the government has to bail out a lot of industries, we are not a place where there may have been money invested upfront in good expenditures, but basically we have come to be known as a people, as a district, as an enterprise that is proud to stand and take care of itself, standing strong and proud, and not really, really crying to the government all the time for handouts. This district has probably one of the more successful fish plants in the Province. It has been there since the 1960s, independent, but still growing strong, and standing alone, and standing firm for what it has committed to its workers and to the fishermen.

We have the Indian Bay region in our district. CWT, or Centreville-Wareham-Trinity, is potentially the entrepreneurial capital of outport Newfoundland. In a small community of 1,100 people, there is an Indian Bay Frozen Foods; a Fibreglass Works; a Versatile Stones Inc. factory; New Wood Manufacturing; a sea urchin processing plant; C&C Foaming, which is spraying in green insulation; as well as all the service industries you will find in a small town. I would stack that up against any other town of slightly over 1,000 people in Newfoundland to say that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. Then you go around Old Jingle, which is the closest thing we have to a mountain in Bonavista North, and you come to one of the world's most famous tourist attractions and destinations, the Indian Bay region, with some of the greatest inland waters and canoeing and snowmobiling areas in the world.

You take another short drive, and you come to the Greenspond, New-Wes-Valley, Lumsden area. Greenspond is one of the oldest continuously inhabited outports in Newfoundland, dating back to the 1690s. They had their 300th anniversary a few years ago. It still has the old-world charm, and they used to be called the Capital of the North in Newfoundland. A major trading centre, because they had the proximity to the sea lanes, the tide, and the wind. Today, two features there: one, I can hear my grandfather say - when he always referred to something big – as big as pond church. So, the Anglican Church in Greenspond was one of the biggest features there. Also, the old wooden courthouse; it was a jail, a morgue, and a living quarters.

Then you cut to New-Wes-Valley, across the barrens and the rocky landscape, with very few trees, an area where the fishery has been proud and strong since the 18th century. It was the home of "the Old Man" – not my old man – Captain Abe Kean, who came ashore from Flower's Island. Legendary sailors and sealers from this area – we have a very good anchor attraction in the Venice of North America, the Barbour Living Heritage Village in Newtown. Then we move on to the beaches, Lumsden, Cape Freels, Deadman's Bay, sandy dunes and windswept beaches where shorebirds and raptors, uncommon anywhere else, breed in isolation.

We have the heavy seas around Windmill Bight, which is another salmon angler's paradise. In Windmill Bight, there is both a freshwater and a saltwater beach. It is a surfer's paradise, but you are probably going to be surfing on tippy pans, as the hon. Member for Mount Pearl spoke about a few days ago.

Then you go to Cape Freels, which is the home of Cape Random of Random Passage, the real setting. There are many, many sights galore. You go across the Straight Shore, from Musgrave Harbour to Aspen Cove and Ladle Cove.

In 1941, a plane crash claimed the life of Sir Frederick Banting. He was en route to Britain in World War II, turned back, and then crashed. There is a Banting Interpretation Centre there and a Fisherman's Museum.

In Aspen Cove, when you drive out into Aspen Cove, you feel the people belong out on the waves. You are driving out the road, it seems like the road ends, there is nothing, and you are right in the waves. You turn right, right next door, and it is the home of our seventh Premier, Mr. Beaton Tulk.

The Hamilton Sound region is, again, quite a strong region. John Day originally called that place Rocky Bay. You have the picturesque communities of Noggin Cove, Frederickton, Davidsville, and Main Point. You turn and go inward up the river to Gander Bay and across the causeway to Clarke's Head.

I guess not too many people know we have a Gander Bay Indian Band Council, which was founded in 1972. It has 152 members strong, descendents of Charlie Francis, a full-blooded Mi'kmaq of the Qalipu nation who migrated from Nova Scotia in the 1830s.

This expanse we call Bonavista Bay, the Straight Shore, and the Gander River all melds together like a big team, forming the District of Bonavista North, the land I wish to represent to the best of my abilities.

I have notes to continue here, but I wanted to get into a lot of the government spending that has been done in the last three or four years, and talk about how the voters realize that, how they recognize the new energy of the government that has been there and the fact that on October 11, they spoke up loud and clear. They sent thirty-seven seats to this House of Assembly, across this great Province –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CROSS: – thirty-seven new energy seats, thirty-seven dynamic individuals from Cape Spear, to Cape St. George, to Cape Race, to Cape Chidley, to Cape Freels in my district, Mr. Speaker. The message is the three Es of government. We have heard our Premier talk about effective and efficient, but I also say there is a third E, and that is elected.

AN HON. MEMBER: Lots of time.

MR. CROSS: Lots of time, twelve seconds. I am going to take about twenty seconds, by leave, if I could. Could I ask in advance?

As a school administrator I would attempt to motivate our staff in the school. I would always say we want the best school possible, and the gentleman in the Speaker's chair right now, Mr. Speaker, is a colleague principal of mine from that day.

I would always use the 100-year challenge to my staff and to my students. I would say – and I have taken the liberty of adjusting it a little bit now – I would like to make this House to be the best that it can be and truly ensure that the best is yet to come. The 100-year motto is this: 100 years from now it will matter very little what clothes I wore - seal skin ties and boots included - what car I drove, the size of my house or my bank account, or if I could deliver a great speech or not. What will really matter, Mr. Speaker, and all humble people gathered, is that I stood up and made a difference in the lives of my constituents.

My final words I would like to borrow, is a little summation from Ralph Waldo Emerson that says, "Do not follow where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I recognize the Deputy House Leader.

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, given the time of day, and the fact that we are doing maiden speeches with a predefined time, we suggest that we break now and resume at 7:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: It is the wish of the House that we would recess now until 7:00 p.m.

This House stands in recess until 7:00 p.m.


April 2, 2012                      HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                 Vol. XLVII No. 17A


The House resumed sitting at 7:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Wiseman): Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

I call from the Order Paper, Mr. Speaker, Address in Reply.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to start by saying what a great honour and privilege it is for me to stand in this House today to be part of a government that is comprised of such fine members of our time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLE: It fills me with much pride to be able to represent the truly wonderful District of Bonavista South, a place where I was born and raised, a place where I was fortunate to be able to raise my own children.

First and foremost, I wish to thank the residents of the beautiful District of Bonavista South. Thank you for recognizing the vision that I have for our district and allowing me the opportunity to bring that vision to reality in order to achieve great things for our communities. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedules on such a stormy day to go out and cast ballots that provided me with a victory of more than 2,200 votes.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLE: I would also like to thank the wonderful, hardworking team that made my campaign such a success. My campaign manager and long-time friend did a phenomenal job. He kept me focused, on track, and gave me drive to keep on going, to go knock on one more door and to make sure I reached out to each and every constituent in my district. The President and Executive of the Bonavista South District PC Association are to be commended for all of their time and dedication, ensuring that everything was organized and ran smoothly. As well, there were many more volunteers that helped with countless hours of teamwork, the teamwork that this wonderful government provides and shares with me. I am honoured to be in this House, to be part of this great team, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLE: This well-organized team that I talked about included many family and friends, too many to name here today. My gratitude goes out to each and every one of you. I would like to thank my constituency assistant as well, Renee Paul, for all of her continued help and commitment. She is a loyal and dedicated person that shows great care to her fellow constituents and will go that extra mile, or work the extra hours, to provide them with any assistance they need. Renee ensures that the office runs smoothly and is a tremendous asset for the district and this government, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador on all the hard work, dedication, and long hours they have contributed to bringing this Province where it is today. Also, I think it is fitting to commend the staff of the politicians and the hard-working public sector employees who deliver essential services to the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Most importantly, though, I need to thank my wife, Gladys, who has stood by me and provided me with her constant continued support. I also need to thank my two children for their words of encouragement and advice. They understood the goals that I had set for myself, and throughout the years, they have helped me reach them. Now I have reached the point where my voice will be heard, Mr. Speaker, and I can help – along with the other members of this House, and with the guidance of such a brilliant leader, our Premier – to achieve such greatness for the magnificent Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLE: Mr. Speaker, it is so gratifying to witness such positive improvement and change brought about to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador since this government took the reins in 2003. Our government has invested billions of dollars into public infrastructure, improvements to roadways, hospitals, nursing homes, government buildings in every region of this great Province of Newfoundland and Labrador – and into every region of the rural parts of this Province, which is very important, Mr. Speaker.

This government works hand in hand to provide programs and services to municipalities and local service districts. By taking what is sometimes a tough and not always favourable position, the government of today has taken us from being a have-not Province to becoming one of the strongest provinces in the greatest countries in the world.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLE: Our government is responsible for making us a have Province, and now we are able to hold our heads high and be proud of who we are, and we are able to contribute to the wealth of this great country. We are able to witness a change in the times, where Newfoundland and Labrador is becoming a Province being sought after for lucrative and challenging employment opportunities, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to highlight some of the many contributions our government has made for a better way of life for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Health care, which is such an important universal issue that affects not only the residents of my district but each and every person in this great Province to some degree or another, the government of today has lifted the spirit of the people in retaining doctors and other medical professionals and retaining vital services crucial to health care and well-being of our residents.

A great example of this can be found in my district with the growth and expansion of the Bonavista Peninsula hospital and the Golden Heights Manor retirement home, not to mention services offered in community health and child, youth and family services facilities. This government also provides many wonderful programs to assist people with low incomes or high medical costs to obtain services they need; they would include but are not limited to: MCP, the Newfoundland and Labrador drug plans, medical travel assistance, and the many community support programs.

In health care, our government is spending more money per capita than any other Province in Canada –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLE: – and is continuing to invest into health and community services. Because of these investments we are making enormous improvements as is evident with the strategy to improve emergency room wait times, as well as reduce the current backlog of patients waiting for hip and knee joint replacement surgery. In the last six years alone, we have experienced an increase of more than 30 per cent for these surgeries.

Health care is also growing in the private sector, and is apparent in the District of Bonavista South, Mr. Speaker, with the establishment of facilities such as Luxury Estates retirement home and cottages, Shirley's Haven retirement home, and St. Catherine's Haven retirement home. As a government, our commitment is to provide efficient and quality health care services to residents and patients throughout the Province of the Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker.

The part of the Province that I come from has certainly seen some change. We have evolved into an industry of tourism, culture, and recreation which we receive continued support from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. This government recognizes the importance of our heritage and culture, and provides significant funding to revitalize and maintain this important industry, Mr. Speaker. Tourism, arts, and culture is stronger than ever before and this is certainly evident by the positive reception from tourists who have vacationed throughout the District of Bonavista South, and throughout this Province, Mr. Speaker. From the breathtaking coastlines throughout the district or the rolling farmlands of the Lethbridge area, to the amazing restoration of the historic buildings of Port Union, to the dozens of root cellars found in Elliston, or to the King's Cove Museum and Lighthouse, and to the Bonavista replica of the Matthew vessel – that this government invested in, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLE: When you are out in the district, you feel like you have taken a step back in time. This is history in the making, Mr. Speaker. These sites, and many new initiatives, have materialized with help of organizations, volunteer committees such as Sir William Coaker Foundation, the Bonavista Townscape Foundation, the Bonavista Historical Society, Church Street Development, King's Cove Historical Society, Elliston Heritage Foundation, and Tourism Elliston.

You can see the district comes alive during the summertime through different festivals such as the Lethbridge farmer's field day, the Elliston Puffin Festival, the Five Coves Garden Party, the Tickle Cove Dory Races, the Trinity Bay North Fish and Berry Festival, and the Bonavista Day of Celebration, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLE: What a place to visit.

This government, with the co-operation of the people, the volunteers of Bonavista South, certainly make a difference to the tourism, arts, and culture throughout this Province, Mr .Speaker. Our commitment is evident in relation to what we are doing in the rural parts of Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker, recently with a $500,000 contribution to the Home from the Sea Campaign to erect a sealers' memorial in the Town of Elliston-Trinity Bay, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLE: Fishing is a way of life for many residents of the Bonavista South district. Our government, with the co-operation of our Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, plays a key part in the success of this industry. Although the district has seen some setbacks, OCI International is running a profitable multi-species plant in the Town of Bonavista that currently employs 250 workers, Mr. Speaker. In fact, there is a very real possibility of expansion in the plant facility this year, and hopefully we will help some workers from the Port Union operation, Mr. Speaker.

Although ownership has changed hands over the years, the plant has been in existence since 1939, making it the oldest surviving fish plant in this Province, Mr. Speaker. This plant has been able to ride out many a storm, through an oftentimes volatile industry, even maintaining operations through the cod moratorium that hit in 1992. With the assistance of this government, I can say that operation will continue into the future, Mr. Speaker.

The Furlong Brothers Ltd. is yet another profitable multi-species fish plant in my district, located in Plate Cove West, employing approximately eighty workers. Summerville Fisheries, established in 1989, employs approximately ten employees and is another multi-species plant located in the District of Bonavista South. Yet another example is the Princeton Seawater Fisheries Limited, located in Princeton, established in 1990 and staffing approximately ten workers. They, too, are multi-species plants. Through sound research, investment, and good decision making the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture has been there to assist and oversee this industry, Mr. Speaker, keeping the interests and well-being of a successful past, present, and future for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador its number one priority.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLE: Since elected, Mr. Speaker, I have had numerous meetings with the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and his department. We will continue to do so, in co-operation, and we will certainly work on behalf of the people of this Province, Mr. Speaker. I am very confident.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLE: Mr. Speaker, municipal affairs is such a vital component of our government and ensures that the people of our Province enjoy healthy, safe, and sustainable communities.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLE: We are a Province made up of 282 municipalities, 182 local service districts, and 136 unincorporated areas. Viable, sustainable, municipal services such as local governance, municipal infrastructure, engineering services, employment support, and provincial affairs are essential for the betterment of Newfoundland and Labrador.

In the short term that I have had the privilege to act as MHA for my District of Bonavista South, I definitely received all kinds of continuous assistance from the Department of Municipal Affairs. For example, Summerville is an area that has received funding for firefighting equipment; Bonavista has received funding for a new water main; Trinity Bay North has seen funding for water and sewer repairs, not to mention the significant funding received for community enhancement employment programs that employ countless people throughout the District of Bonavista South, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLE: The Minister of Municipal Affairs is definitely doing a fine job in his capacity with the assistance of the department officials. Of course these funds are not exclusive to my district; they are distributed throughout the Province on a need basis. In fact, the Minister of Municipal Affairs recently announced an increase from $17.8 million to $22.4 million for the total allocation of Municipal Operating Grants.

Furthermore, investments provided to support cities and towns throughout Newfoundland and Labrador include: $116 million for implementation of the Provincial Solid Waste Management Strategy; $84.3 million for municipal capital works and infrastructure, in 2011 alone; $73.1 million for eight new recreational facilities; $3.9 million invested in firefighting equipment for the municipal fire services, Mr. Speaker. No wonder the Minister of Municipal Affairs has a big smile on his face tonight. We all support the minister and we all have smiles on our faces here tonight, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLE: The Department of Municipal Affairs is to be commended for the phenomenal role they play in restructuring this Province. After we were struck with the devastation inflicted by Hurricane Igor, all throughout the Province there was destruction, power outages, and extensive damage to infrastructure. This department was able to help us restore our Province so that we could continue to enjoy the way of life that we are accustomed to. The professionalism provided by volunteers again, the fire department members, the ambulance services, the police forces, all emergency services committee members are to be commended in what they done, with the supports of the Municipal Affairs department.

The communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador are thriving, Mr. Speaker. Some other industries that are successful in my district in the upper part of Bonavista South are forestry, agriculture, and dairy farming. In the Lethbridge area, forestry is alive and well and continues to include the operation of pulp and saw mills. The Sexton Lumber Co Limited is a successful saw mill company operating out of Lethbridge, Bonavista Bay, established in 2003. This particular operation continued to receive a remarkable amount of support and funding from this particular government that I am a part of today, and I would like to commend the government for helping that part of the region of Bonavista South, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLE: The company that I just mentioned actually employs approximately seventy-five workers ranging from mill workers, administration staff, truck drivers, and woods crews. In the upper end of the district, farming of such crops as potatoes, carrots, turnips, cabbage, various berries, as well as limited poultry and beef production is also doing well in this area of the region as well, Mr. Speaker. The Government of Newfoundland through the Department of Natural Resources delivers a variety of supports and services to those industries, Mr. Speaker.

Assistance is provided to the forestry through supports such as industry development, forestry products industry, load slip systems, and timber scaling. To promote the continued development, expansion and diversification of competitive and sustainable primary and value-added agriculture and agrifoods businesses, the Agrifoods Development Branch of the Natural Resources department also have programs and services available. The co-operation of that department certainly helps industries in the rural parts of this Province, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLE: Another government service that has seen expansion in the District of Bonavista South is post-secondary education. This government believes that education is the key to economic growth and development of the Province. Since 2003, investment into the College of the North Atlantic by this government has increased by 77 per cent – what an increase. The College of the North Atlantic's Bonavista campus is continually changing or adding programs offered to adapt to the needs of the labour market, Mr. Speaker. With the support of the minister and that department, we are certainly moving in the right direction in relation to what is happening in rural Newfoundland.

Full-time credit registration courses has had approximately 125 students per semester with another twenty-five registered part-time, as well as twenty-seven staff members in our local college, Mr. Speaker. Our government supports the delivery of post-secondary education, not only at the Bonavista campus but also through the other sixteen Colleges of the North Atlantic throughout the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Memorial University, where my son is actually attending – and I went out and had a dinner with my son and three other university students. I can tell you, they had the highest praise and they commended this government on where we are taking the educational system in the future of this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the member that his time has expired.

MR. LITTLE: I ask for leave, please.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave, the Member for Bonavista South.

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

Our government also provides assistance by administrating student financial assistance programs. Students in Newfoundland and Labrador continue to enjoy the most affordable education in this country, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLE: From 2005 to 2012, government committed $138 million to freeze tuitions at Memorial University and the College of the North Atlantic – that is a great assistance to my son and other students in the same situation.

This government operates on the principle that all students, no matter where they live in this Province, must have access to a high-quality educational experience. I commend the Minister of Education and the past ministers in helping provide that service, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLE: To date, Newfoundland and Labrador's debt has been reduced from $12 billion to a projected figure of less than $8 billion by the end of the year. By using the balanced approach of paying off the deficit and investing in projects such as the Lower Churchill, Hebron, and the mining industries of Labrador, our government is able to move this Province forward to an economically sound future, Mr. Speaker.

This government is working with new industries and companies, attracting businesses and jobs for our people, Mr. Speaker. Our objective is to make positive decisions that will bring prosperity and strong economic growth to this great Province. This is such an exciting time for our people. I am so proud to be part of this government while we take this Province to a level of prosperity such as it has never seen before.

Newfoundland and Labrador holds such riches with all of its natural resources, intelligent, hard-working people, and now, under the guidance of the leadership our great Premier, a bright and promising future lays ahead for our Province, and I am very optimistic we are making the right decisions as a government. It is a time that while global economies are fragile, our Province has an incredible credit rating. In fact, the highest it has ever been. Prosperity comes with a price, but we must control our spending and be fiscally responsible, and that is what we are going to do in the future, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the people of this Province. The economic situation in this Province is a model for other provinces throughout this country. Good planning means we have not had to borrow on the markets since 2007. The Minister of Finance, and his great leadership, by going out to municipalities in an open dialogue with the people, with pre-Budget consultations, certainly the people of this Province support what you are doing. Continue the good work.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLE: The people of this Province are benefiting from our prosperity and sound management as a government. People are paying less income tax today in Newfoundland and Labrador, which means money in their pockets, not money that is growing on the trees that we cannot deliver on. People are paying less income tax today in Newfoundland and Labrador, which means money in their pockets, like I said. Compared to 2007, the people of this Province are now spending approximately $500 million less each year in taxes, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LITTLE: I can go on and on and on, Mr. Speaker, but my time is running short and I am asked to keep on going, and I will because I am here tonight talking about positives, not negatives that I am hearing so much of when the opposite side gets up and speaks.

Families have more disposable income, and this is good news for everyone. Our government raised income thresholds for families to qualify for home heating rebates so that in 2010-2011 it was estimated there was more than 66,000 rebates issued in this Province – very important to the people in the rural parts of this Province. The people of this Province saved almost $70 million due to this program alone. We are leading this country in so many areas, and I am so proud to be part of this government; no longer the poor cousins to the rest of Canada, we are leaders.

Our new prosperity also means we are less dependent on the federal government. In 2003-2004, 34 per cent of our revenues for this Province came from the Government of Canada. In 2011-2012, that number is expected to drop to 16 per cent, Mr. Speaker. This is a significant accomplishment, something we really can be proud of, and it clearly shows that this government is making the right decisions.

We, the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, will all benefit – our children and their children included. In fact, our success is not something that is slightly out of reach or something to hope for but something that we are experiencing right here right now and will continue to experience under this government's expert planning and leadership, clear vision, and sound decision making, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I recognize that my time is up. Like I said I can go on and on and on, I will wrap up. I do appreciate the opportunity for having the time to speak and highlight some – and I say some because I would be here for weeks speaking if I had to put it all on the table – months – of the highlights of the government's great achievements.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and God bless this wonderful Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I move, seconded by the Minister for Advanced Education and Skills, that the House –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Speaker recognizes the hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I move, seconded by the Minister for Advanced Education and Skills, that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to consider Bills 6, 11, 13, and 4.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that I do now leave the Chair so the House can resolve itself into Committee of the Whole to consider the said bills.

All those in favour of the motion?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Motion carried.

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

Committee of the Whole

CHAIR (Verge): Order, please!

We are going to consider Bills 6, 11, 13 and 4; and we will begin with Bill 6.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

When members are ready, we will begin debate.

We are now considering Bill 6.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Consumer Protection And Business Practices Act". (Bill 6)

CLERK: Clause 1.

CHAIR: Shall clause 1 carry?

I recognize the Member for St. Barbe.

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Chair, when you say Clause 1, are you referring to paragraph 2(1) that is substituted on page 3 of 10?

CHAIR: Yes, that would be clause 1, I would say to the member.

MR. BENNETT: This clause appears to be fairly limited. Generally, this seems to be a very good bill, it confers certain consumer protection, but it seems to be very limited in what it applies to. I would like to ask the minister why it is so limited and why it is not of more general application, because the act is much broader than this bill.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador.

MR. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The intent of this bill is to deal with a particular circumstance with distance service contracts as it applies to cellphones, home phones, Internet usage, satellite and cable TV, and home monitoring systems. That is the intention of the bill and that is what the definition outlines and that is why it is worded for those particular items.

CHAIR: The Member for St. Barbe.

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Chairman, in that case, I would like to ask the minister: Does he not think that the bill would be much more effective if it were to include other types of services? It could be electronic sales of anything from time shares to equipment or vehicles that need to be delivered, a whole array, because this bill, even though it has an excellent intent, it seems to be very, very limited. If we were talking about cars, this would be a Volkswagen and it could just as easily be a Cadillac for the same money. So I am wondering: Why wouldn't the minister consider a broader application for this bill?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The Consumer Protection and Business Practices Act, as I mentioned in second reading debate, deals with two types of methods that a contract is formed. One is through a direct sales contract; one is through a distance sales contract. That is the manner in which we reach a contract. The distance service contract, which is the nature of this bill, is intended to deal with certain circumstances that occur regularly in Newfoundland and Labrador pertaining to the items I mentioned earlier. I would suggest that the Consumer Protection and Business Practices Act, under direct sales rules or distance sales rules, would apply even under circumstances where it is not a direct service contract.

CHAIR: Shall clause 1 carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

CHAIR: Carried.

On motion, clause 1 carried.

CLERK: Clauses 2 to 6 inclusive.

CHAIR: Shall clauses 2 to 6 inclusive carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: I recognize the Member for St. Barbe.

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Chairman, I see this bill references the main act in a definition – when it makes a reference to an application to court or to a judge, it refers to a judge of the Trial Division, which I would take to be the Supreme Court. More recently, we have had increases in the jurisdictional limit of the Small Claims Court to go to $25,000 from where it was previously $5,000.

I ask the minister: Does this mean that if a person has a problem with a cellphone bill, based on this new legislation, you will still have to go to the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador to get a remedy, or should court be defined as something different, to include Small Claims Court?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador.

MR. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The intention of act is to allow for officials in Service Newfoundland and Labrador to be able to enforce the regulations. It would not be considered to be a civil matter, as it would be an enforcement action that is conducted by the department.

CHAIR: I recognize the Member for The Straits – White Bay North.

MR. MITCHELMORE: I would just like to ask the minister a question under 35.3 – it says "A distance service contract shall be (a) written in plain language which is clear and concise; and (b) provided in paper form." I would just like to ask: Who determines what is clear and concise language – the long distance provider? Will there be a type of monitoring in place to determine the language?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador.

MR. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

What we envision here is that multiple service providers, private businesses that provide services to residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, would have liberties to draft and prepare their own contracts. What we are requiring is that they be in clear language, they be in plain language, which is clear and concise, and provided in a paper format. We do anticipate there may be differences in how companies develop and create their own contracts.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for St. Barbe.

MR. BENNETT: From the minister's previous answer, do I understand that the intent of this act is that only the government may rely upon the act, or can individual consumers rely upon portions of the act if they have to institute legal proceedings?

CHAIR: Before I recognize the minister, I would say that while in debate in Committee we are doing a clause-by-clause debate. I would ask members if they are standing to speak to the bill that they state which clauses that they are speaking to.

Any further speakers?

The Member for St. Barbe.

MR. BENNETT: The previous question referred to –

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Member for St. Barbe, we have to have an intervening speaker.

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

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would just like to go back to section 35.3 where a distance service contract has to be written in plain language and provided in paper form. Many providers are currently going with electronic e-bills, different forms with their contracts and agreements, so will there be any ability to have an electronic copy as well, which would apply for greater search ability?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would like to draw the hon. members' attention to 35.3(2) which references the Electronic Commerce Act and I believe will probably clarify that answer for him.

CHAIR: Shall clauses 2 to 6 inclusive carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

CHAIR: Carried.

On motion, clauses 2 through 6 carried.

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

CHAIR: Shall the enacting clause carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, enacting clause carried.

CLERK: An Act To Amend The Consumer Protection And Business Practices Act.

CHAIR: Shall the title carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, title carried.

CHAIR: Shall I report the bill without amendment?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

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

CHAIR: We are now debating Bill 11.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act". (Bill 11)

CLERK: Clause 1.

CHAIR: Shall clause 1 carry?

The Leader of the Third Party.

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

A couple of points I would like to raise, a couple of questions for the minister. This bill does have a special interest for me, considering the fact that in my one district I do have a microbrewery and a brew restaurant. I have had some consultation with constituents with regard to the bill.

I am pleased with this bill. I think it is really important that we support small business. We should do everything to make sure that they are treated fairly in relationship to larger business. Especially when we are talking about the liquor establishments, the microbrewery and the brew restaurants, because the Liquor Control Act really covers larger businesses, larger establishments as we know.

I actually would say to the minister, I would be interested in knowing if there is an interest in reviewing the whole Liquor Control Act from the perspective of the different types of establishments that are covered by the act. That was one concern that was brought to us by constituents who are affected by this act. They would be interested in seeing the government do a review of the whole Liquor Control Act from the perspective of covering everybody who is under the Liquor Control Act. I put that to the minister and I will be happy to get his response to that.

I know that my colleague for The Straits – White Bay North raised this issue in second reading and it had to do with the definition for a microbrewery. He did ask the question why the limitation of 5,000 hectolitres was set per year, which seems low to us. In Nova Scotia, for example, the qualifications for microbreweries are 15,000 hectolitres a year. I think the minister indicated during second reading that he would look into this. I do not know if he has had time to look into it or not, but I would like to hear just a little explanation of why 5,000, because both of the establishments that I am aware of certainly are looking at growing and why not be able to grow to 10,000 or 15,000 before becoming considered larger than a microbrewery. If the minister could speak to both of these points for me, I would be pleased, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

At some point we will be coming forward with a review of the Liquor Control Act. The Liquor Corporation has put forward a number of changes it would like to have to the legislation. Of all the things we have to do, it is not one we have brought forward at the present time. I think within the relatively near future that review could take place. Obviously, it is time. The legislation was in 1973 and the regulations in 1996, so it obviously is time. Of all the things that we are doing in government, it was not a priority for me, but, given the age of the legislation, it is something we will have to look at.

With respect to the number of hectolitres, I have some information. It has to do with the mark-up that is charged by NLC. If it is below 5,000 hectolitres, it is a lower mark-up. If it is between 5,000 and 10,000, it is a higher mark-up and after 10,000 there is no mark-up. The Legislative Counsel, in looking at this, suggested 5,000 and the department agreed, but we also liked the idea that the Member for The Straits – White Bay North indicated, to do it in the regulations so it could be changed very quickly. I understand that there are some more regulations on tap – if you pardon the pun – and we could do it when those regulations come forward. It is a good suggestion.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The Leader of the Third Party.

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

The minister need not apologize for a pun. We need a laugh every now and again, so puns are good.

Just one other point; I am not sure, Minister, if there was consultation with people who own and operate microbreweries in the Province or brew restaurants. I have a sense that perhaps the people in my district were not consulted with. In finalizing regulations, would you be open to meeting with people who run these establishments just to hear what they have to say?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: I have to be completely honest here and say that I know more about the restaurants in St. John's than I do about the pubs. My impression, there was only one in St. John's right now. Is that in your district?

MS MICHAEL: Two; one microbrewery and one brew restaurant.

MR. MARSHALL: Aren't they the same?

MS MICHAEL: No.

MR. MARSHALL: Okay, well one has been consulted; I know that. I do not know about the other one.

MS MICHAEL: (Inaudible).

MR. MARSHALL: Well, certainly one of them has been consulted. I am not so sure on the other one. I have information about the volume of all these places, but I think for propriety reasons I do not think they should be disclosed.

CHAIR: Shall clause 1 carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, clause 1 carried.

CLERK: Clause 2.

CHAIR: Shall clause 2 carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, clause 2 carried.

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

CHAIR: Shall the enacting clause carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, enacting clause carried.

CLERK: An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act.

CHAIR: Shall the title carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, title carried.

CHAIR: Shall I report the bill without amendment?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

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

CHAIR: We are now debating Bill 13, An Act To Amend The Schools Act, 1997.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Schools Act, 1997". (Bill 13)

CLERK: Clause 1.

CHAIR: Shall clause 1 carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, clause 1 carried.

CLERK: Clauses 2 to 8 inclusive.

CHAIR: The Leader of the Third Party.

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

I just have a couple of points I would like to raise. The first one has to do with section 3 of the bill, "Where property of a board or an employee is destroyed, damaged or lost by the intentional or negligent act of a student, that student and his or her parents are individually and collectively liable to the board in respect of the act of that student." Subsection 2 says, "Subsection (1) does not apply to a parent of a student who is 19 years of age or older."

I do have a couple of questions around that. On one level, I can understand it; nineteen is the age where parents do not have responsibility for children who are now adults and if they are in school, they still are children who are considered adults. My concern is that, very often, the student who is nineteen may be somebody who has multiple problems and for some reasons, in actual fact, is not totally the only one responsible in causing the kind of damage that section 3 is referring to. Removing parental responsibility for some of these actions can also result in leaving the nineteen-year-old student on his or her own, when in actual fact they really do still need parenting.

I am sort of wondering where this is coming from. Who is driving this coming in? Is it because of legality? Is it the Department of Justice that is driving this, or is it the school boards? I would like some explanation from the minister as to where this is coming from.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Yes, Mr. Chair, it does come from the legal side of things. In the example that the member mentioned, where some students may have issues beyond just a regular nineteen-year-old who decides that he is going to destroy a piece of furniture or something, there are measures in place, there are support teams through an ISSP process and whatnot. If it comes down to a fine line here, there is a legal issue because of the age of consent. It is as simple as that.

Those of us who have been in the education system, and being a principal myself I know that some of these students have returned for the fourth year and may have issues beyond that, there are measures whereby we work through things like that. If there was some sort of damage related to a behavioural issue, beyond what we would call a normal type of thing, then there are provisions made for that.

CHAIR: The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Just to get further clarification from the minister, I was hoping that was the answer, but just to get further clarification: Are you saying, Minister, that in spite of putting this into the act, there still will be a case by case kind of attitude toward this?

MR. JACKMAN: (Inaudible).

MS MICHAEL: Yes, that is what I was hoping.

CHAIR: The Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

MR. A. PARSONS: My question is to the minister: In section 8, which discusses section 117 of the act, where you are adding a small subclause discussing the payment of a fee for the cost of supplies, could you just clarify that to me for my own understanding?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. JACKMAN: Mr. Chair, we know now at this particular point there is provision for fees for regular items in our classrooms to be covered. Also, we know that there are some times when schools may opt to go with a fee, but that would be something that would be agreeable to both parents and school councils. It is not intended that it be all restrictive. For the majority of cases, fees, right now, for consumable materials and whatnot, are not charged any more.

CHAIR: The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

A question with regard to section 4, which says, "In each school day the minimum number of hours of instruction for students shall be (a) for kindergarten, 2.5 hours; and (b) for grades 1 to 12, 5 hours", which is putting the Grades 1 to 3 in the same category as all the other grades in having five hours instruction, not four hours of instruction. Having had, myself, I think, in school, five hours instruction from Grade 1 to 3, I do not think it is going to hurt any child to have instruction for five hours. As a matter of fact, I think that they are quite capable of it, and I am glad to see it.

I have two questions for the minister. One is: Was there an evaluation? What was done to bring this in? Where did this come from? Did it come from the school boards or from the Teachers' Association, from the department? If it was an evaluation of what a certain age group can tolerate in terms of instruction, have you also been doing an evaluation of kindergarten children to see if kindergarten children, for example, would benefit from increasing their days of instruction as well, which would lead to longer kindergarten? I would suggest all day.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. JACKMAN: Mr. Chair, the investigation of kindergarten is ongoing. As I have said in this House, we are not at a point yet where we are going to announce full-day kindergarten. In terms of this particular piece, in 2002 the day for students from Grade 1 up to Grade 3 was increased up to five hours a day. The fact is that in legislation it is still not reflected; therefore; this is simply a housekeeping measure to bring the legislation in line with what, in fact, is happening.

CHAIR: The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Mr. Chair, thank you.

I actually did not know that, so thank you very much.

With regard to section 5, I am assuming that is what is going on in section 5 too with the change from the wording of school register, which is currently in the act, to the record of student attendance, which is the amendment. Having been a teacher many, many years ago, I remember the old school registers and I am assuming that this language change is only reflecting a change in the usage in the system and modernizing the language. Is that correct? I would think they would be the same thing.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. JACKMAN: Yes, Mr. Chair, in fact those folks who have been in the school system for the last number of years would know that we have systems in place – and I believe when you spoke, Mr. Chair, you spoke about the Win system. It is an electronic system now that tracks student attendance. When some of us would have used the old register, we would have checked it off in the morning and that would have been it. Well now, in fact, some of these systems track it from class to class, so we have moved to an electronic system as opposed to a paper registry.

CHAIR: Shall clauses 2 to 8 inclusive carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, clauses 2 though 8 carried.

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

CHAIR: Shall the enacting clause carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, enacting clause carried.

CLERK: An Act To Amend The Schools Act, 1997.

CHAIR: Shall the title carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, title carried.

CHAIR: Shall I report the bill without amendment?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

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

CHAIR: We are now debating Bill 4, An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act, 2000.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act, 2000". (Bill 4)

CLERK: Clause 1.

CHAIR: Shall clause 1 carry?

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Chair, I have been advised of an error in the wording in clause 1. I would like to move, seconded by the Minister of Transportation and Works, that the bill be amended.

Number one would be that "Clause 1 of the Bill is deleted and the following substituted: 1. The Income Tax Act, 2000 is amended by adding immediately after section 17.2 the following: 17.3 For the purpose of computing the tax payable under this Part for a taxation year, there may be deducted the amount determined by the formula: A x B/C where A is the amount deducted by the individual under section 118.06 of the federal Act for the year, B is the appropriate percentage for the year, and C is the appropriate percentage for the year as defined in section 248(1) of the federal Act."

That is the proposed amendment, Mr. Chair. Should I speak to that now?

CHAIR: Go ahead.

MR. MARSHALL: Okay, thank you.

I would like to provide a brief overview of why this amendment to Bill 4 is being moved in Committee. Bill 4, which is An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act, 2000 allows for the provision of a $3,000 non-refundable volunteer firefighters' tax credit, which all parties have indicated their desire to support. In Budget 2011, this non-refundable tax credit would provide a maximum benefit of $231 to eligible firefighters. The bill was drafted by the Office of Legislative Counsel in consultation with the Department of Finance in October of 2011.

As the provincial income tax is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency, in conjunction with the federal income tax and provincial legislation, it is required to act in concert with the federal Income Tax Act. The bill was submitted to the Canada Revenue Agency that, in November of 2011, cleared the bill as presented to them.

On March 13, 2012 a flaw in calculating this benefit was identified. For the purpose of computing the tax payable under this part for a taxation year, clause 1 of the bill notes that there may be deducted an amount determined by the formula A x B, where A is the appropriate percentage for the year, which is the tax rate in the lowest tax bracket in this Province which is 7.7 per cent, and B is an amount that is deducted in computing the taxpayer's income for the year under section 118.06 of the federal act – and under the federal act the credit is $450. Under this formula, if you use the tax credit of 7.7 per cent times $450, you would only get $34.65 as opposed to $231.

To remedy this inadvertent error, we are now suggesting that clause 1 of the bill would be repealed and the amended formula would be substituted to reflect the desired amount to be deducted for the purposes of computing tax payable. The amendment that was just introduced would repeal clause 1 of Bill 4 to clarify the formula for the firefighters' tax credit. The correct formula is used to derive the intended maximum benefit amount, as intended under this amendment, which is A times B divided by C, where A is the sum of $450, where B is the 7.7 per cent, and C would be the lowest federal rate, which is 15 per cent. So if you multiply A times B and divide by C – and I did it, and I think the Acting Government House Leader checked it – it will work out to $231, which was the amount of the credit that was announced in the Budget.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: It is moved by the Minister of Finance that clause 1 of the bill is deleted and the following substituted – shall I dispense with reading the entire text of the amendment? I am looking for direction. Yes.

I have ruled that the amendment is in order.

Is it the pleasure of the Committee to adopt the amendment?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, amendment carried.

CHAIR: Shall clause 1, as amended, carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, clause 1, as amended, carried.

CLERK: Clauses 2 and 3.

CHAIR: Shall clauses 2 and 3 carry?

The hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have to say, this is a pretty good piece of legislation, and thank you for the Finance Minister in picking up on that little mistake that completely slipped by us. At the same, while it being a very good piece of legislation, I wanted to talk about the whole notion on how this is going to be monitored by, I would guess, Municipal Affairs. I want to know a little bit about the workings on how the administration is going to be done for that and probably a little bit of an explanation, maybe, as regards to any anticipated costs to that.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: We deliberately drafted it so it would piggyback on the federal legislation, so the CRA will administer it all. They administer our Income Tax Act, they will administer this. I cannot tell you the exact cost. There is a cost figure going around in my mind but I think that is on something else that I have been waiting for you to ask me. You have not asked me yet, so I will tell you that.

CHAIR: Shall clauses 2 and 3 carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, clauses 2 and 3 carried.

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

CHAIR: Shall the enacting clause carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, enacting clause carried.

CLERK: An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act, 2000.

CHAIR: Shall the title carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, title carried.

CHAIR: Shall I report Bill 4 carried with amendment?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

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

CHAIR: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. KENNEDY: I move, Mr. Chair, that the Committee rise and report Bills 4, 6, 11 and 13.

CHAIR: The motion is that the Committee rise and report Bills 13, 11, 6 without amendment, and Bill 4 with an amendment.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

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

MR. SPEAKER (Wiseman): Order, please!

The Member for Lewisporte and Deputy Chair of Committees.

 

MR. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, and have carried Bills 13, 11 and 6 without amendment, and have carried Bill 4 –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. VERGE: - and have carried Bill 4 with an amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair of Committee of Supply reports that the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred and have carried Bills 6, 11 and 13 without amendment, and Bill 4 with an amendment.

When shall the report be received?

MR. KENNEDY: Now, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Now.

When shall Bill 6, 11 and 13 be read a third time?

MR. KENNEDY: On tomorrow, Mr. Speaker.

On motion, report received and adopted. Bills ordered read a third time on tomorrow.

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

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills, that the amendment be now read a first time.

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

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

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Carried.

CLERK: First reading of the amendment.

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

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills, that the amendment be now read a second time.

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

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

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Carried.

CLERK: Second reading of the amendment.

On motion, amendment read a first and second time.

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

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

I call Order 1, Address in Reply.

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

MR. KIRBY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate this opportunity to respond to last month's Speech from the Throne. I would first like to say that I am honoured to stand in this House as one of its newest members, and I congratulate all of those members who were newly elected in the October election.

I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the voters of St. John's North for investing their faith in me as their member of the House of Assembly. My pledge to them today, as it was on their doorsteps last summer and last fall, is I will work hard every day for them and to provide them the level of representation that we agree they deserve. I will be visible and I will be vocal in representing their interests. I will not be silenced by anyone or any interest.

I would like to say thank you to the many volunteers who worked day and night on my election campaign last year. I will work to live up to their expectations as I work to serve my constituents over the coming years.

I would like to thank my family. Especially my wife, Leigh Borden, and our son Kieran, who are making this journey with me along a new, exciting and, well, sometimes uncertain path. As other members of this House know, family life is an integral part of political life.

On the subject of political families, I would like to make a special tribute to our caucus leader, Lorraine Michael. Prior to the last election, Ms Michael stood in this House for a number of legislative sessions, I believe there were six, as the sole representative of the New Democratic Party's vision for a more socially and economically just Newfoundland and Labrador. I am privileged to join her here in this Chamber and I thank her for her leadership and her continuing commitment to social and economic justice.

I would also be remiss if I did not pay special tribute to my friend, Nancy Riche. Despite all of her political work over the years, Nancy, sadly, did not live to see the outpouring of support we received in the October election. I wish she could have seen our party reach its historic high-water mark, and I wish she could have been here to see us take our seats. I can safely say that I speak for all New Democrats in Newfoundland and Labrador when I say we miss Nancy's sometimes salty humour, her spirit, and her unwavering commitment to social justice. We all miss her deeply.

Mr. Speaker, the District of St. John's North includes many of the historic and iconic neighbourhoods of the City of St. John's, as well as the Avalon Mall. It is a large district geographically speaking, and includes urban, suburban and rural communities.

St. John's North also takes in a portion of the Town of Portugal Cove - St. Philip's, so members will from time to time hear me raising issues of my Portugal Cove - St. Philip's constituents, such as the need for a Kindergarten to Grade 9 school in the town. Members may be interested to know that the Eastern School District trustees recently passed a unanimous resolution in support of providing Kindergarten to Grade 9 schooling in Portugal Cove - St. Philip's. The people of Portugal Cove - St. Philip's are looking to this government's upcoming Budget for funding to see this new school construction move ahead.

Portugal Cove - St. Philip's is also one of the fastest growing municipalities in Newfoundland and Labrador, yet the town is woefully lacking in recreational facilities. From speaking with members of the town council, I understand that there is a solid plan to build a lifestyle centre to serve the residents of the town and the people who live in the region. I hope this government will support those plans in the coming Budget by providing 80 per cent of the funding needed for this project to go ahead.

Mr. Speaker, in addition to historic St. John's neighbourhoods such as Rabbittown, Prince of Wales, the Baird Subdivision, there are many former farm lands around my district where old homesteads still stand. These former family farm homesteads can be found along Mount Scio Road, Kenmount Road, Thorburn Road, on Blackmarsh Road, and other roadways that are increasingly busy streets these days. One of these former family farm homesteads, Thimble Cottage, still stands at O'Brien's farm on Oxen Pond Road. The O'Brien dairy farm was established by Irish immigrants nearly 200 years ago. It is the last of thirty-five such farms that once occupied Freshwater Valley and it is an important part of our local Irish and agricultural heritage. I hope that this government will see fit to support the work of the O'Brien Farm Foundation when it finalizes the plan to preserve Thimble Cottage and the O'Brien farm for future generations.

Many of these former farm lands have now given way to new commercial and housing developments. A good example of this is the former Kelsey's Milk Farm which is now the new busy shopping area along Kelsey Drive, which is populated by mainly big box stores from the Mainland. From east to west and north to south in the District of St. John's North new homes are being constructed. One of the largest of these developments is the new Kenmount Terrace subdivision, which is home to many hundreds of my constituents. While we have seen several new housing developments emerge, we have also seen growing housing problems and greater housing inequities in St. John's North. In recent years we have seen housing costs reach all-time highs, while residential vacancy rates have dropped to historic lows. Despite our much heralded have status in Canada, we have too many have-not people for whom the basic necessity of human shelter and housing has become unaffordable and unattainable.

In St. John's North many of the newly constructed homes are unaffordable, or barely affordable, for the average income earner. This is especially the case for working families who have difficulty affording the increasingly high cost of child care. Each month, with housing and other costs going up and up, many working families with new homes in St. John's North wonder which bills they can pay and which bills they can risk not paying. This is the case for too many of my constituents. Many of my constituents have not been able to afford to buy into the high-priced local housing market, and as a result they have sought refuge in housing provided by the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation. It is notable that St. John's North is unique in that the district has the highest concentration of Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation units and rental subsidies of any of the forty-eight electoral districts in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In too many instances, families and individuals in Newfoundland and Labrador Housing units are struggling to get by. While they are struggling to get by, to get on their feet and to provide opportunities for the children, they are also organizing in their neighbourhoods, to build community and make local improvements. With the assistance of the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation, community associations including: the Crosbie-Portia Tenant Association, the WATCH Tenant Association, Parents for a Better Community, the Rabbittown Tenant Association, the Wigmore seniors association, the West Heights Tenants Association, and the Wishingwell-Algerine Tenant Association are working together to improve their collective quality of life. I hope that this government will see to it that these associations are not only sustained but further invested in so that struggling families and seniors have an opportunity to share their ideas for the collective wealth of our Province and to strengthen our communities and neighbourhoods in St. John's North.

There are also a good many tenants who are renting from private landlords in St. John's North. Many of these constituents are students, many living on minimum wage incomes. Because of the high cost of rental properties across St. John's, they are struggling to get by as well. The extremely low vacancy rate in the rental housing market has resulted in higher and higher rents with fewer and fewer rental options.

For tenants in St. John's North, affording the basic necessity of shelter is becoming harder and harder to do.

As I went from doorstep to doorstep during the last election, it was evident to me that many seniors in St. John's North are struggling to continue to live in the homes they built for themselves. These are homes they now own, but homes they struggle to maintain and struggle to continue to live in. The majority of the seniors in my district are living on fixed incomes in their elder years, and a good many I have spoken with are contending with our ever accelerating cost of living. With the increasing costs for food, electricity, gasoline, prescription drugs, and other necessities, seniors in my district are too often forced to leave their homes reluctantly and prematurely because our Province has not seen fit to provide them with the home care and supports that they need to be able to live as independently as they are able to.

Mr. Speaker, I believe here in Newfoundland and Labrador with our unselfish community spirit, with our tradition of supporting one another, with our spirit of common cause and concern for one another, for our fellow Newfoundlanders, I believe government can do a lot better to provide solutions for my constituents in St. John's North. I believe that we can make responsible choices in this Chamber, to make the lives of my constituents and all of our constituents more affordable. I believe this is the single greatest task of leadership before us in the forty-seventh General Assembly of the people's House.

Mr. Speaker, we have to ask: What happened to all of the promises that the Premier made during the election campaign in the fall? There was a promise of some $100 million for a seniors' strategy during the election campaign, but there was no mention of seniors' issues at all in the Throne Speech. Where is the plan for seniors' issues? That is what my constituents want to know: Where is the plan? There was also no mention of the ongoing housing crisis, which I have described. No mention at all in the Throne Speech, Mr. Speaker, not one word. I ask: Where is the plan to deal with the housing crisis? That is what my constituents want to know: Where is the plan?

There was also no mention of child care in the Throne Speech. Mr. Speaker, there was a national report released last fall which showed our Province to be at the bottom of the Canadian provinces when it comes to providing child care services. I know that parents at every income level in St. John's North are struggling to find child care and to pay for child care when they can find it. I was at a school fundraiser recently where a number of parents told me that finding and paying for child care is their single greatest concern. We know, because we have been told over and over, all of us here, that families need more child care spaces. We know we need a concrete plan for early learning programs and a clear strategy for universal publicly funded and administered child care programs. I ask: Where is the plan to deal with the child care crisis? That is what my constituents want to know.

There is also no mention of all-day kindergarten in the Throne Speech. I know, from talking to my constituents, that people want this government to follow the lead of other Canadian provinces and introduce all-day kindergarten programs. Where is the plan for that? I hope we will see some of those plans in the upcoming Budget, Mr. Speaker. Sometimes that is all my constituents have is hope. Hope for attention to their concerns and their problems. Hope for change in the future.

I would like to sum up by quoting J.S. Woodsworth, a founder and the first leader of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation – that is the precursor party to the New Democratic Party – when he said: We are thankful for these and all the good things of life. We recognize that they come to us through the efforts of our brothers and sisters the world over. What we desire for ourselves, we wish for all. To this end, may we take our share of the world's work and the world's struggles. Yes, Mr. Speaker, we have a lot to be thankful for in this Province. I hope that we can all work together constructively and collaboratively to improve the lives of our constituents throughout this great and smiling land.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for Lake Melville.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RUSSELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The member from across the way has certainly depressed us all and covered the negative. My good friend from Bonavista South here in front of me has certainly quoted enough numbers to make a minister blush. So, I am basically going to get up here and I am just going to talk a little bit about my district and why I am here.

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a privilege to rise in this hon. House representing the people of the great District of Lake Melville. I want to thank the people from my district for giving me their faith, their trust, to become the member of this House for Lake Melville, and to serve on their behalf every day that we sit here in the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly.

I am truly honoured that the constituents of Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Mud Lake, Sheshatshiu, North West River, and Churchill Falls have placed their confidence in me to represent them and our communities in our provincial Legislature. I feel truly privileged to be serving the people of Lake Melville, and to be serving under the leadership of Premier Dunderdale as part of a dedicated, hard-working team of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who want nothing short of the very best for our Province and its residents –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RUSSELL: – might I add: no matter where they may reside.

I would like to also congratulate everybody in this House, Mr. Speaker, for answering the call of the people to come to this most hon. House, and I would like to thank my opponents in Lake Melville as well. They ran a clean campaign, just as I did, and they fought one helluva fight.

First and foremost, Mr. Speaker, I have to thank my family for their support and understanding during my campaign – first, for the nomination, and then the general election in October of last year. People such as us, who are willing to show the dedication, courage and strength necessary to take on the great responsibility of public service and who put their names into the ring to battle for the people's trust and faith to be their representative, often do so at the expense of their family. My family is no different, and I certainly would not be here today without the love and support of my beautiful wife, Brenda, and my two wonderful children, Alicia and little Keith. Brenda and the kids have been my rock and have kept me from getting, as the old saying goes, too high or too low, and they have helped me to maintain a healthy balance as the emotions and stress were running high during the campaign and election time.

During the nomination and campaign, I made it my goal to get into as many households in the district as possible. This required visiting people's homes and day and night for seven days a week, just as everyone else here has done; as my own life was put on hold, so was theirs. Everything in our lives was focused about the campaign, about a successful election and a commitment to reach out to as many people as possible.

To my wife and kids, I say you are my everything and without you I am nothing. Your patience and love has given me the inspiration to reach for the sky and to achieve a dream of mine, which was to become a member of this hon. House and to represent the people from where I was born and raised in our provincial government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RUSSELL: Next, I would like to give thanks to my mom and dad, Frank and Kay Russell of Northwest River, Labrador. I have come from a wonderful, yet humble beginning, Mr. Speaker. I was born and raised in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and although I was certainly a handful to raise, alongside my two brothers, Frank and Ken, we fought constantly, we were raised in a loving and supporting environment where I was given the guidance and the values necessary to become a good citizen, a good husband, a good father, and a servant of the people.

From occasionally lighting the backyard on fire, to breaking every Ski-Doo my father ever had, to getting in trouble constantly at school, at hockey, and just about every single day while cruising the streets of the Valley, it seemed they were always there to pick me back up, dust me off and talk about the lessons learned, and I certainly did learn many. To my mom and dad, I say thank you for always being there, through the good, through the bad and always being in full support of me, no matter which paths I have chosen. It is because of you I have become the person that I am today.

During my upbringing I was taught to value others' opinions and to stand firm and strong in my beliefs, and to stand up for those who are unable to stand up for themselves. I was also taught from the very beginning to honour my roots, Mr. Speaker. I have had the privilege to be raised amongst a very large and proud family, one-half of which is a large Labrador Inuit family with pride in our Inuit culture and heritage. I am proud to say that I have learned many life lessons from my grandparents, both in Goose Bay, and during time spent in our ancestor home of Big Bay, Labrador, just outside of Hopedale.

My grandparents, Norman and Eliza Edmunds, taught me the importance of respecting others and the land, and how we are all connected to our surroundings. They also taught me how it was important to listen and understand the opinions of others and share whatever we had with each other in order to put the success of family and community first, above all else.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RUSSELL: The other half of my family, Mr. Speaker, hails from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland, where we still have roots today. I have a large family of hard-working people who are not afraid to speak their mind or to give their opinion on how things should be. My nan and pop, Maud and Frank Russell on this side of the family, were certainly made of strong stuff and would give their honest criticism on any and all issues, but are just as quick to give you the shirt off their backs to help a friend in need and help anybody through a difficult time who might need it. My nan is in her mid-80s now and I still laugh when I think of how she can make the town employees scatter when she drives up along a municipal job and she wants to demand and see how her tax dollars are being spent. They run for cover.

Mr. Speaker, with so much family behind me, I dare not go into naming anymore names because we would be here all day; but needless to say they were all there, the aunts, the uncles, the cousins, a wide extended family, all with bells on to support me, as I am the first member of our clan to jump into the political arena.

In short, Mr. Speaker, I will continue to honour my roots in all that I do, and I am happy to say that half of me is from the Big Land and half of me is from the Island, which is why I am wearing my sealskin vest here today, in honour of my mixed heritage and the importance of seals to the people from all over this great Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RUSSELL: In moving on, Mr. Speaker, let me make one thing perfectly clear, I am fiercely proud to be from Newfoundland and Labrador. I would like to take a minute or two, Mr. Speaker, to thank the people who gave their time to see that I was successful in my election, my campaign team. You simply just do not go out and win an election all on your own. Although we are the people who stick our necks out, there are many people, many unsung heroes who are there working their butts off to make sure that we can get here to represent the people. They make sure that we cover the right amount of ground and get our message out there, and we give as many people as we possibly can the opportunity to ask questions of us to help them make their decision.

Mr. Speaker, there are simply too many people who donated their time to mention individually, but I would certainly be remiss if I did not give special mention to those who went completely over and above during my campaign and gave all they had. First and foremost, I would like to thank the Premier and Minister Kennedy for both coming to the district during the campaign to lend a hand, to give us direction, and specifically Minister Kennedy for lighting a fire under our butts by telling us we were a little behind. We certainly threw the campaign into overdrive, and I would like to thank them both for that.

First up, in the people who worked the campaign headquarters, I have to mention Shannon Tobin. It is very rare to see a young man in his mid-twenties just grab a provincial campaign by the reins and pull it off like a seasoned veteran, and he did just that. From the get-go he directed the whole team, took care of the messaging, the strategy, and he was stellar in his management of the election effort overall. He kept me going until the very end, and I cannot thank him enough.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RUSSELL: Then there was Krista Oxford, who did a little bit of everything and was simply awesome during the set up and the running of the headquarters, as well as scheduling all the volunteer efforts that came out to support us on the phones. Krista was an absolute professional. She always kept the people upbeat and motivated with her great sense of humour. Thank you very much, Krista.

Next up would be my financial manager, Augusta Saunders, or my Aunt Gussie as I call her. She kept the team organized and well prepared for every stage of the election and made sure that everything was done properly, was documented and within our means. She made it possible for everybody to do their absolute best. Thank you for always being there for me.

I would also like to thank Becky and Reg Bowers, who gave countless hours of assistance with the co-ordinating volunteer effort and provided essential advice for organization of the campaign overall. They gave positive reinforcement to the team at each stage of the election, and the value of their veteran leadership cannot be overlooked. I thank them both from the bottom of my heart.

Next, I would like to give special mention to a young man who was with me the whole way, Brandon Ramey. At sixteen years of age, Brandon, as my youth representative in the district was a key member of the campaign team. He wanted every youth to know that even though you cannot get out there and vote your opinion did matter. He wanted to make sure that every youth who had a question about what our government was going to do, was given the time that it deserved. I have known Brandon for several years; I have always been impressed by him as a role model for other youths in our region. He has always been very proud and vocal about the importance of being sober and avoiding the pitfalls that occur with drug use among our youth. He is the youth leader that other kids look up to and use for support and guidance. I was both lucky and proud to have him as part of my team. I thank him for his trust and faith in me and for all he did during the campaign.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RUSSELL: His personal leadership qualities were front and center in his success for election shortly after ours, as student council president at Mealy Mountain Collegiate, our local high school. I would like to think that I hopefully inspired him to jump into that leadership role in a more formal capacity. I wish him all the best, and again I thank him for standing with me.

Mr. Speaker, there were countless others who came out and supported me, both financially through the donations and then to give their time to get the job done. I would just like to say thank you to all of them from the bottom of my heart.

Right now, Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the time to thank the people who are directly responsible for getting me here: the voters in the great District of Lake Melville. I have a district that is comprised of five communities and is spread across the Big Land. It takes about a drive of 330 kilometres to get from one end of it to the other, and each community is unique. It is almost that they have a separate yet interconnected culture and cultural identity with which to share with each other and with all of us across the Province.

Churchill Falls, Mr. Speaker, with a population of about 650 people, is probably the last known company town in Atlantic Canada. Its residents provide the workforce to operate one of the world's largest underground hydroelectric plants. I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that a tour of this massive facility is simply an unforgettable experience. The Churchill Falls hydroelectric development is the largest in Canada, ninth largest in the world, and most of the power for the Northeastern United States starts at this massive development. Today, it is one of the largest single-site power stations in the western hemisphere, and the lifeblood of the Town of Churchill Falls. I am truly proud to say that I represent this hard-working community, and I thank them for their overwhelming vote of confidence.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RUSSELL: Next, Mr. Speaker, is the quaint little Town of Mud Lake. It is truly one of the hidden gems of Labrador – and I say hidden because you cannot drive there. You have to cross the mighty Churchill in order to even get there. It was settled around 1850 as a trapping and fishing community. It was based on a non-wage economy where trapping animals for furs, subsistence living, tending gardens, hunting and fishing – these were the norm. Many families who live there today still practise this traditional way of life, and they do go to Happy Valley-Goose Bay to buy all their goods – some work there – and they have to make the commute. So, they are isolated; they do have to cross the river. They can get there by boat in the summer and skidoo in the winter. It is an absolutely little beautiful place tucked away.

Basically, I would just like to say to the residents of Mud Lake that I still recognize that I still have family over there and we still make time to go, at least once a year, to the Mud Lake fair, as a family, to visit with family over there – I go much more, of course. To the people of Mud Lake, I say thank you for always being there to trust me with your concerns.

Next, it is about thirty kilometres away from Goose Bay, we have the community of Sheshatshiu. We have a population of about 1,300 people. As one of two Innu communities in Labrador, it boasts a stockpile of cultural beauty and local talent that is simply unbelievable. From the musicians and artists, to athletes, to those people still living a traditional Innu way of life, every trip to the community always teaches me something new about their culture, and Labrador in general. Whether it is the power of their stories from the elders, or about lessons of the past, or the legends of their people, the amazing talent present in their artwork and craftwork, you will be inspired and left breathless all at the same time.

Mr. Speaker, with the Tshash Petapen, the New Dawn Agreement, the Innu people of Labrador now have moved toward a new era of partnership and co-operation between their people and our government. This is truly indeed an exciting time for all. To all of my friends and supporters in Sheshatshiu, thank you for your amazing level of faith and support.

Mr. Speaker, it is difficult to speak of North West River, where my parents live, without a flood of memories coming back, as I truly do consider it my second home. I have family and friends in North West River who I played hockey with, hunted and fished with, played countless hours of music with and just spent time relaxing with these people in one of my favourite places to be.

Apart from being across the river from Sheshatshiu in one of the most beautiful places in Labrador, North West River is absolutely famous for producing an incredible amount of musicians, not by the individual but by the family such as the Montagues, as all the family members just seem to play musical chairs by grabbing whatever instrument is close and just hopping right into the tune at hand. North West River and its 500-or-so people hold a very special place in my heart. For years now I have referred to it as my stronghold, basically in reference to the respect I give this community for their continued support of my public service. To all the residents, the families, the friends I say to you in North West, thanks again for always being there.

Last but certainly not least, Mr. Speaker, is my hometown of Goose Bay with a population of over 7,500 people. This is my home, my birthplace, my inspiration, and the one place that means the most to me in the entire world, the place where I have grown into the public servant that I am today. To the people of Goose Bay, I say that I have heard your concerns, I am at your service and I will work harder than I ever have before. I am truly thankful for the overwhelming support you have shown me.

The great District of Lake Melville is just like every other district in Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker. We have issues to be addressed and needs to be fulfilled. Like most places across the Province, we are experiencing difficulties with housing, capacity for seniors, seniors' care. In addition to that, we are preparing for the additional strain on infrastructure and services within our municipalities in anticipation of population growth that is associated with increased industrial activity and development. I am committed to working as hard as I can with our government to make sure that over time we can resolve our issues so as to make sure that the most vulnerable in our communities are served by this government.

I would like to take a moment here, Mr. Speaker, to talk about how I got to this hon. House. My political career began back in 2006 with my first election into the Nunatsiavut Government. I would like to also thank the people of the district for twice going to the polls in support of me while I was with the Nunatsiavut Legislature, and once again for a third time in electing me back on October 11. I had spent the last six years representing approximately 2,400 people in what was Upper Lake Melville, so basically now Sheshatshiu and Churchill Falls are now added to the list. I can honestly say it was pleasure and an honour to represent the people in that capacity, and I wish the Nunatsiavut Government the very best of luck as they continue to mature and increase their capacity for jurisdiction as they go forward for the Labrador Inuit.

Mr. Speaker, it is at this point that I would like to say to the communities of Nunatsiavut, and once again directly to the community of Makkovik, and the family and friends of Burton Winters that on behalf of my family, the District of Lake Melville, and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, we share your pain, our thoughts and prayers are with you all, and with Burton.

My time in the communities and in the Government of Nunatsiavut, Mr. Speaker, where I cut my teeth, politically speaking, was a time where I developed my political style and the people began to have faith in me. I solidified my reputation back in those days because of my willingness to engage in the Nunatsiavut Government at any and all opportunities no matter the issue, as no issue as been too big or too small to deserve my attention, and I pride myself in taking on all matters no matter how difficult or how controversial. If I had to comment as to why I was well liked in the past in my last post, Mr. Speaker, I would have to say that it was because of my straightforward approach, as I did not say just what people wanted to hear to create false hope or expectations, I gave it to them straight, as adults should, without having a need to take advantage of tragedy or unfortunate circumstances, Mr. Speaker. The people know that I will continue to do so.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RUSSELL: I will say, Mr. Speaker, that it has been an adjustment moving from a consensus style government into our partisan system, but it has been the quality of people who I have met since being elected that have made the difference and made the transition an excellent one. From day one, Mr. Speaker, our PC government has made it very easy to get our bearings and have made it very easy to learn the way of things at the provincial level. They have embraced me and the people of my district with the openness and transparency that is expected of good governance. They have inspired me to learn as much as I can from the veterans in our caucus and continue to do my absolute best for the people who have put me here.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am simply energized and motivated to be working with a Premier who is as professional, dedicated, and down-to-earth of a person I have ever met. When she talks of doing our absolute best for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, we are inspired. Her dedication is reaffirmed to increasing the quality of life of the people that we are put here to represent. It is truly my privilege to be working under a Premier who has integrity, whose main concern is the people of this great Province and who has the vision to carry us forward into these exciting times of prosperity with responsible, sustainable direction and leadership to improve the quality of life for each and every Newfoundlander and Labradorian.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RUSSELL: I will also tell you, Mr. Speaker, we have a hard-working Cabinet who knows how to get the job done.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the member that his time has expired.

MR. RUSSELL: By leave, please?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: The member has leave.

The Member for Lake Melville.

MR. RUSSELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will also tell you, Mr. Speaker, we have a hard-working Cabinet who knows how to get the job done and that understand the dedication it takes to run a government and a Province. This is evident, as our track record is second to none in how we have performed in the last eight years as a Province, and the growth and prosperity we have experienced is second only to the optimism of what is yet to come.

Throughout my travels during the campaign, I can say undeniably that the overwhelming majority of people I talked to in my campaign share this optimism. They are as excited as I am to move forward towards the development of the Lower Churchill River. With Muskrat Falls on the horizon, Mr. Speaker, we are all ready, and I can stand with no hesitation and say that I am in favour of this development. The district and I are ready to take the next steps towards unprecedented prosperity, growth and increased quality of life right here.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RUSSELL: We can, Mr. Speaker, achieve this prosperity without having to go away and look to find work somewhere else; without having to send our children away to work to find another place to live, to have to look for somewhere else to set down their roots and to raise a family.

Our message is clear to our youth and to those of our sons and daughters who have left to make their way in life. It is time to come home now. It is time to raise your sons and daughters right here. It is time to succeed right here. This government and our Premier are standing strong and we will lead the way for us all in the greatest Province in Canada, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, on the Ides of March the challenge was issued by the minister: Tell us what you would do with the fishery.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Speaker recognizes the Member for St. Barbe.

MR. BENNETT: Today, I rise to meet that challenge. As recorded in Hansard, the minister appears to have made three glaring errors in his March 15, 2012 speech. The first is in his reference to quotas. The minister has said that people are being misled by those who say take back the quotas. He states that he is constrained by our constitution, specifically sections 91 and 92 of the British North America Act that granted the federal government the authority to regulate the fishery while at the same time granting the Province property rights.

These, Mr. Speaker, are not the quotas in question. The quotas referenced are the quotas held in a quota holding company owned by our Province and OCI; the nine-year contract between us and OCI, of which the minister is so proud but will not enforce. What is the benefit of a contract if one party continually seeks concessions and is given those concessions? No benefit, I say, Mr. Speaker, no benefit. The nine-year agreement appears to be no more than a smoke screen to hide the fact that this government continually grants concessions to its big business friends in the fishery.

This government claims to be open and transparent; yet, refuses to release this very important document that would protect a major part of our fishery. This is the same government that resorts to the courts to avoid releasing information, a government that sent legal counsel to the Cameron Inquiry and when that lawyer was asked by Justice Cameron the identity of her client, refused to answer. The refusal to enforce this contract with OCI can only be explained in a few ways. Either they do not want to go to court against their friends, or the secret agreement is far different from what we have been told it is, or this government had a binding contract and they have secretly made private deals that render the contract unenforceable.

His second error is that he appears to confuse Iceland with Norway. Iceland is a tiny island nation in the North Atlantic, slightly smaller than our Island and home to merely 320,000 souls; it still manages to process a large quantity of our shrimp. Financial papers indicate that Iceland is, or was, a substantial lender or investor in the OCI transaction that oversaw the final destruction of FPI. Norway, on the other hand, is slightly smaller than the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It boasts 5 million citizens and is a member of the European Economic Community. The Norwegian Seafood Export Council has between 400 and 500 processors. It is a model for value-added processing and marketing in the world-wide fishery. It advertises that 38 million meals of their seafood is consumed somewhere in the world everyday. The Norwegian Seafood Export Council is referenced in the Province's most recent study on the fishery. The report was released on Friday, February 25, 2011 at a cost of $800,000 by the minister's department, and then ignored.

The third error in the minister's speech of March 15, 2012 is in his statement of the landed value of our catch. He states that it is currently $439 million; however, his own department's recent publication, Seafood Industry Year in Review, signed by the minister himself, shows that our landings were valued at $567 million. In other words, he has understated the current value of fishery landings in our Province by $128 million or 22 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, with the deepest of respect for the minister, I can understand that he may be confused about quotas and constitutional law; for clarification, he can refer to the Minister of Justice. If he is confusing Iceland with Norway, he can refer to his department's most recent MOU on the fishery, but what can be said about the future of our fishery if the minister has such a poor grasp of the value of his industry that he makes a $128 million mistake in a speech to this House. Surely, it must call into question either his commitment to understand his portfolio or his ability to handle it competently.

To return to our fishery at large, after a fish is caught it becomes property and property falls exclusively within the provincial domain. Our Province reports the seafood sector with an annual value in the range of $1 billion. Unfortunately, most of that fish is exported with little or no processing to add value. Progressive fishery jurisdictions, both national in the case of Norway and sub-national in the case of Alaska, add $2 to $3 of value to every dollar of landed value. Our question should be: Why don't we do the same? I say that the greatest problem facing the fishery in our Province is that the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture has no vision for the future of our fishery. No vision means no goal; no goal means no progress.

For more than sixty years since Confederation, one Fisheries Minister after another has lurched from crisis to crisis hoping to be reassigned before the fishery vaporizes his political career. Even Smallwood, our greatest Premier, at the height of his power in 1962, could not save his Fisheries Minister. He sent him out to St. Barbe to be elected and the voters of my district sent him back unemployed. Is there hope for this Fisheries Minister? I say yes, but it will take an iron will, a very thick skin, lots of hard work and patience, but most of all it will take a vision and a plan.

Let's say that our minister decided to set a modest goal of doubling the value of our seafood exports over the next ten years; 10 per cent for ten years means that our exports will increase to $2 billion in a decade. The figure is not compounded because the greatest gains should come early and the later gains require more effort. An extra $1 billion spread over 100 fishing communities, on average –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. BENNETT: – $10 million per community per year. This would solve most of the economic and demographic problems of these towns for a very long time. How do we get there? DFA reports that we have 114 processing plants in our Province – eight in my district alone. These are primarily owned and operated by small to medium-sized entrepreneurs. These people are hard-working, they are ingenious, and they are risk takers. If the minister were to visit two of these per day and ask one question, within three months he would have the beginnings of a solution to the provincial side of the fisheries equation.

The question that the minister needs to ask each of these entrepreneurs is: What do you need to increase your production? There will be many different answers, but there would be answers. Among the answers would be: I need more product; I need more access to markets; I need better equipment; I need to be better capitalized. All of these issues are the responsibility of the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture. All of these problems have solutions that can best be provided by DFA, working with our small to medium-sized seafood processors. All of these solutions would result in greater productivity for our producers and our workers.

Productivity is a much used and misused term. Generally, it is the expression used when employers want to extract concessions from workers, implying they are not working hard enough. That is a limited and misguided view of productivity. Let me use the example of two people in construction wanting to dig a ditch. One hires someone with a pick, shovel, and a wheelbarrow. The other hires someone with a backhoe. Who is more productive? Productivity has less to do with effort and more to do with technology than ever before.

Sir Winston Churchill said that money is like manure. Spread it around and it makes everything grow. Put it in a pile and it makes a big stink. Our fishery is in a stinking mess because it is concentrated in too few hands. They are pure capitalists. They have no interest in the fishery of our communities or, for that matter, our Province. That is not to say they are bad people, they are not. Their mandate is to their shareholders and that mandate is to maximize profits.

As elected members, our mandate is to our constituents. That means we have accepted the responsibility to maximize the benefits from our resources for our people. Our people have elected us to preserve and advance their interests. Sometimes that will coincide with big business; sometimes that will conflict with big business. When it conflicts, we are bound to support our constituents.

Where should the Minister of Fisheries then look to assist our smaller processors and communities to maximize the benefits derived from the fishery? Start first with the most underutilized species and move up the value chain. If I were permitted to use props in this House, I would be holding a herring in my left hand. In my right hand I would be holding a can of kippers. DFA landings for 2011 indicate 54 million pounds of herring at a value of $4.9 million. That is nine cents a pound. Processors will tell you that the recovery on processed herring is 30 per cent to 35 per cent. A can of kippers weighs four ounces and retails for a dollar or more. I ask today, how difficult is it to take ten cents worth of herring, put it in a five-cent can, and sell it wholesale for fifty or sixty cents? That exercise alone would add $50 million to our provincial economy, adding millions of dollars to scores of rural economies, reducing the need for many of our Community Enhancement Network projects. After herring, we move on to the other pelagics, and then we move on to the other underutilized species.

As for marketing, it is regrettable that this government failed to retain the most profitable part of Fishery Products International, the marketing arm. I understand the large players in the industry had no need of it, so this government let it be sold off. A step backward for sure but if we did it once, we can do it again. We are part of the greatest economy in history. We are part of the North American Free Trade Agreement comprising over 30 per cent of the global economy. Nearly 400 million of the wealthiest people on earth share this trade pact. Seafood is Canada's largest food export, not grain, not beef, seafood; seafood, one of the healthiest food choices swimming off our shores. We have a free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico, yet we are told we must ship out our seafood resource unprocessed to enrich other nations. This is completely unacceptable.

I have written to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture asking that he propose a joint seafood marketing council with five eastern provinces and the federal government, with no response. Why not? What is he waiting for? We talk about joint custodial management with the federal government, but nothing in how we have handled - or more accurately put, mishandled - the fishery to date indicates we should be given more power or responsibility; however, when we have our affairs in order provincially and when we have demonstrated we can manage a modern seafood processing industry maybe we will be able to move on to joint management with the federal government. At this point, nothing in how we have managed our side of the fisheries indicates that we should be given more authority.

Mr. Speaker, success in fish processing for us will require a minister who is prepared to manage the fishery and not a minister who lets the fishery lurch from crisis to crisis so that it manages him. Today, Mr. Speaker, I call upon the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture to set out for us his ten-year plan for our fishery. Only by him formulating a plan can anyone have any confidence in his ability for the long-term future of our fishery.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I move, seconded by the Minister of Finance, that we now adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: It has been moved and seconded that this House do now adjourn.

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

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

This House now stands adjourned until tomorrow, Tuesday, at 1:30 in the afternoon.

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