December 7, 2017              HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS           Vol. XLVIII No. 43


 

Please be advised that this is a PARTIALLY EDITED portion of the House of Assembly sitting for Thursday, December 7, 2017, to approximately 3:00 p.m. The edited Hansard will be posted when it becomes available.

 

The entire audio/visual record of the House proceedings is available online within 45 minutes of the House rising for the day. This can be accessed at: http://www.assembly.nl.ca/business/Webcast/default.htm

 

The House met at 1:30 p.m.

 

MR. SPEAKER (Trimper): Order, please!

 

Admit strangers.

 

Before we begin routine proceedings, I would like to observe an old parliamentary tradition.

 

I have the pleasant task today of formally welcoming a new Member who was duly elected in the by-election of November 21, 2017. The new Member is Mr. Jim Lester, representing the District of Mount Pearl North.

 

I have been advised by the Clerk of the House that the Member has taken the Oath of Office and the Oath of Allegiance to the Crown, as required by the Constitution, and has signed the Members' Roll.

 

The hon. the Leader of the Official Opposition.

 

MR. P. DAVIS: Mr. Speaker, I present to you Mr. Jim Lester, the Member for Mount Pearl North, who claims the right to take his seat.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Let the Member take his seat.

 

Welcome, Sir.

 

MR. LESTER: Thank you.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: In the Speaker's gallery today, I'd like to welcome family members of the Member for Mount Pearl North, Mr. Lester's wife, Michelle Lester; his daughter, Samantha Lester; sons: John and Caleb Lester; grandmother, Juanita Lester; aunt, Karen Lester; father and mother-in-law, Dave and Beverley Woolridge; uncle and aunt, Terry and Carolyn Penny.

 

Welcome to you all.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: I was just remarking on how nice it is to win a by-election because the spotlight is truly on yourselves today.

 

Also in the Speaker's gallery, I'm very pleased to acknowledge the King family of Victoria who will be mentioned in a Ministerial Statement today. They are former guests of the Ronald McDonald House. Six-year-old Emma will join the Premier this evening to switch on the Christmas lights on Confederation Hill.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: May I suggest I think we're upping our game because our public galleries have been quite full lately.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Business is good.

 

MR. SPEAKER: It is good.

 

I'd like to welcome several other guests who will be referred to in a Ministerial Statement today. We have with us Linda Ross of the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women and employee Judit Lovas; John Whelan of Blue Sky Family Care Home and employee Ciara O'Connor; and Anthony Butt of The Reluctant Chef restaurant and employee Jeremiah Stafford.

 

Welcome to you.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: I'd also like to recognize Margo Cranford. She will be the subject of a Member's statement today. She is joined by her husband, Gary Cranford.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: We also have with us retired Professor Leo White of the Newfoundland and Labrador Coalition of Agricultural Reform who is joining us in the gallery today.

 

We have Mayor Stone of Red Bay and finally, Mr. Henry Windeler of the Goose Bay Airport Corporation.

 

Welcome to all of you.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

Statements by Members

 

MR. SPEAKER: For Members' statements today we will hear statements from the hon. Members for the Districts of Fogo Island – Cape Freels, from Mount Pearl North, Lewisporte – Twillingate, Labrador West and Topsail – Paradise.

 

The hon. the Member for Fogo Island – Cape Freels.

 

MR. BRAGG: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

Great things are happening in the grade four class at Centreville Academy. The students there are learning about social justice issues, they are becoming activists and educating others on these issues. They got really interested in homelessness and those in need.

 

During my visit, they told me they researched this issue in Newfoundland and Labrador. It was interesting chatting with them and answering their questions.

 

During their research, they came across an advertisement: Kindness Wanted, a campaign for The Gathering Place, looking for support to help those in need. These 10 students and their teacher, Ms. Butler, were so impressed with the services that were offered by The Gathering Place that they wanted to help.

 

They did 'freezie' sales and gave their spare change. They raised $250 so they could buy a hot lunch for those less fortunate. They did not stop there. They presented me with a letter asking me to do my part and bring awareness and support The Gathering Place.

 

These students and their actions can give us hope for a brighter future; a great lead up to the Christmas season.

 

Thank you, grade four class, and Merry Christmas to all.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Mount Pearl North.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. LESTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

I rise in hon. House today to recognize the organizers and participants of the Mount Pearl Lions Club Christmas parade which was held this past weekend.

 

The parade travelled through the heart of Mount Pearl, down Ruth Avenue and Park Avenue, ending at Mount Pearl Square where participants got to enjoy refreshments and meet Santa himself.

 

The parade was, as usual, organized by the Mount Pearl Lions Club who did a tremendous job. I congratulate all members of the organizing committee, volunteers and the City of Mount Pearl on a job well done.

 

This year's parade featured many community groups, school organizations, dance troops, sporting clubs and businesses for the area, participants and onlookers delighted in the sights and sounds and festive community spirit, which Mount Pearl is well known for.

 

I ask all Members of this hon. House to join me in congratulating the Mount Pearl Lions Club and all of its partners in hosting another successful Santa Claus parade in the City of Mount.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Lewisporte – Twillingate.

 

MR. D. BENNETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

I rise in this hon. House to recognize the Lewisporte Collegiate scholarship committee for their recent and very successful fundraiser gala dinner. Businesses and individuals showed their support for a new initiative that will see scholarships awarded to qualifying students as they graduate from Lewisporte Collegiate. The fundraiser was a great success, rising over $80,000.

 

With a school population of 270 students from 14 communities, Lewisporte Collegiate prides itself on high academic achievements, while offering a full curriculum, along with an award-winning music program and varsity sports.

 

Mr. Speaker, Lewisporte Collegiate graduated nearly 50 per cent of students with honours over the past two years, making it the highest achieving high school in the province by 13 per cent.

 

The guest speaker for the evening was retired General Rick Hillier. The Campbellton native spoke of the people who have inspired him over the years in his military career. He noted that the people supporting the scholarship fund can inspire future graduates and that the financial support offered today will be important to these youth in pursuing their future goals so they can go out and change the world.

 

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. LETTO: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

I rise in this hon. House today to bring to your attention to something new and unique to Labrador.

 

Several years ago, our Labrador MP, Yvonne Jones, had a vision of being able to recognize Labradorians, past and present, with their own award of distinction. During the past few weeks, she has been travelling all over Labrador doing just that. In Labrador West on November 14, a special recognition ceremony was organized and over 60 people gathered in the historic setting of Menihek Nordic Ski Club to help congratulate 22 recipients on their Labradorians of Distinction award.

 

This medal was created by MP Jones and it was launched in conjunction with Canada 150. Here, 150 Labradorians have been recognized for their outstanding contributions.

 

Recipients are selected by a committee from all backgrounds, cultures and regions of Labrador; a great unifying celebration of our history and a way to learn about the exceptional individuals that have shaped our region. Every year going forward, members of the award program will be inducted during a special ceremony and will receive a special medal.

 

I ask all hon. Members to join me in congratulating all recipients of this award and MP Jones for bringing her vision to light.

 

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Topsail – Paradise.

 

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

 

Mr. Speaker, every corner of our province benefits from having local citizens who stand out, are well recognized and sometimes, and most unfortunately, the depth and reach of a citizen isn't fully realized until after they're gone. Such a realization has become evident after the recent passing of Mr. Val Slaney.

 

During his entire life, Val was a giver, to his community, to people and to his family. He was a long-time counsellor in the Town of Upper Island Cove and a volunteer who was well respect by everyone who knew him.

 

After his passing, a flood of people showed up to offer support and condolences to the family. Many offered their previously unknown stories of how Val quietly helped youth, seniors and those who were facing some pretty tough times in their lives. There were many stories shared.

 

It was an honour to know Val Slaney. I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that I personally am a better person because I knew him. Many people are.

 

I ask this hon. House to join me in honouring a man who today is dearly missed.

 

Thank you.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: I understand that the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board has leave to give a Member's statement?

 

The hon. the Member for the District of Waterford Valley.

 

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you.

 

I thank the Members of the House for offering leave.

 

Mr. Speaker, healthy living choices equate to both physical and mental wellness. In this day and age we all know the importance of a healthy lifestyle and the benefits that it can bring. Many of us strive to make healthier choices; some are more successful than others in following through on their commitments. No matter how big, or small, making change can be challenging.

 

I would like to recognize Margo Cranford who is in our public gallery today, who took health in hand with the help of an organization called TOPS. She made a commitment to change. TOPS stands for Take Off Pounds Sensibly and it is the first international non-profit organization of its kind, promoting healthy weight loss.

 

Margo is a member of TOPS NL 0590, Mount Pearl and in 2016 she achieved the highest weight loss in this province. In recognition of her remarkable achievement she was crowned TOPS Queen 2016 for Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

As part of this award she was given the honour to represent this province in Little Rock, Arkansas in July of 2017.

 

Margo has recently become a member of the Century Club, having lost even more weight, and she's attained a total weight loss of more than 100 pounds.

 

I congratulate Margo on her achievements and note what a tremendous inspiration she is to others who choose to make health and healthy living a priority.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Statements by Ministers.

 

Statements by Ministers

 

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

 

MR. CROCKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

I am pleased to rise in this hon. House to invite the public to join us for the 31st annual Christmas Lights Across Canada ceremony happening this evening on Confederation Hill.

 

The event begins tonight at 6 p.m. in the main lobby of Confederation Building's East Block. Every year, cities across Canada participate in this event by simultaneously lighting beautiful displays of Christmas lights for all to enjoy.

 

Here in St. John's tonight we will illuminate a total of 60,000 LED lights on Confederation Hill and along Prince Philip Drive.

 

We'll hear festive music from the St. Andrew's Elementary School Choir and the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Band. There will be hot chocolate, cookies and other refreshments, and when the moment comes to switch on the lights, the Premier will be joined by six-year old Emma King and the King family to push the button to light the display and officially begin the holiday season in our province.

 

The King family reside in Victoria, a community located within my District of Carbonear – Trinity - Bay de Verde, and are former guests of the Ronald McDonald House Charities Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

Emma and her parents, Stephen and Sherry, are big supports of Ronald McDonald House Charities, and in fact, Emma just hosted 65 fellow princesses for a fundraising tea party, held at Persalvic Elementary School. We are certainly pleased to have them join us here today and for our special event tonight.

 

Mr. Speaker, I encourage all to join us this evening. The holiday season is a wonderful time of year for spending time with family and friends. Our Christmas Lights Across Canada ceremony is a perfect way to celebrate the season.

 

On behalf of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, best wishes and a safe and happy holiday season and a happy New Year.

 

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

I thank the minister for an advance copy of his statement. We too encourage the public to attend tonight's event. I've attended this ceremony in the past, I know firsthand what a delight it brings to all those who join in the celebrations.

 

For many people, coming to see the lighting of the tree at the Confederation Building, and for those along the Parkway, has become a family tradition.

 

I would also like to congratulate Emma King on being selected to light the display this year. I'm sure it will be a very exciting moment for herself and her family.

 

It's a great family event and a great kick start to the holiday season. I certainly do hope that many come out to enjoy St. Andrew's choir and the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Band, the sparkling lights and all the related festivities.

 

Thank you.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

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

 

I, too, thank the minister for the advance copy of his statement. I love the lights at this time of year. I wish we could have them all year round, and even more so with energy savings LEDs.

 

Congratulations to everyone involved in the preparation of this event and who are taking part in tonight's celebrations, especially to Emma King and her family.

 

I will now take this opportunity to offer best wishes for this holiday season to my colleagues in this House, the staff and all the public. I wish everyone relaxation, fun and happy times over the holiday.

 

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Further statements by ministers?

 

The hon. the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour.

 

MR. HAWKINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

           

It's certainly an honour for me today to welcome Ciara O'Connor, Dr. Judit Lovas and Jeremiah Stafford to our province. They are among the newest immigrants to Newfoundland and Labrador and come to us through the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program that was launched in March of this year.

 

Dr. Lovas came to Newfoundland and Labrador from Hungary and is being endorsed by the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women, working as a research and policy analyst.

 

Ms. O'Connor is from Ireland and is working as program director with Blue Sky Family Care in Corner Brook.

 

Mr. Stafford is from Australia and is the executive chef of the Reluctant Chef restaurant in St. John's.

 

These three individuals are among over 100 people to date who are being endorsed by employers in our province under the Atlantic Immigration program.

 

The goal of the pilot is to enhance retention of immigrant workers throughout Atlantic Canada. By assisting employers in filling labour market needs, the program supports objectives of The Way Forward on Immigration in Newfoundland and Labrador. In partnership with government and community organizations, employers ensure that immigrant workers have access to settlement services and supports.

 

We continue to promote the program to raise awareness. I encourage employers to follow the lead of those who have endorsed Dr. Lovas, Ms. O'Connor and Mr. Stafford, by seeking designation through the program and helping to grow our province's population and economy.

 

I ask all hon. Members to join me in extending a warm welcome to all of our newcomers and thank them for putting their talent and training to work for Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

I thank the minister for an advance copy of his statement. We, too, wish to welcome Dr. Lovas, Ms. O'Connor and Mr. Stafford to our beautiful province. I also thank the employers who have taken this initiative to partake in this program: the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women, Blue Sky Family Care, The Reluctant Chef and all of the employers throughout our province currently enrolled in this pilot.

 

Mr. Speaker, while I encourage more businesses to consider employing immigrants and becoming involved in the Atlantic Immigration Pilot program, it's the responsibility of government to create a favourable environment for businesses to hire and grow. Over the past 24 months, this government has done anything but.

 

Government must do a better job to work with the local business community, create additional opportunities that will lead to further success stories like the three individuals here today.

 

Thank you very much.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

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

 

I, too, thank the minister for the advance copy of his statement. I'm really happy to welcome all newcomers to this province and especially Dr. Lovas, Ms. O'Connor and Mr. Stafford.

 

This pilot program assists employers and supports immigration. I'm glad the program is showing results. In addition to encouraging people to move to Newfoundland and Labrador, however, government also needs to ensure programs and the supports exist for the ongoing retention of immigrants in our province.

 

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Further statements by ministers?

 

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

 

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

I rise today in this hon. House to announce the start of pre-budget consultations for budget 2018. This is the earliest these consultations have commenced over the past decade.

 

This year's consultation process is a multi-phased approach, with numerous opportunities to provide feedback from interested stakeholders, members of the public and employees in the public service. Starting today, we ware accepting feedback by email at Budget2018@gov.nl.ca and by regular mail to the Department of Finance; the address can be found on the Department of Finance's website.

 

Mr. Speaker, our public service has also been invited to complete an online questionnaire.

 

In January, the public will have an opportunity to fill out a separate online questionnaire, and we will host in-person public and stakeholder sessions.

 

Mr. Speaker, in the interest of collaboration and openness, I would also like to take this opportunity to invite Members opposite to participate in this process. I truly believe, Mr. Speaker, that with the fiscal situation our province is facing that collaboration may lead to answers. These Members can choose a day between Wednesday and Friday of next week, where we can meet in this hon. House and I will bring along my staff from the department and we will listen to any suggestions that Members opposite have.

 

Members of the media will also be welcome to observe and all of the discussion will be on record.

 

I look forward to hearing from all interested parties as we move forward with these important consultations.

 

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

I thank the minister for the advanced copy of his statement.

 

And certainly encourage all members of the public, along with community groups, businesses and organizations to participate in the pre-budget consultations.

 

It is however, unfortunate the ongoing tax review will not be concluded in time to incorporate it in to this budget. Instead of doing a review of the tax system in 2016, this Liberal government deceived or determined to charge the people of the province more to live here.

 

Mr. Speaker, it's evident that this Liberal government after two years is out of ideas. This Liberal government clearly does not have a way forward as they are looking to us to tell them what to do.

 

Mr. Speaker, we have given this government budgeting suggestions in this very House and will continue to offer our suggestions in due course and directions for the benefit of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

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

 

I too thank the minister for the advanced copy of his statement.

 

I'm glad he's making an early start on pre-budget consultations, much needed, and giving everyone interested a variety of ways in which to give feedback on what they would like to see in the budget.

 

In terms of consulting with individual Opposition Members, I remind the minister that we provide feedback and suggestions publicly on an ongoing basis every day the House is open and beyond. If the minister is suggesting a special additional consultation, I invite him to get in touch with the individual Opposition caucuses and request open public meetings with them.

 

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Further statements by ministers?

 

Oral Questions.

 

Oral Questions

 

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

 

MR. P. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

On November 7, the Premier told the media that his chief of staff had – quote – followed every single rule – end of quote – on rules surrounding lobbying. We now know that the Premier's chief of staff violated lobbying rules by not meeting deadlines to file documents on time.

 

I ask the Premier: Why did you state to the media that your chief of staff had followed every single rule, when in fact he had violated lobbying rules?

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

Well, I think you would have noticed in the media yesterday, the chief of staff had issued a public comment about this in his response, and that was based on the question that the Leader of the Opposition is asking, which is a discussion that was essentially started by one of the leadership candidates in all of this.

 

What we're talking about here is lobbyist registration. The chief of staff in our office clearly said yesterday, he had given me his assurances, that the rules were followed and that he had completed the necessary records.

 

What happened here, Mr. Speaker, near the notice of termination, there was a one-month period, and the chief of staff clearly identified yesterday that there was an administrative error in filing for the notice of termination.

 

I can tell you, speaking with him today, he is very sorry and remorseful and apologetic for that admission.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. P. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

The rules are in place for a very good reason. A breach of the rules is a breach of the rules.

 

I ask the Premier: When did you become aware that your chief of staff had violated the rules contrary to the legislation?

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

I became aware of this just a few days ago when this was made public. As I said, I spoke to the chief of staff and he is very sorry and has apologized and has said this publicly about what has happened there.

 

What's happened here – and I want to clarify this – the key part of this registry is our chief of staff in this particular case here, Mr. Mercer, was using the registry, that's how this information has become available. Unlike some of the other people we know in this province who actually haven't used the registry and certainly many of those people would have been lobbying Members opposite over a number of years.

 

I want to reiterate this and point this out, Mr. Speaker, this is very important. At no point was there any lobbyist activity without it being registered by the chief of staff.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. P. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

It was a month ago today when the media reported the Premier's statement that his chief of staff had followed every single rule. The Premier just said it was only a few days ago when he found out that wasn't correct. That's a significant problem for me, Premier, I suggest, when several weeks go by before the correct information was brought to the attention of the Premier by his very chief of staff.

 

Does that present a problem to you, Premier? It certainly does to me.

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER BALL: Mr. Speaker, what we're talking about here is at any point – so let's ask this very basic question, the Member that the person that we're talking about, was this person doing any lobbyist activity, any activities at all, that prior to a registration. No, clearly he wasn't.

 

Was there financial gain, Mr. Speaker? This has happened prior to coming in to the office and the position that he currently holds. So, Mr. Speaker, what has happened here, near the end of it or completion of the activity, there is a 30 day, one month time frame that you actually file for the termination.

 

And he's apologized for this, Mr. Speaker, that's what I'm saying. This was a human error, it was an administrative error; I'm sure every Member in this House at some point has missed something in terms of a notification.

 

He's apologized for this, Mr. Speaker, and made that publicly yesterday.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. P. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

Chief of Staff had a considerable amount of time to inform the Premier that the Premier's own public statements were inaccurate and instead of giving the Premier the opportunity to immediately after correct the statement, his own Chief of Staff let the matter go on until someone else raised it again. This is a problem and it wasn't just about lobbying or not lobbying, because we really don't know that either.

 

Mr. Speaker, in order for any actions regarding this matter to be taken an official complaint has to be filed for an investigation to take place – a complaint would have to be filed with the Commissioner for lobbying.

 

So I ask the Premier: To ensure transparency and accountability, will you ask for an investigation to start immediately?

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

What we're talking about here is an activity in the past, prior to coming in to government. I want to just reassure the people of this province that these activities were done and concluded before coming in to our office, Mr. Speaker.

 

What I will say this however to the Member opposite in this question, yeah sure I've asked questions about this, the person that we're talking about apologized, was apologetic to the people of this province about this administrative error, that occurred based on this registry. Mr. Speaker, if you look at the history of the registry and we used this in the past, he is one of very few people over the history that has actually clearly the participating in this.

 

So what I've done, Mr. Speaker, we've already started discussions with the Committee of Conflict of Interest. We want to review the processes that we put in place around our Chief of Staff, Mr. Speaker.

 

I'm confident that nothing will be found, but I think public confidence in this is extremely important.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. P. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

The Premier has stated that he has no issue with the Chief of Staff being involved with government decisions involving companies he used to lobby for.

 

So I ask the Premier: How appropriate is it that your Chief of Staff has been involved in meetings, as recently as March of this year, with Tata Steel, a group that he was working for?

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER BALL: Mr. Speaker, what I said was all of the companies that the Chief of Staff had been involved in were clearly – we had that discussion, Mr. Speaker. If at any point any one of those companies we put in rules. These are the conflict of interest, this discussion, we will review all of this with the committee, if they see fit. We've reached out to open that discussion.

 

Mr. Speaker, clearly in this House and the Members should know this opposite, he's been working in the private sector prior to being in government. We have Members that are sitting clearly right next to him, Mr. Speaker, that time and time they would have been advocating and working for various companies then find themselves in the political arena just a few weeks later and would have received donations I would say, Mr. Speaker, from these groups.

 

Mr. Speaker, what we're looking at right now is we want to restore public confidence; we're willing to take this to the Conflict of Interest Committee.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. P. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. 

 

In this case the Premier's Chief of Staff was a lobbyist who failed to abide by the legislation.

 

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier when will his government be announcing his sole-source deal with Canopy Growth to produce marijuana that excludes Newfoundland and Labrador suppliers.

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation.

 

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

I thank the Member opposite for his question. As I said previously and publicly that we want to develop an industry here in Newfoundland and Labrador with the legalization of cannabis federally that leads to production, leads to job creation, supply chain development opportunities and research and development. When we're in a position to make matters public we will.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. P. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

Well the decision that the Cabinet made this week includes an incentive program.

 

I ask the minister: What's the value of the incentive program going to be provided to Canopy Growth?

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation.

 

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

For the Member's question opposite, when it comes to any type of business program or investment opportunity the Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation would be undertaking we have officials in our department that would be in dialogue with any company and would be working out business deals, good business deals for the people of the province that would lead to job growth and creation.

 

We've done a number of business deals here in the province, we did one with Provincial Aerospace that's leading to a job creation here in this province. We did one with Canada Fluorspar Mine just a short time ago that leading to significant job creation here in this province unlike Members opposite that have done a number of significant bad business deals.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. P. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

Mr. Speaker, in October of 2015, on the heels of the federal election, the Ottawa Sun published a story regarding the chief financial officer for the Liberal Party of Canada who's a significant shareholder in Canopy Growth. The story says he's in line for a big payday.

 

I ask the minister of business: Why have you refused to issue a public request for proposals for a supply for marijuana for Newfoundland and Labrador?

 

MR. SPEAKER: The Minister of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation.

 

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

I thank the Member opposite for his question. As we have said publicly here in this House, one of the big issues is obtaining supply. Supply is very important given that we're one of only two provinces that do not have active producers right here.

 

There are a number of providers that are in Canada right now that would be approved and regulated by the federal government in this particular matter. We're certainly having conversations with some of the providers, including Canopy. They already have agreements with New Brunswick, with Ontario and with Alberta.

 

Thank you.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: The Leader of the Official Opposition.

 

MR. P. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

The question is: Why is the government not going to issue a public request for proposals? It's not a difficult question; it's a very simple question. Why are you refusing to do so?

 

MR. SPEAKER: The Minister of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation.

 

MR. MITCHELMORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

We had addressed this at a media availability that we had when we had talked about how the regulation and distribution would happen here in this province. There will be an RFP that will be issued for the retail model when it comes to retailing of cannabis.

 

When it comes to supply, we have to secure a supply. There are a limited amount of people that actually have the regulations and have that approval. We're open to dealing with anybody, anybody across the country that is actually producing and would have that licensing, whether they're in Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

As the Minister of Justice and Public Safety has said previously, we've had discussions with numerous companies and we invite into that dialogue. We're open for business.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: The Opposition House Leader.

 

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Minister of Natural Resources: What is the final cost of the EY report related to the Muskrat Falls oversight and particularly related to the interim and final report?

 

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

 

MS. COADY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

I'd be happy to get that information for the Member opposite; I don't have it off the top of my head. I couldn't be able to tell him what the definitive amount is today, but I will certainly undertake to get that information for him.

 

Thank you.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: The Opposition House Leader.

 

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

Mr. Speaker, I'll ask the minister: Are there ongoing invoices related to the Muskrat Falls Oversight Committee and EY doing work for that committee today?

 

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

 

MS. COADY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

There is a budget for Oversight Committee, Mr. Speaker. The Oversight Committee does have a budget that is given annually to make sure that it has all the expertise that it requires.

 

As to whether or not the Oversight Committee currently has any process with the EY, I will undertake to find out that information, Mr. Speaker, and provide it to this House. But as the Premier just indicated, the ongoing cost for everyone in this province will be the power bills related to Muskrat Falls.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. HUTCHINGS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

I advise the minister in case she doesn't know the cost she's incurring today also goes to power supply and to bills, I say to her. That's why we're asking what the cost is but she can't tell us.

 

One of the EY's recommendations was to implement enhanced independent assurance functions. I ask the minister has this been done or will it be done?

 

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

 

MS. COADY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

Certainly, the Oversight Committee, which we've expanded, we've added four independent, well respected and well educated people to that Committee to ensure that we have a broader Oversight Committee, Mr. Speaker, just one of the things that we've done for the Muskrat Falls Project. They do have the opportunity to reach out and get the expertise that they need in an ongoing basis, and I'm sure that they are doing their very best, Mr. Speaker, to ensure the proper oversight of the Muskrat Falls Project is undertaken.

 

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl North.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. LESTER: Mr. Speaker, the residents of Mount Pleasant Manor were recently hit with an increase in their rent by their property owners. This increase now exceeds the rental subsidy provided by government through NL Housing.

 

I ask the minister: Has the government given any thought to lifting the residential subsidy cap?

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Children, Seniors and Social Development.

 

MS. DEMPSTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

I thank the hon. Member for the question. As I said earlier, as a part of The Way Forward initiative we are currently going through a full review of all of the programs and services that are offered under the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation. We want to make sure, Mr. Speaker, that we get this right because we've seen many examples in the past where just simply spending the money is not a measurement of success.

 

So we're aware of what the Member is talking about and those conversations are happening right now. There will be something coming in the very near future I say, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

 

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

The activity plan of the Intergovernmental and Indigenous Affairs Secretariat indicates that by March 31, 2018 the secretariat will have worked to repatriate the remains of Demasduit and Nonosbawsut.

 

I ask the Premier: Can you provide an update on these efforts?

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

I remember back in 2015 in the last Spring Session there was a unanimous PMR that was done right here in this House of Assembly on this very issue. Since that time I think the Member opposite would understand in her role as critic now we have put in place a roundtable on indigenous affairs. One of the priorities of that roundtable discussion was indeed the repatriation.

 

Mr. Speaker, this is led by Chief Mi'sel Joe, a highly respected individual within our province. That work is ongoing, as the Member opposite would know. That repatriation would have to be done in conjunction with the Canadian Museum Association.

 

This group of people, they would actually be responsible for the repatriation of the remains, and then indeed the process is ongoing right now. It's a considerable amount of work that would happen nationally and right here with the province. All indications are, Mr. Speaker, I would say that we want to get this done because it's the right thing to do.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for the District of Fortune Bay – Cape La Hune.

 

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

And thank you, Premier.

 

In April of 2016 this House did support a resolution on repatriation with unanimous agreement with one government MHA stating we will continue that work.

 

So I ask the Premier: What timelines can we expect for their remains to be returned home?

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

I will tell you now that the timelines, being specific, there's a considerable amount of work that has to be done. Actually, we have Scotland is involved in this discussion right now. We have of course the national museums, those associations, they are involved. And certainly we are prepared now as a province. But much of this discussion will have to occur between an agreement between Scotland and of course our national government and so on.

 

Our indications, and certainly we have all our indigenous groups are clearly involved in this all along the way. There's clear alignment on this. But to put a timeframe on all of this would be very difficult at this stage since there are so many people that are involved in this. But we want to get this done, we believe it's important for the history of Newfoundland and Labrador that we repatriate the remains.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

 

I ask the minister: Is the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Review Division meeting its requirement to deliver its decision within 60 days?

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Service NL.

 

MS. GAMBIN-WALSH: Mr. Speaker, the workers' compensation system works on behalf of the injured clients and the employers. We are working diligently toward meeting the requirement, the set date. However, sometimes there are obstacles and there are appeals and there are reasons why individual clients' particular casefile cannot be met within the period of time.

 

Mr. Speaker, I can't go into individual files here in the House, but there are times, yes, that we do not meet the 60 days.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

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

 

How many clients are currently backlogged at the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Review Division?

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister Responsible for WorkplaceNL.

 

MS. GAMBIN-WALSH: Mr. Speaker, I work very closely with the appeals division, even though they're a separate entity of government. The number that exists today is probably about 150 at the present moment; however, as I said, those are individual cases.

 

What we have to realize is that some people have actually paused their appeal, so that number is not a true number of the number of cases that are backlogged as the Member has asked. Mr. Speaker, there are different reasons why individual cases do not move forward when they meet appeals.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for the District of Cape St. Francis.

 

MR. K. PARSONS: Very interesting, Mr. Speaker.

 

Minister, how long have they been waiting? Do you have a time frame that some of these 150 have been waiting?

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister Responsible for WorkplaceNL.

 

MS. GAMBIN-WALSH: Mr. Speaker, as I had just indicated, they're individual files so there are individual reasons. So waiting – I'm guessing the Member opposite kind of means why it's taking a period of time to do some files and not others.

 

I can't address individual files in the House of Assembly, Mr. Speaker. There are different reasons. I just can't take out individual files and discuss why each individual file is waiting.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for the District of Cape St. Francis.

 

MR. K. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I'll tell the minister: I'm not asking for individuals, I'm asking for timelines. There are 150 clients that are waiting and I want to know how long have they been waiting for? Has it been six months? If it's 60 days the decisions are supposed to be turned around, how long have these people been waiting?

 

We're getting calls to our office all the time with people saying they're waiting to hear from the commissioner to see when their review can happen. I want to know what the timelines are.

 

MR. SPEAKER: The Minister Responsible for WorkplaceNL.

 

MS. GAMBIN-WALSH: Mr. Speaker, the Member is actually asking for individual timelines. I'm sorry but I can't haul out 150 files and tell him how long each individual has been waiting.

 

MR. SPEAKER: The Member for the District of Cape St. Francis.

 

MR. K. PARSONS: Again, Mr. Speaker, I remind the minister that we get calls from clients all the time. They're waiting to hear from the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Review Division and they want to know when because they've been put off and put off.

 

You told us today that there are 150 clients out there waiting that are in this backlog, which is huge. I'd just ask: Can they expect it to be done within the next six months? Can they expect it to be done in the next seven months? What's the time frame?

 

I'm going to move on from that now. The decisions made by the Review Division are made public and posted on the government website.

 

I'd ask the minister: Will you make these decisions – posted in 2017 because there's nothing posted there now.

 

MR. SPEAKER: The Minister Responsible for WorkplaceNL.

 

MS. GAMBIN-WALSH: Mr. Speaker, this present administration actually has a full board in place at the Appeals Commission unlike the previous administration. We have the full complement to address the backlog and it is moving along.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

Mr. Speaker, on November 22 while responding to a question the Minister of Municipal Affairs responded that while I may have read the briefing notes, he actually wrote them.

 

In an ATTIPA requested posted online recently it was revealed that over the past two years since being minister there is zero record of any briefing or information notes written by the minister.

 

I ask the minister: Is this indeed accurate or perhaps you have hidden the notes.

 

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

 

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, never let the truth get involved with a good story I always say.

 

What the Member asked me and I'll tell him right straight up, it was the briefing book that I walked over during the Estimates and gave him. In his own words he said yes, you brought me the binder. Unlike the government opposite when they were in government, the Members opposite, when I take a book and I'm going to give it out to the public and give it to the Opposition I go word for word, I read it. When I signed off it's my document.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. JOYCE: I do not pass the responsibility to anybody who works – I have an excellent staff, I sign off. So when I sign it it's my document unlike the Members opposite, we can't get one person to stand up and say who helped with Muskrat Falls, not one of them will take any credit.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. PETTEN: Mr. Speaker, I'll quickly move off of it, I won't tell the minister he should check Hansard –

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. PETTEN: –check Hansard. He informed the House that he actually wrote it not read. He wrote the briefing notes. I'm only going by what I was told so he should check Hansard.

 

Mr. Speaker, the minister confirmed for us yesterday that there are 14 heavy equipment operators, vacancies across the province. That out of these six of these are on the Avalon. How many of these six are the total number of positions on the Avalon? What's the total positions on the Avalon?

 

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

 

MR. JOYCE: Mr. Speaker, I can't let that stand. I can't let this Member think that I don't take responsibility for the document in Estimates before we had to go to the Freedom of Information and even in some cases we had to embarrass the minister to get it and I walked down during Estimates and said here's the document, it's my document.

 

I tell you, Mr. Speaker, let me tell you, I knew he was going to bring this up because I had the Freedom of Information request came in, too bad, when he worked with Transportation and Works he didn't do a briefing note when Nick McGrath caused the Humber Valley Paving, Mr. Speaker

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: The Member responsible for the District of Conception Bay South.

 

MR. PETTEN: All we asked, Mr. Speaker, was we wanted him to provide the briefing notes he wrote. That's all; a simple question.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. PETTEN: I'm looking forward to him tabling those in the House in the spring session, Mr. Speaker.

 

Yesterday, the minister boasted that they were running 90 per cent availability on snow clearing equipment.

 

Minister, what's your plan to keep snow clearing equipment up and running this winter if you don't have the mechanics on staff to fix them?

 

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

 

MR. CROCKER: I thank the hon. Member for the question.

 

Mr. Speaker, the earlier question was the vacancies on the Avalon and currently there are six.

 

Mr. Speaker, what the department does is when we have vacancies or when we have equipment that our staff can't get repaired, we'll bring it out to a local entrepreneur here in the city or anywhere across the province and let that business do the work for us. We have great confidence in repair shops throughout the province.

 

We have over 700 employees doing winter maintenance in this province. We spend about $62 million a year on winter maintenance and we're very proud of our staff.

 

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MS. ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, Grieg's massive aquaculture project is based on increasingly controversial methods and wouldn't be allowed in Norway today. Government wants to allow it and invest $45 million of the people's money to do it. Norway, Iceland and Denmark are moving towards land-based aquaculture, as are Nova Scotia and BC.

 

In the last election the Premier promised to review the development of land-based aquaculture and a possible land-based pilot project.

 

I ask the Premier: Why go ahead with Grieg's problematic aquaculture project instead of a more environmentally and economically sustainable one and where is his promised land-based pilot project?

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources.

 

MR. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, all salmonid aquaculture in the world occurs initially by a land-based system; however, no aquaculture production is commercially viable at this point in time under exclusively a land-based system.

 

Yes, there are some experimental facilities and, yes, the industry would like to push further and further in advancement to land-based systems, but to make the suggestion that an exclusively land-based system would be viable in Newfoundland and Labrador, at this point in time, would be to perpetuate a falsehood.

 

Now, with that said, Mr. Speaker, we will always work with industry to advance the cause, but in comparisons of Newfoundland and Labrador to Norway, we are producing 25,000 metric tons, Norway is producing over (inaudible).

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MS. ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, government intends to aggressively grown the aquaculture industry and this is a good opportunity for jobs, but our aquaculture regulations are among the worst in the country, second only to New Brunswick.

 

I ask the minister, will he follow the example of Nova Scotia and set up a truly independent regulatory review in light of the new science, and once completed put the regulations into law.

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources.

 

MR. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, as Minister of Fisheries and Land Resources I've had an opportunity, not only to speak to the Canadian industry, leaders and regulators in the Canadian industry, but I've also had an opportunity to speak with international regulators and industry proponents.

 

What the international community is telling the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, the people of Canada, the people of the world is that Newfoundland and Labrador has the most robust regulatory regime found anywhere in the world for (inaudible) aquaculture and in fact, our bay management system, our placement of pens, our regulation of the industry is what is attracting industry development and jobs for our province.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MS. ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, the Newfoundland and Labrador Coalition for Aquaculture Reform has hand delivered letters to the Premier, the past and current fishery and environment ministers asking for a meeting. They received confirmations of those letters. I have the copies yet they can't seem to get a meeting.

 

I ask the Premier again will he meet with this group that represents 20 organizations and scientists.

 

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

 

MR. JOYCE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

I thank the Member for the question and just for the record that Member has yet to ask me for a meeting on anything concerning aquiculture in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker.

 

Mr. Speaker, we know the letter is in. I spoke a person who is part of the group, Bill Bryden. He said that the group will contact me for a meeting. To date I've yet to get a request. My door is open. Now, to be fair, Mr. Speaker, when I do accept the meeting I do not want the Member to stand up and say I'm meeting with a group when this is going through the process in the courts that I'm interfering because if I met with another group they would say well, you're interfering.

 

I will meet with the group but don't stand up and say that I'm being bias when I do meet with the group, Mr. Speaker, if they don't get to hear what they want to hear.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

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

 

During the 2015 provincial campaign the Premier stated he would share with the people of the province the numbers on P3 projects showing them the evidence on why they would choose to build public facilities using this model.

 

I ask the Premier why he has not yet fulfilled this commitment on the projects he's put in place to date.

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

 

PREMIER BALL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

Well, we're very proud of the work that's been done already. We've been working with the private sector, but I do want to say this: unlike what we've seen from the PC Administration the activity, the delivery of services inside the P3 model for long-term care, specifically the ones that we've been talking about in Corner Brook, Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor and Botwood, will be done in the traditional fashion.

 

We've outlined the process, Mr. Speaker. There's some financial close information that will be required for the project in Corner Brook. We will be making this information – already we've said there's some $10 million to $12 million in savings in some of the projects already. That's been out there publicly I say to the Member opposite.

 

All I would say to her is read the documentation and the information that we have out there. Clearly, there is good value for money for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Clearly, this will create public sector jobs for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

The time for Oral Questions has ended.

 

Presenting Reports by Standing and Select Committees.

 

Tabling of Documents.

 

Tabling of Documents

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

Pursuant to section 8 and section 10 of the Public Tender Act, I hereby table reports of the Public Tender Act Exceptions for August and September 2017 as presented by the chief operating officer of the Government Purchasing Agency.

 

Pursuant to section 43 of the Citizens' Representative Act, I am pleased to table the Citizens' Representative Annual Digest for 2016-2017.

 

Notices of Motion.

 

Answers to Questions for which Notice has been Given.

 

Answers to Questions for which Notice has been Given

 

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

 

MS. COADY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

During Question Period, I was asked for the invoice for EY for the period of the final report. It was $257,674.

 

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development.

 

MR. KIRBY: Mr. Speaker, two days ago in Question Period, the Member for St. John's East – Quidi asked a question about a purportedly vacant position in the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

 

With the closure of the School for the Deaf in 2010, a transition period was set up by the previous administration. This required the hiring of a full-time consultant position in the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

 

That transition period concluded in 2015, two years ago, when most students of the former School for the Deaf had graduated and the remaining students were not availing of services such as boarding with families – I apologize; that's the first time that's happened, Mr. Speaker – in St. John's and travelling home on the weekends –

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

 

MR. KIRBY: We have a little bit of levity here at the last, we're getting towards the holidays – and travelling home on the weekends and holidays. I hope everybody is able to understand this disjointed message I'm delivering. At this point the full-time position for the transition period cease to exist and services were continued and implemented by teachers in the system. The website posting of a vacant position for the transitional deaf and hard-of-hearing consultant was an oversight unfortunately that I apologized for and now that problem has been fixed on the website.

 

There is currently a consultant responsible for deaf and hard-of-hearing education in the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development as there was before and now after the closure of the School for the Deaf and as is the practice in the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development this consultant is responsible for several files including deaf and hard-of-hearing education.

 

I apologize for the interruption during that twice, Mr. Speaker.

 

MR. SPEAKER: I'd like to thank the hon. Member for his clarification there, thank you.

 

Petitions.

 

Petitions

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

WHEREAS the road, route 100, through Dunville is not being maintained properly; and

 

WHEREAS this roadway is becoming a safety concern for residents and visitors alike; and

 

WHEREAS the highways depot is only open in the winter months;

 

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to open the depot and supply necessary manpower to prepare the road for the projected increase in traffic in the very near future.

 

And as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

 

Mr. Speaker, I received this petition from people from the Dunville, Placentia, Argentia areas. Signatures here from Placentia, Point Verde, Ferndale, Jerseyside, Point Verde again, Freshwater. The whole area out in the Argentia area, Mr. Speaker, very, very concerned about the state of Route 100 which runs through Dunville. It's deteriorating and people in the area consider this to be a growing safety issue.

 

I understand that a committee that has been set up have met with their local MHA and Department of Transportation and Works to discuss the state of Route 100 but they've received no feedback and no action from that meeting. This is why, I think, they've put this petition together and they've asked me to present it for them.

 

The citizens' committee called the Route 100 Improvement Committee, was formed in late June of this year, and their goal is to provide a unified voice on the matter. We all know this area, Mr. Speaker. It's a highly industrial area and you have people travelling back and forth both from that area to also Long Harbour. Workers, commuters, and any of us who've been on that road – and I have been, I'm sure many of us have – know that it is not being kept up the way that it needs to be kept.

 

On Monday, October 16, BAY TV, which is a local TV channel, did a traffic survey of vehicles going through the Town of Dunville. For that whole day from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. they counted 1,005, 105 tractor trailers, and 250 trucks, for a total on 1,360 vehicles in one day on a road that's deteriorating, the shoulders are deteriorating, the road is not being kept up. By having the depot open not just in winter, but in spring and summer, you would have ongoing maintenance of this road, and then in spring, summer and into the fall we're also talking about the ferry services as well, Mr. Speaker.

 

So this is an urgent issue for the people in the area, and I really the minister to pay attention to what the concerns are of the people from that area.

 

Thank you.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Further petitions.

 

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl – Southlands.

 

MR. LANE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

The petition of the undersigned residents humbly sheweth:

 

WHEREAS the inshore harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador have serious concerns about their current union representation; and

 

WHEREAS the inshore fish harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador want the right to vote on which union will represent them;

 

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to request government to urge the Newfoundland and Labrador Labour Relations Board to proceed immediately to vote of the inshore fish harvesters to decide which union will represent them.

 

And in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

 

Mr. Speaker, I have several petitions here again today. These are coming from areas such as O'Donnells, Carbonear, Salmon Cove, François, Lawn, Durrell, Virgin Arm, Benoit's Cove, Frenchman's Cove, Corner Brook, Bay L'Argent, St. John's, Glovertown, St. Brendan's. So they're from all parts of the province. I think the reasoning for that, Mr. Speaker, is because the fishery is something which impacts all parts of the province.

 

Obviously it's been the life's blood for many community in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, but as I've said before, the fishery is also important to the urban parts of Newfoundland and Labrador. Even in this area, certainly in Mount Pearl, St. John's and so on, we have a number of businesses in the industrial parks that service the fishery. A lot of those businesses probably wouldn't survive if it was not for the fishery.

 

It is important. If we want to make sure that the fishery is going to be sustainable, then we all need to be pulling on the same oar, we all need to be working together. The last thing we need when it comes to the fishery is division.

 

So what these inshore fish harvesters are asking is let's end the division which currently exists within that particular sector. They're urging government to – let's make sure that we can expedite the process, have the vote and let the fish harvesters decide which union they want to represent them. Once that issue is put to bed and settled, then, hopefully, they can all work together for the betterment of the fishery and for the province as a whole.

 

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

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

 

MR. PETTEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

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

 

WHEREAS Newfoundland has the highest incidence of cardiac disease in Canada and we need to do what we can to improve our ability to save lives; and

 

WHEREAS the implementation of a new registry can be completed for less than the cost of a new vehicle; and

 

WHEREAS after implementation, the annual cost will be five cents per resident;

 

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government to enact legislation requiring all AEDs in the province to be registered with an online registry. This registry must also be linked to the 911 system to enable faster response times in case of cardiac emergencies.

 

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

 

Mr. Speaker, these AEDs – this program started as a partner between the province and the Heart and Stroke maybe six, seven years back. It started with arenas and community centres. Right now it's evolved to all schools have been done. The current administration just finished that initiative off this past year, which is a great credit to government in general for supporting this important initiative.

 

As important and as good as it is to have all these AEDs presently in all those buildings – and there are a lot of buildings – we need to improve upon, make it better. The whole idea behind this registry is to have it accessible. The best example I can give – when it was explained to me – is if you're downtown, you're in one building and somebody goes into cardiac arrest. If you tie this to the 911 system, calling 911, they can tell you there's a defibrillator two doors away. It's intended to help everyone, first responders especially, to find out where these are. In doing so, you also make sure the batteries are up to scratch, they're in functioning and ready to be used. I guess another example is probably like I'm saying, a fire extinguisher, mandatory checks on these very lifesaving – they're so crucial to saving lives, and they have saved lives.

 

I've spoken to the minister responsible, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Fire Emergency Services and I know that's something that they've– I've also been speaking to the Heart and Stroke Foundation and there's a family in my district that are very affected by this issue, defibrillator art, it's an hereditary problem they have so it's very personal to them, and in doing so I've been very involved with them, advocating on their behalf.

 

I know I've spoken to the minister and he's been very open to conversation on it as well. This petition is signed by a lot of people; there are a lot of people out there that want to see this happen.

 

I do know there are some concerns with the liability and some details have to be worked out, but it's my pleasure to present this on their behalf, and I do encourage government to continue working with the Heart and Stroke Foundation to make this registry a reality and help save more lives in doing so.

 

Thank you very much.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

WHEREAS government plans to remove the provincial point of sale tax rebate on books, which will raise the tax on books from 5 per cent to 15 per cent; and

 

WHEREAS an increase in the tax on books will reduce book sales to the detriment of local bookstores, publishers and authors, and the amount collected by government must be weighed against the loss in economic activity caused by higher book prices; and

 

WHEREAS Newfoundland and Labrador has one of the lowest literacy rates in Canada, and the other provinces do not tax books because they recognize the need to encourage reading and literacy; and

 

WHEREAS this province has many nationally and internationally known storytellers, but we will be the only people in Canada who will have to pay our provincial government a tax to read the books of our own writers;

 

WHEREUPON the undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon the House of Assembly to urge government not to impose a provincial sales tax on books.

 

And as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray. 

 

Well, Mr. Speaker, didn't this petition work. Here we are only about a month away from having the tax on books removed, and I would like to think that in fact although we may have one of the lowest literacy rates in the country, although we may in fact be the only province that ever taxed books, really, really affecting the ability of students to pay, affecting our independent book sellers, I belief that the literacy lesson and the financial literacy lesson has for government, for government to see that this was a bad move, this was a regressive move. It didn't improve the province, as a matter of fact it more so impoverished our writers, our independent publishers, our independent book sellers and our students.

 

Mr. Speaker, this is the last petition I have signed by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador about the book tax. There's about 150 signatures right here and I would like to thank the activists in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador who pushed, and pushed and pushed to have government remove those taxes and for government to finally do the right thing which was, they never should have done it in the first place and now that they've reversed that decision I believe that it's a victory on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

 

MR. SPEAKER: If I may just for a moment and further to my comment about having the spotlight of the winner of the by-election, I'd like to introduce, there's one guest remaining in our audience today that I forgot to identify and his name is Antoine Mandon. He's hosted by the St. John's Rotary Club. He's a high school student, he's visiting us from France and he's staying with a host family for the school year.

 

We gave him a tour this morning, he's very interested in democracy and politics and I hope to see him more often in our public galleries, thank you Antoine.

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

 

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

 

MR. A. PARSONS: Thank you.

 

I'll proceed to Orders of the Day, Mr. Speaker.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Orders of the Day.

 

Orders of the Day

 

MR. A. PARSONS: I would call from the Order Paper, Order 2, third reading of a Bill 3.

 

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

 

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Natural Resources that Bill 3, An Act Respecting An Independent Court Of Appeal In The Province be now read a third time.

 

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

 

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

 

All those in favour, 'aye.'

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

 

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

 

This motion is carried.

 

CLERK (Barnes): A bill, Court of Appeal Act, Bill 3.

 

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

 

On motion, a bill, “Court of Appeal Act,” read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 3)

 

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

 

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I call Order 3, third reading of Bill 19.

 

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

 

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I moved, seconded by the Minister of Natural Resources that Bill 19, An Act To Amend The House Of Assembly Accountability, Integrity And Administration Act No. 3, be now read a third time.

 

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

 

The hon. the Leader of the Third Party.

 

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

 

I just want to use the opportunity to leave clarity with regard to this bill and one of the points in the bill that I have spoken to and I think that.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MS. MICHAEL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

I think that it is important that I make perfectly clear why I'm concerned about the piece about the quorum of the House Management Commission, and the reason for doing this I think there has been misinterpretation.

 

When we as the House of Assembly Management Commission dealt with the recommendations from the Members' Compensation and Review Committee, we passed the recommendations that included the quorum issue and there were a number of recommendations.

 

And I think one of the things that was really important, that for me went along with the quorum piece, was the fact that no later than September 15th each year the Commission would set a fixed schedule of a minimum of three Management Commission meetings for the fall, which all members shall make a priority in attending, and no later than January 15th each year set a fixed schedule of a minimum of three Management Commission meetings for the spring, which all Members shall make a priority in attending.

 

And the idea of the fixed schedule and the purpose behind it, by the Members of the MCRC, was that we would all know will in advance when the meetings are – all Members of the Commission would know well in advance. And then naming a quorum being a simple majority period, without saying that you had to have both government and Opposition Members present in some form, they didn't believe that was necessary.

 

Number one, because we're not there representing our caucuses, we're on that Commission as individual MHAs. And number two, they believe that by having the fixed schedules saying that you have a simple majority quorum would mean that everybody knows the schedule is there, it's on their shoulders and therefore there should be no problem in people attending the meeting, unless it was a rare occasion. They also point out in their recommendations that no Member shall be permitted to be absent from any Management Commission meeting without good cause and prior approval of the Speaker.

 

So they had a package.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MS. MICHAEL: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that.

 

They had a package of recommendations and the quorum was part of that package. So my problem is that in the act, the changes that are being suggested do not recognize that the quorum point is part of a bigger package.

 

Now, the Management Commission accepted all of the recommendations, but the government hasn't chosen to see those – all of them – reflected in the changes they're making in the act. That's the reason I'm concerned about the quorum being the way it is.

 

If the other pieces had been there with it, then I would understand. It's one thing to say that the Management Commission accepted all the recommendations, but why didn't the government make sure that was reflected in the legislation.

 

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

 

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

 

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

 

Normally I don't speak to many third readings of bills. I think I spoke pretty clearly to this piece of legislation the other evening. I'm finding it very hard to respond to this because the Member is not portraying this accurately at all.

 

There were three recommendations put forward by the MCRC. What she is suggesting is that we should change one of those. I will note that the Opposition put forward an amendment. Her colleague voted against it.

 

I'm having trouble understanding what the NDP are doing, because there's not a single issue expressed at any point during any Management Commission meeting by the Leader of the NDP – not a single one. And then stands up in this House and suggests that government is being disingenuous.

 

MS. MICHAEL: (Inaudible.)

 

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

 

MR. A. PARSONS: Again, I would say: Refer to Hansard. The Leader of the NDP should go back and perhaps remember what she has said in this House because clearly she does not remember what she said the last time.

 

I'm going to sit at this point; I think I've made myself clear. Unfortunately, the Leader of the NDP clearly has not shown an understanding of the Management Commission or this piece of legislation. I'm still going to support it and I'm pretty sure that her colleague will as well.

 

Thank you.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

 

All those in favour?

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

 

MR. SPEAKER: All those against?

 

This motion is carried.

 

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Amend The House Of Assembly Accountability, Integrity And Administration Act No. 3. (Bill 19)

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Division.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Division has been called.

 

Division

 

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question?

 

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

 

All those in favour, please say 'aye'

 

CLERK: Mr. Andrew Parsons, Ms. Coady, Mr. Joyce, Mr. Haggie, Mr. Hawkins, Mr. Crocker, Mr. Osborne, Mr. Kirby, Mr. Mitchelmore, Mr. Warr, Mr. Bernard Davis, Ms. Gambin-Walsh, Mr. Edmunds, Ms. Dempster, Mr. Letto, Mr. Browne, Mr. Bragg, Ms. Haley, Mr. Derek Bennett, Ms. Cathy Bennett, Mr. Finn, Mr. Reid, Ms. Parsley, Mr. King, Mr. Dean, Ms. Pam Parsons, Mr. Holloway, Mr. Hutchings, Mr. Brazil, Ms. Perry, Mr. Kevin Parsons, Mr. Petten, Mr. Lester, Mr. Lane.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Those against the motion, please rise.

 

CLERK: Ms. Michael.

 

Mr. Speaker, the ayes 34, the nays one.

 

MR. SPEAKER: I declare that the motion is carried.

 

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

 

MR. SPEAKER: This bill has been read a third.

 

We've got to do it again? Okay.

 

I'm going to instruct the Clerk to read the bill again. Please.

 

CLERK: A bill, An Act to Amend the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act, No. 3. (Bill 19)

 

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

 

On motion, a bill, “An Act to Amend the House of Assembly Accountability, Integrity and Administration Act, No. 3” read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 19).

 

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

 

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

 

I would call from the Order Paper, Order 4, third reading of Bill 21.

 

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

 

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Natural Resources, that Bill 21, An Act to Amend the Members of the House of Assembly Retiring Allowances Act and the Portability of Pensions Act be now read a third time.

 

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

 

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

 

All those in favour, 'aye.'

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

 

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

 

The motion is carried.

 

CLERK: A bill, An Act to Amend the Members of the House of Assembly Retiring Allowances Act and the Portability of Pensions Act. (Bill 21)

 

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

 

On motion, a bill, “An Act to Amend the Members of the House of Assembly Retiring Allowances Act and the Portability of Pensions Act” read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 21)

 

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

 

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I call Order 5, third reading of Bill 23.

 

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

 

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Natural Resources, that Bill 23, An Act to Amend the Liquor Corporation Act be now read a third time.

 

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

 

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

 

All those in favour, 'aye.'

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

 

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

 

The motion is carried.

 

CLERK: A bill, An Act to Amend the Liquor Corporation Act. (Bill 23)

 

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

 

On motion, a bill, “An Act to Amend the Liquor Corporation Act” read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 23)

 

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

 

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I call Order 6, third reading of Bill 24.

 

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

 

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Natural Resources, that Bill 24, Serious Incident Response Team Act be now read a third time.

 

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

 

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

 

All those in favour, 'aye.'

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

 

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

 

The motion is carried.

 

CLERK: A bill, Serious Incident Response Team Act. (Bill 24)

 

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

 

On motion, a bill, “Serious Incident Response Team Act” read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 24)

 

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

 

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I call Order 7, third reading of Bill 27.

 

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

 

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Service NL, that Bill 27, An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act No. 2, be now read a third time.

 

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

 

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

 

All those in favour?

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

 

MR. SPEAKER: All those against?

 

The motion is carried.

 

CLERK: A bill, An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act No. 2. (Bill 27)

 

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

 

On motion, a bill, “An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act No. 2,” read a third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper. (Bill 19)

 

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

 

MR. A. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Minister of Children, Seniors and Social Development, that the House resolve into a Committee of the Whole to consider Bill 26.

 

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

 

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

 

All those in favour?

 

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

 

MR. SPEAKER: All those against?

 

The motion is carried.

 

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

 

Committee of the Whole

 

CHAIR (Warr): Order, please!

 

We are considering Bill 26, An Act To Amend The Child And Youth Advocate Act.

 

A bill, “An Act To Amend The Child And Youth Advocate Act.” (Bill 26).

 

CLERK: Clause 1.

 

MR. SPEAKER: Shall clause 1 carry?

 

The Chair recognizes the hon. Member for the beautiful District of Cape St. Francis.

 

MR. K. PARSONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

 

This is just a continuance of the debate that we had the other day. We adjourned on Wednesday morning and I was up speaking. I really want to be on record and I want to say that while anything that we can do in this House of Assembly to protect children in our province is a great thing and I mean anything that we do.

 

Minister and I know that you probably think along the same lines as I do and I really believe that this legislation is a good piece of legislation but as I read the legislation and I look at what needs to be done and I know that the Advocate is okay with the legislation as it's going through but I'd like to be on record to say that I think it can be improved.

 

I'm wondering out loud here today, Mr. Chair, if I could ask the minister, I'm concerned about every child as she is in this province and I know that children in care is the basics of this legislation but you hear tell of stories all the time, whether they're through the Education system or they're through the Health care system where children do fall through the cracks. I believe that if there's a crack that we can fix we should fix it.

 

My concern is that if a child goes to the hospital and there is some concern there that there's no legal right to make sure that that's reported. That's that with a child that's not in care.

 

Again I'd like to ask the minister is she concerned about that or is there some assurance she can give me today, that I'd like to have, that no child will be able to fall through the cracks or anything else when you go through the health care. Either the Minister of Health can answer this or anybody else, because it's a genuine question that I want to make sure that if a child goes to – I'll give an example, the child goes to the Janeway for any reason at all and there's suspicion that something could be there, let me know what's in place for that child.

 

Thank you very much.

 

CHAIR: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

 

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

 

An opportunity to add some clarity, hopefully to the question. The answer in short is there is a statutory obligation on health care provider who becomes aware of suspicious or dubious, or unexplained injuries or harm to a youth whether they are in care or not, to report that fact under the Child Protection Act.

 

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

 

MS. PERRY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

 

It's a pleasure to rise once again and continue the debate on this very important bill.

 

Mr. Chair, we had some really good discussion yesterday around the bill and as an Opposition it's certainly our main priority to try and put forward the strongest legislation that we possibly can on behalf of the people of the province.

 

One of the issues that is of concern to us is the fact that there's no longer a requirement to report the critical incidents, and as well, that the bill – as it's currently written in its form at the moment – only pertains to children in care. Therefore, we are going to propose the following amendment: “Clause 1 of Bill 26 is amended and the proposed

Subsection 16.1(2) of the Act by deleting the word “while” and substituting the words “or a critical incident as defined in the Critical Incident and Death Protocol whether or not the child or youth is.”

 

Then, of course, the rest of the act says in care.

 

So we put forward this amendment for consideration, Mr. Chair, to see if it's in order.

 

CHAIR: Order, please!

 

There's an amendment put in order and Committee will recess to consider the proposed amendment.

 

Recess

 

Please be advised that this is a PARTIALLY EDITED portion of the House of Assembly sitting for Thursday, December 7, 2017, to approximately 3:00 p.m. The edited Hansard will be posted when it becomes available.