March 19, 1991                HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS            Vol. XLI  No. 11

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Before proceeding to the routine orders of the day, on behalf of Members I would like to welcome to the Speaker's gallery today a delegation from the town of Milltown, Head of Bay d'Espoir, accompanied by the Mayor Jerry Kearley, Deputy Mayor Doug Sutton, and the Town Clerk - Manager, Ada Strickland.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Also, I would like to welcome seven Grade X students from Central High School in Mobile, accompanied by their teachers Mr. Dinn and Mr. Leonard.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Also, I would like to welcome in the galleries the Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Sealers Association in the persons of the Chairman, Mr. Wayne Davis; and Captains Millard, Davis, Philpott, and Young; Mr. Whitten, Mr. Puddester and Mr. Weir.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce to this hon. House that the Province has successfully completed negotiations for a public offering of debentures in the Canadian capital market.

The issue is for an amount of $150 million, bearing interest at the rate of 10.5 per cent and priced at par. The debentures will be dated April 15, 1991 and will mature after ten years on April 15, 2001. However, the investor will have an option to exchange the 10.5 per cent debentures for an equal principal amount of 10.95 per cent debentures maturing after thirty years on April 15, 2021. This exchange option may be exercised during years 3 through 8, inclusive. Mr. Speaker, the proceeds of this issue, which completes the borrowing program for the 1990-1991 fiscal year, will be used for general Provincial purposes.

The issue is being managed by Scotia McLeod Inc., RBC Dominion Securities Inc., Merrill Lynch Canada Inc., Richardson Greenshields of Canada Limited and Wood Gundy Inc.. I am also pleased to state, Mr. Speaker, that the inclusion of the exchangeable option is an innovative feature, which has reduced the cost of the issue to the Province by a minimum of 0.25 per cent compared to traditional borrowing. The issue has been very well received by the investment community, particularly insurance companies and other financial institutions, and received broad distribution geographically in North America and in Europe. This successful financing, coming just a week or so after the provincial Budget, indicates the confidence these investors have in this Government's ability to maintain the integrity of the Province's fiscal position.

Mr. Speaker, we had no alternative but to bring in a severe Budget. However, this Government believes that the balance we have taken between tax increases, expenditure restraint, and borrowing will ensure that investors will continue to be enthusiastic about buying our bonds whether it be in Canada or other world capital markets.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, the Minister should thank his lucky stars that he is able to borrow anything in the money markets today, after the financial performance of this Government and the projections that have come forward for the next couple of years. I remind the Minister that this completes last year's borrowing program which is a record for all borrowing ever undertaken in this Province, $615 million which is about $120 million more than the highest borrowing program we have ever had, and he is estimating the second highest borrowing program this year at $574 million, so the Minister should not be so proud when he stands on his feet to say that he has put forward this one. Anybody can have confidence in a market, Mr. Speaker, if they pay enough. I would like to know how much other provinces are paying for their borrowing, certainly not 10.5 per cent.

DR. KITCHEN: They are paying more.

MR. WINDSOR: I can imagine they are. With a credit rating better than ours they are paying more. Who does the Minister think he is fooling? The Minister has destroyed the financial credibility of this Province in one year, absolutely destroyed it, and we are very lucky to be able to borrow at all. The question one should be asking, Mr. Speaker, is why is the Minister borrowing all this money? If he had to borrow all this money why is he laying off so many people around this Province? Why do we have thousands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians facing loss of their jobs over the next number of months at the hands of this incompetent Government?

Oral Questions

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Minister of Health. One more draconian measure contained in the Budget Speech is the conversion of the hospital at Placentia to a community health care centre. Can the Minister of Health advise this House what health care services will be provided in the facility when it is converted, in particular what the number of acute care beds will be in the new facility, and will they be only short-term beds?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the long-term plan for the Placentia area is to have a multi-purpose community health care centre within reasonable proximity to the senior citizens home which is there - we are even considering attaching it to. Studies have indicated that by the year 2000 there will be need in the Placentia area for another additional twelve to fourteen chronic care beds. There are already seventy-five long-care beds right now.

While we are building that new community health care centre, we are planning to make provision for ten acute care beds. It is the Department's belief that we can get by with five or six. However, we are going to go with ten. But we are designing them in such a way that in the event they are not fully utilized, then we could transfer them over to chronic care. And, really, during this short-term interruption we are still going to maintain the community health care centre, which means that all primary care will be available: diagnostic services will be there. x-rays will be there. So for the average person on the street the difference will hardly be noticed. If you happen to be an employee of course, this makes a difference.


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

MR. HEARN: Mr. Speaker, is the Minister saying there will no be disruption in the health care service, that there will be ten full-time acute care beds not just short-term available, that this disruption will not take place at all and that there will be no closedown of acute care? The 1986 bed study recommended a minimum of ten acute care beds as part of the new hospital, and I understand his own consultants have recommended the same number. How does this square with his plan for the new health care centre? Will these beds be long-term acute care beds not chronic care, as the Minister is emphasizing the words `chronic care'?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member is not listening. I told the hon. Member that it is the well-considered opinion of the Department of Health that five or six acute care beds can handle the demand in the Placentia area. However, when we designed the new health care centre we planned to make provision for ten beds, knowing, believing, trusting that we do not need these ten beds. We planned to design them in such a way that if we are wrong, and there is the possibility we can be wrong, then we can let them go ahead and have ten acute care beds; but if we are right, then they can easily be transferred over to chronic care. And with the way our population is aging the hon. Member will know we have to start making provisions, because chronic care is where the problem is going to be.

What is happening right now is simply a minor interruption. We are going to maintain a community health care centre in the old building which is there, all the primary care services will be made available, and we can certainly hope to meet the needs of the population. However, if we discover that six beds are not adequate - we have told the board that we want no more than six beds, but if we are proven wrong, then we will have to make some adjustments to that demand.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Let me say to the Minister that it does not matter what the officials in his department think will be suitable, the people who are here today, the many hundreds of people who travelled hundreds of miles, apparently do not believe what the Minister is suggesting is adequate. So will the Minister give the House a commitment that before any final decision is made he will listen to the residents of Placentia, to the Member for Placentia and make a decision which will not jeopardize the health care of the residents of Placentia Bay and the Cape Shore areas?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I will have to repeat for the hon. Member what I just said.

MR. SIMMS: Answer the question.

MR. DECKER: It is the opinion of the Department of Health - now this is not a light opinion that you just pluck out of the air. When officials in the department reach a conclusion, it is after studying the occupancy. The occupancy rate for that particular institution has been 50 per cent, Mr. Speaker. The beds are there but are not being used. When the department comes to a conclusion it is not something you pick out of the air, it is a well-calculated conclusion. If we are wrong, of course, we will make the adjustments. We are a listening Government. We have proven that. We listen to what people say. And if we are proven wrong, we certainly will make the adjustments.

Mr. Speaker, I would remind the hon. Member that last year, when they were up posturing over St. Lawrence and Grand Bank, they used the same tactics they are using today. But St. Lawrence and Grand Bank have an improved health care system, Mr. Speaker. We started in St. Lawrence and Grand Bank last year what we are doing in Placentia this year, and try taking it out of Grand Bank now, if you want to see a racket.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, on a final supplementary.

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Once again the Minister is the one who is posturing about listening to his officials; there are no officials -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEARN: - in the Department of Health -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member is on a supplementary.

MR. HEARN: - I ask the Minister how many of his officials are living down in the bottom of Point Lance, who have to come a hundred and some odd miles to hospital in the winter time, these are the people who are concerned about health care. Will the Minister listen to the people who are affected and make a decision based upon what they know is adequate for the area?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, if there is one thing that I take great pride in, it is the fact that this Government does listen to the people. Mr. Speaker, I will have the hon. Member know that before this demonstration took place, the Member for the district arranged a meeting with myself and the Premier and members and people from the Placentia area and we are meeting on Thursday, Mr. Speaker, to discuss this matter, and if we are wrong, we are big enough to own up to the wrong, but my feeling is, Mr. Speaker, that the decision we have made is the right one, it is a good one and in the end, in the end, the people of Placentia will thank us for what we are doing to improve the health care system out there, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is also directed to the Minister of Health.

During the Budget Speech and since then, Mr. Speaker, both the Minister and the Premier have said that the Bonne Bay Hospital will be closing, the Burgeo Hospital will be closing, the Springdale Hospital - cutbacks to the Port aux Basques Hospital and so on and both the Minister and the Premier have made statements saying that the regionalizing and the rationalizing of the health care sector would mean a better service for the patients in this Province. Does the Minister stand by that statement today?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I have to correct the hon. Member. Burgeo is not closing; Bonne Bay is not closing; Springdale is not closing; Mr. Speaker, Port Saunders is not closing. There is not a hospital in Newfoundland and Labrador today which is closing; nothing is closing. When we took over this Province, the health care system had been allowed to disintegrate into a mess, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: Shameful.

MR. DECKER: Every single institution was going off in its own direction; there was no grand design, there was no plan, Mr. Speaker, no plan, they were going nowhere. We have started to restructure this health care system. We have started to restructure because we want to save the health care system in this Province; we want to make sure, Mr. Speaker, that there is a Medicare system here at the turn of the century so we started to restructure, we are not closing any hospitals, we are changing the role so that they will reflect reality. The problem we have in this Province, is a place for chronic care, our older people and yet we have - The hon. Member asked me about St. Anthony last week; forty-two beds which were not being used, underutilized, the logical thing to do when you have beds which are underutilized is to find a use for them and we are doing just that and the need, Mr. Speaker, is in chronic care.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, how can the Minister make such a statement and at the same time justify the cutting of approximately $3 million from the Western Memorial Hospital in Corner Brook, layoffs of seventy-four staff in Corner Brook, twenty-four staff in Burgeo, seven in Bonne Bay, another thirty beds closed for a total of seventy-eight in Corner Brook, and still believe that the people of this area can have a better service?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I will try to explain to the hon. Member again what is going on. When we took over this Province the health care system was in a mess. We determined at once that we had to improve it. As a matter of fact we recognized that in our policy manuals. I will not take the time to read it, but you can see we talked about it, even in Opposition. We started immediately to restructure the health care system in this Province. Now, I believe the system is better than it was when we took it over. It is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but I can tell the hon. Member, and he will be glad to hear this, that give us two or three years and we will have one of the best health care systems ever in this Province. It will be streamlined, it will be restructured, Mr. Speaker, and it will give every Newfoundlander and Labradorian the satisfaction of knowing that wherever he lives he will have access to a health care system which is second to none in this country. That could not have happened with the previous administration.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, I will ask the Minister if he is aware of an old medical school model, 'if in doubt admit', and if so would he explain then why patients that are considered emergency cases and sent by the doctors in Deer Lake to the hospital in Corner Brook for admission are now being sent home because of lack of staff and no hospital beds, with a total of seventy-eight closures?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, in any given day in this Province, in all the acute care hospitals, including Corner Brook, including the Health Sciences, including St. Clare's, you will find there is somewhere around 280 to 350 people chronically ill who have been medically discharged. They have been discharged. They are chronically ill. On any given day there are about 300 chronically ill medically discharged patients in our hospital system. This ties up beds for the emergencies that my hon. friend is talking about, Mr. Speaker. Now, we are restructuring the hospital system. We are using underutilized hospitals, for example, Springdale, as the hon. Member for Green Bay knows, to move some of the chronic care out of Grand Falls. We are using Bonne Bay to take some of the chronically ill medically discharged people out of Corner Brook and put them in Bonne Bay so that the next time somebody has an emergency in Deer Lake there will be enough beds in Corner Brook to accommodate that emergency, Mr. Speaker. The system must be restructured otherwise we will lose the system. We have to adjust to the year 2000 when we are on our own, when there will be no federal money, when we will have to pay the full shot ourselves.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member for Humber Valley on a final supplementary.

MR. WOODFORD: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. Member just did not answer the question which I asked. Would the Minister consider severe cases of kidney stones, a woman in her late stages of pregnancy having to wait seven hours out in the corridor, people with severe cases of depression, sent home in a car to Deer Lake after three or four hours? Does he consider that an emergency, chronic or acute care, or whatever, and could he now tell the House and the people of this Province when he is going to stop play Russian roulette with all chambers loaded with the sick and dying of this Province?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I tell the hon. Member that whenever there is a decision made to send a person home from hospital, or to transfer a person from one hospital to another, or to admit a person to hospital for surgery, whenever there is a decision made which is a medical decision, a medical practitioner has to make that decision. No administrator kicks someone out of hospital because there is no bed. Only when a doctor with all the knowledge which he has built up through his training makes a decision is a person send home or sent otherwise. What the hon. Member is talking about is nonsense. He does not understand the full system. A person is transferred out, or into a hospital, on the advice of a medical practitioner.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port au Port.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Social Services. The Minister has just laid off twenty-seven respite workers across the Province. These are the workers who look after the handicapped and the disabled in their homes. I just wanted to ask the Minister, what is the annualized salary employment benefit cost for those twenty-seven respite workers who were laid off by the Department of Social Services? In other words, what did they cost the Government over the past year? What was their annualized salary and benefit cost?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. EFFORD: Approximately $730,000, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port au Port.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to ask the Minister, how much money does he have in the 1991-1992 Budget to purchase respite services from community organizations in the Province? I have not been able to see it. How much is there?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. EFFORD: Approximately $730,000, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port au Port.

MR. HODDER: Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Minister, can he guarantee that the people who are employed by the community organizations have the same professional qualifications as the twenty-seven respite workers that he has laid off? Will they be paid the same salaries? Will they have as much experience? And will the continuity between the workers and the clients be the same when they contract this service out? And can the Minister guarantee that every rural community will have the resources available to be able to replace those laid off respite workers?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. EFFORD: My intent, Mr. Speaker, is to 'yes' to all, but I guess I will have to give some detail to the hon. Member's question.

When we made the decision -

AN HON. MEMBER: That would be a change.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: When we made the decision, Mr. Speaker, to lay off twenty-seven respite workers, we made it very conscientiously and after taking into consideration the needs of the service out in the community. One of the things that we determined - the amount of money that we paid in salaries to the respite workers last year - we believe very strongly and we have proof that we can give more service to more individuals. One of the things that we are assured of is that we are not going to contract it out to all the agencies in the Province, because in most areas and most regions in the Province there are no services or private agencies to contract it out, so we can purchase it on an individual basis.

Can we be assured that the contract or the job orientation between the individual in the initial stages, and then as it goes on, will be the same as it was in the past between the senior or between the young person with the disability who has received the respite work? Yes, Mr. Speaker, we can. We will ensure that all people who require the service within the Province will receive the same service today as they did in the past, and hopefully, Mr. Speaker, we can improve on it, because I do not believe in staying the same. If you are going to give a service each day and each year, improve on the service you give. Improve on the past. Because if you give the same service then you are regressing and not progressing towards the future.

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health. The Minister, in his mad dash towards rationalization of hospital services in the Province, announced as a result of the Budget that the Baie Verte Peninsula health centre and the Springdale cottage hospital will both close as acute care hospitals in June.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact that the Grand Falls hospital has already closed twenty-three beds and will close eighteen more within the next few months for a total of forty-one bed closures, and in view of the fact that the Western Memorial Hospital at Corner Brook will close thirty beds, how does the Minister propose that the Western Memorial Hospital in Corner Brook and the Central Newfoundland Hospital in Grand Falls accommodate the twenty-five thousand people on the Baie Verte Peninsula and in Green Bay who will not have acute care services as of June of this year? How is the Minister going to do that, Mr. Speaker?

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

MR. DECKER: It is simple, Mr. Speaker. If the hon. Member had listened to my answer earlier he would have picked it up and he would not have had to waste this good question.

In our restructuring we talked about changing the roles of some institutions. The hon. Member will know that one of the things we did in this Budget was announce a role change for Springdale. As a result of this role change there will be some additional chronic care beds made available in the Springdale area. The people who are going to move into these beds will be taken from the thirty people who presently are occupying beds in Grand Falls, Mr. Speaker. The number of chronicly ill people in Grand Falls at any given time is between twenty-five and thirty.


MR. DECKER: Yes, at any time. They will be moved out of Grand Falls, and that will be twenty-five or thirty beds freed up there. Plus the fact that the whole exercise we are going through in Baie Verte, Mr. Speaker, as the hon. Member knows, is to put in Baie Verte a Level 111 nursing home whereby we can keep the strain off acute care centres. That is the whole exercise we are going through. Mr. Speaker, this Province needs 2,800 acute care beds. We have just over 3,000. We need 2,800 chronic care beds. We have 2,300. To anyone who looks at the system it is obvious where the weakness is, and that is what has been causing all the back-ups, that is what has been causing the delays in hospitals. The previous administration was not dealing with it rationally, they were just reacting to tear jerk reactions, Mr. Speaker. They were not governing, they were not carrying this out in a reasonable, rational manner, Mr. Speaker.


MR. DECKER: Solve the problem with chronic care, and you solve the problems in health care system.

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, the Minister can continue to go off on his chronic care kick, and we know what the bed study of 1986 said and so on. What I want to ask the Minister is this: How is the Minister going to provide additional acute care services for the people of the Baie Verte Peninsula and the people of Green Bay, in Corner Brook and Grand Falls when acute care beds are being closed down in those institutions? How is he going to do it, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SIMMS: Explain that.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, as a result of the last Budget there are about 350 acute care beds in this Province which will be closed. Now that sounds like a pretty drastic figure when you talk about 350 beds - well, it is actually 360. The total is 438, but seventy-something of them are being made into chronic care.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) care beds?

MR. DECKER: Now, Mr. Speaker, you would not grant me the time nor would I expect it, but if the hon. Member would like to sit down I can explain to him what some of the beds were and where they are. For example, among these 360 beds there are considerable number of pediatric beds for sick children, and I say thanks be to goodness we do not need them any more. Because of the public health care system we have put in place, children's diseases now are insignificant compared to what they were back in the 1930s and 1940s, when a lot of these institutions were built. Sick children today are (inaudible) and we have the Janeway, so we do not need all the pediatric. They were underutilized. In Stephenville there were pediatric beds underutilized, in Corner Brook there were pediatric beds underutilized. If the hon. Member were to go right throughout the system he would find that of the 360 beds, in excess of half of them were underutilized.

Now, Mr. Speaker, how can the hon. Member suggest that we continue to fund underutilized beds? I am beginning to understand, Mr. Speaker, why the health care system was in such a mess when we took over.

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, the Minister might begin to understand this, and I want to ask the Minister this. In view of the fact that the people on the Baie Verte Peninsula are three and a half hours away from Corner Brook at the best of times, two and a half hours away from Grand Falls at the best of times, isolated at the worst of times, is the Minister of Health and this Government prepared today to take on their shoulders responsibility for the first person who dies on the Baie Verte Peninsula because they cannot get access to acute care facilities, Mr. Speaker?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker.


MR. SPEAKER: Order please! Order please!

I say to the hon. Members to my right that they have asked the question and now it is only fair that they give the Minister an opportunity to answer.

The hon. the Minister of Health.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, in reply to that pathetic outburst, if we were to take the hon. Member's logic and push it to its ultimate conclusion, then we would have to have a Health Sciences Centre within two minutes of everybody in this Province, which is absolutely stupid. Number one, the cost would prohibit it, but more importantly, there are not enough specialists available to staff a Health Sciences Centre in Conche, in Wild Bite, and in Seal Cove. We have to centralize the health care system. One reason is because of cost, but more importantly, it is because of the availability of specialists.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to ask a question to the Minister of Justice, considering the debate that is about to occur this afternoon, following the routine business of the day, dealing with the Government's wage roll-back in this Province. The Minister might be aware that on Friday past the Member for Humber East wrote to the Premier and asked that that piece of legislation be referred to the Court of Appeal. I want to ask the Minister now, would he not agree that the roll back of pay equity in particular raises important constitutional concerns dealing with discrimination under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and would he agree to refer the legislation immediately to the Court of Appeal for a decision on its legality?

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

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member has asked two questions. On the first one, as to my opinion as to whether or not there are any grounds on which the Court of Appeal could rule that it was a constitutional matter or in some way offended any principles in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, I, of course, could not comment on that because it may well turn out before the courts. However, on the face of it, as to whether or not I would refer it, the answer is no, on the basis that it is a matter which is essentially dealing with a labour question. As I see it, this House has legislative authority to act as it deems appropriate. That matter at this point in time is as yet up in the air and we do not know what will happen. I suspect the House will in due course act to pass the Bill, but there is certainly nothing on the face of it which would mirror the constitutional reference to the Court of Appeal, and I see no reason to do so.

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

MR. SIMMS: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Whether the House passes the Bill or not remains to be seen. At least we have that right left to us, Mr. Speaker.

Can I ask the Minister this: If, in fact, the Premier overrules the Minister, which would not be unusual, of course, but if he did and does decide to refer the matter to the court for a legal interpretation, and if the court should rule against the Government and say that the legislation is, in fact, violating the Charter of Rights, could the Minister at least give us the commitment that if that scenario should develop the Government will not use the notwithstanding clause in the constitution, which the Premier's views are very well known on? Could he give us that commitment?

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

MR. DICKS: First of all, with respect to the Member's prelude to his question obviously his experience with the Premier overruling a Cabinet Minister is drawn from his own and not my own. But certainly I can give no commitment on behalf of the Premier or this House, which is the appropriate body and not Cabinet, to decide what this House will choose to do or not. If this House should choose to use the notwithstanding clause, then that is up to this House. But certainly it is not a matter on which I can give any assurance to this House or to the public. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A final supplementary to the President of Treasury Board.

I say to the Minister of Justice, if I may just in passing, if he is going to make that kind of comment about the Premier not overruling the Cabinet, he is only fooling himself and nobody else in this Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: To the President of Treasury Board. Can I ask the President of Treasury Board, considering the legislation that is about to be debated and introduced in this House this afternoon, would the President of Treasury Board consider - would he consider - declaring all collective agreements in this Province which are in place or are supposed to be in place after March 31 of this year null and void?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: No, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is also for the Minister of Justice, concerning pay equity in the public service. Where the Government agreed in writing that it was discriminating against women back in June of 1988, and since the President of Treasury Board said in the House on Thursday that his information was that it was okay, that they could do that despite the Charter of Rights, I wonder if the Minister of Justice could tell the House whether or not, in fact, his Department officials had given an opinion on that matter, as to whether or not the rollback of the sex discrimination resolution would be contrary to the Charter of Rights.

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To my knowledge, the Department has not as yet given any opinion on the legality of it.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Section 45, Paragraph 2, of the Financial Administration Act, I wish to table a list of temporary loans raised pursuant to Section 44 and Section 45 of the Act. These temporary loans consist of the overdrafts that have occurred since March 9, 1990 right up until February 22, 1991, and the Treasury Bill Issues which have been completed in the same period.

Mr. Speaker, while I am on my feet I would also like to table pursuant to Section 51, Paragraph 3, of the Financial Administration Act, a list of loan guarantees paid out by the Province since the opening of the last Session of the House of Assembly. The four loan guarantees are: Eastern Ocean Products Limited, the principal amount which was guaranteed $325,000, the payment being $200,$826.42; Oceana Seafood Processors Limited in which we paid out $1,827,630.56; Vokey's Shipyard Limited where we paid out $152,442.16; and Torrent Fisheries Limited where we paid out $88,408.92.

Mr. Speaker, if Members have any questions, I will be glad to answer these questions at some other time.

MR. SPEAKER: Further Reports by Standing and Special Committees?

Notices of Motion

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Eagle River.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce the following motion:

WHEREAS all residents of Labrador from Lodge Bay to Nain depend solely on Marine Atlantic to transport all food and supplies to their communities; and

WHEREAS coastal Labradorians presently pay the highest cost of living in eastern Canada; and

WHEREAS 80 per cent of the people are on fixed incomes and employment is seasonal; and

WHEREAS high operating costs prohibit the economic viability of many fish plants;

BE IT RESOLVED that this hon. House condemn the Federal Government for allowing Marine Atlantic to raise its freight rates to Labrador by 60 per cent this year; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this House demand an immediate freezing of the rates until public hearings are held and a full review of the issue is completed.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: We'll vote for that one if you vote for this one.

MR. POWER: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce the following resolution:

BE IT RESOLVED that this House urge the Government to defer the decisions announced in the Budget with respect to the hospitals at Bell Island, Bonavista, Springdale, Baie Verte, Port aux Basques, Bonne Bay, Brookfield, Old Perlican, Placentia, Burgeo, St. Lawrence and Come By Chance;

AND FURTHER that the Government will conduct an independent review of all these decisions.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Vote against that one tomorrow.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, on the order paper for Friday, March 15 there appeared a question from the hon. Member for Grand Falls, who asked me to table the cost of printing and distributing the annual report of the Department of Finance of The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for 1989-1990, which we tabled on March 13.

I have since consulted with the officials in the Internal Audit Division of the Department, and they tell me that the printing cost was approximately $1,100, which was printed by the Printing and Micrographic Services, Department of Works, Services and Transportation. In addition I asked them to estimate the amount of time that was put in it, and if you wanted to cost up the people's time, it would come to another $5,000. So the total is $6,100, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Before going on to the next item, on behalf of hon. Members I would like to welcome to the House of Assembly today two former MHAs, Mr. John Nolan and Mr. William Patterson.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


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

MR. HOGAN: Mr. Speaker, I hope I have learned my lesson which you taught on Thursday about presentation of petitions.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased and honoured today to present to the House a petition signed by approximately 8,000 residents, all of whom are from the electoral districts of Placentia and St. Mary's -The Capes, relative to a subject that is very important to the people of: Branch, St. Bride's, Cuslet, Angel's Cove, Patrick's Cove, Ship Cove, Point Lance, Fox Harbour, Ship Harbour, Great and Little Barasway, Point Verde, Southeast Placentia, Placentia, Jerseyside, Ferndale, Freshwater and Dunville. And I think they all got in (Inaudible), Mr. Speaker.

The prayer of the petition: "We, the concerned citizens who are served by the Placentia Hospital, firmly denounce the decision by Government to discontinue in-patient services at the Placentia Hospital. We are asking Premier Wells and Government officials to please reconsider this decision because of its negative impact on health care in our rural areas."

And I hope my colleagues and the Chair, Your Honour, will bear with me while I refer to my copious notes. I did not want to be incorrect on anything that I might present today.

Mr. Speaker, I would first of all like to point out that the initiators, the shakers and movers of this petition, are concerned citizens from Branch, all along the Cape shore, through the Placentia inter-town area to Fox Harbour and Ship Harbour, citizens who know no political boundaries in this particular regard, just ordinary citizens and residents led by their respective municipal authorities and various groups in the communities. Citizens who are concerned about the health and well-being of their families, friends, neighbours, and fellow residents.

They are citizens who know and recognize the need for fiscal restraint - the recession and the poor economic times that we are faced with. They are involved themselves. They have had to bite the bullet. They have had to lay off people, curtail certain services, and they have had to restrain the important essential services. But, Mr. Speaker, they have to draw the line and not eliminate those services that would reflect on the adequacy of services with regard to the protection of people, property and the environment.

I hope, Mr. Speaker, that Your Honour and my colleagues in this hon. House will bear with me while I give a brief overview of the history of the justification for the prayer of this petition which strongly objects to the total elimination of in-patient services at the Placentia Cottage Hospital. I am a relative newcomer to the area concerned, just arriving in 1968, so I will speak of that period, that which I know of with a great deal of certainty.

It was recognized in the late 'sixties and early 'seventies that the Placentia Cottage Hospital was reaching the end of its efficiency and direction in providing the needed health care in the area it served. The health and hospital services were under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Department of Health. The early 'seventies saw the purchase of land and the turning of sods that would result in a new hospital. The need must have been there. Health officials and successive Ministers of Health talked of the need for communications and that the direction of health care had to change. Health officials and successive Ministers of Health talked of the need of direction, change in health services - because of improved transportation and communications the direction of health care was taking.

In time, local residents, with the leadership of the Placentia Lions Club and the Dunville Lions Club, and support of all other community groups, saw this change of direction and the need for a nursing home. Thus the Lions Manor Nursing Home was conceived and built in the mid-eighties. Former Ministers of Health, Doctors Twomey and Collins, health officials both locally and provincially, foresaw a need for a change in the direction, but also clearly saw the need for the continuation of certain services at the cottage hospital.

The Royal Commission on Health in 1984, the bed study in 1986, saw the downsizing of the thirty-two bed cottage hospital to an eighteen bed hospital, providing short term acute, chronic and palliative care, that were clearly justified and clearly identified as being needed in the area serviced by the hospital. It was also seen that health care would be much better served if the cottage hospital and the Lions Manor would come under one board, that eventually the Lions Manor would be physically extended to include in-patient services of fifteen chronic care and up to ten acute care beds, all experts agreed this is what was needed. This was justified. There was a difference of opinion locally, but this was the bottom line. It was also agreed -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave!

MR. SPEAKER: By leave?


MR. HOGAN: It was also agreed or at least understood that the services of the cottage hospital would not be diminished until the new services were available.

The health care plans for the area took a new direction under a new Board April 1, 1989. They immediately started to formulate their new plans based on maintaining existing services at the hospital and when times and capital permitted they would move these services from the cottage hospital to a new facility adjacent to or attached to the Lions Manor.

On July 27, 1989 the Board met with the Minister of Health, his senior officials and I, they presented their ideas, their philosophy, and generally outlined their direction. The upshot of it all, Mr. Speaker, was that the new Government and the new Board were on the same track, except that the Government was justifying only ten acute and fifteen chronic care beds and the Board wanted more. The Board asked for and got a grant of $60,000 to study their long-term needs in consultation with the Department. There were differences of opinion and direction over the ensuing period, but Government's position did not change. There was a need and a justification in the area for ten acute and fifteen chronic care beds for in-patient services.

Mr. Speaker, a lot has been said about proximity to regional services, and the Placentia health care services covers an area along the rugged coastline of the eastern shore of Placentia Bay from Branch in the southeast to Ship Harbour in the northwest - the nearest point an hour and a half away - three to four hours at the farthest in good times. And in bad weather forget it.

This area gave almost 800 admissions to the hospital in the past year with a constant average of approximately 60 per cent occupancy. Today twelve beds are filled of the eighteen.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, the question has to be asked: Does the in-patient service at the Placentia Cottage Hospital in Placentia justify its existence? If we are to believe the experts for the past twenty years, the answer is yes. If we are to believe two independent consultants, a royal commission, a bed study and Government Health officials that the existing services should include up to ten short-term acute care, and fifteen chronic care beds as a minimum, then the answer is yes. If we are to believe Government's plans to extend the Lions Manor to include the same within two to three years from now, then the answer is yes. Does it make sense then to eliminate these services or is it justified to say that up to March 31, 1991 these services are needed and will not be needed again until say April 1, 1993? The logic escapes me, Mr. Speaker.

I look forward to meetings later this week between the Board and the Minister of Health and the Premier, and that the Health Board will justify their needs, and with a very slight adjustment in budget direction in-patient services at the cottage hospital in Placentia will be maintained.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your indulgence.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEARN: I stand in support of the petition presented by my colleague the Member for Placentia. I presume in his presentation that he is certainly supporting the petition. The petition, as he mentioned, is signed by over 8,000 people, a catchment area of 8,000 to 10,000 or more covering the two Districts of Placentia and St. Mary's - The Capes. We might add that besides just the Cape shore area there are times when people from the Colinet area also have availed of the services in Placentia.

I note the Premier has returned and I say to him, you missed a good show on the outside. A lot of people were looking for you. I presume you will be available to talk to them later. I know your Ministers will pass along their concerns to you so that you will be able to deal with the concerns of the people from the Placentia area.

The Minister, in his answers to a number of my questions kept talking about the advice of his officials. I pointed out to him that few, if any, of his officials are living in parts of the district in the wintertime when they have to get somebody belonging to them to hospital at short notice, but he kept saying, `they tell me five or six beds will be enough.'

There is a statement here which says this analysis, an analysis of needs for Placentia Hospital, indicates the need for a maximum of ten acute care beds and fifteen long-term care beds. This is the maximum allowable that we will agree with as part of your planning process. The number of acute care beds is also in line with community bed services within the Province, and the timing for any actual construction is unknown at this time. We would have to again review this number prior to any commitment to proceed with actual construction. In the meantime, however, the Department of Health is supportive of your plan to proceed with the functional program to develop ten acute care beds and fifteen long-term care beds, and I say ten acute beds and fifteen long-term care beds. Signed by his Deputy Minister.

I presume this has given the local committee, the Placentia and area Health Care Complex Committee, the right to go ahead and plan for the new structure. If there is going to be a structure in the Placentia area which will serve the needs of the people in the area, then why disrupt it? as the Member who presented the petition asked. The people on the petition are asking that the present level of health care services be provided. It might be extremely difficult for people who live within minutes of a hospital, especially if we are living here in St. John's where you have all the services available within walking distance, to think of people who live over 120 miles from the nearest hospital in the middle of winter, over roads that drift in, where you have to get snowplows to go ahead of you when you have someone sick and you are trying to get them to hospital. On many occasions people have had to go to the hospital in Placentia to be treated and stabilized in order to get them to the Health Sciences to save their lives. We are talking about life and death issues here in relation to this petition, Mr. Speaker, and that is why, today, we have the demonstration we saw outside, a well-planned, orderly demonstration.

Why did people leave work today to come all the way in here? Why did people keep their kids out of school so that they could come in here? Because they are concerned for themselves and their families. They are not asking for anything new or anything special, all they are asking is that you maintain the level of health care services which we have. We do not have a tremendous amount, but we are asking you to maintain the present level of service.

Now the way the Minister and the Government handled this has been done extremely poorly. We understand it was done even without consultation with the Member for the area, that he did not know you were ripping the hospital out from under him. And if that is the case, it is terrible. So maybe now you will listen to him. After his presentation today and after the demonstration, I say to the Minister of Health and to the Premier, hopefully now the concerns of these people have impressed upon you the needs for the Placentia area. Because we guarantee you, Mr. Premier and the Minister of Health, that if you play around with the health and safety of the people in the Placentia and St. Mary's Bay areas, they will be back here again. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. the Member for Placentia for bringing the petition to this House today and I want to assure him and the people from the area that Government will take the petition and that we will go through and listen to every thing which the people are saying to us. The hon. Member knows, of course, that there is a meeting set up for Thursday.

I also want to tell the people of the Placentia area that Government is in the midst of restructuring the total health care system for the Province. We have not zeroed out any particular place, we are restructuring the whole system. We are looking at the whole picture, and there are several reasons why we are doing that.

One reason is that the established program financing, the money which the Federal Government gives us to carry on our health care system, is gradually disappearing. By the year 2004, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador will have to pay for all our health care system ourselves. That is one of the reasons we are doing it. So we have to streamline it. The other reason we are streamlining is the fact that specialists are so hard to recruit that we have to put them in regional centres; we cannot have specialists go all over the Province. But I suppose one of the main reasons we have to speed up this restructuring, Mr. Speaker, is because of the fact that we are in the middle of a recession. If there had not been a recession, we would have done what we are doing but we would have done it over a five or six year period. Because of the recession, we speeded up what we are doing. What we are trying to do is make available to all our people within a reasonable distance of where they live, within an hour of where they live, community health care centres, level one: The person with diabetes has a place where he or she can go to be treated and stabilized, sent home or sent to a specialist; the person with chest pains to be stabilized and if it is a false alarm sent back home, or if it is an emergency, after the person is stabilized taken to a regional centre. Placentia happens to be one of the areas of the Province, with Bonne Bay, with Springdale, with Baie Verte, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition's District, where we want to maintain second to none top-rate primary care services, laboratory services, X-ray services. Doctors will be on hand, Mr. Speaker, full scale to deliver primary care. We want that to be made available to all our people within a very short distance of where they live, but we also want to guarantee our people that within a few hours of where they live there is also secondary level care, where they can have their gallbladder surgery, where they can have - someone talked about kidney stones. We want to have within a reasonable distance of where they live the secondary level, and that is why we want to make sure that every region of the Province do this. And if we do not streamline primary care, we will not be able to afford secondary care.

Also, Mr. Speaker, in that restructuring we want to have available somewhere in this Province a tertiary level Health Science Centre which can, when this Province starts doing heart transplants, make them available, which can do cardiac surgery. But if we do not streamline our primary care, if we do not streamline our secondary care, we will not be able to afford even one tertiary care centre in this Province.

So to the people of Placentia I say that Placentia is just a part of the overall plan. Because we do have a plan for the health care system in this Province, and we know that we must put in place a plan that we as a Province can afford. We are going to lose all federal funding; we will be on our own by the year 2004.

Mr. Speaker, having said all that, the Premier and I and the Member for the District are meeting with the hospital board from Placentia and if we find that we made a mistake, we are the most open, listening Government we have had in eighteen years in this Province, and we will make changes. We are not too big to admit when we make a mistake, and that is true for anyone in this Province. But I do not believe we did make any mistakes. I believe we are on the right track, and I believe this will mean the ultimate, this will be the salvation of medicare in this Province.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition on behalf of 442 students of Brother Rice High School. The prayer of the petition is, `We, the undersigned, wish to make you aware that because of the teachers' protests (work to rule) due to the unfair cuts in the education budget, we are going to lose all extra-curricular activities. This includes all after school music programs, all sports and athletic programs, and severely jeopardizes our graduation. We think this Budget is unfair to both the teachers and the students, and many will suffer because of such action taken by the Government. We ask you to reconsider (inaudible) as representing the future of the Province. Yours sincerely, concerned student body, Brother Rice High School.'

Mr. Speaker, these students are like many Newfoundlanders and, indeed, the people who are outside the House and in the House today from the Placentia area, who are very concerned as to what this Government is doing with the future of this Province. The Members of the group from Placentia will understand that all speakers cannot rise on a petition, but that does not mean they are not supported. Because what is happening, Mr. Speaker, is that every group of Newfoundlanders is affected by the cutbacks in this Budget, whether it be students, teachers, public service workers, people involved in the extension service, rural Newfoundlanders who depend on Government services, rural Newfoundlanders who need to have the encouragement and the support of Government to develop their future, in particular the future of the education system. In this case, in this petition, Mr. Speaker, they are all very concerned that this Government is placing the bottom line of the Budget ahead of the future of this Province and ahead of the needs of people.

Mr. Speaker, these children, not all of them are voters, but I am assured some of them are. Many of these high school students are voters and they have a great deal of concern and are to be encouraged for taking the time and the effort to try and influence the political process by having a petition presented to this House. Mr. Speaker, they want reconsideration of the Budget measures, particularly as they affect education, and this is an indirect effect on education because of the actions Government has taken with respect to negotiations with the teachers.

Mr. Speaker, it is sad to see students hurt by losing extra-curricular activities: after school music programs, sports and athletic programs. This is a great shock and a very grave backward step. I see the Minister of Education over there writing some notes. I am sure he will stand in a moment and say that this is not the Government doing this, it is the NTA, the teachers themselves. It may be, Mr. Speaker, that the teachers are doing it, but they are doing it because they have had the gun put to their heads by this Government and by the Minister of Finance, and by the Premier with the support of the Minister of Education, in acting, which they will do very shortly, to limit wage increases in the public service, to roll back wages they have already agreed upon. This is a direct consequence, Mr. Speaker, of that, and these petitioners want the Government to change their mind.

MR. SPEAKER: Orders of the Day.

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

MR. SPEAKER: A point of order.

MR. HARRIS: The Minister of Education was rising, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I did not see the Minister of Education rising. If hon. Members want to revert back to the Petition.

o o o

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

DR. WARREN: Just a word, Mr. Speaker. It is premature to comment on anything that teachers might do as a result of discussions and negotiations now ongoing. I would encourage the hon. Member to direct his comments to the Newfoundland Teachers' Association. Of course, we know teachers will do everything possible to help students during these difficult times.

Mr. Speaker, it was a severe, tough Budget, as we have said. But we have done a great deal in this Government to soften the impact on classrooms, and we know that teachers will do their share to make sure that students receive the kind of education they deserve. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

MR. HEARN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I stand in support of the petition presented by the Member for St. John's East. I think the Minister has missed the point entirely. The Minister says: it is not what they might do, the question is why are they doing what they are doing?

The Minister knows full well that when he says that they did a lot to soften the impact in the Budget on education that it is a fabrication. That the fact is they scuttled the education system in the Budget as they have been scuttling the education system these last couple of years. In relation -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: Go and ask the people in the field of education, ask the people in the Department of Education, ask the parents, ask the students, ask the teachers. The problem is, this Government only listens to itself, and I am talking about the Government, I am not even including the backbenchers here, because you do not even listen to them, you do not even consult them when you make decisions about their districts. You scuttled the Member for Placentia, and now Thursday you are going to try to placate him by coming across at your meeting. But unfortunately you are not placating all the parents out there who are concerned about the future of their children when you went out and scuttled the education system.

Fewer dollars in the education system for the plant, the school boards have to maintain the facilities. That also affects the teacher aids that are provided to the teachers to try to help them in their new programme. Workshops were cut off because substitute teachers were cut back, teachers can no longer obtain in-service in the new fields that are introduced. You have the teachers themselves almost a year waiting to hear about their contract, a tremendous amount of uncertainty. The gains that they have received over the last few years, the gap that has been closed between us and the other provinces, is all widening again, Mr. Speaker.

No wonder the teachers are concerned. They are not taking action simply because they themselves are concerned about the dollars they are going to get, or because of the pension benefits. They are concerned about the future of the children. And their request to the Minister, and hence the petition, is that he also be concerned about the education of the children in the Province. Because actions speak a lot louder than words, Mr. Speaker, and all we have heard coming from this Government are a lot of empty promises. But one of these days they are going to have to start acting or they will find out that it will not be long before they will be back over here.

Orders of the Day

MR. BAKER: Motion 6, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion 6.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Environment and Lands to introduce a Bill, "An Act To Repeal The Unimproved Lands (Redistribution) Act," carried. (Bill No. 20)

On motion, Bill No. 20 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Motion 15, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion 15.

MR. BAKER: Order 15, sorry.


Motion, second reading of a Bill, "An Act Respecting Restraint Of Compensation In The Public Sector Of The Province". (Bill No. 16)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There are a number of things that in introducing this bill I feel I should do. First of all I would like to summarize the events leading up to the introduction of this Bill, which is "An Act Respecting Restraint Of Compensation In The Public Sector Of The Province."

Shortly after our last budget, Mr. Speaker, we received some preliminary indications that our revenues from the Federal Government would be somewhat reduced. As the months wore on and into the summer, it became more and more obvious, Mr. Speaker, that the extent of the reduction in our revenues was becoming serious. By the end of September, by the end of the summer and early fall, it had become obvious to us that for the current fiscal year, the year we are now in and which will soon be ending, we would suffer a combination of reduction in revenues and increased expenditures, which would force us to have at least a $120 million deficit in this current year. At that point in time, Mr. Speaker, we not only looked at the current year, we announced some measures to try to ensure that our deficit did not go beyond that $120 million amount.

But at the same time we were looking ahead to next year, and it became obvious to us that if we were to continue the same way in 1991-92, with the same services, with simple increases due to inflation, that we would have a horrendous problem in the year 1991-92. The problem seemed to us to be in the vicinity of $200 million.

Mr. Speaker, that is a very serious situation, preparing for a Budget without allowances for new programs, to continue on the way we were going with inflationary increases, with commitments that we had already made, we were facing in the vicinity of a $200 million deficit.

It was also obvious to us at the time, Mr. Speaker, that the problem was not easily solved, that our options were limited. We knew that our taxation options were limited, obviously. But we also knew that the financial health of the Province was at stake. That we could not play fast and loose with the financial health of the Province because we realized that that $200 million problem, if we did not handle it properly, would in fact become a $600 million problem or a $400 million problem or a $500 million problem. It is certainly far more than the $200 million we were then facing. So the financial health of the Province put constraints on us. In other words, we simply could not go out and borrow the $200 million. We could not plan on doing that.

So, Mr. Speaker, what does a responsible Government do at that point in time? For the first time in our history we are faced with the prospect of having a limitation on what we can borrow - for the first time in our history a real limitation. In the past Governments have allowed the credit rating to drop. When they ran into trouble in 1985, there was some trouble, there was a downturn, the credit rating dropped. It is easy - let the credit rating drop. We no longer had that luxury. We could not take the chance that our credit rating would drop one more notch. There is one rating agency that still gives us an A minus rating. The other rating agencies were in the B category. And if our rating were to drop one more notch, and we would have a B rating, things would get extremely difficult. As the Minister of Finance has explained the financial markets are such that many investors get involved with only A level bonds - many of the larger investors - so that much less of the market would be available to us and what was available to us we would have to pay a lot more for.

So it is kind of like being on the edge of a precipice and not being able to take another step -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: That is exactly what it is comparable to. So we could not take the chance. We had real limits for the first time in our history imposed on us.

So, Mr. Speaker, what does a responsible Government do? Obviously it could not take the solution put forward by my good friend for St. John's East. It could not take that route. His simple answer is to go out and borrow $200 million - to him it is simple. We could not take that route. A responsible Government examines all of the options, consults with the people. So we immediately went to the people of the Province, we explained the problem. We explained the background of the problem.

We went to the administrators of the various parts of the public service, and we said to them, we need some information. Assume you have a frozen budget next year; now tell us what the effect would be. As a responsible Government we had to do that because the Premier sitting in the Premier's office, as President of Treasury Board, as Ministers in this Government, we do not know all the intricate detail of what happens in the system. Did not the managers in the system know that? We had to go to them and get their advice. That is the way we did it. Assume you have a frozen budget, what will be the effect? We had to give adequate time for the information to get back to us, at the same time recognizing that there is more to the public service than the management level. We also informed the union leadership of the problem we were facing and the fact that we had to come up with $200 million. That we were asking in the systems, tell us what the effect will be of a frozen budget? All of this was outlined to the representatives of the workers that are unionized. A responsible Government would do that, a responsible Government would lay things out exactly as it understands them. So, Mr. Speaker, that was in October. Through November and December the analyses were being done in various parts of the system and information had started to come back from the managers in the system. Information was coming back to us from Government Departments, nursing homes, hospitals, and the community colleges. During January, and we had to give them that much time, as a matter of fact initially we told them we had to know by early December but knowing some of them would take much more time than that, by January we had a great deal of the information back and at that point in time we started our analyses. The process of the examining of the information we had back was quite painful and quite time consuming. We in essence took the whole of Government and went through it item by item. We took reports from the institutions and went through them item by item, and we started to make decisions based on that information. One thing became obvious, very obvious, that the objectives of a frozen budget could not be maintained. We could not inflict a frozen budget on all parts of our public service. The budget for hospitals could not be frozen. The budget for primary secondary and elementary schools could not be frozen. The budget for social services could not be frozen. We could not inflict a frozen budget so we made tentative decisions based on the limits to which we felt we could go. Mr. Speaker, we talked to the financial people, and at that point in time made a conscious decision that we could probably borrow somewhere between $50 and $55 million, in that range. Nobody would tell us, you know: what your limits are. We felt that was the limit beyond which we did not want to go, it was taking too great a chance on the financial health of the Province, so we made a decision we would borrow on current account that amount of money. We also tentatively decided some tax measures, but, Mr. Speaker, in spite of all this we were falling far short of what we had to do, in spite of the borrowing, in spite of the tax increases, we fell far short of what we needed. So, Mr. Speaker, at that point in time we were running into Federal Budget time and so on and we had many discussions about the plight that we were in; the Federal Budget itself added about fifteen million to our problem and that did not help; the Federal Budget also indicated to us that for some years down the road transfer payments would be frozen. They kept the same constraints on that they had put on a couple years before, so the Federal Budget was not good news for us but it did not affect overwhelmingly our decision for this year - maybe to the tune of about $15 million - so we knew that we had to take other measures, had to; at that point in time, we considered the measures outlined in Bill 16 and they were mentioned for the first time.

As opposed to these measures that I am going to get to in a few moments, was the spectre of laying off another couple of thousand people, and we felt that the system would demand that we not layoff another 2,000 people, that the services we are providing would have to be drastically affected. Anyway, at that point in time we called in the heads of four of the largest unions in the public service and indicated to them what choices we had facing us. We felt that at that point in time in all conscience we had to, and not just leave it to a Budget day, but also to give them some time to think about the measures that Government was considering instituting, and the choices that we as Government had, and we made it quite clear at that point in time that we were not looking for compliance, we were not looking for support, we were not looking for their okay, we just wanted to make sure that if there was any other method that we had overlooked, that that possibility could be conveyed to us, so we did that and that first meeting with the four major unions was held on February 20. Then there was a request from the unions for a joint meeting - the first meeting was an individual meeting - there was a request for a joint meeting to clarify the choices we had facing us so that meeting was held on Sunday, 24th February.

Mr. Speaker, difficult choices, difficult choices, and we have made it clear from day one that we would make these choices. Difficult choices that had to be made, that we would make the choices, but we were very, very concerned, very concerned that we have all of the input possible before we made that decision. And do not forget, Mr. Speaker, at that point in time, we were running out of time, we were running out of time, the decisions had to be made for this Budget, for this coming fiscal year.

It was not simply a matter of postponing it, putting it off, hoping over the next six months it will disappear. Or it was not simply a matter of perhaps taking a more cautious approach and saying well, we will study it for another six months because, Mr. Speaker, these problems do not disappear, do not disappear and we did not have the time to study it any longer. All of the avenues were opened for input to Government, all of the avenues. We went to the people, to the managers and workers in our system, informed them of our problem, opened up avenues for input, asked for input, and then, at a certain point in time, made our decisions based on that input.

Mr. Speaker, we have been open, honest, straightforward, every step of the way. We were facing a horrendous problem that had to be dealt with for the sake of the people of the Province. Now I can understand when we go to managers they have to provide us with the input and the analysis. I can also understand that when you go to labour unions they do not have to, because their interests are different. And we did get some feedback and some response from a couple of unions, but by and large we got none. I think part of the problem was that some of them did not believe we had a problem. They were not willing to accept the fact that here we were baring our financial souls to them. I really believe that they did not take us seriously at that point in time. The attitude seemed to be with some of the unions that we were just toying with them, playing games. I suppose they have a history to go back to, and perhaps they had every reason to believe we were playing games with them. To try to interfere with the collective bargaining process or something like that.

We were playing no games, as everybody now knows. So by and large the response we got indicated a lack of belief that what they were hearing was actually true. That perhaps, as the Opposition seems to suggest, if we just do nothing it will go away. Maybe that is the attitude they had. But certainly by and large there was very little response. I was disappointed in that. Because I know there were large segments of the public service in this Province that wished they had input. There are groups of workers who would have loved to have had some input into what happens in their nursing home or their hospital or their community college. Absolutely certain. And some of them wrote individual, private letters to me about it. It is unfortunate that the input was not provided in that direction.

Perhaps another answer might be that because unions are sort of focused on an antagonistic approach to management and to government some of them had the attitude that, well, a problem that the Province has is not our problem. The problem that the Province has, the government has, that government, that nebulous government out there somewhere, the problem that government has is not really our problem. That somehow government is detached, that somehow government does things, and somehow money magically appears and government then throws around millions of dollars here and tens of millions there, and that somehow they are detached from that, they have no responsibility there.

Well, that is not the way things are. As a Government, and as a Legislature, we are under severe constraints. We can only spend what we take, and we take money from the people. And we are taking money from all of the people in the Province. And we have a responsibility to see that that money then is spent wisely and the people have a responsibility and duty to ensure that we spend that money wisely. And then, on their behalf, on the behalf of the people, we go and borrow money. If we need to spend more we go off and borrow it! And the idea has been - and this is common in governments - that you go off and borrow this money. You never pay it back, though. Go off and borrow it. A couple of hundred million here, $300 million or $400 million there, you borrow it but never pay it back. All you do is pay the interest.

To continue that approach forever is unconscionable. Somebody at some point in time has to pay. Meanwhile, we have to pay the interest on all this money. Hundreds of millions of dollars every year in interest, we pay. The end had to come to that approach. And this year we are borrowing. We plan to borrow a lot of money because we cannot afford to pay back what governments fifteen years ago or ten years ago borrowed. We cannot afford to pay that back, so we go and borrow more money to replace it. And we have to borrow money for our capital programmes. We have to borrow money, but we have to borrow it in such a way that, first of all, it does not bankrupt the Province five years down the road, and secondly, we have to borrow it in such a way that we still have access to the money markets. And all this is being done by the people. The people want services and we have to pay for them. And we have to pay for them either through borrowing or through money from the people. We do not have any money ourselves. Government has no money.

So out of all this the fact arose that we had to take measures which some people consider to be drastic, and as a result we have Bill 16, "An Act Respecting Restraint Of Compensation In The Public Sector Of The Province." Bill 16 essentially does two things. First of all it says, from the period April 1 1991 to March 31 1992 the wage scales in existence are frozen. The wage scales in existence on March 31 1991 are frozen for a year. Then it gives some choices, because there are many different situations here. First of all there are unions who have signed contracts. For these unions it gives them a choice at that point. At the end of the freeze period they can choose to jump immediately to the end of their three year contract, the last year in their three year contract, and simply remove the middle year. That is one option. That maintains a three year period but it simply removes in most cases - not in all cases - the middle year of that three year contract.

Or the other choice is - the restraint year will be legislated - they can simply take the two years of their contract that are left and stick them on the end. In other words, everything that was supposed to happen happens, but at one year later than the agreed date. So that choice is in the legislation. And there is an adequate time period for notice to be given, and if notice is not given, the assumption is that the first option is the one that is operative.

Then there are unions which are in the process of negotiating. The unions which are in the process of negotiating and that we do not have contracts with at this point in time will simply have to accept that restraint period - they will have to accept the 0 from April 1 1991 to March 31 1992. And hopefully we continue to negotiate on that basis.

Then there are the unions whose contracts run out part-way through the restraint period. I guess they then have the option, immediately the restraint period is over, to start negotiating again, or the second option would be to extend whatever they were due during the restraint period one year, and in effect extend their contract by one year. So the two choices are provided them as well.

PREMIER WELLS: (Inaudible) or six months, or whatever it is.


So they have that choice. Now that is the first thing we did, institute a wage freeze for one year.

The second thing we did had to do with the pay equity agreement. The pay equity agreement that was arrived at - and it concerns the hospital sector and Newfoundland Hydro, not the rest of the public service - had a clause in there providing retroactivity back to April 1 1988. Then within that pay equity agreement there was the concept that the agreement would be phased in over a number of years but that the time period would start April 1 1988, and that all monies owing, once the numbers had been arrived at, would be paid at the point of which the numbers were agreed to.

So there was a retroactive bill building up here, and in our estimation was in the vicinity of $24 million. We also had the same choice there as we had with the wage freeze. Twenty-four million dollars would have meant another 900 laid off in the hospital sector - 900 jobs. So we had a choice to make, and we chose to remove the retroactivity from the pay equity agreement. Essentially what that does is it erases an obligation we had there of approximately $24 million. Now there has been an awful lot said about that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not enough.

MR. BAKER: Well, in the hon. Member's opinion not enough, but it is also the hon. Member's opinion we should go out and borrow the $200 million and bankrupt the Province immediately and pass it over to a commission again. So I take what the hon. Member has to say with a grain of salt.

AN HON. MEMBER: As well you might, too.

PREMIER WELLS: Several grains of salt.

MR. BAKER: Several grains of salt.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: It is unfortunate that in any workplace there is discrimination based on gender. And Government has committed to pay equity in the public service. Not just the health care sector, not just Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, but also the general service of this Province. To bring in pay equity in all segments of the public service of the Province. And I will repeat, not just in the hospital sector, not just with Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, in the whole public service.

As soon as the work is completed in terms of numbers, and I am told that is very, very close now with the first segment, the hospital segment and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, as soon as the numbers are available, pay equity will be immediately implemented, starting at that point in time - immediately.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much (inaudible)?

MR. BAKER: I believe we have estimated - although the problem is in giving numbers, we do not know if the number we have in the Budget is exact. We have estimated $3.5 million for the first year. But we have not seen the total figures yet.

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: If the Opposition House Leader wants to go back and look at the pay equity agreement he will see that to start it in 1988, 1 per cent a year - that is 1988 1 per cent; 1989 another per cent; 1990 another per cent; and this year four, and that compounded and paid back to April 1 1988 would amount to around $24 million. So we have -

MR. SIMMS: Four years, and that is hospital and the Hydro.

MR. BAKER: Hospital and Hydro, yes.

MR. SIMMS: So this year you are saying you have $3.5 million in there for everyone.

MR. BAKER: No, $3.5 million for the ones whom we feel are ready to be - the numbers are available, they should be available soon, which is the hospital and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. That is all I am talking about now. What I am also saying is this, that as soon as the numbers are available for the rest of the public service, then we will implement the pay equity. It is as simple as that. It will take a while to do it. I do not expect it will take as long as the first run-through did; the first run-through has taken three years. And it would have to be done on a different basis so that hopefully we can get it done within a year or a year and a half.

However, for that segment of the public service, which is perhaps the largest segment it applies to, I am hopeful the figures will be ready soon and that we can implement the first year of the pay equity. So what we have done is we have made a decision and the choice was very clear to us: pay the $24 million retroactively or lay off another 900 people. And that is the way we look at it, 900 to 1,000 people would take up the $24 million. And the choice - it is that kind of a choice. Both are hard choices, obviously. And as Government we had to make a choice and we have made the choice.

So the bill then does the two things. It freezes wages for a year and it eliminates the retroactivity in the pay equity agreement. And the unions have a choice of how, if they have already signed a contract, the wage freeze applies - they have two choices. Everybody else is not affected in terms of negotiating, except that there has to be a one year freeze period and that is that. So essentially that is the piece of legislation.

As a summary I would like to reiterate again that Government has limited options, much more limited this year than ever before. We have gone through a process that we believe - we know - was open, honest, straightforward, with full knowledge to the public of the Province, the workers, the public service of the Province, management and workers, at the point in time that we had that knowledge or very shortly thereafter. We were very open.

We were criticized by being so open, as a matter of fact. Since October, the biggest criticism we had was, well, why don't you do something? Why are you putting people on edge? And our response always was, we recognize that because of this tremendous problem people are going to feel uncomfortable, and people are going to be on edge. But, again, we made a decision to be open about it, and as soon as we found out about it, everybody else knew about it. We decided to be open about it and we do not regret that decision for one minute. We had to go to the people in the system to find out the effects on the system of frozen budgets. We had to! It would be totally irresponsible of us not to do that. Yet, the biggest criticism from the Opposition was, well, why are you putting people on edge? Why didn't you do it instead of talking about it?

We had a lot of other comments, questions generally that are asked. So often I get the thing, well, why didn't you consult with the unions? As I have outlined here today, the level of consultation could not have been higher. The only way we could have done more is if we had gotten a Thompson submachine gun, the only way. We have consulted; we have provided the opportunity for input, and we did it through the recognized officers of the labour unions. So there was consultation, as much as we can do, we cannot force consultation. We have had it said to us: Why didn't you put it off for six months and have it studied? Well, that is fairly sensible, no doubt about it, and the longer you study something, perhaps the better the solutions will be, no doubt about that. But we have to have a Budget for this year and we cannot put it off.

Related to that is: Why don't you just put it off for some time? Why are you trying to solve all your problems in one year? How many times have I heard that? 'Why are you trying to solve all your problems in one year?' You cannot go and solve all your problems in one year, it is too hard.' Anybody who has looked at our Budget realizes we have not solved all our problems in one year. We are still borrowing $53 million or $54 million on current account; we are still pushing the limits; we are still borrowing over $500 million on the market this year. We did not try to solve that problem in one year, we did what had to be done in one year to maintain the financial health of the Province. It is as simple as that. We did what had to be done, and we cannot take chances on the financial health of this Province simply to make some political choices. We just cannot do it. We are not going to do it.

Some people say: Well, you are spending money on roads. Why don't you take some of the roads money and use in current account? I know that financing is perhaps a little bit complicated, and I can understand people saying that, but we have to go and borrow that roads money anyway. That is not money that we have. There is no money sitting there with a label on it saying 'roads money' and now we have a choice of where to use it. We have to go and borrow that anyway. So you cannot borrow money to do away with borrowing somewhere else. It is as simple as that. That is money we have to go and borrow anyway.

Another one, another question I get asked: Don't do any cuts or any changes in health care and education. Why don't you just cut Government?' What people have to realize is that that is Government; that is government expenditure. People are government expenditure. Most of our controllable expenditure is people doing something for the people of the Province; that is most of our controllable expenditure. And when you say: Why don't you cut Government? - my response is that is what we are trying to do. But do not forget, and we have never forgotten, that by cutting Government you are cutting a service that you are giving people, and we are rapidly approaching the point in time, as the Minister of Health explained a little earlier, where if the transfers that come to this Province are gradually going to disappear, some of them, over the next thirteen years, we are going to come to the point where we have to totally finance these services to people. What a problem that is going to be, because we are so dependent on Federal money coming into this Province, we are so dependent on Federal transfers. Over 45 per cent of every dollar that we spend here is either through equalization payments or established program financing; money that is transferred down here. If you are sitting in a rich province and you get a small amount, 10 per cent of your Budget is transfers, and the Federal Government decides to fiddle around with that then that only affects 10 per cent of your Budget, but here we are close to - half our Budget is Federal transfers - money coming from Ottawa - if you are in that situation, and they start fiddling around with it, it has a tremendous effect, a drastic effect, and that is precisely what happened.

So, Mr. Speaker, we regret having to be in the position to present this Bill to the Legislature, we regret very much having to be in the position, but in the position we are, we wish we were not there; we wish a few years ago there was no capping of transfer payments, we wish we were not in a recession and we had money. We wish we had the $180 million that, but for the cap on the programs we would have had this year; we wish we had that much, we wish a lot of things and a lot of the reaction which we are going to get from this Budget is going to be a lot of wish. We wish we had the money to put a hospital in every community in the Province, we wish. We wish we had the money to pave every road and to provide water and sewer systems for every community, we wish. But, Mr. Speaker, we cannot operate on the wish, we have to operate on the reality, and the reality is, that whereas we wish we were not in the position to have to present this legislation to the House, we are, the reality is, we are in that position and that is the origin of this piece of legislation.

I know that this will engender some debate in the days ahead and look forward to hearing opinions from Members Opposite and also from some Members on this side of the House. I wish that these opinions were going to be based on reality. I wish that the debate is a sensible debate and takes into account the choices this Government had facing it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I have listened intently to the introduction of this legislation given by the President of Treasury Board and I must say after listening to him that I thought we were in the wrong debate, I thought he had called the wrong order. He talked about their budgetary problems, he repeated the line that the Minister of Finance has given time and time again and the Premier has given time and time again; he traced all the background and all the reasoning for their problems and for their difficulties, comments that are much more appropriate for the Budget debate.

I would have thought, Mr. Speaker, that the President of Treasury Board would have addressed, more in-depth, a couple of the very serious problems associated with this legislation, this is not the Budget debate. I was tempted- or I am tempted I guess - to make the observation that he threw out comments made by Opposition, the Opposition says do nothing, it will go away, it is the same old myth, it is the same old propaganda that you will hear the Government use from time to time, in trying to defend what cannot be defended. He spent a good deal of his first thirty minutes or so, in addition to talking about budgetary matters, talking about the unions, and he philosophized as if he knew everything there was to know about union philosophy and the reasons that unions do this and the reasons that unions do that and he literally blamed the unions to a certain extent by saying they did not co-operate and they did not give him much in the way of suggestions.

He talked about the position they found themselves in, as if to say there are no alternatives. Well, Mr. Speaker, I will get to that in the course of my remarks and show just what a weak argument that really is, but it is the argument that every Minister over there and every Member in the backbench over there have been using for the last week and a half in trying to defend the Budget. Unfortunately the press have not, I do not think, asked the questions. Perhaps, we have not asked the questions up until now -we have only had five or six days in the Legislature. But there are a lot of questions that will be asked and I will pose some of them today as I get through my remarks.

But the first half an hour or so was spent giving comment or opinion that more appropriately would be placed in a Budget debate, not on this piece of legislation. And he spent ten minutes or fifteen minutes or so then and mentioned the bill, and quickly and briefly ran through what is in the bill. But, Mr. Speaker, he did not mention once what this legislation does. He never once mentioned what is involved in what the Government is presenting here today before the people of Newfoundland and Labrador through its Legislature. He never addressed once what this bill is all about.

Now, Mr. Speaker, people of Newfoundland and Labrador should be aware that what we are debating here today on second reading, the principle of this bill, The Public Sector Restraint Bill, we will call it, or they will call it. We will not call it that - Bill No. 16. What we are debating in reality is a bill which dishonours the basic premise of collective bargaining. That is what we have here in this piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker, a bill which dishonours the basic premise of collective bargaining. And that premise is that employers and employees will live by the agreements they negotiate. That is the basic premise, Mr. Speaker, of collective bargaining. That is what this bill is all about. And the Minister did not once mention it. Did not touch upon it at all.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what we have to be aware of is this: in collective bargaining trust is extremely important, in fact, it is especially important in the public sector.

AN HON. MEMBER: It's not very important to the Minister of Finance.

MR. SIMMS: Especially important in the public sector during negotiations - trust. Because in the public sector Government, as the employer, is in an extremely powerful position, because the Government through its majority in the House of Assembly can pass laws at any time to change virtually anything that it has agreed upon in a collective agreement. Private sector employers have no similar power. That is the big difference.

So, Mr. Speaker, public sector negotiation and bargaining is based solely on trust. The trust, Mr. Speaker, that Government will not use the Legislature to break negotiated agreements. The trust, Mr. Speaker, that if circumstances change, as they have here they say, which make it difficult or make it impossible for the Government to live with what has been negotiated or to live up to the terms of a collective agreement, that Government will do what any other employer might do, Mr. Speaker, and that is renegotiate with its employees. Now, Mr. Speaker, this piece of legislation here, Bill 16 violates that trust. And for that, Mr. Speaker, for that reason, I think, the bill in principle is a bad, bad bill. It is a terrible piece of legislation. And, Mr. Speaker, more than that this is an evil piece of legislation, and it is evil because the bill itself attacks the very principle of free collective bargaining. That is what this bill does, Mr. Speaker, it attacks the very principle of free collective bargaining. It is also evil, Mr. Speaker, because the Legislature is now being forced, the Legislature is being used to violate those collective agreements, and, Mr. Speaker, the Government is forcing the Legislature to use powers that no Legislature should ever be asked to use in a free and democratic society - should never be asked.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I listened quietly to the Minister when he was speaking and I would appreciate a similar courtesy. If they cannot stand it perhaps they could leave. Members opposite no doubt throughout this debate, and I predict the debate will last for a considerable period of time, unless, of course, the Government which holds the worlds record, I guess, for closure in Provincial Legislatures decides to invoke closure on it. But I predict throughout this debate Members opposite will frequently try to - although the President of Treasury Board did not and I was a bit surprised at that - they will try to use the argument that the Legislature itself, the House of Assembly itself, is all powerful, that Government was elected to govern and it can do whatever it wants to do whenever it wants to do it during the term of its mandate. The President of Treasury Board has used that argument before as a matter of fact in this House, but I say, Mr. Speaker, that that argument and the President of Treasury Board when he uses that argument, is wrong. That argument is wrong, Mr. Speaker, because as we all know in the system under which we operate, the British Parliamentary system, this Legislature functions in a democratic society. That is the difference, not under a dictatorship but in a democratic society. The Legislature may have great powers, without any question, Mr. Speaker, but in a democratic society the people elect and trust their Members, their Government, to use that legislative authority with a great deal of restraint, I would submit, and to use only those powers that are absolutely necessary in a democratic society. Mr. Speaker, as I said at the outset, this bill basically violates the basic public trust that is fundamental to the functioning of a free and democratic Government. I really and truly believe that in my heart and my soul, having read this piece of legislation. Members also, in this debate, Members opposite in particular, will probably use the comparison, or try to compare what this Government is doing to the actions of the previous Government and what it did when it implemented a two year wage freeze back in 1984, as the Member for Bonavista South, I noted, tried to do on CBCs TV Friday night panel. They will try to make that tie somehow with what occurred in 1983-84, and the two year wage freeze, but reasonable people will realize there is absolutely no comparison with that argument. There is absolutely no comparison at all, and I will tell you why. The Legislature of the day, back in 1984, was not asked to pass a law. No existing collective agreements were broken, no benefits in existing collective agreements were taken away, no benefits in existing collective agreements were rolled back. Government at that time told the unions it would not be able to negotiate wage increases in new collective agreements which would come into effect -


MR. SIMMS: If the hon. Minister would be polite enough to let me continue with my train of thought perhaps he will understand what it is I am trying to say? It is not only me, but I think everybody else in the Province, particularly anybody involved in collective bargaining will tell you the same thing, the comparison cannot be made, Mr. Speaker. It just cannot be made. Now, you can try to make the argument that there is a comparison but there is absolutely no comparison. We did not break collective agreements. We did not take away items that were negotiated in a collective agreement. We sat down with the unions and we told them there were no wage increases for two years at the end of a collective agreement, when their collective agreement expired, Mr. Speaker. That was a tough decision, by the way, I say to hon. Members, but it was within the rules of collective bargaining. What we are seeing here today is a breach of the rules of collective bargaining, and most importantly, a breach of trust.

Mr. Speaker, we made a tough decision back in those days, yes. And we lived with the consequences and the members of the unions lived with the consequences. But, Mr. Speaker, we also lived by the principle that respected the sanctity of collective agreements. And that is the difference between what we are seeing here today by this Government and what happened back in 1984. So don't get up on your high horses over there in the debate and start to try to make a tie to what happened in 1984, because it will not wash.

Mr. Speaker, we have seen examples of this Premier and this Government reneging on signatures, signed agreements and signed documents, and not only with labour unions. We all know the most notable reneging on a signature. We all know the most notable example. So, Mr. Speaker, what we have today with the introduction of this legislation is a Government which is prepared to throw away and to cast aside the basic principles of fair play and trust, the principles they themselves frequently brag about, fair play and trust.

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I might be given the courtesy of making my remarks - I do not believe anyone here interrupted the President of Treasury Board when he was speaking, but there are number over there who are acting like fools, and maybe they could leave the Chamber. (Inaudible) simple.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Opposition House Leader is quite correct when he says the President of Treasury Board had total silence when he spoke on this matter. I ask all hon. Members to afford the same courtesy to the hon. Opposition House Leader.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, to continue with my train of thought -

AN HON. MEMBER: I cannot hear you.

MR. SIMMS: It is hard to -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I just asked for silence. I asked hon. Members to afford the opportunity for the hon. Opposition House Leader to make his presentation without being interrupted.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think the simple thing for Members to do if they cannot take it is to go outside somewhere. That is the simple thing to do, and that is all I ask.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, what I was saying is that what we have today is a Government which is obviously prepared to cast aside and throw away the basic principles of fair play and trust that we often find in collective bargaining, and a Government that is prepared to use its legislative power to remove things from legitimately and legally negotiated collective agreements. That is what we see.

Mr. Speaker, I predict that this decision by Government, by the way, will dramatically alter the approach taken to collective bargaining in the future. This in an extremely dangerous precedent for a number of reasons, but what you are basically doing is telling unions or, for that matter, any outside group or individual who might reach some kind of an agreement with the Government, that if you continue to seek improvements through negotiations, or if you get improvements in your collective agreement through arbitration or some other form of adjudication, then this Government is prepared to simply bring in a public restraint bill that will change those agreements. That is the danger. That is the dangerous precedent that is being set here today, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it is frightening and it is also, in our view, wrong. That approach is absolutely wrong. This Bill removes equity, and it removes fairness and balance, which this Government prides itself on, from the bargaining process. Under threat of this kind of legislation and with this precedent, how is it possible for two sides to go to the bargaining table as equals? How is that possible at all, when one side has now given itself absolute power and absolute authority over the other side? It cannot be done, Mr. Speaker. That is the answer to the question. The two sides cannot go to the table as equals.

Mr. Speaker, I regret to say, above and beyond all that in terms of a few introductory remarks, the greatest casualty in all this is trust - trust in Government. When is a deal a deal? When can we take Government at its word? When is their word their word? How can they be believed at the bargaining table? How can they be trusted? Regrettably, again, Mr. Speaker, I have to say it is not only a reflection on the Government, it is, in fact, a reflection on the Legislature itself, the House of Assembly. And, Mr. Speaker, when people lose faith in their elected representatives and in their Legislature, it is pretty easy then for them to lose faith, I think, in the very basis of democratic Government.

Mr. Speaker, if the Government clearly is prepared to overturn any collective agreement that it has reached, made in good faith, then I think the people of this Province had better take a second look at what is occurring. Because they are prepared to do it, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, you will see, I think, throughout the course of debate the Government using the terms `wage restraint', `wage freeze'. `Deferred wages' I think was the Minister of Finance's term in his Budget Speech. But these are deceptive terms, Mr. Speaker. Because what we have here in this legislation is a wage rollback. And there is a big difference between `wage freeze', `wage restraint', and `wage rollback'. That is pretty serious stuff, and that is what you have in this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, there is also a feeling out there, and the President of Treasury Board tried to allude to it, about the unions, and somehow the unions did not believe them when they were saying things were tough. I do not know what incentive the unions would have had, as a matter of fact, to believe the Government at the time, because every time somebody made some comment publicly, the Opposition or some union group made some comment publicly, the answer always was, no, there are no cuts. There is no freeze. It is only been looked at. The Opposition is fearmongering. I mean, that was the cry of the day from the Government. So what incentive did the unions have to believe the Government? Perhaps the President of Treasury Board can tell us that when he closes the debate sometime in the future.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I think Government, no matter how hard it tries, is going to have a very, very difficult time convincing us that they did not negotiate and indeed sign some collective agreements knowing (a) that they faced a severe financial problem - they knew that - and secondly, I would submit that they knew darn well one of their major options was a wage freeze. Well, I say, no matter how hard they try to convince us, I do not think anybody will ever believe that. I do not think anybody will ever believe it, Mr. Speaker. They had to know that was one of their major options. They had to know it. You would have to be stunned. Of course, I could not go so far as to suggest they are not stunned. That is possible. But they certainly should have known. And that is where all the accusations of deception and dishonesty are coming from, and why they are coming. And if there is an element of truth to it, then it is absolutely unforgivable.

Mr. Speaker, the President of Treasury Board says he asked the unions for their suggestions, he called them in last Fall. But he said in this House in answer to a question from me last week, `but they were unco-operative.' Essentially that is what he said, they were unco-operative. Now, Mr. Speaker, I am told that all he did at those meetings last Fall - six or seven months ago he had meetings with some of the unions, various unions, and in a very casual setting he said, well, brothers and sisters, we are in a difficult bind. We are facing a $200 million deficit next year. It does not look good, I will tell you. It looks like we might have a major problem. And by the way, if you have any suggestions to make as to how we might be helped out of this dilemma, we would appreciate it. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is the scenario that transpired which I hear described.

In the meantime, they called their Government managers over to the President of Treasury Board's office and he laid the law down to every one of them. He sat them around the table and said, here is what is going to happen. Tell us what the fallout will be. So he gave more stern direction to their own Government managers and departmental managers, but to the unions: it looks like we are going to have a big problem, brothers and sisters. If you have any ideas for helping us, we would appreciate it. Now what kind of a way is that? What kind of approach is that? What kind of an incentive is that for the unions to respond? Why did you not sit down with them and thoroughly discuss the problem? By the way, what initiative did the Government take? What suggestions did it make to the unions? It was not just the unions giving you suggestions. What did you suggest to the unions? Did you have discussions about it? Then we hear that prior to the Budget, in fact, at least one union I have heard of did put forth an idea. I do not have all the facts of it, but my understanding of it is something along the lines of taking a two week -

MR. BAKER: I suggested that.

MR. SIMMS: You did? Well, why did you not do it? The President of Treasury Board says he suggested that. Well, why the hell did he not do it?

AN HON. MEMBER: What did you say?

MR. SIMMS: You heard me.

AN HON. MEMBER: He never said what the Member for Carbonear said.

MR. SIMMS: Why did he not do it? He says now he put forth that suggestion. Why did he not have discussions with the unions? A two-week leave of absence for every public servant, unpaid, in an effort to save jobs, to save the services, and to save money for the Government would have given Government - I do not know what the figure is, but with a two-week average salary of $20,000 or $25,000, a month's pay is $2000, two weeks pay is $1000. How many public servants are there, teachers, nurses and everybody, 40,000 or so? That is $40 million. It seems to me like a reasonable suggestion. The President of Treasury Board is now taking the credit for making that suggestion, and I suppose he will get up here and say they turned it down. Well, the question then is why did you not do it?

MR. BAKER: (Inaudible) be honest.

MR. SIMMS: You be honest. Why did you not do it?

MR. BAKER: (Inaudible) suggestion.

MR. SIMMS: So you are blaming it on the unions. Oh, I see.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Perhaps the Minister of Development would be better served if he sat back and took notes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


I see. So you decided to toss out the idea, it was not worthy of consideration. It is better to fire the 3,000 public servants, it is better to impose a wage rollback.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I will tell you why they did not do it. The reason they did not do it, Mr. Speaker, is because their objectives were already set in their mind, and it was set in their mind months ago. I will give an explanation of why I think that, by the way, as I go on. There is reason for people to suspect that, many reasons, but that is the problem. Their objective was set clearly in their mind to take on the public service: fire the public servants, let us proceed to be popular politically, we can get away with that. The public will support us. That is the reason they weren't more diligent, I suppose, in terms of trying to discuss in a serious way with the unions, options that they might be able to develop.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to touch on the Bill itself briefly as the President of Treasury Board did. He outlined some of the aspects of the Bill. Of course, he did not dwell on the negative aspects too much, and did not elaborate to a great extent. He did not talk about all the other serious things that are in here, or he did not elaborate on them, let's put it that way. This Bill, as he knows, precludes arbitration and adjudication awards, section 2(a). I will read it. It precludes arbitration and adjudication awards.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, and you talk about deception. When the Minister of Finance read his Budget here in this House two Thursdays ago, or whatever it was now, he talked about deferring wages. That was bad enough because it is a wage rollback, but he never mentioned that also to be affected by this rollback are monetary benefits. It was not even mentioned by the Minister of Finance. And now we see when the legislation was tabled last Thursday that all the monetary benefits for this fiscal year that have been negotiated are also being rolled back and eliminated. That is true, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Environment does not even know. He says it is not true. Perhaps the President of Treasury Board can explain it to him. It is true. Read the Bill. And you sit around the Cabinet Table, make no wonder we are in the trouble we are in.

Mr. Speaker, here is another point -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: It is not his fault that he cannot read, I agree.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Oh, I cannot read. Okay.

Well, I will let the President of Treasury Board respond to it. If he can tell me that it does not include all the monetary benefits then I would be happy to hear it, and I think the unions would be happy to hear it today because that is what it says in the legislation under section 2(b). So does it include monetary benefits or does it not?

AN HON. MEMBER: Pay scales and other monetary benefits.

MR. SIMMS: I mean, is the legislation accurate or isn't it accurate?

AN HON. MEMBER: And other monetary benefits it says.

MR. SIMMS: Now I know it does not include the increments because I have asked. I asked the staff of Treasury Board. I did not ask the President, I asked his staff. But I do know that it includes mileage that public servants are paid to carry out their public service duties for the Government, it includes mileage. I do know that it includes meals, I do know that. I do know that it includes clothing benefits -

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not other monetary benefits is it?

MR. SIMMS: - that some public servants have built into their collective agreement. I also know, Mr. Speaker, that it includes the entire Labrador benefits report, which was negotiated or put in place after, I think, about a two year study, independently. It involved independent people, the Labrador benefits program. Now the Minister of Environment knew about that, I guess, did he?

AN HON. MEMBER: He shrugs his shoulders.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, here is another thing the legislation does, it allows the Cabinet - the Cabinet now mind you - it allows the Cabinet to determine that an adjudication or an arbitration award compensates for the restraint period and to be able to roll that back. Now that is legislation on the books forever and a day. The Cabinet has the power to roll it back. Now that is pretty dangerous stuff, I think. And section 2(a) does precisely that.

And finally, Mr. Speaker, this legislation, of course, eliminates for all intents and purposes pay equity. Now I listened to the President of Treasury Board trying to explain and rationalize why they took the position they took, and I tried to listen to him explain the cost and he said they have $3.5 million in their Budget this year for pay equity, which would be for the health care sector and hydro employees, the ones for which the April 1st, 1988 starting date applied to, hospital workers and hydro employees; they have $3.5 million in this year's Budget, they expect it will be done this year, any week now, so $3.5 million this year, 1991- 1992, yet the cost, he said we estimate the cost to implement pay equity, effective April 1st, 1988, would have been $24 million.

Now, I mean, I am not a mathematician, not an economist, no, but I do not think the President of Treasury Board is, either, is he?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: That is for sure.

MR. SIMMS: You are a mathematician. Oh, I thought you were a biologist or something, that was your claim to fame - but one thing you are not, I can tell you, is a fair, collective bargainer, I can tell you that, Mr. Speaker. Anyway, Mr. Speaker, so he says it would have cost $24 million for 1988-1989-1990-1991, four years, $24 million, that is $6 million a year. But this year, they have $3.5 million in their Budget to implement pay equity for the same employees, so, is he saying that the normal amount would be $3.5 million a year, but because of the accumulated amount it shot up to $24 million? Well, I would like to ask the President of Treasury Board when he clues the debate, closes the debate, to please give us a written presentation that explains that; would he please give us a written detailed, fact full explanation of that.

But nevertheless, it is really only a moot point, I mean nevertheless, 24 million, 18 million whatever; the fact of the matter, Mr. Speaker, is that the elimination of this or the rollback if you want to call it, is contrary to the agreement itself, that is point number one. The agreement said: all activities relating to this pay equity agreement will be carried on in good faith by the parties. This was quoted by the Member for St. John's East, I think, the other day. Mr. Speaker, this goes way beyond that, it goes way beyond just breaking an agreement, this can be argued I think, I am not a lawyer, but I have talked to some lawyers, this can be seen as a basic human rights question.

Well, the President of Treasury Board shakes his head and I expect him to shake his head, yes, I expect him to shake his head, the Minister of Justice said today that he did not have an opinion from the Department, he was not asked for an opinion. So I guess there is only one opinion in that Cabinet anyway that counts I suppose, and that is who they asked their judgement from, the Premier. Is this okay Premier? Oh yes, this is okay, I can tell you Cabinet, this is okay, and whether you think it is or is not, let me tell you, if I say it is okay, it is okay. So, Mr. Speaker, whether this Government has dishonoured an agreement set up by the previous Administration and the unions, and, Mr. Speaker, I know something about it by the way, I know something about it and I do not mind saying it, I am proud to say that I was the President of Treasury Board who negotiated that agreement with the unions at the time, so I am very familiar with the document and I am familiar with -

AN HON. MEMBER: It was retro-active.

MR. SIMMS: It was not retro-active, it was not retro-active. The agreement was effective April 1st, 1988 and at the time we did not know if it would take a year, if it would take two years or whatever, but the bottom line was, Mr. Speaker, the discrimination had been recognized; the discrimination had been recognized effective April 1st, 1988, that is the point.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: So now, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Environment opens his mouth again and puts his foot into it; indeed we did take action, we were the ones who set up the committees that are still studying the thing, so the Minister of Environment has absolutely no idea, and his best bet is to go out and pass out a few free snares or something, that is his best bet, Mr. Speaker, give him something to do.

So, Mr. Speaker, this breaking of this agreement, this breaking of this agreement comes from a Government, led by a Premier who has pontificated on the national stage about the dangers to our Charter from Meech Lake, time and time again. He cares more, Mr. Speaker, I guess about the women of the Province of Quebec than he does about the women of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.


MR. SIMMS: Now, Mr. Speaker, I full expect the Minister of Labour to stand in her place in this debate and defend this legislation. I fully expect her to do it, but I doubt if she will, because I daresay she does not know much about it, to be honest with you.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Now, Mr. Speaker, this bill rolls back pay equity. That is what it does. It rolls back pay equity. And, Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that Members on that side, in the Cabinet, including the Minister of Labour, supports that kind of a decision - it is extremely unfortunate. But no doubt in the debate she will stand and she will explain to her colleagues and to us, and to all the women in the Province out there, why she agreed with this particular position.

Well I do not think we have heard the last of this, by the way, because the Charter of Rights, Section 15, the equality rights that exists in the legislation guarantees equality rights without discrimination on the basis of sex.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Section 15. That is what it does.

Now the President of Treasury Board should read it.

MR. BAKER: The hon. Member should read it.

MR. SIMMS: I read it.

So in other words, and my good friend from St. John's East keeps advising me of these legal matters, and I respect his legal opinion because he has learned a lot from his legal colleagues downtown, particularly in that same office building, I have some good friends in the office building.

MS. COWAN: Oh, my! Oh, my!

MR. SIMMS: But, Mr. Speaker, it essentially says - now maybe the Minister of Labour does not agree with this - the Charter of Rights. Does the Charter of Rights suggest that the House of Assembly is prohibited from passing legislation that discriminates on the basis of sex? Is that an accurate statement or not an accurate statement, I ask the Minister of Labour?

She does not know,I guess, Mr. Speaker.

And, Mr. Speaker, that is the whole problem with this. It appears to me as if the Government really has not researched this situation. Otherwise I do not know why they would have proceeded, because I guarantee you there can and probably will be a strong legal argument mounted on the basis of discrimination. And our Legislature is not permitted to introduce legislation that discriminates on the basis of sex. And there could be a good argument made I think that this piece of legislation does.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to get on with a few other items, I want to get on with the topic of - I have lots of time, by the way, I am going to be moving an amendment before the day is out so it will give me another bit of time to speak. I do not know if the House Leader intends to sit tonight or to carry on tomorrow.

MR. BAKER: We intend to sit tonight.

MR. SIMMS: He intends to sit tonight, so I might as well keep the floor then, there is not much point.

Mr. Speaker, we often hear the Government blaming everyone under the sun for their problems. They blame the Federal Government, Mr. Speaker, cutbacks in transfer payments, and they make much ado about that. They do not point out in the Budget documents, of course, that transfer payments have increased by $40 million. They forgot to mention that, I guess. Just a casual oversight. Is this true?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes. But I have not heard it mentioned anywhere. I have not heard it mentioned. There is $40 million more this year to Newfoundland in transfer payments.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: But there is $40 million more in your Budget documents. They show it. That is never mentioned. But blame everything on the Federal Government. Then they blame the previous administration, that is a favourite tactic of this Government, and in fact, Mr. Speaker, I confess it is a much known and much well used tactic of all Governments to blame previous administrations. I cannot say that we never, ever did that. I must confess.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: But while they are at it, Mr. Speaker, placing blame on the Federal Government, and placing blame on previous administrations let us hear them talk a little bit more about the previous Liberal Administration and the Churchill Falls deal because, Mr. Speaker, their argument is, if we had the money from the Feds in transfers, if we had the money that the Tories spent on Sprung, that is their favourite one, you know, we would have enough to be able to keep this system going. Health care would survive. We would not have to lay off people.

But never, they never point out, Mr. Speaker, that if the Liberal Party of Newfoundland which formed the Government back in 1966 did not give away Churchill Falls we would have had billions of dollars to spend.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: So, Mr. Speaker, while you are passing out blame do not forget to mention that one. My point is, who cares who is to blame, that is not the point. The point is how do you deal with the problem, and you sure as heck do not deal with it by bringing in legislation that is distasteful. This legislation is distasteful. It goes against everything that anybody ever knows about concerning free collective bargaining. It is bad legislation, terrible legislation, precedent setting legislation, and I fear for trust in the Government being lost, not only this Government but future Governments. Who is going to want to negotiate with a Government, or any Government, that can simply bring in a bill and cancel everything? I mean, that is dangerous stuff.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I guess the most glaring example of incompetence and mismanagement seen by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador was the Budget brought in last year by this Minister of Finance. He brought in a Budget and up until May deceived the people of the Province by not admitting he knew the difference. Right up until May while the Budget last year was being debated they defended and bragged about their $10 million surplus, and low and behold, Mr. Speaker, three or four months later in August or September, my God, whoops, we have made a slight mistake, it is not a $10 million surplus we were telling you about three or four months ago it is a $110 million deficit. The year before they brought in a surplus Budget, Mr. Speaker, and why did they not make some of these restructuring changes, or whatever they call them, two years ago? They projected two surplus Budgets. Why did you not do some of the things you are doing now back in those days? That is an interesting question, too. Perhaps the President of Treasury Board will take note of that and give us an answer to that one. Why did he not do it? And, do not say, Mr. Speaker, they did not know because I will tell you here and now that officials from the Department of Finance had advised this Government as far back as when they came into office, when they gave them a briefing on the financial situation and circumstances, there are documents in the Department of Finance. Now, maybe the Minister of Finance has not seen them, but I can tell you that the 1991-92 Budget projection deficit of $200 million was projected two, three, or four years ago. The point is, Mr. Speaker, they cannot say they did not know because it was there. Their own officials advised them when they assumed office in 1989, here is what you are looking at for the next two or three years. Mr. Speaker, I guess the question we have to ask ourselves is, did the Government already have its mind set on firing public servants? Did the Government plan all along to attack, as I said, the public service? Did the Government consider all the costly fallouts to their actions? Did they give serious consideration to it? You have to ask yourself that question with what is actually happening out there. Did the Government say to hell with collective bargaining? It appears that they have said to hell with free collective bargaining. Then there is the question of did the Government have any other motives. Well, Mr. Speaker, I guess everybody remembers, those of us who have been around awhile, or at least old enough, remember the Premier's well known feelings towards unions when he was Minister of Labour back in the 60s - a lot of people remember that, Mr. Speaker. Just keep that in mind, his views and feelings towards public sector unions, and remember the willingness and the intimidation used by the President of Treasury Board just last Fall, and the threats he made last Fall during the health care workers strike. He threatened and intimidated them, with legislation and everything else, yes he did. And I mentioned the other day in this House, Mr. Speaker, that there are a number of Ministers over there, and there is one in particular, who has a well known lack of respect unfortunately for the public service. And that person occupies a pretty important position in the Cabinet.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who's that?

MR. SIMMS: The Minister of Finance. He knows who I am talking about. So, Mr. Speaker, is there any wonder people sitting around the Cabinet table who share those views - who do not particularly have an affinity with unions or free collective bargaining, do not understand anything about it, and have that kind of feeling towards unions - is there any wonder why we are faced with such a distasteful piece of legislation today? So you have to ask yourself, was this a decision merely made because there was a lack of funds, or was there any other motive? Was it a decision based on some other political agenda of this Government, Mr. Speaker? And those are the kinds of questions that will be asked and that should be asked.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we often hear the argument: we did not have any choice. And I mentioned at the outset that I wanted to touch on that topic and give some response to it. And I hope the President of Treasury Board takes note of some of the things that I am going to throw out - some of the alternatives and some of the suggestions - and maybe he can respond when he closes debate.

Favourite question: we had no choice, we had no option, we had no alternatives, Mr. Speaker. Well, Mr. Speaker, we all know these financial decisions are based purely on priorities, depends on the priorities of the government of the day. So what else could have been done? Now in Opposition you are in the position of not having access to the books, so all you can do is ask the questions and put out suggestions for alternatives so that you come back and say: no, this is not possible because of that or whatever. But let me put forth a few alternatives for consideration, and ask the President of Treasury Board to respond when he closes debate, or others in debate might be able to answer the question. I doubt it. There is only (inaudible) or Wins that will know the answers anyway.

Mr. Speaker, I made the point about having projected two surplus budgets in their first two years - the two budgets they brought in. So they could have done some streamlining during that period of time rather than waiting until now, their third Budget. So I would like him to answer that when he speaks to close the debate. Why didn't you do that? Wasn't that an alternative? Could you have not done something back in those days?

Mr. Speaker, why didn't the Government call in the unions well in advance and sit down and have intense discussions with them about job sharing, about early retirement? Why didn't the Government place more emphasis on attrition in terms of job elimination, and about the unpaid leave of absence option? We have already heard today that it was an option that the Government itself considered. So perhaps it might have some value. Perhaps it would have had some value had the Government taken a different approach and sat down before the Budget seriously and have intense discussions. Why didn't it cut even 1 per cent more, for example, just take 1 per cent of transportation - these are discretionary funds if you wish - travel costs, furnishings and equipment, purchase service budgets from all departments, what would that have given you? One per cent or 2 per cent or whatever, it is an alternative. Why doesn't it cut Newfoundland information services whose budget this year, by the way, is mushrooming? Newfoundland information services: that is a question we would like to ask, and will ask. Newfoundland information services budget is mushrooming greater than last year, and the President of Treasury Board admits it is right. So why didn't you cut - is that more important than hospital beds or nurses or teachers? Is that more important? So make a note of the Newfoundland information services.

Why didn't it cut the $8,000 car allowance for Ministers for one year?

AN HON. MEMBER: And also the Leader of the Opposition?

MR. SIMMS: And the Leader of the Opposition.

AN HON. MEMBER: We never ever approved it so -

MR. SIMMS: Yes, he is quite prepared to accept whatever medicine is put forward. But why didn't you cut the $8,000 car allowance for Ministers? That would be $120,000. That is enough for four more nurses in hospitals, for four more teachers in the classroom or four more health care workers, $30,000 per year or whatever. Ministers are making about $85,000 a year. I dare say they could survive on it for one year. So there is an alternative for you. Why did you not do that?

AN HON. MEMBER: Do what?

MR. SIMMS: Cut the Ministers' $8,000 car allowance for a year. Now, Mr. Speaker, I have to ask this question, too. Is it really and truly a priority of this Government, overshadowing hospital beds and education cutbacks and nurses and teachers, is it really a priority to be hosting a member of the Royal Family this year?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame, shame!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: I say to Ministers Opposite who oohed and ahed, I would like to open hospital beds and keep teachers and nurses employed before spending $300,000 to $400,000 hosting a member of the Royal Family or the Governor General or, for that matter, Eastern Premiers.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: And I will tell you why, Mr. Speaker.

MR. EFFORD: What a (inaudible) like that (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: I have no problem saying it, none whatsoever.

AN HON. MEMBER: I do not suppose you do.

MR. SIMMS: Because unlike the Minister of Social Services, Mr. Speaker, I understand how these things work. And I can tell you that if this Government were to approach the Protocol Offices in Ottawa I say to the President of Treasury Board, they could simply have made the request to defer the visit and we will host it another year, or look at hosting it another year. We are in dire financial straits. I say to the President of Treasury Board, all oohs and ahs aside, that could have been done, and it would not have been offensive or anything else. It could easily have been done and you would have saved, as we understand from press reports, $300,000 to $400,000. You know, it is not a big amount, but it is eight jobs, ten jobs or whatever the case might be.

We are talking about alternatives -

MR. EFFORD: Will you send that statement out to the Royal Canadian Legion?

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Social Services can send the statement out for me if he wishes. I could not care less.

MR. EFFORD: I will. I will.

MR. SIMMS: Please do. Please do. The issue here, Mr. Speaker, is alternatives. So every time you fire back an alternative, look at the reaction you get. Oh my, that is much more important. It is much more important to have the Governor General or Princess Anne over here, much more important.

AN HON. MEMBER: Nobody said that.

MR. SIMMS: That is what he is saying. That is what you are saying. Mr. Speaker, he can try to weasel out -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: He can try to weasel out of it all he wants, that is what he is saying, Mr. Speaker. Everybody knows what he is saying, and everybody will continue to know what he is saying before we are finished.

Mr. Speaker, do we have to spend $2.6 million, I ask the Minister of Public Works and the President of Treasury Board, do we have to spend $2.6 million now, this year, renovating Exon House for Government offices? What do you need Government offices for if you are laying off 2,000 or 3,000 Government employees? These are just questions and alternatives. The President of Treasury will understand that.

In terms of the University, we all know what has happened there, the drastic measures they have taken. At the University they do transfer current capital, and the President of Treasury Board knows that. They have done it in the past and they said they are going to do it again. So the question must be asked, do we have to spend $9 million, in the Budget document now, on an extension to the Administration Building over there, for offices and furnishings? Is that a priority when you are laying off people all over the place and closing down hospital beds? It is a legitimate question. Does it have to spend $5 million this year on the new three level small animal care building?

MR. EFFORD: Did we have to build this?

MR. RIDEOUT: You could have stopped it.

MR. SIMMS: You could have stopped it.


MR. RIDEOUT: You could have stopped it. You were the Government.


MR. RIDEOUT: You know the difference.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. RIDEOUT: You could of stopped it. You could have passed Meech Lake, too, if you had wanted to. You could have done a lot of stuff, you babbling idiot.

MR. SIMMS: Now, Mr.Speaker, point No. 8, or alternative No. 8, or suggestion No. 8, The Economic Recovery Commission. Now this is their third Budget. I have not added up the amounts or figures, but I know originally they were talking about $3 million a year, $2 million or $3 million. This is their third Budget, so presumably now it is upwards of $8 million to $9 million for over three years. Okay?

AN HON. MEMBER: Six million or seven million dollars.

MR. SIMMS: Six million or seven million, Mr. Speaker. The President of Treasury Board confirms or says it is $6 million or $7 million. We will check the figures for sure. But my point is the success of the Economic Recovery Commission -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Is there something wrong with the Minister of Social Services?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. RIDEOUT: This is your third Budget, boy! How stunned are you?

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) two year, and three (inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, if I cannot get to make my points, you know - why does not the Minister of Social Services leave or something? He is irritable anyway.

So the Economic Recovery Commission, $6 million or $7 million or $8 million - nothing to show, no success. Enterprise Newfoundland: Now unless there is another answer to this which we are not sure of, we understood in the Budget that there is $44 million, forty-four -



AN HON. MEMBER: We got the information today.

MR. SIMMS: Oh! Now certainly the impression in the Budget Speech was a $44 million increase for Enterprise Newfoundland. Now you talk about deception.

MR. RIDEOUT: Another con job.

MR. SIMMS: Of course it is an increase, because they were not there last year. But is it new money? Is it $44 million, I say to the Minister of Development, of new money? Some of it is, but certainly not the $44 million, is it? Anyway, let us say we assumed it was $44 million. Why do you not give them $30 million and take $14 million and put the pay equity program in place, or hire back 300 nurses, or hire back 900 health care workers or whatever? You told us the other day we saved $15 million, I think it was, by laying off 650 in the departments. Remember that question in the House? Certainly $15 million probably could have been able to keep public servants employed. The point is these are alternatives, Mr. Speaker.

What about the Holiday Inn issue? Let us clear up the Holiday Inn issue. If the Minister over there can stop yapping, I would like the President of Treasury Board to tell us, is it or is it not actual or factual? Do the Finance officials not say that the net to the Province if it sold the Holiday Inns would be about $20 million or somewhere in that area? That is what they said before, and we have documentation to show it. When you take into account the debit and you take into account the value, the net would have been $20 million. That is what Finance officials were saying, and they estimated, your own officials in Government, that to be worth $20 million.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time is up.

MR. SIMMS: No, Mr. Speaker, it is not. I have a full hour and I did not start until well after -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is informed that your time expired at 4:58, and it is now 4.58.

MR. SIMMS: Well, Mr. Speaker, I have an amendment to move and I would like to move the amendment if I could.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. Member have leave to continue?

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Leader of the Opposition, that the bill not now be read but be read a second time this day six months hence. That is the traditional six month hoist, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I will take a minute to recess to check on the amendment.

MR. SIMMS: If you are going to recess, then perhaps it might be just as easy to adjourn the debate and come back at 7:00 o'clock. Is that the idea? Then Your Honour can give us a ruling.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no motion in place. We agree to recess and return again at 7:00 o'clock. Is that the idea?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: This House is recessed until 7:00 p.m.


March 19, 1991 (Night)      HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS      Vol. XLI  No. 11A

The House resumed at 7:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader moved an amendment at closing time which is in order. I call on the hon. member to continue.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, before I was rudely interrupted, I was trying to make some points, and offering and throwing out some alternatives, in response to that oft asked question, by the Government in particular, as if we had no alternative and no choice, etc., etc., etc. I was throwing out some ideas and suggestions that may be blown out of the water by the Government, and that is fine and dandy, but I think some of them are also legitimate points. I am not going to repeat them all now, I do not need to.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Well, no, because the President of Treasury Board has been listening and he has taken notes, and he is going to get up in response to my amendment and address it.

I do not know if I will have time to get on to the anti-Confederate from Pleasantville or not. He is pointing at himself hoping that I will try to draw him somehow into the debate.

MR. NOEL: I was indicating I am taking notes on every word you are saying.

MR. SIMMS: Oh! And the Member for Pleasantville has been taking notes. I am delighted to hear that.

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I want to offer an apology, if anybody is listening to apologies.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Press Gallery is gone to the hockey game, I suppose.

MR. SIMMS: There is one gentleman there who is very observant, I am pleased to see. As members know, or at least some members know, and as the Government House Leader, I guess, forgot, at six o'clock this evening there was, and, I presume, still is, a plan to have a hockey game between the NAPE employees, not NAPE Association but the Nape employees, the NAPE hockey league, and members of the House of Assembly, a benefit game to raise money for cystic fibrosis. Unfortunately, in the heat of debate and the heat of everything else that happened here this afternoon, at the time the House adjourned at five o'clock, and the Government indicated they wanted to sit tonight, I think we forgot at that moment, unfortunately. I do hope the game is continuing. I am sure it is, and I do hope it will still be a success. I think a word of apology or explanation is owed, certainly by us on this side, and, I am sure, the President of Treasury Board on his side, because it was not our intention to avoid the game. Mind you, there were only three, I think, from this side who were planning to go. So they want me to express their deepest regrets to the organizers of the benefit and hope that it is still proceeded with and is successful, and that they will understand what transpired.

We generally have no way of knowing if the Government wants to sit at night until it happens. So we apologize for that.

Now, Mr. Speaker -

AN. HON. MEMBER: We normally would let you know in advance.

MR. SIMMS: Sometimes we are told in advance but we were not told today, for whatever reason.

MR. RIDEOUT: Not the hobnailed boot guy over there, though.

MR. SIMMS: I was talking about Enterprise Newfoundland. I think that was one of the last points I was making.

AN HON. MEMBER: Take $14 million.

MR. SIMMS: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: Take $14 million.

MR. SIMMS: Yes. I said take $14 million out of Enterprise Newfoundland, but that was on the assumption and understanding that the Minister of Finance gave to everybody in this Province, I say to the President of Treasury Board, when he made his big announcement in the budget, that Enterprise Newfoundland would be getting an increase of $44,000,000. Now that's the way it was put. The President of Treasury Board can shake his head but I doubt very much if there are very many in this province who didn't perceive that announcement that way. There are many people mentioned in the newscast we are talking about, $44,000,000 for Enterprise Newfoundland and the perception was this was all brand new money for Enterprise Newfoundland. Well, of course it was, technically it was because Enterprise Newfoundland was not there last year, right? So, NLDC was there though, and so was the Rural Development Authority and all that, and now what we have discovered is that in essence, we haven't got the final figures here, but in essence, and it's hard to decipher unless somebody tells us, which we hope they will. You know you cannot differentiate somehow between the capital funding that NLDC had and the current funding they had and all the rest of it. But in essence as best as we can guess, and that's all that we can do at this stage until we get an answer, is that probably the increase for Enterprise Newfoundland above and beyond what was there before, let's say, okay, what was there in NLDC and what was there in RDA and all the rest of those combined activities, is probably somewhere in the area of six or seven million dollars maybe.

AN HON. MEMBER: Four to six.

MR. SIMMS: More money, new money. Now the President of Treasury Board shakes his head, but I hope-

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SIMMS: No I don't either, so I'm asking. All we can do is ask the government, and you are supposed to tell us. If you don't know, and we don't know then we are really in trouble. So, maybe somebody knows. Maybe the Minister of Finance knows. So, perhaps he can tell us the answer to that question. I mentioned the Holiday Inn one. I think he has a note of that one. He is going to explain that one thoroughly I know.

Also another alternative, or another item that I wanted to raise is the thousands of dollars that are being spent at the moment in advertising, particularly advertising Enterprise Newfoundland. Newspaper ads, radio ads, advertising both the Economic Recovery Commission, and Lord knows it needs lots of advertising but, the question is whether or not it is a priority. That is the point,and that is the question. I would like to know, if the Minister can tell us, how much is being spent in advertising for Enterprise Newfoundland and the Economic Recovery Commission. It must be thousands of dollars. There are radio ads on it all the time, there are newspaper ads on it all the time. So, hopefully he can address that question. The other point is; I understand that every time there is a function going on around the province where the Economic Recovery Commission is involved, and Enterprise Newfoundland, or both, that there is a Public Relations firm that goes around to all these functions and sets everything up and sets the water in place and does taping and takes pictures and things of that nature.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SIMMS: Well, can I just finish first. I am throwing it out because I, admittedly got it second hand. I personally have not seen it occur, but I have had several other people tell me they saw it occur. I believe the public relations firm associated with this kind of activity is a firm called APPA. So, I throw that out because if it is true then it certainly should not be a priority in these times of restraint. And if it is true how much is being spent on that kind of activity. That is the only question that we are asking and as an alternative, if it is happening then surely that money could be better spent doing some other things because-

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SIMMS: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SIMMS: In this year's budget you mean? Or 1991-92. So it was happening... only once.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)

MR. SIMMS: I think the Minister might want to check it now.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SIMMS: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: Once,in a number of locations.

MR. SIMMS: Once,in a number of locations.


MR. SIMMS: Once in a number of locations.

AN HON. MEMBER: Once in Deer Lake.

MR. SIMMS: The President of Treasury Board should be the Minister of Finance with an answer like that. Once in several locations. Anyway, it cost money whatever it is. Mr.Speaker while I am at it finally, let me ask, well it is not an alternative any longer but let me remind the government and the people of the province of this particular fact; He will recall, the President of Treasury Board will recall, that in 1989 when the Liberal Party formed the government, came to power in this Province, the end of the fiscal year they picked up a surplus. I forget the amount, somewhere in the area of $70,000,000? Right On. So I am right with that amount, that figure. This is off the top of my head now. They ended up with a surplus that first fiscal year of $70,000,000 and there was an overpayment made by Ottawa which the province had to pay back of, I believe $34,000,000?

AN HON. MEMBER: That's right.

MR. SIMMS: Now, this is again, off the top of my head, $34,000,000 and the government of the day, the government, the present government, decided it would pay back that $34,000,000 as I recollect, not out of the surplus, not out of that $70,000,000 surplus, but decided instead to pay it out over a two year period, because they would have had to borrow that money and pay interest on it. I think that was the explanation as I recall, so the point I am making is that in this Budget there was $ 17,000,000, that, had it paid back out of the surplus, that $17,000,000, it would have been another $17,000,000 for the government to use in addressing some of it's financial problems. Well, the Minister can say no, and he can argue why . All I am saying is that; you do agree you picked up a $70,000,000 surplus. You do agree you paid back $34,000,000 that you owed in an overpayment over a two year period.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SIMMS: You had a $70,000,000 surplus you just said-

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh yes,on capital and current account.

MR. SIMMS: Oh,I see, but you nodded a moment ago and said you had a $70,000,000 surplus-

AN HON. MEMBER: On current account.

MR. SIMMS: Yes, current account. So then you had a $34,000,000 overpayment that you had to pay back to Ottawa.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SIMMS: So, you couldn't pay it back out of your $70,000,000 surplus because there was no $70,000,000 surplus.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: So there was no $70,000,000 surplus?

MR. BAKER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Oh my, oh my, Mr.Speaker. Make no wonder we are having the problems we are having. My God!

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Anyway Mr.Speaker, I will not respond to the Minister of Social Services. Usually what he says is really irrelevant, yes, really irrelevant and really-

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SIMMS: Yes, and tens and tens of billions of dollars in the hole from the Churchill Falls giveaway which your party gave away so don't tell me about (Inaudible)

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)a year for 65 years.

MR. SIMMS: Now Mr.Speaker, some members are not even in their seat and shouting across the floor. That certainly should not be permitted, but Mr.Speaker-

AN HON. MEMBER: That is terrible.

MR. SIMMS: Well from some people it is not terrible because it is expected and understood. It is typical of their approach. Mr.Speaker, another little minor item, by the way, is the, the reason why I asked the Minister of Finance, by the way, for an answer to my question about how much it cost to do the Finance Annual Report. I presume that's by statute. You have to do it, or something, do you? Does the Minister of Finance know offhand? The Annual Report is that by statute?

AN HON. MEMBER: He is doing his homework. He is studying.

MR. SIMMS: In any event he, as usual, is not going to answer anything. This is an Annual Report for a year ago, 1989-90. It is one year old to begin with, which you tabled in the House the other day and some of the significant things in it, if you took the time to glance at the report highlighting some of the Department's major achievements. Over 338,000 invoices were processed for payment. One million, sixty-one thousand cheques were issued during the past year." Our Department hosted the Annual Comptrollers Conference for Canada" . These are the highlights. "We are proud to highlight some of the Department's major achievements". My only point, as small as it might be, is that $6,100 expenditure that the Minister said today that cost, it's not worth that kind of money. It is not worth it. A small amount of money, but it all adds up as the President of Treasury Board would know. So he might be able to check for me and see if that is a requirement under the statutes, to present an Annual Report, or what. If it is you can change that law. It would be a minor law to change I suppose compared to the kind of law that they are changing here today.

Now, Mr.Speaker, I only have ten or fifteen minutes left so I don't want to conclude my remarks without reminding the people of the Province and members opposite of some of their promises, some of their promises we have heard a lot of talk about. Some of their promises from the 1989 general election campaign. It comes straight from the Liberal handouts, Campaign '89 Policy Manual, Liberals-A Real Change. It comes from that document which I want to read from, just to quote for members okay, not to look for debate, just to listen, let the words sink in.

This was your page one opening statement of principles: The Liberal Party believes that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have a right to good paying and productive jobs without having to leave the Province. That was their first one. The Minister of Forestry said what's wrong with it. What is wrong with it Mr.Speaker, is that, net out-migration has tripled since the Liberals took office. That's what is wrong with it.

Mr.Speaker they went on to say: We should have an opportunity for our children to grown up, be educated, work and enjoy a full healthy and happy life right here at home without the hardship and suffering of unemployment. What is wrong with that? You are getting smarter now. Three thousand or so laid off here directly.

"Poverty and poor health and education facilities". That was one of their major promises. "These things can only be achieved by a government that is sensitive to the needs of our people". Now sensitive is not a word I would use to describe this government, Mr.Speaker, I can tell you that. What did they say in education; "Our future economic success depends more on the improvements we make in our education programs than on any other single factor." I guess that is why they have cut back, is it? Cutting back and the cuts and everything you have announced, does that make that kind of promise come true, I say to the members opposite? "A Liberal government will either abolish school taxes..." There is the old famous, "Either abolish school taxes or reform the whole school tax system". And you have not done anything. You have not done either of it yet, and some of your colleagues by the way didn't say either/or, some of your colleagues advertised publicly, and you know it. They should not have done it but they did it, and that misled the people and they said :"We will abolish school taxes".

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SIMMS: " Post-secondary facilities will be expanded". You are doing that are you?


MR. SIMMS: "A Liberal government will start immediately". That is the word, "Will start immediately -


MR. SIMMS: -on the construction of a small university campus in Central Newfoundland". Are they doing that? - I ask the Minister of Education. You didn't know that was on the same page did you?

And what did they say about health care? Listen, Mr.Speaker, listen to this, listen to what they said about health care: "The health system in Newfoundland and Labrador is in turmoil". That was their very first sentence under health care. I wonder what it is in today? "Hospital beds remain closed while patients wait for months. Doctors and nurses and support staff are overworked, in many cases underpaid. Facilities and services are strained beyond their limits. This critical situation must be alleviated immediately. It is truly a matter of life and death". My what a difference two years makes. What a difference two years makes, Mr.Speaker. But here is the kicker, "Liberal health policy dictates that as long as the demand exists hospital beds must be kept open, institutions must not be understaffed and compassion must always take precedence over business administration". Now there is their quote. I'll read on, "If we cannot adequately care for the sick, the disabled, and the aged among us we have failed as a society, and we can take cold comfort in cutting costs and improving balance sheets". Now that is their own statement Mr.Speaker. Now you talk about hypocrisy!

"A Liberal government will recognize the problem which has been created and will alleviate it". Do you want me to keep on reading? Mr. Speaker, I will read their final sentence under health care. Oh I skipped several paragraphs, I can't read it all, but what I have read is in your statement. Here is the final one, " For Liberals, people come before projects".


MR. SIMMS: What a joke, Mr.Speaker. What did they say about women Mr.Speaker? - "A Liberal government will introduce and enforce pay equity legislation. Not only must men and women receive equal pay for doing the same work but jobs traditionally held by women must not be (Inaudible). That is the word they used..."and lower pay scales if they are of equal value to jobs held by men". What did they say about their dealings with the labour in their policy manual. "Newfoundland has been impeded by an unsettled labour climate". Well I would not exactly call today's labour climate settled - "which has resulted largely from the failure of the government to recognize the essential role of unions in our society". Now that was their statement Mr.Speaker. You talk about hypocrisy. That was their statement and look at the legislation they are bringing in here today. Is that recognizing the essential role of unions in our society? "The Tory government's record has been dismal. It's adversarial approach has created some of the worst moments in this province's trade union history". Now Mr.Speaker, we had our days, no question about that. But we didn't once do what this government is doing here today.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is right.

MR. SIMMS: "A Liberal government will be determined to create an atmosphere of realistic cooperation in dealing with the public service unions". Is that we are hearing out there every day? That's right is it? "The Liberal policy of fairness and balance will be the basis of negotiations" - what a laugh. " Progressive and fair legislation must be developed". I presume Mr. Speaker, this piece of legislation we are debating here tonight is meant to be fair legislation, some of the fair legislation that they talked about. " The rights of all workers must be protected but it should not be at the expense of the trade union movement and its members", and it goes on. Pious and righteous words indeed, Mr. Speaker, from a crowd that after only two years in office have decided to back off on just about every major commitment and promise they made to the people of this province.

Now Mr.Speaker, I don't have to tell you, because you are a person who follows the news and reads the news and you know what is going on out there and what people are saying and what the different groups are saying. I have oodles and oodles of quotes of what is being said by the other people who are affected by this. Not only unions but provincial associations, like the school trustees, the school boards, the Newfoundland Hospital and Nursing Home Association, and they all condemn the government essentially, is what they say in summary. Here is what the President of the Nurses Union had to say; " We are angry to be honest. The fact that the collective agreement has been broken destroys our sense of trust in the collective bargaining system, for what it's worth". She said "The agreement we signed last March was not worth the paper it's written on". That is what the President of the Nurses Union had to say, Mr. Speaker. And what did the President of Treasury Board have to say last March in this House about nurses, explaining why they gave the nurses such a large and generous offer, " With this offer we hope to slow down or stop the loss of nurses to other jurisdictions". Now that was only a year ago. Now all of a sudden they are going to roll back their wages. So, presumably you are expecting the nurses to leave the Province in droves, because that was the reason you gave them a big increase in the first place.

Mr.Speaker, I want to conclude by specifically saying what we would like to see the government do. We would like to see them put a hold on this wage rollback and on further layoffs in the public service if that is possible. We would like them to make an honest effort, call in the public service sector unions, lay down some strategy and have and hold some intensive talks with those groups to see if there isn't some way that you could develop a plan to try to avert any further of these drastic actions, to save jobs, to save essential services and from the government's perspective, to save money. That's one thing I'd like to see them do, and I might say, Mr.Speaker, from my limited experience in dealing with the public sector unions in this Province, I have confidence that these groups, if asked seriously and formally, could deliver reasonable alternatives in order to help the government. I honestly and truly believe that and it is not too late to do it. That's number one. Number two, we also would like to ask and have asked the government to, number one was to hold off on the wage freeze and any further layoffs and call in the public sector service unions or public service sector unions and sit down in an honest, straightforward way, lay down some strategy for some intensive talks over the next two or three weeks, during the Easter break or whenever, aimed at developing a plan to avert many of these drastic actions that have taken place or are taking place, to save jobs, to save essential services and maybe save the government money. Make an honest effort at it and I have added that I have confidence from my limited experience, that if you did that and approached them in that kind of way , that they could put forth some alternatives that might be able to help the government, and it is not too late, Mr.Speaker, to do it.

And secondly, we ask the government, we want to ask them to consider it again, to refer the legislation to the Supreme Court for a ruling on its constitutional validity before proceeding and I won't go into the details, because it is outlined in a letter that my colleague the Justice critic, the Member for Humber East, wrote to the Premier last Friday. And in an attempt to help the government take the time to do that we have moved the six month hoist amendment. If the government sits down with the unions over the next two or three or four weeks and they work out some kind of an alternative plan, then the House will still be in session. If you do not finish it until June and the House is closed then you can call the House back in session if you need to. I mean the point is I think it is fair to say there are alternatives and they were not thoroughly explored and that is the point we are trying to make.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to leave no doubt for the government and the Government House Leader as to our position on this legislation. We oppose the legislation. We will debate the legislation. We will introduce amendments to the legislation and we will do all in our power, Mr. Speaker, in answer to the Minister of Social Services, to try to restore some trust in our Legislature. That is why we are going to do all those things Mr. Speaker.


MR. SIMMS: That is why we are going to do it, try to restore some trust in the Legislature and in the government. So we will be continuing that Mr. Speaker. We will be continuing that and we hope that the government has seriously considered what effects all these measures they have taken in their budgetary approach have had on the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. The costly side effects; the anxieties, the stress, the uncertainty, the climate of fear that exists in some places, lower productivity in the public service, the upheaval on families, and on and on it goes. I do hope that the government, if they haven't given that serious consideration are prepared to reconsider it and that's the point that we make.

The fundamental challenge Mr. Speaker, to democratic rights seen in this bill is unprecedented. It is certainly unprecedented in this Legislature and this province. Mr. Speaker, as I said at the outset, the opening of my remarks, the members of the Official Opposition are opposed to the principle of the bill. We are opposed to the principle of the bill and as members of the Legislature we are offended that the government has chosen to use the House of the people to break contracts, and to dishonour the trust of the people in their government and in this Legislature. As Legislators on this side of the House Mr. Speaker, we are embarrassed that at the end of the day there will be a law that will live forever and dishonour this legislative body for generations to come. We stand opposed to the bill and to all that it represents and the government that has introduced this bill Mr. Speaker, will have to force its will on this Legislature just as it will in this bill, force its will on public service employees and on the people of the province, and we cannot let that happen.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader on a point of order.

MR. SIMMS: I understood from a conversation with the Government House Leader earlier that because of the situation with the hockey game and the shortage of numbers he was going to put some Members up to speak and debate the bill? Usually a debate is one for one.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SIMMS: Are you going to get up now then so we can hear your response? It is not like Committee you know.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. POWER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Obviously, there are Leaders one, two, and three over here and very little leadership over there. You have fifteen Ministers over there and not one can get up and pass a defence after listening to all the comments of the Opposition House Leader. All we get is a little chirping now and then from the Minister of Social Services, and the little Sprung pamphlet he throws out, but we do not get the real answers and we do not get any leadership, and unfortunately in this Province it is beginning to show true. The only leadership we have had from this Government so far was to help destroy the country. We have not had it in any other direction.

Mr. Speaker, I want to make a few comments about this bill and the Ministers opposite can sit and listen in silence if they like. I did not interrupt and I very rarely interrupt in this House. I am going to make a few comments and I would prefer if all the Ministers would sit down and listen, because it seems that the only weapon that this Opposition, or this Province has, is the repetition. If we repeat it often enough then maybe it will sink into some of their thick heads that there are some real problems in this Province. The Minister of Health does not yet know there is a health problem. The Minister of Education does not yet know there is an education problem. The Minister of Social Services does not yet know what an increased Budget you are going to have in Social Services because of what you are doing as a Government.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

In debate we allow a fair amount of levity in terms of people sallying back and forth, but the hon. Member did say he did not want any interruptions, and when an hon. Member says that then all hon. Members should do that Member the courtesy and acquiesce.

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. POWER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It really does not bother me all that much, I suppose, from time to time, because what they say is a whistling past the graveyard kind of defence that this Minister and this Government has. They do things to the people of this Province and they simply ignore it. The Minister of Health cuts back 438 hospital beds, 1000 people, tells everybody we have a better system, and thinks we are stupid enough to believe it. The Minister of Education cuts the guts out of the Budget of Education dooming another generation of Newfoundlanders to inadequate education and we are suppose to say we have a better system and suppose to believe it. So, Mr. Speaker, if they want to chirp away over there they can go right to it and I really could not care less. I know what is going to happen on this bill, the same as happens with all Government bills, they get passed. Somewhere in the next month, the next week, or the next day this bill, which will become the infamous Bill 16, is going to be passed in this Legislature. It is going to be passed, this Act respecting restraint of compensation. It sounds so wonderful, this gobbledygook, restraint of compensation, as if Newfoundlanders do not understand what restraint is and do not understand the word compensation. We know what you are doing. The workers know what you are doing. There is not a person in the hospital system, there is not a person in the public service, who does not really understand what restraint of compensation means. It means you are talking away the money that they need to buy groceries, to pay the light bill, and to educate their young children. That is what restraint of compensation means. It means that in this Budget document and this wonderful piece of legislation that supports the Budget there are going to be a group of Newfoundlanders who are unduly, unfairly penalized because they happen to be part of the public service of this Province. This Premier who talks about fairness and balance knows very little about it. He spends more time defending native rights in Quebec than he spends here. Where was the Premier today when the people from Placentia Bay were looking for someone to talk about health care in Branch, on the Cape Shore, and in Placentia? Where was our Premier then? He was stuck to his seat, but if they were out in the lobby calling out, Meech, Meech, then our Premier would be out there saying how we have to defend the rights of the people in Quebec.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. POWER: It is time for 'our' Premier to become 'our' Premier in Newfoundland and run this Province and stop gallivanting around the country to try and save a country which is doing more harm than good. As I say, if we say it often enough then maybe somebody on the other side will tell the Premier there are real problems in Newfoundland. There are real problems in health care, and there are real problems in the public service. My point on this, on the Budget part of it, and I will say, Mr. Speaker, it is because it is unfair. Fairness and balance: well, I tell you there is nothing fair, and nothing balanced about this Bill 16. This document is going to prove to be, in the light of day when this Minister starts to have a serious look at it, to say, what did we do to our loyal servants, our public servants, our hospital support staff? What did we do as an employer to our own employees?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. POWER: Mr. Speaker, I know what I am talking about, and somewhere down the road when that Minister has the guts to say what he really believes and really feels, he will say the same thing, but he is not allowed to say it now. He is not the same gutsy fellow who was in Opposition. He is now a very quiet, mealy-mouthed, Minister of Social Services following along the Minister of Finance telling him how to run this Province. Your compassion and your concern is gone and now it is all - yes sir, no sir. But I tell you this Minister of Social Services will have something on his hands in eighteen months in Newfoundland when the effects of Bill 16 and your Budget really starts to show through, and when the effects of your next Budget start to show through, because the next Budget may be just as bad.

Mr. Speaker, there is no fairness and balance in the Budget, and there is no fairness and balance in this document. Let us assume that the Minister of Social Services and some of his colleagues are right. Let us assume we have this tremendous deficit problem that we have to solve. Assume everything you have said and the Minister of Finance has said is true and we have this terrible problem in Newfoundland that we have to deal with. Assuming that all that was absolutely true, then why is not everybody in Newfoundland obligated to pay their share? Why have we in Newfoundland decided, with this Government, to put all of the expense, all of the pain, on the backs of a very small number of people? The Minister of Social Services does not understand how that happened. I will tell you how it happened. The Budget is being balanced to the degree of a $54 million deficit by a wage rollback and a wage freeze. A wage rollback is what it is, and also by having at least 2500 positions in the public service in Newfoundland become vacant. Some are not being filled, some 3500, if you can get the truth which is hard to get, but let us say it is 2500 or 3500 people. They are the people who are being forced to pay for a broad, broad Newfoundland based problem. Why are not the lawyers, the executives, the business people, and the professionals not paying their fair share this year of this Newfoundland problem which is so all encompassing? Why have you decided to pick on the backs of the workforce of the public service in Newfoundland and Labrador? It is not fair, it is not balanced, and if you are really going to solve Newfoundland's problems let us give a little bit of pain to everybody. Let us make sure the lawyer down on Duckwork Street who is making $300,000 a year pays his fair sure. Let us make sure the business people, the very wealthy of this Province and the most affluent, let us make sure they pay their share, to solve this national provincial problem we have. No, Sir, not this Government. This Government is this wonderful defender of whom? Of the strong, the rich, and the educated. They are not the defenders of the weak, the sick, the poor, and the uneducated. The parts of the Budget that got chopped to death were all the parts affecting the poor people of Newfoundland and Labrador. That is what this Government has done, this fairness and balance, and this Premier wants to go out and preach fairness and balance to the rest of Canada. I say to this Premier that it is time for him to get back in this Province and listen to people and see what they are saying. Go out today and talk to the people from St. Mary's - The Capes and the Placentia area. They are not going to shoot the Premier. With all of the wonderful security in this wonderful new building we have not had very many assassinations in Newfoundland, or attempted ones. Nobody from St. Mary's - The Capes or from Placentia was going to do anything to the Premier except to try and convince him that there is a serious health care problem in their area.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. POWER: Well, I suspect that in this Province there is going to be violence in the next while when the Premier challenges all of the public sector unions in this Province to war. Go to war if you want to. We as a Government have to do what we have to do. When the Premier sees sick people becoming more sick, and very likely sees people dying in this Province because they do not have adequate health care, yes, there are going to be members of a lot of families in Newfoundland who are going to be very, very alarmed and very upset, and then maybe we are going to need all this security here. Is that what this Government is supposed to do, to take our supposedly happy Province and make it into a violent Province? To make it into a Province where the people do not have the basic necessities of life, where they cannot get a job, where their children are not educated properly, and where you cannot even get decent health care? The Minister of Forestry and Agriculture keeps saying that it is not going to happen, that is not real. Somehow or other this Government in the year and a half, or the twenty months they have been there, have lost touch with the real people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Where are your workers, your Liberal Party, your poll captains, they must be talking to you, they must be telling some of you there is a problem? Do you not talk to any of your workers, or any of your supporters anymore? Are you only talking to the ones who say, you are doing a great job, keep it up, the public service was too large anyway. We have too many nurses around the hospitals not doing anything and we can easily lay off a thousand or so. We will do without them because they were all lazy.

Now if that is what your workers are telling you they are telling you lies, they are not telling you the truth. Somebody had better sit down and have a serious look at some of the problems before it goes on.

But again, Mr. Speaker, as I said, all we have to try and impress the Government is the power of repetition. Now I do not want the Member for Grand Falls to take (Inaudible) all of the good points of the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, because I know he is going to be very active in this debate defending his Government's actions on Bill 16. I know he will do that because he knows that in Forestry - there were too many workers in Forestry before. He knows we were doing too much with agriculture before and he wants to lay off some of his staff. I know he wants to do that! I know he believes that. Because that is what he has to do.

But again I make the point that if we have a Provincial problem, if we have a major health care problem in this Province, a major deficit problem, then everybody in Newfoundland should be forced to pay their share of the costs. And what this Government has done, and I will repeat it again, is piggyback on the backs of their own employees only, only. The employee at Sobey's does not have to pay more. The lawyers I have mentioned do not have to pay more. The business people do not have to pay more. The only people this year who have to pay the brunt of this big Provincial problem is the health care and the public service workers of Newfoundland and Labrador.

That is very unfair, it is very unbalanced, and somebody should talk to the Premier and say: next year - because this is the other problem - that next year you are going to have exactly the same budgetary concerns. Who are you going to solve the problem on next year? Who is going to pay the bill next year? Are you going to lay off another 1,000 or 2,000 employees? Are you going to roll back wages again? That is the concern that I and lots of people in Newfoundland have, and unfortunately we cannot seem to get the message across to Members opposite. But anybody who wants to take this wonderful Budget highlight documents and look at it, you will see a Budget document that is very difficult on the poor people of Newfoundland and not on the rich people of Newfoundland.

It is time for this Premier - I am glad to see him coming in - and his Cabinet to start spreading around the blame and pain in Newfoundland because there is lots of it there and it is not just on the backs of his workers that those bills should be paid. I say to the Premier, give up worrying about Meech and constitutional concerns and go out and talk to the people from Placentia, an area which has concerns. Because they are the people of this Province who are speaking the truth, the real concerns, and nobody seems to want to listen on the other side.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. POWER: Scoff, sure, scoff. Well, as I said earlier and the Premier was not here, if they were out in the lobby singing out "Meech! Meech! Meech!" the Premier would be out there. When they are out singing out "We want Clyde to discuss health care," the Premier stays in his seat. That is not what a Premier of Newfoundland is supposed to be doing, and it is not what a government is supposed to be doing. And it is time that it was changed.

When it comes to Bill 16, which is going to be - as the Premier says, he does not mind having war with the public sector unions of the Province if war it has to be, if that is what is necessary. I say war is unnecessary. There is a way to deal with our public service unions. By treating them fairly and decently.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. POWER: Yes, prepare for war. When it comes to this Bill -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. POWER: Well, hardly, it is not true if it was - I suppose he was misquoted again. But when Bill 16 goes out to the public workers of this Province and the public workers and their unions say: we are going to have war, I do not see anybody on the opposite side making any kind of gestures to placate the workers, to explain the situation to them, to do anything other than to say: okay, if you want war we will give you war.

But I tell you, a lot of the Members and Ministers opposite who can smirk and grin tonight and think that this is not a serious issue will find that it is a very serious issue, the same as when the Minister of Health gets up and says: we have a better health care system. And the Minister of Labour will get up and say someday after this over: we have better labour relations. But better labour relations is not one-sided, it is not lopsided, it is not signing agreements and then afterwards retracting. And there is the big problem with this whole process. That is, where is public sector bargaining and negotiating going in this Province?

Are we back to the days before we had unions that could represent people? Are our unions going to function any more? Can they do what they were elected and supposedly able to do? Can the unions, the representatives of NAPE and CUPE and the other unions in this Province, now, in dealing with this employer - I am sure they can deal with some employers - called Government, can they ever be able to say: that we can trust that employer to negotiate in good faith? And the reality is that most of the people involved in the union movement in Newfoundland will say that negotiating with this group is absolutely impossible.

Mr. Speaker, where are negotiations going to go next year if we have the same budgetary problems? I mean all Members Opposite are more than happy to say we cannot solve all Newfoundland's problems in one year, we cannot solve the deficit. Well that means we have to have more tough Budgets, but some of the budgetary problems are their own. When I look at some of the health care spending and I see that in one year, the first year you were in Government you spent 7.2 per cent on health, the second year you spent 11.3 per cent on health and hired people and opened beds, and the third year you spent 6.3 per cent on health. That is bad management, that is not understanding, not listening to your officials who said there is going to be a deficit problem in 1991 and 1992. We saw the figures when we were in Government in 1988, so the Ministers opposite must have seen them, totally ignored them in 1990 and now have a panic situation on their hands in 1991, and I begin to wonder if there will not be a panic situation next year as well.

Mr. Speaker, this bill 16 poses serious doubts as to how you can do collective bargaining with this Government, and if there is not going to be collective bargaining, then what have the employees of Government to look forward to? If they cannot have their unions represent them properly, to look for things on their behalf, to seek wage settlements, to seek other things that are part of a collective agreement, what is going to happen to negotiating in our Province? I say, Mr. Speaker, that one of the things that is going to happen is that there likely will be war in this Province between our unions and our employer, but I do not think anybody opposite really cares. I suspect if anything that Members opposite would like to force a war, they would like to force a strike, they would like to force people out on the streets because then they can save some money and try to solve this deficit problem. But again if that is part of their negotiating stance - the Premier shakes his head and says no - but when it happens the Premier can shake his head and say, 'well it should not have happened. It is not my fault. I did what was right.' I know what the Premier will say. I listen to his Ministers say the same thing; always saying what is right, but always doing some things that are very wrong. This Bill 16 is very wrong. It is a wrong approach. You are piggybacking the poor people of this Province, your own employees, to solve all our problems. I suppose if somebody says it often enough somebody might listen.

In Bill 16 there are a lot of parts, Mr. Speaker, that I find very distasteful, and the workers find very distasteful besides the fact that we may have the same problem again next year. The fact we do not have collective agreement, and one of the other problems, the biggest problem with this is how can you run a province, how can you have collective agreement when nobody believes you? - when one side of the coin says what you are saying I cannot accept. How can anybody in this Province sign an agreement with the Premier and his Cabinet Ministers and expect it to be true? I think the last one you signed was six days before your Budget. The Budget documents were probably being printed at the time, and you are signing a collective agreement with one part of your Public Service Unions and at the same time knowing at the backs of your mind that you had to renege on it and you had to bring in legislation to change it. How do you have any faith in that bargaining process? What happens to the part at the time where a handshake meant something, where someone would say, 'here is what I agree to do', and you could shake hands on it in Newfoundland. It was a common way of doing business not so long ago, and now it seems that doing business with this Government, not only is the handshake not believed, but when you put it in writing and you sign documents it is not believed. So I just wonder where this Government is going because we saw that last year in the Meech Lake thing when we saw the Premier's signature on another piece of paper that said there was going to be a vote in the legislature of this Province, but it never happened. Maybe that is why the Premier is not invited up to his Maritime Premier's meeting, because they do not trust him. The do not want him there. And maybe they do not trust him because he does not believe that when he signs his word it means something.

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of other comments to make about this document itself and there are many parts of it, as I say, which are very unfair. In speaking to the amendment moved by the Opposition House Leader, which I fully support, this document should not be done for six months. There should be an amendment whereby time is allowed, a six month hoist to allow the people of this Province a chance to have some real input, not the dictatorial approach that it is now. We will pass the legislation; we will pass it when we are ready, and more or less all of you union fellows can do what you like, these are the rules of this Province.

So I say, Mr. Speaker, when you look at some of the clauses, Clause 8 starts off with notwithstanding. I think somebody must have copied some of the Meech Lake words from this. When the compensation increases - things deliberately done to make sure that some of our Newfoundland workers will never again be able to get parity with our provincial counterparts in other provinces. Ministers opposite I am sure do not realize that it is there, but it is, that you could never get a wage increase now if it seemed to be catch-up because of this freeze. Now what happens to our police force? What happens to some other workers in this Province when they say we want to be on parity - this wonderful word parity - with other provinces who are going to get normal increases this year and next year. We will never be able to catch-up because it will be perceived to be catch-up because of this wage freeze. When you look at the pay equity situation - the Cabinet decides it - Cabinet has full control over it. Members of the back bench will never see it, but then I suspect Members of the back bench do not see an awful lot, if I can understand from the situation in Placentia where a hospital could be substantially changed in its role and the Member not even know. That is consultation? If that is the democratic process that they are using with the unions, Mr. Speaker, it is not going to work in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, I listened earlier to the Member for Grand Falls, saying there are lots of other things you can do. When you look at the Budget Estimates of this Province, you will see there are lots of things that this Government could have done to try to solve their budgetary problems, but they did not do them. You will see, in all the Ministers' departments, that their own travel, their own entertainment accounts, are all up, not one cutback, not one reduced, not one even stayed the same. I think one Minister's department out of the fifteen did not get a significant increase - and it was not, I do not believe, the Minister of Social Services - a significant increase in the small amount of money that each Minister controls in his office -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. POWER: I am not talking about your department.

- the small amount of money that a Minister controls, from which he buys his few souvenirs, with which he hires his own personal staff, his travel money; and if you go through the Budget, all of the Ministers got a significant increase, no rollbacks, no wage freezes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. POWER: Go have a look. You have not looked, you have not examined your own Budget. You have not found any imaginative ways to save money. The simple and easiest way was to find a couple of biggest salary votes and say, If we are going to save money, let us cut back the public service, let us cut back health care, let us cut back education, and see what happens.

I had a quotation that I wrote down from a person who sent me a letter about educational cutbacks in this Province and what this crowd are doing. I will just read what he said, `Governments protest that we are mortgaging our children's future through spending on education. In truth, a failure to spend is condemning another generation of young Newfoundlanders to dead-end resource based and service sector employment. The true cost of a failure to properly educate can only be gauged by the social welfare system which will be needed" - from one of the councils in my area. The real cost of this Budget, the real cost of this kind of labour negotiation, is that we, in this Province, are going to have a system whereby there is not going to be fairness and balance. There are going to be target groups from time to time, who are going to be labelled, who have to pay an extra price to be members of the Newfoundland and Labrador establishment.

I think there is a double standard in many ways, a double standard when the Premier speaks openly about Meech Lake, but will not talk to 1,000 Newfoundlanders who come to talk about health care. There is definitely not fairness and balance in rural Newfoundland. When you look at what is happening in Newfoundland to MUN Extension and to the hospital care system, rural Newfoundland is not being treated fairly and is not going to be treated fairly by this Premier. But when he is attacked on it, when he is asked questions on it, what does he do? He accuses and misquotes the Federal Minister for International Trade and says, Mr. Crosbie is trying to close up rural Newfoundland. Sometime quotations are not always used accurately, that was not accurate. I have listened to Mr. Crosbie a lot more than the Premier has over the last fifteen years and I can guarantee you that Mr. Crosbie never showed any bias in favour of urban Newfoundland, certainly not like this Government is presently doing with its health care cuts and education cuts. It is time for the Premier to realize that, but of course, he not going to listen, probably, until it is too late, and then somebody else will deal with the problem, I suspect.

I say, Mr. Speaker, in concluding my few remarks on Bill 16 and the amendment to it, that I fully support the amendment. I am fully against the Bill, itself. I think it is terribly unfair, it is inept, it shows a total lack of imagination and concern by this Government on behalf of the workers of this Province. I can only say that, hopefully, if we repeat it often enough, if the Premier gets the war that he seems not to worry so much about, then maybe somewhere along the way it will sink into their minds that there are some very, very serious problems in Newfoundland in health care and in education as it relates to Bill 16. We will all get a few other opportunities to speak about the other part.

Another comment I would like to make is on the point that there is a belief in Newfoundland, in a large circle of well-to-do people who have very successful businesses, that one of the major problems in this Province is the fact that we have too many unions. We are the most unionized province in Canada. Our unions have too much control, too much power. A lot of people, I suspect, who have the ear of the Premier, believe that, who have the ear of Cabinet Ministers, believe that. And I begin to think a fair number of our Cabinet believe that we have too many unions in this Province, that they have too much power and that it is time to take the unions on. A lot of people will say it; a lot of employers will say, if you are going to solve Newfoundland's problems you had better take the unions on, you had better do something with them.

I can see that what the Premier has done in Bill 16 is the first step in taking the union on in this Province. I just hope the unions take a stand and do what they are supposed to do, which is represent their membership as fully and completely as they possibly can; because the Minster of Finance says this Budget is for this year and next year's might be just as bad. Next year, there will be no new silver lining, we are going to find, there are no new sources of money. We are still going to have the same escalation of health care and education costs and this Government, next year, is going to try to solve next year's budgetary problem on the unions and the working class of this Province. I can only hope that if enough members in the Opposition, and enough people in the public say it, then maybe somebody across the House will listen and change their minds.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to take a few minutes to deal with some of the points that have been made, first of all, on the comments made by the Opposition House Leader. I have jotted these down, Mr. Speaker, so excuse me if I read them. The Opposition House Leader indicated that unions were told of our financial situation only in a casual manner. Now, Mr. Speaker, I have to say that everybody in the Province, last September - even at the end of August - September and October, heard about our financial difficulties. They knew the exact level of our financial difficulty. They knew this was a problem, and to suggest that somehow, we are playing some kind of game and that we just mentioned it as an offhand comment, in a casual manner, is not worthy of the gentleman. He complains, saying we were much more stern to Government managers and that is why they have responded. Now, obviously, Mr. Speaker, when we ask Government managers to do something, they do it, and you cannot speak the same way to the labour movement, to the public service unions. You cannot call them in and order them to do anything. We would not presume to do that. We did talk to them and explain the extent of our financial problem and the fact that this would mean tremendous cuts in service in the Province. We explained all this to them, but we did not order them. The Opposition House Leader seems to be disturbed because we did not call the unions in and order them to do something. Now, Mr. Speaker, it is sort of a ludicrous suggestion and, as I indicated, hardly worthy of the gentleman.

He indicated that the present bill precluded all adjudication, arbitration, and this kind of thing, which is simply not true, Mr. Speaker, and I suggest he read that section again. It does not rule out arbitration, conciliation, or any kind of adjudication.

He suggests that Government knew, years ago, about the problem. Now, Mr. Speaker, when I originally introduced the piece of legislation, I talked about `dreaming', and `I wish'. That is the heights of dreaming.

PREMIER WELLS: Government knew years ago - the former Government.

MR. BAKER: Yes. He says he knows of documentation that existed that told Government, years ago, that this problem would exist.

PREMIER WELLS: Why did he not ask?

MR. BAKER: Now, Mr. Speaker, I have a number of comments about that. First of all, why did he not do something about it? Secondly, if he knows of prognosticators who, with accuracy, can determine when a recession is going to start and when RST revenues are going to drop, I suggest these are very valuable people and could be used anywhere in the world. Mr. Speaker, it is absolutely silly, obviously, that they knew years ago about this problem. It is the heights of silliness. And, then, he tries to indicate that there is some other dark, black motive to what we have done. He asks: `Was this decision made, not from lack of funds' - he does not believe; he still believes we are playing games, that there is no financial problem - `Was this decision made, not from lack of funds, but from some other dark motive?'

Now, Mr. Speaker, I am mentioning this because I do not quite know how to respond to it. It is the kind of nebulous charge that is thrown out, where a speaker can get up and say whatever comes to his mind, with no regard for the truth, no regard for reality, and make charges that mean nothing. Mr. Speaker, it is very difficult to respond to that kind of thing. He has asked me to respond, but I cannot really go beyond that in my response.

He had some suggestions. His first suggestion was, why did we not do it in the previous two years? He is making an assumption there, Mr. Speaker, a number of assumptions, that are totally wrong. One is that we do these things from choice, that we sit around, somehow plotting and trying to find some method of doing some evil to the public service of the Province. He assumes that is our motive. Why did we not do it two years before? I thought we explained adequately that we are doing this, not from choice, but from necessity. We have not been sitting around for two years plotting this, we have not been lax in terms of what we are doing. If we had known two years ago, we could have planned for it, but we could not estimate the recession.

I would also like to point out to him that there are other provinces in this country that found themselves in exactly the same position as we are.

PREMIER WELLS: Ontario, $3.5 billion.

MR. BAKER: - Ontario, $3.5 billion, this year.

PREMIER WELLS: That is $3.5 billion in the current fiscal year.

MR. BAKER: That is in the current fiscal year, $3.5 billion out. Other provinces found themselves in exactly the same situation. All of these other provinces are also totally incompetent, I suppose, according to the definition of the Leader of the Opposition; everybody is incompetent, except him; everybody in Canada should have known a recession was coming; everybody in Canada should have known exactly what is happening; everybody in Canada should have known about decisions the Federal Government was going to make. That is silly!

Another of his suggestions was, Why did not the Government call in unions, well in advance, and discuss job sharing, attrition, unpaid leave, early retirement, and so on? Well, Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, when the transcript comes out, he should read the transcript of what I said earlier and he will understand the situation.

Why not cut all travel, purchased services and everything else? Well, Mr. Speaker, we have done a lot of cuts in terms of the transportation of Government. I will get a summary sheet done up for the hon. member and I will refer to it and read from it in the House as to the cuts we have done in those areas, starting two years ago; that is one thing, we started to cut two years ago.

He wants us not to host the Royal Visit this year, or the Governor General.

PREMIER WELLS: (Inaudible) requested the 75th Anniversary of Beaumont Hamel and the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

MR. BAKER: All of that, we were not supposed to do. We are not supposed to do the renovations to Exon House, which is going to save us a lot of money in terms of rental space. We are not supposed to complete the animal care house or do the animal care house at MUN, and allow MUN's accreditation to be taken away from them. We will allow that to happen to MUN. It is something we have planned for a couple of years because of the seriousness of the fact they need an animal care facility and that their accreditation was in danger. It is a simple as that. So, we allow MUN to disappear, to lose its accreditation.

Another of his great schemes, Mr. Speaker, is to sell Holiday Inn. Now, that is going to do an awful lot for our current account expenditures over the next number of years. He knows where we can get $20 million, he says, for Holiday Inn. We will sell Holiday Inn and through a combination of these measures we are going to solve our problems.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I say to you, some of these suggestions have merit. We have done some of these things. But, if you add them all together, I ask the hon. gentleman, Where is he going to get the other $200 million? We were faced with about a $215 million problem after the federal budget. Where does the other $200 million come from? Mr. Speaker, it is all funny money, I suppose.

Another suggestion that is really interesting, coming from a former President of Treasury Board: The surplus in 1989 was $70 million on current account. Why can we not take that money and use it?

Well, Mr. Speaker, I point out that the $70 million surplus on current account in 1989 was not money, cash, that we had in our hands. It meant that instead of borrowing - and I will take a figure off the top of my head - $450 million, we now went out and borrowed $380 million. So, it was a reduction in the borrowing. We had to borrow a certain amount of money to replace issues coming due because we could not afford to pay them off. All we could do was pay the interest. We had to borrow a certain amount of money in the vicinity of $250 million to carry on capital works. We had to do these borrowings. When you see a surplus in current account, Government does not have a surplus, cash lying around that we can stuff in our pockets somehow, that is not the situation. The $70 million - it so happened that our expenditures were down that year, revenue was up quite a bit, and therefore, we did not borrow quite as much money as we had planned. It did not make a big difference to the amount of money we borrowed. That is not money we had in the bank that we can now, the year after, use in some other way, it is not money sitting around in the bank, Mr. Speaker. It is interesting the kind of economics the former Treasury Board President was involved with.

He has two what he calls serious suggestions, and he gives these as reasons for bringing in his motion for the six month hoist. He suggests, first of all, that we hold off on wage freeze and layoffs, not do it, and call in the unions to lay down strategy aimed at developing a plan to avert job losses and to save money.

Mr. Speaker, I have to go back to something I said earlier. Somehow, the impression is there that we are playing a game, that we do not really have a serious financial problem, this year, that we are not at the point where we have to be extremely careful that our credit rating does not drop, that somehow, this indication of a $200 and some-odd million deficit we had to deal with was all a game, we are making it up, somehow, and that, all of a sudden, now, we can postpone things and go on into the next fiscal year and not do anything - and this is what I referred to earlier, the Opposition's solution `don't do anything, let it alone' - without plans in place to solve our problem. We do not have that luxury.

If the problem were not so serious, if we had a problem that was easily handled, we would do it. This is why we indicated to everybody in October what our situation was. Then we had a few months. Then we had time. Now we have no time because we have no money to spend come April 1st. We cannot overspend in the next fiscal year. We cannot go on into the next fiscal year the way we have been going for the last twenty years. We cannot do it. We do not have the luxury of that choice. We did in October. We wanted input, we wanted suggestions, but ultimately we had to make the decisions. We cannot turn over the decision making to somebody else. We have to make the decisions. But we wanted the suggestions and the basis on which to make our decisions. We put together all the suggestions we had and came up with our Budget, Mr. Speaker. We cannot go back and redo that. We cannot go back now and stop what we are doing and hope that sometime, months down the road, a solution will magically present itself. There is no magic solution.

Then his second suggestion, and reason why he brought in the hoist motion, was that he wants us to refer legislation to the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the legislation. Now, Mr. Speaker, again the same comments hold. We have to do something now. It does not mean six months down the road, it does not mean a year down the road, we have to do something now. We cannot hide. Members of the Opposition can hide if they want to, they have no responsibility for this. They can hide. They can allow it to wash over them like a wave. They can be quite smug in their comments. But we cannot wait, it has to be done now. We cannot do something as silly as that. We would end up bankrupting the Province. We would end up in such a financial mess that we would never get out of it. We would end up in the situation where we would have to lay off 10,000 people. We would end up in one heck of a mess. Action had to be taken, it had to be taken now, and, Mr. Speaker, we are quite prepared to take that action and we are confident that it is the only action that can be taken to save the financial health of this Province.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise in this debate to participate in what I believe will go down in history as a second black mark on this Legislature, when it comes to labour legislation across this country. The first one was also introduced by a Liberal Government in this Province, the Government of former Premier Smallwood, and it had to do with the legal decertification of a union which was democratically selected by the workers in the forest industry in Newfoundland.

That legislation has been commented on by historians, by labour writers, by working people all across this country, as legislation of which this Government, this Legislature, all the people of Newfoundland, should be ashamed of. They should be ashamed of that legislation because it took away the rights of working people to join together in their own organizations and their own unions to bargain collectively and to negotiate contracts with employers, and, if unsuccessful, to use economic means to seek the contracts that they are fighting for.

So we are now again debating legislation which, if passed, will also, I am convinced, be regarded by historians of the future and regarded by working people all across this country, as a travesty, as a backward step, as a taking away of rights, hard won, fought for, paid for and deserved by the working people of this Province.

I want to talk for a moment about what this legislation is all about. This legislation is not about budgets and it is not about finding money and public debt. This legislation is about breaking contracts. Now, what is a contract? A contract, in very simple language, perhaps, for the hon. members opposite, is a solemn and binding agreement. Now, we heard the Premier a few weeks ago talk about contracts and how important it was that contracts must be followed. In fact, I believe it was in the context of discussing this very House, and the reason why the accommodations for Members of the House of Assembly could not be provided for, could not be accommodated properly, was because there was a contract in place. It was a contract which provided for penalty clauses if the Government changed its mind or slowed it down. So the Premier, in his sanctimonious way, said, `We have a contract. We have to honour and abide by this contract.' I do not know who it was with. It was obviously with some business organization or business enterprise. That contract was sacred. He was not going to change that contract. He was not going to affect that contract. He was prepared to spend the peoples' money, waste it, doing something improperly, doing something in such a way that was inadequate. He was prepared to do that, and the Government was prepared to do that, despite the fact that it had the power to change that contract.

So I want the people of Newfoundland to ask themselves the question, `Why is the Government of this Province picking on certain kinds of contracts and not others? Why is the Government of Newfoundland saying that these contracts, these collective agreements, are something that we can just, willy-nilly, do away with?' If they broke a contract with a business contractor or a construction employer, if they had a contract with Mr. Tom Hickman or Marco or somebody and they broke that contract, the business people of Newfoundland would be up in arms: `But we had a contract with the government! What is the Government doing, going around breaking our contracts? How can we do business with the Government if the Government is prepared to tear up these contracts?'

Well, Mr. Speaker, what the Government has done here is said, `We will sign these contracts with the working people of Newfoundland, with their own employees and then break them up.' Now, this is not something that is just a minor piece of paper, to sign a contract one day and break it the next. Let me read you from an agreement signed by the President of Treasury Board on March 1st. Let me read to you from this agreement, signed by the president of Treasury Board, on behalf of the Government of Newfoundland, on March 1st., six days before this budget came down.

The purpose of the agreement, and this is very interesting, I am glad the Members are listening over on the other side, even the Member for Pleasantville is paying attention. It is the purpose of both parties to this agreement, one to improve relations between the employer and the union and provide settled and just conditions of employment and that is their purpose, to provide just conditions of employment. They did not sign this because they thought they would give a raise because they had lots of money and they did not give away the shop, Mr. Speaker. They negotiated these things, they fought long and hard, both sides negotiated and they eventually reached an agreement and both parties including the Government of Newfoundland recognized they were just conditions of employment. But also agreed, Mr. Speaker, and one of the purposes was to recognize the mutual value of joint discussions and negotiations in all matters pertaining to working conditions, employment et cetera, also to encourage efficiency and operations, and number four, this one turns out to be a bit of a joke, to promote the morale, well-being and security of all employees in the bargaining unit of the union.

Now, this was signed on the 1st of March, Mr. Speaker, by the President of Treasury Board on behalf of this Government. They signed an agreement the purpose of which is stated in black and white is to promote the morale, well-being and security of all employees in the bargaining unit of the union. Now, what kind of security do these employees have in signing an agreement of this nature, a solemn and binding agreement with this Government after that kind of action by this Government in introducing this legislation? What kind of morale do they have, Mr. Speaker? Do they have the morale of a group of employees who know they are dealing with a fair, honest and forthright government? - no, they say they are fair, they say they are honest, they say they are forthright, but what do they do? You judge them, Mr. Speaker, not by the well termed phrase, not by the cliché, not by the profound statements coming from the Premier, but you judge them by their actions, by their deeds you shall know them. Mr. Speaker, the people of Newfoundland are coming to know this Government day by day by its actions.

This is an agreement which also says, Mr. Speaker, as an article on human rights that the employer agrees there shall be no discrimination exercised or practice with respect to any employee in the manner of hiring, assigning wage rate, training, upgrading, promotion, et cetera by reason of age, race, creed, colour, ancestry, national origin, religion, political affiliation or activities, sexual orientation, sex, marital or parental status.

Mr. Speaker, at least most of these are contained, not all of them, but most of them in the Human Rights Code. Mr. Speaker, the parties agreed there would be no discrimination on the basis of sex. Attached to the agreement is the pay equity agreement, in which both parties again say that purpose. The purpose is to achieve pay equity by redressing systemic gender discrimination and compensation for work performed by employees in female dominated classes within the bargaining units. Now, these again, Mr. Speaker, are words, phrases, solemn binding agreements between employers and employees which are designed to promote justice, just and settle wage conditions. That is why these unions fought for this agreement, that is why these employees fought, negotiated, and in some cases struck and in some cases were forced into a binding arbitration situation by this Government, but it was fair bargaining, Mr. Speaker, and they resulted in this agreement, which recognizes that the cause of these employees and the unions was just and that the goals they were seeking were what they deserved and were fair. So what this Government has decided to do, six days after signing this agreement they decided to rip it up. Did they know on March 1 that they had a Budget problem? Did they know that they needed money from somewhere?

Obviously they did. But the Premier and the Members of the Cabinet are saying: well, we had to make choices, these are our choices (Inaudible). And then he says: well, we had no choice, we had to do that. The President of Treasury Board is now saying: we had to do this, we have no choice.

Well they had a choice and they exercised that choice. They chose to rip up these agreements. They chose to destroy this particular kind of contract and this kind of contract only. And they chose to do that with their own employees, the employees of the people of Newfoundland, and they said to them: you cannot have faith in documents that this Government is prepared to sign. You cannot accept the word of this Government. And the people of Newfoundland are now getting the message that this Government will say one thing and do another.

We had a litany of promises read out to the House by the Opposition House Leader who read from the Liberal manifesto, a major work of fiction. He read out the promises that this Party made when it was in Opposition. There is a common phrase that is said about the Liberal Party nationally and locally and everywhere, that the Liberal Party talk like New Democrats when they are in Opposition and they act like Tories when they are in office.

Well, that is what we have. A perfect example of that activity is the action of this Government here. We had pious statements made by this Party on the hustings about their concerns for working people, pay equity, hospitals, education, health care. Now they are presiding over, and seem to be willingly presiding over - not kicking and screaming, not fighting against the Government of Canada. Oh, they will have private Member's motions condemning Ottawa, they will do that. Every week or two we will have a motion here and they will be seeking unanimous consent of the House to have the letter sent off condemning it. But again, not what they say, what they do. That is the way that this Government is going to be judged, on their actions.

And its actions in this Bill are something that I for one, as a Newfoundlander who is concerned about the rights of working people, and about the necessity of people having faith that when they sign an agreement with a government, when they negotiate with a government, that they can rely on the word of the President of Treasury Board, on the word of the Premier, and on the word of the entire Government that they have an agreement that can be followed.

In this legislation the Government is breaking faith with the people of Newfoundland and I believe that this Government will pay a price for that. They will pay a price for that because the people of Newfoundland will learn more and more as they are learning from this Budget and the actions of this Government that this Government cannot be trusted, cannot be given the faith that the people of Newfoundland gave it when they elected them.

MR. EFFORD: You didn't see the last polls, did you? Sixty-six per cent.

MR. HARRIS: The hon. Minister speaks about polls. Well, polls have a way of going up and down and I think that the polls of support for this Government are only going in one direction. Watch them. They will be going down because this Government does not deserve the support of Newfoundlanders and they are catching on and you will find out where the people of Newfoundland will place their faith next time around. It will not be with this Government. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to give the Government a chance to defend this Bill but obviously there is no defence for the indefensible, so they have to sit in their seats and remain mute. What we are witnessing here with Bill 16 is perhaps the most vicious attack on the public sector labour unions in this Province ever.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Social Service will have lots of time to debate. As a matter of fact he just had the opportunity then but for some reason he would not get up and defend this Government. He chooses to interject from his seat, and I might note when the Premier is out of his seat. When the Premier is there of course we do not have this kind of interference.

But this Bill is an attack on the public sector labour unions in this Province. The President of Treasury Board has tried on many occasions to say that this Bill, and these cuts that we now have that brought about this Bill, were unplanned. We did not plan it until the last minute.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Social Services -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! Order, please!

The level of conversations to my left side is pretty high. I was listening to the hon. Member and I was not noticing the noise on the other side.

The hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I can -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Can we silence the Minister of Social Services? We cannot silence him from his seat and now he has gone to another seat. Now the President of Treasury Board has on numerous occasions said that: we did not know until the last minute what we were going to do with this Bill and this Budget.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's not true.

MR. WINSOR: That is what the President of Treasury Board keeps saying. It was a last minute decision. I have to remind him though that this Budget was prepared for presentation to this House I think on February 28. The Budget was done. The Premier discovered that the Federal Budget was going to be delivered and he delayed bringing down the Budget I think by a week or ten days because of the Federal Budget. The President of Treasury Board said - his brother disagreed - that there would be no substantial difference to our Budget as a result of the Federal Budget.

That being the case, we can only conclude that this Budget and the intended cutbacks in the public service were determined long before March 7. When the President of Treasury Board put his signature on that document on March 1 he knew in advance that there were going to be rollbacks because it had already been decided. The Budget was just about printed I suspect. The President of Treasury Board has said on numerous occasions that they did not decide until the last minute. There was only a $14 million to $15 million difference in the Federal Budget and the Budget that they had projected and it would not result in substantial change. So therefore we can only conclude that this was a done deal.

The President of Treasury Board had his bureaucrats dealing with officials of the trade labour movement in this Province, and now these people have lost the confidence of the bureaucrats because the Minister has let them down. How can unions now go and deal with these bureaucrats when they know that the President of Treasury Board does not stand by his team of negotiators?

In addition to that -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, he keeps interjecting, but I will have to remind the Minister of Social Services that during the last hospital strike I seem to recall driving by one of the houses up here, Hoyles Home I think, and the paddy wagons were there taking people off to jail. As a matter of fact I seem to recall that in that last strike several NAPE members went to jail and I think had a $600,000 fine, the largest in the Province, because of breach of a contract - talk about breaches of contract. Now, Mr. Speaker, in addition to that, during the course of negotiations, a lot of things are negotiated besides salary; there is a lot of give and take; a lot of give and take. Labour unions in this Province, were led to believe that once you were given something you sometimes had to trade off, and so for salaries, many of the trade unions have given up on other things.

For example: the highway workers, I think the MOS workers; just a few days prior to infamous March 7th, conducted a strike vote among their members, I think it was something like 51 per cent to 49 per cent voted to accept and one of the things that they voted to accept on was the fact that they were going to have 22.9 per cent over three years as a pay increase. To get that, they gave up on one of the more important things in their collective agreement, the provision for Government to contract out services.

The Government offered the union movement 22.9, but wanted the right to contract out. Now, the 22.9 has disappeared, they have also lost the right that they had to have job security.

MR. HEWLETT: The same as the respite care, it is going to be contracted out.

MR. WINSOR: Every trade union in this Province-

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, do we have to get a gag for that Member?

MR. POWER: Get the Premier to come in so the Member will be quiet, Mr. Speaker.

MR. WINSOR: He is not even in his own seat. Now, I can take it a little more from him in his own seat; perhaps he is going to get up at the end to respond to this, because he is going to have to respond later on this summer, when his Community Development Fund -I think last year he needed another $5 million over what was budgeted, I think it went from $9 million to $14 million, was it not last year, from $9 million to $14 million and this year it is down to $7 million, community development?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Alright, I will read the book for the Minister, because I am pretty certain I am right. Social Services, community development, budgeted $11 million, actually spent $14 million, this year down $9 million, some $5 million less.

The Minister will have to look for more than $5 million to compensate for what this Government has already done -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! Order, please!

The hon. Minister of Social Services; it is unparliamentary to even interject from your own seat but it is even worse when you are in somebody else's, so I would request the hon. Minister to stop interjecting.

MR. POWER: Somebody go out and tell Clyde that John cannot keep quiet.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So what we have here is a Government that commits itself to collective bargaining and now finds that it wants to renege on the commitments it has made and in addition to that, unions were forced to give up considerable amounts to get the 22.9 that they had in place, Mr. Speaker, and the Minister of Social Services, the one who constantly refers to it, says it is a debt that we incurred.

Now, the Minister would almost make the press and the people in this House believe that they just discovered this debt last year; this fiscal year, 1991 they discovered that there was a problem with the debt in this Province and now in 1991-1992, we have to fix it all, but, Mr. Speaker, they knew that in 1989, they knew that in 1990 and they knew it in 1991, but suddenly there is a full scale attack because they mismanaged the Province in the two years previous; that is where the problem lies.

Now what happened, Mr. Speaker, is very obvious, you do not have to be much of a genius to figure out wage settlements in this Province in the public sector, prior to 1989, were in the range of 3 per cent to 5 per cent.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Now the President of Treasury Board will not give us any of this information when he is speaking, only when he wants to interject. Wage settlements in this Province in the year prior to 1989 were in the range of 3 per cent to 5 per cent and what we find here now is that the wage increases -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member for Fogo has the floor.

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Carbonear can speak when I finish, otherwise he can keep quiet. The wage settlements in this Province -

AN HON. MEMBER: Come clean, Sam, come clean!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! Order, please!

MR. WINSOR: Wage settlements in this Province for the past two or three years were in the range of 3 per cent to 5 per cent. Back in 1984 there was obviously the wage freeze, but I think in the last round of negotiations most public sector union settlements were in the range of 3 per cent to 5 per cent and this Government chose to try to, I guess, do what it said it was going to do in its manifesto. It said: a Liberal Government will be determined to create an atmosphere of realistic cooperation in developing labour legislation and dealing with public service unions and I guess it intended to do that, until it found out that it just could not afford to give it.

So now what we find is that the 8 per cent they gave for one year is really only 4 and 4 - 4 per cent for last year - which was generally the wage settlement that we had in the Province all along. But in an attempt to buy peace for one year, they hoodwinked the public service unions of this Province and now, with this Bill 16, they are going to make them pay.

But what is more important here is that this is a principle here, a very important principle, the principle to have the right to have collective bargaining. I hear the Minister of Social Services - I keep referring to him because he interjects the most, he said today that this Chamber had to be built because of a contract - contracts were signed and let. We could not break these contracts so we had to build this new Chamber. How about the contract we signed with all the labour unions in this Province? Is that not a contract? What kind of principles do you stand on? Principles for one, no principles for the other, principle for the businessman, the contractor. But you see, there is no one -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, these people on the other side, have the right to speak. They must be getting a little sensitive now that they realize some of the things that have happened.

Now I want to spend a few minutes on pay equity.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Strike? Yes, I was on strike once.


MR. WINSOR: Why? - because we voted to go on strike back in, 1982. I will tell you what the difference was - a Tory administration would not come to an agreement with the union and the union used what rights it had. One of the bargaining tools and ploys that they have is the right to strike. You had the right to do the same thing with nurses, and you chose to take it to binding arbitration, an abdication of the responsibility that you have. That is the difference. When teachers voted to go on strike it was by the bargaining process, just as they have the right to do so now through the collective bargaining process. But how can you have collective bargaining when an administration signs a contract one day and the next day they come in to the House of Assembly and they roll back everything that they had signed? That is the word of this administration, and that is why the labour unions can never ever trust you again.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Who went to binding arbitration then? Hospital support staff, okay, it was the hospital support staff. The police were the other group that went to arbitration. Notice now in this collective agreement Section 8, in the event that there is an arbitration you cannot go looking for money that you lost during the time of restraint. I suspect that one of the tools that the trade union movement used in its bargaining with Government this time around was a catch-up clause. A catch-up clause, because some years before it thought it might have fallen behind. To guarantee that unions will never catch up again Section 8 has been put into this piece of legislation, so that no arbitration board now will ever be able to impose a wage settlement on this Province to catch up because of the period of restraint.

And that is the reason Section 8 was put into this piece of legislation . Perhaps the President of Treasury Board, some time later, will tell me why this wage rollback assized to the Newfoundland Egg Marketing Board, The Newfoundland Hog Marketing Board, The Newfoundland Milk Marketing Board, when it is my understanding that the Government makes no contribution - that, that comes out of the farmers themselves? Would I be right in assuming that? - that the Milk Marketing Board, the Hog Marketing Board and these people: that it comes from the farmers, the producers directly and there is no Government involvement? Why would they be included in this?

MR. POWER: The Minister does not even know.

MR. WINSOR: Why would they be included, is there some reason for that, because it is a Crown agency of Government, obviously. Anyway, to get on to the subject of pay equity, Government says: not only will we not have pay equity, Crown Corporations like Hydro will not have it, they cannot impose pay equity, even if they could afford to, and it is quite conceivable that at some time down the road Hydro could, but because the Government has chosen not to implement it, it means CF(L)Co cannot do it. But at the same time they can turn around and buy a jet, CF(L)Co can buy a jet in a time of restraint and I wonder, is it that the Premier sometimes needs that jet to get him around the Province?

How can you impose and say that we have no say over what Newfoundland Hydro or CF(L)Co does? If they want to buy a jet, that is their business, but at the same time you can turn around and pass a piece of legislation that says they cannot give pay equity, so how can you do some and not the other; where is the fairness and balance?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) crack.

MR. WINSOR: I am not cracked. The President of Treasury Board will have lots of time to correct all the misinformation that is out there. Now, Mr. Speaker, why did this come about?

It came about as a result of the inability to manage the affairs of the Province and suddenly a panic has gone out-

AN HON. MEMBER: Crises, crises.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: No, I can tell my friend from Carbonear that it has been a long, long time since the letter 'L', was associated with my vocabulary; in fact, since 1971 I think, I have been actively involved in this party and through it all - and I will tell the Member for Carbonear: I voted for strike in whatever year it was that we went on strike, that I voted for job action when we did all these things because I was a member of a trade union, and I will tell the Member for Carbonear another thing too, I have not turned my back on them since, like some Members on the other side of the House have.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINSOR: Deserted and betrayed the cause they have represented for so many years and supporting a Government that would allow a rollback of a wage -

MR. POWER: Where is the President of the NTA now?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: No, you did not give me my stadium in Fogo either, you did not give very much in the form of recreation because you have no commitment to it.

AN HON. MEMBER: I try to do my best; may I suggest we close hospital beds in Gander and give you your stadium?

MR. WINSOR: I do not know how many hospital beds were closing in Gander; I know that twenty-four positions have disappeared in Gander. The Member for Carbonear should be back in his seat too, because the same rules apply to him in this House, as to the Minister of Social Services, who is supposed to interject, if at all, only from his own seat.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the reason that this Government has introduced this piece of legislation is that they have mismanaged and now they are trying to shift the blame to the labour unions; the labour


AN HON. MEMBER: Is that a voice I have heard before?

MR. WINSOR: That is not the Member for Port aux Basques who witnesses the shut down of a hospital and the virtual destruction of his town, and stood idly by and did nothing about it? - absolutely nothing, only support a Government that -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: He defended the close down. At least the Member for Placentia could get up today and condemn the Government. We have waited for the Member for Port aux Basques, from LaPoile to get up and present a petition. You have done what? - a press release.

AN HON. MEMBER: A press release.

MR. WINSOR: Press releases, we are waiting for the Member to get up in the House of Assembly and lambast the Government for a terrible, callous decision it made that affects the lives of your constituents, and shame on you for not doing so.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) laid off and the wages rolled back in the hospitals.

MR. WINSOR: Yes, if necessary. But he is used to making statements like that. He wants to get into Cabinet I suspect.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what this bill is going to do is turn the wheels back; talk about labour peace. There will be more unrest, and more mistrust with this administration. We have heard time after time after time the labour movement saying the Peckford years were tough. You should try dealing with those fellows. With the former Government, the word you got in the morning was the word that you got at the end of the day. I do not think we can say the same thing for this administration. Fraser March used to say that you cannot trust this administration from one day to the next. Now we know that you cannot trust them from the signing of one contract until the expiration of the other one.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! Order, please!

MR. POWER: When is the Minister of Forestry going to defend this Government over there in his own seat in debate?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. POWER: Over there sneaking around behind the President of Treasury Board.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, the CUPE president, Mr. Curtis, the NAPE president, the nurses union president, all of them, every labour leader in this Province has come out and criticized this Government. Not because of its negotiating, it is because of its failure to abide by things that they have negotiated, that it had signed collective agreements and virtually tore them up. What is the next thing they are going to do in the collective process? Where does it stop?

MR. POWER: They probably will not be able to strike next year.

MR. WINSOR: Where does it stop? Is that going to be the next thing, to outlaw strikes? Are you going to outlaw job action? Supposing the NTA votes next week. I think Wednesday - the Minister of Education might know - I think Wednesday is the day. Suppose the NTA votes for job action, are you going to introduce legislation then -

MR. POWER: We will be in here next Wednesday night.

MR. WINSOR: - to say that they cannot work to rule? Is that what you are going to do? Every time there is a crisis in the labour movement you are going to introduce legislation? What kind of collective bargaining do we have if that is going to be the way this Government operates?

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion I want to say I cannot support this bill. I have to support the amendment made by the Opposition House Leader in imposing a six month hoist in this bill. Hopefully at the end of the day this Government will have come to its senses and realized it is more important to honour collective agreements than to tear them up. Thank you.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I hesitated because I thought somebody would be getting up. I was watching the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations and I was amazed that she had not rushed to her seat to jump up and speak on this Bill 16, to be known after closure as 'The Shaft Act' because certainly this is what it is doing to the public service in the Province - giving them the shaft.

My colleague, the Opposition House Leader, this evening moved a motion for a six month hoist. It is unfortunate that the Premier is not here because I was going to suggest to him that perhaps he should ask his Members to vote for it, I know they await direction from him, why? - because it will give him the chance to call in the different Members and get their points of view, which is something that he has not done up until now. Perhaps the Premier would be very interested in calling in His Honour to ask him what he thought about the closure of the Come By Chance Hospital. Maybe he will call in the Member for Trinity North. A short while ago I was in Clarenville and listened to him participate in an education debate and he vowed that if he got elected he would stand up and fight to make sure that none of these cruel things happened that were threatened. Well, they have happened. The new Member for Trinity North, I presume, is going to be on his feet pounding his desk making sure that the Minister of Education does not continue to scuttle the education system as he is doing. Because the Member will be held to the words that he uttered during the debate.

The Member for Trinity South whose Old Perlican Hospital is being scuttled. The Member for Placentia, who today admitted that he was not even consulted, had to go out today and face his constituents and come in and represent them here in the House, respecting the closure or phasedown of his hospital in Placentia done behind his back by the callous Minister of Health and a Premier who sneaks in through the backdoor and does not even have the gall to walk up and address the people out in the lobby. They even waited around for an hour asking him to come out. He would not even come out and acknowledge their presence. And all they were asking was to be reasonable in dealing with the Placentia Hospital -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: He did the same thing with the students exactly, he sneaked through the backdoor.

When the people came in here today, the Premier was on his way home from Toronto. Doing what? Looking for more hospital beds, looking for more nurses? No. Up talking about the constitution. He should be home worrying about the constitution of the individuals who have to drive 150 miles over rough conditions in the winter time to get to hospital. Those are the constitutions that the Premier should be worrying about. Mr. Speaker, you need a great constitution to be able to take it, there is absolutely no doubt about it.

Mr. Speaker, the six month hoist will only give the Member for LaPoile a chance to get to the eighth floor and express his concerns to the Premier about the effect it is having out in his area.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Member for Bell Island.

MR. HEARN: Well, certainly the Member for Bell Isle. I did not mention him because I figured he had already been up, knowing the efficient Member he is. He has probably already been on the eighth floor telling the Premier the effect on his hospital and on the residents of Bell Island.

Mr. Speaker, all night we have people, not even from their own seats, interjecting and disrupting the debate. So, Your Honour, I ask you to keep them quite.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The six month hoist would enable the Premier to gather around him his own colleagues. We are not even saying allow time for the different unions to come in and express their concerns, which will be of such importance in the decision making that is taking place here, but to let his own colleagues, representing people who are being affected, events which have happened in the Districts of Members opposite which have scuttled facilities, the educational system, the health care system, ripped right out from under them without even consulting them as to the effect on their voters out there.

So maybe it will give him a chance to get down off his high horse, to put aside his constitutional concerns about the rest of the country, and worry about the part of the country which he is supposed to look after. A premier's first duty is to look after his province and worry about the country at another time, but of course, we all know that this is too small a pond for the big fish and he wants to be a big fish in a big pond. Well let me say to the Premier that in the big pond, when they get to know him as we know him here in this Province, he is going to be a very, very small fish.

Mr. Speaker, in respect to the bill itself, to be know as 'The Shaft Act', there are a number of major concerns. One of the Clauses already highlighted by the Member for Ferryland, Section 5: Notwithstanding the terms and conditions of employment. Under a collective agreement, other contractual arrangement, respecting employment or otherwise, no increase shall be applied to the pay scales of public sector employees during the restraint period. Notwithstanding the terms and conditions of employment, so what they are saying to the public service is: it does not matter with what we have already agreed, it does not make any difference now, we will just scuttle it.

The Member for Fogo made some interesting points when he talked about the time frame in which all of this occurred; we are talking about premeditation here, Mr. Speaker, and premeditation in any trial, as the Minister for Justice would know, makes the happening or the crime much more serious; here, there is absolutely no doubt that the axing of the public service was a premeditated event; there is absolutely no way in the time frame between the signing of the last agreement with the public service and the bringing down of the Budget, that this Government put together or came up with the idea of the - I will not say wage freeze - of the rollback.

Wage freezes have happened before; in times of restraint when governments had to tighten their belts, not only here in the Province, but across the country, wage freezes occurred, but how many examples can the hon. Members give us of rollbacks, when contracts have been signed, agreed to in good faith, and then the rug pulled right out from under them?

What makes it much more serious, in negotiating any agreement anybody who has had any experience with it, there is a fair amount of give and take and when you arrive at the negotiating table, undoubtedly both sides have very large packages. The employees come in to negotiate the contracts and have a list of demands, when a reasonable, to their own feeling, wage package was offered, they agreed to leave on the table a number of other concerns which they would have fought for provided they knew they were not going to get a wage increase.

Now, what happens? They were shafted, they had the wool pulled over their eyes simply because they were given -


MR. HEARN: How? Because number one: they were told if you accept this wage package that we are giving you, if you forget all your other demands, we have a contract. They agreed to put aside their other concerns and demands, because of a reasonable package; once again, now here it is, evidence: The Minister of Social Services, who has been yapping all night said: ' who told you that'?

Who told us that? The workers who were affected and they have not told the Minister because they have not been listening. Number one, the individual should get out and talk to the people affected, your own people, the people whom you represent; not only is the Premier not listening to you, you, apparently are not listening to your own constituents, because if you were listening or if you are listening, then all around this Province tonight, you know, there are deep concerns.

Now, maybe some of them if properly addressed can be alleviated, some of the suggestions made for changes by Government, this Government as with all governments, hopefully, are for the better, but talk to, listen to the people; talk to them and explain it to them, but mainly listen to them to hear their concerns.

Governments are elected, not just to balance books; governments are not just elected because you are powerful people and you have control over legislation, governments are elected to make laws and rules which make things better for the people and to look after your constituents. This is the part of the mix that is left out here. We are making laws and rules - Bill 16, typical example - which affect the people but which affect them negatively. We are closing hospitals which affect people negatively. There might be some give and take. Perhaps there are some positives that can come out of all of this. But the whole picture could be cleaned up pleasing the people involved if a consultative process had occurred. But no consultation at all, not even with elected representatives. That is reprehensible. There is no excuse at all for not listening to the elected representatives.

When you make decisions based upon what is going to happen in the community or in the district without consulting the Member, that is not the way the political system operates. Members are elected to present the views of their constituents. Constituents should not have to come en masse to tell the Premier how they feel about what he is doing. That is bad enough for them, to get on buses and drive hundreds of miles to express their concern. But to have the Premier sneak in the back door and ignore them, that is worse. And I cannot see how Members over there can stand up for it. (Inaudible) today it was only Placentia so we have not got to worry about it. But let me tell you. Tomorrow it will be Port aux Basques and the next day it will be Bell island and the next day it will be Old Perlican. Because it is going to happen over and over and over until this Government starts to listen.

We are not only seeing the shafting of the public service, contracts signed, budgets prepared, then, in a premeditated way, the contracts were signed knowing that the Government would not have to deliver upon the agreement, and then turning around saying: aha, we have you, we got you to give up the other demands, now we are going to take away the monetary gains that you were given. That is not fair ball.

There are other areas of concern. The health care system that we talked about that is being dismantled. The educational system and the workers in the educational system who are being scuttled. I understand that there are some talks ongoing with the Newfoundland Teachers Association and hopefully, I say to the Minister, they will be productive ones. Hopefully within hours or days you will reach an agreement, because the NTA has already set a deadline for taking job action. Well, what does it mean, job action? It means they are going to work to rule, basically. They are still going to teach, whatever.

But the Minister and anybody else involved in education - a number of teachers over there, two former presidents of the Newfoundland Teachers Association who are conspicuous by their quietness and their lack of concern in all of this - but even so, they know what effect job action will have on the morale of teachers. They know the effect it will have on the feeling of parents concerning the teachers who are involved in job action. Mainly the effect it will have on the students in the school, because they are the end of the line when it comes to the delivery of education in the Province. They are the main beneficiaries.

If we have teachers who are not happy, who are not doing the extra things that teachers do well above and beyond the call of duty - the many hours spent in the gym, on the road travelling with teams, teaching music lessons, teaching them dance and on and on, the many hours that are spent by teachers in the system - if these things are eliminated the morale of the school goes downhill as we all know. This is not going to be beneficial to anybody. So I will say to the Minister, I wish him luck in the negotiations. I do hope that very quickly an agreement can be reached with teachers.

Now they are not going to be overly happy with this either. There is absolutely no doubt about it. But at least with them their contract is not signed and they know it up front. They have not been called in, sucked in, have a contract signed and a few days afterwards whip it out from under them as done with the public service. Social workers - the Minister of Social Services is talking all night. Maybe he should ask the Premier if he can get up and speak for awhile. Go in and ask the Premier if he will allow you to speak for a few minutes, and tell us about the social workers who are being laid off out around.


MR. HEARN: No social workers? No managers?

MR. EFFORD: You said social workers.

MR. HEARN: No office managers. None. If they are not social workers what are they? Because in rural areas the managers in the offices share in the burden, and the unfortunate thing about it is that some of them got very little notice. Some of them are eliminated, unfortunately, in areas where the workload is increasing, the St. Mary's office, where the manager has been told, `She's gone.'

AN HON. MEMBER: A Tory district!

MR. HEARN: A Tory district. Now the Minister said it.

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: The Minister said it and it is on record that the Manager of the Social Welfare Office in St.Mary's was eliminated because it is in a Tory district. The Minister said it and it is on the record.

MR. SIMMS: Who said that?

AN HON. MEMBER: The Minister -

MR. HEARN: So now we know, and that has to be the only reason why she was eliminated, simply because the workload in St.Mary's is extremely high. The area covered by that office ranges from St. Shott's on one end, or from Peter's River, right out through to North Harbour, a very large geographic area where the caseload is extremely heavy, and right in the middle of it you have Trepassey plant - where most of the employees come from the Peter's River to Gaskier's area - closing down. A letter delivered last week stated that as of September 27, the plant in Trepassey closes permanently. The Minister of Fisheries, sitting next to you, who represented the area for years, and is well familiar with the area from Peter's River to North Harbour, an expansive area, knows full well that when Trepassey plant closes, a lot of people in that area are going to have to turn to the Minister of Social Services. Now, if you increase a workload like that, of course, the downturn in the fishery, generally, in the area, is going to add to the caseload. So, consequently, if you downgrade an office when the workload is increasing, how can the office then care for the needs of the area? We are told, `Well, all decisions will be taken care of in Harbour Grace.' It is like saying to the people in Placentia, If we close your hospital you will have beds in St.John's; but, in the meantime, we are cutting back on the beds in St.John's. We talked today, about Green Bay, the White Bay area, where the people will have to go to Corner Brook and to Grand Falls, but we are cutting back in Corner Brook and Grand Falls. So, if we cannot handle what is happening already in our own specific areas, how can we take the workload coming from the other areas? The answer is, simply, we cannot. Consequently, I say to the Minister of Social Services, perhaps, specifically, because it is in St.Mary's, even though it is a Tory district, and even though it will stay a Tory district, that the Minister should look at the fact that the workload in that area is extremely heavy. The Minister is very fortunate to have extremely good staff in that office. I have represented the area now for nine years. I have not had one hitch dealing with the people in the Minister's office. I have not had a problem. They have been exceptionally good, responsive, caring workers.


MR. HEARN: All of them.

MR. SIMMS: The full staff.

MR. HEARN: The full staff in the office of the Social Services Department in St.Mary's. I can say the same thing for the one in Ferryland which represents part of my district, as I can say about the one in Placentia, which also serves part of my district. Now, they are also in Tory districts, or at least, serve Tory districts. Are you eliminating some of them?

MR. HEARN: I say to the Minister, you should check on the workload of the women - all women - who work in St.Mary's before you decide to axe the manager of that office, who is an exceptionally good person, by the way.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) he is.

MR. HEARN: Politically, I cannot tell you what she is, because I never ask anybody what they are politically.

MR. SIMMS: Read Hansard tomorrow.

MR. HEARN: So, Mr.Speaker, there are a number of concerns in relation to the labour force around the Province. There is another highlighted in the `shaft act', concerning pay equity.

We are not surprised. Maybe I should read what it says about pay equity, or part of it: `Notwithstanding the terms and conditions of a pay equity agreement contained in the collective agreement or added by agreement to an existing collective agreement, no pay equity agreement shall contain a provision which implements that pay equity agreement retroactively. Where there is a provision in a pay equity agreement which provides that the pay equity agreement shall be implemented retroactively that provision is void, after the fact.'

I notice the Premier has returned. The Premier has a habit of coming in after the fact. Well, in this case, he is back to hear at least part of my remarks. I say to him, I know why the pay equity section is in there. Perhaps, like many, I realize what the Premier thinks about women in the workforce. The Premier is on record as making some remarks about his feelings about women. Consequently, there is no surprise when this provision is here retroactively.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader, on a point of order.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In my point of order, I want to point out to the hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes that it is unparliamentary to refer to the absence of a Member in the House. Twice, today, he has done that through the back door, by pointing out that somebody has just come back. Now, Mr. Speaker, this is not simply an idle point of order. If you are going to engage in that kind of play back and forth, then we could also refer to the absence of members opposite, and so on. I think that is a childish little game to play. I suggest, the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes is playing that childish little game and I would point out to Your Honour that it is unparliamentary to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, to the point of order.

MR. HEARN: The member is not listening very clearly. I did not stand up and say, either now or earlier today, The Premier is not in his seat. Where is the Premier? The Premier should be in the House. When the Premier came in I recognized the fact that he was coming back. Referring to a member's absence in the House, Mr. Speaker, is usually that when somebody is not there you draw attention to the fact that somebody is not sitting, and it may be parliamentary, but not ethical, to do so. That was not what I did. I referred to the Premier coming in. I said it was too bad he was not here to hear what I had to say, and it was too bad he was not here today when the people were outside. I know where he was and I stated where he was but I did not draw attention to the Premier not being here and say he should be here, Mr. Speaker. So, I think the member is way off base and there is no point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The member knows full well, he is playing his childish little game again. He cannot say through the back door what he is not allowed to say through the front door, Mr. Speaker. So, I would like a ruling on whether or not the kinds of references the hon. Member has been making today, are parliamentary or unparliamentary. I suggest to Your Honour that according to Beauchesne, it is an unparliamentary act.

MR. SIMMS: To the point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader, to the point of order.

MR. SIMMS: I do not know what is wrong with the hon. the Government House Leader, all of a sudden. He is awfully sensitive. The member has only thirty minutes to speak. It is rather a spurious point of order. I mean, the member, himself, got up and said he was not referring to the absence, he was referring to the presence of the Premier. This back door, front door and that old silliness, you talk about childish games, Mr. Speaker! There is no point of order, just a difference of opinion; that is all it is.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The point raised by the hon. the Government House Leader is a point well taken. It is traditionally considered unparliamentary over time that members not refer to the absence of any other hon. member from the House and I ask hon. Members to keep that in mind as they debate the issues here today, tomorrow and in the future.

The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - the Capes.

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If, in any way, I have offended the House Leader or the Premier by remarks I made, I am certainly willing to withdraw any remarks, because I would rather have the Premier in the House any day of the week to keep the crackies on the other side quiet; and perhaps they would be closer to him so they could run up and ask if they could stand and take part in the debate, because nobody is doing it.

AN HON. MEMBER: A good explanation, Mr. Speaker - muzzled again.

MR. HEARN: Mr. Speaker, anyway, to finish up, let me just say to the Premier -

AN HON. MEMBER: Why don't you just let him speak?

MR. SIMMS: Not one person on that side has spoken in the debate, not one (inaudible).

MR. HEARN: We have moved a six month hoist so that the Premier would have a chance to sit down, safe and sound, home from his journeys across the country, worrying about the Constitution, and listen to the people of his own Province, specifically, to listen to his own members - and I will not go over the list again - all the members over there who have concerns of their own, little meetings behind the scenes. No wonder there are little meetings, Mr. Speaker, because a number of the members are extremely concerned when a Government led by the Premier goes out and scuttles them behind their backs, without even consulting them. That is terrible! That is terrible!

Maybe the Premier should take a six month hoist, or take the motion we have for a six month hoist, agree with it, and then take six months to sit back and listen, instead of pontificating and telling people, `Don't worry, I know what is best for you; take it. Down the road, you will thank me.'

One night, I talked about our parents giving us cod-liver oil. We didn't like it, but they said, `Take it, it is good for you. We know best.' And we have Cod-liver Clyde telling the people of the Province, `This is good for you; take it. I know best.' But, the point is, if you are going to do it and if you are right, well, then, number one, explain it to the people but give them a chance to express their concerns. Maybe somebody out there does have an idea of a better way to do it, a way which will not affect as many people, a way which will not see families destitute because they are kicked out of the work force when there are no other possibilities. The Premier made a commitment to bring everybody home, `every mother's son' is the expression, I understand. Well, the Premier is living up to his commitment. He is going to re-unite families again, but he is not going to bring the sons and daughters home, he is going to bring the parents up to join them.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEARN: Mr. Speaker, I support the amendment as put forth by the Member for Grand Falls, and I ask Government, in its wisdom, to take heed, to support the amendment also, and maybe, by listening, they will find out, yes, there are solutions, but they are not on the Eighth Floor of Confederation Building. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Nobody over there?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will have a few words on this amendment to Bill No. 16, which, as I indicated to my colleagues on the political panel on television the other night, is an outright declaration of war on the labour movement in this Province. However, I do not think, Mr. Speaker, we should be overly surprised. The First Minister of this Province, the Premier, served as Labour Minister in the Smallwood administration and, if I am not mistaken, his reputation from that particular time was that he was rather right-winged, as a Labour Minister. A career following in corporate law did very little, I think, to change that outlook.

Another signal very early in this administration that we were headed for trouble on the labour front, was where my former high school - or elementary school principal, I should correct myself, wrote letters directly to members of the teachers' union. Rather than go through their leadership, they went around the duly elected union leadership and went directly to the union members concerned. And, the many years I served in the Premier's Office and the many campaigns I conducted in dealings with large public bodies on behalf of the Peckford administration, never once was I ever allowed - and this rule was very firm and very strictly enforced - never once was I ever allowed to go around the duly elected leadership of a given collective bargaining group. So, Mr. Speaker, that was another bad sign.

This particular bill right now deals with not only a freeze because of certain economic circumstances, but roll backs in existing contractual arrangements already arrived at.

The last time we had a problem of this nature, the Premier of the day, went on T.V. and explained to the people of the Province the problem they were in, but he also indicated that they were going to honour the contracts already signed; when you came out of a contractual arrangement, yes, you would have a restraint period, but we would honour contracts already signed. However, our Premier, in dealing with this matter, does not go on Province-wide T.V. He does not take on the people, one on one in their livingrooms. He does not talk to the families in their livingrooms. This becomes a problem, what I might call the PWC problem, the Phil, Winston and Chris problem. They have to deal with that, not Prince of Wales Collegiate. PWC, Phil, Winston and Chris, have to go into the livingrooms of Newfoundland and Labrador and tell them the bad news. They have to go out to the lobby of Confederation Building and get shouted down by the masses assembled because they only want to deal with the hon. the Premier.

Mr. Speaker, this is a one-man Government. It portrays much outward piety, inward callousness and, at times, contempt for the ordinary people of our Province. If we are not careful, Mr. Speaker, we are in danger of becoming a Third World province and our people will be rendered back to the way they were before Confederation, which is, essentially, serfdom. But, Mr. Speaker, serfdom bred a need for democracy and unions and other democratic institutions, so, I say to the hon. people opposite, you cannot escape. If you put a people down long enough, sooner or later, they will rise up and you will know about it. Sooner or later, we, in this Province and, I guess, we, on this continent, will have to learn from other jurisdictions on earth, probably, many in Western and Northern Europe, that we have to be less confrontational in our labour relations atmosphere. There has to be more concensus, arrived at by all of the leaders of our society. Unfortunately, our process right now is too adversarial and leads to the kind of situation we are in, a situation exacerbated by the actions of this particular Government.

This Government has known for the last year or two that a recession was coming. Every reputable economist in the Western World knew that after the growth cycle of the '80s, we were in for a down cycle and, in this particular Province, while most of the '80s was enjoying the boom, we were still crawling our way out of the last recession; and we only have a little chance, Mr. Speaker, just a very short while, to cruise on the level ground of - I cannot say prosperity -of relatively normal times for this particular jurisdiction. Now, all of a sudden, again we find ourselves going downhill at a breakneck pace and having to slam on the brakes. Even worse still, the Premier would have us put the gears into reverse. Such an abrupt motion, Mr. Speaker, has the tendency to make our society come apart at the seams; health care crumbles, education suffers.

The Government would appear not to have any idea of how a regular automobile with a standard transmission works, that when you come to a hill and you know you are going too fast, you have two choices: you can slam on the brakes, but you can also gear down. Gearing down is something you do more slowly, with less stress on the vehicle and the passengers therein. Yet, we sped along at full speed downhill, up until the last minute, signing collective agreements with many unions in this Province, and now we have had to slam on the brakes and, in the case of this particular bill, Bill No. 16, we have actually put the vehicle into reverse, after going full speed ahead.

Mr. Speaker, when I went to university, I studied physics. One of the laws of physics that I learned had to do with inertia, that is, that a body in motion tends to stay in motion; and, as many Ministers over there know, a body at rest tends to stay at rest, as many of them have been tonight, apart from an occasional snipe.

Mr. Speaker, inertia also teaches that a body in full flight tends to stay in full flight. A quick application of the brakes or, even worse, an abrupt change into reverse, and everything falls off the truck and all the passengers fly out through the window like missiles. That is the reason someone invented seat belts. What you end up with is a total mess, not a mess lessened by consultation and consensus with the parties concerned, but a mess arrived at by a deliberate political process directed by this Government.

As I said at the beginning, a young right-wing lawyer left Joey Smallwood and went on to become a corporate lawyer, a successful corporate lawyer, I give him that. But, Mr. Speaker, hardly the training ground for a middle-of-the-road, let alone left-wing environment in which to cut one's adult political teeth. But, then, come election time, our Premier reverted to his baby teeth. It was said of Gorbachev by his first foreign Minister, Gromyko, that 'This man has a nice smile, but he has iron teeth.' The voters of this Province fell for our Premier's baby teeth, Mr. Speaker, and now the schoolchildren, the sick and the public sector workers have found out that our Premier's baby teeth are back in the glass by the bedside table. Mr. Speaker, our Premier has a haughty smile and iron teeth and our people, especially our workers, are not smiling, and they are no longer covered by MCP, by the way, for their dental surgery, but they do have an iron fist and that fist has just begun to pound.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


MR. HEWLETT: Bill 16, Mr. Speaker - they don't know it yet, they don't realize what they have done - Bill 16, Mr. Speaker, is war on the rock, and iron breaks rocks.

I have had, in my day, two separate occasions in which to go through strike situations on the management side, but in those days the strike was due to a failure to reach a collective agreement. Today, people are marching because agreements are being ripped up, thanks to Bill 16.

We had Bill 69, and it pales in comparison to Bill 16. Bill 69 had to do with guaranteeing certain minimum service, but in this particular case, first, Government cuts services and then, through Bill 16, it cuts the servers. In Newfoundland, 66 per cent recently said 'yes'. The way things are being turned upside down, so could the 66 per cent. It could easily become 99 per cent. In Newfoundland, 99 per cent just might say 'no'. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I have a few words on what my colleague for St. Mary's - The Capes referred to as the 'Shaft Bill'. Mr. Speaker, I do not know about members opposite, I know members in Cabinet certainly are, and over the next few days and weeks, for sure, the backbenchers certainly -

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: - will be cognizant of what this particular bill, this particular piece of legislation, means to workers in the Province. None of us, not a member in the House on either side, has a district that is not affected. Every district in this Province is affected by this particular bill, Bill No. 16, which will mean the freezing and the roll back of wages in the Province pertaining to pretty well anything and everyone, whether directly or indirectly involved with Government.

Before I get into the few words I have to say and probably run out of time, looking at the schedule on this Bill 16, the first part of it is obvious, Mr. Speaker. It outlines in exact detail, Crown corporations, universities, hospitals, anybody covered under school boards, the School Tax Act, or anything else, is covered. But it is one that I am sure the Minister responsible for Treasury Board, or maybe the Minister responsible for Forestry and Agriculture can probably get some answers for me. Some of the questions that I have mentioned in the schedule there, as the Minister can probably see are two pages of scheduling, and some of it is very obvious. The salaries of the Economic Recovery Commission are paid directly by Government through the Department of Development. Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, a Crown Corporation, and I can understand why, I would just like to add, pertaining to Newfoundland Hydro, that if the Ministers opposite were so quick in freezing the increases that Newfoundland Hydro was passing along to Newfoundland Light and the other utilities in this Province as they were in freezing the wages of people working for them, the consumers and the constituents in this Province would be a lot better off today, I can assure you, if they were as fast in freezing the increases in hydro rates in this Province that have escalated up to something like 16 or 17 per cent over the last eighteen months.

Mr. Speaker, the Agricultural Products Marketing Board, I can understand that one. What about the Chicken Marketing Board, the Egg Marketing Board, the Milk Marketing Board, and those other marketing boards? There are no direct salaries paid by Government. There is not even a grant in some cases. The question I ask of the Minister responsible for Treasury Board, and the Minister responsible for Forestry and Agriculture, is why those particular boards are included in the schedule, in other words, in the bill, Bill 16? I do not know what the answer is, but would it be a freeze on the actual produce itself? I do not know. I do not think the Minister responsible for Treasury Board heard a word I said pertaining to that. The Minister responsible for Forestry heard it and I hope he takes it under advisement and tries to get some answers for it, because I am sure there will be some other questions asked by people in the industry.

AN HON. MEMBER: He knows the answer now.

MR. WOODFORD: He probably knows the answer now. A lot of the comments echoed by previous speakers tonight I do not want to go over, rehash, and be repetitious, but some of them have to be reiterated and you have to be repetitive about them in order to bring out what you are talking about and try to get the point. Specifically, some of the areas I want to get to are in the lines of the people employed with the general service in this Province, or anything to do with the civil service. I want to deal somewhere along the line with the teachers. I want to deal with the people employed by the university, professors, and everything at the university.

Mr. Speaker, we all know that it is bad enough for teachers in the classroom today. It is a very stressful job. Some of them have been in the classrooms some twenty or twenty-five years. They are also in contract talks with the Government. They have been unsuccessful in signing a collective agreement over the last year or so. I think it was a full year, in August, with no collective agreement. In that time they have been told that their pensions are going to have to be addressed, with an increase in pension premiums. There will be very little, if any, increase in wages. Now, because of the fact that there is no collective agreement signed, and in the Budget Speech there has been a freeze put on all wages in the Province, I just do not know, for the life of me, if a collective agreement could not be signed before the Budgetary process. I cannot, for one, see how anything is going to be gained from here on in. I just do not see it. The morale in the classroom today is zilch. The morale of teachers in the classroom all around this Province is negative. It is not only bad on the teacher. The Minister can shake his head, but I have a lot of teachers in my area who are doing the best they can on a daily basis under the circumstances. It is bad enough to teach in the classrooms of this Province today under present conditions. There are some places in my area where there are thirty-five or thirty-six in a multi-grade classroom. Fifteen out of the twenty-six schools in the district of Humber - St. Barbe are multi-grade classrooms with as high as thirty-six students in the one classroom. All those conditions, along with some of the freezes that were brought in and instituted mid-way during the year, in August or September pertaining to substitute days, means no time for professional development. You cannot get off for anything like that unless you take it out of operating. To take it out of what operating? They have been told one thing and now Government means another. In any case, all those things taken into consideration, to teach and to try and keep the morale factor up, and to keep the same level of education and instruction in the classroom that has always been there, under normal conditions is bad enough, but now with the collective agreement not signed and with all the troubles pertaining to the wage freeze and everything else, is just adding insult to injury, and it is not good for the teacher, but most of all, Mr. Speaker, it is not good for the student. And it is not doing any good for the students in primary, elementary, post secondary or into the community colleges or into the universities, and there is no trouble to tell when talking to a professional at the university. Look at some of the letters to the editors in some of the newspapers that we read, and we can tell without a doubt the low moral factor that is in the teaching profession today.

The teachers in '85 I can recall going around the Province hounding the former Premier then, Premier Peckford. I was a candidate in the '85 election and the first thing I had to face new on the block were teachers going around the Province hounding you during election time and I can assure gentlemen opposite that is not a very nice situation. It is not a very nice situation at all, I suppose, when you look around their caucus and see eleven Members on the other side who were former teachers or professors. In the classrooms of the primary, elementary or in the university, I think that is going to be cold comfort come election day whether it is a year from now, six months from now or eighteen months from now. I can assure you, teachers don't forget - don't forget.

Mr. Speaker, it will not only be teachers in the next year or eighteen months who will show that they have a long memory - it will not only be teachers. In this case we have everybody, like I said, in the civil service involved. We have the firemen, we have the policemen, RNC, involved who had to do things that they did not want to do against the will of their membership but did it for peace and quietness and to just get on with it and to do their job, but there is an awful bad taste left in their mouths, that, I am sure, somewhere down the road will come back to haunt this administration.

You have people coming in in good faith and sitting around the table and negotiating in good faith on either side of the table and you are told things up front fact to face concerning your collective agreement, considering the teachers, the professors, the RNC or whoever they are. It is bad enough with the teachers, they have no collective agreement, they have no agreement. When you sign an agreement, the give and take of negotiation is tough enough at the best of times and always leaves a certain amount of sourness and bitterness in any case. But when you go in and do those things and you negotiate in good faith and come out after signing an agreement and then something like this happens, a Budget comes down and it is reversed then, Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that the people I have talked to are certainly not going to forget.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) mad if he wants to.

MR. WINSOR: Well the Premier can get mad all he likes. If he wants to get mad his turn will come to speak. And if what I am saying is wrong, and the people I talked to and the people who sat around the negotiating table - unless they are telling me something different - is certainly passing on verbatim what I was told, and I am in the district every weekend. I am sure Members opposite are in their districts every weekend. There is no trouble to see 150 or 200 people or more every single weekend. And among those people are teachers, transportation workers, councillors and people working with Crown Corporations and so on. There is no trouble to hear it out there in the street what is going on with regards to people working with Government today.

You can go from the teachers, you can go to the transportation people. Very -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: I kept speaking about the teachers and the civil service and the professors and everything else for about fifteen minutes just to see if I could draw something from the other side concerning what was mentioned earlier by the Member for Ferryland -and that is exactly what happened. He said that they were trying to create and start a war with the workers of this Province. They figure that because they turn on the unions in this Province and everybody associated with a Crown Corporation or a union that they are going to get the general populace in favour of them, backing them - widespread support. We will see about the widespread support.

I have not gotten yet to the nurses in this Province and the people working in the hospitals. Three hundred of them are going to be laid off after just coming in and being given a beautiful wage increase of 27 per cent - a lovely wage increase of 27 per cent. You know nurses will never leave the Province again. No problem to sign an agreement, no problem to keep an employee on for five or six months if you are going to give them a 27 per cent wage increase - then six months down the road you tell them all to go home.

Now the widespread support that hon. Members opposite are talking about; I mentioned 66 per cent here in the House, they keep looking at 63 per cent, maybe I have gone up a few. I think it is 63 per cent. But I hope they keep looking at that 63 per cent or 66 per cent, or 64 per cent.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: But then again like I said before in earlier debate I just hope that they keep looking at that 64 per cent. Because while they are looking at that 64 per cent marked on the wall and on the television screens the Province is falling down around their ears. And I say to the Premier in all -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Well, I will be honest with you. I will tell you something now, that if it is up to 73 per cent next week, brother I guarantee you -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Coming over? Coming over?

MR. WOODFORD: No! No! Members here cannot come over. If I had to go through the rigamarole that the hon. Member for Fortune - Hermitage had to go through -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: - I would not dare. I think I would ask the Speaker to put another seat up there and start another Party.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: I am sure that if I went to the schools in the Province today and told them that I was going to sit by myself, I was going to start a new party, please come up with a name for it. I am sure and I guarantee you I would be a week trying to pick a name out because of the number of names that would be sent in.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: But in any case I want to say to the Premier in all sincerity, it has been wonderful stuff over the last months in the year or so in which he has been going around talking about Meech Lake, good stuff, wonderful stuff! Because they called a leadership convention as early as they did, federally, we probably would not have had the Premier sitting in the House today, he would be gone and I will guarantee you that if he was in Michael Wilson's place today, Michael Wilson's Budget would not hold splits to the one the Premier would have brought down as Prime Minister of Canada, I can assure you.

I can assure you, Sir, the GST which is put toward the deficit, brother, I will guarantee you, he will fix up that fast, I would guarantee you that, but, Mr. Speaker, -

AN HON. MEMBER: No such thing as EPF, that will be gone.

MR. WOODFORD: No, it will be TOP, a thing of the past. I will tell you that, but, Mr. Speaker, the Premier spent the last twenty months going around the country talking about Meech Lake, and going around the Province, but more specifically, around the country.

Now I think, personally, that the Premier should do a little bit of soul searching himself right here in this Province. The first thing that people have said to me, I heard it said the other day: I wonder has the Premier a Constitution of his own, because someone who is fighting for a Constitution for this country and at the same time looking after all the provinces in this country and the people in this country, firstly, should have a Constitution of his own, and that Constitution should contain, among other things, compassion and a heart for the people of this Province as well as the people of this country -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: - and, if the criteria - and I am sure, Mr. Speaker, when the day comes, that the day of reckoning for this administration opposite, I am sure that the people of this Province are going to stand up and be counted and it is not going to be 73 per cent for that side, I can assure you that.

We are hitting the very core, the people of this Province and the social fabric of this Province; we have always said, talking about small businesses and businesses in this Province, that the bankers have no social conscience; well, Mr. Speaker, Members opposite, especially Members of Cabinet have no social conscience, they do not.

I can understand, I can see as well as other people in the Province and as well as other people in this House, where things can be cut, where numbers can be cut, where certain services can be cut, we can see it and we can see the different ways it can be done, but I cannot, Mr. Speaker, stand here in this House of Assembly, or in my district or anywhere else in this Province, and watch nurses being laid off and watch doctors being fed up with the system, health care workers of every stripe and take it on the chin, I cannot do it. You have to speak out, you have to speak up and you have to have your priorities straight -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: - but you do not start at the very heart of our structure which is health and education; you do not start there, you end up there; you just end up there. I can speak on Sprung too, if the Member wants me to speak on Sprung and I can speak on Upper Churchill and I can speak on some of the other things they are going to do on the Lower Churchill, if he wants me too.

The Members here today are talking about twenty to twenty-five Sprungs, you are all wrong there are forty-two or forty-three sprungs this year alone. There are another two sprungs in the Economic Recovery Commission and Enterprise Newfoundland.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: If you want me to give you some more figures on Enterprise Newfoundland and some of the applications that are in there and some of the things that have been approved, I am going to save that for another day.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Facts, not hearsay.

Mr. Speaker, we have an example now on the West Coast of this Province. We have the hospital in Burgeo being downgraded, say what you like. It is not going to be closed, but you cannot skate around it, it is going to be downgraded to chronic care. We had the Bonne Bay Hospital closing out, I think, going to be converted to chronic care. Correct me if I am wrong on that one. We have the surgical unit in Port aux Basques closing out altogether, Mr. Speaker. I do not have to go any further, I will not even go east to Springdale and Baie Verte and so on.

Now, Mr. Speaker, at the same time, we have a Government opposite saying that we are going to regionalize and rationalize the health care sector in this Province. At the same time, the Minister says, `By putting it into the regional hospital, the people in this Province will have a lot better service.' Now, I could probably take that, first, and think, well, maybe there is something to it. Maybe there is something to what the Minister and members opposite are saying. But when I see that the so-called regional hospital, namely Western Memorial Hospital in Corner Brook, is going to be cut approximately $3 million, going to lay off seventy-four members of the staff, going to close an extra thirty hospital beds, and a Minister and a Government is going to stand and tell me that this is regionalization, rationalization, and better health care, are we that naive or is there something radically wrong with the system?

Now, I told my people - I issued a press release this evening - if that is what you want, okay, but if you do not, you had better stand up and be counted, and stand up now before it is too late.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: This is not fiction, this is fact. It will be proven over the next day or two, when the announcements are made pertaining to Western Memorial Hospital in Corner Brook, when you have doctors in the Deer Lake area phoning the outpatients at Western Memorial Hospital in Corner Brook, the emergency unit, and saying, `Doctor, I have two patients. They are on the way down in an ambulance,' and they say, `Doctor, you cannot send them.' `Why can't I send them?' `Because the rules have changed. We have beds closed. We have not got the staff to accommodate them, and we just cannot handle it.' I will not mention what the particular sickness was. One patient was a young girl, seventeen years old. I will not mention it. I could. I can name them, and I have doctors to back it up, but I am not going to do it. I am saying that this is serious business we are dealing with, and I do not think there is a member opposite, not one -

AN HON. MEMBER: Efford is laughing at it.

MR. WOODFORD: The member can laugh all he likes, but it is no laughing matter. I do not think there is a member opposite, either in Cabinet or out, who would disagree with a word that I have said in the last five minutes. Not one!

AN HON. MEMBER: Because it is the truth.

MR. WOODFORD: Because it is the truth. Forty-eight beds were closed at Western Memorial Hospital, Mr. Speaker, last September, when people had to go down and lie in the hallways, some of them ready to pass on. They were stripped of their life, Mr. Speaker, the last thing we should do is strip them of their dignity.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: I am talking about personal experience, Mr. Speaker, and I know what I am talking about.

MR. SIMMS: They were under-utilized beds, were they, those forty-eight?

MR. WOODFORD: Forty-eight under-utilized. How can we rationalize and say that we have under-utilized beds in hospitals, when we have people crying out for help, crying out to try to get in?

I had a doctor, an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist, call me from Corner Brook Saturday morning at ten o'clock. He said, `Mr. Woodford, I cannot get a patient into the Western Memorial Hospital for an operation. The earliest I can get him in is July 6.'

So, Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say that I am personally against this bill. I am against Bill 16, if for nothing else, for what it is going to do to the people who are working in this Province, the people who serve us, the people who serve our constituents, the people whom we depend on every day of the week, and our constituents depend on, to serve us, to give us help, well, Mr. Speaker, I am against this Bill. I will wind it up now. I do not want to carry on any further. I adjourn the debate.

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

MR. SIMMS: I would like to inform hon. Members opposite that the resolution we will be calling tomorrow, the private member's resolution, is the one given notice of today by the Member for Ferryland, the health care resolution.

On motion, the House at it rising adjourned until tomorrow, Wednesday, at 2:00 p.m.