March 20, 1991                HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS            Vol. XLI  No. 12

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, of course, is a Member of the Cabinet. She also has a very special role with respect to public sector unions as she would know, and that role is to play the part of an honest broker, I guess, between Treasury Board and the unions concerned, and in that capacity she and her officials help to bring the two sides together to try to reach collective agreements. The question I want to ask her is this: In her capacity as honest broker, is she concerned about the effect of Bill 16, the roll-back bill, on future collective bargaining between the public sector unions and Treasury Board?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MS. COWAN: Mr. Speaker, excuse me if I am a bit out of breath. I just raced down the stairs there, from the mezzanine to the House. In response to the hon. Member's question, our Government was faced with a very, very serious fiscal problem. We, as has been reiterated many times in the House by the President of Treasury Board, had a tremendous job in looking at the Budget and deciding where we could make cuts without drastically affecting services to the people of this Province. We did that exercise, but still found ourselves on very, very swampy ground as far as the fiscal future of this Province was concerned. We then took what action was necessary in order to meet our fiscal responsibilities to the people of this Province, and it did result in a number of activities which have brought concern to some of the labour leaders in this Province. But I must say, Mr. Speaker, from the people I have been conversing with, that largely people understand the difficulty in which the Government found itself and appreciate the fact that we took an approach that looked to the future of this Province as well as to the present. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SIMMS: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SIMMS: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, for the delay. I was waiting for an answer to my question. My question to her: is she concerned about the effect of Bill 16 on public sector unions?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MS. COWAN: As Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, of course I am always interested in such things. As far as I am concerned, from the position of the Government as employer, we are covering every single aspect we can in order to keep relationships with -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. COWAN: Just wait and I will get to it. We are doing everything we can to keep relationships as cordial as possible.


MS. COWAN: Again, Mr. Speaker, the President of Treasury Board has said many times in this House that his door is always open, that the Premier's door is always open, that this Government is always ready, at any time, to keep up a good rapport with the unions of this Province, private and public.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary. I am asking the question of the Minister of Labour in her capacity as Minister of Labour. Let me ask her this. Does she believe that future conciliation efforts of her Department might be damaged as a result of this wage rollback, and particularly the breaking of signed collective agreements? Does she think that will effect future conciliation efforts on her Department's behalf?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MS. COWAN: I have what I feel are the finest conciliation officers in the Province. They act in a very fair fashion measuring the needs of the employer and the employee, and they are experts in bringing people together. I would not anticipate any problems in the future. If there were, then there would be something wrong with the conciliation officer and that would have to be investigated. Thank you.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, a final supplementary.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I think there is something wrong with the Minister, not the conciliation officers.

Let me ask her a final questions. Does she agree in particular that the roll back of pay equity provisions of those existing collective agreements and the retroactive application of that part of Bill 16 impacts on women only, and is she going to urge the Government to at least change that part of the bill?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MS. COWAN: The bill does largely impact on women in that regard, Mr. Speaker, and it is with a great deal of regret and with a great deal of soul-searching that as a Cabinet we took that particular action. It was very, very disturbing to everyone in Cabinet, not just to me because I happen to be a woman; it was of equal concern to my male counterparts in Cabinet. Again, and I must say this again, and, I suppose, again and again, we found ourselves in a position where we had no other choice. The future for women and children in this Province is being looked after more by the responsible actions we have just taken than it would be by unbridled borrowing.

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In the 1989 Speech from the Throne the following was stated: `My Government's overriding aim during its current mandate will be to reverse these alarming trends...', and one of the many trends mentioned was out-migration. Then the Throne Speech went on to say, `...and provide an economy that will allow our people the opportunity to earn a good income without having to leave the Province.' Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Premier this. How does the Premier square that commitment contained in the 1989 Throne Speech with the latest out-migration statistics which, for the first nine months of 1990, show a net out-migration of 3284 persons?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: The answer is fairly simple, Mr. Speaker. With the difficult situation we received on the hand over of Government, with the unemployment rate like it is, with the difficult economic circumstances in the Province, it has taken us a good deal of time to reverse it. On top of that, there have been a number of other impacts: the Federal Government decisions with respect to the total allowable catch in the fisheries has impacted tremendously, there is a national economic recession, there is the Federal restrictions on the Federal transfers to the provinces, which reduces the Province's ability to provide service and does contribute to unemployment in the Province. Rome was not built in a day, Mr. Speaker. We are convinced that the course we are on is the right course and that in the end it will provide the solutions.

Now if the hon. Member were being fair he would note that at any time when the Government was asked, or I in particular was asked how long I thought it might take us to achieve this, I quite frankly said I thought it might take six to ten years to reverse the trend and get it changed. Now, Mr. Speaker, I think that is completely consistent with the position. I see no inconsistency at all.

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, at no time during the election campaign, when the Premier was talking about mothers kissing his feet because he was going to bring their sons and daughters home, did he say it was going to take him six to eight years. At no time.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let me ask the Premier this. Is the Premier aware that rather than reversing out-migration, as the Throne Speech talked about in 1989, we are seeing and acceleration of net out-migration, from 1,004 people in 1988 to 1,770 people in 1989, and now 3,284 in the first nine months in 1990, and that, in view of the statement just made by the Premier, at the same time that unemployment has risen by two percentage points in this Province since this Government took over. So is he not concerned about that alarming trend? And what is the Premier going to do about it now, not six years from now?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the unemployment rate rose by ten percentage points after the other Government took over. We need time to correct this problem. This cannot be done overnight.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I say also to the hon. gentleman that my commitment is so strong, if we do not achieve it I will not be offering for re-election within the six to ten years. If we do not achieve that correction, I will not be offering for re-election.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: You will not be offering after the next two years.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, what a presumptuous, egomaniac we have on our hands as the Premier of this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: He will run in Toronto or somewhere, that is where he will run.

MR. RIDEOUT: The Premier could get turfed out on his ear, Mr. Speaker, just as quickly as he was sprung into the position-

AN HON. MEMBER: Just as you did.

MR. RIDEOUT: Just as quickly as I did, yes -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. RIDEOUT: - or just as quickly as David Peterson did in Ontario. The Premier should not get so egotistical, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Now, Mr. Speaker, let me get to the question. When is the Premier going to table in this House, the Economic Recovery Plan that he promised now in three successive Throne Speeches, three, not one, not two, but three Speeches from the Throne, the Premier has promised to table that document and, does the Premier expect to have anybody left in this Province, living and working, after the economic genocide that the Minister of Finance perpetrated on this Province in his Budget, just a few weeks ago?

AN HON. MEMBER: Good question, a good question.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the proposition that the hon. Member just put forward is as fictional as the one that came from the hon. Member for St. Mary's - The Capes yesterday, when he stood in this House and said to the House: that the Premier said that he was going to bring home every mother's son -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: - I do not know where that came from; it is a complete fabrication, either by the hon. Member or he is repeating somebody else's fabrication. How -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, what the hon. the Leader of the Opposition just said is no less fiction than that was, it is no less fiction than that was -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Real change.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: - and the statement that the Economic Plan has been promised three times in three Throne Speeches is complete fiction. Mr. Speaker, we delivered on our first proposition to put the Economic Recovery Commission in place and that was what was stated in the original -

MR. SIMMS: The Economic Recovery Plan it said -read it boy.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, those steps were taken. The next thing that we did, Mr. Speaker, was spend the time to develop a strategic economic plan, it is not completed yet. It is not yet complete, we have gotten a good deal of input from a variety of very able and capable people -

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: - and we hope that in the next few weeks, we will be able to make that strategic economic plan available.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Grand Bank.

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

I have a question for the Minister of Fisheries and I would say to the Minister that one year ago the Minister of Finance said in his Budget Speech that this Government will continue to support and encourage the fishery. Now in the March 7th Budget Speech, the Minister of Finance said that Government will be strengthening the Department of Fisheries. I would like to ask the Minister of Fisheries: where does the fishery place in the expenditure priorities of his Government, why was the Budget for the Department of Fisheries cut by 17 per cent below the revised Budget for 1990, a cut of $5 million, and what kind of real support, encouragement and strengthening of the fishery is this?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I think the position the fisheries plays in the opinion of this Government is pretty high, and I think the facts speak for themselves. While the Budget this year has been reduced a little, it is in areas that are not going to affect the operation of the Department of Fisheries, or in any way lessen our chances of making the fishing industry the type of an industry that we want it to be.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Grand Bank.

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, when you factor in inflation, the cut in the Minister's Department is about 20 per cent, and $5 million is a pretty significant amount for the times that we are going through in the fishery.

I would like to ask the Minister a supplementary. Is the Government committed to economic improvements and diversification in the fishery? And if so why has his Department and Government cut the budget for fisheries loans and assistance, not by 17 per cent or 20 per cent but by 28 per cent, a cut of $3 million? And I would say to the Minister, is this not the main source of Government support to the fishery? And why really has the Minister sat by and allowed this to happen?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, of course the Government and the Department of Fisheries are committed to diversification of the fishery and the economy generally. And I can only say what I said a moment ago, that any reductions in the budget of the Department of Fisheries, and the Fisheries Loan Board in our view, will not have any effect on the operation of the Board. And we are realigning our priorities within the Department, and the money that we have voted this year I am satisfied will be sufficient for us to do the job.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Grand Bank.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you again, Mr. Speaker. I say to the Minister that it is not the operations of the Board that I am really concerned about. I am concerned about the fishermen out and about the Province who need to go to the Loan Board for assistance -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Member is on a supplementary.

MR. MATTHEWS: I would like to ask the Minister a final supplementary. His Deputy Minister is alleged to have said a few weeks ago that the Government plans to sell or increase the lease fees for seventy-three fish processing plants, facilities, around the Province. Does the Minister have a plan to do just that? And how does he plan to keep plants open if they are unable to sell them? And what plan does he have for those plants that may become unviable as a result of an increase in lease fees?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, there is not a fish plant in Newfoundland that will become, as he says, unviable because of any increase in lease fees, but we are looking at the amount we are charging for some of these properties, and over time we hope to bring them up to a higher level to make them more competitive, I suppose, with these private sector companies that are operating in properties that they own. Certainly, it is not going to be done overnight but we will over some time gradually increase the lease fees, but certainly not to the point where it is going to interfere with the viability of a fish plant, and if that were to happen then I am sure that we are flexible enough within the Department to make the necessary adjustments.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the President of Treasury Board. Would he not agree that a careful and proper reading of Bill 16 with respect to the question of pay equity in the public service would prevent the implementation of the pay equity agreements as indicated by the Premier that he would be prepared to see implemented in the year of the so-called freeze? Would he agree that is perhaps the case on a proper reading of the bill, and would he agree that the Government should amend that bill before it gets passed by this House?

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Member for St. John's East has some concerns, as I understand it, that one of the definitions that involves what is meant by pay scales could possibly interfere with the immediate implementation of the first stage of the pay equity. This particular bill, Mr. Speaker, was done by draftspersons, lawyers, and so on, and as the hon. Member knows, being a lawyer himself, sometimes maybe there are things that are overlooked. I will certainly have a close look at what he is saying and if in fact there is some impediment in the definition to the implementation of pay equity then during the committee stage of the bill we will make whatever amendment is necessary to correct that situation.

Thank you.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In view of that issue, and in view of the response by the Minister of Justice yesterday with respect to a legal opinion on the validity of the pay equity removal, and the Premier's statements outside the House, can either the Premier or the Minister of Justice advise the House what legal opinions may have been sought as to the validity of the agreement under the Charter of Rights, the validity of removing the provisions of the agreement for pay equity in respect to the Charter of Rights?

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The question yesterday, as I recall, was whether or not we had prepared an opinion as such. There was not a formal opinion prepared but Treasury Board consulted with officials of the Department of Justice while the legislation was being prepared and it is the opinion of the Department's officials that the legislation is proper and valid and not unconstitutional.

MR. SPEAKER: Final supplementary, the hon. Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: In the absence of a formal opinion, and it seems to be some informal consultations were going on, will the Minister not reconsider the request made to the Government to refer this matter to the Supreme Court on a constitutional reference with respect to the Charter of Rights?

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

MR. DICKS: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker. This sort of matter is not appropriate for reference. The only types of matters that are referred to the Court of Appeal or ultimately the Supreme Court of Canada on a constitutional reference would be ones that directly involve the interests of the Province. Each day in this Province there are any number of matters that come up for constitutional issues in criminal, civil and other types of proceedings. The Province would not - if we took the position that we would refer any particular matter that arises in court to the Court of Appeal for reference the Court of Appeal would not be able to handle the work arising in that way, Mr. Speaker.

These things have to work themselves up through the process. If any particular party feels aggrieved as a result of Government's legislation and it wants to take the matter before the courts then any constitutional questions that may arise will be dealt with in the normal course of judicial proceedings. But I just want to repeat that it is not an appropriate type of matter for the Province as a Province to directly refer to the Court of Appeal.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. In the (Inaudible) Budget the Government announced that it would support the expenditure of $55 million in water and sewer and paving projects. Details of that programme had been announced prior to the Budget to allow for early tendering and construction. There was no specific mention on the municipal capital programme in this year's Budget. Can the Minister advise what, if any, municipal capital works programmes the Province will be supporting this year?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, there is no mention of municipal capital works in the Budget because the current capital works programme, the programme that is announced, is budgeted in the following year, 1992-1993. And it is always a year in advance in terms of the monies being put into the financing corporation. In fact, we use bank borrowing throughout the Province to facilitate the work that is done in the various communities. And then the amount of capital works, the amount of dollars that are spent, are ultimately moved into the financing corporation in the succeeding year, not in the existing year.

So there was no specific amount in the Budget mentioned. The only amount shown in the Budget is the actual amount being spent in the financing corporation for loans that are already on the books.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, a supplementary to the Minister, as how come it could be in the Budget last year and not this year, and will he be honest with the House and tell us how much contribution the Province will be making this year?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, last year we were very fortunate to be able to announce the capital works allocation, not the budgeted amount, the actual allocation, because as I mentioned it does not appear in the Budget - the allocation, earlier than we were this year. This year we were in a situation where we were dealing with a change in the municipal grants programme. The regional offices had to focus on that particular initiative and make sure that the communities were well versed in the changes from the old grant system to the new, and the capital works, which is dealt firstly in the regional offices, had to be deferred until the grants programme was properly implemented.

I understand now the information from the regional offices is available for me, and that will be dealt with now by the executive group and myself, and a recommendation made to Government on a capital works programme for this year. We could not specify an amount, even an estimate, at budget time, because we had not dealt with the priorities as established by the regional offices. Now that that has been dealt with, very shortly we will be able to establish an amount of capital works for the forthcoming year and that will be announced at that time in the House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, to the surprise of no one, the Minister has confirmed that he is less efficient this year than he was last year.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: And last year he made a mess of everything.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, let me ask the Minister: how much money will be allocated for capital works this year? And when will the details of that project be announced so that councils can get on and plan, do their budgets and do what needs to be done.

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the first comment that the Minister is less efficient than last year, if the Member thinks that bringing in a revised grants program which is the envy of the rest of the country is being inefficient, he should talk to some other Ministers across the country and find out how they would like to emulate what we have done with our grants program. So, I think the delay was well worthwhile. We are going to have a capital works program announced shortly, the amount I cannot tell you because I have to deal with the priorities as established by the regional offices. When I see those priorities and the executive group and myself have a chance to finalize the capital works -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. GULLAGE: I cannot tell you.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. GULLAGE: Obviously I cannot tell you. I have not gone to Government with a recommendation. We will be doing that shortly, Mr. Speaker, and when we do the amount of capital works will be announced in the House.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the same Minister. The Minister said in a ministerial statement a short while ago: I want to assure athletes that sport is and will continue to be a high priority with this administration. In view of the fact that the Minister, in the budgetary estimates, shows that the capital grants expenditures for sport and recreation in this Province is even less than last year, how can the Minister stand by this statement that this administration is ranking sport as a high priority?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, I continue to be amazed, amazed, amazed by the knowledge of the Budget that some Members opposite show. If you were to look at the Budget and look at my department, look at recreation specifically as you are alluding to, you will see that there is nothing eliminated from the Budget. I do not think there are any cuts that I can identify. In fact, we were able to retain the programs that were in place. We continue to fund all the sports organizations as we have done in the past, the three main sports bodies, our capital projects have been maintained in the Budget, the winter games are in place for Labrador. So for anybody to suggest that recreation has been hurt by this Budget obviously has not read the Budget.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order please!

The hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Can the Minister tell us why capital grants, capital not current, why capital grants were reduced by just about $100,000? And can the Minister tell us how much of it will be for new capital works for the next fiscal year, and how much of that little over $1 million will be to honour ongoing financial commitments made in previous years? New ones for next year and honour previous commitments, how much?

MR. SPEAKER: Order please!

I say to hon. Members on my right the question has been asked, and I have said several times when a question is asked that hon. Members do the courtesy to their own questioner for the Minister to answer that question.

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, the amount identified in the Budget for capital works is for ongoing projects, work that is in progress throughout the municipalities in the Province, faced off against recreation and sport. There is a program of capital works for smaller capital works, not the major recreational regional facilities, that is a separate program that is under review. When that is finalized, and that will be shortly, when that is finalized a decision will be made on the amount of money faced off against smaller capital projects throughout the Province. We also have a regional facilities program, and that program is under the capital works that will be announced shortly when it is finalized.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Minister confirmed that there is again no new capital works. I want to ask the Minister, since he referred to the regional facilities program, when is the Minister going to make the announcement that he committed to this House nearly a year ago, the construction of two facilities a year for the next number of years? When is the Minister going to make the announcement so that recreation committees in this Province can get on with the work? When will the Minister announce it?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, the regional recreation facilities program is also financed under the municipal financing corporation and any monies expended by the Province, any decision to expend monies on that particular program if and when we decide to proceed, and if we decide to proceed this year with facilities under that program, if Government makes that decision, if it does, it will be announced at the time that capital works are announced because it is all under the same financing program through the municipal financing corporation as I explained earlier. When an announcement is made, it simply indicates that we have made a commitment to expend the monies in the forthcoming year. The actual dollars do not get put into the financing corporation until the following year.

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

MR. TOBIN: Yesterday I attended a meeting of 450 laid off, unemployed shipyard workers in Marystown who were extremely frustrated by the lack of support from the Provincial Government towards the Marystown shipyard. They were exploring various avenues, Mr. Speaker, of what can happen in the shipyard. Disappointed, I might say, that the Premier, nor the Minister of Development nor the Minister of Transportation who had been invited to show, did not show. I would now like to ask the Minister, I guess, responsible for The Public Tendering Act, the Minister of Public Works, whether or not the Marystown shipyard can proceed to have the contract for the construction of cranes for the Cow Head facility awarded to them without calling tenders?

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

MR. GILBERT: I would imagine, Mr. Speaker. I will have to check it out, but I would imagine, it is a Crown corporation. And as I understand it Crown corporations are covered by The Public Tendering Act. And I would assume that it would have to go through the same process.

PREMIER WELLS: It is also a Federal/Provincial agreement.

MR. GILBERT: It is also a Federal/Provincial agreement as the Premier just mentioned. So I would imagine it would have to be.

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, I would like to table a Special Warrant for $3,961,800 to the Department of Health to provide additional funds for the Medicare Commission.

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

MR. GILBERT: Mr. Speaker, at this time I would like to table the report of Exceptions to the Public Tendering Act for February, 1991. And while I am up, Mr. Speaker, if I may, I would like to table the annual report of the C.A. Pippy Park Commission.

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table the annual report of the Department of Social Services for the year 1989-90.


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

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, today I present a petition, and there are other accompanying petitions within these three boxes-


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. RAMSAY: - representing the interests of approximately 6000 signatures of people from the district of LaPoile. With regards to the petition I have chosen out of these to present, these letters, notes, and drawings of students, and as well the other petitions included, I will read the prayer of this petition of 127 elementary school students from the St. George's Elementary School, Burnt Islands. The prayer of the petition reads: we the undersigned representing the students of the St. George's Elementary School in Burnt Islands strongly object to the recent cutbacks for our hospital in Port aux Basques.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

MR. RAMSAY: Mr. Speaker, these were all delivered to me and also to various Government Departments, Ministers concerned, and also other Members, and I have put them all together and brought them forth as a petition because really the intent - and I have discussed it through leave of the House in order to present it in this manner. There is the form of a letter also within the three boxes here, and the letter is written to the Department of Health, and it says, Dear Sir: I wish to express my total opposition to the proposed budget cuts at the Dr. Charles L. LeGrow Health Centre. I believe that the people of Southwestern Newfoundland deserve a reasonable level of health care. What is proposed by you will seriously jeopardize the quality of health care for me, my family, and my community. We deserve better treatment from you and your Government. I ask you to reconsider and change your decision. Sincerely,-- and it is signed by up to 6000 residents of the district.

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the petition itself and the volume as it has been compounded here, I plan to have them compiled to represent the different communities in the district. I do want to reiterate my own situation within this. I am a Member within the Government caucus and, of course, I do personally feel that I can best represent the interests of my constituents who are so aggrieved by this decision by working within the Government of which I am a part. I feel there is a place for a person within government to make sure that he makes a good case, which has been presented, and so ably presented by the Hospital Board in the form of a brief that was presented to the Minister last week.

The brief was very, very thorough in its assessment of the various medical information available to the Board of the Charles LeGrow Health Centre, in what they concluded as being the services that should be offered at the hospital. They have made this presentation to officials in the Department of Health and the Department has given some consideration to allowing the Board a period of time with which to make a good case on this. I have no fear that the Board will be able to make such a case, and, of course, making sure that the recommendations which were part of a study that was completed in 1988 are brought to the attention of the Minister and others who make the decision. This report was based on a list of surgical procedures to be carried out at the Dr. Charles LeGrow Health Centre, which is something about which I have great concern, as to what procedure should actually be performed at the hospital in Port aux Basques.

Another one, as part of that particular study, was the additional procedures that might be done in the future, privileges recommended for positions, etc. I will not get into the actual details of this as it is quite a lengthy document, and along with this has built the case to a point where now it can be analyzed. I support the prayer and intent of the petition of my constituents, but I also reserve the right to sit as a Member of the Government in support of the Government in the general overall budgetary process. And that is a very important factor for the people of my district, because if I were to -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame! Shame! Shame!

MR. RAMSAY: - take the efforts made by these people and totally isolate myself from the process in which I am involved, this would do nothing for the betterment of my constituents. With that, Mr. Speaker, I will allow comments from the Opposition, and also from anyone here who would speak to the petition.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Port au Port.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to support the petition. The hospital in Port aux Basques is a new hospital. It is a hospital which serves that part of southwest coast from LaPoile to Port aux Basques, and also serves part of the St. Georges District, the Codroy Valley area. Mr. Speaker, I do believe that hospital supports some 25,000 people.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the moves by this Government will eliminate all surgery in that hospital and the area hospitals which will have to take the overflow from this particular hospital will either be Stephenville or Corner Brook - most likely Corner Brook. And there is no way, Mr. Speaker, people can drive, particularly with the cutbacks which - this Government has announced that they will be cutting out surgery where you use local anaesthetic. This will mean that there will be no deliveries, this will mean that the hospital will cease to be a hospital, it will be merely a clinic, and that women who are having children will have to go to Corner Brook, and wait in Corner Brook.

We have a problem. There were 5,000 or 6,000 people who turned up at the stadium. People could not come from the Codroy Valley because of wind conditions at Wreckhouse, which for the last century has been blowing trains and trucks off the road there. So, Mr. Speaker, it is not a very good situation. But I have to say to the Member that he cannot have it both ways. He cannot stand up and be the good guy in front of his constituents and then say that he supports the Government as well. If he is supporting his constituents, then he votes against this Budget. And if he supports the Government, then he tells the people of Port aux Basques that he supports the Government on this. He cannot have it both ways. He cannot play it one way at home and another way somewhere else. He cannot do it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HODDER: Now, Mr. Speaker, the Premier says there is widespread support for his budgetary measures. Well, Mr. Speaker, we have seen petitions in this House from 14,000 people in the last two days, if that is widespread support. Mr. Speaker, I do hope the Member gets his way, but I do not like the way he is going about it. Because, Mr. Speaker, he is saying one thing to the people in his District and another thing to the people here. He cannot support the Government and support the hospital board and the people of his District, so he has to go one way or the other; he supports it and votes against the Budget.

I noticed, Mr. Speaker, that some of the Liberal Members in Quebec are quite willing to stand on their feet and go against their Government on the Budget they brought down. Not so the hon. Member. He is saying one thing in Port aux Basques and another thing in this House of Assembly.


MR. HODDER: No, Mr. Speaker.


MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, the hospital board and the people in Port aux Basques have a good case. If you cut out that hospital in Port aux Basques you may as well cut out about fifteen other hospitals across the Province, because it takes in an area which is geographically isolated from other parts of the Province. Mr. Speaker, there is no rhyme nor reason why the major services in that hospital should be cut back.

Mr. Speaker, there are studies which show that hospital should be upgraded, not downgraded. And I do hope that the Member is successful. I know where his heart is, but I am saying that politically he cannot get away with what he is trying to do. 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. Member for presenting that petition to the House of Assembly, and to assure him and the people of the Port aux Basques area that in the spirit of openness which this Government has been practicing, we will listen to the suggestions they are making. I want to tell them, though, that what has happened in Port aux Basques is part of a general overall restructuring program this Government has entered into. This program we have entered into has been carefully thought out. We are doing it strictly on the basis of health care needs, Mr. Speaker, but we are also doing it, bearing in mind the fiscal restraints the Province finds itself in.

This year the Province is spending $528 million in order to maintain the hospital system alone within the Department of Health, Mr. Speaker. That is the same figure that we are spending to pay the interest on the bills which were run up by a bunch of drunken spenders, Mr. Speaker, who went out and spent without giving any thought to where the money was coming from.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DECKER: Twenty-five million dollars on Sprung, $2,000 for stretch limousines, Mr. Speaker. That was the mentality which governed this Province for eighteen years, and as a result of that, we are stuck today with the credit card bills coming in, and we have to pay off those bills which were run up, and at the same time try to maintain a health system, an education system, Mr. Speaker, and everything else which goes with carrying on a Government. The hon. Member, Mr. Speaker, from LaPoile has behaved quite reasonably in this. He is fighting this within, and he is making his points known to us. And there is a lot of give and take, Mr. Speaker. Unlike the Member for Port au Port, he is not running back and forth across this floor every time something comes up that he does not agree with, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: What a coward!

MR. DECKER: The hon. the Member for LaPoile does not have to take any back seats to any Member of this House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I want to comment on two points. There seems to be too much commotion on both sides of the House while this petition is being presented, number one. And number two, I would ask the Minister to keep his remarks to the material allegations of the petition, please.

The hon. the Minister.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I get carried away, because hypocrisy always gets me upset wherever I see it. Maybe it is my former profession. I want to say to the people of Port aux Basques that this petition will be given every consideration by the Government. And I want to tell them they are indeed lucky and fortunate to have a Member of the stature of the Member for LaPoile, who is quite willing to make their wishes known and to dialogue with -

AN HON. MEMBER: Principled.

MR. DECKER: A principled Member who knows what his political philosophy is. Thank you.

MR. SIMMS: I rise on a point of privilege, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SIMMS: Yes. I am actually reluctant to raise this matter, but it has come to my attention in the last few moments, and I am not sure if I should raise it with the Premier or with the Minister of Public Works, who is responsible for the security and safety of the building and employees in the building, but I understand that this morning there was a bomb threat or bomb scare to the Premier's office. Is the Premier aware of that? And if so, if it was accurate - the only reason I raise it is, if there was accuracy to it, we wonder why the building was not evacuated or other precautions were not taken.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: The Minister does not know anything about it?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: To the best of my knowledge, Mr. Speaker, there is no accuracy in it at all. And what the hon. Member has done is given credence to something that should not have credence; he has spread a rumour by dealing with it in this way. All he had to do, Mr. Speaker, is address it to me privately and I would have told him privately, instead of creating this public scare about an alleged bomb threat. I am sure if there was a bomb threat in the Premier's office somebody would have told me.

AN HON. MEMBER: I do not know. Perhaps they would not have.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. HEARN: I would like to stand on a point of privilege.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes on a point of privilege.

MR. HEARN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The point of privilege, I will get right to it. I stand on a point of privilege because I feel as a Member representing a district which is represented by an Opposition Member that we are being discriminated against simply because my district is represented by an Opposition Member.

In the House last night in debate -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEARN: - I raised an issue about the layoff of people in the Social Services office in my district. When I raised the issue that an office manager had been laid off or given notice, the Minister's response, his answer, his reason for doing it was simply because my district was a Tory district, and I will read from Hansard, Mr. Speaker.

I was talking about workers in the office. I said: "The unfortunate thing about it is that some of them got very little notice. Some of them who are eliminated are eliminated, unfortunately, in areas where the work load is increasing. St. Mary's office, where the manager has been told she's gone..." - The Minister says: "A Tory district!"

So the Minister clearly stated that the reason why the manager of the office in St. Mary's has now been told she has been relieved of her duties, it was done simply because it was in a Tory district. I think, Mr. Speaker, that shows blatant discrimination -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: On the record! On the record!

MR. HEARN: - on behalf of the Minister.

MR. SPEAKER: Unless the hon. Member wants to speak, the Chair is ready to rule. I am sure that if these matters were a point of privilege we would have had many points of privilege in this House in the past. It is surely not a point of privilege.-

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: It is not a point of privilege to say that a district is discriminated against in a debate. It might be a point of grievance, but I do not see that it is a point of privilege.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is a blatant point of privilege. That is what it is.


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

There is a proper method for appealing the Speaker's decision, and Members have that opportunity.

AN HON. MEMBER: And it is going to be done soon, I will tell you that!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Orders of the Day

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Ferryland on his private resolution.

MR. POWER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we want to take the opportunity, on Private Member's Day, to discuss what we feel is a crisis situation developing in this Province as it relates to health care. I have proposed and moved the resolution, and the resolution is done very simply. It is not in the normal format of most of the resolutions you see on the Order Paper, with a large number of whereases and a large number of things to be resolved. It is a very simple and straightforward resolution, but about a complex matter. The resolution simply reads:

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 that Government conduct an independent review of these decisions.

So, Mr. Speaker, and Members, all we are looking for and all we are asking for is a very simple resolution of this House to say that the Government should, on the one hand, defer the announcements made in the Budget as it relates to health care cuts, and secondly, to conduct an independent assessment of the beds and of the systems that were used to implement those bed cuts announced in the Budget.

Now, Mr. Speaker, why have we chosen to use our Private Members' Day to bring in a health care resolution? We do it because we are extremely concerned, because an awful lot of people in this Province - I think the Member for Port aux Basques today presented a petition with 6000 names, and yesterday someone presented a petition with 8000 names. That's 14,000 names in two days, two of the largest petitions ever presented in this House. Yesterday we had over 1000 people here in the lobby who were very concerned about health care in the Placentia area of this Province. Sometimes I hear on the Open Line shows, and you hear it in rebuttals from Members opposite, that it is only Members of the Opposition who are concerned, it is the Members of the Opposition who are trying to create a crisis. If that were true, if we were only here taking care of our vested interests, for instance to be re-elected personally or to be re-elected as a Government, then obviously most persons could say that this would be rather a spurious resolution that we brought in to waste the time of this Legislature. Mr. Speaker, such is not the case. I think the proof is very obvious to everyone who choses to listen, that there is a pending health care crisis in this Province and that an awful lot of individuals are concerned who do not have a vested interest in being elected, who do not have a vested interest in either the individual politicians or the political parties concerned. They are simply interested in the health care system of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, why should they be concerned? In this Province, and again asking the Government to defer the decisions they have made, we are looking at the closure of 438 acute care beds, we are talking layoffs of 900 or more people in the health care system, we are talking about funding that went from 11.3 per cent last year, supposedly part of a long-term plan, that dropped back to 3.6 per cent this year and to subsequent layoffs and bed closures. Mr. Speaker, there has to be a concern by anybody involved in the health care system, and there is certainly a concern involved by any of the families of the sick of this Province.

When you look at the supposed long-term health care plan brought in in 1989 based on a bed study that was done in 1986 and a large Royal Commission that was done in 1984, then obviously there has to be some concern as to whether these recommendations are being dealt with in a fair and equitable manner, whether there is some hanky-panky politically by Members opposite to make sure that they do not take any more political heat than they have to.

I guess, Mr. Speaker, the important part and the concern is, and we will try to show Members opposite today why they should vote in favour of this resolution, is the fact that we do not believe that the bed study is really the basis for the bed closures as announced by the Minister of Health, that there is a lot of manipulation of the bed study itself, and that there is a lot of concern. Now, Members opposite will continue to say, as the Minister of Health has been trying to say to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, that because we cut 1000 people out of the health care system, because we closed 438 beds, because we reduced funding by over 8 per cent from one year to the next, then we have given you a better health care system. That is what the Minister of Health wants the people of this Province to believe. He is trying to say that our thought process that there is a crisis is one that is only in the minds of Members of the Opposition and it is not in the people's minds.

Mr. Speaker, I have to say that certainly from the constituents I represent, from the people we saw in this Legislature yesterday, and from the petitions we have seen, the crisis is certainly real and not merely perceived. And based on assumption, Mr. Speaker, we want this House to defer the cutbacks until an independent assessment is done.

Mr. Speaker, one of the basic social contracts that the Government has to do - yesterday, I suppose, in listening to the Premier and the Minister of Health I really wonder what the functions of Government are sometimes, and that is, why do people get together to become a society? To protect the weak. To protect the sick. To take care of the people in society who could not possible take care of themselves. But when I look at what is happening in this Province, when I see what this Minister and the Minister of Finance and the Premier are about to do to our health care system, I cannot be anything but concerned, and I am sure that when you listen to the professionals in Newfoundland, again as I say, if it were just Members of the Opposition it would be one thing, but when you see the Hospital and Nursing Home Association say that they cannot accommodate the cuts proposed and implemented by the Government without a significant impact on programs and service, a significant disruption in another case.

Mr. Speaker, if there are significant disruptions in the health care system by the group of the health care professionals who are responsible for running that system, I mean that is just not the Opposition crying foul, in this case there are some real concerns. Mr. Speaker, that social contract that a Government has a responsibility to protect the innocent, the weak and the uneducated in our society, I think, has been severely lacking in this Government. They seem to have forgotten one of the main functions that Government has.

In the health care system of this Province, the old cottage hospitals we have which are now substantially being downgraded in many ways, are just an insurance policy. I mean, I have to laugh almost at the Minister of Health saying the reasons we are raising all these concerns is that we want to have a Health Science Complex in everybody's backyard, in every harbour. That obviously is not true and it is not our concern and it is not our intention. We understand that Government has financial problems. We just think that they have gone way to far in the health care sector in trying to solve their health care problems.

Certainly in one of the cases yesterday where the Minister of Health was saying we have to have - you go from a cottage hospital system which is an insurance policy type of approach, it is not meant to give you everything you want, but it is basically saying to people that look, at least if something happens there is some kind of a mechanism, there is some security blanket here to take care of you. What do the people of Burgeo do when you close down all of their acute care beds? They cannot walk across LeMarchant Road from St. Clare's and go to the Grace, they cannot go from the Grace in to the Health Sciences Complex. If you are hurt in Burgeo and there is no acute care beds there, then you obviously have to suffer in pain longer than you certainly should have to.

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the health care beds itself, we are very, very concerned about the manipulation of the bed study. We do not believe that the Minister is following the bed study as closely as he should. If he is listening to his professional advisors, then we really have great concerns as to who is giving advice to the Minister of Health. We have even greater concerns as to who is giving health advice to the Government. And we suspect the Minister of Finance has more to say about health advice than the Minister of Health has.

Mr. Speaker, a few days ago in the House the Minister of Health said why we are asking for this deferral and this reassessment of the bed study - the Minister of Health himself said 'that times change. So we do send in people to make sure that we do not make a mistake because the health care system is so important that we do not want to make any mistakes as we restructure it.' That is a quote from the Minister of Health. But if the Minister of Health says that we send people in to examine and appraise and assess before we close down, how was it possible that five health professionals from the Minister of Health's own Department were supposedly in Placentia on Budget Day talking about a new hospital when the Minister of Finance was in this House saying that, in effect, health care in the Placentia area is going to be significantly reduced.

Now either health care professionals are giving the advice to this Government on health care or the physical advisers are giving health care advice, and we on this side of the House and many in the Province are very, very alarmed and concerned that the health message is not getting through to the decision-makers. And in one case here the crisis, certainly in the Placentia area, was evident yesterday when you look at the number of people from the Placentia area who were here, who were saying: We are concerned. We are concerned about the downgrading, we are concerned about what is going to happen in the future.

The Minister also said a few days ago that the bed study was basically the basis for his new plan, but he also said the bed study was done some time ago. So all we are asking on this side of the House today and from Members opposite, and hopefully they will be able to vote with their conscience rather than as some people will do with the Liberal Party and the Liberal Government, as some people have already said in presenting petitions, that they are going to stick with the caucus rather than stick with the people who elected them which I suspect will be a very short-term political gain for any of those members.

AN HON. MEMBER: Right on!

MR. POWER: But, Mr. Speaker, in the case here I can recount several incidents in this bed study where the bed study is simply not being followed. In the Brookfield Hospital, for instance, in the Budget document it says: will have its level of in-patient activity reduced while planning continues. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is a real concern of everybody in the Placentia area, in Burgeo, in any place where this planning structure is supposed to be changed. The planning is not done, the planning is taking place but at the same time you are reducing the level of services that they presently have. Now what happens in the interim, you say to certain people in Brookfield and in other parts of the Province that you have services now, you may have those same services two or three years from now but you are not going to have them in the interim, that is what the people of Placentia believe this Government is saying, that we are going to give you back the ten acute care beds that were recommended but you are not going to get them for a couple of years. Now, what happens in a couple of years?

Mr. Speaker, it is almost like this Government is saying: cancel your health care policy for the next three or four years, you do not need it, you are not going to get sick. I mean how many persons would do that? If you were told: look, do not put fire insurance on your house for the next three years because you are not going to have a fire; that is what those cottage hospitals systems are for. When I look at the manipulation of the bed study, where it is not being followed as recommend by the Department of Health and again, we have a very real problem on this side of the legislature, of getting honest answers and honest replies from the Minister of Health.

We are finding out through press releases when the Boards finally make the decision, that the Minister of Health and the Premier cannot hide, they have to have made the decisions, they cannot blame it on doctors. When I hear the Minister of Health saying yesterday that he is not going to take responsibility if a doctor sends somebody away from a hospital, it is a doctor's fault; but if the doctor has no beds and has no support staff, then I think the Minister of Health has to take some responsibility in those kind of health situations.

Mr. Speaker, in the bed study itself, Placentia, the bed study is here, I have a copy - I suppose the Minister has seen it but I suspect he does not pay much attention to it - in Placentia, they were supposed to go from thirty-two to ten acute care beds, a reduction of twenty-two. Now, they may get, according to the Minister, one to four holding beds which are not really acute care beds. In Baie Verte, they were supposed to go from thirty-one to twenty-five acute care beds, they are now going to have their hospital closed with maybe five holding beds. Now, is that following the bed study? How can someone say that the professional advice of the Department, professional advice of health care people are saying: in Baie Verte's case, go from thirty-one to twenty- five and you have gone from thirty-one basically to zero with five holding beds, are you listening to your health care professionals. That is why we are asking today on this side of the House for a deferment of the decisions that were made and an impartial reassessment of the health care situation in this Province.

In Brookfield, they are going from thirty to ten, but they may be allowed to keep fifteen; In Springdale, they were supposed to keep ten acute care beds, now they have zero; who gave the advice to the Minister of Finance and the Premier and the Cabinet to close all the beds in Springdale, close all the beds in Baie Verte, who did that? It was not the health care professionals who did the study, so obviously it has to be somebody else. In Port aux Basques, Mr. Speaker, another example, they were supposed to go from forty beds to twenty beds, now they are down to maybe ten or twelve. In Burgeo, they were supposed to go from eighteen to six, now they are down to zero.

If the bed study is the basis for the health care restructuring which the Minister of Health has said it is, then how can he have a restructured system that pays little or no attention to his bed study? Now, it cannot be both ways, it has to be one or the other; either the bed study is the basis for the restructuring or it is not, and that is why again, we are asking for the impartial reassessment of where bed closures and how they were allocated, because we suspect, Mr. Speaker, that it was not done on the basis of the bed study, it was not done on the basis of good health advice, it was done on the basis, possibly on some political advice, possibly on fiscal advice from the Minister of Finance's Department but certainly not from the Minister of Health's own officials.

Mr. Speaker, again I have to say that the real concern comes not just from the Members of the Opposition but from a large segment of this population to whom somebody will have to listen. I saw an editorial here from The Western Star, that says: one of the Ministers, the Justice Minister representing that part of the Province, better soon start listening to some people because his reaction that the Budget was well received shows he has not been talking to ordinary Newfoundlanders and ordinary people and I suspect that very few of this Cabinet has been talking to ordinary Newfoundlanders.

It is no trouble to get big business interested in Newfoundland, it is no trouble to get the Board of Trade, it is no trouble to get the Chamber of Commerce to say to cut back on health, when the vast majority of those individuals can send their children out of the Province for qualified health care, if they want to, and many of them are doing it now. So, Mr. Speaker, it is the poor people in this Province who cannot send their children out of this Province to get health care and who have to suffer the consequences of the mistakes made by the Minister of Health and by his Cabinet colleagues.

So I just want to let it be known that we on this side are not simply defending the jobs in the health care sector, we are not encouraging Government to spend money they have not got. We are saying there has to be a better way to balance your Budget than balance it on the backs of the sick of this Province.

I heard somebody call on the open line show the other day and say that hospitals were simply another make work project. I can only say to that individual that he has not visited very many hospitals lately, that there is not a vast number of people, there certainly is not 1,000, there aren't 300 nurses in the health care system who sit around all day moving paper from one side of a desk to another. The health care system is already understaffed and overworked, and I will tell you it is going to get an awful lot worse with this system.

Mr. Speaker, in concluding my introductory remarks I just want to say something else about the public input of how the health care system was done. We have heard a great deal in this Province of how the public has to have input, the public has to have some way of getting their message across to the Government. I have serious concerns, at least in these health care cuts, of whether the democratic process works. When I see Opposition and Government - Opposition Members I can understand, but when I see Government backbenchers saying that they did not know up to Budget day that their hospitals were going to be significantly downgraded, I can only say how does the process work when a Government backbencher representing 8,000 or 9,000 Newfoundlanders has no way to get his message across to the Minister of Health and to the Premier that there is concern in his area about downgrading health?

And I can only say, Mr. Speaker, that last year in this House we saw a tremendous backlash by the Premier and many of his colleagues when he saw a constitutional process in this country, supposedly a process that went aground because it was all done in secret, it was all done in private. The people had no input, the people had no say. But now I see a health care system in this Province where there is not any public input, where Government backbenchers cannot even get their messages across to the Government, where things are done in secret, they are done without consultation. I can only say to the Premier and to his Cabinet colleagues that if that is the process that was fair for Meech Lake, that it was fair to have public input, if it was not fair to do everything behind closed doors, then how can it be fair to do to the health care system what you have done behind closed doors without listening to your own MHAs, without listening to interest groups, without listening to your professional health care consultants? I can only say, Mr. Speaker, that somewhere along the way this whole system has gone off the rails.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, just let me say that all we are asking for today is a deferment of the decisions that have been made. We believe there is a crisis in the health care system. We believe it is going to get worse, and we are asking this Government to do what it did in Meech Lake: postpone, defer the decision, get some public input, listen to your own people, your own advisors, and maybe then we will be able to have a careful, independent, re-assessment, re-evaluation of the bed closures that have been announced in this Province. Mr. Speaker, it will be very interesting to see if Members opposite can concur with simply a deferment of the decisions made and a re-assessment of the bed closures that have been announced. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the hon. the Premier I would like to welcome to the House of Assembly on behalf of hon. Members, 21 level II students from Fitzgerald Academy in English Harbour West, accompanied by their teachers Bruce Vallis, Don Lawrence and Mark Courtney.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, before I address the comments of the hon. Member I would just like to take a couple of minutes, with the indulgence of the House, to elaborate further on the comment made by the Opposition House Leader about the alleged bomb threat in my office. I knew that if there had been a bomb threat I would have been advised of it. However, over the past few weeks a lady, who is a patient in the Waterford Hospital, calls and claims that she is an undercover police agent and she calls fairly regularly. Whenever she can get access to a phone she dials the number directly and one time she will report this and another time she will report something else, and she is known to the people. When they know and identify who it is, they do not give it any attention because she is a sick lady in the Waterford Hospital. Now, that lady does this - I think it is the fourth call from that lady. So it is not a bomb threat, and I do not want people to believe, generally, in the Province that there are bomb threats in this building and we are not paying any attention to them.

I say again, if any hon. Members become aware of any information like that, it is best handled if you ask me discreetly. I will give you honestly, exactly what it is. If you are not satisfied then and you want to raise it in the House, by all means, but rather than do this and create this kind of public attention to it I suggest to you that it is best to address it to me directly and I will deal with it honestly with the hon. Member and inform him fully.

AN HON. MEMBER: Did not know this morning.

PREMIER WELLS: This morning, no. And they do not tell me when that lady calls. because they know enough to discount it, it is not of any consequence. They know the lady is sick and they know whenever she gets anywhere near a phone she calls and pretends to be an undercover police agent and she has discovered this new problem.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Well, the policemen stay on top of all these things. We do not let anything go on toward. But when it is that kind of a thing we do not pursue it, and it is best not to create undue scares in this way.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to take a few minutes to speak to this resolution. I do not want to say a great deal about it. The resolution is, `Be it resolved that the House urge the Government to defer decisions announced in the Budget.' I can tell the House at the outset, Mr. Speaker, that we cannot agree to defer decisions announced in the Budget. That amounts to a complete backtrack of the Government's Budget and we cannot do that.

Now, Mr. Speaker, hon. Members are aware of the circumstances in which we found ourselves in this Province, and I do not need to go back and reiterate those; they were well stated by the Minister of Finance on Budget Day and they have been restated by quite a number of people since that time. I do, however, draw hon. Member's attention to Newfoundland being no different than the rest of the country. Here is the headline today in the Globe and Mail: `Wages frozen for 450,000 Quebecers. The Quebec Government have announced that they have frozen the wages...', and here is what they have announced they have done.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

PREMIER WELLS: No, it is not. `Under Mr. Johnson's plan unionized public sector workers would have their collective agreements extended to the end of 1992 at the present wage rates.' That is frozen, Mr. Speaker. Ontario is now - I read the report in the newspaper the other day - looking at a Budget deficit for this current fiscal year that ends in March of something in excess of $3 billion. Having budgeted for, I believe, a $50 million surplus, a deficit that will be in excess of $3 billion, and perhaps up to $3.5 billion in this current fiscal year. Now by comparison we had a $117 million deficit. Ontario has roughly about seventeen times our population, so that they are 50 per cent worse off again than we were. Quebec is in a similar boat. I was looking at news reports in the Evening Telegram today where New Brunswick is talking about dealing with its $275 million deficit. So, Mr. Speaker, this is not unusual or peculiar to Newfoundland. The newspapers and people in Ontario are talking about the prospect of a $6 or $7 billion deficit in the coming fiscal year. Rich Ontario is going to be in that position, so they have to deal effectively with these problems as the Government had to deal effectively with the problems. The country as a whole has to deal effectively with the problems.

And the approach of the Government was not to go and not seek advice. Essentially this is calling on us to seek independent advice, is the wording of this resolution I believe - to defer the decisions announced in the Budget with respect to these named hospitals and conduct an independent review of these decisions. Well, I tell the Members of the House, that is what we have been doing for four months, when you kept telling us we should make the decision and rush at it. But we decided to wait and do it on an intelligent and fair-minded basis and hear from people involved. We conducted such an independent review and had the opinions of the people directly involved in the delivery of health care throughout the Province. That is precisely what we have been doing for the last four months, and doing it very well and very fairly, Mr. Speaker. So there is no need to defer any decison in the Budget.

The Minister has also made a statement. He made it in the House, I believe. I heard him make it on TV, and I do not know whether I added to it or detracted from it, but I reaffirmed that it was my view, as well, when the media asked me about it. If any group in the Province wants to make a presentation to the Government with respect to any decision that we have made, we will hear that presentation. And if we are convinced that we have made a mistake, we are not too big to stand up and say we have made a mistake. We have done that in the past. We have corrected decisions. And we will do it again. But I do not want to lead people to believe that all you have to do is complain and the decision is going to change. That is not so. The decision will be maintained unless we are satisfied clearly that what we have done is a mistake. And if it is a mistake and we are satisfied that it is, then we are not so big that we cannot stand up and say so, and we will. And I re-affirm what the Minister has said in that regard. But we cannot stop the budget process, Mr. Speaker, as this resolution would ask us to do, to "urge the Government to defer" implementation of the decisions respecting this segment of the health sector budget.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I know that individual MHAs on both sides of the House are concerned with the decision, and concerned with the impact it has on their respective districts. I understand and appreciate that. I also understand and appreciate that it is the responsibility of Members who are elected to this House not simply to consider in detail the issues that are brought before the House and exercise their judgement on it. It is not simply to vote blindly for the Government, to support the Government, or it is not simply to vote blindly against the Government. Amongst their other duties I acknowledge and accept that Members of this House have a responsibility to ensure that the concerns of their constituents are brought to the attention of the Government and brought to the attention of the whole House and the whole Province, by means of a debate in this House, and by means of expressing their opinion in this House.

And I have no doubt that Members on this side of the House, as the Member for LaPoile did today, will stand and express his concern and his view and his opinion, and perhaps the opinion of his district, that what the Government did with respect to the hospital in Port aux Basques, he expressed doubts about. And I understand that. That does not mean that he can vote against the Government on its Budget. It does not mean that he can be expected to do that. It does not mean that he has any less concern for his district or her district if they stand and say well, I disagree with the approach the Government has taken on a particular hospital, nevertheless I support the Government's overall approach.

And to put down this kind of resolution is really unworthy of hon. Members. There is no basis at all in which the Government can defer these decisions in the manner requested. First and foremost, Mr. Speaker, because we have already had the independent assessment to which this refers. And in the light of the Minister's undertaking that if a case is made out that we have indeed made a mistake, we are not so big that we cannot admit that we have made a mistake and seek to change it.

Mr. Speaker, another point I want to make is this Government's commitment to health. To listen to the Members on the other side and to listen to some of the public sector unions you would think that this Government is cutting back on the great health programme that the Members opposite put in place when they were there, that we are cutting back on their commitment to health, that our commitment is less than theirs, that we reduced the portion of the public expenditure on health from what that government did when they were in power, that we have cut it down. Now, Mr. Speaker, just look at the reality. And I will tell you the reality.

Here is the budget for 1988. You can identify it by the cover (Inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Now, Mr. Speaker, if people will look at Exhibit 9, they will find there a detailed breakdown of how much was spent on the social sector, the general governmental sector, and the resource sector. And you will find if you compare the two, this year's Budget and the 1988 budge, the last budget of that former government, their commitment to the social sector compared to ours. It is approximately the same - 64.1 and 63.8; give or take, not very much difference.

Now look at health in particular. It is spelled out in the social sector. Under the social sector they spent 23.5 per cent of the total governmental expenditures on health - 23.5 per cent. Now what did we do? If you listen to what they say, you would think we cut it back to 18 per cent. No, Mr. Speaker. What we did in this year was increase it - 24.8 per cent of the total expenditure is spent on health. You do not measure a government's commitment to a particular segment of society or responding to a social need by measuring cutbacks or management in any one year, you measure it by the total effort that is made in the whole of government services. And we, Mr. Speaker, have committed 24.8 per cent of the total government expenditure this year to health care. And if we were only to have made the same level of effort for health as the former Government committed in their last budget, if we were to have committed only that level, we would have reduced the health care sector by another $40 million.

Now, Mr. Speaker, those are the facts, not the fiction you hear coming from the other side, and the suggestion that this Government is insensitive to health care and social needs in the Province. Look at the reality of it and you will see the kind of effort this Government has been making.

The reality is that the Opposition are trying desperately to find something to enable them to claw up out of the bottom of the barrel, where they are. And they will attack anything. I do not really see any real concern for the people of this Province. If they were really concerned for the people of this Province, what they would be addressing, as the Government is addressing, is the overall concern, the overall financial situation in the Province, and what portion of the funds available to us will we assign to health care or education or resource sector or others. And our commitment to health is very clear. We committed 24.8 per cent of our budget, where they committed 23.5 per cent of theirs. Just about a quarter of the Budget is committed to providing for health care.

Mr. Speaker, I plead with the Members of the Opposition to put the interest of the people of this Province first. Because it is not the Government we are talking about, bear that in mind. The Government gains nothing by reducing or increasing health care expenditures. It is the people of this Province. Those expenditures can only be paid for by Government putting its hands into the people's pockets, either to take the money directly to pay the expenses as they are incurred, or to pay the interest and service the debt that you incur by borrowing against the future. And that is unfair.

We have to come closer to paying our own way without burdening the future of this Province with debt that we created to pay our operating costs. That would be an unconscionable legacy to our people. We are not prepared, as the former government was prepared, to have in place a series of deficit budgets one year after another and put an ever-increasing mortgage on the people of this Province without paying off any of the debt.

Mr. Speaker, I understand the concerns of individual MHAs. I expect them to press their concerns. And let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, that the MHAs on this side of the House, they were not treated preferentially. That was the way the former government did it. We treat people fairly. The hon. Member spoke about MHAs on this side of the House not having advance notice of what was going to be done. Mr. Speaker, a government that provided advance notice to people outside the Cabinet, the Minister of Finance should resign in any such government for providing Cabinet leaks. We talked generally about our policy and had an endorsement of our general policy to manage the affairs of this Province in a sound and proper basis, but no specifics of the Budget were divulged to anybody. If it became known that we divulged a specific of the Budget to a Member on this side of the House, the hon. Member opposite, instead of praising it would be up calling for the Minister's resignation. And that is what we would be hearing from him.

So, Mr. Speaker, we act properly, and we still get this kind of criticism. I, nevertheless, understand and appreciate the concerns of MHAs on both sides of the House. I can appreciate their having to do it. I appreciate the genuineness of the concerns they have for the people in their districts, and the impact it will have in employment terms, in health care terms and in other ways on their individual districts. And I am not surprised to hear them express those concerns. But, Mr. Speaker, I am happy to express great confidence in the MHAs who sit on this side of the House. They have expressed those concerns to us, and I accept their expression of concern. They have expressed it with dedication for their districts, and with determination to try and make sure that whatever can be done to promote the interest of their districts has been done. Every last one of them sitting in this House has done that, and I appreciate that and know they have to do it. But all of them, Mr. Speaker, have expressed overall confidence in the way the Government is running this Province, including its general budgetary management.

Mr. Speaker, I have no doubt that the Members on this side of the House will vote against this resolution. First because it is not necessary, we did the full independent assessment in the last four months. That is what was being done. We have been operating on the basis of using the bed study as a guideline, but the bed study is not an absolute that is cast in stone and can't ever be changed. We take into account representation from all areas of the Province and all people who are involved in the delivery of health care in the Province and make whatever adjustments are appropriate to carry out the kind of health policy that we have developed.

No, Mr. Speaker, this resolution is not necessary, and I have no doubt, Mr. Speaker, that hon. Members on this side of the House will speak very clearly when the time comes to vote on it and indicate strongly their support for the Government's basic management of this Province, even at the same time that they may be in disagreement with a particular decision for a particular district or their particular district. I understand that, Mr. Speaker, but this is not necessary. It serves no purpose. The work has already been done. The study has already been done and the Government must get on with the proper financial management of this Province, but always subject to the comment of the Minister of Health who said very clearly, 'show us on genuine terms that something we are doing is wrong and we will make the appropriate adjustment.' But I do not want people to believe that all you have to do is complain and a change will be made, because that is not so, Mr. Speaker. I support what the Minister of Health has said and I have no doubt, Mr. Speaker, that other Members on this side of the House do as well. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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. Well if I have ever seen somebody begging and pleading with his Members to fall in line, well then I just saw a typical example of what it is like. No other reason did the Premier stand to speak to this resolution today except for to beg and plead for Members like the Member for La Poile and the Member representing Placentia and other Members to get up and vote against this resolution.

Let me comment first of all, Mr. Speaker, on some of the Premier's statements. He said starting off, 'We are not the only Province in trouble, we know that. Quebec announced that their wages are frozen.' Frozen, yes, but not rolled back. That is the difference - quite a difference. He mentioned that the Ontario deficit will be $3 billion. That is not surprising knowing that they have an NDP Government. That does not surprise any of us. The Premier cannot take the heat. However, the Premier says, 'the resolution calls for an independent review.' He says, 'we don't need an independent review. That is what we have been doing for the last four months.'

Let me ask some of the gentlemen over there: with whom has he been doing his independent review, because he certainly has not been doing it with some of you. If the Premier made the decision to phase out, shut down, change the status of hospitals around the Province, who gave him the advice? Who did the review? Number one, the process that is announced does not conform with the 1986 bed study, so it had nothing to do with that. He did not consult with the people from the areas who are affected. He did not even consult with the elected representatives. So, who is doing the independent review? Maybe I should tell you. Maybe it is a committee of doctors in this Province who are secretly advising the Premier in relation to health matters, going over the heads of his Cabinet, going over the head of the Minister of Health, going over the heads of the elected representatives and advising the Premier as to the process that he should take which eventually led to having hospitals in four major centres - St. John's, Corner Brook, Grand Falls and Gander - and very little else anywhere else in the Province. Maybe the Member should talk to the Premier about that major plan that is in the background.

The Premier then goes on to say: decisions will be maintained. We will wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow will prove whether decisions will be maintained or not. And I understand that the Member for Placentia and the health care committee out there will be meeting with the Minister of Health. And we will see tomorrow whether decisions will be maintained or not. The people from the area showed their displeasure here yesterday, the Member showed his displeasure and he stood up for his people by going out to meet them, by presenting the petition on their behalf, by supporting that petition, and we will see tomorrow whether or not the Premier will stand by his comment that decisions will be maintained.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: Mr. Speaker, there is a tremendous amount of noise in the -

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

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

MR. HEARN: And then the Premier gets into his pleading. And he says: it is okay for his Members to vote against the resolution because they agree with the process. So consequently, it is okay for them to vote against the resolution. To vote against what? Well, let's have a look at the resolution.

It says: BE IT RESOLVED that this House urge the Government to defer decisions announced in the Budget with respect to the hospitals in Bell Island - represented by the hon. Liberal Member; Bonavista, represented by a Liberal Member; Springdale, represented by a good Tory Member; Baie Verte, also by a Tory Member; Port aux Basques - we saw a major petition today well presented by the Member for Port aux Basques; Bonne Bay, once again represented by a Cabinet Minister; Brookfield, represented by a Liberal Member; Old Perlican, represented by a Liberal Member; Placentia, represented by a Liberal Member; Burgeo, where last night they certainly showed their displeasure - I am sure the Minister is extremely concerned today about what is happening down there; St. Lawrence, represented by a Tory Member; and of course Come By Chance, represented by Your Honour-

MR. EFFORD: Only one Tory district?

MR. HEARN: Three Tory districts. We do not have hospitals.

MR. EFFORD: You're some lucky.

MR. HEARN: -and conduct an independent review. All we are asking is: take your time, conduct an independent review. Now here is where the Premier falls down in his argument to you not to vote for this resolution. If you vote against this resolution - and the Minister of Finance says - you know, forget it. If anybody in this House should not even raise his head - and I notice now he has put it down again - it is the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance should take early leave and head off for Florida somewhere, and do us all a favour. He should have done it three weeks ago -

AN HON. MEMBER: Three years ago.

MR. HEARN: Three years ago, and saved us all a lot of problems.

But, Mr. Speaker, the resolution is just urging Government to defer - not to change, to defer - decision making until an independent review is conducted. The Premier's only defence to his own Members to whom he was pleading - he was not talking to us - the Premier was standing up and pleading to his own Members to vote against the resolution, a resolution which asks for deferral until an independent review can be done to assess what really should be done in the health care sector in the Province. His argument that an independent review was done does not hold water, and you do not have to ask anyone except yourselves. And if the Members certainly stand and vote against this resolution, then you are saying to your own constituents: we could not care less.

All we are asking for is deferral and an independent study. That is -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: The Premier said we cannot afford it. The amount of money involved here for a six month delay will not make any difference.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: Some other points, Mr. Speaker, that we should make. The Premier said there is a major increase in the Budget.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: It is extremely hard to be heard, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The level of conversation to my left is becoming unbearable. And I suggest to hon. Members that if they want to carry on their meetings they could go outside the Chamber.

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I think the people should listen and hear some facts, not just believe the Premier every time he speaks. The people of the Province have long since learned that they can't believe the Premier.

But the Premier says: major increases in the Budget compared to the time the Tories ran the government. Let us have a look at some of the major increases in the Department of Health budget and let's see where they are. Just run through some of the headings.

Minister's office, major increase - the Premier is right - the Minister's office, $222,000, up from $208,000 last year - major increase in the Minister's office. Executive support is down. The workers, the people who do the real work, down. Administrative support and general administration, down - people who do the work. Health policy and planning - now there is a place where investment should take place - down. Programme review and planning, down. Health policy and planning, up, but up in which way? Up in relation to a major increase in professional services. Outside consultants.


AN HON. MEMBER: Misleading the House (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: Dental support -

AN HON. MEMBER: He's reading his speech.

MR. HEARN: Reading from the budget. Budget Speech. Ask the Minister of Finance. He can get up in few minutes. When I finish, the Minister of Finance will get up and explain all the increases.

AN HON. MEMBER: Misleading the House.

MR. HEARN: Dental support, down, almost wiped out, dental support.

MR. SIMMS: Old Perlican, gone.

MR. HEARN: Administration. And in relation to the administration, the public health, in the public health sector, down. Consultative services, up. Community health services, something that affects all of us, down. Emergency transportation - this is the interesting one - emergency transportation services, road ambulance, up. Why up? Emergency and transportation services generally, up. Why up? Because of the lack of services provided at the different hospitals in local areas, they have to be transported to other centres.

So we see where the increases are. The increases are created because of the inefficiencies -

MR. HEWLETT: Crash and carry!

MR. HEARN: - of the Government. Crash and carry, exactly. We have drug subsidization, up.

AN HON. MEMBER: Misleading the House.

MR. HEARN: Memorial University, Faculty of Medicine, down. Now, we can go on. You know, coordination and development, down. Health and social agencies, down. So we go on to the things that affect community health care, the things that affect every man, woman and child out there, the Budget, down, despite the fact that we have a 5.7 per cent inflation rate, down from last year. Increase in consultation, road transportation, Minister's office. So that is why the budget in the Department of Health increased.

Let's look, Mr. Speaker, at some of the specifics in relation to the resolution, why we are asking that an independent review take place so that decisions that will be made will be fair to the Member for LaPoile, fair to the Member for Burgeo, fair to the Member for Grand Bank - St. Lawrence.

MR. GILBERT: (Inaudible) fair now!

MR. HEARN: Fair to the Member for Placentia. Now the Minister of Transportation says: fair now. So the Minister of Transportation now agrees that what is happening in Burgeo is fair, and the Minister is on the record as saying that he agrees with what is happening in Burgeo. So we will let the people of Burgeo know that the Minister has no problem with what is happening. If it is not broke, he said, don't fix it. So the Minister is tagging along on the Premier's coattails and he is going to vote against the resolution, undoubtedly.

So the people of Trepassey: it will take them two hours to get to hospital the best of times, and Trepassey barrens in the wintertime is not a pleasant place to be, as the Member well knows. And consequently if there is any rough weather at all, it could take them several hours to get to hospital.

And we have not got a hospital in the area. In fact, we are probably more remote than any other part of the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is your argument?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: Exactly. So what the Member for St. John's South is now saying, is that, well they have not got a hospital in Trepassey, so then why not take all the rest of them? Why does anybody else need a hospital? That is exactly what the Member is saying, that is exactly what you said. So, he said: what is your argument? Your argument is that if Trepassey can do without it, then everybody else can do without it. We do have a good clinic staffed by the best medical doctor in this Province, and that is a big help. Staffed by the best medical doctor in this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: The hospital in Placentia, being the one that affects me directly, is having its status reduced to that of a clinic. Chronic care made available in a few years, and they said perhaps some beds in the area, maybe, a couple of years time. The Member for Placentia posed a very interesting question yesterday when he presented his petition. Because if we need ten acute care beds right now, if we are going to need ten acute care beds two years down the road, why in the interim, between now and 1993, don't we need ten acute care beds? That is an exceptionally good question. Now, maybe that question will be answered tomorrow and maybe the Minister of Health will give him his ten acute care beds. I hope he does. Then I hope he is prepared to give them back to Burgeo, back to Old Perlican, back to Port aux Basques, and back to everybody else.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: If I were the Minister of Social Services I would not open my mouth. He put his foot in his mouth last night. The Minister of Social Services clearly indicated last night why certain decisions were made, because the people affected were in Tory districts. Here we cannot say the same thing, here you have a dictator being advised by outside consultants, bypassing the advice of his own people. It is a shame, it is a terrible shame that it is happening, and once again do not take our word for it, just go talk to your backbenchers. Talk to your backbenchers. Ask them how much they were consulted. Turn around Minister of Social Services and ask the Member behind you how much consultation took place with the Member for LaPoile when they scuttled the Port aux Basques hospital. Ask him how many meetings he had with the Premier in relation to the plans for the Port aux Basques hospital. Ask the Member for Placentia if he was called in and advised that the Placentia hospital was going to be scuttled. None of them were.


MR. HEARN: Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. HEARN: Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of respect for the Member for Port de Grave, the Minister of Social Services, and I would love to see the Premier make a decision to scuttle a hospital in the Member's district without consulting him.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. HEARN: I know. I do not have one either. I said I would love to see the Premier scuttle a hospital in your district without consulting you. I would love to see the reaction, because I do not think the Minister would sit there and take it, and I do not think the Members who have been affected, the Member for Trinity South over there, the Member for LaPoile, and others, are going to take it either, so we are giving them a chance today to do something about it. I was going to get into the Liberal manifesto as put out in the last election but we have already heard it quoted a few times. But certainly what the Premier promises in that is nowhere near what he is doing now, which once again shows exactly what concern he has for health care in the Province.

In relation to Placentia, getting back to it again, where we are talking about thirty people being affected in relation to job security, a hospital that had some 800 admissions last year. Mr. Speaker, that is going to be a big blow to the area unless the Member, through his efforts and the efforts of the people who were here yesterday, convince the Minister of Health tomorrow to make changes. And I certainly hope the Minister will listen to them and make the necessary changes, and then I hope he is prepared to listen to every other group which comes pounding on the door and make the same changes. I look forward now to the Member for Port de Grave getting up, Mr. Speaker, and telling us what he would do.

MR. EFFORD: I wish I could. I wish I could.

MR. HEARN: You are not allowed to get up today, either? I am sorry. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HOGAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think yesterday, Mr. Speaker, when I presented the petition on behalf of the residents of the Placentia inter-town area and the Cape Shore, I outlined justification and need for the maintenance of in-patient services at the Placentia Cottage Hospital. It is with some interest today that I learned - I should not say today, yesterday evening - I learned that the resolution that has been put forth by the hon. the Member for Ferryland, I am in a quandary about, Mr. Speaker; I am also in a quandary about the word `defer'. That is my only hesitation with regard to that particular resolution.

Defer for what? Now I have not heard much explanation from the other side as to what could transpire with a deferral. The Come By Chance Hospital, for example, which is also in my district, or covers part of my district, that is closed; it was closed sometime ago down to a twenty-four hour clinic, and now the twenty-four hour clinic is also gone.

This particular clinic was subjected, as the Chair is very familiar with and shared with me a lot of work in getting that put to an independent study. It was done by an independent person, outside Government ranks. It was done by a person who is quite familiar actually with what happens in Government and the bureaucracy, and what their figures mean and everything, and I think our argument to that particular consultant was one that was built on emotion and on projection, and we did not win the argument with the consultant who recommended the closure of that particular hospital.

That is the problem I have today with this particular resolution, Mr. Speaker, this referral to a consultant. I think the position put forth by the people from Placentia, the position put forth by myself and the position that is going to be put forth by the Board members on Thursday is a good one. I think it would be a better one, and I am weighing this, to be quite frank with you, than could be put forth by a consultant. We started a particular plan over a week ago in addressing the needs of the Placentia health care system, and we have been following that so far. And I would recommend to the Government and urge the Government that they recognize the need that has been clearly identified and justified by the arguments which have been put forth so far. And mine are quite clear. I do not have to repeat them all, they are in yesterday's Hansard.

I would also recommend that the Government change its position on the particular Budget as it applies to that particular institution.

I think if the Department of Health would make the hospital board masters of their own budget and let them decide how many beds are needed, how many beds are required and what to do with the particular services, whether they are in-patient services or whatever the services are, let them decide how much they are going to cost, and then, if necessary, adjust the Budget. And I think, Mr. Speaker, the plan that is being put forth by the hospital board and by the people who have spoken to date, including the support that came from Mr. Hearn yesterday for the petition, is to listen to the arguments that are going to be put forth by the various individuals involved.

Mr. Speaker, the resolution is particularly attractive to me. I do not know about others. I just speak on Placentia's behalf. But I still have trouble with the word `defer'. With this in mind, Mr. Speaker, I am sort of torn on what position to take on this particular resolution, whether to have faith in what we have planned ourselves and the arguments which have put forth, or leave it to consultants at some future date. I think we can probably put our case on Thursday. Then, again, maybe I will be wrong, but I hope not. That is a decision I will have to make as the day passes. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Petitions on this particular subject matter are not new to me, as I seem to remember starting them some time before Christmas. Needless to say, I will be supporting the resolution put forward by my colleague, the Member for Ferryland. It is rather amusing. You hear the term `rationalize' being used to describe what is being done to our hospital system and health care system throughout the Province.

Knowing that I was going to have a chance to speak here today, I asked my secretary to look up the definition of rationalize in the dictionary. One definition, Mr. Speaker, and this is Webster's New World Dictionary 1982 Edition, `to apply modern methods of efficiency to an industry, agriculture etc.' Another definition, again from Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary 1989, `to provide plausible but untrue reasons for conduct.' So, therefore, Mr. Speaker, the word `rationalize' like the sword of righteousness the Premier has a tendency to wield from time to time, can cut both ways.

Now, Mr. Speaker, when we got the word of `what does a health care freeze mean to you?' when that was sent out to all the health care boards across the Province, the local board in Green Bay did its sums and did an across-the-board freeze and sent a proposal to Government what it would mean, and it would mean closing some beds at the hospital, it would mean closing beds at the senior citizen's complex, etc. - losing some twenty-two jobs, I think, was their estimation.

The Department of Health made it clear to the local health care board after receiving that submission and many others that it was not interested in closing nursing home beds, so Springdale had better rethink its position vis-a-vis the Budget freeze. And so they put forward another proposal which they felt from signals, nuances, etc., from the Department of Health would be more in keeping with the thinking of the Department of Health at that time. And they put forward a proposal, a proposal I did not support, I would add, to give up their hospital as a hospital and turn it into a chronic care institution, with the hope that they would lose only six employees and their wages from the economy of Springdale in particular, and Green Bay in general.


MR. HEWLETT: I spoke to the Administrator of the Springdale Hospital just after the Provincial Budget came down.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEWLETT: I spoke to the administrator and at the time -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEWLETT: If the hon. Minister will please - I am sick and tired of hearing about my severance pay, and I am sick and tired of hearing about cucumbers. Stick one up your nose and be quiet, Sir.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. POWER: Excellent idea! Excellent idea!

MR. HEWLETT: Mr. Speaker, they put forward a proposal.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. HEWLETT: Mr. Speaker, I just put forward a proposal.

But as I indicated earlier, the Green Bay Health Care Board put forward a proposal which they felt would cost six jobs and change their hospital over to a chronic care facility. I spoke to the administrator a few days after the Budget, after he had some time for the realities of it all to sink in, and the administrator had indicated by then he had let fifteen people go. He was not sure exactly how many chronic care beds he had. The administrator is away, I presume on vacation, or certainly out of town for two weeks, and he contemplates probably having to lay off a few others at the management level. That was the last I heard from the local area as to what the situation was. I called out this morning. The administrator is out of town all this week and all next, so it would appear to be either prolonged conference overseas or a vacation. But prior to that he had laid off fifteen.

I brought petitions into this House against what this Government is up to, Mr. Speaker. The Health Care Board in Springdale, with the help of the good Mayor of Springdale, however, decided to go along with the position of the Government of the day and put forward a proposal to downgrade its hospital to a chronic care facility in the hope and expectation, they said, and it is here on the front page of the newspaper, that they would lose six jobs. So far they have lost fifteen, and I would think there are a few more to come.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this would not all be so strange and funny if it was not coming from a Liberal administration. I have only been elected for a couple of years, but I can remember sitting in the gallery and watching the Liberals in Opposition decry continuously, practically claim it was a crime against humanity, to close a hospital bed temporarily for the summer. What we have here now is a Government that calls itself Liberal into a wholesale re-structuring of the health care system in our Province, a wholesale downsizing of the hospital system in our Province.

The theory of it all sounds very good, Mr. Speaker. `Rationalize', to come up with a better system, to use Webster's first definition. You have a feeder clinic at Springdale which has 24 hour operations, with lab and x-ray and a couple of holding beds to keep people overnight and stabilize them, and then you whip them off in an ambulance to Grand Falls. My friend from St. Mary's - The Capes indicated the medical travel bill is up, because I think they expect to be whipping a lot of people off to regional hospitals in the Province.

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, there is a snag in the situation, in that Grand Falls, now having its area enlarged to include Green Bay, also takes a cut. So somewhere along the system the buck, or the person, or the patient has to stop. Somewhere along the system someone has to receive the incoming patient.

My friend from Humber Valley pointed out the other day that he had a situation where a doctor from the Deer Lake clinic called to the Corner Brook hospital to say, `We have two emergencies on the way. They are in the ambulance. They are coming. Get ready.' And Corner Brook said, `Don't send them to us. We cannot handle them. We are up to our eyeballs.' They were already on the road. What do you do then, turn around and head for the Grand Falls hospital, three or four hours away?

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. HEWLETT: That is the kind of situation we are going to find ourselves in. If you had rationalized it at the local level and then the regional health care system is geared up - geared up - not down, to take the increased traffic from the individual regions, then maybe there might be some sense in what this Government is doing. But this Government is cutting at the local level, it is cutting at the regional level, and it is cutting at the level of our general hospitals here in St. John's. Somewhere along the line someone is going to fall through the cracks, Mr. Speaker; some poor human being is not going to survive because of a two or three hour drive in an ambulance in a blizzard. It is just not going to happen properly.

In my district Triton is probably seventy or eighty miles from St. John's. You drive up the highway, and you come to the junction of South Brook. The ambulance driver in that particular situation had better be very well trained because he has a choice: he can belt her twenty miles to the emergency clinic at Springdale, or he can belt her forty miles to the regional hospital at Grand Falls. That is his choice, and I hope to God every time he has to make that choice he makes the right one. But that is the choice he will have.

And, Mr. Speaker, with regard to this bed study which they indicated was a guideline I do believe, according to the bed study Springdale was to be assigned at least some - I believe ten was the number - acute care beds. Last year's Budget reduced the twenty-five bed acute care hospital in Springdale to fifteen beds. Now we do not have any acute beds, just a couple of holding beds, is about the best way to describe it.

What about the delivery of children, Mr. Speaker? I was born in my mother's bed. There was no doctor. My aunt, a retired nurse, was the local midwife. People in Newfoundland in this day and age are used to being around when their children are born, and when their grandchildren are born. They are used to going to visit them at the hospital. These days, now, you are going to have to go to Grand Falls, and that is seventy, eighty or ninety miles, depending on where you live. If you live in Harry's Harbour or Jackson's Cove, Jackson's Cove being one of the most Liberal towns in Green Bay, it is probably ninety miles away from the Grand Falls hospital and that is where those people will have to go to deliver their children; and Mommie and Daddy and Grandpa and all the rest of them are going to have to drive that distance just to be able to see the newborn, not to mention the two or three hour drive in labour in the middle of a blizzard, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: What has that got to do with being Liberal or not? What does that have to do with it?

MR. HEWLETT: I am just pointing out that the people who voted Liberal, who voted for real change, this is not the type of real change they expected.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEWLETT: Mr. Speaker, health care in Green Bay, and I will be perfectly honest about it, Government presence, health care presence is an aid to the economy. We have not opened a mine since I was a teenager, we are running out of trees, Government is shrinking. There is nothing left to keep people out there. Pretty soon, Mr. Speaker, I will not have a district, because there is no work locally. Why would anybody locally want to vote for a Government that is de-populating the district? That is what they are doing, de-populating the district. The nearest place you can go in Green Bay to get your stamps right now is Calgary or Kuwait. And I have had a lot of calls already from people asking, do you know of any companies going to Kuwait? The thing that really confuses people, Mr. Speaker, is that they have a Liberal Government in now and everybody understands what the word `liberal' means. I should have brought down a dictionary definition of the word `liberal.' We have one new democrat in the House, a socialist, we have our party, the people's party, the middle-of-the-road party, and we have the Liberal Party, which is the ultra right wing party. Margaret Thatcher would love you guys and would love to be sitting in your front benches. You people are not Liberals. You are not Liberals at all. Some of you individually may be Liberals, but you are led by a person who is an ultra rightist and you do not have any choice but to put up with him or walk. And you do not have the nerve to walk, so do not point your finger at me.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEWLETT: It is funny, Mr. Speaker, we have been in this House now for several days discussing cuts in health and education and the way that the Liberal Party has been really tearing into the social side of Government, the side of Government that Joey Smallwood always proclaimed was the essence of liberalism. The essence of liberalism is being ripped apart by this particular ultra-right Government. And, a few days ago while all this was going on, our first Minister, our Premier was up in Ontario visiting with the Premier of a Socialist Government, no less, but, was he up there discussing with Premier Rae, ways of dealing with restraints in recessionary times, peaceable ways of dealing with your unions in these very difficult financial times?

No, Mr. Speaker, our Premier was up there discussing with Mr. Rae a way that he could get back on the constitutional stage and do the Meech Lake dance or whatever, the Constitutional convention dance or whatever it is he likes to do on the national stage. You would think that if the Premier of this Province, the poorest Province in the nation, faced with health care cuts and whatnot, like we are into right now, if he was going to be in Ontario consulting with a left wing Premier, you would think he would be consulting with a left wing Premier on how to improve labour relations, how to deliver a reasonable health care system in recessionary times. But was he worried about the people storming the doors of Confederation Building out here yesterday, no, Mr. Speaker, he was up in Toronto, worried about getting himself back on the national stage, trying to get us into a Constitutional convention where we will have even less say than we already have in the House of Commons, that is some great forward step, that is, for the people of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, some time ago, when Meech Lake was on the go, I indicated to this House of Assembly that the Premier's response to people's cries for additional assistance for a decent health and education system was: let them eat Meech, and now it would appear you know, it is let them eat a national referendum. Where are we going to come out in a national referendum percentage wise in this nation, what we think in a national referendum will be so irrelevant; I mean, the hon. President of the Treasury Board knows that his own brother up there in Ottawa makes more impact than all of our people would in a national referendum, in terms of making Newfoundland's presence felt in the nation; I mean, that is absolutely absurd.

So our good doctor would prescribe for our patients' ills: do not worry about your health care system, do not worry about your education system; take a couple of referendums, drink plenty of fluids and go to bed. Sorry, we are out of kidneys, Sir, but the Premier will send us over a few national referendums, good for the constitution you know, we might install a few in you.

Mr. Speaker, we have gone back nearly forty years in health care and I say that because I am nearly forty years old. When I was taken seriously ill when I was a couple of weeks old, in February of 1952 -


MR. HEWLETT: - I set out for the nearest hospital, or my parents took me en route to the nearest hospital to save my life; my parents did the hon. gentleman opposite a tremendous disservice, I was gravely, yea, terminally ill and they decided to give it one last try and take me to the nearest hospital-

MR. EFFORD: Thank God for the Liberal hospital.

MR. HEWLETT: Now, he walked into that one, Mr. Speaker, he walked into that one. The nearest hospital, Mr. Speaker, the nearest hospital, Mr. Speaker, was Grand Falls, and in order to get to that hospital, Mr. Speaker, I left Port Anson the way the mail came in, on a dog team -

MR. EFFORD: I thought (inaudible).

MR. HEWLETT: - and the second leg of the trip was on a passenger

snowmobile -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEWLETT: - and the third leg was my first automobile ride when I was two weeks old and nearly dead, from Badger to Grand Falls, and when I was released from that hospital and came back home, the first Liberal hospital in Springdale was then under construction, but before I could be admitted to that hospital in Grand Falls, my father had to pay cash dollars at the door because it was a company town and it was a company hospital; so the only thing that has improved is that now if I take sick or some child takes sick he does not have to go on dog team to Grand Falls, but he has to go to Grand Falls, that is the bottom line.

If you break your leg, very seriously, they will bring you to Springdale, stabilize you, they may keep you overnight depending on how serious you are, and then they will ship you off to Grand Falls. Grand Falls is in their throwing up their hands saying the corridors are full, we cannot handle the people now. What kind of an improvement is that? Somewhere along the system something is going to slip up. There is going to be a bottleneck, someone is going to be seriously ill or God forbid die, all because of rationalization which can mean greater organization or an attempt to deceive.

MR. EFFORD: Sit down, boy, you are making a fool of yourself!

MR. HEWLETT: I am not making a fool of myself, Sir, I am indicating to you, who when you were in Opposition, I always thought you to be a left of centre Liberal political person. Right now you sit there smugly complaining about us having blown $20 million on cucumbers while your own party blew tens of billions on Churchill Falls and you sit by and you let a right wing individual run your show, a one man show, there is not a soul over there got nerve enough to speak up or say anything, you have to take it or move.

AN HON. MEMBER: Time, Mr. Speaker.

MR. RIDEOUT: The Chair will send a five minute (inaudible).

MR. HEWLETT: Mr. Speaker, they keeping saying time. I guess they do not like what I have to say. The people from Little Bay Islands -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEWLETT: I tell you one thing the people from Little Bay Islands requested a meeting with the Minister of Health, and I do not know if his office has responded positively yet. The hon. Minister of Health, of course, has a personal connection with Little Bay Islands. They are sending a delegation in tomorrow to protest the cutbacks in their ferry services, but they also wanted to meet with the Minister of Health. The latest news I have had from my secretary is that appointment was not granted. Maybe there will be a last minute reprieve and the Little Bay Islands delegation will be allowed to see the Minister who, by marriage, is almost a native son of that particular island.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time is up.

MR. HEWLETT: I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. the Member for Springdale to use an illustration,-

MR. HEWLETT: Green Bay.

MR. DECKER: - the hon. Member for Springdale which is in Green Bay, Mr. Speaker, -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DECKER: - used an illustration about if someone were to break a leg in Springdale he would be taken into the hospital and put into a holding bed and maybe tonight or tomorrow taken to Grand Falls. I ask the hon. Member what would have happened to that person if he had broken his leg in Springdale last year?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: He would have been stabilized in Springdale and taken to Grand Falls.

MR. HEWLETT: Not necessarily at all.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DECKER: What would happen, Mr. Speaker, if he broke his leg the year before last or five years ago? The reality is the practice of medicine is evolving, Mr. Speaker, faster than any other sector of society today.

MR. HEWLETT: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: It is no longer an acceptable practice in medicine for GPs to be setting broken bones. That now is the function of specialists. That is an orthopaedics job, Mr. Speaker. So the hon. Member's knowledge of medicine would suggest to me that he does not have the necessary expertise to even comment on health - if he is suggesting that we keep broken bones in nursing stations, if we keep broken bones for midwives to address.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: The hon. Member talked about when he was born, he was born in his own bed, in his own house, Mr. Speaker. Many Newfoundlanders can say the same thing. That was acceptable. My grandmother was a midwife. The only word she could spell was cat. She was a midwife, Mr. Speaker, she delivered 500 babies. That happened at the turn of the century and into the early part of this century. But that kind of practice is no longer acceptable today, Mr. Speaker. Modern medicine dictates that to follow the proper procedure of childbirth today it is necessary that the services of an obstetrician be at least available, and the back-up of a trained medical staff be available. Now I am not causing that. That is what is happening in medicine today, Mr. Speaker. Times are changing. Our population is no longer content to stay on Little Bay Islands and have their babies delivered in their own bed. Times are changing. People with broken bones no longer rely upon GPs, no longer rely upon nursing assistants or some qualified person in the community to set broken bones. If the hon. Member wants to put us back to that stage, then I say good luck to him, but the people of the Province will not stand for it.

Mr. Speaker, when we took over the Government back in 1989, we saw a health care system that was a mish mash; a health care system, Mr. Speaker, that was allowed to go off in 10,000 different directions without having any overriding plan, without having any master plan in mind. So this administration started immediately to restructure the health care system within this Province. We started that in our very first Budget, Mr. Speaker.

In the fall of 1990, around October, the Department of Health and other departments of Government realized that we had fiscal problems in this Province. We realized that there was a recession coming upon the nation. We realized that the established program funding, which had been in place with the Federal Government, had been frozen at 3 per cent. We realized that by the year 2004 this Province would have to stand alone to pay for our health care services, so it became necessary then for us to accelerate the restructuring plans that we had started in May of 1989.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I recognized at once in 1990, last fall, when we were going to accelerate our plans to restructure, Government recognized that we are not infallible, we are not infallible, we are quite capable of making a mistake just as well as any other mortal, mortal man. So before accelerating our restructuring program we thought it was necessary to seek advice from the professionals in the field, Mr. Speaker. We thought it was necessary to seek advice from independent people - independent people.

Now, this motion today talks about putting in place an independent review of the decisions. I tell the hon. Members opposite that this independent review took place long before these suggestions were brought before this House, long before the budgetary process was made. One of the reasons we were delaying was because we had to check out every (inaudible).

Mr. Speaker, during the process that we went through I had representation from the Newfoundland Medical Association, of which every qualified physician in this Province today is a member. The top brains in medicine are Members of the Newfoundland Medical Association. I had advice from the Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland, I had advice from the Newfoundland Hospital Nursing Home Association, I had advice from the general public, Mr. Speaker. And we received numerous presentations from various people throughout the Province, presentations telling us about the health care system. So, Mr. Speaker, we had decided that we were going to restructure, but we wanted to test our restructuring plans by an independent committee who knew something about the health care system, Mr. Speaker. That committee and myself sat down for about a three or four month period.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. DECKER: We worked Sundays, we worked Mondays, we worked days and we worked nights, and we visualized a map of Newfoundland and Labrador which had nothing on it - a blank map, Mr. Speaker. We said: what will we do to deliver health care services to 550,000 people who live on that land mass of Newfoundland and Labrador?

Now, Mr. Speaker, we took certain terms of reference. Number one, our first term of reference was this: our chief concern would be with the delivery of health care - health care, Mr. Speaker. We made it absolutely definite that there would be no political interference, none whatsoever. Members opposite find it difficult to understand that because they made their decisions based simply on party politics. We made ours based simply and solely on the health care needs of our people.

Mr. Speaker, we did not consider whether or not my wife happened to be from Little Bay Islands, that was certainly not a factor, Mr. Speaker. We did not take into consideration the fact that I happen to represent St. Anthony, which is in the Strait of Belle Isle District, which has one of the oldest hospitals in this Province. We did not take any special treatment and say to them, 'You do not have to close your 40 beds.' That did not come into it, Mr. Speaker. We looked at delivering a health care system for our people, assuming that we had about $800 million with which to deliver it, Mr Speaker. We said to ourselves, what kind of a health care system can we deliver to our people for $800 million a year or, to put it in a different perspective, $1700 a minute? That is what the health care system is costing this Province. What kind of a health care system could we provide to our people on that basis, $1700 a minute, Mr. Speaker? With the advice of this independent committee, with the advice of professional people in the health care system as well as in the Department of Health, we came to the conclusion that there should be available to all our people, whether they live in Port aux Basques or in Nain, whether they live in Burgeo or Bonne Bay, there should be available within an hour or so of where they live, primary health care services. Now by primary health care services I am talking about the level of health care that 95 per cent of the population will need 95 per cent of the time, 95 per cent of the time we go to the hospital. Think about it. How many of us here have gone to any level of health care beyond level one, beyond primary care? The vast majority of times we need the services of the health care system it will be for primary care. It will be an X-ray, it will be some kind of lab work, it will be a prescription for a flu, it may be a broken limb. We have to have available to our people primary health care, we have to have physicians and nurses available within an hour or so of where one lives. That is not the case in the Newfoundland and Labrador which we inherited. We do not have that level of care available to all our people, but we began to try to put it in place. We started with the Burin Peninsula, we continued over into Burgeo, we are putting a health care centre up in Port Saunders, and we are putting health care centres on the Labrador Coast, Mr. Speaker. That was the first principle, to make primary care available to all our people within an hour or so of where they live.

The second principle we recognized was, not thinking like the hon. Member for Green Bay, who thinks that GPs, nurses, nursing assistants, and maybe even the local mechanic if he can read, might be able to set broken bones. We do not think that way. We recognize that there is a need for the work of specialists in the health care system, so we recognize that it would be desirable to have available to all our people, wherever they live, within two or three hours at the maximum of where they belong, a secondary level health care system with specialists who can set broken bones, with obstetricians who can deliver children, with general surgeons who can operate on the person who has appendicitis - a secondary health care system in the regions of the Province, Mr. Speaker. That was what the independent committee told me, that is what the Department of Health officials said we should do. That is the way modern medicine is progressing, Mr Speaker, so we decided that at various strategic locations throughout the Province we would make secondary health care services available. We recognized that if we were not prudent with our money in the primary care service, if we were not careful with the way we spend our dollars in the primary centres throughout the Province, we would not have sufficient money to make available to our people the secondary level care that we need so that the person in Nain, Conche, Cooks Harbour, or Little Bay Islands will know that he or she has available somewhere within a reasonable distance of where he or she lives a surgeon who can operate on a gallbladder, someone who can set a broken bone, an orthopaedic surgeon who can set a broken bone. They have that assurance, that orthopaedic surgeons are available within a reasonable distance of where he or she lives. But if we are not prudent, if we are not streamlined, if we do not use our primary dollars prudently, we will not be able to keep our secondary level hospitals available for our people in various regions of the Province.

The third thing we recognized when we sat down with this independent committee, and when we talked about what we would deliver to the people of our Province if this (inaudible) were indeed empty, I was told that we would need in this Province at least one centre of excellence as far as health care was concerned. Now, Mr. Speaker, I have said before and I will say it again, if the Health Sciences Complex did not exist in Newfoundland and Labrador, and if we were going to build a new centre we probably would not have built it in the most eastern city in this Province. Maybe we would try to put it in a more central location, maybe we would have considered putting it in Grand Falls, in Central Newfoundland, so that it would be closer to the people in Labrador, for example. Or maybe we would have put it in the airport town, maybe we would have put it in Stephenville. But the fact of the matter is, there is in this city today a tertiary level health care centre, the Health Sciences Centre, which is one of the better centres in Canada today. It would be foolhardy for us to tear it down and build up a new place out in Stephenville just because Stephenville might be more central, so we decided that we would try to maintain as best we could this health care centre - it is in St. John's, so we are going to leave it there and develop it.

It is a centre of excellence for all of our people, and do not ever think that the health care centre belongs to the people of St. John's only. Don't ever think that the Health Sciences Centre only belongs to the people on the Avalon Peninsula. That hospital, that tertiary level care facility, belongs to the people of Cape Chidley, of Conche, of Burgeo and of Port aux Basques. So that someone today who is living in Burgeo who falls down with a major heart attack, that person knows that he can be stabilized in Burgeo and that somewhere in this Province the best health care that we can provide for a heart attack is available.

Now if we had the money to build Health Sciences in every single little outport and every place in this Province, we could not staff them with specialists. Saudi Arabia has no trouble balancing their budget, Mr. Speaker. Saudi Arabia has lots of money to build Health Sciences throughout their land. But they cannot build them because they can not staff them. The reality is, there are only so many specialists to go around and we are fortunate to be able to attract the ones we have and to be able to keep them, because they are in big demand throughout the world; they play on the international market.

So we are restructuring the health care system based on primary care within a reasonable distance of where people live, based on secondary care in the regions, based on tertiary care within the Province. That is the way we are approaching the health care system. And unless we follow that route, I would say to the people of this Province, by the turn of the century we will not have a health care system at all. Because if we are going to continue in the disorganized fashion of our predecessors, the health care system will collapse. It will be beyond our means, we will be spending excessively, we will not be providing services to our people, and we will have to send more and more of our people to other provinces to get the care they need.

And if we have people in the Province today who are complaining because they have to drive 100 miles to receive the service of a specialist, let me tell you that they will complain an awful lot more if our health care system collapses and we have to send our people to Halifax, Toronto or Montreal to receive their care, and we are in grave danger of that happening if we do not restructure and streamline and re-organize our health care system. That is why I am not going to support this motion today.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I said we have to centralize our hospital system for many reasons which I explained: the availability of specialists, the equipment. The same is not true in chronic care. Our elderly people require services which do not have to be centralized. As a matter of fact, it is more desirable that where possible we keep our elderly people who need chronic care in smaller facilities within a closer proximity to where they lived, where they raised their family, and where their grandchildren are.

So it is essential that we centralize our hospitals, but it is just the opposite, it is not desirable to centralize chronic care. And that is why when we restructure by coincidence we are finding a lot of our smaller hospitals, which the local people are passing by to go to a specialist, have empty beds, have under-utilized beds. So the logical, reasonable thing for us to do to ensure that the hospitals in Port aux Basques and Springdale survive is to match with those institutions the services which are demanded. Chronic care was demanded in the Springdale area. That is why we can make that hospital available now for chronic care. Chronic care is needed in Burgeo. That is why we are trying to get that centre in there, so we can match the needs with the institution, Mr. Speaker. We have embarked upon a restructuring of the health care system. I am proud to be a part of the Government which is doing it, Mr. Speaker, and I am proud to be the Minister of Health who will be able to say to my grandchildren, without this Government you would have lost your health care system. Continue this route and we will have a health care system that will take us into the 21st century.

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

MR. POWER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am glad to have the opportunity to conclude debate on this resolution.

Mr. Speaker, the resolution was pretty straightforward. It was not very complicated, it was not very wordy, w-o-r-d-y, as politicians tend to be sometimes. I did that deliberately so that we could probably get some consensus in this House that there, in effect, is a health care crisis in this Province, that there is some legitimate concern by Members opposite. Unfortunately, even in the simplest of motions, done as straightforward as this motion is, it is impossible to get some Members opposite to agree that this Province is at least the same one that I see from day to day.

I remember seeing Michael Harris on that Dana Bradly murder asking someone if they could have committed that crime under an entirely different personality. Going back to the split personality or dual personality, I see some things from time to time and someone says they have 40 different personalities. I really believe some Ministers opposite and the Premier have different personalities as well, or at least they have different stories on different parts of this country, and they most definitely have a Jekyll and Hyde complex when it comes to the real issues in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for St. Mary's - The Capes and Green Bay who are going to support this resolution so simply put by myself. I have serious concerns about the Member for Placentia who vacillates back and forth as to whether he should or should not support it, and whether the big problem is the word `defer'. What does it mean? It means postpone, it means delay, it means not implement now, whatever the Member wants to do. It is not a very complicated word. All we asked and I asked on this side of the House was to defer some very serious decisions made relating to life and death in this Province until such time as we have an opportunity to re-assess in an independent nature - not done by politicians, independent - as to whether we have done the right thing or not. Now is that so complex and so complicated? That is not going to destroy our credit rating, it is not going to put us in the hole substantially, it is not going to destroy all the wonderful plans the Minister has. It is just simply going to say, `Boys, take your time.'

It appears that there is something happening which is out of the ordinary. I do not see the same kind of reaction to the other parts of the Budget that I see to the health care side of the Budget. When you do the Budget Highlights there are so many health care things, there is the education side of it. When you raise the price of alcohol and we are going to get another couple of million dollars or whatever from the Liquor Corporation, and when we raise the price of cigarettes, I do not see real concern in this Province. I do not see panic, I do not see desperate groups. But what I do see in health care, by ourselves, by our constituents, by some Members opposite, and certainly by the number of petitions - 14,000 names in the last day or so - by the Members own concerns with Placentia, I see a unique, different, unusual thing taking place. And all I am asking, and all this side of the House is asking, is please defer these very serious, permanent, life-and-death-situation decisions you have made until such time as you have had a second look at it.

Now, the Minister of Health gets up and he tells me about his grandiose plan for health care in the Province. I would believe him if he was not so inconsistent, if he would say the same thing two days in a row. He said last year in the Budget, `we are going to give nurses and hospital support staff huge increases which we cannot afford' and which the President of Treasury Board and the Minister of Finance probably knew you could not afford. So you give nurses huge increases one year. Last year, in 1990, your second Budget, you opened acute care beds in this Province, you gave substantial increases and you hired more nurses. In 1991, part of the grand plan started in 1989, in 1991 you close 438 beds, you lay off 1,000 people and you put 3.6 per cent funding in instead of 11 per cent.

The Minister of Social Services is over there yapping the whole time. The most overrated, overpaid Minister of the whole group, who does little or nothing except yap across the House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. POWER: He does a lot more yapping across the House when the Premier is not here, if the Premier was here he would not be doing it.


MR. POWER: Well we did not see much leadership material on the other side of the House today and I will get to some of the present leader's wonderful characteristics when it comes to dealing with the people of this Province. I will make some comments about his leadership skills as well. I said it yesterday and I said it last night and I will say it again, when that Premier can go travelling around this country and can talk to anybody about Meech Lake and the Constitution, but cannot go out to see the people of Placentia Bay, then I say we have the wrong Premier in the wrong place at the wrong time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. POWER: And when I see the Premier and I see some of his Ministers sneaking up the back gallery actually looking for a floor plan of this building to avoid 500 or 600 students from the Cabot Institute, I say we have the wrong Premier in the wrong place at the wrong time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. POWER: Now, Mr. Speaker, back to the Minister of Health's wonderful plan.


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

MR. WINSOR: Sensitive now!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. POWER: Back to the Minister of Health's wonderful plan, which was so grand last year and gave the nurses - I remember reading a press release from the Minister of Treasury Board saying that the nurses got what they deserved. They deserved a substantial increase. They were so crucial to the health care system in the Province. We could not do without them. But this year we freeze the nurses wages. We lay off 300 of them. And we are supposed to have a better health care system according to the Minister.


MR. POWER: Now, Mr. Speaker, the reason I ask to defer the decisions is because I, for one, and this group on this side of the House have absolutely no faith that there is an organized systematic sensible plan for health care in this Province. And that is why we ask for the deferral.

AN HON. MEMBER: Charlie for Leader.

MR. POWER: Mr. Speaker, do not worry I just told you there is some leadership required on the other side of the House.


MR. WINSOR: (Inaudible) watch your NTA buddies -

MR. POWER: Mr. Speaker, in my first comments today when I introduced this very straightforward resolution, I believe there is substantial manipulation of the bed study - is it for political reasons? Maybe. Is it for fiscal reasons? Almost assuredly. Why are places like Springdale and Baie Verte, represented by PCs, really getting nailed, losing all their beds when it was not recommended in the bed study? Why are other places keeping more beds than were recommended? Why has the Minister said there is going to be a bed study, that is the basis of his plan, in the bed study, and some of the Members, maybe the Member for Placentia, the Member representing Come By Chance, the Member representing Brookfield - read the bed studies, see what it says. It says, the basis, the Minister's plan: close down 350 acute care beds in this Province. You have closed down 438, 25 per cent more than this bed study, the basis of your plan. Now either you have a plan or you do not. And I'm saying the same as those 1,000 people said yesterday, the same as the people in Burgeo are going to say, the same as the people in Port aux Basques are saying, whether they say it through their Member or outside their Member or around their Member, the people of Port aux Basques are going to say: we do not have faith in your health plan. And that is the reality of what is happening in this Province, Mr. Speaker, and these Members opposite are not going to believe it.

The editorial I saw today: Here, do you want to see real people in the Province talking? Not the Board of Trade which is praising up their Budget, not the business elite of the Province, not the professional elite, but ordinary people - what are they saying about your Budget? This wonderful Budget. The Western Star did one, particularly as it relates to the Minister of Justice's comments. He is just coming in. The Minister of Justice says he believes voters feel a tough Budget like the one his Government brought down last week is right. It goes on to say: so far we have not heard any ordinary person say the Budget was right. Maybe some people understand why. But if Mr. Dicks believes that people agree with being set back years with major cuts in health care and education then we have a few things to tell him, and it is time that somebody told him.

It goes on to say, Mr. Speaker, that Government Members must have their heads in the sand -

MR. DICKS: Point of order.

MR. POWER: - if they think that people agree with their budgetary actions - their heads in the sand, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Justice on a point of order.

MR. DICKS: Yes. The hon. Member is reading from something that I have not seen, and I would like him to table it so I can take issue with the comments.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Sit down, sit down!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

No point of order.

The hon. Member for Ferryland.

MR. POWER: Mr. Speaker, there is obviously no point of order, but just quite simply, this article says that the Minister of Justice is not listening to ordinary people in the Province. He obviously does not read editorials from the major newspaper in the riding he represents. I will gladly table it and send it over to him.

And the Page will take it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Oh, it's only The Western Star, that's all, not important.

MR. POWER: Not important.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier's comments today outline exactly what that group is going to do with all of the protests that they are going to see in this Province. The poor Member for Placentia tomorrow is getting lead around by the nose. The Premier said, the first comment that he made, the first syllable, the first sentence that he said was: there will be no deferment of the announcements made in the budgetary process. And then he brings in this poor group from Placentia tomorrow with the Member and somehow or other will try and convince them that they are really concerned about their health care problems and that they are really going to change their minds; remember, read Hansard tomorrow, the Member for Placentia, and anybody else who thinks they can organize a lobby in their own riding to change these health care cuts, you will find that the Premier's comment, the first sentence is: no deferments, no changes, I have made up my mind and I am right and that is the way it is going to be and that is the way the Government is going to run.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not true.

MR. POWER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier proceeded today in his comments to give us a lecture on global politics and global economics; what happens in this country is that in Ontario if you have a deficit problem, you have to be able to deal with it. Well, I will take health care cuts in Ontario and education cuts in Ontario, if my children can have the same standards that they have in Ontario, the problem is that we are cutting from a much lower plane than they do in Ontario.

We will suffer substantially more than Ontario kids will suffer in the education system and the sick people of Newfoundland will suffer more, but that does not seem to concern hon. Members because it is being ran by the far, far, far right wing Premier, who wants to solve our deficit problem. When I hear Members Opposite saying that we have a deficit and it is on the backs of Members Opposite, where do you think the money went to when we ran deficits in 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1984 - do you think we took it and put it in our pockets and went South with it?


MR. POWER: You think so?


MR. POWER: Well, I will tell you where the money went -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. POWER: - the money went on spray programs in Forestry.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. POWER: The money went on straight programs -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Ferry land.

MR. POWER: Mr. Speaker, in the few moments I have, I really would like some of those Ministers opposite to listen for a change instead of yapping, they cannot percieve the truth. The Budget that we have in this Province - they talk about being honest and being decent, anybody knows that the deficits that we have in this Province accumulated over a fairly long period of time and it was not accumulated because somebody had a hotel bill or somebody went off travelling, it was built up on the backs of the social programs, health care, education, welfare to keep this Province together for a lot of years when we did not have the money coming in, and we did not have people mean enough and reckless and cruel enough in Government to do the kind of things that you have been doing, that is why we have a deficit, because we cared and you do not-

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. POWER: It is amazing how vocal the Members get when they know they do not have an opportunity to participate in debate regularly. Some of the Members will have to make decisions. Mr. Speaker, I have been here for sixteen or seventeen years. I have seen the fly-by-nights come and go, and I have seen people who take the short-term route and support the Government on everything. But they do not last very long, some of them. I advise some of the Members opposite, if you want to be re-elected, do what your constituents recommend you do. They elected you to vote in their cause.

I saw the Premier today giving two lectures, one on global economics, on why everybody in the world is in trouble, and why we have to do our part. The other thing the Premier did today was to lecture, to give a substantial lecture to a large number of his own backbenchers because he is scared to death, the same as he was scared in the Meech Lake process that maybe some Members have a will of their own, have a mind of their own. Maybe some of them will follow their conscience. In the Meech Lake process he found a way to avoid having any decisions being made. Now we have a system here whereby the Premier says to all his Members, we will listen to you. Come on in the Member for Placentia and bring your group. Who did he listen to when he was taking advice? I have seen several press releases from a fellow named John Peddle, who is acting Executive Director with the Newfoundland Hospital and Nursing Home Association. He says, representing every nursing home and every hospital in the Province, that what the Minister of Finance and this Premier want done cannot be done. Are they not health care professionals? Are they rank amateurs? Do they not know what is happening in their own systems? Or does the Minister of Health and the Minister of Finance know it all? When are you going to listen? That is what I find disconcerting about the whole process, that the Premier's first comment is we are going to listen to nobody, and his second comment, the gobbledygook that he gets on with, if you can bring in a group, if you can make a presentation, if you can convince us in sensible terms that you have a unique situation, then maybe we will change our mind, maybe we will admit we made a mistake.

Now, Mr. Speaker, anybody in this Province who wants to protest to the Government better realize that this Premier is not changing his mind about the Budget. We are stuck with a worse health care system than we had a year ago, no matter what the Minister of Health says. We have a bed study that is being deliberately manipulated. There are more beds being closed than the bed study recommended. There are 25 per cent more beds being closed this year than was recommended for the total closure of acute care beds, and we have a group of Members opposite who are afraid of their lives to get up and say to the Premier of the Province, I was elected to represent my people. And I think some people opposite must forget, including the Minister of Forestry, that you get elected as an individual. Nowhere on a ballot paper will you see in Newfoundland Charlie Power PC, or Charlie Power independent. All you see on a ballot paper is a person's name and that is who the people elect. In this case you did not get elected as a Liberal, you did not get elected as a Tory, you got elected as an individual to represent people. And some people opposite should remember that they have to go back to the electorate.

Mr. Speaker, I can only say again that we have a Province with a Premier and a Cabinet that are totally out of touch with reality. They do not see a crisis when it hits them right square between the eyes. The health care system is in real trouble, and somewhere opposite, the same as in the constitution process - the Premier has froze himself out of the Canadian constitutional process. Newfoundland has no input into the Canadian Constitution now because we have a Premier whose word is not trusted and cannot be trusted by the rest of the Premiers. There are some Premiers in this region who will not even invite him, because they do not believe him or trust him. All I can say is that in this Province an awful lot of health care professionals are going to find out in the next little while that our health care system is very, very bad and getting worse.

Mr. Speaker, I move the resolution.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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


On motion, resolution defeated.


MR. SPEAKER: Call in the Members.


MR. SPEAKER: Are both sides ready to call the vote?


MR. SPEAKER: All those in favour of the motion, please rise.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Simms, Ms. Verge, Mr. R. Aylward, Mr. Tobin, Mr. Hewlett, Mr. S. Winsor, Mr. Power, Mr. Woodford, Mr. Hodder, Mr. Hearn, Mr. N. Windsor, Mr. Matthews, Mr. Harris.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against the motion, please rise.

The hon. the President of Council, the hon. the Minister of Development, the hon. the Minister of Health, the hon. the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, the hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations -


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

Hon. Members are saying they cannot hear the call.

AN HON. MEMBER: We could not hear it, either, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, nobody could.

- the hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy, the hon. the Minister of Fisheries, the hon. the Minister of Social Services, the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, Mr. L. Snow, Mr. Grimes, the hon. the Minister of Justice, the hon. the Minister of Finance, the hon. the Minister of Education, the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, Mr. Hogan, Mr. Reid, Mr. Ramsay, Mr. Crane, Mr. K. Aylward, Mr. Noel, Mr. Penny, Mr. Murphy, Mr. Dumaresque, Mr. Walsh, Mr. Short, Mr. Langdon, Mr. Oldford.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame! Shame! Shame!


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MADAM CLERK; (MISS DUFF): Mr. Speaker, `ayes' fourteen, `nays' twenty-eight.

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the motion lost.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader. We will call it five.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just briefly I would like to inform hon. Members that tomorrow I intend to call the Interim Supply Bill that is now before the House, and I invite all hon. Members to join us again after the supper break tomorrow night, at 7:00 o'clock.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

This House stands adjourned until tomorrow, Thursday, at 2:00 p.m.