May 29, 2012                      HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                    Vol. XLVII No. 39


The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Wiseman): Order, please!

Admit strangers.

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, I ask leave to make a statement with respect to an appointment of an Officer of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the Premier have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave, the hon. the Premier.

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure today to inform the House that the Government House Leader will introduce a motion to confirm the appointment of Terry Paddon as Auditor General of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. This is being done with the concurrence of the Leader of the Opposition and the Member for Signal Hill – Quidi Vidi, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Paddon has a wealth of experience in the financial industry, in both the private and public sectors. Most recently, he was Deputy Minister of the Department of Finance for eight years.

Terry began his distinguished career in the financial industry as a staff accountant and audit manager with Ernst and Young in 1978. After a period in the private sector, he joined the provincial public service in 1990 as Tax Audit Manager with the Tax Administration Branch of the Department of Finance. He later worked in the Fiscal and Tax Policy Branch of the department, first as Senior Policy Advisor and then as Director of Tax Policy. Mr. Paddon was appointed Assistant Deputy Minister of Fiscal Policy in the department in 1998, a position he held until his appointment as deputy minister in 2004.

Mr. Paddon holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Memorial University and was admitted to the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Newfoundland in 1980.

Mr. Speaker, we look forward to Mr. Paddon's service as an Officer of the House of Assembly, and to his continued commitment to the public service of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, I also take this opportunity to thank Wayne Loveys for serving as interim Auditor General since July last year. I ask hon. members to join with me in showing appreciation and in wishing him a wonderful retirement following his more than thirty years of dedicated service in the provincial public sector.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to thank the Premier for the advance copy.

Certainly, we join the Premier in congratulating Terry Paddon on this appointment. We believe he is an excellent appointment and besides his many distinguished years in government, we know that he had a past career in the private sector. I am sure that this will add a lot to his ability as he accepts the new responsibilities in his role as the AG.

It gives him a broad sense of the perspective that is required for this job. As a comptroller in the private sector, he has developed a sense of what is necessary to maintain accurate and responsible financial records. All of this will certainly be an asset as he assumes his new role.

The AG's position, of course, is not responsible only to government, but indeed to the House of Assembly. His job will be enhanced as it comes with the respect not only of government members, but us in Opposition as well. I can assure Mr. Paddon, in this case, you will have our respect. We look forward to seeing many reports from him over the next few years.

I, too, join the Premier in congratulating and wishing Wayne Loveys a good retirement, and for the contribution that he has made to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, for his many years of service with the Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I thank the Premier for the advance copy of her statement.

I am delighted to stand and to support the appointment of Mr. Paddon as Auditor General. Yes, we were consulted with by the Government House Leader. I was quite delighted actually when I heard who the appointment was going to be, who was being recommended. I think I have indicated to the Minister of Finance on some points how pleased I have always been in Estimates with the responses from the deputy minister and from the way in which he could speak to the issues. What always struck me – which I think is something that is very important – about Mr. Paddon in Estimates is how neutral he is. He gives his answers totally from his financial knowledge, from his knowledge of the profession that he holds. I have great confidence – because of, I think, maybe now the six years that I have seen him in Estimates – he will have that kind of neutrality that will be absolutely essential in the role of Auditor General.

I am extremely pleased. One thing that I think will be something I hope he is going to take on, which his predecessors, at least the second one before him, were looking at, is being able to audit the books at the C-NLOPB. I think it is something that does need to be pushed further and I look forward to his doing that as the new Auditor General.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I give notice that I will ask leave to move the following resolution:

BE IT RESOLVED by the House of Assembly as follows:

WHEREAS under subsection 4(1) of the Auditor General Act, the Lieutenant-Governor in Council has been authorized, under the Great Seal of the Province, to appoint a qualified auditor to be the Auditor General of Newfoundland and Labrador;

AND WHEREAS the Lieutenant-Governor in Council has been pleased to appoint Mr. Terry Paddon to the position of Auditor General of Newfoundland and Labrador, effective June 1, 2012;

AND WHEREAS under subsection 4(2) of the Auditor General Act, the person appointed to the position of Auditor General must be confirmed in office by a resolution of this honourable House of Assembly;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this honourable House of Assembly confirm the appointment of Mr. Terry Paddon to the position of Auditor General of Newfoundland and Labrador, effective June 1, 2012.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the Government House Leader have leave to introduce the motion?

The motion has been heard.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Motion carried.

Statements by Members

MR. SPEAKER: Today we have members' statements from: the Member for the District of The Straits – White Bay North; the Member for the District of St. John's East; the Member for the District of St. John's South; the Member for the District of Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair; the Member for the District of Cape St. Francis; and the Member for the District of Bellevue.

The Member for the District of The Straits – White Bay North.

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to extend the warmest of congratulations to an Englee man who celebrated his one hundred and fifth birthday on Saturday.

George Ellsworth was born in 1907 in Englee on the Great Northern Peninsula and lives there today with his daughter, Dorothy Breen. He worked in the fishery and as a camp cook with Bowater Newfoundland. Until just a few years ago, he lived in the house that he built decades ago, growing his very own vegetables. George credits his many years, in part, to obeying his parents, which the Ten Commandments tell us will be rewarded with a long life.

Dorothy told the CBC last year that the family's calm temperament and positive outlook may be part of the reason for their longevity; she noted also that she has never seen her father drink or smoke. Maybe it is genetics, though. Mr. Ellsworth has one brother, Jim, out of Mount Pearl, who is now 103. Another brother, Pat, died just this winter at 101; and their baby sister, Victoria, is just ninety-five.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all hon. members to join me in wishing Mr. George Ellsworth of Englee a very happy one hundred and fifth birthday.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate Mr. Ben Sparkes, present in the public gallery today. He is a Grade 12 student at Gonzaga who has been accepted to the House of Commons Page Program. Ben graduates this month and in September he begins a course of study in Political Science at the University of Ottawa – and first-hand in the House of Commons, one of forty students accepted from across Canada for the program.

When Ben was in kindergarten, his teachers predicted that he would become a politician. In Grade 1, Ben heard Jean Chrιtien speak at a function and thought, "That man had an interesting job." At ten years, he wrote Rex Murphy about the 2004 election results, and Rex read that letter on the national news.

Ben contacted British Prime Minister David Cameron in 2010 when he was named to lead the coalition government, and Mr. Cameron was kind enough to write back. That same year Ben did a job shadowing project with none other than former Premier Danny Williams.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all hon. members to join me in congratulating Ben Sparkes and in wishing him good luck in his future endeavours. I am sure we are all looking forward to welcoming him back in this House as a colleague someday.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I recently attended the Annual Inspection of the Church Lads Brigade. It was held at St. Mary's Church Hall in St. John's South. The event was attended by new members of the CLB, a number of their senior members, and clergy from St. Mary's Church.

During the inspection, we witnessed several young people receive decorations and awards for attendance, performance, as well as their commitment to the CLB Armoury. Spectators were treated to the March of the Colour Party, Inspection, March Past, and Demonstrations.

I would like to recognize those who received awards, those who volunteered to ensure the CLB continues to provide the service it does, to recognize the clergy at St. Mary's for providing the venue for these young people so that they have the positive experience of being part of the CLB. Also, a thank you to Captain Gail Dick for taking the time to attend the annual inspection.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in the House to congratulate and honour three young men from this Province who recently graduated from RCMP training in Regina, Saskatchewan and are being posted across Canada.

Just recently I had the pleasure to be in attendance for the RCMP grad at the Depot. Mr. Speaker, I was very impressed with the calibre of events and the historic ceremony that has been so deeply rooted in our Canadian history.

There were three Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who graduated along with twenty others, and they are now Canada's newest RCMP constables. They included Constable Bradley Rumbolt of Mary's Harbour, now being posted to Canora, Saskatchewan; Constable Adam Brian Canning of Marrows, Bonavista Bay, now being posted to Stony Rapids, Saskatchewan; and Constable Michael Roberts of Stephenville, now being posted to Kitscoty, Alberta.

Mr. Speaker, I was able to meet with all of them and was given a full tour and detail of the in-depth training that was required by our fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Mr. Speaker, Commissioner Roger Brown, who is originally from Fogo Island, is the assistant commissioner there now. As he explained to me, it is quite clear that it is no easy feat to complete the rigorous training schedule that these young men are to be commended for doing. Their drive and commitment was very evident.

During the graduation ceremony, I also met with other former Newfoundland and Labrador RCMP corporals and inspectors who work at Depot along with many others who have spent quite a bit of their career here in Newfoundland and Labrador. Our presence in Newfoundland and Labrador is everywhere and quite prominent at the RCMP Depot in Regina.

I would like to ask members of this House to join with me in congratulating the three newest RCMP constables from our Province and to wish them a long and successful career in the RCMP.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate the Torbay Post Allied Youth #1050, a very active and dedicated group of young people in my district. The Torbay Post recently had the forty-ninth Annual Provincial awards held in Gander for the past year.

Mr. Speaker, the group was awarded the John Nolan Cup for Outstanding Community Leadership as well as the Dawe Award for Outstanding Positive Lifestyle Initiatives.

Two members of the Torbay Post were presented with individual awards for their personal contributions to their town and the Allied Youth organization. Sarah Fitzgerald received the Hawkins Award for Outstanding Senior Allied Youth member. Ashley Vincent received the Dove Award for outstanding Senior Allied Youth member.

Mr. Speaker, two members of the group were also elected to the provincial executive. Ryan Mahon was selected as Youth Director for the Avalon Region. Lucas Ings-Simms was elected Provincial President for the fiftieth Allied Youth anniversary year.

Mr. Speaker, the Torbay Post Allied Youth is an amazing group of young people, and I ask all hon. members to join with me in congratulating them for their recent achievements.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bellevue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. PEACH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in this hon. House to speak of the great community of Monkstown.

Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, May 19, Victoria Day weekend, I had the great privilege of attending the 112th anniversary of the Salvation Army at the beautiful small community of Monkstown.

Mr. Speaker, Monkstown is a true testament of the way of life in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Although there are not many full-time residents, Monkstown has much to offer the Province. Nestled away in the Hills is a hydro plant consisting of seven turbines, the community's fishery, and three kilometres away in nearby Davis Cove, there are landings of approximately 1.5 million pounds of crab, cod, and lobster annually, that generates revenue to the economy.

That weekend, the community shined with people from all over. The Salvation Army held a supper with ninety-two seated at the community centre, and later the church a Gospel Hymn Sing performed to a full church of eighty-nine. That weekend they raised $7,700-plus dollars – what an accomplishment for their church.

I ask all members to join me in congratulating the Salvation Army Corp of Monkstown on their one hundred and twelfth anniversary.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Statements by Ministers.

Statements by Ministers

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is with great pleasure that I rise in this House today to note that while in the face of adversity, this year's seal harvest has reached almost double the animals harvested last year. Approximately 70,000 seals of the 400,000 Total Allowable Catch have been harvested, Mr. Speaker, by 680 sealers operating from 275 sealing enterprises.

This, Mr. Speaker, is great news and I offer my congratulations to the industry on a successful and safe undertaking once again this year.

Even more important to note, Mr. Speaker, that markets are quickly opening up in Asia and sales for over 100,000 pelts appear to be achievable.

Also, Mr. Speaker, industry participants advise that new marketing opportunities for seal meat continue to present themselves. The Northeast Coast Sealers Co-op supplied three containers of seal meat to markets nationally and internationally, exceeding their expectations and proving future demand for this product does in fact exist. This is extremely encouraging news.

Mr. Speaker, we stand firmly behind our decision to support the annual seal harvest with a $3.6 million loan to Carino Processing Limited, which was intended to kick-start the season – and I say, Mr. Speaker, kick-start the season it did. We also stand firmly behind the industry as they move forward to identify markets and open new opportunities for seal products. We are confident that the funding the provincial government provided will be repaid in very short order, showing the sealing industry is indeed alive and well in Newfoundland and Labrador!

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not note that anti-sealing campaigns are filled with misinformation on the harvest. The annual seal harvest is highly regulated and sustainable. The harp seal's population, Mr. Speaker, has increased from approximately 2 million animals to 8 million.

The natural balance of the ocean's ecosystem has been at risk. Anti-sealing groups display a lack of understanding about good ecosystem management, about the industry's economic importance, and about the cultural realities in Newfoundland and Labrador. For example, they still show whitecoat seals in their distribution materials, even though whitecoats have not been harvested in decades.

We will not be swayed by the propaganda of such campaigns or that of misinformed followers and celebrities. Mr. Speaker, we are proud to support the seal hunt, a hunt that has provided much benefit to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador for centuries, and will continue to so.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I am pleased to support the government's measures to maintain the seal harvest. One of the most important reasons to manage the seal population is because the ever-expanding population is not sustainable; 9 to 10 million animals and growing places a tremendous strain on the population of other creatures in the ocean. We may be at a tipping point where other creatures in the ocean become completely overwhelmed and depleted. This is no good for those other creatures, no good for humans, and no good for the seals. However, handled properly, seals are a great resource. Seal oil is a wonderful source of Omega 3, an important health supplement; seal skins make fabulous biodegradable clothing products, and seal meat is valued in many parts of the world.

In short, Mr. Speaker, handled properly, the seal herd is a source of wealth for our Province and our country, and it is our responsibility to properly manage this resource.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I, too, thank the minister for an advance copy of his statement. I fully support the sealing industry and I am optimistic about the future potential. It is quite heartening to see that the harvest has doubled from what it was last year. I think we will see the continuation of catch increases.

The sealing industry is a very important aspect of the rural economy and there are many opportunities for new value-added sealing-based enterprises to add to the ones we already see contributing to new products and development for apparel, food, fertilizers, oils, cuisine, and heritage. I encourage the government to continue to work with the rural stakeholders to further these ideas to include new products for local as well as export markets.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Oral Questions.

Oral Questions

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

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Eastern Health has confirmed that they are eliminating 552 positions and $43 million from their budget; 385 of those are full-time positions.

I ask the Premier: Do you honestly believe that you can make this level of cuts over the next two years without impacting frontline services and programs for the people of the Province?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I think the first thing that we need to understand is that Eastern Health is not eliminating any full-time positions whatsoever. Anybody who has a permanent job with Eastern Health today will still have a permanent job at the end of this exercise, Mr. Speaker. That has been very clearly communicated, and communicated to staff as well. I know that the Opposition members had a chance for a briefing this morning as well, so that was very clearly communicated.

In terms of numbers, there will be 385 positions where we are looking at those permanent employees. There are another 165 FTEs; we are talking about full-time equivalents. Mr. Speaker, many of those full-time equivalents can be made up in the sense of hours that it takes to complete a job, as opposed to positions and people.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We do understand that even though it is hours you are talking about, it was actually people and health care professionals that were filling those; there were also some jobs that will be displaced because of retirement or whatever. There will be less people working, we know that.

Mr. Speaker, for the last four years, Eastern Health has run deficits in the average of about $20 million each year. Government has backfilled this amount up to about $84 million over the last four years, so now, we went from backfilling deficits into making the cuts to make up for this allowance. So, either the service was needed, or it was not.

I ask the Premier: How do you explain this?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, first of all, there are no cuts. In fact, what we have done since 2006 is that there have been increases in the budget to Eastern Health to the tune of about 56 per cent; there have been no cuts to Eastern Health whatsoever, in terms of monies allocated.

What we are looking for, and what Eastern Health is looking for here and now, is opportunity to address that $82 million, in terms of deficit budgeting. They want to return to a balanced budget. That is a laudable goal, Mr. Speaker, and it is a goal that I certainly commend Eastern Health for. They are trying to find a way forward with that. They are looking, as well, to find efficiencies within the system. They are looking, as well, to find opportunities to use some of their money more wisely in terms of some of the areas that they have identified as needing extra attention.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Well, what we do know is that these cutbacks – really, reductions – actually started last year. The reductions actually being announced today came on the heels of the Premier stating time and time again in this House and in the media that frontline services and health care would not be affected. This came, really, right after the Budget. So, today's announcement is quite different to what the Premier said during the Budget.

So, I ask the Premier: Why did you give the people of this Province and the health care employees a false sense of security, when clearly programs and services will be affected?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, the commitment and the resolve that Eastern Health has made is the very same commitment that the Premier has made. There will be no reduction to programs; there will be no reduction to services. There will be no facilities closed in Eastern Health as a result of a program that they have undertaken on their own, Mr. Speaker, absolutely no reduction whatsoever.

This has nothing to do with the Budget, nothing to do with commitments that we have made over here. This is a project that Eastern Health has undertaken and they have undertaken it in the same light that we undertook the Budget. That is to find efficiencies but to ensure that patient care, quality and safety is still paramount, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To say that patient care is not affected when we know – and obviously this information was given to us today – that constant care for instance is one of the areas that they are looking at. Right now if you have a patient who needs constant care, there is actually a person there supplying that. We know that is one area that they are looking at reducing right now. You say that this will not affect patient care but we know there are 133 equivalent positions being eliminated for the direct patient care in the nursing sector for instance.

I ask the Premier: Can you explain to me how you can say this is no cuts in frontline health care and no effects on patient care for instance?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, constant care is one of the areas of concern that Eastern Health actually did identify as an area where they can find a whole lot of efficiencies. One of the things they found when they started to investigate constant care was that quite often somebody who had been working in the hospital that day would be asked to fill in for constant care in the evening.

That might be an RT, that might be somebody who is not even connected to the nursing floor, Mr. Speaker, but it would be somebody who was going to be paid time-and-a-half or double time because they were already in the facility. Eastern Health has identified that as an inefficiency, and they will look to find somebody else within the organization who can fit the role of supplying constant care in that particular facility and do it at a cheaper rate. That is called efficiency, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BALL: What we do know in terms of constant care, was maybe we would get into a situation where it would be reduced and certain people required. We also know there were benchmarks – and that came from the discussion on benchmarking when we found that we were higher in some areas. There was going to be some – and sick time was the other one. Time and time again this government has boasted about health care expenditures, the fact that we spend the most on health care compared to any other Province in Canada. Decisions of this magnitude are not made without some level of government involvement.

I ask the Premier: Did your government direct the health authorities to reduce their spending, and when did you do this?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I asked the Leader of the Opposition to listen carefully to what the minister has just said. We have increased the budget of Eastern Health over the last number of years by 56 per cent, Mr. Speaker. So we respond when they ask for essential services and programming, and resources to do it, but no system should be stagnant, Mr. Speaker. Like government, organizations have to be looking at themselves all the time, Mr. Speaker, to see that they are producing quality services in the most efficient and effective way.

The Opposition's mantra is to spend, spend, spend. Spending responsibly, Mr. Speaker, is not anything that they are concerned with at all.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I assure the Premier we are concerned about it.

You say on one hand, you increased it 56 per cent, on the other hand: Did you direct these health authorities to make those reductions or not?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: No, Mr. Speaker, I did not.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BALL: Mr. Speaker, we understand that government had challenged the health authorities to find efficiencies within the boards; that is our understanding.

When can we expect the other boards to make the similar announcements?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, one of the first things that I did when I came into this department, as I am sure ministers ahead of me did, was to meet with the CEOs of the four regional health boards. In meeting with the CEOs of the boards, some of their concerns always involved talking about their budgets and sustainability of the health care system, Mr. Speaker. We have always had those conversations around sustainability, around making sure that in Newfoundland and Labrador we have the best health care systems that we could possibly have. That is a standard part of any conversation.

In terms of the other three boards, those conversations were held with them as well. Mr. Speaker, I will continue to have those conversations and we will look at benchmarking processes there as well.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Before the Budget was brought down last month, the Premier stated that on Budget Day the public would know the full extent of the cuts across the Province. Now in what seems to be like a federal government, or a Harper-like move, the public are only finding out about these severe-type reductions in health care today.

I ask the Premier: How can you justify setting aside $655 million to an unsanctioned Muskrat Falls Project and making these reductions in health care?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, too cute by half is the Leader of the Opposition. He tries to lead us down paths that will take us astray from the principles that have guided this government since the very first day we came here in 2003.

The Budget was what the Budget was, Mr. Speaker. There were no hidden agendas in the Budget. Eastern Health has undertaken this exercise of their own volition to ensure that they are providing quality services first of all. Quality services is their principle concern and they are doing that as efficiency and as effectively as they can, Mr. Speaker. That is to be applauded, not criticized.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BALL: The criticism was more at the Muskrat Falls $655 million, the money that was set aside for that. We have been asking in this House on numerous occasions when will we get the return, because you keep saying that it is going to pay for health care, it is going to pay for roads. We have not seen any idea yet when we can expect to get that return.

It is now clear why the Premier did not say a word about Stephen Harper making cuts to this Province. It is because they were about to do the same.

I ask the Premier: How can you scold the federal government on one hand for making deep cuts when you are about to do the exact same thing?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, first of all, $655 million is not going to be spent on the Lower Churchill unless Muskrat is sanctioned, and we are some time away from that decision. That is the first thing. If you want an example, this same kind of debate took place in this House of Assembly and in the broader environment in Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker, when the government of the day was trying to develop Bay d'Espoir.

Look at Bay d'Espoir today and the money that it generates and the power that it generates for the people of this Province. Where would we be today if we had listened to the critics like the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Speaker? We would be in an awful mess today if we had.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. EDMUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Last week in this House I asked about food insecurity in Natuashish and Nunatsiavut. To illustrate this insecurity we looked into some pricing, Mr. Speaker. For example, a case of Enfamil A+ Infant Formula costs $35 in St. John's, and the same item in Northern Labrador costs $79.

I ask the minister: Citing the Nutrition North Program and Air Foodlift Subsidy, how does this benefit the Northern consumers of our Province for which it is intended?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McGRATH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

With the Nutrition North program as well as the Air Foodlift Subsidy, which were designed so that the wholesome foods are subsidized, items such as dairy products are subsidized by 100 per cent. Our government is watching so that healthy foods are going up: fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, and homogenized products. That is what we are keeping an eye on and that is what we want to see going up to the North Coast through those programs. As I said, Mr. Speaker, some of that is subsidized up to 100 per cent.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. EDMUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, 100 per cent food subsidy is quite often put in place.

Mr. Speaker, the example I just gave makes it obvious that the benefits of the Air Foodlift programs are not reaching the consumers of the North Coast. There are many more similar examples I could put forward.

I again ask the minister: What checks are being put in place to ensure that the benefits of the Foodlift programs are being passed on to the Aboriginal communities of this Province? Will he initiate an investigation into the discrepancy in prices?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McGRATH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, twice a year our government does a survey on the North Coast on both programs, the Nutrition North program and the Air Foodlift Subsidy, to compare prices on the North Coast throughout the rest of the Province. We monitor that. As I said, twice a year, we will do a survey. The subsidies are geared to putting nutritional food into the North Coast. We give the subsidy to the retailer and we expect the retailer to pass it on to the consumer.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, last week DFO announced a cod quota cut for the Gulf region, which will affect the bottom line of our fishers. During the 2011 federal election, the Premier wrote to the Prime Minister to gauge his position on early retirement and licensed buyouts. The PM responded: "When requested…" the "…Conservative Government will enter into discussions with the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador to explore further initiatives and policy changes that could further strengthen the fishing industry."

I ask the Premier: Isn't time to hold the Prime Minister to his promise?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We are indeed aware of the quotas that were announced last week. They are very serious decisions, Mr. Speaker, because those kinds of decisions that were made very flippantly by governments from the federal perspective in the past are what got us into the situation we are in today with many of our ground fish quotas. While they are challenging, we accept and respect that sometimes tough decisions have to be made and quotas have to be reduced.

On the early retirement, Mr. Speaker, we have been very clear in this House on any number of occasions that we have 30 per cent commitment to the early retirement program. I have had discussions personally with the federal minister. I know the Premier has had discussions on the same issue. We will continue to do that. It is on my agenda in about a week or so when I meet with the federal minister. Mr. Speaker, very clearly, we cannot move forward with an early retirement program unless the federal government is prepared to come to the table with their portion of that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for St. Barbe.

MR. BENNETT: Mr. Speaker, one of the reasons DFO cited for the quota cuts is that scientific assessments done over the winter show a decline in stocks; however, some fishermen are saying that recently there have been signs of good, healthy stocks.

Given that the Province has established its own Centre for Fisheries Ecosystems Research and has engaged the Irish research vessel the Celtic Explorer again this year for fisheries research, I ask the minister: What does your research show regarding the Gulf of St. Lawrence cod stocks?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, I have the greatest of respect for viewpoints expressed by all fishermen, all harvesters in this Province, but we have to recognize that decisions on quotas have to be based on more than just a viewpoint expressed by harvesters. We consider that, but the federal government must also consider the science.

The Celtic Explorer is currently out, Mr. Speaker, doing science as we speak, so I cannot comment on what the results will be. I can only say that I will certainly share them with the member opposite, and this House, when they become available. What I can say, Mr. Speaker, is that we are always very concerned with the stock allocations off our coast. We recognize that the fishery has been a part of our history and culture and will be a part of our future. Any information we collect, we will feed into the decision-making process with the federal government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yesterday, I asked the minister about some cuts that will be taking place with six satellite offices of DFO in the Province. He was not aware of it.

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask today about cuts to the licensing division, which we are hearing is being cut right across the country. We are being told that fishers now will have to file on-line for their licences.

I ask the minister if he can confirm this and if he can explain how many fishers out there in rural communities in this Province, who do not even have access to high-speed Internet, are going to be able to register on-line for fish harvesting licences.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, I remind members opposite that I am not the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. I did not make the decisions that have been announced in the recent days, nor am I privy to the details on what that will look like.

I can say to the member opposite that as a result of the information that I have available to me, I have written a letter to the federal minister and outlined clearly how strongly we feel about the cuts that are proposed. That is gone. I have a meeting scheduled. That is on my agenda. I met with a group just this morning who feel that they may be affected by the cuts. These are people who work directly in the industry, Mr. Speaker, and they have no more knowledge of what is happening. So, I cannot say in this House what I do not know; I am sorry.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.

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

We learned in our briefing with Eastern Health Authority this morning that there will be no pink slips at Eastern Health, but that there will be 385 jobs lost through attrition over the next two years. Eastern Health says they have three goals: no layoffs, no reductions in quality of care, and no closures of facilities. Government has the responsibility to monitor how this will work out.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier how she plans to prove to the public that their health care will not be compromised by these efficiency measures.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, what Eastern Health has proposed today and what they are actually outlining right now in a press conference to the media, I think, is a very laudable goal. The three goals that you just read out there and the three values that we just referred to are very much uppermost in the mind of Eastern Health. They are goals that we also want to see that Eastern Health is adhering to, as we do with all of our regional health authorities, Mr. Speaker.

We are in ongoing discussions and conversations with all of our regional health authorities, with all of our CEOs, on a very regular basis, Mr. Speaker. That will continue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This week in the media the Premier referred to the health care system as a black hole.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: Given such a negative attitude towards the health care system, how can people have confidence in her ability to provide them with quality health care?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the Leader of the Third Party thinks that out there in back of Confederation Building somewhere there is a money tree. There is a money tree that we can go out and we can fill up our coffers every time we feel like it.

Mr. Speaker, we have to be responsible. We have about a $7.5 billion Budget in this Province; almost half of it goes into health care. We pay more per capita in health care than any other jurisdiction in the country. What do we hear from the Leader of the Third Party in this House day after day after day? Spend more, spend more, spend more, and spend more, Mr. Speaker. It is not fiscally responsible to do so.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Third Party.

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

Obviously, the Premier did not hear my question. All I would like her to do right now is to explain to the people of the Province what she means by health care being a black hole.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I cannot find a more perfect example than the Leader of the Third Party. Because no matter how much we spend, how much we do, Mr. Speaker, she wants more, more, more, and more. Now, Mr. Speaker, the first term she was here, she was on her feet in QP every day asking for a review, a review of our health care system. Well, we had a review; it was called the Hay Report and it recommended the cutting of services and closing of rural clinics from one end of this Province to the other. That is what she wants, Mr. Speaker. It is not what we want over here.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS MICHAEL: Mr. Speaker, yes, indeed –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Indeed I stood in this House in 2007 and asked for an external review of our whole health care system, a full analysis involving full public input, Mr. Speaker, different from studies that have been done. I have asked for this many times, the Premier is right.

To ensure the efficiencies that are being put in place by Eastern Health, which look like they are going to be put in place in other authorities, do not hurt workers or patient care, Mr. Speaker, we need such a review.

So, I ask the Premier: Will she study what a real review would mean and commission an external review of the health care system?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we have already been down that road once before. If the Leader of the Third Party had taken the time to read the Hay Report, perhaps she would not be so quick in calling for another one. We know how to make the health care system more efficient, Mr. Speaker; if that were our only value, a review would likely be in order, but we want services to be near people and near communities. We are a coastal people. We cannot have just central hubs of health care in five or six places around this Province. Health care has to be available to people, as far as we can provide it in their communities, and it has to be quality health care, Mr. Speaker. That is what we are doing.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, since the perfectly working air ambulance service was taken from St. Anthony and placed in Labrador, it has been plagued with serious staffing problems.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: Was the service moved so it could be cut?

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

MS SULLIVAN: Oh, that is a really easy answer, Mr. Speaker: absolutely not.

When the air ambulance was moved from St. Anthony to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, it was moved for a very good reason. Mr. Speaker. Let me tell you some of the reasons, or one of the reasons, why we can prove to you that we moved it for the exact right reason.

Mr. Speaker, last year there were 273 flights from Labrador using that air ambulance versus 158 flights from At. Anthony. Thirty-seven per cent of the flights from St. Anthony were considered non-urgent. They were for appointments, diagnostics, and things of that nature, Mr. Speaker. The air ambulance was moved for the right reason: to better serve the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the air ambulance stationed in Labrador spends a lot of time in the hangar, so much so that the pilots may have trouble logging their required hours of flight time. Government has failed to provide a medical flight team for this service.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Minister of Health and Community Services: Is this failure to secure appropriate human resources to be sold to the public as a savings or efficiency?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, that comment is absolutely outrageous. This has nothing to do about savings. Nothing in health care has to do about simply looking for savings; efficiencies, maybe, in terms of what Eastern Health is doing, but nothing about looking for savings, Mr. Speaker. We are concerned about quality health care in Newfoundland and Labrador. We are concerned about the safety of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and that will always be our utmost concern. That particular comment, Mr. Speaker, is irresponsible.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Minister of Municipal Affairs said in Estimates Committee that he would release the POMAX feasibility study of enhanced 911 services at the end of this month. While we are there, Mr. Speaker, we would like to know where the report is.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O'BRIEN: I would like to remind the hon. member that today is May 29 and tomorrow is May 30, so just wait and see. You might have it by the end of the month.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is very disappointing that the 911 report is not yet released, especially when the provincial air ambulance program is being reviewed at this present time, because 911 is vital to the optimal functioning of the ambulance service. These two parts, Municipal Affairs and Health and Community Services, should be working in consultation with each other and using this report as a basis for their work.

Mr. Speaker, why does government not see that this is short-sighted to have an ambulance review without knowing what is in the POMAX report?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. O'BRIEN: The hon. member is going to have wait in regard to the report itself and just see exactly what is in it. I want to remind the hon. member that a good portion of this Province is now covered by 911, especially in the Avalon region and also in the Corner Brook region. They have a 911 service. That is the thing that was missing on your side. You do not do the research in regard to the total process.

We work in concert with the Department of Health all of the time in regard to supporting any kind of service we provide to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. This is a party and this is a government that works together, not like your own that does not know the questions and have to go to the suggestion box to get them over at the Avalon Mall.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS ROGERS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Justice said we have all the whistle-blower protections we need, yet there are still public sector employees who will only talk on the grounds of complete anonymity over fear of losing their jobs due to the lack of whistle-blower legislation. We do not have adequate whistle-blower protection for our workers in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: Do we really have to wait for another scandal to take place before this government fulfills the promise it made five years ago to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador? What will it take?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. F. COLLINS: Take four, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we value our public servants in this Province. They are the engines that drive government; they are the nuts and bolts of this government. We will give them every assurance they need, that their jobs are protected, that they have nothing to fear from reporting something untoward in the workplace.

We do that in several pieces of legislation, and we do that in our assurance to them that they will not have to worry about any kind of repercussions because there is no specific whistle-blower legislation in place. They have lots of protection under all other pieces of legislation, and as I reiterate again, we will give them every assurance that they will not be retaliated or intimidated in any way by providing something that is untoward in the workplace.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

You have time for one very quick question.

MR. KIRBY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Harper government plans to allow employers to pay temporary foreign workers less than Canadian workers for the same jobs. This flies in the face of our humanitarian values in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I ask the Premier: Does she plan to raise the issue of pay less wages with Stephen Harper when she meets with him?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, let me first say right off the bat that we were not consulted by the federal government in the recent announcements when it comes to foreign temporary workers. I do know, Mr. Speaker, that in September we have an FPT meeting and it is on the agenda. At that time I will certainly be bringing our say to the table.

I just want to let the hon. member know that when it comes to looking after the workers of this Province, we certainly do our job. There is nothing more evident than the most recent Hebron announcement and our SPO there. At that time, Mr. Speaker, we look after Newfoundlanders and Labradorians first…

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time for Question Period has expired.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Tabling of Documents.

Notices of Motion.

Answers to Questions for which Notice has been Given.

Petitions.

Orders of the Day.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We will now be moving into the Estimates on Executive Council, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Are you calling an Order Paper number?

MR. KENNEDY: It would be, Mr. Speaker, I guess in Order 1.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion 2.

MR. KENNEDY: Motion 2.

Yes, Committee of the Whole, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader to move into Committee.

MR. KENNEDY: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: You are moving and seconding that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Government House Leader is moving that we move into Committee of the Whole.

It is moved and seconded that I do now leave the Chair for the House to resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to consider the Estimates.

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt 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!

I ask all members for their co-operation, please.

We are going to be debating this afternoon the Estimates of the Legislature, the Executive Council and the Consolidated Fund Services. We have two hours and forty-five minutes in which to do this. We will start off with the Estimates of Executive Council.

I recognize the hon. the Minister of Finance.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It is indeed an honour and a privilege to get up here today to do this part of the Budget process. As members know, as part of the Budget process we will be going along a number of paths. One of the paths is that we have a Budget debate. We had the motion, which I moved on Budget day, that the House support the budgetary policy of the government in general.

The Opposition moved an amendment and then a sub-amendment. We voted down the sub-amendment, we voted down the amendment, so all that remains there is for the vote on the general motion. Also, on Budget day the Estimates or what expenditures would be for the year were tabled and delivered to hon. members. Those Estimates, for the most part, were referred to committees, three different committees. We went through a process; I think in most cases it took part in this House here. It was not televised, but it is a process in which the Opposition has a chance to ask the minister and the minister's officials, the deputy ministers, and assistant deputy ministers, and the directors, and gives the Opposition a chance to ask the minister and his or her staff questions about the Estimates, questions about what is going on in the department, and general matters of policy as well. It has been an excellent process. As a matter of fact, I think we accomplish more in Estimates than we do in most things we do.

I remember the predecessor to the current Member for Burgeo – La Poile made the comment that we should televise the Estimates. While it is obviously important that government be open and accountable, and the people should have the right to see what goes on in Estimates, I think with the TV cameras there, I think everything changes. I think then the questions are not as sincere and then the answers are not as sincere, and then we start doing the political thing, which takes away from what I think is a pretty good process.

There is another part of the Estimates that are not dealt with in Committee. Although the ones that were dealt in Committee, they were brought forward into this House in the debate that we had yesterday and last night, called the Concurrence debate, and we had the vote on the three Concurrence motions. So the Estimates that were referred to those Committees were passed by hon. members. Of course, that is the basic principle that we are following here, that the government cannot spend any of the people's money without the approval of the Legislature, without the approval of the representatives of the people who gathered here, have a chance to review the Estimates, and then have the right to vote aye or nay.

Now, what we are going to do today is that there are certain Estimates that are not referred to Committee. Those Estimates, for reasons that I am not aware of, are dealt with in this House and dealt with before the TV cameras. I understand the time we have for it is about two hours and forty-five minutes. I guess there is an opportunity for the questions and answers to go back and forth on the various topics that we are going to look at today, and I understand we have ten minutes apiece in speaking, if that is necessary. The way it will go is the Opposition will ask us questions on the various headings and the government will respond.

I think we are going to look at Consolidated Fund Services. That is one that deals with the servicing of our debt and the costs that are associated with the paying of our debt and contributions to our pension plan. I think this is the fifth time that I have done this and I do not think we have ever had a question on Consolidated Fund Services, but if any members wish to bring it up, it is quite interesting.

After we do Consolidated Fund Services, which, as I said, is servicing the public debt, the use of loan guarantees, and employee retirement arrangements, which of course are pension funds, we then get into Executive Council. In Executive Council, we are going to look at the Estimates of the Lieutenant's Governor's Establishment. We are going to look at the Office of the Executive Council, and that includes the Premier's Office, which is always one that gets a lot of attention. We are going to look at the Cabinet Secretariat; that is the Executive Support for the Premier's Office and for the various Cabinet Committees. There is Planning and Coordination. There is the Provincial Government Programs Office, headed by Donna Brewer; that is an office that looks at the effectiveness of government programs and whether we getting a good bang for our buck.

There is also Economic and Social Policy Analysis; that is the group that support the Economic and Social Policy Committees of Cabinet. Another one is OCCEEET, which is the Office of Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Emissions Training. That is in Executive Council as well. I know last year there was a lot of interest expressed in that. There is the Protocol Office. We are going to look at Public Service Development, which I think are the Public Service Awards. Then we are going to look at the Estimates of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat. The minister of that department is here today and he will answer questions on that. That will include his office, it will include Executive Support, Intergovernmental Policy Analysis and Coordination, Aboriginal Affairs, and the former Ottawa Office.

There is also the Communication and Consultation Branch of Executive Council. There is Financial Administration and Human Resource Support. We will then look at Strategic Human Resource Management. Then there is the Rural Secretariat. The Minister of Innovation, Business and Rural Development is here today and he can answer questions on that.

I understand Women's Policy is a section of –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MARSHALL: That was dealt with, I understand, in Committee.

The Provincial Council on the Status of Women was dealt with, so we will not do that today.

The Labrador Affairs Office, the minister will take care of that. The Voluntary and Non-Profit Secretariat will be dealt with today.

Then we will come to the Human Resource Secretariat, formally known as the Public Service Secretariat. That is a division of Executive Council that I have responsibility for in this House. We will look at Executive Support; we will look at Employee Relations. That is the group that deals with collective bargaining and classification and provides us with bargaining advice on matters like arbitration, general labour relations, collective bargaining matters, and compensation policy and also provides support to Treasury Board on the human resource side.

We have Policy and Planning, we have the Centre for Learning and Development, and we have Strategic Initiatives division of the Human Resource Secretariat. We have Opening Doors, a very exciting and very excellent program that I know all members are familiar with. It does just tremendous work. There is French Language Services then, but I believe that may have been dealt with already at Committee. I think that is it, Mr. Chair.

With that, I think that is enough of an introduction. I will do my best to answer the questions. A lot of these divisions, I am not the minister for a lot of these, but we do have – so the people watching on television will know – officials who are close by. Through the magic of television, some of the questions, before I know it I will turn around and the answer will be placed in my hand. With that, I will await your first questions.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: I ask the Minister of Finance, where would you like to start: with the Consolidated Fund Services or with Executive Council?

MR. MARSHALL: It is up to you, wherever you want to go.

MR. BALL: Okay, thanks.

First of all, before I do begin, I would like to thank the Minister of Finance and his staff. After sitting through some of the Estimates, and obviously this has been in some cases the first time I have done this, I will say that the degree of knowledge and how responsive they were in Estimates, we were thoroughly impressed with how open they were, and the amount of knowledge that they had there, and how they did respond. I thank the minister for that.

I will just have a few questions on the Consolidated Fund Services. Probably what we will do is that we will take a few minutes and between the Leader of the Third Party we would move it back and forth and probably just start to go line by line. I did notice – I am working from my Estimates book - if you look at the servicing of public debt, there is a capital expenditure there of $220,000.

MR. MARSHALL: Which line is that?

MR. BALL: It is actually on the opening – the Consolidated Fund page, right here, Minister.

MR. MARSHALL: Do you have a number?

MR. BALL: There is nothing on the bottom of this page. It is the opening page, actually, the Program Funding Summary. It is where we talk about the servicing of public debt to be currently around $358 million, and then there is a capital expenditure there for $220,000. Since it is around servicing of public debt, I just had a question on that. What that capital expenditure would be in terms of servicing debt? What do we need capital for?

CHAIR: Order, please!

I need to seek some direction here from the people who are going to be participating in Committee. We have to handle this a little differently than we would in the normal Estimates Committee. We are being broadcast on television. Leader of the Official Opposition, you have fifteen minutes and –

MR. BALL: Okay, so what I will do is a series of questions. Are you okay with that?

CHAIR: You can do that. I am actually okay with whatever you guys want to do. I am not trying to dictate it, but if you are going to do it this way, then for the purpose of television, I need to recognize the speakers and take time for the people to be recognized.

MR. BALL: Absolutely, and I understand, too, that it takes a while to get some of the information in. We can just move on if there is a question that you cannot answer. We are okay to move on past that and go to the next question. When the information becomes available we can actually enter it in then, if that is okay?

CHAIR: Yes.

MR. BALL: Okay. I will go to page 1.3, which is Servicing of Public Debt. This is under the Consolidated Fund Services, so 1.3. Near the bottom of that, and I will refer to bullet 1.1.05, Temporary Investments. These are the appropriations to provide for interest earnings. So, we are seeing last year a budget of $20 million – or a loss, and then that –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BALL: Okay, yes, no problem.

Page 1.3, the Servicing of Public Debt, and it is under Interest, and it is Temporary Investments.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BALL: No, it is Temporary Investments, 1.1.05. It is about Provincial Revenue, and we show a loss there.

What I am wondering is, how much is the total of this investment? Because it looked like we had a budget last year of $20 million, it actually got revised to $16 million, and then $17 million this year.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Chair, this activity reflects the estimated interest income from the Province's program of investing its available cash balances. The interest income earned is a combination of interest on free cash balances under the Province's banking arrangement and interest on short-term investments in the Canadian money market.

We budgeted last year $20,100,000 and the revised amount is $16,800,000. This reflects lower than forecast short-term interest rates and cash balances. That was the reason for the drop. For next year, we are estimating $17,403,000 and we are expecting slightly higher interest rates forecast for the year 2012-2013.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Leader of the Official Opposition, again, for the purpose of understanding the procedure we are going to follow here today, in Committee of the Whole the first speaker gets fifteen minutes and the first speaker on the Opposition gets fifteen minutes. Then we will go back and forth ten minutes, as long as there is an intervening speaker.

With leave, what the Leader of the Official Opposition is saying, if you would like to question the Minister of Finance for fifteen minutes, and then the Leader of the NDP can have ten minutes too, then we will go ten and ten. Is that what we are saying? Otherwise we will have to stick strictly to the rules that are here.

MS JONES: Mr. Chair, I did not know that we needed leave. There was an agreement that was taken between the Government House Leader, the Leader of the Third Party, and myself as Opposition House Leader, that in Committee today we would have the opportunity as an Opposition to question the minister on the Estimates. As opposed to taking ten minutes each to do that, we would do each section of the Estimates. Once we ask that question, would sit down. The appropriate minister would stand and respond to that, the same as we do in regular Estimate Committees outside of the House. That would alternate between the Official Opposition and the Third Party in terms of the time.

CHAIR: For ten minutes at a time, is that what you are saying?

MS JONES: No, it may only require thirty seconds and it may require three minutes, but it will not be ten and ten.

CHAIR: I will ask again for direction, to the Opposition House Leader. Am I say that everybody is in agreement that if I have the Official Opposition allot you ten minutes to question the minister, and when you are done your ten minutes, then the Third Party can have ten minutes to question the minister? I am not saying you have to use up ten minutes at once.

MS JONES: Okay.

MR. BALL: It is not a ten-minute question?

CHAIR: It does not have to be a ten-minute question, but I can give you ten minutes. If that is the way everybody wants to do it, and everybody is in agreement, that is fine.

MS JONES: It sounds fine.

Thank you.

CHAIR: Okay.

We will go back to the Leader of the Official Opposition who would have about ten minutes left. I think we will start the clock there and when that is run down, I will go to the NDP.

The Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

That is exactly the way we expect it would happen.

What I did not get was the amount of that investment in the 1.1.05, Temporary Investments, under the Revenue; when you respond to the next question, if you have the total amount of that investment.

Under the next page 1.4, bullet 1.1.06, Recoveries on Loans and Advances, what it speaks about is the appropriations provide for interest paid to the Province on loans to various public and private entities. Last year, there was a budget there of $1,000, the revision was around $645,000, and this year, in Estimates, we have an estimated amount of about $1.2 million. So that is about a $553,000 difference. Could you just give me an explanation on that, please?

CHAIR: The Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Chair, this has to do with the Student Loan Corporation. The heading in the Estimates is that this is an activity that provides for interest paid to the Province on loans to various public and private entities.

What used to happen is the Student Loan Corporation used to borrow through, I think it was the Bank of Nova Scotia. What happened halfway through the year, the Student Loan Corporation was in a position that it wanted to make repayment to capital and it could not do so. It was only allowed to repayments to capital with the Scotia Bank loan at certain times. From time to time, it would have additional cash and it wanted to make payments on the principal.

What we did, the government paid out the Bank of Nova Scotia and we became the lender; the government itself became the lender to the Student Loan Corporation. That happened halfway through the year. As a result of that, we started receiving interest. We had budgeted $1,000; that was just a place holder to have a spot in the Estimates for it. Halfway through the year, for a six-month period, our interest should be about $645,000, and for the annualized amount next year it will be $1.2 million. It had to deal with excess cash that the Student Loan Corporation had on hand; therefore, they made payments on the loan.

CHAIR: The Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: Okay.

On the same page there, Investment Recoveries – the page I am referring to is 1.4, and the line would be 1.2.01. I refer to the Revenue – Provincial. The estimate line starts out for an estimate this year, 2012-2013, of just under $25 million. The question would be around the variance last year, in Budget 2011-2012 we had a budget of just $21,000, that went to $8 million, then this year's budget up to just under $25 million.

CHAIR: The Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you.

Yes, that is the same thing. This is the capital side of it. It is the activity provides for principal recovery on various loans, advances, and investments. I guess the previous one was the interest. What is happening here is the Student Loan Corporation owed money to the Bank of Nova Scotia, which funded the student loan program. The corporation had excess cash and wanted to pay on the loan. They could not do it as it was not permitted, so the government bought out the loan and allowed the payments to be made. As a result of that again, for 2011-2012 it was for six months, and for next year it will be for a year and it will be $24 million.

For 2011-2012 Revised, it is higher as a result of principal payments that were received from the Student Loan Corporation on the debt assumed by the Province. This was not anticipated at the time the Budget was prepared. We were not aware that we would be buying out the Bank of Nova Scotia. For next year, the Student Loan Corporation principal repayments are expected to be significantly higher than in the previous year.

CHAIR: The Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: Okay, thank you.

On page 1.5, Loan Guarantees, 1.4.01,Guarantee Fees, "Appropriations provide for fees charged to private companies which have debt guaranteed by the Province and costs related to the collection of loans and guarantees." There under line item 02, Revenue – Provincial, we see last year in budget, $105,000, that was revised to just under $7.6 million, and this year down to $3.5 million. I am just wondering how much of this is related to the cost of collection or just a line explanation of that line?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

1.4.01 is $50,000, and that is a line item; that is a Budget amount in case the Province has to exercise its security. If the Province pays on a guarantee it then becomes subrogated to the security that was given to the person who held the guarantee or was the lender. This would cover any monies that might be needed. This is contingency, really, to cover monies that might be needed to pay lawyers, or to pay receivers, or to pay sheriffs, or the hiring of a consultant.

On the next one, which is 1.4.01.02, which is provincial revenue, this represents guarantee fees that were charged to private companies which received provincial loan guarantees. In exchange for the Province giving the lender the guarantee, the borrower pays the Province a guarantee fee. Last year, in 2011-2012, it was budgeted at $105,000 and it turned into $7.6 million. That amount is higher because of the receipt of two years worth of guarantees from Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro in March 2012.

That was offset by the fact that Gray Aqua Group no longer required a provincial loan guarantee and therefore did not pay the fee. For 2012-2013, for this budgeted year, the Estimate of $3.5 million consists of fees charged to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Basically what happened is that the guarantee fee was reviewed, it was felt that the amount was too high, and therefore a new guarantee fee of $3.5 million was agreed to.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Is there any idea what the size of the guarantee loan would be to Newfoundland Hydro?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: We will get that information. So, get it.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: Yes, okay, so it is page 1.7, this has to do with the Employee Retirement Arrangements.

MR. MARSHALL: Do you want to (inaudible)?

MR. BALL: Pardon me?

MR. MARSHALL: (Inaudible).

MR. BALL: Yes, sure.

MR. MARSHALL: There are one, two, three, four.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Yes, thank you, Mr. Chair.

There are five companies that are paying guarantee fees. They are the Fogo Island Co-op Limited, Smith Seafoods Limited, Torngat Fish Producers Co-operative, and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Moving on to page 1.7, the Employee Retirement Arrangements, the question there would be around 2.1.02, the Ex-Gratia and Other Payments – Non-Statutory. These refer to appropriations to provide for special retirement and other payments as provided by Treasury Board. As required, funding will be transferred to departments during the year.

How many people would be involved in line item 02, which is the Employee Benefit piece of it? Last year we had a budget of $4.2 million. That got revised to about $2.8 million; this year it is up to $10 million. I am just wondering what the magnitude, how many people would be involved? Is this all management or versus staff?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Chair, 2.1.02 is Employee Benefits. It is under the heading called Ex-Gratia and Other Payments – Non Statutory. The payments include the cost of redundancy pensions that were granted in the fiscal year 1991-1992 as part of downsizing. In addition, there are ex-gratia payments for Waterford Hospital employees who retired under the Hartt arbitration award. There are also payments of benefits for widows of deceased pensioners who did not have survivor benefits. There are also injury on duty awards and special awards granted by Cabinet on an individual basis. There is also provision for severance awards and they result from restructuring in government agencies that would be transferred to departments during the year as required.

For 2011-2012, the revised amount is lower than was budgeted mainly as a result of severance, pay equity and other – reduced to zero – due to no anticipated distributions in this account to various government departments.

Benefits under ex-gratia under the Hartt and redundancy were higher than budgeted and were partially offset by decreases in widows and the Workers' Compensation due to slower attrition. The increase in the Estimates for this year is higher than 2011-2012, mainly due to increase in the provisions for severance. There is also an increase in the provision for ex-gratia and Hartt Report benefits.

The severance is a new contract we signed with the RCMP. The federal government, I believe, made arrangements with all its employees that severance would not grow any further, and that federal employees were entitled to get their severance now. So, the RCMP will be eligible to take severance now, under the new federal agreement.

I just want to mention the Hartt Report; the enhancements given under the Hartt Report were never funded. The pension was never funded; therefore, the money comes out of here. The other thing I should say that I have been advised is that over the past eight years my officials are not aware of any further ex gratia payments under this section.

CHAIR: The Leader of the Third Party.

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

In the same section, Minister, Employee Retirement Arrangements, on page 1.7, section 2.1.01, Contributions to Pensions – I will make sure you have it before I continue. Mr. Chair, 2.1.01, Contributions to Pensions, I just want to make sure that I understand this section. So, I take it this is referring, of course, to the public pension, the contributions to the public pension. I wonder could you give us an explanation of 02, Revenue, that whole line there, if you could explain that to me. Are we talking here about the amount of money the government will owe to the pension this year? Is that what the figures signify?

MR. MARSHALL: (Inaudible).

MS MICHAEL: Yes, please, if you could explain that.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The activity provides for government's share of pension contributions under those pension plans which form part of the Pensions Funding Act, and payments under other supplementary arrangements. I have them listed here for the year 2012-2013. The Public Service Pension Plan is $33 million, approximately –

MS MICHAEL: (Inaudible).

MR. MARSHALL: Back up?

Okay, the heading is 2.1.01 and it is Contributions to Pensions. Then it is 02, Employee Benefits, and it is $90,314,900 for this coming year. That is the Province's share of the pension contributions to the various pension plans for its employees, the pension plans under the Pensions Funding Act, and payments under other supplementary arrangements.

For 2011-2012, the year that has just ended, there was a revision of about a four-point-something million dollar drop. I am sorry, I have it reversed. It was an increase. The revised contributions were greater than budgeted, the MHA plan contributions were slightly less than budgeted, and the higher Provincial Court Judges' Pension Plan contributions were due to retroactive salary increases for judges affected April 2009.

For this year's budget, the estimate is slightly lower than 2011-2012 projected revised, due to anticipated lower contributions under the Public Service Pension Plan, the Provincial Court Judges' Pension Plan, and the – I am drawing a blank here – GMPP.

AN HON. MEMBER: Group money purchase plan.

MR. MARSHALL: The group money purchase plan – that is a defined contribution plan. Offset by higher anticipated contributions under the Teachers' Pension Plan, the Uniformed Services Pension Plan, and the MHA Pension Plan. If you like, I can go down and tell you what the contribution is for each plan, or is that really necessary?

MS MICHAEL: (Inaudible).

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you.

If we could, Minister, that was the Employee Benefits that you just outlined, right? Now, in the next line, Revenue – Provincial, it looks like we are in the hole by $480,000 budgeted in 2011, then revised up to $816,300, and then back down to $480,000. Could you explain what that provincial revenue means and why it was revised up last year?

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

This activity provides for the reimbursement of government's matching pension contributions for employees of the Pensions Administration Division and for contributions paid by employees on the portion of salaries that exceed the maximum pensionable salary under the Income Tax Act of Canada.

Do you have that wording?

MS MICHAEL: No, I do not have that wording (inaudible) –

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: For last year, the 2011-2012 Revised is higher than Budget mainly due to increased revenue received related to employees' contributions under three of the plans in excess of the maximum amounts that are permitted to be paid into a Registered Pension Plan under the Income Tax Act, including some prior year's adjustment. For 2012-2013, $130,000 represents recovery of government personnel costs from the Newfoundland and Labrador Pooled Pension Fund for the employees of the pension's administration division. The costs of operating the division are paid by the fund, and $350,000 represents revenue from the employee contributions that exceed the maximum income permitted under the Income Tax Act. It goes back to government.

CHAIR: The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you.

If you could, Minister, this is not a line but it is related to the contributions to pensions. We know that the unfunded liability with regard to the public pension is an issue that you are dealing with. I am just wondering if you could give us an idea of what your plan is, not just for this year, but I know that you have a multi-year plan with regard to dealing with the unfunded liability. Could you give us some information on that today?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Do you have a couple of days? We are working on a plan. It is very complex; there is a lot of information out and about. New Brunswick has a commission that is out. I think we are going to wait for them to report. That will inform us and help us in how we want to go forward. For this year we are planning to make a contribution to the plan. We made a commitment we would put an amount equivalent to one-third of any surplus, that we would put that in the pension fund. There are so many things happening out there in pensions. The federal government is raising eligibility age in the private sector.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MARSHALL: I always use the example of Nortel, now it is closer to home unfortunately. What would happen if there is an unfunded pension liability or a deficit in the pension plan and the employer should happen to go into bankruptcy? The devastating effect that would have on employees and pensioners who would normally retire with a very generous, defined benefit pension plan, and to have it cut because of the bankruptcy of the employer, that would be quite devastating.

Then there is what we should do with our Public Sector Pension Plans. They are wonderful pension plans. They provide people with the dignity of a decent retirement which many people in the private sector do not have. What should we do?

The governments of the Province, I think since 1997, have contributed $4.4 billion – I think that number is correct – in special payments over and above the regular payments. We plan to make an additional $258 million to try to keep the pension plan funded. It can all change very quickly. If interest rates go up then everything gets a lot better. To tell you now, I just cannot do it, but hopefully in the not too distant future we will be able to announce something and we are always open for suggestions.

CHAIR: The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Just one comment there, Mr. Chair, and then that is all I have under Consolidated Fund Services. It would be fair to say that the short-term plan is when there is a surplus taking one-third of that surplus and putting it into the unfunded liability? Is that sort of the short-term plan?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: The commitment we made was to put the equivalent of one-third.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I am going to move on now to the Estimates on the Executive Council. I think we have covered most of the things under the Consolidated Revenue. If, when the Leader of the Opposition returns, he may have some other questions, I am sure the minister would not mind going back there.

We will start under Executive Council, probably with the expenditure in the Premier's Office first. Under the Salaries in the Premier's Office, 2.1.01, it was budgeted for $1.6 million last year, it was $1,670,000, but they spent $1.7 million. I am just wondering what the extra money was, if it was for severances or something of that nature, and if you can tell me how many employees this salary would cover?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The Budget amount, as the Government House Leader indicated, was about $1,670,100 and the revised amount was $1.7 million. That reflects an increase of $29,900, and that indeed was for severance and leave payouts for two officials. The estimate for 2012-2013 is the normal estimate. I am advised that there are twenty-one staffing positions, including the Premier, the Premier's Parliamentary Secretary, and the constituency assistant to the parliamentary secretary. Only eighteen of those twenty-one positions are filled.

CHAIR: The Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: I think the Minister said eighteen of the twenty-one are filled? Yes.

The Premier's Office as well had offices in Corner Brook and Happy Valley-Goose Bay. I am not sure if those offices are still open or if they are still staffed. Maybe you can tell me what the situation is with both of those offices right now.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: I am aware, personally, that the Corner Brook office is open. There is an executive assistant to the Premier for Corner Brook there and her assistant. With respect to the Labrador office, I understand the executive assistant for Labrador, that position is presently vacant. I am not aware of whether there is other staff in the office, but I will undertake to get that information as quickly as possible.

CHAIR: The Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: Also, under the Premier's Office there is a budget for Allowances and Assistance, it is $20,000. I am not sure what that revenue is used for, maybe you could explain that to me.

The other thing under that office is the Purchased Services of $34,500. I am wondering: Normally, what would those purchased services be that would account for that amount of money?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The Purchased Services, as the Government House Leader pointed out, is $34,500 for the year. That will consist mainly of advertising. Advertising is the largest amount at $5,900 approximately. There is entertainment at $2,781; there is printing at $7,017; there are coffee charges of $16; there are moving expenses of $177. These are for fiscal 2011-2012. There are flower arrangements at $1,134; there is photography services of $60; there are meeting expenses of $402; there is meeting room rental of $413; there is courier and delivery charges of $212; there are taxi charges of $387; subscriptions, $199; miscellaneous of $91; and projected but not expended, $15,732.

Allowances and Assistance, which is 2.1.01.09, is $20,000. This is an allowance paid to the Premier in lieu of the provision of a residence at public expense, pursuant to Minute of Council 551-90. This amount is the same as it was last year.

CHAIR: The Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Chair, I think it was well over a year ago there was some issue with the Premier needing security because of some particular incidents that were happening. I am not sure if that is still the case, if that is still required or if it isn't, and if it is usually budgeted under this section or if it would be budgeted under another section.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Chair, I will have to seek information on that and get back to the hon. member.

CHAIR: The Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I know the minister will get back to me on that for sure.

I am going to move on to Executive Support, 2.2.01. Again, under Executive Support last year there was a budget of $1.5 million, actually $1,569,700. There was nearly $2 million spent in salaries in that office. I would like to have an explanation for that, what the increase was, what additional positions were created or if it was paid out in some kind of severances or packages?

Also, if you can explain to me as well what the cost expenditure was under Professional Services. They had originally budgeted $30,000. They spent almost $178,000, which was quite a substantial difference in the expenditure there. I would appreciate an explanation of that and an accounting for that expenditure.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Chair, this is item 2.2.01, Executive Support. That is in the Office of the Executive Council, Cabinet Secretariat. In 2011-2012, the budgeted amount for salaries was about $1.6 million and the amount spent was about $376,100 more than that. That reflects an overrun of, as I said, $376,100. It is attributable to severance and leave costs for two retiring employees. With respect to one, it was $102,700, and with the other it was $87,500. Also, there was a deputy minister's performance evaluation and there were salary costs associated with a Deputy Minister of Special Projects position, which had not been budgeted for. For this year, the amount will be unchanged from what was originally budgeted, the $1,569,700.

With respect to Professional Services, the budgeted amount was $30,000 and the revised amount is $177,900. That is an increase of $147,900. Professional Services is anticipated professional and specialized consultant services in support of the Clerk's role as it relates to the Cabinet process and/or the professional development of senior executives within government. There was in fact $183,000 worth of professional services expenditures. There was a consultant who looked at the communications review. That was Fleishman-Hillard Canada Inc., and there was Deloitte Inc. and Wayne Thistle as well who were consultants hired by Executive Council during 2011-2012.

CHAIR: Order, please!

That would be ten minutes, I say to the Opposition House Leader.

The Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The severance and leave costs you outlined, you said it was $376,000. As well, in the Premier's Office there were severance and leave costs as well. Can you tell me what positions these were that were vacated? What people left? If you could give me an accounting of that, that would be great, and a breakdown.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: I cannot tell you the positions they held. I can tell you the names of the two employees, but I do not know if that is appropriate. They were –

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MARSHALL: No, no, these are in Cabinet Secretariat. These are civil servants.

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MARSHALL: There were two people who retired from Cabinet Secretariat. There was a deputy minister's performance evaluation, and there were salary costs associated with the Deputy Minister of Special Projects position. That was $107,400 and it had not been budgeted for.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The same section, Office of the Executive Council, section 2.2.03, Provincial Government Programs Office.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

I would ask members for their co-operation please. The Chair is having difficulty hearing the speaker.

MS MICHAEL: Minister, you have it, do you? Okay, I have a couple of line questions first and then I have a couple of overall questions. The first has to do with the 01, Salaries. Last year the budget was $225,500. It was revised down to $219,600. So I would like an explanation of that slight revision; it is not a lot. Then this year there is a major difference and the salaries this year will be $470,500, so if we could have an explanation.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The reason for that increase is that there is a new office involved and this is a combination of two offices now. Previously, there was the Provincial Government Programs Office and that was Donna Brewer's shop. That particular division worked with departments to implement government's policy on evaluation. Through this work the government will enhance its performance monitoring and evaluation of government programs to see if they are still effective. This year the core mandate analyst's office is going to be joined with that. So the salary for the Provincial Government Programs Office is still $225,000, but added to that now is the salary for the Core Mandate Office, which is $245,000, and that is a one-year program. It is being implemented on a one-time basis during this coming year, 2012-2013. It is to deliver comprehensive and thorough examination of provincial programs and services. It will determine which programs and services are consistent with the core mandates of each of the departments or entities or its affiliated agencies, boards, or commissions. It will also determine options for more innovative and efficient program and service delivery. The CMA Office is set up to develop guidelines and review departmental proposals, and the office will consist of three staff.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Could I ask you then, Minister – it is good to know where that is coming from, and you certainly have announced earlier in the House this whole thing of looking at the core mandate; will the three staff in that one-year office be public servants who are already on staff, or will they be new people?

CHAIR: Order, please!

Would the Leader of the Third Party like to continue while the minister is looking for his materials?

MS MICHAEL: Sure, because I do have another line item there, but I do not want to distract the minister while he is looking for the answer. I would like to know what line 05 is about, Professional Services, $181,000, when no money was spent last year in Professional Services, though money was budgeted. That might be related to this same thing, I do not know, but I would like an explanation of what this office is and who the personnel are. I do not mean in terms of the individual names, but where they are coming from; are they coming from inside, or are they external? Is the Professional Services line related to this core mandate study?

Maybe the minister is ready now.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Before I answer that, I will answer a couple of previous questions.

The guarantee on Hydro, as I said previously, this is the guarantee fee for government's guarantee of Hydro's market debt; the question was: what is the amount of that debt. I am advised that the debt is approximately $1.1 to $1.2 billion per year.

With respect to security, the question asked by the Government House Leader, there is no specific budget for the Premier's personal security; it would be a part of the RNC's total budget.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: I wonder if I could ask the Leader of the NDP, was it Professional Services, or –

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Yes, Professional Services, but I also was wanting to know if the three staff people in the CMA, the one-year CMA office, were internal or external to the government.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: The Professional Services, it is a total of $181; that is all attributable to the Provincial Government Program Office. There is nothing allocated for Professional Services in the core mandate analysis office.

As to the staff, I believe they are seconded, but I will have to get confirmation on that.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you.

We might be able to get that before the afternoon is out, because I would like to have the answer to that.

This is a broader question, but related to this, Minister, because the Provincial Government Programs Office provides for the coordination and implementation of government-wide evaluation practices and includes support to strengthen the policy and evaluation capacity of government.

I am just curious why – when it was deemed necessary to have somebody to work with the Advanced Education and Skills department, as they look at how they are structuring themselves and evaluating how they are structuring – this programs office, the Provincial Government Programs Office, could not have done that. Rather than hiring the former Auditor General, John Noseworthy, to come in and do it, why couldn't this office, which seems to me would be set up to do this kind of thing – why could it not have been done under this office?

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: First of all, look how fast they are. The three staff are seconded from other departments within government; two are from Cabinet Secretariat, and one from the Department of Finance.

The Provincial Government Programs Office is an office within the Cabient Secretariat, obviously; it was established in 2009 to build an evaluative management culture across government. Its primary role is to focus on the department's efforts to improve the efficiency and the effectiveness of programs that are offered. Many programs have been around for many years. Maybe it is time, when you do the proper analysis, they can move on; maybe there is something that is more important to us, more important to the people of the Province, and would be a higher priority. I know during the discussion about health care today, with the aging population, as the baby boomers continue to age there is going to be a massive influx accessing that health care system. To find the resources to deal with that, I think we are going to have to be innovative and find better ways of doing the things we do to try to provide services without affecting the quality, with less money; try to be innovative. This office is going to look at a number of those programs and help us make that decision.

There have been improvements in the transparency and accountability through the Transparency and Accountability Act. To further our accountability to taxpayers, we need to be able to demonstrate that the policies and programs we are delivering, and which they are paying for, are in fact making a difference, and that they are relevant, they are effective, and they are citizen oriented and they are efficient. These evaluation findings support Cabinet decision making and will thus help the Office of the Executive Council achieve its mandate, which is to support the Premier and the work of Cabinet and its committees. Through the policy work of the office, Cabinet has adopted a corporate policy on evaluation, which will require that departments identify evaluation priorities. That is, what policies and what programs would benefit most from being assessed using performance monitoring and evaluation.

The Provincial Government Programs Office, which is headed by Donna Brewer, will work within and across government departments to enhance our policy and evaluation capacity. Over time, we hope to see an increase in both the number and the quality of evaluations, and that the findings from these evaluations are used to improve efficiency and enhance effectiveness of policies and programs.

I do not think that answers your question, but I have said what I had to say.

CHAIR: The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

You said what they wrote for you, Mr. Minister.

I would like to come back to the salaries for a minute. Let's say $225,000, let's stick with that, which was the budget last year, or the $219,000. That would be for the permanent office, and then two-hundred and forty-something would be for the one year office. When I come to the book of Salary Details – and now you are saying, why did we print that book for them? On page 3 of the Salary Details for this Budget, Departmental Salary Details, it indicates only $79,374 as being permanent. Permanent employees, it is $79,374; other, which usually means temporary, $391,126, giving us the $470,500. Why would not people in the Programs Office, the permanent office have more permanent people working in it?

AN HON. MEMBER: What page is this?

MS MICHAEL: It is on page 3 of the Salary Details. It is the fifth item down from the top.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS MICHAEL: You only have $79,000 for a permanent employee and all the rest is temporary; yet, there are only three people who are in the temporary office.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: The salary costs are the two program officers of the Provincial Government Programs. They are temporary positions, and the three staff seconded to the CMA office. There are no permanent employees. There are temporary and other employees; it will be $470,500 this year. There is no contractual, and there is nothing else. The total amount is the temporary employees.

MS MICHAEL: (Inaudible).

MR. MARSHALL: They are all seconded in the CMA office but I do not know about the Provincial Government Programs. I can find that out, whether they are seconded or not.

CHAIR: We will now go to the Official Opposition for ten minutes.

MS MICHAEL: Can I just make one comment, Mr. Chair?

CHAIR: That is fine.

The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: I would appreciate the minister letting us know why the people in the permanent office are not permanent staff because there is only $79,000 there for permanent. I would be curious. I understand why in the CMA office they are not because they are seconded, but I would like at some point to get an answer as to why more of the $219,000-plus is not permanent.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I just wanted to pick up, Minister, on that same section, 2.2.03, where you talked about the Provincial Government Programs Office and how the office that is responsible for the core mandate review is now being amalgamated into those particular Estimates there. I do not know if I might have missed something, between the dialogue that has already been going on - and if I did, I apologize – but I think you said there are a number of programs across government that are being reviewed.

I am wondering if you can provide for us a list of what programs are being reviewed currently, or which ones have already been reviewed and, also, if you could outline for us what the Grants and Subsidies were under that particular heading in the last year. There was nothing budgeted, but I noticed that they did spend $54,000. This year they only budgeted $6,000. I am not really sure what that money was used for. As I said, if you have already responded to that, I do apologize, but if you could just give me some idea of what reviews are going to be done, if they are selective, if there is a short list, or however that works, and what the Grants and Subsidies were.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I will have to get that information on which programs have been evaluated.

With respect to Grants and Subsidies, there was zero budgeted and the revised amount is $54,000, so there was any increase of $54,000. This reflects a grant contribution to the Community Sector Council to proceed with the Social Return on Investment pilot. For the Estimates this year, there is a $6,000 allocation there. That is funding reallocated from Professional Services from 2012-2013 only to pay out the remainder of the grant to the Community Sector Council for the Social Return on Investment pilot. The total investment over two years will be $60,000.

The Social Return on Investment pilot is an evaluation tool used by the United Kingdom Third Sector to document the social, economic, and environmental impact a community organization or one of its programs is having on society. The Community Sector Council, with funding support from the Province and also from ACOA, is piloting the use of this tool with thirteen community organizations and one provincial government program.

There was a $249,000 pilot. The Province is committed to $60,000. ACOA is providing $149,000. The Community Sector Council is providing $40,000, generated through participant fees. There are eleven community sector organizations participating, the CSC and a provincial government department. The twelve-month pilot will allow organizations to participate in the training, identify and collect appropriate data.

To date, as part of the pilot, the New Economics Foundation, which is an independent, non-profit think-tank based in London, England, has also provided two information sessions for government employees outlining the approach and the methodology. The pilot remains a work in progress and the organization will require into the fall to complete their work. The Community Sector Council advises that many of the organizations have exhibited a very high level of enthusiasm and organizational learning and have already incorporated program improvements.

The SROI is a set of analytical tools that addresses a common struggle in the community sector. These organizations need to demonstrate the value of their programs in order to successfully access funding. The tools are used to understand, to quantify, and to express, in monetary terms, the economic, social, and environment impact an organization has in the world. SROI uses a cost-benefit analysis.

The pilot will help us better understand this tool, the level of audit and assurance provided by the New Economics Foundation and what level of audit assurance is required before a funder can rely on the data used in the analysis. If this pilot proves SROI to be a rigorous and reliable tool, government is in a better position to make evidence-based decisions on any future funding proposal for these organizations. A positive SROI, while helpful, will not be the only factor in deciding a government's budget priorities.

Does that answer it? I can keep going.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

If there is a list of the organizations, the eleven that are actually being reviewed, Mr. Chair, as part of this social audit for return on investment, maybe the minister could provide that to me.

In the meantime, when I finished last time, before we switched to the Third Party, I was on section 2.2.01. I had just finished asking the minister a question with regard to 05, Professional Services.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS JONES: Yes, 2.2.01.

You were giving me a breakdown of the Professional Services, the $177,900. I know you listed a couple of companies that were contracted, but I did not get all of the names, nor did I get the reasons that they were contracted, what the professional services were for. So, I was wondering if you could provide that to me.

Also, I noticed in that section, last year there was $23,500 on Property and Furnishings and this year there is $61,800; I am just wondering if there is some renovation work or something going on there that we were allocating additional monies for.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: I will have to get you the information on what the studies were about. One of them was a contract to a firm called Fleishman-Hillard, which was required to do an audit of government's communication functions and activities, and then the other two, we will find that information out.

With respect to Property and Furnishings, we are still in the Executive Council, Cabinet Secretariat; are we talking about the increase from $2,000 to $23,500?

MS JONES: Yes. (Inaudible).

MR. MARSHALL: This is an overrun of $21,500: the purchase of a photocopier, iPads, crosscut shredder, and various Blackberries. For next year, there is going to be money for furnishings and equipment for offices and meeting spaces under the jurisdiction of Cabinet.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Move over to page 2.6, the Office of Climate Change, Energy Efficiency, and Emissions Trading, 2.2.05, and the salary line, 01. Salaries.

MR. MARSHALL: Could you say that again?

MR. BALL: Okay, it will be 2.6, and it is bullet point 2.5.05, the Office of Climate Change, under the Office of Executive Council, Office of Climate Change, Energy Efficiency, and Emissions Trading.

CHAIR: Order, please!

I think the Leader of the Official Opposition said 2.6.05, but you may have meant 2.2.05.

MR. BALL: No, page 2.6, and the bullet – yes.

CHAIR: Is 2.2.05 right?

MR. BALL: Yes.

Okay, the question is under Salaries; budget $806,000 last year, actual spent was $509,000, and we are back to $796,000 this year, so just to get an explanation of that, please.

MR. MARSHALL: 2.2.05, 01. Salaries, there was a budgeted amount of $806,000 and only $509,000 was spent. That is $296,800 and that was due to vacant positions throughout the year. For next year, it will be $796,000, which is the anticipated expenditure for this year, as these positions have been filled, but the amount will be reduced by 3 per cent through the government's cost savings initiative.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: If I could just finish, we can say for sure we have a very efficient public service out there. The thirteen organizations: Avalon Employment Inc. in St. John's; the Community Employment Corporation of Port aux Basques; Community Education Network of Stephenville; the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association in St. John's; the Dunfield Park Community Centre in Corner Brook; the Gros Morne Co-operating Association of Rocky Harbour; the Food Security Network; the Labrador Friendship Centre in Goose Bay; School Sports Newfoundland in St. John's; Student Work and Service Program, a CSC program in St. John's; the St. Anthony Basin Resources Inc. in St. Anthony; the Canadian National Institute for the Blind in St. John's and Toronto; and the Office of Immigration and Multiculturalism, which is the government program in St. John's.

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. MURPHY: To carry on with section 2.2.05, Office of Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Emissions Trading, line 05. Professional Services budgeted $450,000, overspent $648,400, and the estimated amount this year is $280,000. I am just wondering if we can get an explanation on that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. MURPHY: Section 2.2.05, Minister, and in line 05. I am just wondering if we can get an explanation on that $450,000 budgeted, $648,400 was the actual, and $280,000 budgeted for this year.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

2.2.05.05. Professional Services; the budget amount for last year 2011-2012 was $450,000. The revised amount was up by $198,400. The overrun was due to a requirement for a highly-technical analysis on the technological opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the offshore and the mining sectors. This was not originally planned for 2011, but it was brought forward following the federal government's initiation of work to develop greenhouse gas regulations for key parts of the industrial sector. The work will inform provincial policy development and facilitate engagement with the federal government. The expertise required to do the analysis rests outside government with technical industry experts. The oil and mining companies in Newfoundland and Labrador are supportive of this work and are feeding into it. The work will be completed in 2012-2013.

This is a listing of professional services expenditures in 2011-2012. There was a public awareness campaign on climate change and energy efficiency to develop tag line videos, TV adverts and print adverts through m5 Marketing Communications that was $162,888. There was design and construction of a Web site for a public awareness campaign; it was the Pixel Shop, at $42,840. There was a deployment strategy for a public awareness campaign to maximize impact with Spark Marketing, $22,760. There was baseline survey of awareness, attitudes and public engagement, that was MarketQuest research group $24,276.

There was a study to recommend methodologies to forecast and measure outcomes of initiatives to promote energy efficiency and, or reduce greenhouse gas emissions, that was Navigant consulting, $39,430. There was a study to determine potential opportunities to enhance energy efficiency programming in Newfoundland and Labrador; that was IndEco Strategic Consulting Inc., $37,692. There was a study of climate change monitoring capabilities in Newfoundland and Labrador, the green economy project; that was AMEC Americas Limited and Global Advisors Limited, $53,336 and $8,849 respectively.

There was a subscription renewal to the IISD, October 2011 to September 2012, and that is the International Institute for SD, that is $6,000; the subscription renewal to the Carbon Market News, point carbon, $849; a technical review of greenhouse gas abatement opportunities in mining, ICF Consulting Canada Inc., $120,791; technical analysis of greenhouse gas abatement opportunities in offshore oil, AMEC Americas Limited, $124,546.

CHAIR: The Member for St. John's East.

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I do not know if we can get an update on some of the programs that the office has been undertaking recently, Mr. Chair. I guess I will put the question out anyway. I am wondering what the progress is of the Climate Change Strategy, particularly as it comes to dealing with the work that they were talking about in the Budget last year when it came to coastal erosion, the flood risk mapping and that sort of thing, data collection and analysis of precipitation, temperature trends, and the awareness campaign. I do not know if he can get into that in any kind of regard, but I do know that it is of interest, of course, to the general population out there in the Province.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: You may regret that question.

Mr. Chair, our government believes very strongly that climate change is one of the most serious long-term threats facing our planet today. So the Office of Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Emissions Trading will cease it. It was established in 2009 as a central agency within the Executive Council. The office is responsible for four lines of business relevant to its mandate: to develop policies and strategies and advice for the strengthening of the evidence base for analysis and research to support sound decision making; to provide expert support to departments and co-ordinate across government; to represent our Province in regional, national, and international forums; and engaging external stakeholders, including industry academies and non-government organizations.

As I said, climate change is a serious long-term threat that is affecting the planet today. The science is clear. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world's most authoritative source of information on climate change, has concluded that it is unequivocal that climate change is happening and that there is over a 90 per cent probability that it is due to the release of greenhouse gases from human activity. The average global surface temperatures have risen by 0.6 degrees centigrade since 1900, and nine of the hottest ten years since records began in 1861 have all occurred in this decade; the other year was 1998. So, global greenhouse gas emissions grew by over 70 per cent between 1970 and 2004, and they continue to rise.

So, responding to climate change is a complex challenge, and has two equally important parts. First of all, we have to adapt to what are unavoidable impacts of climate change, and two, we have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit or avoid potential impacts of climate change in the future. So government, through the OCEETT office, released a 2011 Climate Change Action Plan, and the government set out its strategic approach to tackling climate change. The plan sets out the government's vision and goals over the next five years, alongside commitments for action right across the economy.

Now, I do not know if that answered the hon. member's question, or –

MR. MURPHY: Pretty close.

MR. MARSHALL: Pretty close? Okay, well, I will stop there.

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Again, I guess we can carry on with a couple of the different policies of the government. It is nice to see the government is putting some sort of a focus on climate change and I certainly hope that we do not have to deal with any more precipitation. I know there must be some worry when it comes to Municipal Affairs, and particularly what happened with Igor, the last serious storm that we had. I know that there are projections, of course, for any number of new storms to be out again this year, so it has to be an ongoing direct concern of the government.

Mr. Chair, I am just wondering about an update –

CHAIR: Order, please!

I wonder if the Member for St. John's East could just move back a little so his mic is picking him up. I am trouble hearing you; there is not a lot of noise here, but I am having trouble.

MR. MURPHY: I am dealing with a bit of a flu, too, so the voice is a little bit sore. I am sorry that it cannot be heard.

CHAIR: The member –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. MURPHY: I would digress to thank government for their kind words as regards to supporting my voice.

CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I am just wondering if the minister as well can probably give us an update with regard to the Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program, the REEP program, if he might have an update for us on the REEP program.

MR. MARSHALL: Say it again?

MR. MURPHY: Would you be able to give us a quick update on the REEP program, Residential Energy Efficiency Program?

MR. MARSHALL: Say it one more time.

MR. MURPHY: The Residential Energy Efficiency Program, REEP. I was wondering if you have an update on that.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: We will get some information.

CHAIR: That would bring ten minutes. We will go back to the Official Opposition.

The Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

This will be to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat. This would be the minister's office, 2.3.01, the Salaries line, with $750,000 budgeted last year, $775,000 in the revision for 2011-2012, and this year it is down to $275,000. There are obviously some reductions there; do you want to explain those?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McGRATH: 2.3.01, line 01, there was $25,000 due to severance and associated costs of former ministers and staff. The estimate also reflects $475,300 in savings over 2011-2012 due to government reorganization, which eliminated two ministerial positions and corresponding ministerial staff. We combined three departments in one. There are fewer ministers and fewer staff.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: We will move on to 2.3.02, Executive Support; under Salaries again, last year budgeted $1 million, revised down to $962,000. This year you have that reduction again by $283,000 to $721,000; just an explanation of that line, please.

It would be 2.3.02, and the Salaries, under Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs, 2.3.02, Executive Support.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McGRATH: Mr. Chair, 2.3.02, line 01, Salaries, the Revised reflects the savings due to a vacant position during the year, specifically the Deputy Minister of IGA served as an Acting Deputy Minister of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs, so that made up for the difference there.

The 2012-2013 Estimates reflect a decrease of $282,200 and that is attributed to the removal of salary funding for the secretary to the Council of Atlantic Premiers. That was due to the end of the Province's term which was offset by a reduction in revenue. Mr. Chair, $107,600, the funding is no longer required for a deputy minister in the former Department of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: Under 2.3.04, that is Aboriginal Affairs again, it is the line item 06, Purchased Services. Last year was about $1.5 million; there was $1 million savings there. This year you pretty much eliminated that line down to $16,100. That is 2.3.04, Purchased Services.

CHAIR: The Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McGRATH: Okay, 2.3.04, line 06, in 2011-2012, the revised reflect savings are due to lower than anticipated costs associated with the implementation of the HOST program, that was the Heating Oil Storage Tank Program. Tenders were awarded and they were awarded in the following amounts: $241,600; $94,245; $183,000; and, $6,534.

In 2012-2013, the Estimates reflect a reduction of $1,504,400 and it is comprised of the following: $1,474,900 was removed for the implementation of the Heating Oil Storage Tank regulations, that was approved for 2011-2012 only; $23,000 removal of a one-time re-profiling in 2011-2012 for the public hearings; and, $6,500 was removed of a one-time re-profiling in 2011-2012 for the regional planning committee.

CHAIR: The Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: Yes, so I have a question now on the Ottawa Office and the closure of the Ottawa Office, 2.3.05. Just a question: Where did this employee end up who was in the Ottawa Office? Where did he go and was there a severance paid out to the employee, or is he still employed?

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McGRATH: In line 2.3.05, the Ottawa Office, as you know, we closed the office. The position, as far as I know, is a seconded position, but I will check to make sure of that and see if he has been re-profiled. I will get the information.

CHAIR: The Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. BALL: Yes, I have just one other question back to 2.3.04 and that is under Grants and Subsidies. So 2.3.04, Aboriginal Affairs again, Grants and Subsidies: $567,000 budgeted last year, revised up to $730,000, and a budget this year of $563,500. Could you give an explanation of those Grants and Subsidies?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McGRATH: Okay, in 2.3.04, line 10, Grants and Subsidies, funding for the Inuit Land Claims Agreement Implementation. In 2011-2012, the revised reflects an increase following Cabinet approval to pay out a grant to the Nunatsiavut Government for the Province's share of a housing needs assessment. Then in 2012-2013, Estimates reduced by $4,000 comprised of – there was $12,500 transferred from Labrador Affairs for miscellaneous grants; $23,000 was added back for a one-time reduction in 2011-2012 for the wildlife and fisheries boards, at $11,500 each; and $18,000 was at per cost savings initiatives.

CHAIR: The Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I am just wondering if there is any monitoring that goes on within the minister's office of the impact benefit agreement between Vale Inco I guess it is now, or Vale, and the Nunatsiavut Government. I am just wondering if there is any evaluation of that agreement to ensure that they live up to their expectations and commitments.

CHAIR: The Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McGRATH: I would ask the hon. member, would you clarify as to who lives up their commitments in your question?

CHAIR: The Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: To ensure that Vale lives up to its agreement on the impact benefits that they have negotiated with Nunatsiavut.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McGRATH: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

In answer to the question, the provincial government and the Nunatsiavut Government work very closely in monitoring the agreements with Vale Inco. On regular incidents, we monitor it to make sure that they are living up to their commitments.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I know that the NunatuKavut Community Council does not necessarily have a land claim agreement. I know that they have had mutual agreements with the Province and with the federal government on a number of things, whether that be forest management, wildlife management, and so on, along with fisheries management.

I know now that they have had some issues with regard to the Muskrat Falls Project in particular. I would ask the minister if there have been any discussions between his department, the NunatuKavut government, and the new president with regard to that issue.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McGRATH: As of today, Mr. Chair, there has been no dialogue between my department and the new president of the NunatuKavut Community Council. However, our government is waiting on a federal decision as to whether or not they receive status, and then our government would move forward from that. We certainly are open to dialogue and I expect that Mr. Russell will be in touch with my department.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Mr. Chair, I do not have anything until we get over to 2.8. If the Official Opposition has something in between, why don't they continue so that we can keep going in order? It is helpful, I think, for the ministers.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Section 2.4.01, the Communications and Consultation Branch; it is on page 2.10, section 2.4.01. What I am wondering is that we know that in government there are a lot of transcripts that are ordered from the media, whether it be radio call-in shows, or whether it be news clippings from CBC, NTV, or national news programs. We know that these transcripts are ordered by various branches of government. I am wondering if it is billed through the various branches of government or if it would be billed under Communications and Consultation Branch.

Also, Mr. Chair, we know that the government continues to do polling and does polls on a regular basis – I am sorry, you cannot hear me, can you?

CHAIR: Order, please!

The Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: I guess I will start over again, because with the noise, you could not hear me.

My question is with regard to the Communications and Consultation Branch, if the transcripts that government orders from media such as radio interviews, television clips and so on are all billed through this branch or if they are billed out to the various departments. The other thing I am wondering about is the polling. When government do their own polling, internal polls on various issues, would that be done through the Communications and Consultation Branch of the Executive Council of Government?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I will have to get an answer to that question. It seems to me that there may be a bit of both, that some may be done in Communications and some may be done in the department. Polling, I do not know; I will have to find out where that happens.

While I am up, if I may, Mr. Chair, there were some questions from the Leader of the NDP on the Government Programs Office. The two officers were hired through a public service competition in 2009. They were hired as temporary employees. The office will be evaluated in 2014 and at that time the continued need of the office will be determined.

The permanent position is not filled since the appointment of a DM in 2009 to lead this work.

CHAIR: The Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I appreciate the minister agreeing to undertake looking at how the polls are expensed, and if they are expensed under this particular estimate of government. Maybe he could also find out for me how much was spent on polling last year. What polls the government did, and if he is able to supply me with those polling questions and the data that was commissioned, the answers that were commissioned to go along with them in the last twelve months. It would just save me the work under FOI, if you could give it to me under Estimates Committee. It would save me the work of filing the FOI. Mr. Chair, if he could undertake to do that I would appreciate it.

Under that same heading, 2.4.01, Professional Services, last year you spent $140,000 although you had budgeted $950,000. This year you are budgeting $800,000. Can you tell me what you are expecting to purchase under Professional Services for that $800,000?

Also under the same heading, 06 Purchased Services, you spent last year nearly double what was allocated, or substantially greater than what was allocated. You spent $645,400. Can you tell me what services you purchased? Was there some specific project or program that was going on that you would have purchased more than normal during that particular year?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Professional Services, 2.4.01.05, the budget amount was $950,000 but the actual revised amount was only $140,000. Then for 2012-2013 it is estimated to be $800,000. The savings in 2011-2012 from budget to revised was due to lower than required professional services during the year. The majority of these savings, $800,000 of it, are being reported by the Marketing Division. These savings are due to the dissolving of the Department of Business and the adjustment of the division's mandate.

With respect to the estimated amount for this coming year, $800,000, this reflects a decrease of $150,000 comprised of the following. There is a $200,000 reduction as per the government's 3 per cent cost savings, and there is $50,000 added back for 2012-2013. This was a one-time reduction in 2011-2012 for the marketing branch.

In Professional Services, there was $8,800 to Corporate Research Associates for surveying. There was NL News Now media monitoring service for $19,000. There was McLoughlin Media publishing incorporated for media training, $7,018; IV & III Web and Graphic Design freelance Web development, $3,865 and projected to year-end, $101,268. I do not know if there is polling in that amount but we will find that out.

With respect to Purchased Services, 2.4.01.06, the budgeted amount in 2011-2012 was $375,500; the amount spent was $645,400. This reflects an overrun of $269,900. This reflects an increased requirement for advertising, event sponsorship and logistics for the marketing division. For the Estimates, they will be unchanged from the 2011-2012 Budget as this reflects anticipated expenditures for this area.

Of the Purchased Services, the largest amount was advertising, promotion, and trade show participation of $407,238; printing was $18,423; entertainment was $6,164; copy charges, $1,368; communication equipment rental, $479; courier and shipping charges, $985; there was $295 for training; there was $234 for taxi services; there was $10 for shredding; $122 for moving expenses; there was $34,382 for booth and trade show expenses; there was $1,325 for records storage; there was $2,056 for room rentals and meeting costs; there is $918 in miscellaneous; and, there was $171,000 projected but not expended.

CHAIR: The Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: The $400,000 that was allocated there for a trade show, can you tell me what trade show that was and what level of participation we would have had in that trade show?

Also, minister, I know you undertook to see if the polling was listed in one of those line items, but I also asked if you could provide to me a list of the polls that were conducted in the last twelve months and if you can release the findings that were attached to those and the questions?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: I will get that information with respect to the trade shows and what you have just requested.

Mr. Chair, while I am on my feet there were some questions from the Member for St. John's East on the Residential Energy Efficiency Program. I might say by making some prefatory remarks that energy efficiency presents our Province with a tremendous opportunity, not only in environmental progress but also in economic development. We have a 2007 Energy Plan which has been debated many times in this House. That placed energy efficiency at the heart of the government's vision for sustainable energy future. Energy efficiency can help us tackle climate change by reducing our reliance on energy, energy that is generated through the combustion of fossil fuels, such as oil, coal and natural gas to generate heat and electricity and also to fuel vehicles.

The benefits of energy efficiency go well beyond that. We have lower household energy bills. The energy efficiency retrofits under REEP, the Residential Energy Efficiency Program, lowered household bills by an average of $800 per annum. We can improve our businesses competitiveness. By lowering energy costs, business can lower their production costs; therefore, compete in the world market. We can improve the comfort of people's homes, which can have significant health benefits, as the likelihood of ill health is increased by cold homes with illnesses such as influenza, heart disease, strokes, all exasperated by the cold.

We can lower the operating costs for schools and hospitals. For example, the new K-6 school in Paradise was built to high energy efficiency standards and relative to a building constructed to traditional standards. It is expected to reduce the annual energy use by almost 62 per cent and an annual energy cost can be reduced by 59.6 per cent. That is over $100,000 a year. That is excellent. We can reduce local air pollutants. Energy efficiency can reduce the amount of local air pollutants that are emitted. These pollutants which include the fine particulate matter and other chemicals can be harmful to human health and are distinct from greenhouse gas emissions, which are the principal cause of climate change.

This program can also contribute to economic growth and job creation. Modeling by the Finance department shows that for every $1 million we spend in energy efficiency programming, our Gross Domestic Product increases by about $800,000 in year one and by about $1.1 million over the long term; and consumer spending increases by $600,000 in year one and $700,000 over the long-term. As a result, even if all of the Province's energy was generated from clean energy sources, it would still be a strong economic rationale for promoting greater energy efficiency. That is why the government released its Energy Efficiency Action Plan last August. It is an important milestone as it is the Province's first wholly dedicated strategy wholly dedicated to energy efficiency. REEP is administered by Newfoundland and Labrador and $4 million was committed in 2011-2012. A further $4 million is being committed to it this year. The program grants $3,000 per household on the Island and $4,000 for households based in Labrador. The program is highly successful, it was fully subscribed in 2011-2012, and we expect the same this year. Homeowners with an income of less than $32,500 a year are eligible to apply and the data shows that on average, participating households have reduced their annual energy costs by up to $800 per year.

CHAIR: Order, please!

Before we go to the Opposition House Leader, I just want to correct something that the minister said at the beginning there with respect to some of the departments that have been done. The Rural Secretariat indeed was done with the Department of Innovation, Business and Rural Development, and OCIO was done with the Department of Service Newfoundland and Labrador. However, the Women's Policy Office, while it was discussed, it was not passed with the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services; therefore, we can entertain questions on that today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

As well, the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women was discussed but not passed with the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, so there can be questions on that today. French-language services was discussed but not passed with the Department of Health and Community Services; therefore, there can be questions today on Francophone Affairs. We will continue with our questions.

The Leader of the Third Party, are you ready to jump in?

The Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: Section 2.5.02, on page 2.11, Strategic Human Resource Management. It says, "Appropriations provide for the management and control of departmental human resource activities of the Executive Council, the Department of Finance and the Public Service Commission." Minister, can you tell me what that office does? Because that is very unclear to me in that explanation. I am just wondering if you can tell me what exactly they do, because it does cost nearly a million dollars of expenditure a year. I would like to have a little better understanding of what the employees in this office are tasked with, what their mandate is, and also what kind of purchased services they would use in addition to that, that would come up to $267,000 which is budgeted for this year? I do not know if you have found that section, but 2.5.02.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Chair, I think if there is one thing we can find in government, there is an awful lot of divisions that have the word strategic in their name.

If you are looking at 2.5.02, that is the financial administration and human resource support for the Office of the Executive Council. The reason I was a bit hesitant in getting up is that there is also a strategic division in the Human Resource Secretariat as well. As I understand it, the Strategic Human Resource divisions, there were six of them scattered throughout government. It is my understanding again, that at one time each department had its own human resource department. Then at some point the Strategic Human Resource Offices were set up, six, so that they might be in a department – I know there was one in the Department of Justice and it served not only Justice, but I think it served other divisions as well.

This Finance and Administration Strategic Human Resource Management Division, its corporate service activities are provided by this division within the Executive Council Sector, so for the Premier's Office, Government House, the Cabinet Secretariat, Intergovernmental Affairs, Communications, Voluntary and Non-Profit, Women's Policy Office, Rural Secretariat, Human Resource Secretariat, the Office of the Chief Information Officer, and the Department of Finance, Departments of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs, Business, and Public Service Commission. Working collaboratively with the central agencies, the division developed policies, procedures and programs which apply to the Executive Council sector as a whole, and to the entire public sector.

The primary purpose of the Strategic Human Resource Management Division is to create and sustain a workforce which performs consistently with high-quality results. The division is responsible for providing leadership in the provision of programs and services that align with and support the office's goals and objectives. This includes a team of human resource professionals who plan, develop, and deliver programs and services in areas such as employment relations, human resource planning, integrated disability management, and organization development.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs to answer a question that was previously put by the Member for St. John's East.

MR. McGRATH: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

In response to the question that was asked concerning the Ottawa office, the employee did receive a severance package and no longer works with the government.

CHAIR: The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Women's Policy Office, 2.7.01, is there anybody here to answer these questions?

Is the minister ready?

CHAIR: 2.7.01.

MS MICHAEL: Okay then. A few of these line items, Minister, I would like to have some explanation for. First of all, Salaries –

CHAIR: To the Leader of the Third Party, could you say the page number please?

MS MICHAEL: Yes, 2.7.01 Women's Policy Office on page 2.12.

CHAIR: 2.12.

The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Does the minister have that now? Is the minister ready?

Women's Policy Office, 2.7.01, under Office of the Executive Council –

MR. KING: A point of order, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries, on a point of order.

MR. KING: The Women's Policy Office, it is our understanding that those were already done and voted upon. Could we have clarification on that?

CHAIR: Yes, to the minister. The Women's Policy Office was discussed, but indeed was not passed with the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services. It was not referred out, so there can be questions on that today.

MR. KING: Okay, thank you.

CHAIR: The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

So is it okay to go ahead –

CHAIR: If I may interject for a second. To the minister, it is page 2.12 and the subhead is 2.7.01.

The Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you.

Minister, if we could have an explanation for the salary line, please. It looks like last year there was quite a dip in the salary. I am assuming there must have been some positions that were left open. This year, while it has gone back up again over $900,000, it is less than what was budgeted last year. So if we could have an explanation of the Salaries back in the Women's Policy Office.

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

MS JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Chair, I do not mind answering it again but the Member for St. John's Centre did ask this very question during Estimates. I explained that the revised was down due to some positions not being filled. Since that time, two of them have been filled and the other two are underway.

The reduction for this year, Mr. Chair, is a position that we had never filled the vacancy and we will not plan to fill the vacancy on a go-forward basis because that work is being done by somebody else in the department. As I said, this is the exact same answer that I gave during Estimates.

CHAIR: The Leader of the Third Party.

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

I do know my colleague was at Estimates, but we do not get Hansard until some time in the summer. I guess I could go to her notes, but we were allowed to ask questions today, so that is why I am asking it.

I would like, Minister, you probably have answered it in Estimates, but since I may ask this afternoon, could we have an explanation of what the Purchased Services are? Last year the budget was $280,900 but it was revised up to $415,000, if we could have an explanation of the revision up?

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

MS JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Again, we did go through this and I do not have the specifics of each of the lines. The Salaries I did happen to remember but in terms of Purchased Services, that would be very detailed in terms of contracts and so on. I would have to undertake to get that for her.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: I am looking now at 2.8.01, Labrador Affairs Office, under Salaries. Minister, do you have it, 2.8.01 on page 2.13?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS MICHAEL: 2.8.01, Labrador Affairs Office.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS MICHAEL: Okay, I am reading them from the Estimates book. Under Salaries, the salaries last year were budgeted at $973,400; they were revised to $931,400. Now, this year, the salaries are up to $1,193,800. Could we have an explanation of that, please?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McGRATH: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

For 2011-2012, the revised, restated original Budget includes $42,000 to be reallocated from the Department of Natural Resources; that is for the Secretary to the Executive Director position in Labrador West. This position is currently not being charged to Labrador Affairs Office, but to the Natural Resources Department.

In 2012-2013, Estimates reflect an increase of $220,400, comprised of $81,400 offset by 100 per cent federal revenue for participation in an interchange agreement and $139,000 approved for the new Executive Director position in Labrador West.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

With regard to the salaries, I note in the Salary Details book that of the $1.1 million, $365,291 is non-permanent employees; there is $828,509 for permanent employees and $365,291 for other. Could we have an explanation, Minister, of the reason for such a high amount in non-permanent employees?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McGRATH: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

To the best of my knowledge, those are contractual positions, but I will check on that and get an answer for you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you.

That would be good; thank you very much, Minister. It would be good to have, if they are contractual positions, what those contracted positions are.

I am also looking at the Grants and Subsidies under Labrador Affairs. It is not so much the amount, because the amount seems to be more or less what it was in last year's Budget, although I notice that in last year's Budget it was much lower, over $300,000 lower in the revision than what was budgeted. Maybe an explanation of that, and then a question: could we also have a list of the grants and subsidies; if it is short and you want to read it out now, we could do that.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McGRATH: Okay, for 2011-2012, the revised reflects an increase of $40,000; that was to accommodate the purchase of a new photocopier, furnishings and equipment required for the Labrador Affairs office as well as for the new Labrador West office set up.

MS MICHAEL: (Inaudible).

MR. McGRATH: Okay, you are on line 10?

MS MICHAEL: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Third Party, for clarification.

MS MICHAEL: It was line 10, Grants and Subsidies. I think you were doing Property, Furnishings and Equipment. Okay, thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McGRATH: Sorry about that, Mr. Chair.

Okay, with the Grants and Subsidies, I will give you a breakdown of the grants and the subsidies. It is not very long: The Air Foodlift Subsidy was in 2011-2012 budgeted at $230,000 and there was only $40,000 of it used; it is budgeted again at $230,000 this year. The Labrador Snowmobile Trail Grooming Subsidy Program was $326,000; there was $326,000 in the revision and it is put in at $351,000 this year, an increase that we feel is going to be needed there.

Funding for youth delegates to attend the annual Youth Council Convention was budgeted at $43,000; that is the same across the board. Combined Councils Operating Grant is $100,000 and that has not changed; it is still at $100,000. Miscellaneous grants was $25,000; it was $25,000 in the 2011 Budget and it is down, revised now to $12,500. The rationale of that is that Aboriginal Affairs is no longer part of the Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs, so that was cut 50 per cent. Funding to construct the groomer's shelter in Northwest River, there was $120,000 that was allocated for that; that project did not happen in the past fiscal year, so we have reallocated the $120,000 for the upcoming year. That gave you your total of $844,000.

CHAIR: Order, please!

That has been ten minutes. Shall we seek the indulgence of the Official Opposition?

MS MICHAEL: (Inaudible).

CHAIR: Okay, the hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

MS MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

One more in 2.8.01; it is subhead 06, Purchased Services. Last year the budget was $223,000; it was revised down to $180,000. This year it is way up; it is up $348,500, so if we could just have an explanation.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McGRATH: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

In 2011-2012, the revised indicates savings due to delays in the negotiating of a new lease agreement for the offices in Labrador East, Lake Melville. In 2012-2013, Estimates reflect an increase of $125,500 comprised of $149,000 forecasted adjustment for increase in lease costs; $23,500 was removed for a one-time funding of the 2011-2012 Northern Development Ministers Forum.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have some questions, first of all, with regard to the Labrador Winter Games. Is there any money budgeted in this Budget for the Labrador Winter Games, and if so, where would that money be budgeted from?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McGRATH: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

The money is allocated this year, $50,000 for the Labrador Winter Games, and it comes from the Tourism, Culture and Recreation budget.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I have some more questions, but first of all I have to make an observation, because this was always a pet peeve of mine. In the past, of course, every time I would do the Estimates for Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs, I was always appalled by the fact that the actual administration budget for two ministers' offices was higher than the entire budget for the whole department.

Now, Mr. Chair, at least we are seeing that shift a little, but as it shifts, we are seeing the departmental budget going down as well. I have to say, Mr. Chair, that now we have one minister doing three portfolios and we are getting all the work done for $275,000 in the ministers' office in salaries as opposed to the $1 million that we were paying out in the past. I have to say, you must be very effective, or the people that were there before you, Sir, were very ineffective. I am not sure how I would coin that one. Anyway, either way there are savings.

I would ask the question: Labrador Affairs now and Aboriginal Affairs, is it a department any longer? Is it no longer a department? How do we refer to that entity today?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McGRATH: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It is not very often I am going to get a compliment from the Opposition, so I will take it. If she would like to propose that my salary be tripled, I will take that also.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McGRATH: The Labrador Affairs office is referred to exactly as it is stated, the Labrador Affairs office. I have to state that there were no job losses whatsoever in the department, in the office. When the Premier amalgamated the three departments, the Labrador Affairs office was not affected by losing any employees whatsoever. I take this opportunity to compliment the public service on a job very well done and therefore money saved.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would say to the Minister, he should take the compliment, appreciate it, and leave the salaries out of it.

Other than that, Mr. Chair, I guess my question now is going to be around the Air Foodlift Subsidy. In the past years we have seen the Air Foodlift Subsidy that was as high as a $1 million subsidy. I know it was up to $800,000 at one point. I know that it was being used by a lot of businesses across Labrador. Of course, when the highway went through in my district it eliminated the need for a lot of the subsidy but it certainly did not eliminate the need in places like Williams Harbour and Black Tickle. It did not eliminate the need in any of the North Coast communities.

My colleague, the Member for Torngat Mountains, raised in the House of Assembly now on two occasions the cost of food in Northern Labrador. I think he probably blew us all away today, I know he did me, I was absolutely shocked to find out how much higher the cost of infant baby formula was - or infant formula, whatever the proper name of it is – in Northern Labrador compared to in St. John's. I am looking at the Estimates today, and I am seeing that of the $230,000 that has been budgeted for the air subsidy, there was only $40,000 of that money used. I am wondering why it was only $40,000 used when we get complaints constantly from people about the high cost that they are paying for food. I would ask the minister to give me an explanation of that, but also to explain to us how you plan to deal with this problem that is evidently before us. We need to ensure that people have reasonable prices of food in northern communities.

CHAIR: The Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McGRATH: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Chair, first of all, I would like to mention that one subsidy complements the other. So you have the Nutrition North Canada subsidy and you have the Air Foodlift Subsidy. The reason for the low numbers in the Air Foodlift Subsidy this particular year is because you are not going to over-subsidize something. Certain things are subsidized up to 100 per cent, as I mentioned earlier today during Question Period. Milk products for example, dairy products, or fresh foods, fruits, vegetables, I think they range between 80 per cent and 100 per cent in subsidy. So you cannot over-subsidize something. The subsidy comes on the freight.

In our Province we do not dictate what any retailer, whether it be in the food industry, whether it be in the hotel industry – I have been in the food industry myself for thirty years, and never could government dictate to me what prices I could charge. So, there is a monopoly there that unfortunately it sounds like retailers are taken advantage of. I would recommend that we do our surveys on pricing, and I would recommend that you do some research to see what the actual cost breakdown is on the coast, because our subsidies are there to cut down on the travel costs. So the extra pricing is put on by the retailer. Our job is to subsidize it. Whether that is passed on the consumer or not, we have no control over that, and we have no control in dictating the pricing of the goods and services that a retailer is supplying to the consumer.

CHAIR: The Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

In the Province we do have regulated pricing. We regulate the price of all fuel products. We regulate the price of alcohol products. When you live in northern regions, and you hear of stories about people who are being gouged with regard to milk and milk products, and baby formulas and things like that, I think it does warrant the attention of government. I think that government should be looking into why there is an escalating price. I could draw the same conclusion as the minister and say that it is the business people who are putting a huge markup on it; however, I cannot prove that, and I do not know that to be the fact. I guess that is why we are asking the government to look into this. Do we need to be going as far today as regulating the price of baby formula in this Province? I do not know. Maybe it only affects a small group of people in a small area and it is not relevant, but it is affecting these people and it is having a devastating effect on them. We just want the government not to give us their opinion but to give us the facts on what is contributing to those high costs.

CHAIR: The Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McGRATH: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Again, Mr. Chair, I say that our government does monitor it. As I mentioned earlier in Question Period, twice a year we do full profiles as to what is happening with the pricing on the North Coast of Labrador.

We have two programs there: the Air Foodlift Subsidy and the Nutrition North Canada subsidy. They are designed so that we can entice the residents on the North Coast to eat healthier, to eat more vegetables, more dairy products, and those are the foods that are there.

As I said earlier with private enterprise, we cannot regulate whether we do it in one section of the Province or in another section of the Province as to what somebody is going to charge for a product. It is for sale, it sold to a retailer, and then it is sold to a consumer. We have no control over the pricing from a retailer to a consumer.

CHAIR: The Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I will leave the issue there, but government does control, as I said, the pricing of petroleum products and alcohol products from the retailer to the consumer. I guess what we are asking is: Is there an issue here? Is there a reason why people are being gouged, and is there something that we can do about it? I do not accept the fact, Mr. Chair, that we just ignore the problem and hope that it goes away. I believe that it needs to be addressed, but I will move on.

My other question, with regard to Labrador Affairs, would be to ask the minister to outline for me today what programs or initiatives fall directly under Labrador Affairs that are being delivered to people in Labrador.

CHAIR: The Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McGRATH: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I guess any programs that would fall under the Labrador Affairs Office, anything the deals with Labrador Affairs, are the programs – and I listed out earlier a list of grants and programs that we subsidize. I can read out for you again, but anything that is related to Labrador comes under the Labrador Affairs Office.

CHAIR: Order, please!

We are going to go to the Member for St. John's East.

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I guess we only have a few more follow-up questions here now on this side when it comes to this particular department.

I was just wondering, coming back to the REEP, if there is any work being undertaken by the department to establish any similar programs for community or non-profit organizations when it comes to the working of the REEP? I do no know if you have the answer there now. You might have to go to your officials to get that.

CHAIR: Order, please!

Is the member finished asking his question?

MR. MURPHY: That would be one question, unless he wants me to keep asking a couple more that I have here.

MR. MARSHALL: Could you repeat the question?

CHAIR: Could you repeat the question, please?

MR. MURPHY: Okay. Just coming back to the REEP, when he was talking about the REEP earlier – he may have to go to his officials I guess to get this answer as well – I am just wondering if there is any work being undertaken by the department to establish a similar program for community and non-profit organizations, if they were going to expand on the program?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: REEP, I understand, is for homeowners, but I think the question is whether there a similar program or would we consider establishing a similar program for communities. I understand from the former Minister of Environment that we have done it under the Green Fund; that has happened under the Green Fund. I will get a more detailed update.

If I may, there were some more questions that you wanted answered on coastal erosion and flood risk mapping. Work on enhancing coastal erosion mapping and flood risk mapping commenced last year and will continue this year. The work is enhancing the Province's understanding of the risks that are associated with climate impacts with a view to supporting appropriate adaptation strategies and improving resilience.

This is important work. This Province experiences an average of six floods a year, with an average cost greater that $3.2 million a year. Due to climate change, the currents of extreme precipitation events, the result in flooding is expected to increase. Preliminary estimates indicate that damages to municipal infrastructure, as a result of Hurricane Igor, were two point five times greater for communities without flood risk mapping. This amounts to savings of at least $230,000 per community, per flooding event, due to flood risk mapping.

With respect to climate monitoring, our Province's ability to prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change is grounded in having access to high quality climate data and information. In the 2011 Climate Change Action Plan, the government recognized this as a key pillar of the Province's response to climate change, and committed to assess the Province's monitoring capabilities. Last year, extensive research and analysis was undertaken and fifty entities in the public, private, and academic sector were consulted to evaluate their key needs and what they see as existing weaknesses and opportunities. A set of recommendations were developed, and these will be assessed and taken forward under the Climate Change Action Plan.

Finally, Mr. Chair, with respect to the public awareness campaign on climate change and energy efficiency, a key finding of the Province-wide public consultations on climate change and energy efficiency that was undertaken in 2010 was the need to raise public awareness and understanding on these important issues. In response to this, government committed funding to develop collateral materials for a public awareness campaign last year, and in 2011-2012, videos, TV advertisements, print advertisements, and a new Web site were developed. This campaign will be rolled out this year, and the new Web site will provide for the first time, holistic advice and tips for homeowners, businesses, and communities on how to tackle climate change and to improve energy efficiency.

I have to mention again – I mentioned it last year – but I attended the graduation at Memorial University's Grenfell College Campus. Stephen Lewis was the guest speaker. He gave a very, very inspiring speech, and the most interesting thing he said is that if he had to live his life over again, he would have gotten into environmental science and environment. So it just shows how important this is to all of us.

CHAIR: The Member for St. John's East.

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I know the minister touched on the Energy Efficiency Action Plan 2011. It is good to hear that government is undertaking some initiatives. I am just wondering if he or his officials can come with probably a list of some of the approved projects that they have gotten into in recent years. If you could make that available to us, we would certainly like to see it.

I am just wondering about energy emissions trading program. I know the government was starting up something in that area. Are there currently any corporations partaking in the emissions trading program here in the Province right now, or has there been any uptake in that particular program?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Chair, I am not aware – I know the office is called the Office of Climate Change, Energy Efficiency and Emissions Trading, but I am looking forward to the answer to that one myself. We will get that information for you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. EDMUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I just have a couple of questions. In Budget debate yesterday –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

CHAIR: Order, please!

MR. EDMUNDS: – I brought up the dangers of the airstrip in Nain. I would just like to ask the minister, this has been an ongoing issue for both the Province and the federal government; it does represent a danger, so I ask the minister: is there anything in the near future that would entertain the notion of addressing the airstrip issue in Nain?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McGRATH: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

For the member opposite, the airstrip in Nain is still being looked at very seriously. There is quite a bit of dialogue between the federal government and the provincial government. I myself have had two or three meetings now with Minister Penashue to bring it to his attention. Actually, every opportunity I get, the Nain airstrip is one of the issues that I bring forward.

As well, you talked about the navigational systems on the North Coast. We have moved forward on that already to see that happens in every airport along the coast, because our government realizes the necessity of that. As to give you an update for the airstrip in Nain, we are still waiting on some dialogue from the federal government to see where they stand on that. As you know, that is a bilateral agreement between the two levels of government.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. EDMUNDS: Okay, thank you, Mr. Chair, and I thank the minister.

Another issue, Mr. Chair, is during the fuel tank installation that was carried out last year, given the number of fuel tanks that were installed, that ended up in major need of – disrepair or damage; at least two, I think, required spill clean up. I have asked the individuals to forward their concerns to the minister. Is there a provision to address these environmental issues that have arisen, Mr. Chair?

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McGRATH: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

As of date, I would have to tell the member across the way that we have not received any correspondence at all concerning any oil spills or damage during the HOST program. The only thing we have received is compliments as to how well the program went from the residents on the North Coast. If there were spills, and there is proof of this, I certainly would like to hear from those residents. Then we will move forward from there.

CHAIR: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. EDMUNDS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I will certainly forward the information I have been receiving to the minister's office. One was as recent as this morning when I was contacted, Mr. Chair.

The other question – and I realize this question puts the minister in somewhat of a complicated situation, but I think it is one that bears to be mentioned. It is relevant to the George River caribou herd. You could say hunters from out of our Province have been harvesting caribou in our Province without licence. Mr. Chair, I know it is a sensitive issue, but still I feel compelled to bring it forward to see if there are any routes that could bring some resolve to this situation.

Thank you.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McGRATH: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I certainly do not want to speak on behalf of a minister of another department. As the Minister Responsible for Labrador Affairs and Aboriginal Affairs, I am very aware of and used to the George River caribou herd. I realize, as does the member opposite, that the George River caribou herd is a migratory herd. It moves back and forth from province to province.

Our Department of Justice, with the hunters coming from our neighbouring province, is very aware of the situations there. I have heard him speak to that quite often. I would defer that to the Minister of Justice. I do know that it is being monitored very closely, but I am not at liberty as the minister of my department to answer a judicial question on that.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Just another question for the Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs before I go on to the next heading, and that is if he can give me an update on the status of the studies on the Labrador rivers to supply hydro power to the coastal communities, if that has been completed, or where it is right now.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

MR. McGRATH: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Again, the questions that are being asked by the Opposition to me now – although I am the Minister Responsible for Labrador Affairs and Aboriginal Affairs, I am not at liberty to speak on behalf of the Department of Natural Resources, so I will defer that question. The Minister for Natural Resources, when he is ready to answer those questions, I am sure he will.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: Mr. Chair, I guess it is not much point in asking the rest of the questions I have there either, because they are all for either Municipal Affairs or Transportation, but they do cross over; they are all relative to Labrador so I thought the minister would be able to answer them.

Mr. Chair, I am going to move on to the next section, 3.1.02, page 2.14. It talks about Employee Relations. It looks like Employee Relations obviously is provided for collective bargaining, employee relations, classification, organization and management reviews, and associated compensation policy development within government.

I notice that the salary has gone down since what was budgeted last year by a couple of hundred thousand dollars. I am just wondering if there has been a position that has been removed from that office. Also, Mr. Chair, I am noticing that although last year they spent $182,200 on Professional Services, they are expecting to spend $315,400 this year. I am wondering if the minister is doing more collective bargaining this year than normal to have that kind of Professional Service fee, and also wondering if there are any ongoing collective bargaining negotiations right now that are outstanding with government.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

If I might, I will just give a final answer to the hon. Member for St. John's East. As I said earlier, the REEP program is targeted to households, but the Green Fund has supported a range of initiatives in the community and the not-for-profit sector. The example given is that funding was provided for energy efficiency of the Stella Burry building and the new YMCA facility, as well as initiatives with the Burin community garden, so it is available through the Green Fund.

Now, if I could refer to the question from the Human Resource Secretariat from the Opposition House Leader, I think the first question is about salaries. She mentioned that salaries were going to be down, and she wondered why. The Estimates reflect a decrease of $275,000 for removal of funding. There was funding approved in 2011-2012 only. It was for resources to work on the job evaluation system. With respect to – was it Professional Services?

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader, can you clarify? Was it Professional Services?

MR. MARSHALL: Is it Professional Services.

MS JONES: (Inaudible).

MR. MARSHALL: Professional Services, it is government's share of the cost in the Negotiation, Conciliation, Interest and Rights Arbitration Board hearing. This, of course, is the employee relations division, which is the group that does collective bargaining advice for the government, also classification and the Office of Organization Management Design. There was budgeted in 2011-2012 $415,400, but the actual cost at the end of the year was only $182,200. This reflects savings due to lower than anticipated costs for contracts related to the job classification project, the JES Project. For next year, funding is going to go up $100,000 – it will still be lower than last year – as the one-time funding for the JES Project was removed. Basically what happened, is that the consultants were not needed as much, the work was done in-house, and that resulted in we did not have to pay as much under the contract.

I should say a few words about the job evaluation project, the Job Evaluation System. The JES system is a classification system, a new job classification system for the public service positions. The need for this has been acknowledged by both government and the four impacted unions for some time now. The unions involved, of course, are NAPE, CUPE, the Association of Allied Health Professionals, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses Union. The current job classification we have is over forty years old. The proposed new system is intended to bring us into modern times. It is to provide us with a modern and current-day classification system for our public service employees. The implementation of any new system will require a negotiated agreement with the unions. Until we have the new system in place, the old system will continue to apply.

We are currently in discussions on the JES with the unions, and that has been taking place as part of collective bargaining. Of course, as those discussions take place the parties have agreed to keep the information and discussions confidential.

As I said earlier, under the Professional Services heading there was a substantial savings realized, because we realized we had the expertise in-house to do the modelling related to the JES system. By doing the work in-house, we saved significantly on consultant costs.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

CHAIR: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I thank the minister for his answer. I want to go to page 2.16, 3.1.06. These are probably my last questions here. It has to do with the Opening Doors program. I want to say that I am pleased the government maintained their line spending on the Opening Doors program. I think it is an excellent program; it is helping a lot of people out there in our society, Mr. Chair. It is helping a lot of people with disabilities be able to break into the labour market.

I am sure there are other members in the House like myself who could tell many stories about young men and women whom we met, who came into work within the public service under this program and has been here for the last ten, fifteen, and in some cases probably even twenty years. Because they were given that opportunity, they have been stellar public servants and they have accumulated a tremendous amount of skills here that will certainly help them in any position that they would work in. I am happy to see that the government is continuing funding in that program.

I just have one question for the minister, because I am not sure what it is for, and that is the Grants and Subsidies under that program. There is a budget of $200,000 for that, page 2.16, section 3.1.06.10 under the Opening Doors program. It is the program for persons with disabilities who work within the public sector. I am just wondering what the Grants and Subsidies piece is?

CHAIR: Order, please!

The time allotted to debate the Estimates of the Legislature, Executive Council, and the Consolidated Fund Services is now expired,

I will ask the Clerk now to call the subheads please.

CLERK: Executive Council.

Subhead 1.1.01 to 2.5.02 inclusive.

CHAIR: Shall 1.1.01 to 2.5.02 of Executive Council carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, subheads 1.1.01 through 2.5.02 carried.

CLERK: Subhead 2.7.01 to 3.1.07 inclusive.

CHAIR: Shall 2.7.01 to 3.1.01 inclusive, again of Executive Council, shall they carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, subheads 2.7.01 through 3.1.01 carried.

CLERK: The total for Executive Council.

CHAIR: Shall the total carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, Executive Council, total heads, carried.

CLERK: Consolidated Fund Services.

Subhead 1.1.01 to 2.1.03 inclusive.

CHAIR: Consolidated Fund Services, 1.1.01 to 2.1.03 inclusive, shall they carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, subheads 1.1.01 through 2.1.03 carried.

CLERK: The total, $411,687,500.

CHAIR: Shall the total carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, Consolidated Fund Services, total heads, carried.

CLERK: The Legislature.

Subhead 1.1.01 to 6.1.01 inclusive.

CHAIR: For the Legislature, shall subheads 1.1.01 to 6.1.01 inclusive carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, subheads 1.1.01 through 6.1.01 carried.

CLERK: The total, $25,052,200.

CHAIR: Shall the total carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, Legislature, total heads, carried.

CHAIR: The Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. KING: Mr. Chair, I move that the Committee rise and report having passed, without amendment, the Estimates of the Legislature, the Executive Council, and the Consolidated Fund Services, and ask leave to sit again.

CHAIR: Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt this motion?

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 (Kent): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Lewisporte and Deputy Speaker.

MR. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of Supply have considered the matters to them referred and have directed me to report that they have passed without amendment the Estimates of the Legislature, Executive Council, and Consolidated Funds Services.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair of the Committee of Supply reports that the Committee have considered the matters to them referred and have directed him to report that they have passed, without amendment, the Estimates of the Legislature, Executive Council, and Consolidated Funds Services.

When shall the report be received? Now?

AN HON. MEMBER: Now.

MR. SPEAKER: Now.

On motion, report received and adopted.

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

I am waiting for one of the House Leaders to rise.

The hon. the Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. KING: Now, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it your intention to go back to the main motion?

MR. KING: I would like to, first of all, call Orders of the Day, Mr. Speaker – or return to Orders of the Day.

MR. SPEAKER: Orders of the Day, by leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: Orders of the Day.

MR. KING: I move, Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 11, that the House not adjourn at 5:30 p.m. today, Tuesday, May 29.

I further move, pursuant to Standing Order 11, that the House not adjourn at 10:00 p.m. this evening, Tuesday, May 29.

MR. SPEAKER: Who is this seconded by?

MR. KING: Seconded by the Member for St. George's – Stephenville East.

MR. SPEAKER: It has been moved and seconded, pursuant to Standing Order 11, that the House not adjourn at 5:30 p.m. today, and further that the House not adjourn at 10:00 p.m. today, Tuesday, May 29, 2012.

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.

The hon. the Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. KING: Mr. Speaker, given the hour of the day, I move that we take a break and resume at 7:00 p.m., seconded by the hon. the Member for St. George's – Stephenville East.

MR. SPEAKER: It has been moved and seconded that we will now take a recess.

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.

The House is now in recess until 7:00 p.m.


May 29, 2012                     HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                  Vol. XLVII No. 39A


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

MR. SPEAKER (Wiseman): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

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

It is great to be here this evening to clue up my comments regarding the Budget, and my last opportunity to speak to the Budget. What I would say is that I will just try to continue on from where I left off last time in my thoughts and my remarks as to the Budget.

Overall, as I have said before, I believe this Budget was very spin oriented. A lot of good things touted, a lot of great things happening. I have this deep fear that it is going to end up like the Harper budget where you are just going to see the cuts play out over a period of time. That is my fear. I hope my fears are not grounded in reality but after seeing what I have –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

MR. A. PARSONS: After seeing the news this evening before we came here, some of our fears are coming to light, and so that is obviously a huge concern, a huge concern. We have heard a lot of announcements on the positives of the Budget, of which there are a lot of positives of the Budget. I have spoken to a number of these.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I hope you can afford me some protection. What I would say is that I give credit where it is due, but at the same time when I relay my concerns I hope they are also taken with the same level of response.

What I would say is that I have concerns with the education budget, where we have money put towards capital works that seems to keep getting rolled over. It is not getting used, the schools are being delayed. I do not know if I need to talk about my concerns with the Corner Brook hospital. I think they have been brought up a few times here. Half a decade ago it was announced, and where are we?

One topic I feel I need to discuss, and obviously that is probably the biggest topic, and that would be Muskrat Falls. What I would say is that – I very much enjoyed the comments made by the Government House Leader and the Leader of the Opposition who have each risen and talked about Muskrat Falls and talked about the specific details. If you sit there and listen, they are both very well informed and obviously have a comprehensive knowledge. This is a huge, huge project with a lot of very specific details. It is something that at times it is hard to grasp the enormity of it.

My comments to it are not going to go towards the specifics; we are going to have plenty of opportunity to discuss that. That is why I say I enjoy listening to the comments from both sides when they are well-informed and well-meaning. My concern is that with something as big as this project, you are going to have a lot of public opinion on something like this, and we have seen that since it was announced. You have a lot who are for, a lot who are against, and you have a lot who are on the fence and not sure. I guess my problem, Mr. Speaker, is that a lot of people who have come out and spoken against the project have been demonized. They have been pushed under the bus by the people who want the project to go ahead.

Again, this is something I truly believe goes beyond party lines, because it does not matter if you are a PC, or a Liberal, or an NDP, the fact is that many people who have come out have been just denigrated. They are saying, no, you are a self-professed expert, whether that be the –

AN HON. MEMBER: Brian Peckford.

MR. A. PARSONS: – former Premier of this Province, Brian Peckford, Des Sullivan, Stephen Bruneau, Ches Crosbie, Jim Oxford – actually, I believe he was on the PUB as well. The fact is, and I can tell by the level –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. A. PARSONS: I can tell by the noise coming from the other side that the fact is these people who are coming out and putting out their concerns, the fact is they are being castigated. They are being pushed as if they are not going to get – they are only trying to put their concerns out. I think they have the right to do that, to put out their concerns about this project.

The other side of this as well, the fact is people like us in the Opposition, and other people, have been criticized because apparently we are trying to say that Nalcor does not know what they are doing. Now, that is not the case. That is not the case. We have no issue with the people at Nalcor. Actually, I believe one of the comments from the other side during the Budget debate was that Ed Martin is a very smart man, and Ed Martin wants the best for this Province, so therefore it is a good thing. Now, I do not doubt that Ed Martin is a smart man or that he wants the best for the Province, but the people back in 1969 were smart people and they wanted the best for this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. A. PARSONS: They wanted the best for this Province. I am sure –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Order, please!

I know this is an evening session and we are just getting back from something to eat, and we may be energized, but the Speaker has acknowledged the Member for Burgeo – La Poile, and I would ask members to keep their voices a bit lower.

MR. A. PARSONS: Again, Mr. Speaker, I guess what I am trying to demonstrate here is that something as big as this, something as huge as this project, you are going to get these debates, and that is good. Like I said, I enjoy listening to the different views and perspectives on this, and we are certainly going to get more of an opportunity to do this later, but just because somebody comes out against this, it does not make them a bad person. They are allowed to express their views against it. Now whether they are listened to or not, I do not know. What I would say is that people are asking questions because they have the right to ask questions. I look forward to hearing the comments coming from all sides on this as we continue on this route.

I am going to continue on, Mr. Speaker. I am going to continue on and I am going to talk more about this Budget that we are going to have an opportunity to vote on this evening. We have heard lots of comments from all members; everybody has their thoughts on the Budget, the positives, the negatives. My problem with the Budget, in some ways, is that it does not address some issues that I consider very important to not only my district but to the Province. One of them – and I have mentioned this obviously many times before, and the minister will shake his head and say oh, God – is the cellphone coverage. That is something that I have brought up many times, and I do not believe there is anything put towards discussing a cellphone strategy. I do not think there is anything there. Again, I know there are outside parties we have to deal with, whether that is the CRTC, and the federal government and private business, but it can be done, and we need to work to get there.

Another thing would be the home care, the family care; a great project, but the people thought it was coming out. It was told to them just before the election, it was promised to them, and –

AN HON. MEMBER: It is coming.

MR. A. PARSONS: It is coming. Okay, it is coming. Again, I do not need to go back very – there are a lot of things that were promised in coming but we are still waiting for, after years.

AN HON. MEMBER: Like what?

MR. A. PARSONS: The hospital in Corner Brook; I do not even need to go any farther yet.

AN HON. MEMBER: The ferries.

MR. A. PARSONS: The ferries; the ferries were promised.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. PARSONS: Oh, they are coming, too. They are coming, too. Okay, so it is all coming; we are all going to get it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. A. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I will continue on here this evening talking about my thoughts on the Budget. I am glad I have an attentive audience here tonight. That is good.

What I would say is that we talk about something, Mr Speaker; we talk about the announcements today about Eastern Health. Obviously that is a huge concern to us, when we have that number of jobs that are being cut. What I would say is that there is no doubt that there has been a lot of money spent; we have all seen that, the expenditures have risen, but are we getting the value from that expenditure? Are we getting the value out of that?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. PARSONS: I guess they like what I have to say.

I just do not think by the looks of it that can be sustained over the next period of time. That is why we are seeing these cuts today.

I am going to continue on, Mr. Speaker. I only have a little short period of time left. I do not think I am going to get any leave here this evening.

One thing I have heard here in this new energy budget is constant reference to 2003 – constant reference to 2003, talking about when our government took it in. The fact is the majority of people over there were not even in that government or nowhere near that government in 2003. They are new rookies to it so they did not have anything to do with that.

What I would say is that there is no mention of the fact that every government prior to that – PC, Liberal, whatever – never had that level of money to use, never had that to spend, never had it. When I hear different members talk, there is not much mention of where a lot of that money came from, Mr. Speaker. It came from deals that were signed by previous Administrations – deals signed by previous Administrations.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. A. PARSONS: Deals signed by previous Administrations – that gets lost in the shuffle, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hibernia.

MR. A. PARSONS: Yes, Hibernia gets lost in the shuffle. Voisey's Bay gets lost in the shuffle. I do not know where that came from. What I would say is that now it seems that today, as we continue forward, we have had a government that has spent and spent. Now it seems that they are the victims of their own largesse. Now it is cut time, because how can we sustain that spending? It is not going to happen. It is impossible.

What I would say to you is that – because we have heard all the commentary leading up to the Budget about, oh, we are going to be cut, there are going to be all these jobs cut. Then the Budget came and it was like, well, no, there are no jobs cut; actually there were jobs added. Then we get an announcement like today. I am worried, Mr. Speaker, about where we go from here.

What I would say in my remaining time, Mr. Speaker, is that I have enjoyed speaking to this Budget, getting our concerns out there. There are concerns here, and that is why I cannot support this Budget, Mr. Speaker. I cannot support it. I like some of the initiatives, but there are concerns that were not addressed and I am afraid they are concerns that are going to continue to play out now.

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity. I appreciate the members for their attentiveness this evening, and I thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, delighted to once again have an opportunity to speak to this Budget, and particularly delighted to be able to follow my colleague, the MHA for Burgeo – La Poile, in terms of some of the remarks that he has made this evening. He decries the fact that he has had to hear a lot about what we had to deal with in 2003. I am going to break the sad news to him: he is going to have to listen to a little bit more of it tonight now, Mr. Speaker.

Just imagine, Mr. Speaker, when we came in 2003 and owed $12 billion worth of debt. We have a member who is a member of the party that formed the government for fourteen years before that, Mr. Speaker, doubled our debt – spent all the revenue that they earned during that time, that fourteen years, and doubled the debt.

Mr. Speaker, it was not an issue of whether or not they had money to spend, because they spent money, Sir, like it was going out of style. It is what they chose to spend it on. For somebody who knows that history to stand up in the House and in the same breath criticize us for our ferry strategy, when they brought in the Hull 100 – $100 million, and we never got a ferry out of it, first nor last; we could have had ten ferries for what they spent on that one rust bucket, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I had a former colleague in this House – because some of us have been around since 2003; there is a fair bit of political and corporate history on this side of the House. I had a colleague here who has gone off to retirement now who sometimes referred to the members of the Opposition as having faces like robbers' horses. A horse, Mr. Speaker, does not know if he is taking somebody for an afternoon stroll or if he is robbing the stagecoach. His expression is the same. That is what the faces of the Opposition sometimes look like: the face of a robber's horse. You would never tell they had a major role to play in the state we found this place in, in 2003, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, when we campaigned to become the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, we knew we were not in great straits. We knew fiscally there was a lot wrong with this Province, but we had no idea that it was as bad as it was. We certainly had a clear idea from the proposals that had been brought forward – particularly the proposal for the development of Voisey's Bay and the near giveaway of the Lower Churchill – that we had better do something and that we had better get a hold of what was going on in this Province, or really, our future was in jeopardy. We gave away substantially more than we ought to have in the Voisey's Bay deal, Mr. Speaker, and we were going to give it all away once again on the Lower Churchill.

Now, Mr. Speaker, members of the Official Opposition scream and dance every day about Muskrat Falls, saying 40 per cent of the power for Labrador to be called back to Labrador, particularly for mineral development, is not enough, when the Grimes deal was giving every kilowatt – never mind megawatt, every kilowatt – to Quebec so they would have full control of the destiny of Labrador. Mr. Speaker, we talk about Muskrat Falls and the development of Muskrat Falls. They talk about legacy. That would have been a legacy.

Are you going to suggest –

MR. JOYCE: (Inaudible).

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: I say to the Member for Bay of Islands: I have the documentation that shows all of the power was going to Quebec, Mr. Speaker. Does he have something that he can produce to counter it?

The answer to it is no, Mr. Speaker. They never produced a piece of paper to counteract what we have said was contained in that proposed contract. We talk about the development of Muskrat Falls in the same way that we talk about every other development in this place. We talk about developing our natural resources to the benefit of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Speaker, that has been the mandate of this government since 2003.

When we came in 2003, we had about twenty-three cents left on every dollar, once we did health and education and did our debt servicing, that we could run every other department on, Mr. Speaker. It was shameful. I remember coming out of a Cabinet room, in that first Budget, and we had been in there in a marathon session for about two days, and I was walking out on my own and my shoulders were slumped over and I remember feeling a hand on my shoulder. It was the Premier of the day and he said to me: This is not what you put your hand up for, is it? This is not what you thought you were coming to. I said: No, it is not, and I am overwhelmed by it because not only is it bad, but we are facing bankruptcy. I do not know how we are going to redeem ourselves here. I do not know how we are going to get through it.

He said to me: Carve it off. Understand what the situation is, but we are here. We are here. We took this responsibility on, on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We said that we would be good stewards. We said that we would be a principally-oriented government. We said that we would always remember who hired us, and why.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: It would be absolutely wonderful if we came in here now and we could spend, spend, spend, and give the people of Newfoundland and Labrador not only what they wanted, Mr. Speaker, but what they deserve, what they deserve to have.

Could we do it? No, we could not, because it would not have been the responsible thing to do, Mr. Speaker. When we came, we came, as I said, with principles. We worked with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador while we were in Opposition and with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador we created a vision, a vision that we crafted together about who we were as a people and where we wanted to go and where we saw this place twenty-five or thirty years from now and how we were going to get there.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, we told the people of the Province the principles that would guide us in that vision, and how we would develop strategies that were not politically expedient. We had a long history of political expediency and it had not served us well. In fact, in those early days, Mr. Speaker, we felt we had probably sold the birthright of our children. We had burdened generations with debt because of irresponsibility and political expedience, Mr. Speaker.

We promised the people of this Province that we would go at this in a principled way. Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you in my nine years of experience in this House of Assembly, that every time we stray off principle even a little bit we get in trouble, we get in rough water. Mr. Speaker, that is a good experience to have, because when you lay out a principled approach, you do not go out every day taking polls. You tell people who you are, you tell people what you stand for, you tell them how you are going to get to the place they expect you to get to, Mr. Speaker. Then you put your head down and you get to work.

That was not very easy in 2003 and 2004, Mr. Speaker. The first couple of sessions that we came into this House of Assembly – the first two or three sittings of this House of Assembly, we came in under police escort, Mr. Speaker. We had people in the galleries cursing, swearing, shouting, spitting, and throwing bubble gum and jelly beans because nobody would accept or could believe that we were in the state we were in. Mr. Speaker, to do the politically expedient thing and to continue to spend and spend and spend would have curried us favour in the day, but would have secured the failure of this place and future generations in my view.

Mr. Speaker, we had to carve it off a piece at a time. We had to find a way forward. We had to negotiate with investors who were coming into this Province and say we want you here, we absolutely want your investment in this place, but there are principles that have to be followed. The resource that you want to invest in, to develop and explore for your good, also has to be to the good of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador because they are the owners of that resource. There has to be value other than the labour that they are going to get paid for as they help you make millions and millions and millions of dollars. We want you to make millions of dollars. We want our people to have good pay, work and security, but we also need to lay away a reward in the Treasury of this Province so that we can pay down debt, so that we can build infrastructure, so we can enhance health care and education. There is a balance between what you can expect in terms of your return and what the people of the Province can expect as a return for their resources, and, Mr. Speaker, up she went. I am telling you, Mr. Speaker, it broke loose everywhere. How dare we? We did not know what we were talking about; we should take the jobs and run.

How many admonitions did we get on a daily basis from across the floor? The Member for Bay of Islands was there and he was expert at it.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to tell you, the old Newfoundland expression that some people have tongues like the fire bells of hell – the fire bell in hell never stops ringing. I guess if you have a tongue like the fire bell of hell, it never stops talking.

Well, Mr. Speaker, we endured that from across the way day after day after day. Mr. Speaker, the Premier of the day was insulted every which way. He was given every kind of an epithet because he had the unmitigated gall to stand up to whomever, including members of the Opposition, and say: no more, no more, no more. Not after 500 years, we do not do it any more. When we develop resources in this place from now on, the people of the Province get a fair return on what they own.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: We heard cries: You are ruining the economy. You are ruining the economy. People will never come here again. They will never invest here again. You are ruining the offshore, the only bright spot we have. Well, you are going to have to go.

We had another solid base of people, because I have said it time and time again and I swear, Mr. Speaker, it is true. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador are the most politically astute people in this country. There is nobody who understands politics any better than we do, Mr. Speaker. They live it every day. They talk it every day. They listen to it on the radio nine hours a day. They talk it on the stage head. They talk it in the supermarket. People understand politics. I am telling you, when somebody is bluffing or fooling, they can sniff it out pretty fast. They knew that this government was taking a principled approach. They knew it was the right thing to do, and they were going to support it because they believed it was the right thing to do. They had finally arrived at a place in our development where they were saying: Enough is enough.

Everybody knew we had gotten to a place where we only had so many opportunities left to make good on what was available, the God-given gifts that were in this Province that have been treated so badly for 500 years. That treasure was getting smaller, and smaller, and smaller. If we did not do better with it than we had been doing, then there was no way forward. We would be without hope.

Having helped craft the vision, Mr. Speaker, they supported the vision. They saw the wisdom in the strategies that were brought forward by this government. We did exactly what the Premier said to me that day on the way out from the Cabinet room. We will carve it off, understand the big picture, but carve it off piece by piece. We will find a way forward, and we will take that principled approach.

Mr. Speaker, it is only a small, small thing, and people get sick and tired of hearing about it, but a discussion of $3.5 million of what I would call disposal income, is how we refer to it in our household; we had $3.5 million out of a very small pool of money that we could use for economic development in this Province. There was a big debate on what we were going to do with that $3.5 million. That is a lot of money even now, Mr. Speaker. That was an enormous amount of money in 2003.

Mr. Speaker, the owner of the Arnold's Cove plant was leaving Newfoundland and Labrador. He was prepared to make a deal with the former manager of the plant that he could purchase the plant and take over the plant and the equipment. He was doing very, very fair terms. The new owner of the plant was going to invest just about everything he had; he was taking a lot of risk. This was a man who could have walked off to his retirement and never looked back and had a comfortable life for the rest of it.

He believed in his community, he believed in the business venture, and he was prepared to put a very large stake so that plant could continue. He did not have enough to buy the quotas and the company was going to sell the quota.

We bought the quota for $3.5 million so that fish would not leave Newfoundland and Labrador and would be here for our benefit, and primarily for the benefit of the people in Arnold's Cove – in Arnold's Cove, Mr. Speaker, in the District of Bellevue, represented by a Liberal MHA who sat over there castigating us every day and encouraging people to give us a hard time, who never wrote a letter, never made a phone call, never asked a question in this House on behalf of his constituents, and never lifted a finger to help the people of Arnold's Cove. Without any kind of support from the Opposition or any kind of support from their MHA, this government made a decision to take $3.5 million off, a very small amount of money.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: It is very true – very true, Mr. Speaker, because I was the minister who dealt with it. We never heard from the Member for Bay of Islands either, Mr. Speaker. We never heard from a soul on the other side. This government made the investment because it was the right thing to do.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: That is what happens when you take a principled approach. In a democracy, people have the right to say: Yes, I will vote for you, or: No, I will not. You sit on this side of the House in a very privileged position because the majority of the people of the Province say: Yes, we are going to vote for you, we have confidence in you, we support the vision you have, and we give you the authority to govern on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. That is how you get on this side of the House. That is how you get the authority to make decisions. That is how you get to be in a Cabinet. That is how you get to be on Cabinet committees: by having the support of the majority and confidence of the majority of the people in this Province, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that make you worthy of sitting in this chair or any chair on this side of the House is that you treat everybody in this Province fairly. This is a democratic Province. People have the right to say yea or nay, Mr. Speaker, and they have the right to have their needs met, to be treated fairly, the same as everybody else in the Province, regardless if they voted for you or not. One of the proudest things I am of this government is that we have never differentiated between who voted for us and who did not.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, despite the police escorts, despite the admonitions, the Atlantic Accord was a perfect example, when the former Premier was negotiating the offsets.

We will hear the Member for Bay of Islands shout here in a minute now, Mr. Speaker: That is not true, that is not true. Well, anybody who is wondering what is true or not, I refer them to Hansard, when they stood in this House every day and said: You are asking for too much. Take what they are offering you. Mr. Efford, a former member of their caucus, came and told the Premier, on national TV: Take it or leave it. We said: We think we will leave it, thank you very much.

We were supported by the people of this Province, Mr. Speaker, because it is about principle. It is about understanding what we have a right to in this Province, what we have a right to demand of people who are coming here to invest, to exploit our natural resources. We welcome them, Mr. Speaker, and we want them to make money here. We want them to get a good return on their investment, but they have to serve the people of this Province well, and because we took that position.

When people got sick and tired of calling names and calling their friends to put political pressure on us, jabbering away twenty-four hours a day for weeks and months and everything else; when they knew that we were bound by our principles, Mr. Speaker, they came back to the table. They came back to the table and we negotiated the best royalty agreements and the best benefits for people working in mining industries, and oil and gas, that have ever been negotiated – not only here, but anywhere else in the world, Mr. Speaker.

They are taking the templates from the negotiations we did on projects like Hebron and applying them around the world, Mr. Speaker, best practices. Gender and diversity agreements, to benefits agreements with oil companies – not only the first time that it ever happened here in the Province, Mr. Speaker, or in the country, the first time it happened anywhere in the world.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Like so many other things in this Province in the last nine years, Mr. Speaker, we are leading the way. We are leading the way in the country in cardiac care, in the amount of health care we provide to the people of our Province, our investments in infrastructure in the Province – imagine, Mr. Speaker, in a world where the bottom was falling out of the economy, our economic stats were growing day by day by day in terms of investment, in GDP growth, in the number of people we have working.

We developed a Poverty Reduction Strategy, Mr. Speaker, that is the talk of the country; people coming and saying: We appreciate so much what you do and how you are doing it, and the respectful and inclusive way in which you are doing it. There but for the grace of God, Mr. Speaker, go every one of us. That is how you have – people are not in these particular circumstances because they choose to be. They are there –

MR. JOYCE: (Inaudible).

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: There is no such thing in my experience, Mr. Speaker. The Member for the Bay of Islands wants to help me with my speech, but he is going to have to start giving me some good pointers, Mr. Speaker. What he is throwing across the floor does not work. People in this Province are blessed to live in this wonderful place. We are bonded to this place in a way that sometimes is hard for us to articulate, Mr. Speaker.

I did an interview this morning. I was asked in this interview: What is it about Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that bonds us to this place in this particular way? It is hard to be able to explain to somebody what that is, other than: it is home.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: It is where we know who we are, we know from whence we have come. We think it is the most beautiful place on the face of the earth. We love our music, our culture. We have enormous respect for each other and our values and the principles that bind us as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians as a Province, in community, and how we deal with adversity. Adversity is not new, Mr. Speaker. We have had to deal with adversity from the very first day we came here. We had to claw and scrape to survive in this place.

Mr. Speaker, I have said in this House before that one of my favourite books in the whole world is Random Passage. Anybody who has not read Random Passage really ought to do it, because it talks about what people had to do to put down roots in this place. That is our history. That is the stock that we come from. That is the culture that grew out of those people who came in those early days and loved this place.

What brought us to this place? The search for a better life – we certainly did not come for the weather. Sometimes in the fall of the year when it is snowy, sleety, cold, and wet, Mr. Speaker, I have often thought to myself: My goodness, how bad must it have been where they came from that they came here and it was a better place? They had nothing – they had nothing – but they built something. They clawed, they struggled, and there was a significant force working against them from the very first day.

The people who came, settled in this place, and put down roots in this place had not only to face the challenges of less than 3 per cent arable land, of trying to stay warm, catch fish, toil, earn a living, keep their families, feed themselves, and everything else, with little or nothing to work with, Mr. Speaker; they had forces – business forces – working against them from the very first day, plus poor health and everything else. Look at what they crafted in this beautiful place – this breathtaking, beautiful place we have, Mr. Speaker.

We get one step forward and two steps back, one step forward and two steps back. That has been our history. It finally came to a place where we said: This has to stop. Stop it has, Mr. Speaker. That is what we came to in 2003, and we have been mocked on a daily basis because we would be announcing a Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Now, a Poverty Reduction Strategy is about $150 million a year directed annually to very specific initiatives around poverty reduction. There are lots of people who like to talk about it and say: Oh, you are only putting $150 million into poverty reduction. Not at all – what does anybody think that gender and diversity clauses in benefits agreements are about? It is about people who are marginalized and shut out from economic engines and knocking down barriers so they can be included, so they can get educated, so they can get certified, and so they can have opportunity for decent wages and to be able to build a life for themselves and their families. Poverty reduction is one part of helping them get there, but the gender and diversity requirements are another significant piece of it.

Good health care is a significant piece of poverty reduction. Good education for our children, early childhood learning, and having an opportunity to access day care – all of those things. Do we have it all perfect? Do we have it all right? Not by half, Mr. Speaker; we still have a distance to go. Look where we were in 2003, when you would shiver when you would think about your children ever being able to have the opportunity to set roots down in this place and have a future in this place, and not believing that it was possible. That is where we were in 2003. Look where we are today, and look what it is we are about here tonight, Mr. Speaker.

We have reduced our debt by $4 billion. As I have said many times, Mr. Speaker, there are not nations in this world that could make that boast, let alone a Province in Canada – $4 billion; over $8 billion, Mr. Speaker, in infrastructure.

MR. JOYCE: (Inaudible).

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: We hear the Member for the Bay of Islands chirping over there again. Mr. Speaker, and chirp he should, because there has been a significant part of that $8 billion spent in Corner Brook in the Bay of Islands.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: A lot to chirp about, Mr. Speaker. He will have a hospital to chirp about too before it is all said and done.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the Bay of Islands on a point of order.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for the Bay of Islands, on a point of order.

MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I heard the Premier say we are going to have a hospital in Corner Brook, the same as the Member for Humber East and the Minister of Health. When are we going to have the hospital?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Member for the Bay of Islands for his point of order. Speaking for an hour is a long time, so I enjoyed the little recess and the amusement, Mr. Speaker. The Member for the Bay of Islands is always good for a laugh, I must say.

Here we are today with this wonderful, wonderful Budget. It is a wonderful Budget, Mr. Speaker. We have enhanced health care in this Province; we have enhanced education in this Province. We have built infrastructure, $8 billion: roads, ferries, schools, hospitals, bridges –

AN HON. MEMBER: Long-term care.

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Long-term care, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: We have invested in daycares, Mr. Speaker. We have invested in the children of our Province. We have invested in seniors. We have made sure as we have moved forward that we were able to include everybody.

Mr. Speaker, we still have work to do; absolutely, we have work to do, but we have to do it in a measured way, in the same measured way that we have approached the last eight years. We have to be fiscally responsible, Mr. Speaker, and we are fiscally responsible. We have to examine every dollar we spend and make sure we are getting the right value for it. The Member for Burgeo – La Poile just acknowledged, he said: I know we are spending lots of money, but are we getting value for the money – thus the exercise that Eastern Health launched today, Mr. Speaker. It is not enough for governments or organizations that are funded by government to spend, spend, and spend. They also have to do the analysis: are we getting value for the money we are spending.

Good governance – whether you are in a health care board, you are in government, or you are in education – requires you have that due diligence and oversight all the time. That is what the people of the Province put us in these positions to do, Mr. Speaker.

All we hear from across the way is spend, spend, spend, and spend. Mr. Speaker, days can be long in the House of Assembly. Mr. Speaker, we are coming into this session of the House, and some of the issues around the House of Assembly have been really interesting over the last couple of months. On October 12, people started to scramble for the House of Assembly to be open. What a racket they kicked up.

We kept trying to tell them: We are not ready to go into the House yet. There is a preparation that is required when you go into the House of Assembly. You have to have a Speech from the Throne, you have to have a Budget ready, you have to have legislation ready. You do not do legislation off the corner of a desk, Mr. Speaker. It is important; when you are making rules that are going to impact on the lives of people you need to be careful of what you are doing. You need to do it in a comprehensive way, you need to do consultation, you need to test the theories and formulas and so on that you are putting forward to make sure that you are doing a good job. Despite the criticism, you could not be veered off that course; it would have been irresponsible for us to do anything else.

Mr. Speaker, one would assume that the people who were screaming and screeching and bawling to get in here would have been preparing as well. I would say we have had about ten to fifteen questions that were all asked in the last sitting of the House – recycled, recycled, recycled; every day, every day, every day the same questions. You would think that somebody would have developed a suite of questions, that there were more things going on in this Province that people would be interested in hearing, that were of interest to the people of the Province, that there were more things going on in this Province – or a different approach to the question, Mr. Speaker, a different perspective to the question, a different way of stating the question so that you will get the information that apparently was not satisfactory the day before; not even a new phrasing of the question – the same question.

Mr. Speaker, even when they sent the questions over to us by mistake, they could not change the questions. They stood up and asked the same questions, Mr. Speaker – mind blowing. Scrambling over with the rules of order for the House of Assembly; you see colleagues day after day reading the Rules of Order, trying to learn the Rules of Order for conduct in this House of Assembly. What were you doing from October to March, Mr. Speaker? You were on Open Line every day, you were in the newspapers every day, saying you were ready for the House of Assembly to be open and that there was not other work for you to do – which was shocking to us, anyway, as MHAs.

MHAs are fully engaged every day in the affairs of their district, representing their constituents. It is a very, very busy job. Some of our MHAs have to deal with hundreds of calls in the run of a day or the run of a week, certainly – tens upon tens of calls every day. Ministers certainly understand it is a busy time. There are big departments that have to be run. When you come into the House of Assembly, your workday doubles, in fact.

Mr. Speaker, friends opposite, some of our colleagues opposite did not have anything to do. Well, they did not make any time to do anything, either. They did not make any time to get ready to come in here. They did not craft anything beyond their ten or fifteen questions, and they never even bothered to learn the rules.

Mr. Speaker, here we are now, though. We spent our time getting ready. We had a good Speech from the Throne. We have a wonderful Budget that has been lauded by people from one end of this Province to the other, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: We prepared our legislation, Mr. Speaker. We took the necessary time to put it through its Cabinet committees and made sure it was good legislation. By the time we leave here, we will have had the longest sitting of the Legislature probably in the history of this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Why is that? That is because we do our work over on this side, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: That is because, Mr. Speaker, the commitment we made to the people of this Province to remember who hired us and why, to be responsible and not politically expedient, is why we have good legislation, a great Budget, and a long and substantive sitting of the House of Assembly, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, days can be long here. We sit and we listen to what the people across the way have to say. Some of my colleagues in jest have put together a rather large calculator, Mr. Speaker, because a rather large calculator is required to keep track of the spend, spend, and spend that is exhorted on a daily basis by members of the Opposition. Mr. Speaker, you can hear: What is a couple of hundred million dollars more debt? It is amazing to me.

The Third Party in their orange book, I suppose they would call it, in their election platform, Mr. Speaker, they were going to cut 1 per cent across the board; frontline staff, everybody was getting it. That was about $80 million. They have yet to stand up in this House and tell us what they were going to cut, going out of their minds because we did a review and found $38 million.

They said in their election platform that they were going to find $80 million, Mr. Speaker, and they have not talked about yet where they were going to do their cuts. Amazing, Mr. Speaker – the amount of talking that goes on in this place is amazing.

Mr. Speaker, while we have reduced our debt by $4 billion, let me tell you, Sir, it would not take long to crank her up again. That is exactly what the people opposite want us to do. There is fearfulness for me in that, Mr. Speaker, because we are not out of the rough water yet. There is a big whirlpool behind us and right now there is still over $7 billion of debt swirling away, swirling around in that whirlpool that could drag us back. We are steaming away from it; we are $4 billion away from it now.

I am telling you if we were to slip back by doing what we are admonished to do on a daily basis by members opposite, we will be sucked back into that whirlpool of debt once again very, very quickly. What is the price of that, Mr. Speaker? The price will not be paid by us, Mr. Speaker. These are the people who want, want, want for their districts and for people today. Who pays the price for that, Mr. Speaker? Our children and our grandchildren pay the price for that. We have it today and our children pay for it tomorrow – not while we are here, Mr. Speaker, not while we are here.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, the MHA for Burgeo – La Poile had some words to say about Muskrat tonight. Nobody is made into a villain because they speak out against Muskrat Falls. People on a daily basis say what they want about Muskrat Falls, say what they want about the government, say what they want about the former Premier, and assign motives to all of us. They do not assign motives about us wanting to do what is best for Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker. They assign motives about legacy. How is creating another debacle like the Upper Churchill a legacy? Why would anybody want that legacy? We welcome debate.

Mr. Speaker, there has never been a project developed in this Province that has had the scrutiny of Muskrat Falls, never, ever before in our history. Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, the former Liberal Administration did a number on all of them. Especially hydro projects, Mr. Speaker, exempted them all from the PUB.

Mr. Speaker, it is the same old do as I say, not as I do syndrome. Mr. Speaker, we encourage people to ask questions. We encourage people to critique the project. The one thing we have said in all that we have heard, where are the facts, Mr. Speaker? If you are going to set yourself up as an expert on hydro development, put your name on it so we get to weigh the value of what it is you have to say. Because what Ed Martin has to say about hydro development has a greater weight than what I am going to say about it; certainly what JM has to say about it, whoever JM is, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, people need to understand who is critiquing because they have to give weight to the opinion. What is their knowledge of it? What is their experience of it, Mr. Speaker? Because that is going to measure how much value you are going to give to their opinion. To others we say, Mr. Speaker, show us where the gaps in the analysis are. You do not have to argue with me. I am not putting myself as any great expert on natural gas but I am going to point you to expert, expert, expert who has given this opinion, this opinion, this opinion and if you do not agree with it, tell us what your expertise is to counter the argument or give us your expert who has something different to say. Nobody has responded, Mr. Speaker. Not a soul, Mr. Speaker. MHI, PUB's own expert, and we acknowledge their expertise, Mr. Speaker. They say that this is the best, low-cost alternative for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, the lowest-cost electricity for ratepayers in this Province is what we want. It is what we are working for. That has to always be a major consideration in what we are doing in terms of the development of Muskrat Falls. Mr. Speaker, make no mistake about it, there are greater principles at work here, too; far greater principles. That vision that we have plays a major role in where those principles come from, Mr. Speaker.

Last year – or the year before last now I guess, time passes quickly – there was a great debate in this country when Hydro-Quιbec was going to take over the energy generation in New Brunswick. It was almost a fait accompli but the people of New Brunswick rose up and said: No, we need to talk about this. We need to talk about this because this is very important. It is very important because whoever controls energy in a province controls development within a province. They control the rate of development. They can control whether or not development starts or stops.

The people of New Brunswick said: We are not going to give that kind of power, if you will pardon the pun, we are not going to give that kind of direction over our province, that kind of authority to somebody outside of the province. We are not going to allow the Province of Quebec or Hydro-Quιbec to dictate to the people of New Brunswick the rate of development in this province. We will be over a barrel. We will have to pretty much do what we are told.

Mr. Speaker, I heard the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair in a scrum outside of this House say: I will support Muskrat Falls if all of the power would be used in Labrador. Well, Mr. Speaker, ratepayers have to pay for generation of power. Unless there is a huge population explosion in Labrador, Mr. Speaker, something absolutely unbelievable happens in Labrador, along with the great mining developments that are going on up there now, Muskrat Falls will never be developed because people will never be able to afford the electricity and the mining companies would never be able to afford the electricity either.

The Minister of Natural Resources and I met with a mining company in my boardroom on Friday, Mr. Speaker. They are very interested in what is happening in Labrador because they are ready to move on their project, hundreds and hundreds of jobs and benefits for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, but they cannot do it without power, Mr. Speaker. They need Muskrat Falls to be developed, Mr. Speaker, and they need that to happen with the ability of the Province to avail of some of the power as well because the cost is shared.

Mr. Speaker, they understand that if Muskrat Falls does not go ahead, what happens in Labrador from that point on lies squarely in the hands of Hydro-Quιbec and the Province of Quebec. Who has confidence in that? That is the same situation that the people of New Brunswick found themselves in and said: No, absolutely not. That is what we are saying here as well, Mr. Speaker. The fundamentals have to work for ratepayers on the Island part of the Province, Mr. Speaker, they have to. We have to get the lowest rate of electricity for our people, and we know this project does it, Mr. Speaker. In doing that we enable development in Labrador, because we absorb so much of the cost we are able to sell electricity's power to at least six mining developments we hope in Labrador who will be able to generate jobs and benefits for the people of the Province.

Mr. Speaker, does anybody have any confidence that when mines go to Hydro-Quιbec looking for energy for development in Labrador that they are going to get the best industrial rates in Atlantic Canada?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Not likely, Mr. Speaker. Not likely, Mr. Speaker. A province that cannot get the border drawn properly on their maps, after years and years and years of being corrected, Mr. Speaker, are not going to enhance development in Labrador if it is not to their benefit.

Mr. Speaker, we have a wealth of resources in this Province at the moment that is under development. What is happening in Labrador is so exciting and so wonderful for the people of Labrador, Mr. Speaker. The greatest benefits in Labrador now – we often hear the crowd on the other side talk about the great royalties and so on coming to the Treasury in Newfoundland and Labrador from mining projects in Labrador, well people who gave out those leases many, many years ago were not all that great at developing benefits agreements, and that is not a criticism, Mr. Speaker, that is exactly how it is. In terms of what we do around new developments, especially in our offshore and the kind of benefits that come directly into the Treasury, they were not even thought about in those kinds of days.

It is not that the Iron Ore Company of Canada is putting hundreds of millions of dollars into the Treasury of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker, because that is not how it was negotiated. The real benefits of the IOC and Wabush Mines, Mr. Speaker, are to the people who live in those communities, work in those mining sites. The ripple effect of all of the direct and indirect and induced jobs, Mr. Speaker, that occur as a result of it sees that the major benefits of those mining developments are in Labrador and remain in Labrador. So it should, Mr. Speaker, nobody here has any issue with that.

It is wonderful, and what can happen in Labrador beyond those particular agreements with better arrangements than anybody could have ever dreamt when those first mines were started are all on the horizon, Mr. Speaker, but they need power. Mr. Speaker, we need power for another reason as well. All of the things that we talk about in oil and gas and the investments we are making in our offshore and the investments we are making on the West Coast of the Island too, Mr. Speaker – and this government does not make any apologies for that. The West Coast of this Province has to have an opportunity to develop their resource that we know is there, Mr. Speaker. The oil bubbles up on top of the ground out there, Mr. Speaker. We have to find where it is, Mr. Speaker –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: – so that the people of the West Coast have the same opportunities on their doorstep that we see here on the Avalon Peninsula. We do not make any apologies for trying to firm up our reserves and spending some of our money on the West Coast of the Province trying to firm up reserves and find that resource, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, these are all non-renewables. They have a finite life, Mr. Speaker. We are in a wonderful place. Who could have dreamed of being in the place we are today in 2003? Not me, Mr. Speaker. Never did I dream that I would be stood in this place, in this House of Assembly talking about this kind of a Budget with billions of dollars of investment, new investment for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: New opportunities for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, new services for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker. It is absolutely wonderful and I am so proud to be here. Not only when we are doing all of that, Mr. Speaker, we have challenges, no doubt about it, but while we are dealing with our challenges, making great investments, we are paying our own way in this country. Whatever we have we are paying for it. Being a have Province does not mean, Mr. Speaker – it is like being unemployed and employed. Just because you are employed does not mean you are driving a Cadillac, but you are paying for all of your own needs and everything that you have. As Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, we are paying for what we use in this Province and what we deliver in this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Not only that, we have something to share with the rest of the country, Mr. Speaker, who are not as well off as we are today, and we are happy to do it. We do it generously, Mr. Speaker, grateful for the support that we received when we had less. We will not be small-minded about it, we are glad to have the opportunity to do it, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we have to prepare for the day when the oil and the gas, and the iron ore and the nickel are not here any longer, and that was the vision laid out in 2007 in our Energy Plan. We are going to take a portion of the revenue, and that is what we told the people in 2007. We have been to two elections on it now, Mr. Speaker, the $600-some-odd million that the Opposition refers, $664 million that the Opposition refers to everyday. We have been to two elections on that, Mr. Speaker, and we told the people of the Province we are going to take some of the revenue from that non-renewable and we are going to build a renewable future, something that our children and our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren can rely on. As long as the wind blows and the water runs to the ocean, we will have financial security and sustainability in this Province. If we do it right, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: We have to have the vision, Mr. Speaker. We have to have the strategy. We have to do the planning. We have to do it properly. We have to understand clearly, as best we can. We have to understand that there is risk. There is always risk, Mr. Speaker. To do the kind of job that we do would be very easy if we did not have risk. Anybody could do it, Mr. Speaker, even the members opposite if there was no risk involved. There is risk involved and we have to understand what that risk is, understand how we can mitigate that risk and then make a decision, can we or will we do it? Is it worth taking the risk? In terms of the development of Muskrat Falls, every piece of evidence we have had to date, Mr. Speaker, says yes, it is worth the risk. Yes, it is worth the risk to take equity in our offshore resources.

Mr. Speaker, I understand when people have concern. When you start talking about $6 billion, $8 billion projects, Mr. Speaker, you are talking about an awful lot of money. Given our history, Mr. Speaker, you can understand the trepidation that people feel. When you have to marry that up with the fear mongering that has gone on by the so-called experts – and I can say that, Mr. Speaker, I am allowed to say that. As I said the last time I was on my feet here, I don't ask for any quarter. I do not ask for any quarter when anybody is having a debate on Muskrat Falls or Churchill Falls, but no quarter given either, Mr. Speaker; and I don't have any truck at all with people like the Member for the Bay of Islands, who figures he can sit over there with his feet up on the desk and tell people that they are telling lies, and tell people that they don't know what they are talking about, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member for the Bay of Islands, on a point of order.

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier to withdraw her remarks, because the Speaker knows that at no time did I stand here and say anybody is telling lies. So I ask the Premier to withdraw her remarks, please.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier -

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: - speaking to the point of order?

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: No, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

I ask the Premier to continue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, I am sure our monitors can pick up the MHA for the Bay of Islands. Mr. Speaker, as I have made my remarks here and recounted history, surely across the way, certainly everybody in this House, has heard him say: That is not true. That is not true. That is not true.

Now, Mr. Speaker, if I am saying something that is not true, I must be telling a lie. Mr. Speaker, the Member for the Bay of Islands can cut that any way he likes, but those are the facts, and that is exactly the kind of semantics we see played on that side of the House on a daily basis. So, you can hand it out but when you start to give it back, when you start to lay it back on him, he is on his feet on a point of order; he can't deal with it.

Mr. Speaker, my point is, and the point of the Minister of Natural Resources and any other minister or MHA on this side of the House, we know what we stand for. We know what we represent to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We know what decisions we make on their behalf.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Mr. Speaker, we are prepared to stand and speak and defend those decisions. Every time, we are prepared to stand and take responsibility; and when we make mistakes, we own them too. We absolutely own them too, Mr. Speaker, but the other half of that is, we don't ask for quarter; we stand and take full responsibility, good or bad, for what this government does; but the other half of the equation is: No quarter given either. If you are going to engage in the debate then you had better come prepared, and you be prepared to be challenged when you are talking malarkey, when you are talking absolute malarkey, and you are confusing. You stand up and give a jaded view of the facts day after day, and then get up and register a complaint because people are confused.

Well, no wonder people are confused, when people don't bother to get the right information to inform their questions, to hold our feet to the fire, to do their job to make sure that we are doing our job so people of the Province have the kind of governance they deserve. A democracy requires that somebody ask questions, absolutely.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. Premier that her time has expired.

PREMIER DUNDERDALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I recognize the Member for Bay of Islands, on a point of order.

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, I am just asking clarification from the Speaker.

The Premier got up publicly, and it is in Hansard, saying that the Member for Bay of Islands is telling lies. I ask the Speaker for clarification, because we (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Speaker has made a ruling on the earlier point of order. If the member is suggesting that Hansard recorded that the Premier has indicated that the Member for Bay of Islands is lying, I will review Hansard tomorrow, when we get the full record of Hansard, and review that statement.

If the member is asking for clarification on my previous point of order, there was no point of order. The member would also know, and all members of this House would also know, that it is inappropriate and unparliamentary to say that any member is lying. If the record were to show that, and we will check Hansard, if that is your question –

MR. JOYCE: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The Speaker will check Hansard to see if Hansard records that statement.

The hon. the Minister of Service Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Mr. Speaker, what a pleasure it is to be here in the House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador tonight and be able to witness a speech by our Premier that we were able to witness here tonight.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DAVIS: Mr. Speaker, I can tell you, it does the heart good, it does the spirit good, it does us good on this side of the House, and I know it does good for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, to hear our Premier, who spoke tonight with passion for this Province, for sincerity for the cause, and respect for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DAVIS: Mr. Speaker, being in government is very much a team effort, and that is what we have on this side of the House. We all contribute. On this side of the House, every single one of us contributes to that team. We make our best efforts. We come to work every day. Some of us come to work very early; some of us stay here very late. I know many of us, Mr. Speaker, have been here on Friday nights and Saturday nights, on Sundays and Sunday nights. We have spent many, many hours here doing the work of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Some days, Mr. Speaker, those days can be tough and they can be challenging. We come here in the House of Assembly day after day and we get criticized by members opposite. We get criticized and we get questioned. That is their role, to question us and criticize us, and to hold our feet to the fire. I can tell you some days are tough, but when we come in here and we listen to a speech like we heard from the Premier tonight, I can tell you it makes it all worthwhile, Mr. Speaker. I can tell you that, it makes it all worthwhile.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DAVIS: Mr. Speaker, our Budget 2012, which is what we are here to debate tonight, I know we are nearing the end of the debate and speeches that we are going to hear in regard to our Budget. We have been here many nights. We have sat many nights in recent weeks to debate the Budget.

The Budget is entitled, People and Prosperity – Responsible Investments for a Secure Future. That is what the Premier just talked about in her speech. She talked about the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Premier talked about the importance of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, the people who are here today for Newfoundland and Labrador, about our children, our grandchildren, and the future of Newfoundland and Labrador. She talked about making responsible investments. She talked about doing what is right. She talked about having principles. We know all about principles because we talk about it as a team. We talk about principles and we maintain those principles, Mr. Speaker, as we do our role and we do our job, and we complete our role as MHAs, as ministers, and as a government. That is what we do. We do things because we want to do it right.

Mr. Speaker, some people will have you think that we have some kind or other kind of motive. I really do not get this. I really do not get where this comes from. I do not understand, Mr. Speaker, how this happens. I cannot get it. We come in here like any elected official to do the best we can for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Then when some members would suggest, would say with innuendo, would describe or make people think there is some other type of motive or some other type of reason why we are doing the things we are doing, it is completely frustrating to me, I can tell you, Mr. Speaker. It is frustrating to me how they can do that and why they would do that, but we are going to work together as a team.

Since the election back in October 2011, when the people of Newfoundland and Labrador elected us as their government for the next four years, we began and the Premier began to build that team, and to work together to do the work of government. We began to work and learn, and work and learn. When you work you learn, and that is what happens. We work hard over here.

The team worked hard and prepared for the House coming in. I can tell you as a new minister, for me it was an intensive task and it continues to be on a daily basis. The workload is heavy but I can tell you the work is very rewarding. I enjoy what I do very, very much. I know I can speak for myself and my Cabinet colleagues and other ministers here in the House, as well as MHAs who work very hard in the best interests of the government.

We have some new members here, Mr. Speaker. I can tell you, I watched with quite interest over recent weeks as these new members on our side of the House over here and members on the other side as well, had their opportunities to enter and participate in debate. One of the things that happen when we are talking about a money bill or a Budget bill is that it really broadens the scope of what you are permitted to debate and what you are permitted to talk about.

Quite often during the Budget debate you will hear the inaugural speeches, maiden speeches of new members. You will hear them talk about their districts. You will hear them talk about the work they have done that led them to running for and being successful in the election to come to the House of Assembly. We heard speeches, I know from the Member for Port de Grave here behind me, who spoke several times during the Budget speech in the last few weeks.

I am going to tell you, Mr. Speaker, not only the Member for Port de Grave, the Member for St. John's West, Mount Pearl South, we have heard him several times. I know the Member for Baie Verte – Springdale is here. He is an old pro at this now. He is not a rookie anymore like some of these others. The Member for Lake Melville, Bonavista South, my colleague the Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs, the hon. Member for Humber West; all new members on this side of the House, Mr. Speaker. I ask my colleagues in the House here tonight, what a time we have seen. What a transformation we have seen in the last few weeks of these new members who try to find their legs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DAVIS: What a transformation, Mr. Speaker, of these new members who are trying to find their way, to find a level of comfort in coming to the House of Assembly knowing they get on their feet, and knowing that the Province and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are watching them. They are watching every word they say and everything they try and deliver. They learn what their principles are; they learn what they stand for. You get to hear what their priorities are.

What a transformation they have made in recent weeks as each of these – especially these new MHAs, and even some of the MHAs who have been around for a while. You learn and you practice. You work and you learn. You become the best that you can be, because that is all that we want to do over here. We want to be the best that we can be and do the best for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. People demand that, and so they should. That is what they deserve, for us to do the best when we come in here in the House of Assembly for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Premier mentioned in her speech, and I am glad she did when she spoke a few moments ago, because she talked about how right after the election it began, open the House. I know people over here worked hard to prepare. I think, Mr. Speaker, especially the new MHAs who rose and spoke in their places here in the last few weeks, we have learned that they prepared. We have learned by listening to them and watching them that they have done their work, they have dug into their work. They have learned about government; they have learned about the Budget; they have learned about departments; they have learned about their districts. They have learned how to serve the people of their districts. They have built relationships with departments. They contact ministers and their executive assistants and ask to come over and meet and talk about certain parts of their department. They want to learn about their department so they can better serve their constituents. They have done the work over here.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you, as mentioned by the Premier earlier and I have to mention this tonight, is that we have also learned that not everybody has been doing their work and not everyone is prepared, because we have seen that on the other side. We have seen that day after day when we can see the holes. Now you can fill a few days early but as time goes on you see how the stretch comes, and you see how the challenge starts to create or starts to be cause on the other side.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DAVIS: Now I hear the member opposite who is started again, as they like to do sometimes. I quite often sit here in the House of Assembly, and I am here while the House is open, and I sit and listen to debate. Very rarely, Mr. Speaker, will you hear me trying to rattle someone on the other side when they are on their feet trying to make a speech, especially new members on the other side, but sometimes they feel the need to do that. I respect that, because they are able to do that. That is part of the theatre here in the House of Assembly. That is part of what we do here. You can heckle the other side, and you can have your say. Some people feel the need to do it regularly; others, like myself, on rare occasions. You might hear me speak up in the House, but some people feel the need to do it regularly. We know the members over here in the NDP very rarely will be heckling, we know that. We know who is doing it on a regular basis and who is not. We know the members of the NDP very rarely do that, but they are entitled to do that because we all find our place in how we do our jobs. We all find our place in how we want to act.

AN HON. MEMBER: Everyone has a role.

MR. DAVIS: Exactly right. My colleague just said everyone has a role. How you want to fulfill that role and how you want to serve the people who put you here, that is your choice to do that. If you want to fulfill your role by asking questions in a certain way, if you want to fill your role by waiting until you leave the House and using social media as an example for making your points, or Twitter or Facebook and you want to do that, that is fine too, if that is what you want to do, but in the House of Assembly this is the theatre. This is the place where we come to debate the business of government, the bills that are before the House. I can tell you, my point is, Mr. Speaker, I think the members on this side have done a pretty good job on that in the last few weeks. I think they have done a really good job of that in the last few weeks.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DAVIS: Mr. Speaker, later this year the House is going to reconvene and we are going to have a debate about the most significant project in the history of this Province. We are going to talk about hydroelectricity and the Muskrat Falls, Lower Churchill development. It is going to be a very, very important matter. It is a very important matter for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

We hear members opposite – and I listened to them during debate on the Budget – who from time to time will mention, bring up and talk about Muskrat Falls. What we fail to hear on a regular basis on the other side is their opinion and their position on it. We did hear the Leader of the Opposition one day mention and comment about the need for power. I think he is agreeing with that, that there is a need for power. He has agreed to that recently, made a comment over there that he has agreed for power. I appreciate that, but we cannot seem to get the position or opinion from the people on the other side of the House. Some have hinted where they are and how they feel, but none of them have come out and said, I support it or I do not. I believe there is a need for power or I do not believe there is a need for power. I believe in a very green renewable energy project, which I expected to hear. I expected to hear that from some of the members opposite. I expected to hear their support for a green project, the same as the former leader of the federal party did, the late Mr. Layton, who I have tremendous respect for, Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that. I can tell you he was in favour of it. I know the federal Liberal Party has been in favour of it, but we cannot seem to get that answer over there.

We know Mr. Dean MacDonald is in favour of the project, rumoured to be a future leader of the party opposite. I guess that is in their hands to decide that, but that is commonly how he is referred to or seen as. We know Mr. Ed Martin – I have heard people speak very highly of Mr. Martin, and so they should. Mr. Ed Martin is a contributor to Newfoundland and Labrador, a very capable, very well-educated and very able-bodied person who works hard for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and the best interests of Newfoundland and Labrador. We have heard others as well. We know MHI supported it as well in the report they did, that they supported Muskrat Falls, but we have not heard from the members opposite.

Mr. Speaker, I want to point out today and encourage the members opposite during the debate – we have a lot of debate to happen yet in the House. When they have their opportunity, lay it out for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Lay it out, because I have had people ask me: Who in the House agrees with it and who does not? Well, I know how most of us over here feel, if not all of us over here, but I do not know how they feel. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador want to know how they feel, and I encourage them, Mr. Speaker, to use the opportunities here in the House of Assembly to articulate to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador how they feel about a renewable green energy project.

Mr. Speaker, I want to take a few minutes – because I know my time is quickly dwindling away – to talk about some of the things that are happening in the Budget. Yesterday morning I had the opportunity to go out to my district with my colleague the Minister of Health, and my colleague the Minister of Transportation. I was joined there by my colleague from Mount Pearl North and also my colleague from Conception Bay East – Bell Island. We went out to Paradise to the site of the former Paradise Elementary, which was recently taken down and removed from the site. The site was remediated. There was abatement and disposal of hazardous materials. The site has been levelled and prepared for a construction project, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: What a project it is.

MR. DAVIS: What a project it is, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday, the Minister of Health – and I was so pleased to be there – announced the awarding of a contract for a $10.3 million facility for youth in Newfoundland and Labrador with complex mental health needs. Mr. Speaker, what a day it was yesterday in Newfoundland and Labrador for the youth of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DAVIS: Mr. Speaker, quite often when I stand in the House of Assembly I talk about my own experiences in the past. We all do that, because when you come to the House of Assembly you bring your lifetime of learning and experience with you. I think members opposite would agree to that. When you come here you bring it all with you. The good and the bad, the ugly and the sad, and the happy, you bring it all with you.

AN HON. MEMBER: We are all happy over here.

MR. DAVIS: You are all happy over there. That is good.

You bring that experience with you. Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that this facility is going to make life much better for many people in Newfoundland and Labrador. It sure is. Through my life and through my working experience, especially in my role as a police officer, I spent many years working shift work and dealing with people upfront and straight on when sometimes it could be really tough and difficult for those families. I have had the opportunity and the experience over those years to deal sometimes with families who are dealing with some very trying circumstances.

Mr. Speaker, sometimes when people become ill, they can become ill in many different ways. Like any illness, we never know when an illness is going to face us. Many of us have had to deal with illnesses during our lifetime that have affected us in different ways. Unfortunately, there are many youth in Newfoundland and Labrador who are sometimes afflicted with mental health issues, mental health illnesses, and it can be very difficult, Mr. Speaker. It can very difficult on a young person who may not fully understand and comprehend exactly what is happening or why it is happening. It can be very difficult and challenging for their family. It can be hard to understand sometimes for their friends and extended families as well. Sometimes we find youth who are dealing with very complex matters, Mr. Speaker, very complex and very difficult matters.

In years gone by, Mr. Speaker, when these very complex matters had to be dealt with, there were times when facilities did not exist in Newfoundland and Labrador and had the ability to meet the best opportunities for those young people. There are times when youth have been taken and sent away out of Province to a facility in another Province, or to a facility outside the country without their families, on their own. So, picture that. You have a thirteen, fourteen, fifteen-year-old youth who has some very difficult complexities occurring with them, and they had to take them and fly them away. Fly them to a facility away, sometimes for extended periods of time without their family and their friends close to them.

Mr. Speaker, this facility is going to go a long ways to correct that problem and correct that shortcoming in Newfoundland and Labrador. This facility, which is going to be built over – it is probably going to take pretty much a full two years to have this completed. It will be just over 2,000 square metres. It will be a twelve-bed facility. The design and layout of this facility will include separate living quarters containing bedrooms within each living quarters, private bathrooms, kitchen and lounge area, school area, multipurpose room, a physical fitness room, and dedicated space for overnight stays for visiting family. A very important part of this facility, Mr. Speaker, is to allow the families to come visit with their children while their children are at this facility.

It is anticipated that the children in this facility will stay there for six to twelve months. So, it is not just a place where you put them in a hospital, they have a stay for a couple of weeks, they try to manage their medication, get a better understanding of the illness, and send them on their way. It is going to be a long-term facility where these young people can go and live for an extended period of time so that the full understanding of their complexities can be reached, so that an understanding of what is in their best interest can be understood to best serve these young people, and that they can become the best that they can be. Because, Mr. Speaker, that is what we want for our young people, especially those who are dealing with these difficult challenges. We want all people in Newfoundland and Labrador to be the best that they can be, and to have those opportunities.

I was very proud yesterday to stand out with the Minister of Health, the Minister of Transportation, my colleagues from Mount Pearl North and Conception Bay East – Bell Island; also, the mayor was there and some councillors were there as well, some members from the community were there, and they were all very pleased to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony to announce this contract; and, Mr. Speaker, it is going to be a great project for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, I see by the clock on the wall that my time is very quickly running out, and I am soon going to be directed to take my seat – and so I should, because I have had my time here today – but I want to reiterate that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, our government on this side of the House, is committed to the development, the continued development, to continue to support the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, to continuing the advancement of education and skills, which is contained within our Budget. We are continuing to build infrastructure in our Province, because we want to secure the future of our children, and our children's children, and the stability of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador for the years to come.

Mr. Speaker, that is why I encourage all members, on both sides of the House, especially members on the other side and this side, that when the time comes later tonight to cast your vote for this Budget, I ask all hon. members to support Budget 2012.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is my third opportunity to speak during the Budget debate. Tonight I am going to be speaking again about Muskrat Falls. I have addressed the demand for power, Mr. Speaker, and I have also attempted to demonstrate that Muskrat Falls is the best option, but before I begin I want to address some of the comments of the Member for Burgeo – La Poile, because I broke a rule tonight that I had imposed upon myself in the Muskrat Falls debate.

I have said, Mr. Speaker, on numerous occasions that in looking at this project I will not get emotionally involved; I will remain objective, I will sit back, and we will listen to criticism. Mr. Speaker, what happened tonight when the member made certain comments – they certainly were not out of the way – I reacted in an emotional way and was very sensitive to criticism.

So, Mr. Speaker, the message for me in that is that we are inviting people on one hand to point out the flaws, to make their statements, to criticize, and yet on the other hand, when someone makes a comment, I get upset.

So, Mr. Speaker, there is a lesson there: this project is too important for any of us to have a personal involvement or to get personally attached. The point that the Premier made also is that it is difficult, at times, to sit there and to be subjected to criticism and not to react.

So, Mr. Speaker, I guess that is my way of saying to the Member for Burgeo – La Poile that the comments and criticisms tonight were unfounded and I welcome the debate as we move along.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: Mr. Speaker, tonight I am going to focus on another significant issue and perhaps the most significant issue to a lot of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. That is the issue of rates.

Mr. Speaker, this project will affect everyone in our Province, from our seniors, to our families, to especially vulnerable groups like single parents. While we all agree with the vision of Newfoundland and Labrador being prosperous and we all agree, Mr. Speaker, with the need to secure a bright future for our children and grandchildren, we also have to look at the effect today on what we do. In other words, the future has to be looked after, but so does the present.

So, what we have heard about rates, there has been a lot of fearmongering, a lot of misinformation, and a lot of inaccurate information, Mr. Speaker. I am going to try to outline tonight the basis for our position that Muskrat Falls will eventually reduce electricity rates. I am going to again begin, as I have done on the last couple of occasions, with discussions about the Energy Plan, Mr. Speaker.

The Energy Plan states that we will seek long-term stability for the ratepayers of Newfoundland and Labrador and acquire a secure and environmentally friendly source of power. If our Island remains dependent on oil-fired generation, the cost of power will be much higher over the long-term and continue to rise in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to all residents of our Province to review the presentations of testimony of several residents of Holyrood at the PUB where they talked about what happens with Holyrood. Mr. Speaker, it is not like I understand it was years ago, with the black ash falling on the cars, but it is still an environmentally hostile environment.

When Muskrat Falls is on-stream, if it comes on-stream, Mr. Speaker, and it is delivering clean, renewable hydro power, the cleanest and most economical power available to the Province, rates will stabilize and then be reduced.

Mr. Speaker, critics who have said that power rates will double are – to put it politely, because there is only certainly language that I can use in the House of Assembly – factually incorrect. I have challenged people and I challenge them again with this information I put out tonight to show us where we are wrong. That is what the Premier just stated, Mr. Speaker. In order to demonstrate the critics are wrong, I will outline some of the methodology that clearly demonstrates that our electricity rates will not double. We plan at some point in the debate to file, in much more detail, subject to the Decision Gate 3 numbers, these charts that we have worked from, and outline the methodology in detail, Mr. Speaker, so that it is open for the critics to review.

Mr. Speaker, I talked somewhat in the first session about the demand for power and how we and Nalcor forecasted the demand. The load forecasting will be done again for Decision Gate 3 and it will be reviewed by Manitoba Hydro International. The Leader of the Opposition has accepted that we need power for the Island portion of the Province and there is no question, Mr. Speaker, that we need power for Labrador and mining projects. In fact, tomorrow or the day after, in the Answers to Questions for which Notice has been Given, I will talk about the Labrador mining projects.

MHI and others have looked at Nalcor's forecast demand, and the methodology used, and have found them to be appropriate; in fact, they found they underestimated. Mr. Speaker, how can we come up with cost, and say to the people of our Province that this accurate or this is factual? Well, electricity system costs are based on demand. We have to ensure, Mr. Speaker, that generation is available to meet demand. Nalcor has estimated the cost of both the Muskrat Falls option and the Isolated Island option – again, referring to the refurbished Holyrood combined with small hydro and wind – through a process that has been validated by Manitoba Hydro International in their PUB review.

Mr. Speaker, Nalcor's estimates are developed for a fifty-year time frame, which I understand is the standard window for the financing of large hydro projects. Over this time frame, the Isolated Island or refurbished Holyrood scenario includes $6 billion in fuel costs, or 45 per cent of the total cost, Mr. Speaker. Since rates in our Province and in most jurisdictions are set based on system costs, we have converted the cost of the two preferred options into electricity rates for each year in the future. We need to know, how do these rates – we have heard talk about 14.3 cents a kilowatt hour, we have heard about twenty-seven cents a kilowatt hour; I prefer to talk, Mr. Speaker, in dollars and cents and how it is going to affect each of us.

Mr. Speaker, to tell someone that their hydroelectricity bill is going to go, or your power bill is going to go up to 17.2 cents; well, does not sound bad, but does it sound good, either? If I say to you, Mr. Speaker, this is what you are paying today, this is what we expect it will go to, that puts it in a measurement that people can understand, because it is the way we live our daily lives in terms of budgeting at home, knowing how much money we have to spend, and making a determination, Mr. Speaker, if something is reasonable.

In terms of looking at the actual monthly bills, what we did is we looked at three profiles of residents in our Province, Mr. Speaker. First I will begin by saying we have 230,000 ratepayers in the Province right now, on the Island. Profile number one represents the demand from the average Island residential customer who does not use electric heat; in other words, Mr. Speaker, they have electricity for their TV, their radio, their fridge, but they heat their house in another source. They will burn on average 775 kilowatt hours per month. There are 90,000 customers in that category.

Profile two, Mr. Speaker, represents the average customer who uses electric heat. They are now using electricity; 80 per cent of the new homes which are being built are using electric heat. They burn on average 2,058 kilowatt hours per month, Mr. Speaker. There are 140,000 ratepayers in that category.

Then we developed profile number three, which is the average of all our ratepayers, Mr. Speaker, on the Island. They burn 1,517 kilowatt hours per month. What we are trying to do is to translate this into an average bill. Everyone in this House, the people listening: if you are using electricity, you are in one of these groups.

Now the numbers I am going to give you tonight are based on Decision Gate 2 numbers and they will be updated when Decision Gate 3 numbers become available, Mr. Speaker, and we will again translate this into cost, into dollars and cents, and provide it to the people. Point number one: whether or not the Province proceeds with Muskrat Falls, electricity bills for the average customer, profile number three, will increase 21 per cent or $38 per month between now and 2016. Mr. Speaker, this increase is caused by the expected increase of the cost of oil in Holyrood and the increased use of Holyrood as demand grows.

Mr. Speaker, it is not enough to say today that Holyrood is only used 10 per cent to 15 per cent of the time and that it has capacity for 486 megawatts of power. In the winter months, January or February, Holyrood is burning at peak; for two or three months of that year, it is at its rated capacity of 486 or 480 megawatts. Mr. Speaker, that is what we have to look at, because with increased demand, without a new source of power we simply do not have enough power to supply the Island portion of the Province.

In 2017, Mr. Speaker, when Muskrat Falls is expected to deliver first power, the average electricity user on the Island will pay $232 per month. People are going to say to me: how can that increase of $15 a month from $217 in 2016 to $232, how can that pay all of the cost of the project, including capital costs, financing costs, and operating expenses, and still ensure a return on equity for the Province? This question has been asked a number of times by the Opposition Leader, Mr. Speaker.

Just think of it this way: all of that money that we are spending on oil for Holyrood will no longer be required to be spent on Holyrood; it can now be spent on paying for Muskrat Falls. That $50 million to $100 million that is paid on Holyrood for oil will now pay for Muskrat Falls, Mr. Speaker. What appears to be a minimal increase of $15 can actually pay for the project. As we move to this, Mr. Speaker, I will outline further cash flow projections in terms of how much money will come from Muskrat Falls each year with that $15-a-month increase.

Mr. Speaker, based on what we know today, and subject to Decision Gate 3 numbers, these are the average monthly rates for the average Island customer who burns 1,517 kilowatt hours per month, as follows. This customer in the year 2000 paid $135 – the average customer. The average customer, Mr. Speaker, paid $179 in 2011, or an increase of $44 per month. That same average Island customer will pay $217 in 2016. Between 2011 and 2016, there will be a 21 per cent increase. To put it in perspective: between 2000 and 2016, rates will almost have risen $100 per month. In 2017, with Muskrat Falls, Mr. Speaker, the average Island customer will go up $15. The average Island customer without Muskrat Falls in 2017, Mr. Speaker, will pay $10 less.

What happens is there is a smoothing of rates, Mr. Speaker. In 2030, rates will be $246 a month, or up $29 from 2016. It will rise $15 a month when Muskrat Falls comes on and $14 a month up to 2030. Without Muskrat Falls that increase will be $62. In other words, the increase will be twice as much without Muskrat Falls as it will be with Muskrat Falls. Mr. Speaker, the answer for this is simple. The price of oil is predicted to continuously rise, as I have indicated on a number of occasions, and that price of oil will drive the cost of Holyrood.

Mr. Speaker, the cost of installing precipitators and scrubbers on Holyrood is approximately $600 to $800 million, but it is my understanding it will not reduce the greenhouse gases. So, the effect on the environment is somewhat minimal.

Then, MHI raises the spectre, in their report, that Holyrood may not last until 2041. Mr. Speaker, that being the case, we could be in a real bind where we are held hostage by the price of oil and yet we have a facility that cannot get us to 2041. With electricity – if you just think about it again, Mr. Speaker, from a very logical, common-sense perspective – there is a higher operating cost or capital cost in the beginning to build Muskrat Falls, but then it will produce money, and, as I have indicated, with an approximately $15 a month increase, pay for itself, and the Province will make money.

Now, I know the sceptics are out there, but I am putting these numbers out as I have done time and time again. Prove me wrong. We will provide you with the information we have in our possession. We will provide it to this hon. House. We will outline the methodology, Mr. Speaker, we have utilized to come up with these numbers. It is based on real people and real data. What we have had to do is put averages in and we will have to adjust when the Decision Gate 3 numbers, Mr. Speaker, come into play.

Mr. Speaker, as of April 2012, residential electricity rates in Labrador are the lowest in Canada, and tax-included rates on the island are the fourth-lowest in the country, after British Columbia, Manitoba, and Quebec. Now, what do these three jurisdictions have in common, Mr. Speaker? They all have large hydro.

The issue of the rates is something that we are very cognizant of. We have done so much as a government, as the Premier and the Minister of Finance have outlined, to assist our seniors, Mr. Speaker. They are a group to whom we owe so much. We are not going to simply forget them because we want to leave a legacy, Mr. Speaker. What we will say to our seniors, what we will say to all people in our Province, is that we are looking to the future and we want to ensure that our non-renewable resources are utilized so that we have our God-given natural resources utilized to their maximum for the benefit of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: To give you an example, Mr. Speaker, of how rates have gone up: on April 24, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro announced that the wholesale rate for electricity will increase by approximately 8 per cent, which will result in an adjustment to consumers of 5.4 per cent on July 1. Why is that, Mr. Speaker? The rising cost of oil.

Mr. Speaker, the fuel price projection set for setting electricity rates on the Island has climbed $16 a barrel over the next twelve months from $103 to $119 per barrel. Rising oil prices and increased demand for power mean that electricity rates are increasing. Rate increases, Mr. Speaker, which we are experiencing – I cannot say this enough – have nothing to do with Muskrat Falls; if we do not do Muskrat Falls, Mr. Speaker, rates are going to continue to increase anyway. What Muskrat Falls will do is, as I have indicated, eventually stabilize, then eventually reduce rates.

Mr. Speaker, earlier I talked about Holyrood. As more power is needed, Holyrood is being used more, and therefore more oil is being used. At its peak – and I will talk about the environmental benefits of Muskrat Falls at a later time – Holyrood burns 18,000 barrels of oil per day, Mr. Speaker, 18,000 barrels of oil a day. The estimated cost of fuel over the fifty-year period is $6 billion. Experts advised us – as I have outlined on several occasions, and I have outlined the reasons that they have given us – that the cost of oil will continue to rise. There is a good and bad to that, Mr. Speaker. The good is that the provincial Treasury will benefit and therefore give us more money to spend to on hospitals, schools, and social programs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KENNEDY: The bad side of it, Mr. Speaker, is that unless we do something about Holyrood, not only will it continue to poison the environment, but the cost of running it will be prohibitive. That is why we will file reports in this hon. House on natural gas and wind, and that is why we are willing to look at all options as outlined by what I will call critics in the Province, and by members of the Opposition.

Mr. Speaker, we hear the stories of our seniors. We hear the stories of the struggles that people have. For twenty years I was involved in a profession where I watched people struggle on a daily basis. We are aware of this, we are sensitive to it, and we are going to do everything we can to ensure that prices stay down. Mr. Speaker, there is one thing that we cannot control in this small Province of ours, as good as it may be, and that is the price of oil. There are factors beyond our control: geo-political factors, historical factors like occur in the Middle East, that are going to have significant impact on what happens in our Province. We are all connected in this great, big world today and what happens in the Middle East affects what happens in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, we have these beautiful rivers flowing, these majestic rivers. Whatever my opinion may be of Churchill Falls, in terms of the contract, the actual facility built there is a wonder, that magnificent river and its power to produce the energy that it does, those 5,400 megawatts of power. Mr. Speaker, do we let water run to the sea, or do we take advantage of these resources to benefit our people and to ensure that future for our children we all want them to have?

Mr. Speaker, as a government, we are faced with a tough decision. When you sit down and you look at it from a practical perspective, we will counter the arguments that are put forward. What I say, Mr. Speaker, to the critics: I am outlining these numbers. I will outline them until January. I will see scepticism and I will see letters to the editor, but someone show me where I am wrong in terms of the rates people will pay. I would like to know that. If our methodology is not appropriate and if what we are doing, Mr. Speaker, is not based on accurate information, then we need to know that as we make what will be a very significant decision in the history of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, let me for the next minute talk about one last thing. Let us assume that all the experts are right, that the price of oil will continue to rise. Let us assume that over the next ten or fifteen years, we will spend billions of dollars on oil to keep Holyrood going. That is billions of dollars of oil, Mr. Speaker, that are going to multinational oil companies who may exist in our Province but who are outside our Province; or we can put that money into building a facility, which we will own as a Province and which will continue to generate power and energy for the next 100 years.

I say to my colleagues in this House, and I say to the people of the Province: What makes more sense, to give $6 billion to oil companies or to spend it to build a resource and to build an asset that we will have forever, Mr. Speaker? These are the issues we have to grapple with as we move forward. What I said to the people of the Province as I began my comments is that over the next number of months there will be lots of information provided. We certainly want debate, but we want that debate to be informed.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is indeed a pleasure to have the opportunity to rise and have a few comments this afternoon or this evening on the Budget, and I understand I may be the very last speaker to the Budget. It is indeed a real pleasure, Mr. Speaker, a real pleasure.

I want to first of all acknowledge the tremendous speech we had a few moments ago by the Premier in this House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: For people who are watching, we had an opportunity to see a wonderful speech from a great leader who talked a lot about vision for the Province and reflected a little bit, Mr. Speaker, on the challenges that we faced as a government over the last seven, eight, nine years. She talked at length about the challenges we inherited and the struggles that government has gone through over those years as we have tried to make some wise decisions and plot a path for the future that showed a bright future for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, Mr. Speaker.

I have to say, for anyone who may have missed it, the Web proceedings are there. You can go back and watch it. I encourage Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to go back and have a look because the Premier did a masterful job of articulating where we are going to go as a government and our plan for the future. I congratulate her for that, and I am certainly very proud to be here and have an opportunity to follow her this evening.

Mr. Speaker, we have a very, very good Budget again this year in some very challenging times. Mr. Speaker, by way of an overview, six of the last seven years we have seen surpluses in our Budget, something to the tune of $5.5 billion. Mr. Speaker, for those who are tuned in and listening and paying attention to the debate here, $5.2 billion is a very, very significant amount of money, and we arrived at that through very, very progressive decision making and planning – very, very, very progressive decision making, I say to the Member for Burgeo – La Poile.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: That money has gone to good use. We have reduced our net debt by more than $4 billion alone, Mr. Speaker. That speaks to the confidence that people have shown in our government and it speaks to the forward thinking that we have been able to demonstrate. I congratulate my hon. colleague from Corner Brook, the Minister of Finance, for delivering that Budget, Mr. Speaker. I congratulate him. It is one of many, many successively positive budgets. I say to the members of this House, what a minister he is indeed. What a minister he is indeed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: We often hear, Mr. Speaker, the Member for Bay of Islands talk about the many positive things that the Minister of Finance has done for the Corner Brook area. I want to thank him for that because he has recognized a tremendous leadership that we have gotten from the Minister of Finance for the West Coast of this Province, and indeed for the whole Province, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, one of the things about providing good governance is focusing on people. We have made significant gains in focusing on social programs in this Province, Mr. Speaker, because we recognize that the first priority of any government is to invest in the people you represent. I am talking about investing in health care and I am talking about investing in education, Mr. Speaker.

First and foremost, we recognized a long time ago in this Province as a government that if we are going to succeed as a Province and if we are going to grow as a Province, Mr. Speaker, we need an educated population. We have to invest in people from the time they are born until they progress through the K-12 system and move on into adulthood. We have done that. We made significant investments in education over the years.

We also recognize as a government that we have a social responsibility to provide quality health care services, Mr. Speaker. That does not come without its challenges or its costs. As we have discussed here in the House over the last couple of days, there have been significant increases in the Budget of this government into health care spending in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, there comes a point in time that we are at today, where you have to reflect upon the expenditures you are making and determine whether you are getting quality services returned for what you are spending. Sometimes, Mr. Speaker, over a period of time, you take the opportunity to reflect and you adjust and you fine tune. What is most important, Mr. Speaker, is not the amount of money that you are investing in the system and it is not about the number of people who are working in a system. It is about the services that you are delivering to the people of the Province, I say, Mr. Speaker. It is about the services that you deliver.

We can stand in this House all day long and argue about the dollar figure attached to health care. We can stand here and we can argue about the number of jobs there ought to be, whether there ought to be cuts or whether there ought to be more. The reality is for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador; they are not concerned with either of those things. They are concerned with the quality of the services that are being provided to them by their government, Mr. Speaker. The decisions we continue to make in social programs and health care in particular is all about ensuring that we are providing quality services and that we are reaching out to the people all across this Province.

We recognize, as my colleague the Minister of Health has said on any number of occasions, we live in a very geographically diverse Province. We do not have the wherewithal to provide every single service in every single part of this Province, Mr. Speaker, but we are doing our best. We are reaching out and we are extending the kinds of services that people can avail of in different regions of the Province. We are doing other things to the medical transportation program to make it easier for people to come and get services when they have to travel. It is all about the service, Mr. Speaker. It is not about the jobs. It is not about the Budget.

Mr. Speaker, once you invest in your people, invest in your education and you invest in health care, it is important to invest in communities and it is important to invest in infrastructure. We have made some significant investments, Mr. Speaker, in this Province over the last seven or eight years, the last two-plus terms now that we have been here as a government. I ask members and people to reflect upon the number of schools that we built, where we have the opportunity to provide a quality educational experience for the students of this Province. There is nothing more important than having safe learning environments for students to attend.

Hospitals and health care, Mr. Speaker; for years and years people on the West Coast of this Province have talked about a new hospital. Successive governments by the Official Opposition sat here and did nothing, Mr. Speaker. It was this government and this Finance Minister who announced a new hospital for Corner Brook, and it is going to be this government and this Premier who are going to finish that facility, I say to the Member for the Bay of Islands.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: It will be this government that will finish that facility, and you will thank us for it, Sir, I say to you. You will thank us for it, as will the people of Corner Brook. Do you know why the people of Corner Brook and all of Western Newfoundland will thank us for it?

MR. SPEAKER: I remind the member to direct his comments –

MR. KING: They will thank us because they deserve it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the member to direct his comments to the Chair.

MR. KING: I apologize, Mr. Speaker. It gets a little excitable here sometimes. I will redirect my view.

Mr. Speaker, more than delivering upon health care services, we have also invested in our communities. I am talking about investing in bridges. I am talking about investing in roads. I am talking about investing in municipalities, Mr. Speaker.

Every member in this House, Mr. Speaker, has seen benefits in their district over the last number of years as a result of the investments that we have made in things like the Municipal Operating Grants. This year I believe it is more than $4 million alone that we have added to the Municipal Operating Grant formula. More than that, Mr. Speaker, look at the investments that we have made in capital projects. Capital projects all across this Province, enhancements to water and sewer, Mr. Speaker, enhancements to community roads and other recreational infrastructure. In addition to providing quality social programs, Mr. Speaker, it is about providing good, safe communities where people want to live and grow up and raise a family.

I say, Mr. Speaker, it is about investing in emergency services. The Minister of Municipal Affairs here over the last year-and-a-half or so has taken great strides to invest in all sorts of emergency equipment, including those new blue fire trucks, as the Member for Burgeo – La Poile references, those new blue fire trucks that we are going to have, Mr. Speaker; because we recognize that safety is paramount, and in order to do that you have to spend wisely and you have to invest in communities.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I recognize members of the Opposition are getting excited with my speech but I ask them to keep it down a little so I can finish my remarks. I thank them for it.

Mr. Speaker, the other thing that is very important in providing strong leadership to our Province, as successive Premiers have continued to do under our government, is to look at growing the economy, Mr. Speaker. My colleague, the Minister of Natural Resources, spoke a few moments ago about a very significant project to this Province, and that is Muskrat Falls, Mr. Speaker. We have other projects, Mr. Speaker. We have other natural resource projects that oftentimes get overlooked because of the larger debate around Muskrat Falls, but I think about one in my own district, Mr. Speaker, and that is the redevelopment of the St. Lawrence mine that will land about 200 good paying jobs on the Burin Peninsula.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KING: In addition, Mr. Speaker, those in the industry tell me that the spin-off ratio of jobs is three to one. So for every mining job you create, you are going to create about another three jobs in support services, Mr. Speaker. That is a significant hit. That is a significant hit, Mr. Speaker, and it has people very excited, very excited indeed. We are very pleased to support that kind of initiative.

Mr. Speaker, the tourism business in Newfoundland and Labrador continues to grow. We continue to see more and more people come here every year and it is because we continue to make wise investments in the tourism industry, Mr. Speaker, all across this Province. We have tremendous potential and tremendous resources to showcase for the world. I do not think – I will not say anyone, but there are very few tourists who ever come to Newfoundland and Labrador and go away and say they had a poor time. When you look at the tremendous geography that we have and the tremendous sites and the tremendous opportunity for adventure all across the entire Province of Newfoundland and Labrador it is wonderful. We have to continue investing in that, Mr. Speaker, because it is a part of the economy in Newfoundland and Labrador today.

Mr. Speaker, of course, we continue to do other things through the Department of Innovation, Business and Rural Development by way of business attraction, because we recognize that you can never sit back on your laurels. You have to continue to be visionary for the Province. You have to continue to look ahead and to strive to not only develop the businesses that you have here in the Province, Mr. Speaker, but you have to look for new opportunities. We continue to do that, Mr. Speaker, and that is why we make some of the investments in the Budget that we have made.

Mr. Speaker, I referenced the opportunities that exist in this Province today. They are opportunities that we have not seen in a long, long time. That is the opportunity to take advantage of some of the huge megaprojects that are happening today, Mr. Speaker, and some not so mega. As I said, we often forget about projects like St. Lawrence because 200 jobs are not seen as large in comparison to some of the offshore projects, but, Mr. Speaker, they are very important jobs. They all count. They all count, I say to the Member for Bay of Islands.

The same remarks I made yesterday to the Member for St. John's North when I talked about investing in Lord's Cove in research, Mr. Speaker. There are many people in this House who recognize the value of research, Mr. Speaker. A lot of people made a living on research. People on this side recognize that, and so every job counts. If we can create eight or ten jobs in Lord's Cove and invest in research with potential for further development down the road, Mr. Speaker, I say it is good investment in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. I see the member smiling because I am sure he agrees with me. He recognizes the value of research, Mr. Speaker, because he has done a lot of it himself. He recognizes the contribution that research can make to growing the economy. I thank him for what I know will be good support of that project and that community.

Mr. Speaker, I want to go back and talk about for a few moments the situation we are in today. We have tremendous opportunity ahead of us in this Province, for not only young men and women who are coming out of school, Mr. Speaker, but we have tremendous opportunity for older citizens who want to retrain and pursue another career. Mr. Speaker, while we are going through some challenges in the fishing industry, we have opportunities for people attached to that industry who want to take advantage of skills money and retrain.

Mr. Speaker, in recognition of that, we have made significant investments in the apprenticeship in this Province in this last Budget, significant investments. We are investing in a Journeyperson Mentorship Program, we are expanding the wage subsidy program for apprentices, we are investing in a Workforce Development Secretariat, and we are developing an apprentice tracking system. Mr. Speaker, we are doing that because we recognize the tremendous opportunity that exists, but we also recognize there are challenges in the system for people who have been a part of the apprenticeship program in trying to move forward. We understand there have been frustrations, and we are committed to working with those people. That is why we are making those kinds of investments, Mr. Speaker. This Budget is all about wise investments across the Province. We are focusing on our youth, on our health care, on our social sectors. We are focusing on supporting our seniors, Mr. Speaker, and we are focusing on developing the economy.

Mr. Speaker, I recognize that my time is drawing down. I cannot stop without a few comments about the fishery, because every day, Mr. Speaker, we hear commentary on the fishery in this House and we tend mainly to hear criticism without any concrete solutions to follow the criticism. I do not mind the criticism, Mr. Speaker, I think it is good. I think it is good, healthy debate when people want to critique what you are saying and what you are doing. We see that all the time on the public airways, Mr. Speaker. As I said, from time to time members opposite stand and they have some things to say about the fishery and I think it is good.

The only thing I would say, Mr. Speaker, is that we have great optimism for the future of the fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador. We have tremendous optimism here. We are going through a period of change; there is no question about that. Mr. Speaker, what we are experiencing today is no different than the MOU predicted about a year ago, and the MOU was developed through a partnership between government, industry, harvesters, processors, plant workers. All of those who have a stake in the industry, Mr. Speaker, had something to say about the future of the fishery and the MOU.

The MOU, Mr. Speaker, when it was announced about a year ago, said exactly what I have been saying and exactly what the Premier of this Province has been saying, that, first of all, the fishery is in a state of change. Secondly, Mr. Speaker, the fishery has to change. There is no way Newfoundland and Labrador can continue to compete on the world fishing stage, Mr. Speaker – no pun intended. There is no way we can continue to compete unless we ensure that we maintain quality seafood products that are second to none and that we maintain a competitive price point per unit, Mr. Speaker, because it is an environment where there is a tremendous amount of product in the world that we are competing with.

There are only two ways to compete, one is with quality of product and the other is competition, Mr. Speaker. We have had that debate many times where people say there is enough resource in the ocean, why can't we process it all here? As I have said many times to members opposite, there is no reason, Mr. Speaker. There is absolutely no reason that we cannot process every single fish in this Province that comes out of the water. The challenge, Mr. Speaker, is what do you do with it once you process it? It is pointless to process it if you do not have a market because you cannot compete on price, and I know some members opposite recognize that. I know some members of the public do and some do not. That is a challenge that we have to go through as a government.

The most important message I want to deliver on the fishery is that of optimism, Mr. Speaker. For all of those mayors and community leaders we have been meeting with over the last week or so where there are plants closing, I said the same thing to them, Mr. Speaker, that we need hope. People in the Province need hope for the future. They want to understand there is something positive to look forward to and that they are seeing good leadership, Mr. Speaker. We have asked those community leaders out there to help government with that. We have asked them to help us in getting through the challenges that we have today with seven or so plant closures that we have. There are a number of others, Mr. Speaker, that are not public but probably will be in the next week or so. We are going to see that number continue to go up.

People in the Province need leadership from people who have hope and optimism, and can show them that there are good things to come, that we are going to stand with them and we are going to work with them, Mr. Speaker. We are going to do that in this Province for the people in the fishing industry and people in communities where fish plants are being affected, Mr. Speaker. We will continue to do that because it is not about politics. It is about doing the right thing for the people. Whether we can do the right things for every single person, who knows? There are going to be challenges ahead of us and time will tell. I say to the members who I have been working with opposite – and they have been very co-operative; I acknowledge that – the Member for Cartwright – L'Anse au Clair and the Leader of the Opposition whose plants are affected in their particular districts, I thank the members for their co-operation. I thank the Member for Bay of Islands for the tour he gave me.

Mr. Speaker, we will get through it. The message I want to close with, with thirty seconds left, for the people of the Province on the fishery is that the government and the members who represent you in this House of Assembly from all parties will be there to stand by you. We will deliver the programs that we possibly are able to do. We will provide as much support as we possibly can to ensure that no one gets left behind in the transition that we are continuing to go through in the fishery, Mr. Speaker.

By way of conclusion, it has been an honour and a privilege for me to have an opportunity to have perhaps one of the last few words about this particular Budget. It has been a great Budget. I congratulate the Premier and the Minister of Finance.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The member's time has expired.

MR. KING: By leave, for a second or two?

MR. SPEAKER: By leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. KING: I congratulate the Minister of Finance and the Premier for a wonderful Budget. I thank them for the tremendous leadership they continue to provide this government and to the people of the Province. I look forward to many more to come, Mr. Speaker, as we continue to focus on the people of the Province as part of our vision in growing the economy and doing what is right for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for the Bay of Islands rose earlier on a point of order. I had indicated to him that clearly it is unparliamentary to suggest that someone is lying in this House. I had indicated that I would review Hansard to ensure that such a comment had not been made during this evening's debate. I have done that and reviewed Hansard. In fact, Hansard does not reflect any comment suggesting that another member lied.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

What we do have here, though, is one member suggesting and contributing comments to another, and that other member responding and suggesting they did not make those comments. What we have here is not a point of order, but merely a disagreement between two very hon. members.

The hon. the Minister of Transportation and Works.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: Mr. Speaker, I am cleanup, is it? After all of these illustrious speakers and these distinguished speakers, I find I am in a wonderful position where I can get up and perhaps over the next twenty minutes talk again about a tremendous Budget this government has brought down. I cannot expect anyone in this Chamber on either side to say no to the Budget that has been put forth by this government. If they are not voting for this Budget, they are saying no to $900 million of much-needed infrastructure in this Province – $900 million.

AN HON. MEMBER: They are saying no to seniors.

MR. HEDDERSON: What is that?

AN HON. MEMBER: They are saying no to seniors.

MR. HEDDERSON: They are saying no to the wonderful initiatives we have in there for specific groups, like our seniors. Our poverty reduction is $150 million.

What about our students? What about our post-secondary? Again, going down Prince Philip Drive, all you have to do is see those wonderful new residences going up. I was over at the university today at the convocation and the president said how he was absolutely delighted on Budget day – do you know what he said? It is the best Budget for post-secondary and MUN that he has ever seen – ever seen – and absolutely delighted.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: How can someone get up in this Chamber and say no to the future of our Province with regard to our young people? I cannot believe, Mr. Speaker, we have people here who are getting up and nitpicking: Oh, not enough here, not enough there, not enough of this, and not enough of that. Mr. Speaker, fourteen years in this Chamber and I have seen good, I have seen bad, and I have seen ugly. This Budget, I would say, Mr. Speaker, is not either one of them. This is not only a good Budget, this is a great Budget, and it is –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: Remember, Mr. Speaker, I say you have to look at the theme of this Budget. The theme was about people, and it was about the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Who could sit in this Chamber, who could sit before their television sets tonight and not be moved by the words of our Premier – who could not be moved? I see the Member for Bay of Islands raise his hand and I say to the Member for Bay of Islands that you had to be moved, because you, too, spent a lot more time in this Chamber than I have, and you have seen the ugly as well. I can tell you that when you have a Budget that is based on principles, principles that we are not overspending, that we are not going beyond our means, and that we are meeting the needs of this people, and that we have a Premier who is insisting that if we are not doing it for the people and for the good of the people, we are not doing it.

Again, I say to you, Mr. Speaker, this Budget is about people, is about prosperity, is about moving us down the road and making sure that our investments – because that is what a Budget is, and I look at the Finance Minister. This Budget is an investment, and it is an investment about the future. We cannot be everything to everybody. Not like the Third Party saying over there – they seem to want to, again, be everything to everybody – but they will learn that the people will not buy that, because the people of this Province know that we have to be fiscally responsible and we have to have a social conscience. That is the combination that has got us to where we are today, that has gotten this Province to where it is today, and we must stick to those basic principles of making sure that we are looking after the needs of the people, and that we are doing it in a fiscally responsible way.

Mr. Speaker, there are difficult times down the road. We all know that. We cannot always expect that we are going to be floating with money, so to speak. That gets us to where we are going with Muskrat Falls. Again, all I hear about Muskrat Falls is that the experts are saying this, and no, we do not need it. As I have said time and time again, that it is not so much the money for me, it is not so much the investment; it is about the health of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is in my district, as well as I share the Minister of Environment's district. That monstrosity we call the generating plant out in Holyrood, Mr. Speaker, that is spewing out – and I do not care what they do with it; you can get scrubbers, mops, or whatever you want to do, but I am telling you right now, we want it closed down. The only way we can close that down is with good, clean power – hydropower – and, Mr. Speaker, an investment we are making into the future, making sure that we are doing what we need to do in order to ensure the good health and the future for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not talk a little bit about how this Budget is going to certainly help all the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, but my district in particular. In my district, Mr. Speaker, the demographics have changed tremendously. Of course, many of the seniors who are in my district were actually the builders of this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. They were tradespeople, iron workers, and pipefitters. Many of these began their career in the Upper Churchill, Mr. Speaker. That was a great project back in the mid-1960s.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEDDERSON: Many of the seniors of today – that is where they got their start. This is where we would look to making sure as we go forward with the Lower Churchill, if it were to be sanctioned, that many of our young people are also going to get their start on this particular megaproject.

Mr. Speaker, the Budget of People and Prosperity is a theme we believe is an appropriate theme. It follows our eight years of government. As the Premier pointed out a little earlier tonight, those first two years were very, very rough years. For the last six, Mr. Speaker, we have averaged about $1 billion in infrastructure and we have made significant investments in our social programs. Many of our schools are now in much better shape than when we started off. Some of them are new or revised.

Mr. Speaker, even though this year we are going to be running a deficit, it is a deficit that we feel is absolutely necessary in order for us to continue with the programs that we have spent a lot of time and invested a lot of time and money in it over the years. That must continue, Mr. Speaker. Whatever we do, it is in the best interests of the people of this Province. Because it is in the interests of the people of the Province, we know that we are on the right track. Investments are very, very important and we have to make sure that we continue down the road, always moving forward, always making sure that we have in place what is necessary in order for us to pass along somewhere down the line, Mr. Speaker. In the years to follow, this Chamber, its membership is going to change and there are going to be young people who are young today who will be sitting in these seats. We want to make sure that down the road we are going to be able to provide them with an opportunity to grow this Province as we have been given that wonderful opportunity as MHAs in this particular session.

Mr. Speaker, when we began we had a vision for this Province. We picked the date and it was an important date. That was –

AN HON. MEMBER: Sit down now.

MR. HEDDERSON: Mr. Speaker, they are asking me to sit down. My God, I only want to take ten minutes. You all had your time over there and I just want to have an opportunity to speak. I cannot lose this opportunity. Mr. Speaker, I think there are props being used here. I do not know.

AN HON. MEMBER: No props.

MR. HEDDERSON: No props.

Mr. Speaker, just to get back to what I was speaking about, this Budget is one more instalment as we move forward with our vision to make this –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEDDERSON: – Province into what we believe it needs to be made into. As the Premier pointed out earlier today, it is not a time as you can see with this Budget that we are giving anything away. Anything that we have done in the past number of years and continue to do will always be in the best interests of the people of this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: With regard to a date, Mr. Speaker, 2041 is well within the realm of possibility. It is the year which we have identified as a very crucial year. That is when the Upper Churchill will come our way. Mr. Speaker, our Energy Plan that was put in place a number of years back, ties into us making sure that as we are moving forward that we are again sticking to our principles, making sure that we are doing what we need to do in order to bring this Province to a self-sufficient Province.

Again, the Minister of Finance has done a wonderful job of presenting us with a Budget that is another instalment that moves us forward. It is a Budget that is based on sound financial principles. It is a Budget that clearly gives a balance to all of the groups that are in Newfoundland and Labrador, and just absolutely delighted to be able to – again, Mr. Speaker, the one thing that we are particularly proud of as a government is our infrastructure strategy that we have moved forward with….

MR. MARSHALL: Nine hundred million.

MR. HEDDERSON: Nine hundred million this year – but over the last six years in particular, we have averaged about a billion each year. Mr. Speaker, we have prioritized where we are going with our roads, and to date, we have been able to do tremendous work on our national highway – the Trans-Canada Highway – and we are getting to not only our highways, but, Mr. Speaker, over the last six years now, we have been able to replace just about every major bridge on the Trans-Canada Highway. We have done significant repairs to the Trans-Canada – and our drawbridge in Placentia. I certainly would want to bring that up, because, again, this government has made a significant commitment to the people of Placentia. We ran into some difficulties, as the current bridge shows some signs of distress, but we have managed to get in and repair that. Mr. Speaker, that again speaks to the tremendous infrastructure deficit that was obvious back in 2003. As the Premier pointed out a little earlier tonight, a deficit of that nature took decades to develop. Guess what, I say to the hon. members? It is going to take decades for us to get ahead of.

Even though we are very proud of the investment that we have done with regard to our infrastructure, there is still much work to be done, Mr. Speaker. Because there is so much work to be done, we will continue.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEDDERSON: Time? Keep her going? I have been encouraged, Mr. Speaker, to speak more on this wonderful Budget, and I will continue. I say to the Official Opposition as we finish or wind down the debate, we certainly appreciated your engagement.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEDDERSON: We took your criticism to heart. We are disappointed that you are probably not going to support this wonderful Budget, but you do so at your own peril. At least you tempered your ask and that is indicative. We would ask you to have a little bit of trust as well. Once this government starts a project, I say to the Member for Bay of Islands, we make sure that we are going to do it right. Even though it takes a little bit of extra time, guess what, when we are finished the project that we put up, the building that we up is the building that is needed, no doubt whatsoever.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEDDERSON: There is nothing more evident than myself and the Minister of Health and Community Services and some of our local MHAs and ministers who are able the last two days to again move our addiction and mental health facilities forward. I must say, being on site and having some of the stakeholders there indicated to us that what we were putting up was what was absolutely needed. It took a little bit of pain but it is in the construction stage and we are moving forward.

Mr. Speaker, one of the proudest moments that I have had as a minister was when we officially opened up the Trans-Labrador Highway. I remember that day vividly. Since that time, we have had some challenges, Mr. Speaker, because Labrador presents such tremendous challenges about weather and distance and so on and so forth. Since that road has opened up, I have had any number of people through e-mails and whatever talking about the significant change that it has made for families and for people as they travel now. You can actually travel from one end of this Province to the next, keep going.

Mr. Speaker, my time is running down, but to the Official Opposition, appreciation for your debate. We look forward to moving forward as well.

To the Third Party, not so kind to the Third Party I must say, Mr. Speaker, because from one side of their mouth telling us that we were spending too much, on the other side of their mouth they were asking for a lot more. I have to say to them that fiscal responsibility is something that we as a government take seriously. I think the Third Party should really start to look back and talk about what they should be doing. Whatever has been brought forward to us by the Third Party, we have already indicated that we are moving in that sort of direction. We cannot do things overnight, Mr. Speaker. Simply because something appears in a Blue Book means that during the next term we would be trying to make sure we would follow through on those commitments. I must say, Mr. Speaker, we, since 2003, have made sure that if we made a commitment, that we are following through on the commitment and delivering what is absolutely necessary for it.

In finishing up, Mr. Speaker, I go back to the catalyst in all of this on this side of the House, in this I refer to our Premier. Our Premier certainly has proven herself –

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell us about her experiences (inaudible) was she qualified?

MR. HEDDERSON: Well, I tell you, when we look at the qualifications of our Premier, I cannot say enough, Mr. Speaker. Words that she spoke over the last two times that she has been on her feet –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEDDERSON: I will finish up, Mr. Speaker, in my last minute in referring to our Premier. Her leadership, her determination, her love of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador shine through every time she gets up and speaks. Tonight I sat there enthralled for an hour to the minute, listening to a leader who knows how to lead and who knows what the people of Newfoundland and Labrador need. She is determined to make sure that with this Budget the people of Newfoundland and Labrador will not be left behind. I tell you, before I sit down I certainly tip my hat –

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEDDERSON: – to the Premier for doing what she has done –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the member his time is up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Leave.

MR. HEDDERSON: Do you want me to leave, or you are giving me leave?

MR. SPEAKER: With leave.

MR. HEDDERSON: How much more time? Another twenty minutes, Mr. Speaker, I heard that? No. The Speaker is saying it right. No, I am just looking for direction here.

I think it is time, Mr. Speaker, that I did take my seat. Before I do, a call to all of the people in the House tonight, all of our hon. members, that we have a Budget we are willing to stand by and we are asking them if they would stand by it as well because this Budget is in the best interests of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. To not support this Budget tells us that they are not having the interests of the people of this Province in mind.

With those words, Mr. Speaker, I will sit down.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It has been moved and seconded that this House approves in general the budgetary policies of the government.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Motion carried.

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

MR. MARSHALL: Mr. Speaker, I have received a message from His Honour, the Lieutenant-Governor.

MR. SPEAKER: All rise.

As Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, I transmit Estimates of sums required for the Public Service of the Province for the year ending 31 March 2013. By way of further supply and in accordance with the provisions of section 54 and 90 of the Constitution Act, 1867, I recommend these Estimates to the House of Assembly.

Sgd.: _________________________

John C. Crosbie, PC, OC, ONL, QC

Lieutenant Governor

Please be seated.

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

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I move, seconded by the Minister of Transportation and Works, that the message be referred to a Committee of Supply.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the House resolve itself in a Committee of Supply and that I do now leave the Chair.

All those in favour of the motion.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Motion carried.

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

 

Committee of the Whole

MR. CHAIR (Verge): Order, please!

There is no time left to do any debate in Committee, so we will immediately move to the vote. I will ask the Clerk if he will read the resolution.

Resolution

"That it is expedient to introduce a measure to provide for the granting to Her Majesty for defraying certain expenses of the public service for the financial year ending March 31, 2013, the sum of $4,870,515,900."

CHAIR: Shall the resolution carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, resolution carried.

A bill, "An Act For Granting To Her Majesty Certain Sums Of Money For Defraying Certain Expenses Of The Public Service For The Financial Year Ending March 31, 2013 And For Other Purposes Relating To The Public Service". (Bill 16)

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 4 inclusive.

CHAIR: Shall clauses 2 to 4 inclusive carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, clauses 2 through 4 carried.

CLERK: The schedule.

CHAIR: Shall the schedule carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, schedule 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: WHEREAS it appears that the sums mentioned are required to defray certain expenses of the Public Service of Newfoundland and Labrador for the financial year ending March 31, 2013 and for other purposes relating to the public service.

CHAIR: Shall the preamble carry?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

On motion, preamble carried.

CLERK: An Act For Granting To Her Majesty Certain Sums Of Money For Defraying Certain Expenses Of The Public Service For The Financial Year Ending March 31, 2013 And For Other Purposes Relating To The Public Service.

CHAIR: Shall the long 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 resolution and Bill 16 carried without amendment?

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed a resolution and a bill consequent thereto, carried.

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Finance.

MR. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Chair, I move, seconded by the Government House Leader and Minister of Natural Resources, that the total contained in the Estimates in the amount of $7,608,762,400 for the 2012-2013 fiscal year be carried, and I further move that the Committee report that they have adopted a resolution and a bill consequent thereto, and ask leave to sit again.

CHAIR: The motion is that the total contained in the Estimates in the amount of $7,608,762,400 for the 2012-2013 fiscal year be carried, and that the Committee report that they have a adopted a resolution and a bill consequent thereto, and ask leave to sit again.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

CHAIR: All those against, ‘nay'.

Carried.

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

MR. SPEAKER (Wiseman): The Member for the District of Lewisporte.

MR. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the Committee of Supply have considered the matters to them referred, and they have directed me to report that they have passed the amount of $7,608,762,400 contained in the Estimates of Supply for the 2012-2013 fiscal year and have adopted a certain resolution, and recommend that a bill be introduced to give effect to the same.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair of the Committee of the Whole reports that the Committee have considered the matters to them referred and have directed him to report that the Committee have adopted a certain resolution, and recommend that a bill be introduced to give effect to the same and ask leave to sit again.

When shall the report be received?

MR. KENNEDY: Now.

MR. SPEAKER: Now.

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

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

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I move, seconded by the Minister of Finance, that the resolution be now read the first time.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that this resolution 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'.

Motion carried.

CLERK: "That it is expedient to introduce a measure to provide for the granting to Her Majesty for defraying certain expenses of the public service for the financial year ending March 31, 2013 the sum of $4,870,515,900.

On motion, resolution read a first time.

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

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I move, seconded by the Minister of Finance, that the resolution be now read a second time.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that this resolution 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'.

Motion carried.

CLERK: "That it is expedient to introduce a measure to provide for the granting to Her Majesty for defraying certain expenses of the public service for the financial year ending March 31, 2013 the sum of $4,870,515,900."

On motion, resolution read a second time.

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

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I move, seconded by the Minister of Finance, for leave to introduce the Supply bill, Bill 16, and I further move the said bill be now read the first time.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the hon. the Minister of Finance shall have leave to introduce a bill entitled, An Act For Granting To Her Majesty Certain Sums Of Money For Defraying Certain Expenses Of The Public Service For The Financial Year Ending March 31, 2013 And For Other Purposes Relating To The Public Service, Bill 16, the Supply bill, and that the said bill be now read a first time.

Is it the pleasure of the House that the hon. the Minister of Finance shall have leave to introduce the Supply bill, Bill 16, 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 Finance to introduce a bill, "An Act For Granting To Her Majesty Certain Sums Of Money For Defraying Certain Expenses Of The Public Service For The Financial Year Ending March 31, 2013 And For Other Purposes Relating To The Public Service", carried. (Bill 16)

CLERK: A bill, An Act For Granting To Her Majesty Certain Sums Of Money For Defraying Certain Expenses Of The Public Service For The Financial Year Ending March 31, 2013 And For Other Purposes Relating To The Public Service. (Bill 16)

On motion, Bill 16 read a first time.

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

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I move, seconded by the Minister of Finance, that the Supply bill be now read the second time.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the Supply bill 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'.

Motion carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act For Granting To Her Majesty Certain Sums Of Money For Defraying Certain Expenses Of The Public Service For The Financial Year Ending March 31, 2013 And For Other Purposes Relating To The Public Service. (Bill 16)

Motion, Bill 16 read a second time.

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

MR. KENNEDY: I move, Mr. Speaker, seconded by the Minister of Finance, that the Supply bill be now read the third time.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the Supply bill be now read the third 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'.

Motion carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act For Granting To Her Majesty Certain Sums Of Money For Defraying Certain Expenses Of The Public Service For The Financial Year Ending March 31, 2013 And For Other Purposes Relating To The Public Service. (Bill 16)

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

On motion, a bill, "An Act For Granting To Her Majesty Certain Sums Of Money For Defraying Certain Expenses Of The Public Service For The Financial Year Ending March 31, 2013 And For Other Purposes Relating To The Public Service", read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 16)

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

MR. KENNEDY: Thank you.

It now being 9:52 in the evening, I do move, seconded by the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills, that this House do now adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: It has been moved and seconded that this House do now adjourn.

All those in favour, ‘aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

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

Motion carried.

This being Tuesday, and tomorrow, Wednesday, being Private Members' Day, this House now stands adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Wednesday, at 2:00 p.m.