The House met at 1:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Hodder): Order, please!

Statements by Members

MR. SPEAKER: We have one statement today by the hon. Member for Humber Valley.

The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MS GOUDIE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to once again pay tribute to four residents of Corner Brook who have accomplished a major feat. On Friday, April 23, the Corner Brook Curling Club team of: Skip Bas Buckle, Third Bob Freeman, Second Gerry Young and Lead Harvey Holloway won the 2004 Senior Men's World Curling Championships in Sweden. The team won the right to represent our country at this event after becoming Canadian Champions this past February.

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, the Buckle Rink beat team U.S.A. eight to three to go undefeated in the tournament and claim the gold medal for Canada.

On Saturday they received a hero's welcome upon their return home at Deer Lake Airport and received a motorcade escort. As well, tonight the Corner Brook Curling Club is holding a celebration in their honour.

I would also like to extend congratulations to the Corner Brook Curling Club and residents of the West Coast of the Province. Throughout the last number of months they have given considerable moral and financial support to the Buckle Rink that I am sure was greatly appreciated.

Mr. Speaker, I ask all members of the House of Assembly and all residents of Newfoundland and Labrador to offer congratulations to our world champions: Bas, Bob, Gerry and Harvey.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Is the hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board asking leave to make a Member's Statement?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, just very briefly, if I could, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the member have leave?


MR. SPEAKER: The member has leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I just want to pass on congratulations to the Southern Shore Shawmut Fisheries Breakers on winning the Herder Memorial Trophy. I would like to extend congratulations to the Corner Brook Royals for their valiant effort. My condolences to the Premier, the Member for Humber East, and also the Member for Bay of Islands. It was the Southern Shore's fifth time in ten years that they won it. They have only participated eight years and they won it five. It is a remarkable record there. My congratulations to each member of the team and to all members of the other team who put up a very strong effort. It was very competitive hockey with a full turnout and sellout, which speaks well for hockey here in our Province.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It saddens me to have to ask questions today, a dark day, as I see it in Newfoundland and Labrador and a black mark, not only on the government, but on the whole Province as a result of their actions.

Mr. Speaker, on September 20, 2001, the current Premier addressed the NAPE convention and said - this is his quote: There is a legacy of neglect and under-investment in education, health care and social services but my determination to improve and strengthen the quality of public services is absolute.

Mr. Speaker, in light of that statement: Does the Premier understand - and will he now acknowledge - that his recent actions, including today with this draconian legislation, are, in fact, ruining the quality of public services and demonstrate that his only determination seems to be to punish anyone who would insist upon their right to negotiate and to intimidate anyone who does not agree with his government's right-wing agenda to slash and burn?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, back in September of 2001 I had no way of knowing what kind of a fiscal mess we were going to be left in in this Province. There was no possible way of seeing that that government could do the eternal, perpetual damage that they have done to the people of our Province. What we were left with was a total fiscal and financial mess. That has been repeated time and time again by the Royal Commission, by banks throughout the Province, by the federal Minister for Natural Resources, Mr. John Efford, who said we have been left with a financial nightmare and was honourable enough to even accept some of the blame for that. Unfortunately, the hon. members opposite just washed their hands like Pontius Pilate and say they had absolutely nothing to do with it -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: - nothing to do with it whatsoever.

Mr. Speaker, I had no way of knowing when I talked to NAPE, but what I did indicate to them was that I was going to do my best to make this a better place to live. I will continue to live up to that commitment because this is all about making it a better place, from a health care perspective, from an educational perspective and from a social perspective. We cannot do that without any money. You have left us with debt that we are simply drowning in. We have to take strong measures that -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the Premier now to complete his answer.

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We do not like having to do it but we have no choice because we have no money.

[Disturbance in the gallery]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Speaker wants to make it quite clear that people who are visitors in the gallery are welcome to this Legislature. This Speaker, and other speakers before me, firmly want to communicate that visitors are always welcome in this House; however, visitors are reminded that they are not in any way to show approval or disapproval for anything that takes place on the floor of the House. I ask you sincerely for your co-operation in that regard.

Thank you very much.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It seems clear that the government's approach is to continue to repeat false statements in the hope that by some fluke they might become true statements, just by repetition, because the circumstance he described is just not true in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Premier, Mr. Speaker, did talk about making a commitment and keeping commitments, and I am glad he did. In the same speech, Mr. Speaker, the Premier, the then Opposition Leader, said, and this is the quote: I make this commitment to you - this is to the NAPE convention - we will not use the extraordinary powers of the Legislature, which no other employer has, to undo collective agreements that public servants have negotiated in good faith - and he said he would keep the commitments that he made.

I do not think that has anything to do with what he is trying to describe as the financial circumstance. How does that fit? How does that commitment and that statement, in his own words, that he was so proud to make then, fit with Bill 18 today, with contract stripping right in the legislation, Mr. Speaker?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, when the hon. Leader of the Opposition read out that particular paragraph, he left out a sentence. I said: I make this commitment to you... - and the sentence that he left out was - ...my government will respect the collective bargaining process. We will negotiate fair collective agreements that the Province can afford, and we will stand by those agreements.

The point that I have made time and time again here in this Legislature, Mr. Speaker, is that we cannot afford the requests that were being made by the union. On March 31, in the meeting that myself and the minister had, the position of the union was: zero, zero, six and six, on a four-year agreement. Six per cent is $132 million in year three, $132 million in year four, and a new $132 million, as well, in year four; $396 million. If we were successful in concluding an agreement with the federal government, whereby the federal government gave us 100 per cent of all of our offshore oil revenues, I would then take those revenues, when they hit a peak of $385 million -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the Premier now to finish his answer quickly.

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker

- we would take another $11 million from the public Treasury, and we would hand each and every cent of that over to our public servants.

There are 500,000 people in this Province besides the public sector workers. We have to look out for them as well, and we have to look out for our children and grandchildren in this Province.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is great to see the Premier restate his real appreciation for the public employees - not servants - the public employees, who he is now trying to pit against every other Newfoundlander and Labradorian.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier also said this, and maybe he will find a way around these words as well, which were his own, same speech, same group: Governments of the early 1990s - these are the Premier's words - did not try first to exhaust avenues of co-operation in a joint effort to resolve the financial problems the government faced. They bulldozed their way through the process and sacrificed co-operation and trust in the process.

His words, Mr. Speaker, to the NAPE convention. Is the Premier now concerned that his bulldozing through the process that is going to begin really in earnest here today and tomorrow, as he uses the power of the Legislature to get what he could never get by co-operation and negotiation, is he concerned about the impact that is going to have -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the member now to complete his question.

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

- and the sacrifice of the co-operation and trust with the public employees he values so much in the process?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I need to remind the hon. Leader of the Opposition that one of the drivers of that bulldozer was he, himself, who was in that government at that particular point in time and rolled back wages and had wage freezes. I think he forgets that, Mr. Speaker. He has a very, very short memory when it comes to that, and is very hypocritical when he can stand there and say that.

As well, what we are trying to get through, get the legislation through this Legislature, is to try and do something about the 7,325 missed appointments in the hospitals, the 2,835 missed child clinic appointment, the cardiac screening, the mammograms. That is what we are trying to straighten out.

You have a very short memory, Sir. In April, 2001-


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

This is the House of Assembly. Members have a right to ask questions, to hold the government accountable. The essence of Parliament is accountability. The essence of Question Period is that government be held accountable. We must have co-operation. When members ask questions, they should be relatively silent while the people in the Administration are attempting to give the answer.

The Premier has about twenty seconds to complete his answer.

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. Leader of the Opposition, in April of 2001, Premier Roger Grimes said he would consider using legislation to get some striking workers back to their jobs if the health care system shows signs it cannot cope.

If you want to accuse me of bulldozing life safety, then I will accept that responsibility as Premier of this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask members on both sides for their co-operation.

A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I understand the Premier is under considerable stress, and I recognize that.

Mr. Speaker, last year the Premier supported and committed to binding arbitration for the doctors as an end to a dispute. In a month or so, there is binding arbitration slated for the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. Is binding arbitration okay for some people and not okay for other? Is it safe for anybody or does Bill 18, which is tabled here today, show the new approach from this new government and indicate that there is going to be binding arbitration for nobody, under any circumstances, because they cannot turn over control of the purse to a third party? Which is it, I ask the Premier?


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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to show the hypocrisy of what is asked here in the question.

Back in March, the former Premier of this Province signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Warren report. That was dated, actually, October 29, 2001, and he said: The study should be completed by March 31, 2002, and the findings of the study group will be implemented.

He had no time frame. In January, 2003, the Warren report put forth a report, and in the following budget that Premier of the Province put forth a budget for $2.5 -


MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, if they want me to answer -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It is the right of the Opposition to ask questions. It is the right of the government to either not answer at all or to decide their answer. They have every right. What the minister is doing is well within the rules. It is for him to determine, the government to determine, who answers and what the answer contains.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the opportunity to answer, because to implement 1 to 8 of the Warren Report takes $5.1 million. Two months after that report, that Premier put in a budget $2.5 million for the Warren Report. This year in the Budget that I presented in this House, we put in $3.6 million -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the minister now to complete his answer.

MR. SULLIVAN: - $1.1 million more than he put in that report. Now he is telling us he put in the report, an acceptable report, that he gave 50 per cent funding, and we have increased that by 40 per cent. Where is the hypocrisy there, I ask the Leader of the Opposition?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that the people of the Province appreciate the clear and concise answer about whether or not binding arbitration is available to anybody. I am sure they understood the answer perfectly, from what was just said.

Mr. Speaker, let me give one more quote from the Premier to the NAPE convention. The quote is this: I believe it is important to respect the rights of unionized employees - he has his head down now, Mr. Speaker, ducking behind a piece of paper - while at the same time using the avenues available to us, under existing laws and collective agreements. The current avenue, Mr. Speaker, under existing law is binding arbitration.

Let me ask one last time: Why would the Premier not use the existing law, which he told these people, at their annual meeting, he would do if they voted for him and he became the Premier, why would he not use the existing law and go to binding arbitration and leave the existing collective agreement alone, or did we get the answer from the President of Treasury Board -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member now to complete his question.

- that there is no binding arbitration for anybody ever again?

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We are concerned about the health care in our Province and we want immediate action. I would like to make it clear to him, there is no reference, nothing in the collective agreement, right now -

MR. BARRETT: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I mean, the Member for Bellevue - they want an answer and they are not prepared to accept an answer.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: I will sit down if they don't want an answer.

MR. BARRETT: You are not giving an answer. If you gave the answer, I would let you stand up.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair again asks all hon. members for their co-operation.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There were three issues that were outstanding. We spent four days on the previous weekend dealing with them. One was salary and the second was the Warren Report. There is no Warren Report in the current collective agreement. In spite of that, Mr. Speaker, we put 40 per cent more money to deal with janitorial, secretarial and cleaning in schools than that government put last year in the Budget; 40 per cent more in spite of not having anything in the agreement.

On sick leave, Mr. Speaker, I will make it clear, there is no concession for anybody working in the workplace today by this government to take anything away. In fact, we have added things at different stages of that process that were not there before, including making temporary employees permanent and -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the minister now to complete his answer.

MR. SULLIVAN: - numerous other areas that we agreed to give employees an opportunity to deduct money for car allowances, basically, so it was not a taxable item. We made numerous changes and we have not asked for one thing that current employees do not have today.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am sure again the people of the Province respect and appreciate the clarity of the answer, that there will be no binding arbitration for anybody ever with this government. I take it that is the answer. That was the question that was asked.

Mr. Speaker, let me switch to another question. Could the Premier tell us which precedence he used to draft the unbelievable piece of legislation that is here before us today as Bill 18? Did he find examples of contract stripping, which are in this legislation, grossly exaggerated fines, which are in this legislation, and the firing of supposedly valued public employees, which is in this legislation, did he find those features in other jurisdictions across Canada? Where, exactly, were the precedence, or does he have a made-in-person solution from the one-man show himself, Mr. Speaker?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Number one, there is no contract stripping. You know the person who signed the MOU said the Warren Report will be implemented with no time frame. It could be fifty years. We put 40 per cent more than you put in your Budget. We have enhanced the aspects and the principles of the Warren Report over what that former Premier did when he was in that chair that this Premier is in.

Secondly, on sick leave we have made no changes whatsoever for current employees. It is false to give the impression that we are contract stripping. We have looked - there are numerous in jurisdictions if you look at it.

Mr. Speaker, traditionally the -


MR. SULLIVAN: Give me an opportunity.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: Currently, Mr. Speaker, and traditionally in a lot of areas we have seen an escalation in the amount of fines. Environmental have gone to $1 million. We have seen DFO violations, $1 million. They are examples of today. There is less tolerance for those things, and there is a movement to higher levels out in society today. Besides -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the minister now to complete his answer, quickly.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I will complete.

The Leader of the Opposition has said clearly, something that is absolutely false, that contract stripping - he is doing something. In fact, he did something, signed an MOU and funded it less than 50 per cent of what he signed.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: Where is his real thought behind this Warrant Report, I would like to know?


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would gladly, and I am sure all the members would gladly have the President of Treasury Board, because the Premier obviously does not want to answer any more of these questions. He does not like the line of questioning anymore. He has given up on it again today. Maybe he would like to table those other jurisdictions that he scanned before they put together this draconian piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier, this Premier, has been given the privilege to govern Newfoundland and Labrador, not to rule or to control or to run a small island off the Coast of Florida that Americans are not allowed to go to anymore. Is the Premier really willing to fire up to 20,000 public sector workers as the legislation suggests, the valued public employees that he talks about? I ask the Premier, does he really think that the government, and he personally, could fire the skilled workers that help government function on a daily basis, or does he already have, in fact, a hit list compiled of people who dare to speak out against him?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the member now to complete his question, quickly.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The legislation sets down certain terms and requirements and the worker decides if they will comply with returning to work. I will use an example -


MR. SULLIVAN: Yesterday, Mr. Speaker, under essential service agreement -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Again, I am asking members for their co-operation. The question has been asked. It is a very serious question, and the minister is attempting to give a very serious answer. I ask the minister to continue his answer.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will use an example. Yesterday, under an essential service agreement, if someone does not report under an essential service agreement their job is gone. They are dismissed. That is there and it is accepted by both sides. Yesterday, after three hours of asking people to come, they still were not in on the job. We waited for over three hours and then we went back again because they indicated they were told not to come in and fulfill the requirements of the essential services agreement. That choice is theirs when they are asked to make it. If they do not report to a job that is there, an essential service - the law says that if you do not come to work you are dismissed in the job. That is a fair and reasonable legislation there -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the minister now to complete his answer.

MR. SULLIVAN: - and putting it in legislation. It is a serious piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker, it is no joke. Legislation is brought in for a purpose: to protect people, to ensure that the Province gets run, and the proper work is done. That is what laws are all about in this Province.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, on a supplementary.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The answer, again, demonstrated better than I ever could, that the penalties in this legislation are both vindictive and punitive. It is clear that the Premier's one-man show approach to this whole process is killing morale in our public sector and will destroy it for years to come.

Mr. Speaker, the question is this: How does the Premier feel that fines of up to $250,000 a day and the firing of our so-called valued public sector employees will help improve his already severely damaged relationship with the unions? Does the Premier really personally feel that these levels of punishment and penalty are just?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we were elected to govern this Province. We were given a mandate from the people to run this Province on their behalf. That is exactly what we are trying to do. We cannot have a situation, as we have had over here the last couple of weeks, where we have had our managers out there on a parking lot, refused admission to come to work. This is not about 20,000 people. This is about 520,000 people and future generations. We cannot allow anarchy to prevail in our Province. This is a Legislature, this is where the laws are made. If people choose to break the law than they get fined. Foreign overfishing fines are as much as $1 million. Environmental fines are as much as $1 million. This fine would be against a union for advising its people not to come to work and that is $250,000.

What the members of this Legislature need to know, Mr. Speaker, is that part of the reason why the clause is in this legislation, for people to choose to terminate their own jobs, is because those very people have phoned us, as a government, and said: Please put that in the legislation so that we can go back to work because we want to go back to work.

There are requests that came to us from union members, asking to have that in the legislation. They actually phoned our office. That is why we are doing it. We are doing it to support them and we are doing it to keep this Province as a good place to live, for people who live here right now and for future generations. That is why we are doing it.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it is unbelievable. I am glad that the Premier does speak from time to time and answer a few questions so that we can get to have a real look at the real leadership and the new approach. They needed the managers so badly last week, they had to cross picket lines so they could sit in the galleries so others could not get in.

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the Premier has not thought this legislation through to any degree at all. The penalties are draconian, heavy-handed, punitive and vindictive, and you will find no such penalties anywhere in any similar legislation in the free world. The Premier has ensured that the penalties, once assessed, cannot even be appealed.

I ask, again, of the Premier: If an employee happens to be sick on the day the legislation is passed, and are supposed to go back to work, are they going to be dismissed or can they get a chance to speak to somebody and explain why they did not show up? It is not in the bill.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to add that the bill was given notice. It has not been introduced even in this House at the moment and there is an opportunity, I can tell him, in dealing with that bill to answer questions. We did not have an opportunity to introduce that bill in this House, other than to give notice. We did give the courtesy to the Leader of the Opposition for him to have a copy of this in advance. I only have a draft. I have not seen the final bill. I do not have it, I might add.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time assigned for Question Period is slipping by.

A few seconds to the minister to complete his answer.

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, I have a copy of the bill that went to print. The bill is tabled and circulated by the House of Assembly here, and it does not help matters much when the Opposition are trying to inflame - the Leader of the Opposition, and some of his people, spent a good part of Thursday, I think, with the NAPE council, in their offices. That does not help matters, and coming back here inflaming the situation. We want a co-operative environment here. We want people to come back to work, and we are going to be, as any government would be, reasonable -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the minister now to complete his answer.

MR. SULLIVAN: - in wanting its employees back to work.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Under the rotation we have, with time assigned to the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi and his colleague, I now have to move to that member.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Premier.

This afternoon, the Minister of Finance has acknowledged that they are concerned about health care and they want immediate action. The Premier himself has listed a number of issues and health care needs that are unmet. I want to ask the Premier to acknowledge that he has made a choice, that he has made a decision, not to use the existing legislation, the provisions of Section 30 of the Public Service Collective Bargaining Act, which could be passed this afternoon by a simple resolution of the House, and instead has chosen to impose terms and conditions of employment on public sector employees, under threat of dismissal, and to take benefits that have been negotiated, fought for and struck for, in the past instead.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WILLIAMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. member knows that no benefits have been taken for current employees in this agreement. That is absolutely incorrect. What I will acknowledge is, over the last month we have done absolutely everything that we can to negotiate a fair and reasonable and affordable agreement with our public sector employees. Myself and the minister have met together on two separate occasions. The minister has spent four days, himself, in intense negotiations to try and reach an agreement. We have exchanged proposals, where there have been moving targets. They are up, they are down, they are sideways, they are all over the place. It is hard to try and track where they were in the negotiation, but we stayed the course and we kept presenting our offers. We did everything we can. As recently as last Wednesday, we went down and we showed flexibility. We presented three variations on the three outstanding issues. We did everything we could to achieve a fair and reasonable and affordable collective agreement.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, the Premier talks about money and the financial issues this time. The Minister of Finance talked about health care. I want to ask the Premier, why, if he is so concerned about money, he did not do what the Nova Scotia Conservative government did the other day: Increase the corporate tax rate in their province, and took back tax increases - tax breaks - two things that we suggested they should have done, which would have given $130 million a year for this Budget, instead of doing what he is doing now, which is taking it out on the backs of public sector workers?

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We are one of the heaviest taxed jurisdictions in this country, and we want to have fair and reasonable taxation for our individuals on an individual basis. The former government went through two decreases in personal income tax so we can be competitive with other parts of this country. On Corporate Income Tax, over four years ago we were collecting $50 million. Look at today's Budget. We are budgeted for $183 million, over a 400 per cent increase in just a four-to five-year period.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, time for one short supplementary.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question, again to the Premier, is: Why is he choosing now to impose terms and conditions of employment on public sector employers? Is it because he has failed to reach a collective agreement? Is it that he cannot negotiate a deal, or is it because the public services of this Province cannot be met? Can you tell us the answer to that? Are you imposing it because you want your deal to be implemented, or are you imposing it because we have problems in delivering public sector services?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WILLIAMS: There is a very, very straightforward answer to that. We are now, today, proceeding with legislation because we have to. We have been informed by our health care sectors that we have a very serious situation on our hands. Myself and the two ministers met last Thursday with the physicians and also with the health boards. We were convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that we had a very serious situation. We had a balloon that was prepared to burst.

The other thing which is different between myself and this government and the past government, is that we are not prepared to give away in order to achieve deals. We are just not prepared to do it. That is the problem.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time assigned for Question Period has expired.

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

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to raise a point of order with respect to two comments made by the President of Treasury Board during Question Period. I believe this is the appropriate time to raise them, at the end of Question Period.

The first one is, he made a reference - again, a false reference, as he did before - about meetings I attend, suggesting I was in the premises, the NAPE building, I think he said, on Thursday. If he will check, he will find I was nowhere near the NAPE building. We were here on Thursday, trying to get the Legislature open, trying to get to....

Check Hansard. Loyola, you always forget - excuse me, Mr. Speaker, I am sorry. The Member for Ferryland always forgets very quickly what he just said. He got it wrong again, Mr. Speaker. It took him a full day to apologize the last time. I hope it will not take him a full day to apologize this time.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, maybe he might like to check with the Government House Leader about the status of his own piece of legislation, Bill 18, which was provided to us. The information I have is that it was provided to us so that we could review it, now that it was finalized by the Cabinet late yesterday. Finalized, not a draft that the President of Treasury Board just talked about, trying to make it look - this is not final, this is only a draft; I have not even seen the final copy of it.

Which is it? We are sitting here with the House Leader for the government suggesting to us, we would like to give you the bill so you can get prepared for the debate - which we plan to do, we are planning to do. We are getting legal advice, we are getting other advice, and we will participate in the debate. The President of Treasury Board stands up, in answer to a question, and says: It is only a draft. I do not even have the final copy myself.

Mr. Speaker, for purposes of clarity in this House, I rise on the point of order to ask that the President of Treasury Board apologize for misinformation in the first instance and give us the right answer. Someone for the government tell us, the bill that we were presented with this morning, is that the bill we are going to be asked to debate or not?

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, I will clarify both. On the second point, I have indicated since it went to the printer it comes to the House of Assembly to be distributed and therefore is not distributed there. That was the intent. It went through Cabinet's approval. There is no change in the wording of the bill. It is just that I do not have the bill since it came back from the printer because the House distributes the bill to everybody. I hope that point is clear.

The first point he indicated - the first point I made, Mr. Speaker, and Hansard will show, I do not recall saying: he met at NAPE headquarters. I said with NAPE council. Regardless, I withdraw the remark, and you can look in Hansard. I do not think I said it but I will withdraw the remark regardless. That will settle it, I hope, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you very much.

To the point of order. There is obviously a disagreement between the members, and the remedy having been offered by the minister. Therefore, there isn't any further work to be done relative to the point of order.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 6, Bill 18, first reading.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the hon. the Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board have leave to introduce a bill entitled, An Act To Provide For The Resumption and the Continuation of Public Services. (Bill 18)

Is it the pleasure of the House that the hon. Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board. shall have leave to introduce said bill?

All those in favour, `aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: All those against?


MR. SPEAKER: Carried.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board to introduce a bill, "An Act To Provide for the Resumption and Continuation of Public Services," carried. (Bill18)

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

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

All those in favour, `aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: All those against?


MR. SPEAKER: Carried.

CLERK: A bill, An Act to Provide for the Resumption and Continuation of Public Services. (Bill 18)

MR. SPEAKER: This bill has now been read a first time. When shall the said bill be read a second time? Now? Tomorrow?


MR. SPEAKER: On tomorrow.

On motion, Bill 18 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 1, we move back to the Budget Debate for the remainder of the afternoon.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion 1, the Budget Debate.

The hon. the Member for Cartwright-L'anse au Clair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today, in the House, to speak to the Budget and to the motion of non-confidence that has been put forward.

Mr. Speaker, I will say, right from the offset, that this is not a Budget I will be supporting in this Legislature. I will go into some details as to the reasons for that.

I want to start off today by talking, first of all, about how the numbers in the Budget have been presented, and how they have been presented by the government and by the members opposite. Mr. Speaker, first of all this year, what we have seen is the government going out and looking for an independent auditor, because they said this would be an independent, non-biased, non-partisan look at the entire fiscal position of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, the government did not trust their own numbers within the department, within the civil service and the public service of the Province. I guess we see the evidence of some of that today when you look at what is happening. They hired an independent auditor by the name of Michael Gourley. Mr. Speaker, it is only in the aftermath of this particular audit being conducted that we, in Newfoundland and Labrador, actually see who Mr. Gourley really is, a former deputy minister of the Mike Harris government in Ontario, an individual, Mr. Speaker, who is being challenged through the courts right now for the misinterpretation of numbers and budgets and fraud within the Province of Ontario. This is the independent PC associated former deputy minister before the courts in the Province of Ontario who has been brought in to do an independent assessment of the budget and the numbers in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, I have heard other people in the media, the public - this has not been lost on the public, the fact that there are numbers presented in terms of where the deficit is in this Province that are inaccurate. It is debatable and we will debate it. There are people out there who are saying that this government trumped up the numbers in the Budget, Mr. Speaker, so they wouldn't have to honour agreements with their public servants, so they wouldn't have to spend money in needed health care and other services out there in the Province, and that by doing so they were going to the negotiating table without all the proper, all the factual, information being distributed to the public.

Mr. Speaker, I am one of those who feel that they have trumped up the figures in the Budget and that the numbers are not nearly what they are making them out to be. Mr. Speaker, this is unfortunate because it is this play of numbers and this image that the Premier and his government is portraying of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, all across the country, that is affecting everything we do here at home. Mr. Speaker, we have spent our whole lives trying to convince the people of Canada that we are a have-Province, that we are Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who are educated, who have the ability to run our own affairs and to stand on our own two feet when the time permits it.

Do you know what this government had done, Mr. Speaker? They have created an image across this country that we are in a bankrupt position, that the people in Newfoundland and Labrador do not know how to run their own affairs, that we ran the entire Province right into the ground. That is the message they are sending across the country. That is the image they are creating in the minds of the people of Canada when they look at Newfoundland and Labrador. Do you know what it is doing to us here at home? It is demoralizing our people. That is what it is doing, because if you were told often enough that you are no good and that you cannot do it right, you will start believing that you cannot do it right. I learned that lesson at a very early age, Mr. Speaker. Most of us who went through the school system learned that: if you are told something often enough, you will believe it. Well, this government is telling the people of this Province that you do not deserve to have wage increases, you do not deserve to have proper public services, you are no good at running the affairs of this Province and contributing to the affairs of this Province. That is the message, Mr. Speaker. That is the message they are getting to the people of this Province and the message that they are getting to the people of Canada, is that we do not know what we are doing in Newfoundland and Labrador and we run everything into the ground. These are the messages that this government is putting out there.

Mr. Speaker, today we have, out in this Province, over 40,000 people in Newfoundland and Labrador today who do not have a paycheque. There is a problem with that. These are people who want to work. These are people who have trained in occupational fields and have committed their whole lives to serving the people of the Province. Right now, today, we have almost 20,000 people out there in the fishing industry alone who are not employed. We have people who have not been on the water this year; plant workers who do not know when they are going to work; fishermen who do not have a price for crab, do not have a price for shrimp, whose unemployment insurance benefits are all running out. These are almost 20,000 people today, in this Province, who do not have an industry to participate in because it has been mocked so much in Newfoundland and Labrador, because there is no effort being put into trying to straighten it out and get these people back on the water and get the workers back in the plant. That is the problem.

Then we have 20,000 public servants, some of the lowest paid public servants in this Province today and their families, who are out on the streets, who have been almost a month without a paycheque. Do you think they can defy legislation? They cannot defy legislation. Some of them are only making $14,000 or $16,000 a year. They have children in schools. They have kids in university, and most of them have a spouse who is probably on the picket line next to them. They have car payments. They have mortgages. They are trying to live as regular, ordinary citizens of this Province. How can they defy legislation that tells them: If you do not go back to work you will lose your job? It is not like they can walk down the street and pick up another job, Mr. Speaker. They are lucky to have the one they have. That is the kind of hard-nosed tactics that this government is putting forward to the people of the Province today. Saying to some of the poorest civil servants and public servants in this Province who are trying to just do a good job for their employer and do a good job for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and now they will pay the price. They will pay the ultimate price, of not only losing the freedom to speak and the freedom to act on their own behalf if they do not agree to something, but they will be legislated back. They will have legislated concessions. They will have legislated wages. That is what is happening, Mr. Speaker. It is absolutely shameful, is what it is. It is shameful when you know there is a government that has other options available to it.

Now, I will tell you something, the public servants in this Province and the people, the public at large, are not stupid. We might owe a few dollars in this Province. We may have somewhat of a deficit but we are not stupid. We can see through the mist and the clouds that are being created by the members opposite. Do you know what we see, Mr. Speaker? We do not see the best interest of people being looked after here. What we see is a long ways from it, an awful long ways from it.

Mr. Speaker, we have a government that had options available to it. I will start back with the Budget piece again, because they are hiding behind the numbers. They are trying to convince the public and the public servants of this Province that we cannot afford to have you on our payroll, so 4,000 of you must go. They are telling them that we cannot afford to give them wage increases because we are running the massive deficits.

The Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi has just asked the Minister of Finance again today: Why didn't you use the option of raising corporate income tax? I never heard such lame answers in all my life; never in all my life. The Premier did not stand to answer. The Minister of Finance stood to answer.

We are paying 5 per cent in corporate income taxes in this Province. Our neighbours in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are paying 15 per cent to 16 per cent in corporate income taxes.

Last week the Nova Scotia government brought down a budget. Do you know what they did to get new revenue? They increased corporate taxes again. We have lots of room to manoeuver on corporate taxes that could have brought in probably $65 million to $70 million to that government, but no, Mr. Speaker, because the right-wing agenda does not look at taxing corporations and increasing tax to big business. No, Mr. Speaker, the right-wing agenda is to plug the public service, put them out on strike, let them wait in the streets, cut 4,000 jobs, and close down school boards. That is the agenda of the members opposite. Those are the principles upon which their party is founded and upon which their government will govern.

Mr. Speaker, they do not believe in taxing the big business. They do not believe in bringing our corporate tax on parity with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. No, Mr. Speaker, because that would have given us probably $60 million or $70 million right off the bat. Why do that? Why not? The Minister of Finance gets up and says: We cannot do that because we may drive corporations out.

What a joke, Mr. Speaker. Do you think that IOC is going to pull up and move out of Labrador West because we jack up the corporate income tax by a couple of percentage points? Do you think they are going to close down Hibernia and Terra Nova, and pack it all in and go home because we are going to raise the corporate taxes? These companies are making billions of dollars in profit on an annual basis. They are not going to close her up, pack her in and take off because the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador tries to achieve parity on corporate taxes with other provinces in Atlantic Canada.

Actually, Mr. Speaker, I would not doubt but they are sitting back and laughing at us right now, absolutely laughing at us, when they can go up in Nova Scotia, develop the oil and gas industry, come down here and end up paying 10 per cent less in corporate taxes for doing the same thing. You cannot hide behind the numbers when there are other options that are available to you, Mr. Speaker.

Just look at what is happening, the other option that government had. Putting aside the numbers, putting aside the fact that there were other ways to generate revenue for the Province and for the government, they also had the option, Mr. Speaker, to go to arbitration. That option was available to them. Did they take it? No, they did not, Mr. Speaker. They did not take it. Do you know why they did not take it? Because they said that this government will not turn over the cheque books of the Province to an arbitrator.

Mr. Speaker, let me tell the members opposite something. There are collective agreements in this Province. There is a Collective Bargaining Act that is negotiated between governments and unions. It is an act that is developed and signed in good faith, and one that is expected to be followed. Do you know what we have in this Province, Mr. Speaker? Just let me summarize for you what has taken place.

First of all, we had a government who walked into a negotiation, who said, basically, this is what we are prepared to offer. They put their offer on the table and the unions counteracted; but, Mr. Speaker, there was no give in this negotiation. First of all, the government put an offer on the table that not only asked for a wage freeze for two years, which I understand the unions were quite supportive of, in agreement of, in the beginning, but they tried to roll back concessions that these unionized workers spent the last twenty years trying to build up in this Province. You do not walk into a negotiation and say: This is what I am prepared to offer you - less than you had last year, less than you had two years ago, less than you had three years ago. No, Mr. Speaker, that is not the way you conduct negotiations. That is the way this government conducts negotiations.

As soon as the unions, on behalf of their members, could not accept the concessions that the government laid before them, what happened, Mr. Speaker? The government walked away. No arbitration, no communication, slapped the legislation into the House: You defy it and you lose your job.

MR. REID: Never even spoke to his caucus about it.

MS JONES: Mr. Speaker, I do not even know if he spoke to his caucus. I do not even know, because on the day that he walked out of the hotel and went to the media and said - he and the Minister of Finance - that we are going to legislate them, the Government House Leader did not know, and actually said that it was not true. Five minutes later, the announcement was in the media.

Does that sound like a group of caucus members who are informed, Mr. Speaker? I do not think they are informed. I do not think they are informed. They are just dragging along on the coattails over there. They are not speaking up for the people who elected them. They are not speaking out. I do not hear one of them in this Legislature stand up and say that we should not be legislating them back to work, but they have had the calls. I know they have had the calls, and I know they have had the e-mails, but they are not responding to them.

I am going to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that what that government is doing is not right, and it is shameful that every single last thirty-three of them there could sit back and tap their desks during the Budget and applaud what was about to happen in this Province. It is absolutely unbelievable, Mr. Speaker.

I know a lot of the members over there, and I knew what they stood for before they sat on that side of the House. I knew what they stood for. They were standing up for people in their former lives, yes they were, but where are they now? They are not standing up for people now. No, instead, they have laid lame and quiet since January 5, since the day the Premier went before the public on the cameras in this Province, making his address to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, from the first evening when he announced there would be a wage freeze, the first thing to incite the public service in this Province to do exactly what had happened in the days that followed. Where were all the members over there? Not one of them saying a word.

Then, the Budget comes down and what is the first thing that is announced in the Budget? The fact that 4,000 jobs will go in the public service in Newfoundland and Labrador. Do you know something? We have not heard one of them speak out against it. Not one of them over there have I heard stand up for the people they represent, and speak out against it. No, but I heard them the day the Budget came down tapping their desks on the other side every few minutes for every single announcement. They were tapping their desks that day, Mr. Speaker. If that did not incite the strike and incite the unions to take the positions that they have taken in this Province, I do not know what would.

Mr. Speaker, it is so evident that the reason that we are here today, about to bring legislation into this House to legislate public workers back to work, is simply because that government and their leader's attempt at public bargaining is the most shameful, deplorable attempt at public bargaining I have ever seen in this Province to date. Not only did they go out and try to divide and conquer the union, but the leader, the Premier, went out to the picket lines with his name signed on a deal, trying to convince public servants in this Province to defy their unions, to break the union movement. That is what he did. That was his first attempt. I bet he would not go out there today, though, with a signed piece of paper trying to offer them an agreement. I did not see him out in the parking lot today when all of this lobbying was going on.

Then, Mr. Speaker, not only did they bungle the negotiations, not only did they fail at the attempts to negotiate, not only did they incite the workers of this Province by portraying false numbers on budgets by announcing wage freezes, by laying off public servants, but then, when they tried to exercise their rights, their right to be able to protest, their right to be able to speak freely in this Province, they were forbidden from sitting in the galleries. I walked into this House of Assembly last week, Mr. Speaker - and I have been here almost nine years - and for the first time I saw managers, the heads of departments within the public service, filling the seats of the gallery. Never before in the nine years I have been here have I seen it. Never before. Do you know what it was? It was an attempt to keep the public out, to keep the strikers out, an attempt to stifle them and not allow them to express their views.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The member's allotted time has expired.


MR. SPEAKER: By leave to clue up.

Leave has been granted.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you for the opportunity to clue up. I am going to clue up by saying this, that it is absolutely ridiculous, it is absolutely shameful that the members opposite could legislate some of the poorest and lowest paid public servants in this Province back to work, and to say to them: You will lose your job if you defy this act.

Mr. Speaker, these are honest, hard-working, descent people whose only objective is to earn a living for them and their families and to serve the public of this Province, and to do it with respect and with dignity, something that this government is prepared to strip clean from these workers. It is absolutely ridiculous! They are hiding behind the numbers that are false, absolutely false, and they are letting their corporate friends walk away scot-free without paying a dime while they balance their books on the backs of honest, hard-working people in this Province, and for those reasons I will not support this Budget, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin-Placentia West.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. JACKMAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is my first opportunity to speak at length in this House and it gives me great pleasure to do so today. In doing so I would like to speak to some issues as they relate to my district, and then I would like to connect them to what I see are some of the positives in this Budget.

As I stand here today I do so with mixed emotions. First, I feel quite humbled knowing that this great House has been inhabited by so many influential people in this Province. I reflect on the number of decisions that have been made in this House that have impacted on this Province, and as I do so, I realize that the fate of this Province has been placed on the shoulders of the people who sit in this House.

On the other hand, I am certainly somewhat troubled today when I realize that I have family, friends, and other fellow Newfoundlanders who are placed in the situation that they have been placed in over the past number of weeks. So, as I make this speech today I find that I am forced to reflect on my role as an individual in this House, but, as well, I reflect on my role as part of a ruling government. It is then that I realize a couple of things. First, that we do live in a democracy, for as unfortunate as it has been that we have people who are out on the streets, it is equally a fortunate situation that people have been able to express themselves. Now it comes to a time when issues related to health care and education, and other general matters related to the public, it is time now that this government has to take a stand in the best interest of public safety. Having said these things, I recognize that this government has many tough decisions to make. I believe, in the end, the majority of people will realize and will fully endorse the government's stance in regards to this Budget.

So, Mr. Speaker, from the farthest reaching point in my district, South East Bight on through to communities referred to in our area as down over the road, and through Marystown and into Burin and their surrounding communities, I recognize the expectations, the hopes and the aspirations for the future that have been placed upon our shoulders. Indeed, it is hope and enthusiasm that was eagerly bestowed upon us on October 21, 2003. It is a government that I am pleased to be a part of and I want to ensure the residents of Burin-Placentia West that I am here to represent them.

I wish to sincerely thank the residents of Burin-Placentia West for giving me the mandate for the next four years. At this time I would also like to thank my family, my wife and my five children, because they were very supportive of me moving into this journey in my life and again, I would sincerely like to thank them.

Mr. Speaker, I am a product of resettlement. The program of the late 1960s - in October of 1968 my family moved to the Town of Marystown. My mother, carting our few belongings and nine children - the youngest being one month of age and I, being the oldest, at fourteen - left our community in Grole, Hermitage Bay. The member across the way from Fortune Bay-Cape la Hune would certainly recognize where that community is. It is about three miles away from his home community.

We began our journey via coastal boat from Terrenceville to Marystown. We then - all ten of us - piled into a taxi owned by Mr. Ambrose Stacey and we were delivered to apartment sixty-two in Marystown; in the housing area section of the town. My father had found employment at the fish plant, and coming from a smaller remote community, this community certainly presented us with many new challenges and many new sights and sounds. However, despite all the transitions, we did survive and despite all the adjustments and the manner in which the original resettled people and their offspring have distributed themselves across the district, we are now an integral, productive part of the communities in the district. This district has been our home for thirty-eight years.

Personally, I left the Peninsula for a number of years to attend school and I spent two years in Cartwright, Labrador. In 1978 I returned and for the remainder, up until October, I pursued my teaching career and my educational career in the district.

Mr. Speaker, during the early days of the 1970s and 1980s work was at a premium. The local fish plant in Marystown was operating at capacity, as was the fish plant in Burin. The inshore fishery was lucrative with several communities having small fish plants. The Marystown shipyard was underway, and with the production and repair of deep sea trawlers work was aplenty and the economy strong. Unfortunately, as it relates to the fishery, insight at the time was only immediate, and the long-term sustainability of the resource that was thought to be unlimited was limited. With the downturn in the fishery in the 1990s, devastation struck the South Coast of Newfoundland and the District of Burin-Placentia West, as it did the entire Province.

However, Mr. Speaker, I think it is important that we acknowledge that the people of this district and of the Burin Peninsula, not to be snowed under, so to speak, once again came forward to attest to the character of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. The residents of Burin-Placentia West began to take ownership of their own destiny. The larger centres began to diversify. Burin, with the fish plant, continuing to play an integral role in the life of the community and moving into secondary processing, also began to build a future that involved the rich history of the town.

Tourism became an attraction that sees people visit the area from across the Province, from across the Nation, and, indeed, from across the World. If you want to see a sampling of this rich local talent, show up at around 7:00 p.m. on a Wednesday at the Old Colony Trust and I can assure you that you will be impressed with the surroundings as well as the talent.

Marystown, through such groups as the Chamber of Commerce, began to promote the possibilities within the business sector. Mr. Speaker, through ventures related to recreation, in particular sports recreation, the fisheries, ship construction and offshore oil related industry, the Town of Marystown along with its surrounding communities, despite the challenges, continued to survive, grow and develop. The Marystown fish plant, through companies such as Fishery Products International, are presently restructuring their production. I feel confident that in the coming years there will be a stable, viable workforce related to this facility.

At present, with the Cow Head fabrication centre operating to capacity with preparatory work with the White Rose oil development and with over 1,000 people working on site, the area is thriving like it has not seen for many years. The future will hopefully see further work in this field, again providing an environment that will see other investors in the oil industry have work completed in this area.

The potential of Mortier Bay is tremendous. Whether it be in the oil related sector, ship building or fish production, the potential benefits of Mortier Bay and the possible spinoffs it could produce in terms of employment and business to the entire Burin Peninsula is immense.

Mr. Speaker, the communities in the northern part of the district, one being Baine Harbour, which I am pleased to have called my home for the past twenty-five years, cling to their talents. Whether it be in fisheries, carpentry or construction, those living in the communities continue to sustain themselves quite well and will tell you that despite a declining population they intend to be there for years to come.

We, with decision-making powers, need to understand that it was these communities that made Newfoundland and Labrador. We must also realize that they continue to shape this Province and will do so into the future. In fact, in a recent interview, I heard the Mayor of St. John's stating that while St. John's and the Avalon region are experiencing a growth, if there are concerns in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, he stated, as a Province we should all be concerned. I hope all the people of the Province see it in this same light.

Mr. Speaker, it is with this in mind that I make reference to the Budget initiatives that will hopefully serve us extremely well. As I continue to speak with family and friends across my district and across the Province, I sense a bitterness. Far too many of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are bitter with the lack of return we have received from our resources. They are bitter about the manner in which our resources have been managed, and they are bitter about the perceived giveaways that have happened time and time again. During our election campaign we certainly heard this, and I feel it is a topic of conversation in individual households.

Mr. Speaker, it is now with hope that the residents of this Province look to this government who have campaigned on the slogan "the new approach" to get back what is rightfully ours and, equally as important, that we not let slip away any future developments. The residents of this Province look to a positive, prosperous future with this government. The new approach will hopefully result in fair and equitable treatment from the federal government.

So, Mr. Speaker, what better rationale can we want than to have these types of activities that we see happening in Marystown, related to the offshore, happening on a larger scale across this Province? What better rationale could we have for lifting the abandonment that so many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have felt due to the loss of revenue? So it is with opportunity, I guess, that we look to the Ottawa office, the Newfoundland and Labrador Office of Federal-Provincial Relations, and hopefully a better return on our resources.

If I may, Mr. Speaker, let me relay a personal experience. What better rationale could there be than to reap the benefits and rewards that would see our people return to this Province? Just a couple of weeks ago, I am pleased to say, one of my sons returned to this Province. In the next short while his wife will return and, better still, so will my grandchild. Mr. Speaker, this is reason enough for me, as I am sure it would be for so many parents and grandparents of this Province, for the Ottawa office, one that will hopefully see our people get their just return for the resources and see more of our children and grandchildren return to this Province.

I am certain that the people will look to the Rural Secretariat, which will report to Minister Dunderdale, as a renewed commitment to rural Newfoundland and Labrador. This department, coupled with the business portfolio led by the Premier, will support the small business sector that offers so much possibility for the rural areas of this Province. Again, what better rationale for such a position than sustaining and developing these smaller rural communities?

Mr. Speaker, as I say this, I think of a gentleman who has a cupboard door business begun in our district. This gentleman now employs three people and is looking at expanding his business so that he can employ more people and thus keep more people in our smaller communities.

Mr. Speaker, as this government continues with an agenda of openness and transparency, the people of this Province look to a fiscal and social responsibility that will see the future of this Province on a sound footing with a productive future. In line with this agenda, there are tough decisions to be made. When we talk of restructuring in areas such as education, and in particular school boards, I am looking at the impact that such a decision will have on many of my friends and former colleagues.

While many realize that restructuring in this particular area was inevitable, once the stark reality hits, it can be devastating. I would like to remind those who criticized the government for restructuring of boards that over the past five years, in our district alone - I am talking the school district of the Burin Peninsula - four of the major schools were closed. This can be said the same across the Province - devastating, in fact, but people have adjusted and moved onward.

Mr. Speaker, education has been a lifelong career for me, and I assure the people of Burin- Peninsula West that it will remain forefront in my actions. If we look to the Budget, we will see the commitment of the government to education. While we would like to maintain all the teachers that we presently have, we realize that, with declining enrollments, there will be reductions. With the Sparkes-Williams report suggesting that 365 teaching units be taken from the system, I feel that a reduction of 256 units this year and the remaining 109 being removed in the following year is being well received. Many will also be pleased that these overhanging numbers will finally be dealt with. Teacher cuts this year within the District of Burin-Placentia West have been minimal, and I believe education will be delivered in an effective, efficient manner.

Mr. Speaker, these initiatives, along with other initiatives, will impact positively on the children of our Province. The Ministerial Council on Early Childhood Education recognizes the importance of a good start. The foundation to a sound education starts with the youngest of age. It is why I am pleased and fully supportive of this initiative. Equally, there is the important recognition of co-operation across different government departments. This is something that I personally feel will improve fiscal responses within the Province.

Mr. Speaker, the investment in "Healthy Children - Healthy Schools" will see the Department of Health and the Department of Education jointly address issues related to schools. Again, this speaks to the desire of this government to have departmental co-operation. Likewise, the $500,000 to maintain the Kids Eat Smart Foundation speaks to the importance again of a healthy start and, in this case, a good start to every day through support for the breakfast program and continuing on throughout the day with support of lunch programs.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased with the White Paper on Post-Secondary Education, issues which will address matters related to affordability and accessability, along with enhancing employment prospects. The outcome of this investigation will certainly result in measures that will hopefully please the youth of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, there are many other initiatives that I feel will benefit the people of this Province. I am particularly interested in matters related to health care and seniors, and I look forward to speaking on these matters in coming days.

Mr. Speaker, from the beautiful, remote community of South East Bight on through to the oldest community of Burin, let me say it is an honour to serve in this House and to represent the people of Burin-Placentia West. We are a people who exemplify the tenacity and determination that so many people in communities have displayed in this Province for so many years.

Under this government we have vowed and will dare to look differently at the future. The people expect and deserve no less. With this challenge comes the need for co-operation. I feel confident that the people of Burin-Placentia West are accepting of this challenge and they will work with me and my government to ensure a vibrant, viable future.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BUTLER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Today I want to stand and say that I - in support of the non-confidence motion, and to go into some of the highlights of why I am unable to support this present Budget.

Mr. Speaker, to begin with, I want to say that this Budget was crafted by the leader who is the Premier of this Province. I wonder, from day to day, can we really believe and are we really debating the true and only Budget? Because one day something is cancelled, and the next day it is placed on hold. Then the items that were placed on hold, we learn that they have been deferred. When you look at this Budget you have to really size up where all of this came from and the individual who is behind it. When he decided to run for the leadership of this party and to become Premier of this Province, he asked that, he would love - the time had come for him to give back to this Province what he had received from the Province. I have to say, Mr. Speaker, if what we are seeing over the last couple of weeks is what he received from this Province, he is giving back in return, it is a sad day for the people of this Province.

He also told us, Mr. Speaker, that he would build solid, fundamental policies to govern this Province that he acquired over thirty years in the private sector. He promised us of a new leadership -

MS FOOTE: A new approach.

MR. BUTLER: New, real leadership; a new approach. I doubt, Mr. Speaker, what our people are facing today in this Province, when they voted him in and his government, that is not the approach they thought they were voting for.

He also made sure that he would build a foundation of trust and co-operation. He stated to the people of this Province that he was a man of his word. But, Mr. Speaker, I want to use a quote from Will Rogers, and it was used last year by the then Member for Ferryland, who is now the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board, he said: "I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts."

Mr. Speaker, the people of this Province were told the problems that we are facing were inherited by the financial problems that were passed along to them. A lot of those reports came from an individual who was working in Ontario - and I am sure the people of this Province really know who he is. He was known as the Pokaroo. He was on the Polka Dot Door program years ago, and I think that is what he did when he came to this Province. He ‘pokarooed' around to every department, made out a financial statement, and the people of this Province are asked to believe it.

When the Blue Book came out, and the blueprint, it was full of promises to the people of this Province. Now they are known as broken commitments because of the financial mess we find ourselves in. We were promised that they were going to grow the economy, and I know they have only been there six months, Mr. Speaker, but I say they should start to protect what we have and not destroy.

Mr. Speaker, as we look back over a period of time, and some of those issues that I am going to reference, the 20,000 people who are on the streets today are part of all that is happening. When we see from the mining industry, in 2003, an estimate of $755 million, and it is forecast to increase again in 2004.

Aquaculture in this Province; we have 6,200 people directly employed in the industry, for an approximate value of $500 million. Our fishing industry; four out of the past five years have been in excess of a $500 million value to our Province. Retail sales tax last year went to $5.4 billion. Tourism, in 2003, was a strong year with 439,000 visitors to our Province with the funds coming in from that of over $300 million. We also know that employment numbers have grown since 2002 here in our Province. Supermarket sales increased by $48 million. Gasoline sales were up by $31 million, Mr. Speaker, and the list goes on.

Mr. Speaker, in this Budget, one of the issues I want to touch on is the new tax reduction for low income individuals and families. If you look at it, and that was the end of the line, no doubt it is a good program. It states: with this program a low income individual may save up to $416 in provincial income tax and a family may save up to $464. Mr. Speaker, when you look at it, a lot of the people who are in this wage range will never see the light of day to get $464. It has been estimated that the majority of them will be between $250 and $300. Even that is fine in the pockets of our Newfoundlanders, if that is where it ended.

Mr. Speaker, to come along with that wonderful news item was the massive tax grab. The people of the Province who will receive this tax rebate over a period of time are being hit by the tax grab. Just on a few items, Mr. Speaker, to ordinary individuals out in the communities of rural Newfoundland: the small game licence has increased in one year by $5; big game licence increased by $12; for a family to go camping in an unserviced camping site, $3 for one weekend; driver's licence gone up $4 per year; vehicle registrations, $40 per year. God forbid, but if one family had to use one ambulance trip, that is also gone up by $40.

Mr. Speaker, the list goes on. If you took all of this into consideration and you look at the rebate they are going to get back on that taxes, it would be a wonderful help to help lift those families above the poverty line if they could keep it, but what was given in one hand was taken away in the other.

The other thing, Mr. Speaker, in the Budget is education. We all know how important education is to us in this Province. I have to go back to my hon. colleague again from Harbour Main-Whitbourne, while in debate on April 8, 2003. He stated, and I quote, "...the voice of the youth had been heard through the 1990s, and Generation X that went through the 1990s..." - referring to that government - "... turned into generation death." He said the voices were loud and were ignored. Make sure they are heard and acted upon.

Mr. Speaker, when we look at this Budget, I say that Generation X has turned into generation exterminator, because now we see 476 teachers being eliminated and taken out of the system over the next two years. I doubt very much, Mr. Speaker, if that is the call of our youth.

We see the teachers, we see the civil service, being stripped of their jobs, 4,000 of them, and the concessions that go along with it, Mr. Speaker. We see the seniors being stripped, one time or another, stripped of the pride and dignity that they have. The general population of our Province, once we see the amalgamation of the health care boards and the education boards, we are going to see massive changes to the service that our people are used to seeing.

Mr. Speaker, only this past week - and in our area of Conception Bay North we have the Avalon Health Care Institutions Board, and over a number of years it took quite some time to get all of the people in that area to see that there was a service being provided at the hospital in Carbonear, because people had the idea that the hospital should have been somewhere else back in the early days. The people of that area now are very proud of the facility that they have, and what has been offered them.

I just want to make a quote that was in their booklet this year. "Health care is by its nature in a constant state of change. We are pleased to report that in our Board, change isn't simply followed, it is sought and it is valued. Our staff show considerable capacity to pursue and accept new ways of doing things."

Mr. Speaker, they are referring to the people who are walking the picket lines in that area today, who offer services to the people at the Harbour Lodge Nursing Home; the Interfaith Home for Senior Citizens; the Lions Manor in Placentia; the Carbonear General Hospital itself, Mr. Speaker; the Placentia Health Care; the Dr. A. A. Wilkinson Memorial Health Centre in Old Perlican; and the Dr. William H. Newhook Community Health Centre in Whitbourne. Mr. Speaker, those people provide a wonderful service, but I fear what is going to happen when the health care board are amalgamated together and what is going to happen to the people in this area.

Only this past weekend, I had a call from a gentleman from Trinity-Bay de Verde, who I knew a number of years ago. When he called, he said: Roland, I would like for you to mention this some time. My wife is a patient at the Harbour Lodge in Carbonear. She has been there for a few years now with Alzheimer's. When the people went on strike, she thought that her family had left her; but, Roland, as sad as that is, make sure that you and your people stand firm and do not support legislating those workers back to work, because without them our services are going to be totally taken away from us and we are concerned what is going to happen in the future.

Mr. Speaker, the other thing that was mentioned in the Budget Speech was the Rural Secretariat. I am wondering, is that going to turn into something similar to the urban Cabinet that we have, a Cabinet that we were told by the Premier was based upon qualifications?

Mr. Speaker, I heard the Premier on television one night talking about how he selected his Cabinet by qualifications, and no doubt each and every person there is qualified, but when he was questioned why rural Newfoundland was not in place, like they should have been, he said: Well, there may be some minute areas of this Province that are not covered in the Cabinet at this time.

Mr. Speaker, I guess we are playing games with words again, because it seems like the word minute falls into the same category as massive. When you look at the district, the wonderful District of Topsail, all the way out to the District of Lewisporte, all of the Burin Peninsula and the Bonavista Peninsula being classified as a minute area of this Province, I think there is something to be desired.

When you look at that area, Mr. Speaker, we have ten individuals sitting on that side of the House who were not considered to be in that Cabinet and represent the people of rural Newfoundland. Don't tell me that the Member for Conception Bay South is not a qualified individual to sit in the Cabinet. I go to Placentia & St. Mary's, a member who has been here in this hon. House for many years. Don't tell me that he is not qualified to be in the hon. House of Assembly. The Member for Harbour Main-Whitbourne, an educator all of his life, being put in a category that he was not qualified to represent the people in my immediate area. Trinity North, the member who has been critic for Health, and has all the answer to the health care system, don't tell me that he is not qualified to sit in the Cabinet. Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member for Windsor-Springdale, an hon. gentleman who stood here time and time again fighting for the people in his district, don't tell me he was not qualified to be in the Cabinet. Then we go the Member for Bonavista South, an hon. gentleman in this House for many years, who has been looked down on, that he was not qualified according to the Premier to be placed in this Cabinet. Then we have four newcomers from the wonderful Districts of Trinity-Bay de Verde, Bonavista North, Terra Nova and Burin-Placentia West. All of those people represent the little minute area of this Province that is not represented, and the people of rural Newfoundland are not too happy about it. I think it is time for the Premier to take a look at that.

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the Rural Secretariat, the Premier stated: My Government is particularly concerned about the challenges confronting our rural communities and the businesses that operate in them.

Well, I say - and we hear all too often about the mess that this government took over - how about we look back to 1995. I hate going back because we are on this journey forward, but we go back to 1995 when the Firewood Experts International Limited was formed, in 1995, and they were to buy birch in Central Newfoundland, in the area of Lewisporte, and to ship it to Norway. It was supposed to create sixty seasonal jobs for the people of this Province. That was in August of 1995. In December, 1995, there seemed to be a problem. It was not working out. The quality was not up to par; but, up to that point in time, Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador had put into that business, the taxpayers' money of this Province, $600,000, and the operation was run by our present Premier. He was the head one in this particular company.

Anyway, when they fell into difficulty and could not sell the birch over in Norway, they needed legal advice. They had to fight it in the courts to get some of this money back. Lo and behold, Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador put another $150,000 into it. Seven hundred and fifty-thousand dollars to get a few birch junks that the people of this Province put into that project. What happened in November, 1996, a little over a year-and-a-half? We had to, in this Province, write off $676,846 for the very simple reason that there were no personal guarantees or other non-company related securities to collect that money back.

Is that the thirty years' experience that we are referring to? Is that the man who was going to hire lots of Newfoundlanders back on? Because if it is, Mr. Speaker, I can start a business tomorrow and take them on.

The other thing, Mr. Speaker, is - talk about growing the economy. I remember when the by-elections were on up on the Great Northern Peninsula and two hon. members opposite were elected. I happened to be up there during that time. The word was up there - and I agree with every word that was said at the time - that make-work projects are not the only thing that is any good for those people. They just don't work out and build the economy the way it should be. There are times, Mr. Speaker, when we have to do that.

Having said that, while the words were coming out of one side of his mouth there were twenty-five to thirty people hired on creating the wonderful golf course up at Salmonier Line, The Wilds, cutting the brush, a make-work project. It wasn't good for the people on the Northern Peninsula, Mr. Speaker, but it was good for himself.

Here we are today, and I have been told that approximately 100,000 vehicles crossed over the Straits of Bell Isle last year, from the Labrador side to this side. Now, with the change in the routes of the ferries going from Lewisporte down the coast - and I am not saying that is all bad either, Mr. Speaker, because people were worried about their freight. What an opportunity that is, and was, to help the businesses and the local economy in that area with all those tourists traveling down the Northern Peninsula.

In the Throne Speech, Mr. Speaker, on page 21, I think it is - I hope I can find it fairly quickly - they are talking about, "My Government will establish a Newfoundland and Labrador Office of Federal-Provincial relations in Ottawa..." to the wonderful tune of $350,000. Mr. Speaker, words are very important. It says, "My Government will be right there, imaginatively and aggressively focusing..." on all the issues of this Province.

Well, Mr. Speaker, when I look imaginative up in the dictionary, one of the meanings that is listed there says, having a lively imagination. That is what imaginative is. I say, Mr. Speaker, what a lively imagination it is to be able to spend $350,000 to talk to the people in Ottawa, when they have been flying in and out here, one of the biggest tourist industries we have had in the last few years. They have been coming in here on jets leading up to the election. There is not a minister in Ottawa who hasn't visited this Province.

Mr. Speaker, I have to go back to Hansard, because when this Premier went around to the people of this Province seeking there support, he wrapped himself in the flag, I guess probably like many others, and this is what he said, and I quote. This was March 19, 2002, in Hansard, and I hope this is not a prop.

"I can tell you what needs to be done with the federal government. They need to be hit over the head with a mallet. That is what the federal government needs. That is exactly what they need, because they are stripping our people of their dignity. They need to understand the difference between have not and have."

MS JONES: Who said that?

MR. BUTLER: The Premier said that, leading up to the election, before he was elected.

The other thing he said, Mr. Speaker, and it is in Hansard, was, What do those people want up there? Do they want our clean water, do they want our fresh air, do they want the very blood in our veins? Mr. Speaker, he wrapped himself in the flag and the people believed him and they voted for him, and that was their democratic right. Mr. Speaker, after the election I would say he has become nothing only a purring pussycat with a cuddly relationship with his friends in Ottawa.

Mr. Speaker, today we witness one of the toughest decisions, I guess, that will be made in this House of Assembly, when people will have to stand and vote one way or the other on this new legislation when it is introduced in the next reading. I do not know about the hon. members opposite, but I can tell you one thing, I know what I am hearing in my district and I hear it all too often, the people are very upset. People who voted for this government cannot believe what they are hearing and what is happening around them today.

Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of giving other people an opportunity to stand and speak, I want to conclude with this one thing. It was written in Hansard and I hope I can do it justice, Mr. Speaker, because it is the words of the great poet E.J. Pratt. When he said, "Here the winds blow,/And here they die,/ Not with that wild, exotic rage/ That vainly sweeps untrodden shores,/ But with familiar breath/ Holding a partnership with life,/ Resonant with the hopes of spring,/Pungent with the airs of harvest."

Mr. Speaker, I have a little change made to it because I believe - I also hope that the winds will continue to blow and die here. I hope all our shores will be well-trodden and that a partnership with life will continue for the spring and thanksgiving for the harvest. But, Mr. Speaker, I fear the plans of this government is a threat to rural Newfoundland. The hope they gave the people will wither on the vines and have not will continue to be. I believe there is only one resolve to all of this, and I ask the hon. Premier to do the honourable thing and head back to the people and get the message that they thought they were going to get the first time he went to them.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber East.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

It is with a sense of humility caused by the heavy responsibility that was entrusted upon me, on October 21, caused by the history that I feel by being in this historic and famous Chamber and in recognition of the real contribution that has been made by the people that preceded me, in this particular seat, that I rise to make my first remarks on behalf of the great people and the great District of Humber East.

Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to join with those who congratulated you on your election as Speaker. I understand that this is an historic situation, that you are the first Speaker who was independently elected by all Members of the House of Assembly. The fact that your election here was unanimous is certainly an indication of the respect that all members of the House, both on this side and that side, and indeed, all parties here, have for you. I congratulate you on that.

I have seen, in the short time that I have been here, the fair and impartial way that you have carried out your duties, not only to those of us who have the honour to sit here in this Chamber, but also those people who come and sit in the public galleries. I think you are to be highly commended for the fairness and impartiality that you have shown.

Mr. Speaker, this is the people's House. In order to sit in this House, and in order to speak in this House, you have to place your name before the people of this Province. You have to get elected. We are the true, concerned citizen's committee. We are the true representatives of the people. From time to time, and indeed, in many times, I hear people on the radio who claim to speak for the people, who claim to speak for the citizens, but the only true citizen's committee are the people who run in a general election, who put what they stand for behind the people, who knock on doors, who hear what the people have to say and then stand to be elected or defeated in a general election.

I want to congratulate all of those who had the guts to enter their names in the election and stand for office, not only on this side of the House but that side of the House as well. All members carry the hopes and dreams and aspirations of all the people of Newfoundland. That is why we are here. It is an honour to be elected. It is a noble calling to offer yourself for office and be elected and have the responsibility from the people of your district to go and represent them in this Assembly. It is a big responsibility and I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, it is one I take very, very seriously.

Mr. Speaker, I think the people expect a high standard from us and they are entitled to that high standard. I have to say that since I was elected on October 21, and came in here, I found the job exhilarating. It is indeed an honour to serve the people. I went into politics out of a desire to serve, out of a desire to do my bit. Rather than sit at home and criticize, I decided that I would take the plunge at this stage of my life. I congratulate all people who have done it.

The disappointing thing that I found since I came in here in this House of Assembly: I found the tone of the debate too nasty. There is a lot of yelling and screaming. There is a lot of foolishness. I think one day in particular there were a bunch of high school kids sitting in the gallery up there, and they looked at the foolishness that was going on here, the yelling and the screaming. We can do better than that, Mr. Speaker. I think all of us can do better than that, and I think the people demand us to do better than that.

I have the feeling that, as a new MHA coming in here, there are a lot of old scores that are being settled. Well, I do not care about old scores. I am looking forward to the future. I am looking forward to new things. I am looking forward to taking part in the debates in this House of Assembly and I want to see the advancement of my district and my Province. So, if there are people who want to settle old scores, maybe it is time to move on.

I remember my father, who was elected to parliament for the District of Humber-Port au Port-St Barbe on the West Coast, the night he was elected he said: I don't understand why some politicians don't know when it is time to go. He was referring at that time, I think, to two politicians who served their Province and their country well. He was referring to John Diefenbaker, former Prime Minister of the country. He felt that sometimes you have to know when to fold them and move on. He said that he would serve for two terms and then he would leave. I was not necessarily a believer in fixed terms, but maybe it is a good thing, that after a while you move on; after a while we fold them and let some new blood and some new people come in. I appeal to all members to remember that we are here for all the people of this Province and lets debate the issues, lets have a high tone, and lets get on with the work that the people of this Province want us to do.

Mr. Speaker, I said I am honoured to be here and I am. The reason I am here, I am influenced by a number of people. Since these are the first remarks that I have made in this House of Assembly I want to pay tribute to my father, who, as I said, represented Humber-Port au Port-St. Barbe in the House of Commons in Ottawa. He was elected for the first time in 1968 with a majority of 283 votes. He was the first Progressive Conservative member of parliament elected in that district since 1949. I want to pay tribute to him today because he is quite ill at the moment but I know how proud he would be if he could sit in this gallery and watch me here today, because he is the reason that I did go into politics. He was elected four years later with a majority of 6,000, and two years after that he was re-elected again with a majority of 6,500. He is one of the few politicians that I know was more popular when his career was ending than when he started. When the ten years was up or the nine years was up, he said: That is enough, it is time for me to move on. He told his family that he was leaving politics, and he told a friend of his in Ottawa, by the name of Don Jamieson, and the next thing that happened is the Prime Minister of the country appointed him to the Senate, Prime Minister Trudeau. So, I think that is quite amazing that a man who was the first Progressive Conservative elected in the great District of Humber-Port au Port-St. Barbe in 1968 would be appointed to the Senate of Canada by a Liberal Prime Minister.

My father was a person who, to put it mildly, did not like people who were powerful in our society. He not did like large corporations. He did not like the weight they had in the economic life of this country. I always used to be amazed sometimes to see how angry he would get when we used to walk into the airport in Stephenville or Deer Lake and he just was angry at Air Canada because they were a monopoly. He did not like the fact that large corporations with their lobbyists and their lawyers who seemed to get an undue advantage over the rest of the population. Equally, he was concerned about the people who were poor. He was concerned about the people who were not strong in society. He was concerned about the poor. He was concerned about people on fixed incomes, people who were retired. He was concerned about the sick and the elderly. He felt that the role of politicians who are elected, whether in the House of Commons in Ottawa or in the House of Assembly here in the Newfoundland, that our role is to protect those people, and I am going to follow that tradition, Mr. Speaker. We are going to protect the people who are poor. I am going to speak out for the people who are old, who are widows and people who are disabled. That is my role. Corporations can look after themselves. Unions are strong and can look after themselves, but we have to look after the people who are not strong in society. I call on every MHA in this House, on this side and that side, to join me in that effort.

I want to pay tribute now to the man who was supposed to be here in this seat, because it was not supposed to be me originally, and that is Joe Mullins. I am sure that most people here probably knew Joe Mullins. Most people in Newfoundland knew the man. I do not think there was ever a more popular person in all of Newfoundland than Joe Mullins. He would have been a great parliamentarian. He would have added such vigor and such life to the proceedings of this House. He worked for CBC for many years. He was a wit and a humourist. He did his impressions of Uncle Llewellyn. He could debate. He could tell a story. He could joke and he would be a great debater; plus, he had one of the biggest hearts that you could possibly imagine. He was nominated to represent the PC Party in Humber East, and, unfortunately, we lost Joe before he had a chance to be elected here. The numbers - I know all politicians are always interested in polls. The numbers that were done on Joe Mullins were absolutely phenomenal. He would have beaten anyone. He would have beaten any candidate for any party in Humber East, in Humber West, or in the Bay of Islands. As I said, Mr. Speaker, I want to pay tribute to him and to his wife Marie and to his son Peter. If we had not lost Joe, I would have had the pleasure, Mr. Speaker, of running against the hon. Member for Bay of Islands, and that would have been a battle that I would have looked forward to.

Mr. Speaker, as the Member of the House of Assembly for Humber East, I want to pay tribute to those who have preceded me in this position.


MR. SPEAKER (Fitzgerald): Order, please!

MR. T. MARSHALL: First of all, I want to pay tribute to my immediate predecessor, Mr. Bob Mercer. Bob Mercer was a good MHA for Humber East. He worked hard for his district, but elections are not about winning and losing. Elections are about choices. The people -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) tried his best.

MR. T. MARSHALL: He did try his best.

The people of Humber East, in assessing the situation, wanted a change. They recognize that all MHAs - they expect all MHAs to be good MHAs, regardless of what party you belong to. It is not enough to say that I am going to elect that guy because he is a good MHA, or that woman because she is a good MHA. We expect everybody to be a good MHA. The people decided they wanted to change the government in this Province. They decided that after fifteen years of our hon. friends opposite being the government of this Province, they wanted a change. They wanted a new approach. They wanted an approach with Danny Williams, and therefore they did me the honour of electing me.

Before Bob Mercer, Lynn Verge was the MHA. I do not think there is anyone who could say that Lynn Verge was not an outstanding MHA, but Bob Mercer defeated her in one election at the time when the people of this Province wanted a Liberal government elected by Clyde Wells, but I do want to pay tribute to Bob for the work he did as the MHA for Humber East, and pay tribute to his wife Judy, and I hope that they enjoy their retirement.

Mr. Speaker, there have been a number of interesting people who have represented Humber East, in this House. The first member was Mr. Charles Ballam, who I had the honour of meeting in a professional capacity when I was a young lawyer in Corner Brook many years ago, and he certainly regaled me with a number of stories about the early days of this House and the national convention that preceded it.

He was succeeded by Mr. Jack Forsey. Mr. Jack Forsey was a man I remember, and I think he would make the hon. Member for Ferryland quiet in comparison, but he served Humber East well. He did it to the best of his ability.

He was succeeded by Dr. Noel Murphy. Dr. Noel Murphy is the former Mayor of Corner Brook, a very distinguished and prominent citizen of Corner Brook, a man who I always felt should have been a Lieutenant-Governor. He was involved in numerous organizations. He started so many organizations on the West Coast. He was a doctor and he was very highly regarded. He became a leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and was elected as a PC. I think he was the first Progressive Conservative to be elected in Humber East. Indeed, he was. Later on in his political life he decided to join our friends in the other party, which was a loss to the Progressive Conservative Party, but even today he does a radio show every morning for seniors. It is one that I certainly enjoy listening to, and I want to pay tribute to him as well.

Dr. Murphy was succeeded by Clyde Wells. Clyde Wells at the time was a young lawyer in the City of Corner Brook when he first got elected by defeating Dr. Murphy. He was a man whom I had the privilege of being a law partner with, and a business partner with, for about ten years. I know that some of my colleagues on this side may not understand what I am about to say, but I can tell you that I was proud of my association with Clyde Wells. I consider him to be an honourable and principled man. While we may have differed in politics, I never doubted his sincerity and belief in the principles that he espoused. I disagreed with him fervently with respect to Meech Lake, but I never doubted his honest belief in the principles and the fact that he did make us proud of the way he conducted himself, with his persuasiveness and his eloquence when he represented this Province in the Meech Lake negotiations, whether you agreed with the principle or not. He now is the distinguished Chief Justice of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

After Clyde Wells, Dr. Tom Farrell became the MHA for Humber East and Dr. Farrell, as Minister of Health, established the new Western Memorial Hospital Corporation in Corner Brook and created the Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook. He will be long remembered for that.

He was succeeded by Lynn Verge, probably the greatest MHA of them all for Humber East. Many people may not know it, but Lynn Verge has done more to advance the cause of women's rights than any other person in this Province. I remember when she brought in legislation entitled the Family Law Act. I am sorry, at the time it was called the Matrimonial Property Act; it has since been renamed. I said to her: Look, it is great progressive legislation but you are going too fast. You have to slow down. She said no, and she was right. She brought the legislation in. She said: We will bring that legislation in and we can always amend it later. That is what she did. Do you know what? It does not seem that progressive now. She did more to advance women's rights in this Province than anybody else.

I am delighted when I look around and see all the women MHAs on both sides of the House. I think that is a credit to her and the fights that she and people like Anne Bell fought many years ago. As a result of her efforts, I think all of us are conscious to make sure that women's rights are advanced in this Province, and I am pleased to say that in a new program we have announced for new RNC officers, in conjunction with Memorial University, we have asked the deputy chief to take steps to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that 50 per cent of the recruits are women.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to announce that I support the budgetary policy of this government and will vote against the non-confidence motion.

In the Budget, we attempted to accomplish three things, three things in very difficult circumstances. First of all, we are trying to get our fiscal house in order. We have no choice but to do that. That is because of the horrible mess we find ourselves in with a debt that I understand will be $11.6 million at the end of this year for only 520,000 people. I mean, that is just a phenomenal debt, 520,000 people with a debt load of $11.6 million. It is terrible to even think of.

Secondly, I congratulate the Minister of Finance for what he attempted to do to help people who are disadvantaged because, as I said earlier, that is a role we have to play. We have to make sure that we look after the disadvantaged because they cannot do it themselves.

Thirdly, we took steps to grow the economy, because if we can grow that economy, more people will be employed, more businesses will make money, and therefore the government can then tax those people and get more revenue, and that revenue we can then redistribute to the people who need it, for health, education, and social services.

Mr. Speaker, figures that I saw from the Department of Finance indicate that, of every dollar we have to spend, twenty-five cents is going to pay interest on the debt. Government say they are servicing the debt, but all we are doing is paying interest. We are not paying the debt down. That is twenty-five cents. I am told that we spend fifty-two cents on wages and benefits. That leaves only twenty-three cents for everything else. That is twenty-three cents for all other programs that this government has to operate.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the member that his time has lapsed.


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

MR. T. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank hon. members.

I am only halfway through these remarks. I did not realize the time has passed so quickly, but there will be other times, I am sure.

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, just let me say that I will be speaking on other issues that are important to the people of Humber East. I will be speaking about the MRI machine that has just been announced, or the funding has just been completed, for Western Memorial Regional Hospital. I will be speaking about the issue that is my main priority, which is the long-term care facility in Corner Brook. I will be speaking about the good things in the Budget that this government did for seniors and those people on low incomes, especially the additional $8.6 million that we put into drugs; especially the elimination of provincial income tax for people on low incomes; especially the indexing of the seniors' benefit and the child's benefit. A woman said to me during the election campaign: You got to help me pay my bills. That is what we tried to do in this Budget, and I congratulate the Minister of Finance for that.

I will speak, also, for Grenville College which is going to be a catalyst for economic development and growth in Western Newfoundland. So, I look forward to taking part in debates with other members. I intend to do it on a positive basis, regardless of what is said in this House, and I intend to work with all Members of the House of Assembly for the advancement of the people here. During the campaign when I knocked on doors and I talked to people about what they wanted me to do, I told them that I would go forward and try to advance their hopes and dreams and aspirations here. I want to assure everyone watching and everyone in this House, that while I am here the work will go on. While I am here a cause will endure, that our hopes will still live and that the dream we all share, on both sides of the House, of a proud and prosperous Newfoundland and Labrador within a strong and united Canada, that dream will never die.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand today and proudly say that I will not be supporting this Budget. As a matter of fact, I am very, very happy to say that I will be standing and voting as a no confidence in this particular government.

I spoke a couple of weeks ago in terms of a Private Member's Resolution in this House. I am a great predictor of what is going to happen, I guess, because I indicated at that particular time and laid out, that most people looked at - this Premier did not know what he was doing. He did not know how he was going to get anywhere or how he was going to get there - but I indicated, at the time, and the resolution at that particular time: I call on the government to get back to meaningful negotiations. The resolution was to get back to meaningful negotiations.

The negotiations that took place in this Province with our public service unions, this time around, were nothing but a farce. An absolute farce! The Premier talked about the hard work and all the negotiations. Now, I was not in the room so I do not really know, but we listened to the reports on the media - the Premier spent about two-and-a-half or three hours. The Minister of Finance probably spent three or four hours in the total negotiations. I mean, the Department of Labour, which does not exist, was involved only in the latter stages. The whole negotiation process did not take place. There were no negotiations at all, it was the Premier had an agenda. I indicated back, when I spoke at that particular time - I guess we saw the writing on the wall when he put his Cabinet together. At the time I indicated that the Cabinet was a St. John's Cabinet. We know that the majority of people in the Cabinet are from the St. John's greater region and Corner Brook. Very few representation from rural Newfoundland, even though he had very capable individuals who represented rural districts that he could have put in the Cabinet, but for some reason he put all the people who represented the urban part of Newfoundland and Labrador in the Cabinet.

I think the most telling thing of all was when we saw the priorities of this Premier and where he was headed. He did not put a Department of Labour in his government. There is no Department of Labour in this government. For a while he put it along with the Department of Environment. As a matter of fact, I was listening to an Open Line program the other night and the moderator did not really know who the Minister of Labour was. As a matter of fact, she was indicating that the Minister of Labour was the Member for St. John's South. I sat there for a while and I said: Well, I cannot have her on the provincial radio network not knowing who the Minister of Labour was. So, I called into the station and left a message for her to indicate that the Member for Stephenville East was the Minister of Labour. That gives you an indication, when the public do not know who the Minister of Labour is in this Province. What they did was split up the Department of Labour. They sent it out to an agency, a labour relations agency. There is no department. There is an agency of the Department of Labour. Occupational Health and Safety was put out to Government Services.

We seen what happened with these present negotiations, even around the Province, where we had - and I get reports all the time. Some of the private business negotiations that are going on, we do not have enough people from the Department of Labour to participate in the conciliation and mediation process. This Premier has no empathy, no reason to have a Department of Labour. Lo and behold, in the Budget we found out that there are going to be two Departments of Business; two Departments of Business in this government.

We talk about the corporate agenda, people say: Why didn't they not increase the taxes for the corporations? Some chance! Some chance that this Premier is going to reduce the taxes for business when he is going to set up two Departments of Business. One, Innovation, Trade and Rural Development. As a matter of fact, rural renewal is not even going to be in that department. They are setting up another agency called the rural resettlement agency. That is what it is going to be. At the rate we are going in rural Newfoundland - we hear that the minister who is also responsible for the Department of Labour, responsible for H.R.E. offices in rural Newfoundland, he is going to close all of them up. So, the only offices that will exist of government in this Province will be in the major centres. We do have opportunity to have two Departments of Business. We do not have any money, we are bankrupt.

I have been here for fifteen years and I will tell you, I feel really guilty. I spoke at a firemen's ball in my district this weekend and I said: I really feel bad. I apologize tonight because I have been in politics, I represented you for fifteen years and I have bankrupt the government. I have bankrupt the government. I indicated to them, I said: I really feel sorry. When I got elected in 1989, the fire departments in my district, the best they had was buckets. They used to be called the bucket brigade. That is the fire departments in my district. That is what they had. We equipped the fire departments - since I got elected there were nine pumper trucks allocated to the District of Bellevue, to the fire departments. So, I said to them: I apologize, because the money that I got for my district I bankrupt the government. They do not have a cent in there. The present Premier is whining and crying and bawling that the place is bankrupt.

Honourable members, we are elected to serve people. I have been elected five times in this House of Assembly and there have been issues where I have disagreed with former premiers. I disagreed with Clyde Wells, very adamantly. Clyde Wells at one time came to us and said that he was going to wipe out severance for public servants. But, do you know what? People in our caucus stood up and said: there is no way that severance pay will ever be eliminated while we stand in this caucus. No way that severance pay would ever be eliminated for public servants, teachers, nurses, and the people who work for the government. As a matter of fact, we indicated to him: there is a door and if you want to go through it you can go through it but there will be nobody else going with you.

You, in the caucus, have to stand up. You have to stand up against this piece of legislation that was introduced today which takes away the rights of workers in this Province. One of the members on the other side, the other day - I think it was the Premier who said: What are we really worried about? They are holding up the whole negotiations for the Warren Report. We are only talking about 3 per cent of the workers out there. Besides, they are only janitors and secretaries in our schools.

I thought it was the most disgusting thing I heard in my life. He said, they are holding up the negotiations for 3 per cent of the people in the schools. I was very proud in my career to serve as a principal in our school system; very, very happy to be involved in the educating of our children. The teachers in my school were very, very important. The public health nurse was very important, but I will tell you one thing. I did not have a school secretary back in those days, but I had a janitor who worked in the school. I can tell you one thing, that school would not function without the janitor.

You are saying, on that side over there, that they are not worth it? Some of these people are the lowest paid people we have in our whole system, and for a government to be on record as saying that those 3 per cent are not important. Everybody in this Province is important. Everybody in this Province is important.

You said that the Warren report was not part of the collective agreement. This is the collective agreement. The Warren report is in there. We have had so much misconception. There is a thing in this House that there is something you cannot say, and I cannot say it, but all along we hear of these stories. When are you going to stand up for the ordinary worker in this Province?

I heard someone the other night, saying on an open line program, they did not like the behaviour of the Members of the House of Assembly, and that we were acting like a bunch of children. I know that sometimes it gets very frustrating here and we do shout out a lot of things. She also mentioned that they were acting like a bunch of drunks.

We had the Premier go up to the mainland and sit in a room with the corporate elite, Maclean's magazine. That is owned by Rogers Cable. He went up with his buddies in Toronto. Maclean's magazine is owned by Rogers Cable, and who owns a lot of Rogers Cable? He sat in a room and had a social evening with a bunch of reporters and the executive director - there weren't reporters - and he was asked a question. The hon. Member for Humber East talked about how honourable it was to be in this House. Well, I always thought serving in this House was very, very honourable, and I always considered my role here to be very, very important.

I went home one afternoon from work and picked up my Maclean's magazine and was going through it, reading it, and said: Well, that is pretty good, the Premier is up there. I went through some of the questions and, well, he is up there representing Newfoundland and Labrador and trying to make a case, until I got to this particular question: Have you called your first session of the House of Assembly? Do you know what he said? I am not going to call. We are not going to bring the House back ever again. Of course, it is just a personal preference - and he laughs. No, it is going to be probably the second week of March. I have to say, I found, in Opposition, there were times when I shook my head and said: You know, this could be so much more productive. I find there is a lot of wasted time in the House where people get up to talk just for the sake of talking. I would like to find ways to make it more efficient, more productive, so we can go ahead and get the work done.

There was a time when, late in the session, some legislators would be half drunk. Has that improved? No. No, they are now all completely drunk.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who said that?

MR. BARRETT: The Premier said that - and he laughs. Well it is no laughing matter, Minister of Justice. I do not consider that to be a laughing matter.

The Member for Humber East got up and talked - and your father was one of the people who I admired, as a matter of fact. I was happy, what you said about your father today. I was very happy, but what the Premier said about us in this House of Assembly is no laughing matter. I am proud to be in this House of Assembly, too, and I did not grow up in a rich family. I did not . I did not grow up in a rich family. As a matter of fact, when I heard this news the other day about legislating workers back to work, it was a very sad day in Newfoundland and Labrador.

I have said this before in this House of Assembly and I will say it again: I am very, very proud of where I came from: a very, very poor background, an orphan at nine years of age. My father worked in the lumber woods, I remind the Member for Humber East, and he died because of the working conditions in the lumber woods, and it was unions that brought back some dignity to the workforce in Newfoundland and Labrador.

When I was Minister of Labour, I used to hear this all the time from businesses: Minister, if you enforce that regulation you are going to bankrupt us. You are going to put us out of business. We cannot afford it. We cannot afford to pay our workers. We cannot abide by these occupational health and safety regulations. If you do it, you are going to put us out of business.

That was the argument that the paper companies made back in the 1950s and 1960s. They said we could not provide good working conditions when the men went into the woods with the bucksaw and the flies. They could not even give fly dope to them, to kill the flies. They could not afford to buy fly dope, because you would put them out of business.

I remember one meeting I had, when I was Minister of Labour. This business person said to me: Minister, if you bring in this regulation you are going to put me out of business. I said to him: That was the argument that was used years ago - and I used the example of my father, actually. I said: I don't know about you, but the last time I drove the Trans-Canada Highway and passed Grand Falls, there was still smoke coming out of the stack, and when I passed Corner Brook there was still smoke coming out of the stack. That mill is still operating, but the argument made back then was that we could not afford to provide working conditions and a decent wage. I think they got a dollar a cord for their labour at that particular time with a bucksaw, and when they went home in the evening they lay on boughs in a bunkhouse and they got beans served to them just about every other day.

My father died. He was not around to see me graduate from high school. He was not here to see me graduate from university. He was not here to see me get elected to the House of Assembly. He was not in Government House when I was sworn in as Cabinet Minister. He died with a TB spine because that company needed to make some money, and we are talking about, right now in this Province, the most draconian legislation that was ever created. If they do not report for work, they are going to be fired, going to be laid off.

I rode up in the elevator the other day with a person in management of this government, and I know a lot of people in this government who work in this building. I have been around here for thirty-two years. For thirty-two years I have served in this particular building, as a public servant, in one way or another. I rode the elevator with a good friend of mine. He said: Percy, do you know where I have to go now? I said: No, I don't know. He said: I have to go up now and sit in the House of Assembly.

The management people - the first time I ever saw it, and I have been here for fifteen years - were required to sit in the public gallery so that the public could not get in. I mean, come off it. You people who were elected, I know it is your first term in this House of Assembly, but I tell you, you are going to have to start standing up to somebody over there. Never in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador has it ever happened.

(Applause from the Gallery)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Spectators in the Gallery are always welcome here and, in fact, we enjoy for people to come and listen to the proceedings of the House, but I ask you not so show your approval or disapproval in any way.

The hon. the Member for Bellevue.

MR. BARRETT: As I was saying, Mr. Speaker, it never, ever happened, that the management people - and do you know the sad thing about it all? My sources tell me that 200 of these, the severance cheques were already cut for them, but it was delayed at the end of March because they needed them to be essential workers, to provide the services in Newfoundland and Labrador. Now, you are going to question me and say, no, that is not true, you are not accurate and what have you. I told the hon. Member for Trinity North and the hon. Member for Bonavista South and the hon. Member for Terra Nova that the school board in Clarenville was going to be eliminated and they disbelieved me at that particular time. I thought it was very, very embarrassing for these management people.

The other thing that happened to me the other day that I thought would never ever happen in a democracy was: I arrived for work and when I got here I went across the picket line over in this area right here. I met a lot of friends on the picket line who bid me good morning and said, how are you, Percy, and all this sort of stuff, and I stopped and had a conservation with them. Most of these people on the picket lines I know. As I said, I have been here for thirty-odd years. I walked in to the door and the door was locked, I couldn't get in to my office. I banged on the door and they came and said: The only way you can come in is if we get a police escort. The only way you can go to work and the only way you can get into this building, as an elected member of this House of Assembly, is if we bring in a police escort.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the Member for Bellevue that his time as elapsed.

MR. BARRETT: Twenty minutes goes fast, Mr. Speaker. I ask for leave, just to conclude.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave, the hon. Member for Bellevue.

MR. BARRETT: It was the first time. I said, no way am I going into work under a police escort. I walked back to the Holiday Inn again, then I met some of my colleagues and we came back and they said the same thing. All these people over here, the only way we could get into the building was with a police escort. We said: If we have to go in with a police escort, we are not going.

I tell you, I was around three years ago when we had the public service strike and I never came into this building during the week of the strike. I was Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. We had the biggest snowstorm in our history. The biggest snowstorm ever happening was during that strike. Our workers, in Works, Services and Transportation, our plow operators under the essential worker's agreement, they bent over backwards to co-operate to make sure that our roads were cleared. I came across that line, at that particular time - I never at one time asked for a police escort. I came across the line - I was over in the West Block at that particular time - and I just walked into the building and said: Hello, to all the people on the picket line. I probably would joke and carry on with them and say this and that. I mean it was a disagreement with our government but there was no reason for us to be bad friends.

I see what is happening here. When I see RNC officers on horseback, on $20,000 saddles and all that, and we have no money. We have no money hon. members, but we can put police out there on horseback. We can spend $50,000 on riot gear, we can provide training for the police, but we are saying to the janitors in our schools: We have no money. Stand up and be counted hon. members.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Before I get into my comments on the Budget I would just like to remind the hon. member that I have only been here a year-and-a-half and he has been here some fifteen years, and surely he would know that if any members impeded, in any type of way whatsoever of getting into this Chamber, the Chamber would not operate. I just want to let him know that if he ever has any trouble getting into the House of Assembly, certainly contact the Speaker, and I can assure him that he will have access to the House or the House proceedings will not take place. That is a rule in this House, I would say to the Member for Bellevue. You certainly should know, you have been here fifteen years.

Mr. Speaker, first of all, let me say I certainly want to thank the residents of Conception Bay South and Holyrood. They gave me an overwhelming majority in the last election, and, as well, in the by-election. I certainly want to thank them for placing the confidence they have in me. I can assure them that I gave the commitment I certainly would return all phone calls and answer my e-mails and so on. That is something I am going to continue to do, regardless of how good or bad the answer. I can assure the members in my district that I will return their calls. That is something I take great pride in. I have been around politics for a few years and to me the biggest compliment you can have is to be a good constituent person. That is something that I personally am going to strive for.

Also, Mr. Speaker, I have to thank the workers. I guess there were several hundred workers involved in my campaign. They had an element in Holyrood, a group of people, and a group in Conception Bay South. As you can imagine, Mr. Speaker, when you run in a campaign you certainly do a lot of walking. I guess I was logging many more kilometres a day than I am today, for example. But the food that was supplied at my two headquarters was phenomenal. I think we all probably put on a few pounds but their dedication to the effort, at the time, was certainly remarkable. I am so glad that they took the time to believe in me and our party. I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. My family, as well. As you know, a family goes through quite a bit when this stuff is on the go. When they are involved with politicians it is certainly a tough chore and they put up with quite a bit, and I am delighted that they stood by me.

My competition, the Liberal candidate and the NDP candidate, I want to thank very much. We ran a very clean campaign. There were no bad words either way. We attended a couple of debates, I believe, at the time. It was very issue oriented. It was not personal attacks. I understand the Liberal candidate today writes an occasional letter in the local newspaper when he disagrees with me, and that is quite fine. This is all about democracy and he certainly has every right to do that sort of thing, and I encourage it. I encourage it, because the more us fellows in here are kept on our toes, certainly the better off we will all be.

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of local issues in my district that I would like to touch on and, I guess, it all relates to the Budget and the money you have available. I guess the first thing is water and sewer. In today's world we take a lot of things for granted. Some of us have had the opportunity to have water and sewer for awhile, but some of us can still remember what it was like not to have water and sewer. I have a situation now, for example, in Holyrood, a place called Country Path Road, which I know quite many of the residents in that area. They are crying for sewer services, with sewer running in the ditches and a number of other issues. I can assure them that I will continue to fight on their behalf. I know they currently have an application into the Green Fund. We have had meetings with the minister and the local council. I just want to assure these people that the fight continues. We have not forgotten about you and I certainly will not. It was a commitment I gave you at your doors and that is one I certainly intend to keep. People in Seal Cove - again, in the west end of my district - have had problems with water and sewer, I guess, for years and years and years. Certainly, I knocked on many of their doors recently.

It is not that long ago there was some talk of building a $10 million civic centre in our district. It was something that I took a stand on that I was against it. I was not very proud to be against a $10 million facility in my district but when you look at the services that were needed in the west end of our town, I could not support a community centre that, by the way, was going to be right next door to my house. There is nobody who would have had a better advantage to this facility than I would, and my family. I would have lived next door to it. I have small children who could easily walk to it but I could not do that with a conscience when there are other people of my children's age who live in Seal Cove and parts of Upper Gullies who could not brush their teeth in the morning with the tap water. So, that is something that, again, I will continue to strive on for.

I have to say, right now as we speak, the basic services of life are certainly an importance to me. I realize you have to have a balance, sure. I mean, we have recreation demands in our district but there has to be a balance, sure, but some of the basic services of life we have to strive for. I remember one woman, in particular, when I was knocking on doors, I could see a fire hydrant from her doorstep and she was collecting water in buckets as it ran off her eave. It kind of hits home with you then. I can remember, actually, in my household, lugging buckets of water on a daily basis, watching my mother and father do it. It was a tough chore, and I certainly want to let the people of Conception Bay South and Holyrood know that it is certainly a priority of mine. I am going to continue on in that effort for them.

CBS Bypass; I guess any of our mainland friends would probably consider this another Newfoundland joke. The Conception Bay South Bypass was committed to in 1988 under the Roads for Rail Agreement. It was supposed to be a two-lane highway that ran from the Manuels Arterial to Daniels Road in Seal Cove. Over time, I guess, the people of Conception Bay South, in 1996, decided it was time for a change from a Liberal member to a PC member. I often wondered if we paid a price for that change. I am proud to say that I would like to think they had the foresight, before all of the other districts, but I often wondered if they paid a political price for differing with the government of the day.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that road is a two-lane highway that ends - it ended in Foxtrap for a little while - at Legion Road in Kelligrews, with the continuation of that to Daniels Road. I realize that this is certainly tough economic times and I also realize that without a federal-provincial roads agreement this will probably never be completed. However, I want to let the people know that it is certainly on my radar screen, certainly one of the highest points of my agenda. I am going to soldier on to try to get that road completed. It not only benefits the residents of Seal Cove but also the residents of Holyrood, because it is not far from the boundary of Holyrood. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to realize that the continuation of a road network certainly helps the infrastructure in the area, whether that is with business. It certainly helps home development - as most of you people know, if you have ever driven through Holyrood, it is probably one of the most beautiful and picturesque towns in our Province. I know there are a lot of them out there. I certainly will not take anything away from it, but last year they won the Tidy Towns competition. I think it was under 3,000 people. So, just to let you know, they have so much growth and so much to offer. With the proper road network, certainly that will be achieved.

As well, Mr. Speaker, the road work on Route 60, in particular - that is the road that runs all up through CBS and Holyrood. It has been neglected for quite some time. Again, I believe that our district paid a political price because we were in Opposition from 1996 until we recently formed the government in October. I often wonder if certain areas that should have been done, are not done. I can only think of what I refer to as the Upper Gullies rapids. It is a section of pavement, probably 1,000 feet long, and it would remind you of driving over rapids. Again, these are the types of things that I am going to continue to fight for within our government, again, realizing the financial strains we are under. I just want to remind the residents that these are things that I will continue to fight for. I guess they are parts of basic living and are certainly required to get an investment into communities.

Mr. Speaker, there have been a number of things in our deficit that we talked about, and I hear members opposite all the time saying this guy who was Polkaroo, or he was on the PolkaDot Door, I don't even know if I can remember that skit, how long ago it happened, but this was done by PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the most reputable accounting firms, I guess, in the country. They are certainly well up there with a number of others, and I certainly would not be the type of person who would knock a group like PricewaterhouseCoopers. Like I said, their reputation precedes them. When I hear members opposite talk about inflated numbers and so on, I am sure that this reputable company would never touch anything that they would inflate the numbers on.

Mr. Speaker, just to give you a little bit about the Budget, I guess before I get into it I would just like to point out that right now we are going to have about an $840 million deficit, something unheard of, something we have in 2004-2005. It is extreme. Just to give a little outlook on it, in 1949, when we started government, we got to the early to mid-1990s and we had a $5 billion deficit. Today, Mr. Speaker, since the mid-1990s, we are now at $10.5 billion. If we go another five to seven years, we will be looking at $15 billion. Mr. Speaker, something has to be done. We cannot continue that trend. We certainly cannot go down that road.

It is interesting to note that from the mid-1990s to current, our deficit has doubled. It went from $5 billion to $10 billion, $10.5 billion. There is a reason we got there, Mr. Speaker, and I will speak to that in a few minutes. I would like to point out a couple of the things that we have outlined in our Budget, in the Budget Speech, that I was very supportive of. There is $1 million for community mental health services and, as we heard from the Reid and Power Inquiry, we have a lot of work to do in those areas. Those were two very, very sad incidents that happened in this Province, and hopefully this money will help stop those kinds of things from happening again.

Mr. Speaker, the next thing I speak about, I come from a background, I guess, where I worked for a federal MP so I did receive quite a few calls on these kinds of inquires. I am proud to say that we increased the drug program in this Province by $8.6 million, to a total of $106 million. I know the one big initiative that we introduced was a new drug for chemotherapy.

Mr. Speaker, I get calls from all over my district and even over the Province on some of these issues. There are many, many, many drugs that I would like to see covered under that program. Unfortunately, there is only so much you can do with so much resources. I say to people out there: We are going to try to continue to provide the services as best we can, and the drugs that you people need; but, again, we are restricted by money. That is a sad, sad thing, but unfortunately it is the road we have to continue.

As well, Mr. Speaker, there has been an initiative, some work done with social workers. I realize that there has been a shortage of social workers, especially in Labrador. I have heard my good friend from Lake Melville speak about it a number of times, and I honestly believe that was a road we had to go down. I think it will pay dividends in the future.

I guess this next initiative is very close to me, because I have probably more personal care homes and community care homes in my district than probably anybody else in the Province. I know there are many other members who have them as well but I guess, as a group, there are probably more than anywhere else within the boundaries of mine. The Member for Topsail, she, as well, has quite a few homes in her district.

Actually, on Saturday, I attended the Personal Care Home Annual Convention and we agreed to give them an increase. I think it was $475,000, a pittance to what these people deserve. I will be totally frank about it. The commitment they have made to some of the seniors, elderly, and sick in our Province is remarkable. They have numerous issues they are facing now in their industry. We are waiting on a report to come out very, very soon, that they are going to be briefed on, and hopefully we can get together and meet again in the near future, but these are family-orientated businesses. Most of these people are used to working sixteen- and eighteen-hour days. Many of them take no salary whatsoever. Like I said, they are very committed people; they are very community-minded people, and most of these people who are delivering this service have done it for generations. Their grandparents have done it, their parents have done it, and now they have taken over the job and continue to provide that service.

I think that increase will probably amount to around $25.40 per resident, I believe I heard on the weekend. I just want to assure them that they are certainly a priority of ours in a Budget that has seen vast cuts. We cut $240 million from our expenditures, and that was not easy to do. It was very tough to do. It was good to see personal care home owners be recognized for their place in society, and I can assure them as well that we will continue to try to make things better for them. Again, like it has been said in this House many times, they certainly are the best bang for the health care dollar in comparison to the services they provide.

Mr. Speaker, in our Budget we talked about three things. The other day, I sat intently and listened to the Leader for the Official Opposition. He likes to make us this right-wing think-tank from Central Canada, who has absolutely no social conscience. I want to assure members, and assure the Speaker, that is not the case with this government. We have some very, very social people on this side of the House, people who fight for social causes and social issues. I would like to think that I am one of them. I am certainly insulted when people think that I am this right-winged leaning, come from something, think-tank. I can assure members that I always bring a social conscience to the table and will continue to do so. I guess, when I start talking like that, I think of the working poor, the low income families, seniors in our Province and children. I think those are the three particular areas that we addressed in this Budget. Again, did we want to do more? Of course, we wanted to do more. Unfortunately, because of the financial situation we are in - and it is not just the previous government, it is concurrent governments, it has gone back for years, that haven't been serious enough about the financial picture of this Province.

I think about, commencing in the 2005 taxation year, how a low income tax credit will be instituted to individuals with a net income of up to $12,000 and families with a net income up to $19,000. Mr. Speaker, in my district in particular I know many, many people - many of them are friends of mine, very good friends of mine, as a matter of fact. That is an area in which I personally wanted to see something done, and I am glad that the Cabinet and the caucus, as a whole, has taken that initiative on and done something with it. The annual cost of that measure is $5.3 million to the people of this Province, but it is certainly, I believe, a well thought out initiative.

Indexing of seniors' benefits and the Newfoundland and Labrador child benefit to the consumer price index starting in 2004, at a cost of $400,000; again, a worthy investment.

I guess, Mr. Speaker, just to touch on something for kids, the Kids Eat Smart Foundation, I guess none of us can estimate what those volunteers and the people involved with that group have done for the kids in this Province. I have even spoken to educators on this and they assure me that when kids go to school hungry they certainly don't get the learning and the ability to learn as they should. That is why I am very proud to see us commit $500,000 to the Kids Eat Smart Foundation.

Mr. Speaker, I see $400,000 has been committed to support an employment program to assist people with disabilities and help them re-enter the workforce. I have family members who are disabled and it is certainly good to see initiatives like that.

I cannot help, Mr. Speaker, but recognize this one. Again, I know a number of people in the RNC and so on. This year we are going to train seventy-five new officers over three years at Memorial University. I think it is a great facility. I think it is where the RNC should have been trained many, many years ago. It is a $2.25 million initiative, and we will see forty-five new RNC officers in place within the next several years. I think it is a great initiative of this government. It was very evident, when we heard from the union members with the RNC, the President of the Union was very supportive of this and I think that is a road we certainly had to go down.

As well, Mr. Speaker, for my friends in Labrador, we are going to see an addition of four new RCMP officers in the Labrador region. Again I say, Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a very worthwhile initiative.

Mr. Speaker, to get back to what I was referring to earlier, and that was the size of the deficit of this Province, like I said I cannot blame it on the previous government, I have to blame it on a number of governments before them. There were certain things done, and I can only back to my by-election at the time. At the time the Liberal government of the day, under the current Leader of the Opposition, were running ads which ended up totaling, I think, $250,000. There was tens of thousands of dollars per week. Every time I would open the local paper, The Shoreline News, in my district, there would be full page ads getting ready for this election. I could not believe the amount of government wastage that was happening to promote a government in its dying days. We would see full page ads in the telegram and big pictures of the Leader of the Opposition. I thought, you know, what a waste of money and what people were abusing taxpayers' money.

One I have to refer to, and this happened last Labour Day - I guess it was appropriate, I believe it was appropriate, for the Minister of Labour of the Day to take out some kind of ads to recognize the Labour movement in this Province when Labour Day rolled around. In this case it was not just the Minister of Labour who sent a message to the labour movement in our Province. They were numerous, numerous, putting themselves on the radio, to promote themselves, to promote their government, on the eve of an election.

I know at the time the former Minister of Finance had her name on an ad, wishing everyone a happy Labour Day, all at taxpayers' expense. The Member for Bellevue, who was here speaking with us earlier, had his name piggybacked on a Labour Day ad. George Sweeney had his name had his name piggybacked on a Labour Day ad. The Member for Twillingate and Fogo had his name on an ad on the Labour Day weekend. The current member for Grand Bank had her name on an ad. It was unbelievable! Every time you turned on the radio there was a Cabinet Minister on wishing everyone a happy Labour Day. It was unbelievable! It was something that no one in the Province could believe. Like I said, there were eight or nine government members of the day who continued on taking out ads.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the member for Conception Bay South that his time has expired.

MR. FRENCH: If I could just touch on a couple of more items and have leave for a second?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: I thank the hon. member for Port au Grave.

I remember as well - I do not know if I ran into him or not, but we talked earlier about being on the Northern Peninsula for those by- elections. I remember being up there well. It reminded me of the movie of Apocalypse Now, at one point, when all the helicopters flew into Roddickton. I certainly remembered that well. I have shared a couple of good political battles with the Member from Port de Grave and I certainly want to thank him for that.

I have to mention one other thing, and it is certainly one of the most amazing things that I had seen, I guess before I got elected, and that was the spousal travel that the previous government took. At one period over seven months they had $93,000 in spousal travel, $93,000 - can you imagine! - to take your spouse all over the globe.

There was one case, and I believe it was the Member for Grand Bank at the time who was on a tour of Europe looking at schools. It was phenomenal, the money that was spent. Here we were at the time running significant budget deficits and in a seven-month period we were spending $93,000 on spousal travel; something that I am glad to say, under pressure from the Opposition of the day, they stopped doing, a policy that continues under this government. I am certainly glad to see it.

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of other issues that I would love to speak on. I realize that my time is up. I certainly want to speak briefly to the labour dispute and just let people know in the Province - and I will speak to it again in the near future - that the current labour dispute hits home with everyone. We have legislation before the House now, and I just want to let people know that I have family, friends, my immediate family as a matter of fact - my wife is, as I speak in here, out doing her picket duty on the picket line. I just want to let people know in my district that it is near and dear to my heart. Like I said, I am personally affected. I heard the Member for Cartwright a minute ago say that I was not affected, but it certainly affects my bottom line. We are very fortunate in that I am working.

It does affect everybody in this Province in some way or another. For those who do not have immediate family, we have friends, we have people who helped us get elected. It is certainly tough stuff and I will be the first to admit it. The reason, I guess, that I am going to have to support the back-to-work legislation is simply because of the medical reasons. I have recently received, I would say, ten or a dozen in the last week and a half, some very, very sad cases. I do not want to be blamed for not speaking out on this issue, so I want to take this minute if I can just to say that I will be supporting it. It is because of these medical conditions that are happening in my district right now, the backlogs that are currently occurring. Some of these issues involve children, friends of children of mine, who are waiting for EKGs and so on. When it gets to that point then it is very, very sad. It is not a piece of legislation that I would have dreamed that I would be supporting. As a matter of fact, I had never crossed a picket line till I came here and was elected to come to this House everyday. I just wanted to have my say on it, Mr. Speaker. I guess I will be talking about it in the future as well.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to support the motion of non-confidence in this Budget. I do so, Mr. Speaker, on a wide range of issues. Before I start that, I am very tempted to call for a study into the House of Assembly on what happens when members cross to the other side and form a government. Sitting here, Mr. Speaker, for the last month I cannot believe that the people sitting across from me today are the people who were sitting to my left the last time that this House was open. The points of views are totally opposite. There is no comparison whatsoever, Mr. Speaker. It is in a different direction altogether, the agenda is different, the ideas are different and their actions are different. Mr. Speaker, I do not know what happened in the move from this side to that side, but I can assure you it is very transforming for the people who make that move.

When on this side, I had a job - and I know there are big fundamental differences in the Tory Party and the NDP Party, but there were many times, Mr. Speaker, when I had a problem, not thinking we were on the same wavelength or in the same party. I am glad to know now that, once the move has been made and they cross to the government side of the House, then that is where the similarities have ended, and they have clearly defined that is not the way that they really feel about governing this Province, but it is a way to gain the confidence of the people to form the government.

I see the Chair has changed. Madam Speaker, I want to talk a bit about health care in this Province, in general, and in my own district, specifically. I have talked many times, since the House has been called back, about the problems that we have in Labrador concerning health care. I talked about the hospital in my own district, the hospital that has plaster falling off the walls, that has a room for palliative care patients where the temperature is freezing, a building where, in other parts, people are sweating to death. Madam Speaker, none of these things were addressed. We need a new facility for Labrador West for health care. There is no point putting money into the existing one. We need a new facility that meets the needs of the people of Labrador West.

Madam Speaker, it is important that we do have such a facility, because we have to remember we have three large mining operations, some of the largest in Canada, operating in that area, and the necessity of having an up-to-date health care system is important because of what can happen at these mines in terms of injuries, in addition to the sickness that takes place in people's lives. There was no funding for that, Madam Speaker.

There was no funding, either, for the issue that I have been raising for a year now. People in Labrador West are not receiving the same fair treatment as people in other parts of Labrador when it comes to having to go to, what is called now, the Regional Hospital in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. While people in areas of Labrador can fly to Goose Bay and it costs them $40 return, people in Labrador West have to pay almost $500. That has been going on, Madam Speaker, for years and years and years. We were not aware of it for that long, we only became aware of it last year when, in doing research on the provincial medical travel, I came across this and exposed it. This government has not acknowledged - they agreed with me when they were sitting here, how terrible that was, how bad it was for the people of Labrador, how discriminatory it was, but now, when they are sitting over on that side, that does not seem to matter any more. It is just business as usual, and they have failed to address that problem that they so adamantly agreed with me on, when I brought it to the attention of the governing party at the time.

We also need, Madam Speaker, subsidies for people who live in rural areas and isolated areas of this Province. It is not easy, Madam Speaker, and it is quite costly for many people in this Province to travel to the major centres to receive the health care they need. It does not only involve the travel, Madam Speaker. You have the issue of accommodations. You have the issue of meals, while you are here. What really, really irks many of us, is when we travel and fly at $1,000 a pop to a hospital and they tell you to come back to see them again in two weeks. There has to be more streamlining. There has to be a system worked out so that when people come in at great expense to themselves and their families, their needs and their appointments are streamlined so that the fact that they have to go through this great expense is taken into consideration when they are here at the current time.

There are many needs from Labrador in the area of health care, more than I have time to talk about here today, but I want to touch on a number of issues concerning health care and others that I will have the time and the opportunity to touch on briefly here today.

The health care system, Madam Speaker, has a lot of demands on it, there is no question about it, but we need health care services spread throughout this Province, not just in the Avalon Peninsula area. We need greater services for home care. We need greater numbers of nursing homes to take care of our aging population, in fairly close proximity to where they live.

I have stood up in this House and presented petition after petition after petition on the need to expand the provincial drug care plan. I talked about people with MS, and how costly it is for them to get the drugs that they require to make their lives more bearable. Madam Speaker, I have yet to hear this government say why they have not made the necessary changes. We are the only jurisdiction, the only province in this country, that does not provide coverage for people with MS, in the entire country. People have left this Province, to move to other provinces, at a lower paying job, so that they can be financially better off because of the assistance provided by governments in the other provinces of this country. This government has said repeatedly, and the policy is, that working people in this Province, if they reduce themselves through income support levels, government will step in and help. So, it is not a matter of them not being able to do it. It all comes down, Madam Speaker, to a question of what they require you to do to yourself and your family before they will help. That is very, very unfair, Madam Speaker, and it is something that this government should be ashamed of.

We have also heard in recent months, a drug that was approved to treat Alzheimer's, that has now been cancelled. Many people in this Province were looking forward to having the availability of that drug, only to find out in recent weeks that it would no longer be available to them under the plan, but indeed that it was cancelled.

On the issue of transportation, that is one that I spoke on many times as well in this House of Assembly, and the need for improved roads. When I hear members in the House talk about different areas of the Province that need re-paving or need work done to fix up the pavement in their areas, I can only wonder. That is something we do not have. We have about 600 kilometres of gravel road between Labrador West and Happy Valley-Goose Bay, where there is absolutely no pavement whatsoever. The attempt last summer to introduce something called chip seal, that is supposed to do eight kilometres east of Labrador West and seven kilometres west of Happy Valley-Goose Bay is a joke. At that rate, it would take over seventy-five years to do a completion of that road, and that is something that cannot wait seventy-five years. That is something that this government should attack. They should have a plan in place that will systematically deal with it in a timely matter so that over a period of four to five years we can have a paved highway similar to most other places in this country today.

We talk about Phase III about to start, Phase II to be completed. Guess what, Madam Speaker? By the time Phase III starts, and Phase II is completed, Phase I needs to be done again, because the roads are deteriorating, where they are only gravel roads put through in very harsh environmental conditions. It is a no win situation for any government to delay putting blacktop on the Trans-Labrador Highway because not only will it make it better for the travelling public and the people who use that road to make a living, it will also save governments money in the long run.

On Budget day this government was quite proud to stand in this House - the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board - and say there were no tax increases, no personal tax increases. I do not know what he would call $25 for a death certificate to be issued. I do not know what he would call the increases in the use of the parks. I do not know what he would call going from $140 to $180 for motor vehicle registration, and the other five pages of fee and service increases may not be called personal taxes, but people have to pay that whenever they go to obtain any of the services that government has offered. It is six of one and half a dozen of the other because by not putting up the personal income tax, every time you spend a dollar on obtaining a service you are paying an increased tax. The bottom line is that people are out the money at the end of the day anyway. So you can call it what you like.

Madam Speaker, I also talked about, and was disappointed to see, that there was no relief for students from rural areas of our Province in their attempts to obtain post-secondary education. When we talk about tuition, tuition freezes, tuition reductions, they are all great things, things that I applaud, but there is a greater cost to obtaining education as well, and that is the cost of travel, the cost of accommodations and all of the other expenses that people incur living away from home, great distances away from home, that they have to pay in order to attend the particular educational institution. We were kind of hoping, Madam Speaker, to see some positive news, and hear some positive news, on that issue. Again, there was none contained in the Budget.

We talk about education and we talk about the cuts to teachers. We talk about the freeze, the reduction of 4,000 public servants in this Province, Madam Speaker. What kind of message is that sending to the young people who are about to enrol in furthering their education with the hope of obtaining employment in this Province? What does it do to the graduates who are about to graduate and were looking forward to maybe getting a job in this Province? I would suggest that the difference in the last month is the difference of night and day. No longer can they look forward to getting a job in this Province or anywhere at all within the public sector because the trend is downsizing and squeezing out the people who are there now. There is no intent and there is no desire to increase the workforce, or maintain the workforce, in a way that provides opportunities for our young people.

I have raised with the Minister of Education on a couple of occasions now, about the decision of the Labrador School Board to drop the French Immersion Program. A backward step, Madam Speaker. A step that is directly opposite to what the federal government is doing and the direction that everywhere else in this country is headed. The minister has said that it is the responsibility of the school board. I disagree, Madam Speaker. I disagree wholeheartedly. The responsibility for the education of our children rests primarily with the Minister of Education and he should take steps to make sure that the school boards are not allowed to decide that against the wishes of the people, against the direction that the rest of the country is going in. Madam Speaker, what really does not make sense about that is this year, in Labrador West, there are 100 students exactly registered for kindergarten; fifty-four are registered for French Immersion. I think the numbers are pretty close to being the same for the Happy Valley-Goose Bay area. The Member for Lake Melville would know that better than me, but I think the numbers are fairly close. So, it is going against what the people whom they are serving want, and that should not be tolerated. I, again, ask the minister to become personally involved in that to make sure that it does not take place.

I recall, Madam Speaker, three years ago or so when, during the Budget Debate here in the House, the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board stood in his place and was very critical of the government of the day in the amount of money that was being taken in through gambling in this Province; mainly through VLTs. His position was clear, very clear: that this was not an appropriate revenue generating method for governments to be using. He also questioned the amount of money that was put back in to treat people who became addicted to gambling. I noticed in the Budget, this year, they were going to increase that by $100,000. That, quite frankly, is not good enough. I personally believe that they should all be thrown out. I think, at the very least, what was proposed to governments over the years that have not been adopted, is that, at least, every community should have the right to decide whether or not these machines will be available in their communities. I think people in a community should have the right to decide that, not leave it up to people who want to make money off the backs of people who do not have money but are trying to get some, because it is a no-win situation. The only thing that can be guaranteed is that you are going to lose what you started out with. They are built on people losing money. That is the premise they are founded on, not to be make people richer.

Madam Speaker, this is one area that I would suggest to this government take a strong, hard look at. I know they probably will not because of the amount of money that is involved. Regardless of what source it comes from, there is probably a lesser concern than the fact that it is a readily available cash that they can put their hands on, on a monthly and yearly basis. But it does not make it right. It does not make it right at all. The second problem with that, of course, is the fact that treatment centres are generally available only in larger centres. What does that do to the people in rural areas of this Province and the less populated areas of this Province, whose problem is no less because of their addiction but do not have the resources or the ability to get where treatment centres are located? It is a serious problem that I feel certainly should be addressed.

Another reason, Madam Speaker, why I cannot support this Budget is something having to do with justice and the lack of a resident judge in Labrador West. We had one for years. We had a judge there who lived in the community and had his own courtroom to deal with most of the thing that came up. That hasn't been there for years now, Madam Speaker. Right now we have to use the court offices at Goose Bay. I have asked before, but I didn't receive an answer: At what cost to the justice system is it, that we have to fly RNC officers and prisoners over to Happy Valley-Goose Bay overnight, meals, airfares, accommodations? Then when court is held we have to fly people back for court. We have to bring the judge and his entourage back and put them up in hotels and provide meals, and that is not a cheap proposition either. I have asked before for an analysis between having a resident judge and paying all these associated expenses by virtue of the fact that we don't have one.

Legal aid again: Justice delayed is justice denied sometimes, Madam Speaker. The unavailability of legal aid to the people in our communities that need it is something that I am certainly not proud of, and I don't think any member on the opposite side should be proud of that either.

The RNC: The Minister of Justice and Attorney General, when he stood this afternoon, talked about the RNC and the training. That is one thing, Madam Speaker, that I will applaud. I think it is long overdue, that we in this Province train our own police officers to do the policing within our communities. I was also very happy to hear him say that he has asked that, when candidates are being selected attention be given to making the RNC more gender equitable with their new recruits than it is at the present time. It is very important for that to happen, and hopefully it will.

Madam Speaker, when we talk about some of the revenue sources that we need, and where we don't have money for this service or that service or we have to cut, our destiny, unless it changes soon, is not going to make us any better in the future than we have been in the past.

If we look at the offshore oil and see the royalties that we receive in this Province per barrel compared to Alaska or places like Norway, it is a pittance of what other countries receive.

Voisey's Bay is another example, Madam Speaker, a relatively new development.

MADAM SPEAKER (Osborne): Order, please!

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

MR. COLLINS: By leave, for a couple of minutes, Madam Speaker?

MADAM SPEAKER: Does the hon. member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.


MR. COLLINS: We look at Voisey's Bay, for example, where this Province, over the life of Voisey's Bay, is expected to take in $490 million while Ottawa's share of the revenue will be $4.9 billion. A difference of ten to one, Madam Speaker.

We talk about poverty, and I have heard a lot of members who rose today talk about poverty and low wages, the low wages that are paid in the Province. Well, Madam Speaker, let me bring it closer to home. The janitors right here in this building, the people who come into our offices every day and clean out our garbage and clean our offices - $6 an hour. Some of them have been here for years; $6 an hour, Madam Speaker. The janitors who work in Confederation Building, the top building in our Province, that contains all of our offices, are being paid $6 an hour. Now, if you want to start somewhere, that is probably a good place to start, I would say, Madam Speaker, because that is not good enough. If they were really concerned about poverty, then increase the minimum wage to a level where people can make a living and raise their families and provide the necessities of life for them.

Another second to clue up, Madam Speaker. I want to say this: The last time that the Tory government was in power in this Province, they passed - referring to Bill 18, that is coming to the House, that is to the House today - the last time that the Tory government was in power in this Province, they passed Bill 37 or Bill 38 - I should never forget it, but it is one of them, Bill 37 or Bill 38. That, Madam Speaker, had to deal with the notice of layoff that was required by employers when they were laying off huge numbers of employees.

Madam Speaker, the Iron Ore Company of Canada owed their workers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Wabush Mines owed their workers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Corner Brook Paper, or Kruger, owed their employees hundreds of thousands of dollars, in the millions, I am told. The Tory government at that time, Madam Speaker, brought in legislation that would take all of their corporate friends off the hook. Not only did they bring in the legislation, Madam Speaker, but they did something unthinkable in the free world. They made it retroactive five years. They made the legislation retroactive five years so that no employer in this Province who owed any of their employees money had to pay a single cent, when all was said and done.

Madam Speaker, as I said when I started, there are many reasons why I cannot support this Budget. I have outlined some of them here this afternoon, and I am sure that I will have the opportunity at a later date to outline more.

Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Placentia & St. Mary's.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

I am certainly pleased today to have the opportunity to stand and make a few comments on the non-confidence motion put forward by the members opposite in relation to the 2004 Budget. I would just like to say, first off, that I will not be supporting the non-confidence motion put forward by the opposite side for a number of reasons, and I hope to have the opportunity in the next few minutes to explain some of those.

Madam Speaker, listening to the cries from the Opposition, you would wonder why - they are so pressed in trying to believe that they had nothing to do with the mess that we find ourselves in today. I, as a member here who has been in this House almost eleven years now, look back. They say time and time again that we cannot live in the past, you cannot talk about the past. Well, if we do not learn from the past we will never prepare ourselves for the future.

When I looked across the House today, and I listened to the Member for Cartwright-L'anse au Clair on her feet earlier, you would swear to God, Madam Speaker, that she came in on wings or something and did not have any problems here in the past number of years. When I look back to the Sunday Independent, just a few days ago, I see the travel claims put forward by the members opposite and I found out that in one day the Member for Cartwright-L'anse au Clair, who was the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture at the time, spent $10,000 on a helicopter trip in Labrador - in one day, Madam Speaker! Then, she has the gall to stand up here, on that side of the House, and check up on us over here about what we are standing up for and trying to straighten up this mess that we have found ourselves in. That is just one example.

The Member for Cartwright-L'anse au Clair had a $50,000 budget for travel in her ministry, the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture. She spent $64,000 in eight months. We are lucky, the Province is lucky, we got rid of her on October 21, because we would not be able to keep up with it. We would not be able to afford the Cabinet minister and that.

Then, Madam Speaker, we have the Opposition House Leader who stands up, and some days you would swear that butter would not melt in his mouth, and he spends $110,000 on travel. It is all here for anybody to see.

Madam Speaker, just to give you some idea now, we had the minister, who was the Minister of Justice at the time, who was the Acting Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development at the time, who decided, in his wisdom, that it was important to travel to New York, it was important to travel to London, England, it was important to travel to Ireland, it was important to travel to Scotland, it was important to travel to Norway, and it was important to travel to New England. My question is: Is there anywhere that this former minister did not travel, Madam Speaker, at the expense of the people in this Province of $110,000? The list goes on and on.

We have the present Member for Twillingate & Fogo, who spent in excess of $50,000 in his budget for travel here, there and everywhere. The same goes for the Member for Bellevue, who stands up every day and you would swear to God that they knew nothing about what was going on. That could be a possibility, too, Madam Speaker, in all honesty. There is a possibility that they did not know what was going on, but the fact is, they knew how to spend the money. They knew how to spend the money, and they have the gall to sit on that side of the House and check up on us as we try to straighten out a mess that we have been left in, by seventeen years of the former Administration, and they say: Don't talk about the past. I think it is important to talk about the past. I think it is important to lay the record of the members opposite on the table for everybody to see.

We are facing, in this Province, a debt that we have never ever witnessed before. We have just brought in a very tough Budget - I admit, a very tough Budget - and we have to try to address some of the concerns that are in the Province. At the same time, even with the toughest Budget, according to a commentary, the toughest Budget since Confederation, or one of the toughest Budget since Confederation, we are still left with the largest deficit that this Province has ever faced in the history of being a Province.

I think it is important that we try to take that issue in hand and try to do something about it and try to address the concerns that are out there. I look in my own District of Placentia & St. Mary's, and we have a list that long, just like all members have in their districts. We will start with roads. I need over 100 kilometres of recapping in my district alone, and it costs almost $7 million to $8 million, and we have a $30 million provincial roads program this year. Take the maintenance work out of that, for $5 million or $6 million, and you are left with about $24 million, and I need one-third of that to address the concerns in my district. We do not have that opportunity.

Then you hear members opposite stand up and say: Why don't you deal with the corporate taxes? The Member for Cartwright-L'anse au Clair was so quick to jump on that today. Then we asked, if we signed a deal with Voisey's Bay, we signed a deal with Inco, that over the lifetime of the Voisey's Bay agreement we get $490 million put into the coffers of Newfoundland and Labrador, and at the same time the federal government reaps $4.9 billion. Four point nine billion versus our $490 million.

That is why we are having a job to struggle with the financial situation in this Province today. That is why we are having a job to address the concerns of the public service workers. That is why we are having a job to deal with the concerns of all the Members of the House of Assembly as they look for things in their districts, and bring forward concerns in their districts, because we are in a financial mess and we have to do something about it. We cannot stand time and time again and just keep on and keep on with the same old way of doing things and expect that somebody else is going to take care of it down the road. I am a father of three children, Madam Speaker. A father of three children, with two in school at the time and I have a young child less than two years at home. I am concerned about the future of Newfoundland and Labrador. I am concerned about the future that I am responsible for as a Member of this House of Assembly. Am I going to stand up here in the House today and say that everybody is going to agree with everything I am doing. No, that is not going to be the case. People are going to disagree with stands you take. People are going to disagree with issues that you speak out on, but the fact is that you try to do your best here as a Member of the House of Assembly faced with the situation that we find ourselves in. I realize from the other side of the House time and time again - I have spent many years on the that side and I understand the frustrations of people on that side, and I understand the frustrations that are brought here to the House to bounce off the government and try to get the government to listen. We are listening. Can we be yes people to everybody out in our constituencies? No, that is not the case. We are here to do a job to the best of our ability but we cannot go on and on and just forget about what the members opposite were part of it.

I go back, Madam Speaker, to the fifteen or sixteen years that we were here. We are wondering why we are in the fiscal situation we are in today, and how quick we forget. I will just give you a couple of examples, if I could. A could of examples of what this group across the way were involved in. Just look at the Trans City cottage hospital contracts. They were not public tenders. They were given out to a few buddies of the then Liberal Administration which some of these members were part of. Over $21 million just threw out. Threw out. Just like you open up the car window and flick $21 million out through the window and said: Here boys, whoever can pick it up, get it. But the problem is everybody did not have a chance to get it. There were only three or four buddies of the former Administration, and some of the members opposite who were party to that.

The Cabot 500 Corporation, when the wrongful dismissal of these people cost the taxpayers of this Province over $1 million. Over $1 million that we had to fork out because somebody did not like somebody sitting at a table downtown, or somebody did not like somebody sitting at a table in some part of Newfoundland and Labrador. We will just throw them out, send them home and then we will fork out $1 million in wrongful dismissal cases. Time and time again we have heard the history and the litany of that going on.

The Atlantic Leasing Limited, Murray Premises museum contract that cost the Newfoundland Government - when they settled out of court, it cost the Newfoundland and Labrador Government, Madam Speaker, $4.2 million. Four point two million dollars because the then government, which several members are sitting opposite now were part of, did not like who had the leasing contract at the time for the Newfoundland Museum. So we forked out $4.2 million because somebody did not like somebody else. The list goes on and on and on.

We will go back to the Public Utilities Board and Andy Wells. That cost the taxpayers of this Province another $550,000 in compensation and pension benefits, Madam Speaker. They also spent $34,000 to hire a Toronto lawyer to help fight their case and they still ended up paying $550,000. You sit down, Madam Speaker, and you hear time and time again about the expenses that we have to deal with. Just as another example, Tors Cove Excavation contract, and the list goes on and on. This was back on November 21, 1998 when the Province had to fork out over $1 million of a settlement to Tors Cove Excavation. We go on and on, the list goes on.

What I am trying to get forward here today is that because of this type of expenditure, because of this type of operation that we had to deal with here for fourteen or fifteen years, is why we find ourselves in a situation today where we have to present a Budget, yes, that is tough. Yes, I agree 100 per cent it is tough, but we had to present it in order to address some of the concerns we have.

I just touched on a few of the concerns that I have in my own district in relation to roads, Madam Speaker. I also have a need for a new high school in the Town of Placentia. It is something we put forward. The people in the area have put forward to the minister. The minister took the time to come out and travel through the community and have a look and talk to the people in the area, Madam Speaker, and we hope to address that. We need a new school. We have water and sewer that is needed in many municipalities in my district. The list goes on and on. In relation to health care, the delivery of health care services in my district. They come with a cost, but at the same time we realize that we have to provide that side of the equation, and at the same time we have to be cognizant of the fact that we have to address the financial situation we are in.

To sit down, Madam Speaker, day after day and listen to members opposite stand up in their place and tell us about the mess that we are creating. We did not create the mess. I say to the former Premier, we did not create the mess. It was you and your crowd that created the mess. We are doing our best to clean it up. We are doing our best to address the concerns that the people of this Province are facing today. It is not an easy task, I say to the members opposite. It is not an easy task but it is a task that we were elected to do on October 21 of last year; a task that we have taken very seriously and a task that we intend to do and do to the best of our ability on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Madam Speaker, I would just like to address - when you sit down and look at expenditures and you talk about things. I brought this up before because I think it is important to show how freewheeling they were with the cheque book because it is important to bring forward these concerns and show the people of the Province, show the people of Newfoundland and Labrador how freewheeling the members opposite where with the cheque book.

Just as an example, Madam Speaker, the Member for Carbonear-Harbour Grace, when he was the Minister of Government Services and Lands, listen to this, 190 shirts and jackets - and you heard the number right - 190 shirts and jackets for $3,000, the Member for Carbonear Harbour-Grace spent. He bought sixteen polo shirts worth $285 with embroidery specifically for Minister George Sweeney here. Now, another $1,800 payed for an assortment - let me get a hold of this now. Another $1,800 payed for an assortment of 110 T-shirts, golf shirts, sweatshirts, most of which were embroidered with the logo: Department of Government Services and Lands. He bought another sixty-four shirts and jackets with the Newfoundland and Labrador logo. The four fleece jackets cost almost $60 a top. What in the name of God would he be doing with all the clothes, Madam Speaker?

The cost that is associated with that - at the same time I have people in my district who have leaky roofs, who have health care concerns, and the costs of drugs to senior citizens. I have senior citizens in my district who are finding they just cannot make ends meet. At the same time we have former Cabinet ministers buying somewhere in excess of 300 or 400 T-shirts and sweatshirts and fleece shirts, and the list goes on and on. Then that same former minister has the gall to stand up over there and say: What are you at over there? What we are at is trying to straighten up the mess that the likes of him created. That is what we are at on this side of the House. We are trying to do that to the best of our ability, Madam Speaker, and the list goes on.

I will not get into some other things that are there today, but just to give you an idea of how much that is happening. Just to give you a couple of stats I found that were very important. From 1992-1993 fiscal year to 2002-2003 fiscal year, the net debt of this Province has grown by 59 per cent. Unfunded pension liabilities have grown by 50 per cent. We have current account expenditures, in the last five years, that have grown by 22.3 per cent. We had $3.6 billion at March 31, 2003, 50 per cent higher than 1992-1993 levels. We just cannot continue on. We have a lot of concerns here in the Province. We are certainly looking forward to working on those concerns, but also pointing out some of these opportunities.

Madam Speaker, the opportunities are that by the end of the calendar year 2008, we are going to have 6,400 people in this Province who are going to retire; be eligible to retire by the end of the calendar year 2008. We are, hopefully, downsizing in some cases, and over 4,000 jobs. That creates, still, 2,400 opportunities there. Plus there are going to be new teachers, Madam Speaker. Over 400 teachers are going to retire in the next couple of years and that will create an opportunity for new teachers. For anybody to say there is not going to be an opportunity for young people, there is not going to be an opportunity for people to avail of employment in the public service, Madam Speaker, is totally inaccurate. There are going to be opportunities for that. We have to also find that if there is a need to fill a position that becomes vacant over the next couple of year, we will do that, but if there not a need to fill it, we won't do it, and hopefully be able to curb some of the expenditures and address some of the concerns we have.

Madam Speaker, in relation to the ongoing situation that we find ourselves in here in the Province, the public service strike, it is on everybody's mind, from the people who are on the lines throughout our districts to the people who are waiting to get the services. Certainly, we have found over the last few weeks, Madam Speaker, a lot of discussions have been held, but we find ourselves at an impasse now in relation to being able to address that. A bill put forward in the House today will, hopefully, address some of the concerns and be able to get people back to work.

We understand fully, and I understand from conversations I have had - and I have had several today with people throughout my district - that it is not the choice of many people, Madam Speaker, that we bring legislation to the House. We find ourselves at an impasse, we find that we are not in a position, under the current financial situation that we find ourselves in, to pass the cheque book of the Province over to someone else to deal with, in regard to a third party in binding arbitration. We are going to bring legislation to the House to have people put back to work.

I had a conversation with a lady today, Madam Speaker. She said to me: Are you going to vote for the legislation? I said: Yes, I am. She said: Can you give me some reasons why? I said: I will give you one reason. I could given several, but I will give one. On Thursday afternoon I had a call from a lady in my district who, eleven days ago, found a lump in her breast, and she cannot get in to get the work done, just the preliminary work, to address that concern. Madam Speaker, in the year 2000, on a Saturday morning in April, I had a call from my sister in Goose Bay-Labrador who found a lump in her breast. On Tuesday of the following week, seventy-two hours later, she was in the hospital after having her breast removed. Thirteen months after that, Madam Speaker, we laid her to rest in Branch, St. Mary's Bay. That is the kind of situation I find myself in. Those are the kinds of stories that I am listening to, Madam Speaker; understanding the frustrations of the people out there, understanding the frustrations of the people who are on the picket lines, but at the same time understanding the fiscal situation that we find ourselves in here in the Province, and the need to address that in the best way we can.

There are no easy answers, I say to the Member for Labrador, and I understand his background in the union movement. There are no easy answers, but we are trying to find a solution, we are trying to find a way of dealing with it, and we have decided that we are going to take the action of bringing in legislation to get people back to work.

I have talked to people right across - I was on a picket line on Friday morning in my district. Sure, there are concerns there about the approach of the government on some issues. There are concerns there about the approach of union on some issues, Madam Speaker. It is not exclusive to us that people are upset. I can guarantee you that from the discussions I have had on the picket line.

Madam Speaker, to go back to the opportunity, back on March 31, April 1, when many people felt at that time that they should have had the opportunity to vote on what was on the table that day. We could go on and on. You can get into the rhetoric, you can get into all the concerns that the people have, but the bottom line is that we have a strike now that is closing in on a month long, we have a serious situation here in the Province in regard to finances and how to deal with them, Madam Speaker. Do I agree with everything that has gone on in the past thirty days? No, not at all. The fact is that we have a situation here in the Province that we have to deal with as a government, and we are going to deal with it over the next few days and, hopefully, get people back to work and start addressing some of the concerns that are in health care in this Province, that are in education in this Province, that are in Transportation and Works in this Province, and the list goes on and on.

Madam Speaker, I have sat down and I have listened to people across the way and I have listened to people in the public say, you know, it is a one-man show. I can understand that. We did the same thing when we were in Opposition, the very same thing. We had the opportunity at our caucus table, I say to all members opposite, to voice our concerns, to bring forward the concerns that we had with pension issues, to bring forward the concerns that we had with job reclassification, to bring forward the concerns that we had with wages, to bring forward the concerns we had with sick leave and to bring forward the concerns we had with every issue, Madam Speaker. It is a collective decision, and we tried to do our best to bring forward what we think is best for the people of the Province.

Madam Speaker, I have heard again all the rhetoric from the other side, but we were elected on October 21 to govern the Province and we are going to do it to the best of our ability. If, at the end of that time, the people of the Province decide that we did not do the right job, then that is democracy. That is exactly what happened on October 21. We had a democratic vote in this Province. After fourteen years of spending like there was no tomorrow, after spending like a bunch of drunken sailors, after fourteen years the people of this Province decided that they wanted a new administration to take control of what was going on in this Province and try to address some of the concerns.

Madam Speaker, I feel we are trying to do that to the best of our ability under the fiscal situation that we find ourselves in and laying out time and time again - I understand, as I said before, the role of the Opposition. I spent a good many years over on that side. To stand up and say, this is what you said, to look at the Government House Leader and say, this is what you said in 1999, my God, Madam Speaker, we can stand up here all day and say what the members opposite said. I was here in 1999, I was here other years, Madam Speaker, when the previous administration took draconian measures to deal with issues that they had to deal with. We fulfilled our role as members in the Opposition. Somebody has to speak for the people who oppose government policy, somebody has to speak for the people who oppose what government is doing, and the Opposition does their role at that.

The games that have been played over the past couple of weeks leave a lot to be desired, Madam Speaker, and I speak to the situation that we find ourselves in here today. That is what we are going to deal with over the next little while. You have members opposite who have a role to play and I applauded them for playing that role, but let's keep it to the issues at hand. Lets keep it to the issues that we have to deal with in this Province.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. member that his time is up.

MR. MANNING: Just a moment, Madam Speaker, by leave, to finish up?

MADAM SPEAKER: Does the hon. member have leave?



MR. MANNING: Let's keep it to the issues we have to deal with in this Province, Madam Speaker. Because of our financial situation we have to make some tough decisions. Nobody wants to be making some of these decisions, but the fact is, you are elected here as a member of government to represent the people of the Province, to represent the people of your district, and to bring forward the concerns they have. As I said, the needs and wants in my district are long. The need for roads, water and sewer, hospitals, the delivering of health care services, social services, Madam Speaker - we are facing a major situation in the fishery over the next little while, that needs to be dealt with. All these are issues and concerns that I, as a member of the House of Assembly, intend to bring forward on behalf of the people who I represent to the best of my ability. At the end of the day, it is up to the people whether they give me a pass or a fail.

I have been down that road. I have heard the cat calls from the other side of the House. Madam Speaker, I heard them when I was on that side. The people decided to put me here to represent their views to the best of my ability. Can I be everything to everybody? I hardly think so, Madam Speaker, but I will do the best I can do on behalf of the people who I represent here in this House of Assembly.

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. ANDERSEN: Thank you, Madam Speaker.

It is a pleasure to get up today and speak on the non-confidence motion put forward on the Budget.

I would like to say to the Member for Placentia-St. Mary's, that every time we got up on each Budget and talked about money for health care, water and sewer and for roads, every member who was in the Opposition at that time spoke in unison and said that we were not spending enough. I guess it is a bit ironic, Madam Speaker, that a year ago, two years ago, three years ago, four years ago, they accused us of not doing enough and now they are accusing us of overspending.

Madam Speaker, it is a dark day today for all of us in this House here as we look at the unrest that is taking place with our public sector workforce.


Madam Speaker, I thought that I might say a few words to the Member for Lake Melville on some of the things that he mentioned about me, but I am not going to because today is far too important a day for us to get into that sort of name calling back and forth.

Madam Speaker, I want to speak again today on the Budget, and certainly on behalf of the people on the North Coast of Labrador, the people who I have had the opportunity to represent since 1996. Certainly, again, to any member who has never had the opportunity to travel on the North Coast, I invite you to come there because until you see first-hand, then you will fully understand the concerns that people raise there.

There is no question that for years and years the people on the North Coast of Labrador were the forgotten people in this Province. Every year when every budget was handed down, they were always the last to receive funding for health care, for education and many other things. Since 1996, since I came to the House of Assembly, I was proud to represent our people. We built new schools on the Coast - I mentioned this the other day - but one would only have to see the condition of the schools prior to 1996, because, as I mentioned in the House the other day, and I say it with great sincerity, the majority of the people living on the Island portion of Newfoundland would not accept the schools for a storage shed let alone a schoolhouse.

Madam Speaker, I remember when I went to school. The same as some members here, I guess, who are over the age of fifty, like I am, I went to a one-room school. The other part is that, when you passed Grade 8, we had to go on to North West River to obtain high school. We left the Coast of Labrador. The last week in August we were told to be ready. Back then you had to write your public exams. We left the last week in August or the first of September, and we never got home until the last week in June. Back then, there were no airstrips; so, depending on if the ice was gone, if it was a late year, some years we never got home until July 10. Today, as we talk of the education process, I just want to outline to some people in the House of Assembly, imagine your child or your daughter, who you love very much. Yet today, on the North Coast of Labrador, they have to walk almost a mile, almost a mile. Madam Speaker, the road is not plowed. The only transportation that people have is a skidoo, and many times the parents are not there to take them to school. Imagine, Madam Speaker. I wonder how many parents in this Province would take their little girl and dress her up, and expect her to walk through two and three feet of snow. Yet, Madam Speaker, we never hear these people complain very loudly because they are thankful for what they have.

Madam Speaker, in 1996, I met with the people in Nain and a very good friend of mine was confined to a wheelchair. When the snow went in the spring of the year, and in the summer, Madam Speaker, the roads were too bad to take that woman out in a wheelchair and take her over the road. I am glad that a government I was a part of did a lot of work on the roads and gave the communities graders so that they could keep the roads up to a decent standard in the summertime.

Madam Speaker, we dealt with the women's shelters on the North Coast of Labrador. I was proud when our government, I think it was in 1998, gave extra funding to the shelter in Nain, where they could go out and hire a staff so that the people - the children and women in Nain - had a safe place to go.

Madam Speaker, we gave RCMP to the communities of Makkovik and Rigolet. Now they are being downsized. We are losing our community constables in both Makkovik and Rigolet. That was an agreement that was worked out between the previous government and the two town councils on the North Coast because we saw the need. Now I know that we are getting extra police, but, Madam Speaker, for the RCMP to carry out their role, even with additional RCMP there, they need the community constables for them to carry out their jobs.

Madam Speaker, I wonder, when the members on that side now talk of overspending, I would challenge each and every one of you to come to the North Coast of Labrador and see what we gave them since 1996 - the things I mentioned here - and ask yourself the question: Well, if they did not have these gravel roads for the summertime, if they did not have the schools, what did they have? What did they have? I think you might change your tune - to say that we overspent.

Madam Speaker, in October of last year, for the first time, we had three Aboriginal people who ran for three different parties on the North Coast of Labrador. A very good friend of mine, an hon. gentleman I have known all my life, ran. He was the PC candidate. A young girl with a bright future ran for the Labrador Party. For the first time in our history we had three Aboriginal people running. I believe I did something right, because 70 per cent of the people gave me a mandate to come back here into the House of Assembly.

Madam Speaker, when we had the big Voisey's Bay debate here in this House - and the reason I mention that is because this government here is going to lay off or, through attrition, are going to downsize the workforce by 4,000 people. We hear all kinds of people talking about out-migration. During the Voisey's Bay debate, I spoke on how we heard people in every part of Newfoundland talk of how it hurt them to see their son and their daughter take their grandchildren, leave and drive across to some other province in Canada or to other parts of the world to find employment, and how it tore the heart out of them. I also said, too, there is nothing that hurt more than to travel back to the North Coast of Labrador to attend a funeral, Madam Speaker, of one of our brightest and best. Because of lack of infrastructure and jobs they felt that their lot in life was not worth living for. Granted, Voisey's Bay is not going to change all of it, but it has helped.

Health care - I mentioned the other part about where we say goodbye to family members because they have to go for long-term care. Again, I wonder how members on that side would feel when you say goodbye to your mother and your father, when you see your mother and your father or any family member leave, knowing full well that, because of your financial circumstances, the only time you will see them again is when they return in a casket? For many people on the North Coast of Labrador, that is a fact of life.

I guess it is ironic that this government is talking about sick leave. Madam Speaker, take the woman from Hopedale who has to have a mammogram. It will take her a minimum of three days, one day to fly from Hopedale, a day at the hospital, a day to fly back. Take the young man who works for the government on a Sunday evening and hurts his arm or his leg. He needs an X-ray, but the weather comes down and he waits four days. Four days he is off work waiting to go out. Then it is going to take another three days for him to get an X-ray and then travel back to the community. Madam Speaker, there are times when people wait up to five, six and seven days to get back and forth to the North Coast.

The Budget did not address women's issues on the North Coast of Labrador. We still live in a society where women and children are still scared to speak out because they do not have enough resources in the communities to know they have a safe place to go.

I remember in 1996 after the provincial election I attended the Combined Councils of Labrador. It was a sad day when we, as government representatives, went before the Combined Councils, because each year during the Combined Councils the four members from Labrador appeared before the combined councils. I remember 1996, because that was a time when Labrador was saying maybe they should go a different way. The Combined Council said that they would let the four members go to St. John's, but if they did not get results they would call them home. To which I replied: No, because the people in the riding of Torngat Mountains elected me to come to St. John's to speak for them. If anybody was going to call me back to Labrador it would the people in the riding of Torngat Mountains, not the Combined Councils.

Madam Speaker, this Budget, what we started in 1996 we are scared is coming to an end. I remember the debate on Voisey's Bay and how some members, who were on this side, spoke. When the Leader of the Opposition said: I have not seen the IBAs so I cannot inform the Innu or the Inuit if they got a good deal or not. I remember members over here when they seen the Hansard, when they spoke and said: Because of the royalties or the percentage of the royalties that government is going to give to the Aboriginal people there is nothing left for the Province. That was said by members sitting over there at the time. Two members, it is in Hansard. Again, as far as they were concerned, the Aboriginal people were not considered a part of the Province.

Mr. Speaker, we have seen the Department of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs, which was given to the people in Labrador, torn down; torn apart. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, for the first time in a long time we do not have a minister sitting at the Cabinet Table from Labrador. The first time that we can ever remember that we do not have a member from Labrador sitting in Cabinet.

Mr. Speaker, there was no mention of Labrador in the Budget, or of the Aboriginal people. There is very little talk of the deal in which the Labrador Inuit Association has taken almost twenty-five years to negotiate. It is about to transpire and take place. Mr. Speaker, seeing how this new government works, I can say that I am glad the deal was signed off in August by the previous government, because I would say that the Aboriginal people would have a very, very hard time getting a good deal from this administration.

Mr. Speaker, there was no talk of recruitment and retention. I guess as a government lays off people: How are we going to attract teachers and nurses and other professionals to the North Coast of Labrador so we can provide the best health care system and education to our children?

Ironically, Mr. Speaker, I heard the Minister of Finance say that they are going to provide a health care system that is within driving range of all people in this Province. Again, I can say with all honesty, anyone who knows the geography of this Province would have to admit, whether you sit on that side or not, that the Minister of Finance, when he made that remark in his Budget Speech, he certainly never had the people in my riding at heart. He did say, Mr. Speaker, we are going to provide a health care service to all people within driving range. Yet, we have to travel and take three and four days to get an X-ray.

Mr. Speaker, years ago in the fishery the fishermen were ran by a Water Street government. I remember people on the North Coast saying that one year the price the merchants gave them was exactly what they paid for their salt. The price of salt. When you look at the makeup of this Cabinet in this government we have today, I think it is safe to say why a lot of people in Labrador are considering this to be a Water Street government.

Mr. Speaker, I was born on the North Coast of Labrador. I am an Aboriginal and I am proud. Just as proud as every member who sits in this House is proud of who they are. My wife comes from Bay Roberts and she is just as proud to be a Newfoundlander as I am to be a Labradorian. I am also proud to be the first Aboriginal from the North Coast to be asked to serve in government as a Cabinet minister.

I believe that with this Budget, Mr. Speaker, we have a great fear. We have a great fear that what we build out or what we build up is going to be all forgotten. Mr. Speaker, with all the teachers coming out of the system and changing of the school system, what assurance do the children on the North Coast of Labrador have that in two and three years' time they will not have to leave home again to go and finish off their high school, where they will have to leave again the last week in August and not see their family and friends no more until sometime in late June?

Mr. Speaker, I think we all have a right to believe and have dreams and have hopes. The people on the North Coast of Labrador are no different than anyone else, but the fear they feel today is greater than they have ever felt at any time in their past. Mr. Speaker, this government has an obligation to run the Province, but I would say to every member over there that you also have an obligation to every person who lives in Newfoundland and Labrador, and the people in my riding should be entitled to benefits and an education system just the same as those in Corner Brook, Gander, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador City or anywhere.

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to speak, I guess, on the dark day that we face here today, with our people on strike, because when Bill 18 comes in, we are, certainly, going to have the opportunity to speak, each member, and I hope that every person on this side and that side will get up and voice their opinions.

Mr. Speaker, I can only say to you that I am going to continue to bring forward the concerns of the people on the North Coast of Labrador. I am going to stand, day in and day out, to make sure that their concerns are heard and acted upon by this new government.

I am not one to take up my full twenty minutes, normally, so, I guess, I will just end off by saying to the people in Labrador, in my riding, that I am going to continue to be a voice for them as I have since 1996, and, certainly, I look forward to meeting with ministers to outline the concerns that face the people on the North Coast of Labrador. I hope that if you live by your policy, where you said that every person is entitled to a quality way of life, you will listen and give the service to the people on the North Coast of Labrador, as I had the opportunity to try and do when I was in government, that you have a chance to do now.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (Hodder): The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Before I move the motion to adjourn, I have given notice to both the Opposition House Leader and the Leader of the NDP, that tomorrow, in accordance with Standing Order 11, the House not adjourn at 5:30 nor at 10:00 o'clock.

I give further notice that I will on tomorrow move, pursuant to Standing Order 47, that the debate on Bill 18 entitled, An Act To Provide For The Resumption And Continuation Of Public Services, standing in the name of the hon. the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board, shall not be further adjourned and that further consideration of any resolution or resolutions, clause or clauses, section or sections, schedule or schedules, preamble or preambles, title or titles, or whatever else might be related to debate in Committee of the Whole House respecting Bill 18, shall be the first business of the Committee when next called by the House and shall not be further postponed.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I do now move the adjournment of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it moved that the House do now adjourn.

All those in favour?


MR. SPEAKER: Those against?

This House now stands adjourned until tomorrow, April 27, at 1:30 p.m.