April 3, 1991                HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                 Vol. XLI  No. 21

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. KELLAND: Mr. Speaker, I want to inform the House of an additional appointment to the Round Table on Environment and Economy and to give a brief status report on the organization.

I am pleased to announce that Mr. Bill Parsons has been appointed to the Round Table.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. KELLAND: Mr. Parsons is well known for his involvement and strong leadership in the labour movement, Provincially and nationally, including ten years as president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour. His appointment brings the Round Table membership to nineteen.

It has been our desire from the beginning to ensure that the views of labour are well represented at the Round Table. Unfortunately, Mr. Parsons was unable to accept appointment when the Round Table was first announced last fall. I am very pleased that he now finds himself in a position to accept.

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to announce that the Round Table will be holding its first meeting April 12th and 13th here in St. John's. It has taken some time to get the first meeting organized primarily because secretariat support for the Round Table is being provided by my Department and we were unable to devote the resources necessary until the new fiscal year. Planning has been ongoing between the Round Table Chairman, Dr. Noel Murphy, and Department staff. We now look forward to the initiation of deliberations by the full Round Table and to seeing the benefit of its work and advice.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I suspect the Minister has sent a copy over to our colleague's office. Anyway, we welcome the appointment of Bill Parsons to the Round Table and trust that his expertise will be valuable in whatever it is the Round Table is going to do. I do not know when it was the Minister first made the announcement, seven or eight months ago, or whenever it was, if it took them seven or eight months to get their first meeting in place I hope it does not take them as long to make some progress in whatever it is they are going to do. We wish them luck and all the best in the world.

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

If he is speaking to the Ministerial Statement I cannot recognize him because the House has ruled against that, unless it is by leave.

No leave.

Oral Questions

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Mines and Energy. Yesterday the Minister met with a delegation, representatives of the St. Lawrence Town Council and the Steelworkers Union of St. Lawrence Fluorspar. I am wondering if the Minister could inform the House of the actual situation now as it pertains to St. Lawrence Fluorspar and the future outlook.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The situation at this time, Mr. Speaker, is that as of the deadline for bids, which I think was the 22nd., there were no acceptable bids received. Since that time my officials have met with the receiver, and yesterday I met with the town council members and union members and the receiver was present. At this time the receiver is going to continue to have discussions with some interested companies, but we cannot be sure whether or not there will be anything positive come out of it. I am hopeful there will be, so I wish the receiver well in that.

But relative to all the circumstances the receiver has decided - the bank really which put the receiver in place - that they have to reduce their cost, so they have decided to stop pumping the water out and, I guess, have started to remove the pumps at this time.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A supplementary to the Minister. In view of the fact that there were no proposals tendered even after the deadline was extended by two weeks I believe it was, to March 22nd, does the Minister realistically expect that we will see proposals coming forward from interested operators for St. Lawrence Fluorspar? And does the Minister feel that by allowing the pumps to be shut off yesterday or today and the mine flooded that indeed this is the first step in seeing the assets of St. Lawrence Fluorspar being liquidated?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I am the last one to want to see liquidation occur. I certainly hope we never reach that stage. I am hoping that the receiver in consultation with the companies which still have some interest in the property will be able to work out an arrangement with someone that will be a company that is a reputable mining company and will be able to make St. Lawrence a long-term venture. The resource is there in the ground at St. Lawrence and it could be mined for many, many years. Unfortunately, at this time the market situation is not good. So immediately in the next few weeks and months I do not expect the operation to start up again. But I do have some hope that the receiver may get a good company to come in there.

So as I said I do not want liquidation to occur. Relative to the pumping, the fact that the water is going to be allowed to flood the mine at this time is not a negative, in my opinion. The pumping could be done quickly, within a very few weeks after another company is found to operate it, if we can find one. And I certainly hope we can find one.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Grand Bank, a supplementary.

MR. MATTHEWS: I am wondering if the Minister could inform the House and the people of St. Lawrence that if the receiver and Government is successful in attracting a good proposal, a good bid to reactivate St. Lawrence fluorspar, can the Minister inform the residents of St. Lawrence whether or not Government will consider becoming financially involved in the reactivation process?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, in the past both levels of Government were very involved in putting the present mill in place at St. Lawrence, and when the operation went bankrupt there was a $3.3 million loan guarantee from the Government in place. As to what we might do in the future, I would say we will have to wait and see what proposals do come forward. I do not want to speculate on it at this time, but we certainly do want to see the mine get in operation and continue for many years.

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

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minster responsible for Forestry and Agriculture. According to the task force report that was released yesterday it states this Province was close to implementing a school milk program prior to 1989; it was partially to be financed by the dairy producers, I think at half cent a litre the report says. Two years later that program is still not in place. Can the Minister inform us why he has not proceeded to implement the school milk program, especially since we are the only Province in Canada which does not have it?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture.

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, in the first place there was no school milk program in place prior to this Government taking office. There was a commitment made during an election, that if I am elected, I will see to it that there is a school milk program. I might tell the hon. Member that the dairy industry itself intends to implement a school milk program and is now making arrangements. I think they are looking at up to $300,000. The task force report recommends as he well knows that the Government would look at supporting a school milk program. Of course when we have a chance to see exactly how the task force is recommending we do that and when we look at the fiscal implications, then when I am ready and my staff have given me the advice I need, I will be making a recommendation one way or the other to Government.

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

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, I do not know if two years is long enough but I will ask the Minister of Finance a supplementary. Earlier this year the Minister of Finance imposed a 12 per cent retail sales tax on single serving portions of ice cream and milk throughout the Province. Exactly how much revenue does the Minister expect to receive as a result of this tax on milk and ice cream?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

DR. KITCHEN: Speaking from memory, Mr. Speaker - yes, it is quite dangerous, I agree with you, particularly in your case -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. KITCHEN: But, Mr. Speaker -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, we harmonized on the basic grocery side there in January. The total revenue we got by that: we gained some and we lost some depending on the items, and I think the total gain was something between $3 million and $4 million, in that vicinity any way. But the amount on milk - I do not recall the amount on a single serving of milk, it is not a great deal.

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

MR. WINSOR: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. The Minister obviously does not know. How can he say he harmonized when he left some things out of the tax. But anyway, since the Hulan report recommends the establishment of a school milk program so all children can purchase fresh milk regardless of where they live in Newfoundland, at reduced prices, will the Minister immediately remove retail sales tax on single serving portions of milk and ice-cream in all schools in the Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

DR. KITCHEN: No, Mr. Speaker.


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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Environment. I would like to ask the Minister what process the Government is using to make a decision on the request from Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Limited or Kruger, for a third time extension for another year's delay in installing a new boiler to end the particle air pollution from the mill in Corner Brook. Whom is the Minister and the Government consulting and what factors are they taking into account in making the decision?

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

MR. KELLAND: I think the first part of the question, I did not hear it clearly, Mr. Speaker, was to do with the process - Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, made application to our Department, the Environment Department, to consider their request for an extension to their compliance schedule which had been extended to the end of June 1992 and they want it extended to June 1993.

They made that request formal and it was considered in our Department from a purely environmental point of view. The hon. Member who asked the question now sent me a note last week and asked when she could expect to hear a decision, and I sent a note back saying: hopefully within the next couple of weeks. I could not give a specific time, that still stands.

We consulted with the companies; we consulted within our own environmental expertise, we consulted with Government. In the event, Mr. Speaker, that an extension to the compliance schedule was granted, there would be some financial implications so we would have to consider that as well.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to ask the Minister whether he or his officials have or will be consulting the Government's Round Table on the Environment, the Humber Environment Action group or citizens of Corner Brook before making this decision?

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

MR. KELLAND: Mr. Speaker, to the point we are now in our process, we consulted with all applicable individuals. There would be some time before the actual Round Table gets into swing. As I mentioned here earlier in a statement, they are not having their first meeting until the 12th or 13th, and I have already told the Member twice now that we expect to make a decision known within the next couple of weeks, hopefully, so the time frame would not be there to add the Round Table to that particular process.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Am I to understand from the Minister of Environment and Lands that he is going to make a decision on this request for a third time extension, consulting, outside of Government, only the company, and ignoring private groups such as the Humber Environment Action group, the Newfoundland Lung Association, and indeed the Governments own new Round Table on the environment?

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

MR. KELLAND: I am not certain as to the direction it is heading, Mr. Speaker. It sounds to me like the hon. Member is arguing for the closing of the mill until a compliance schedule can be met. Now if that is the case, she is having a very serious affect on many of the constituents she represents. We have followed a process that we have been open to all kinds of input from the general public. The schedule, as the hon. Member knows, was long in place before we became the Government. We have granted an extension or two and we are considering another extension, but there are financial implications. No one is barred from having input to Government in these decisions.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I have a question here for the Minister of Health.

Mr. Speaker, was the Government's decision to terminate optometric claims under MCP, a cost saving measure, or was this decision made as a result of pressure from ophthalmologists or other medical practitioners?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, it was certainly not made because of pressure from any particular group in this Province. The hon. Member will know, as a result of the mismanagement of this economy by the previous administration we had to try to rationalize the whole health care system. And we tried to do it in matters that would not hurt our people too severely.

So we looked at the optometry programme which - the average person requires an eye examination every two years, certain groups require it every year and the cost of that eye examination is somewhere in the vicinity of thirty dollars. So we felt it was better to take that $3 million plus and put that into nurses, into operating rooms, into intensive care units. We thought that the overall good of the people would be served better, when we only had so much money to spend, it would be better to keep extra nurses on and lay off less staff, than it would be to continue this programme.

However, Mr. Speaker, in an ideal world, if we had not been left with this massive debt which the previous government left us, if we had not been left with that, we would like to have expanded on the optometry programme, actually.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is obvious that the Minister of Health is going to take this out on people with poor eyesight and the poor people. But now that the Minister has suggested that this is totally a cost saving measure, does he intend to terminate the MCP claims for optometric diagnostic examinations performed by ophthalmologists, who are referred from general practitioners?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I believe the term is 'refractions.' Refractions will not be paid for whether they are done by an optometrist, an ophthalmologist, a general practitioner, a surgeon or a mechanic. Refractions are not being paid for, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, does the Minister not consider that this short term gain that he is going to make by saving a few measly dollars by cutting out the payments for refractions, does he not agree with the ophthalmologist and the optometrist that this will lead to a much more expensive eye care health cost in the future because early diagnosis of problems will not be available?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, it is highly unlikely that anyone who requires an eye examination will be prevented from doing so because of the thirty-odd dollars. That is highly unlikely. However, should there be such a person in this Province who cannot find the thirty-something dollars, we have added this year to the Minister of Social Services, an extra so many hundred thousand dollars to pick up for the hardship cases who just cannot afford it. I do not foresee this.

When the hon. Member asks such a question he is suggesting that we had to close something else down in the health care system in order to pay for this. So we had to make a judgement call: which was the most valuable for the overall good of the people? Should we lay off a few more nurses? Should we close down some hospital beds? And, Mr. Speaker, I believe the judgement that we made, considering that we are paying $500 and some odd million in interest payment on the debt that the hon. Members racked up, I believe we made a good decision in this particular case.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. The Minister is undoubtedly aware of the importance of having a good transportation infrastructure in place to increase economic activity in this Province. I wonder if he could tell me if his Department will be plowing snow from the Trans-Labrador Highway from Wabush to the Ossok this year, as it was done in previous years?

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

MR. GILBERT: Are we plowing snow to the Ossok?

AN HON. MEMBER: From the road.

MR. GILBERT: We will do the same as we did every other year.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Last year you did not do it. Are you going to do it this year? My question, Mr. Speaker, again back to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation - will he do as he did last year or will he do it this year: remove the snow from the road close to Ossok?

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

MR. GILBERT: Mr. Speaker, the Member indicated that we ploughed the snow last year, and then he says no, we did not plough it. No, we will not be ploughing it, we will be doing the same as we did last year.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Mines and Energy. All Members will be aware of the tragic death which occurred at Bull Arm, the first fatality in the Hibernia project, and no doubt all have sympathy for the individual and his family as a result of this death. My concern today to the Minister of Energy is in connection with the safety regime in place for the Hibernia project, and the fact that there are now a number of unanswered questions about what exactly happened. Can the Minister tell the House what special steps he is taking to inform himself and to ensure the people that the safety regime is adequate and that it was not a failure of the regime which led to this tragedy?

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

MS. COWAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The question is probably better addressed to me, and if, Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member finds out that I did not quite give the information that he wishes to hear perhaps then the Minister of Energy can fill in anything that he knows from his particular perspective.

We have two, I guess, areas of main concern here, that is, what work goes on on site, on land, and what work is carried on within the Federal jurisdiction, which is off land. And it may very well be that the barges and so on that are at work there now are covered by Federal regulations as regards to occupational health and safety.

However, that does not stop us as a Province from being concerned. We had from my Department an individual go out on Monday, an occupational health and safety inspector to look over the situation and to make notes. We have not as a Department questioned any of the individuals involved, because I understand the RCMP is doing a very thorough investigation, and we will have access to their records and so on as it pertains to the case. We are not as yet sure of the details obviously of the accident, that is under investigation. Whether or not it was work related or related to some other incident, that of course time will tell.

As far as occupational health and safety is concerned on land, at Bull Arm, we have now received one plan from the people involved there which we were not satisfied with and have asked for a second report on occupational health and safety practices to be submitted to us. That will either have been in our hands this week or is shortly to be in our hands for further assessment. But it has been an area that has been addressed, Mr. Speaker, since the beginning of Bull Arm and indeed prior to.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact that the Minister seems to have told the House that there is an unsatisfactory plan for occupational health and safety at the Bull Arm site, how can she leave the investigation of this up to someone else? And how can she allow them to continue with an unsatisfactory safety plan in place?

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

MS. COWAN: That indeed is not what I said, Mr. Speaker, all the gentleman is doing is putting words into my mouth and I do not find that very tasteful.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. COWAN: The Occupational Health and Safety Program that we have in place pertains to onshore. I think I made that perfectly clear. However, while it is being established, whether or not this is a Federal jurisdiction or a Provincial, we have taken every precaution by surveying the place where the accident took place. We will be making recommendations. We do not sit on the backs of people out there instructing them how to undertake occupational health and safety. There is some responsibility by the employer. We certainly make every attempt to keep on top of it. But we are not there watching every moment. Our concern is for the safety of workers in this Province and if the gentleman is trying to imply anything else he has not only misled himself, he is attempting to mislead the public of this Province, and I find that very, very difficult in such a serious issue.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I was responding to what the Minister said in this House. The Minister will know as the Minister of Justice will know, that despite the fact that there may well be a federal responsibility to undertake an investigation it is also a provincial responsibility. Is the Minister conversing with the Minister of Justice to determine whether or not there ought to be a provincial investigation, or are we waiting now until everybody else finishes their job to see whether there is something we should have done now and not waited six months from now?

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

MS. COWAN: Again, the question I find very distasteful, Mr. Speaker. Of course conversations are going on between the officials of my Department and Justice as they do in every case where we have an accident in the Province. It is just routine, it is sensible, we do it all the time.

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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Ministers of Health and Education have stated on many occasions in this House and outside that the downsizing of our health and post-secondary education system is partly necessary because of cutbacks in established programme financing; they have said it will all end by the year 2004. The Ministers also know, of course, that this matter is a matter of cash transfers and tax points. I want to ask the Minister of Finance, have his officials done an analysis of this situation and would he please inform us what they are telling him as to the position for the next twenty years?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, I will take that question under advisement.

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

MR. HEWLETT: Mr. Speaker, certain members of the Government have indicated that it will all run out come 2004. Surely the Minister knows there are two components, cash transfers and tax points. Can he give us absolutely no information as to whether or not this will all run out come 2004?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, I will take that under advisement. There is no doubt that the cash transfers are declining year by year, but there is a corresponding increase in the tax points toward the provinces. I can give him a more comprehensive answer, giving facts and figures, later.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay, a supplementary.

MR. HEWLETT: A final supplementary to the Minister. Is the Minister of Finance indicating that other Ministers have been sort of playing games with the numbers and that while certain cash transfers are dropping, certain tax points might be going up, that the situation is not entirely as bad as they are making out, that they are blaming the Federal Government for more than their share of the blame?

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

DR. KITCHEN: No, Mr. Speaker, I am not quarrelling with Members. There is a serious situation occurs - what Members have been saying and quite properly is that the cash transfers will have disappeared, which means the Province will be on its own in financing health care.

AN HON. MEMBER: Right on. On our own.

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Minister of Education. Will the Minister tell us how many people have been laid off at the school board level throughout the Province?

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if the hon. Member wants to know how many teachers or how many persons - people. I do not have the data on the total number. The school boards have a budget. They budget, they decide whom they employ and how many they will lay off, if any. I did indicate to the House that about 133 teachers and administrators would be laid off throughout the Province during the next year.

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Minister did indicate that. In fact, it was part of the Government's overall layoff of 3,000 - or 2,000 they mentioned. What the Minister did not indicate was how many would be laid off because of cutbacks to school boards which we pointed out, asking now how many people, support staff will lose their jobs because of the Minister's severe cuts to the budgets of school boards throughout the Province?

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, thank you. The hon. Member must know as a former Minister that a Minister is in no position to know precisely how many people are employed by school boards. With respect to his question about cuts, I have informed the House that we have frozen this year the operational grants, per pupil grants to school boards for 1991-1992 at the 1991 level. However, I think he must also be aware that school boards acquire revenues from other sources. And one school board that recently laid off a number of workers, that school board will get from school taxes and from operational grants 5 per cent to 6 per cent more funds for 1991-1992 than they had last year. But, no, I do not have any details on precisely how many. I suppose I could read in the paper what happens, or I could ask the school boards later to send me, and I am sure they will inform me of, the precise number that will be affected by our fiscal restraints this year, certainly.

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

MR. HEARN: Will the Minister tell us of his concern then about the number of people that seem to be laid off by school boards due to the fact that he has slashed their budgets?

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, this slashing the Budget - the hon. Member must be aware of what happened in elementary and secondary education this year. I do not have to go through it again, this slashing the Budget. There are some expenditure controls in place. When it comes to school board operation, Mr. Speaker, grants to school boards totally, including transportation grants and grants for other purposes, will be increased slightly. Of course the school boards will have a freeze on salaries to their employees other than teachers, so there is no slashing of the amounts of money.

Mr. Speaker, as I get further information about the numbers of persons affected I will pass it on to the hon. Member, but the Minister is not in a position to know precisely how many employees in each school board will be affected as a result of any reduction in the funds to school boards.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. In December of 1989 the Premier announced in the Legislature he will recall the closedown of the Number 6 paper machine at Abitibi-Price in Grand Falls, and at the same time he indicated publicly that the company would be proceeding with a multi-million dollar hydro project. Can the Premier tell the House when that project is expected to begin? I believe the original anticipated date was sometime this year, 1991. Is it still on schedule as far as he understands?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the Government will be having more discussions, and have in the last few weeks had discussions with company officials about that project. Exactly when it will be begin and the manner in which it will be conducted we will not be in a position to determine with certainty for perhaps another few weeks yet. The anticipation is that it would likely begin this year. That is what is anticipated, although I cannot say it is a certainty at this stage.

MR. SPEAKER: We have time for a quick supplementary.

MR. SIMMS: A quick supplementary to the Minister of Environment and Lands, Mr. Speaker, if I could on the same topic. Can the Minister of Environment indicate whether or not there are any delays with respect to the environmental assessment process pertaining to that particular hydro development? Is he aware of any?

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

MR. KELLAND: I would have to check that to find out if there are any specific delays. I can get back to you, though, tomorrow, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MR. GILBERT: Mr. Speaker, I have the answers to questions by the hon. the Member for Kilbride on March 11, when he asked a series of questions concerning the transportation budget for last year. It is rather detailed, and this is why it has taken us a couple of weeks to compile it. It was $99 million worth of work he asked for details on, and here it is right here.

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Member for Mount Pearl asked a couple of questions having to do with the payroll tax, questions which he had asked last week and which I had answered, and which I answered in his original question yesterday. But in a supplementary he was so insistent that I thought I had better check out my figures, which I did, and I am right. But I noticed that the media has today, one of the papers, reported what the Member had said and for that reason, rather than just table the answer I think I would like to say a word or two about it, if that is appropriate.

MR. SPEAKER: Very briefly.

DR. KITCHEN: Yes. His question was in two parts. The first question was, `How can we project $42.5 million this year when we only raised $28.6 million last year?' The reason for that is that last year there were eight months and this year there are twelve; twelve is 50 per cent more than eight, therefore 42 is 50 per cent more than 28. And the other question that he raised -

AN HON. MEMBER: That was not the (inaudible). You cannot even read Hansard right.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

DR. KITCHEN: The other question he raised, Mr. Speaker, was `Why was the forecast in last year's Budget Speech for $15 million last year and $25 million this year, whereas in our estimates this year we are saying we are going to get $42.5 million and that we got $28.6 last year?' The reason is the Province also pays the payroll tax to itself. So both sets of figures are correct. One is net and one is gross, and the difference is what the Province pays to itself. Mr. Speaker, I would like to table this.



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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I take pleasure in presenting a petition of residents of Corner Brook and the Bay of Islands, people who live in the electoral Districts of Humber East, Humber West and Bay of Islands. The prayer of the petition is, `The petition of the undersigned, the friends of MUN extension, states that whereas MUN extension has provided and continues to provide an essential service to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador; and whereas no other agency is capable of providing that service, MUN extension should be reinstated. Your petitioners respectfully request that the hon. house take such action as may be necessary to ensure that Memorial University reinstates its extension service and that it be funded and equipped to provide the services it has traditionally provided.'

Mr. Speaker, in presenting this petition I wish to express my support. I have presented several others worded the same from other groups in the district I represent, as well as in other parts of the Province.

Grenfell College of Memorial University is in Corner Brook, and at that campus there has been an office of MUN Extension staffed by a co-ordinator and two full-time secretaries. Those three University personnel have co-ordinated a variety of programmes for people in the region as well as visitors, programmes that operate year long. The revenue generated from those programmes is actually more than the cost of operating the office. Evidently, the Extension office at Grenfell College is administered within the university, separately from MUN Extension headquartered in St. John's, and at the moment it appears as though the operation in Corner Brook will not be totally cut. The people involved understand that they will be recategorized, with the co-ordinator and one support staff continuing. Although if they are not able to retain the three personnel there will be a loss of service, and that reduction would not make any sense, since the programme administered by the personnel, as I said before, generates more income or more revenue than the cost of operating the office.

But the petitioners in signing this petition were not only thinking of Extension Service at Grenfell College, they were also mindful of Extension Service's operations throughout the Province. Extension Service has operated with a feminist philosophy and it has been oriented around the needs of people in rural parts of our Province. Now most of our Province is of a rural character. Really, we only have in the way of urban centres St. John's; and perhaps you can say Corner Brook is an urban centre, but by and large Newfoundland and Labrador is a rural Province.

Ironically, the same week as the University announced its decision to cut Memorial Extension, there was news of a national award being given to Extension Service, the National University Continuing Education Association award for creative programming in the division of Programmes for Women. And when this Washington, DC-based international organization bestowed this honour on MUN Extension Service, the Association was singling out for praise Extension Service's Rural Women's Learning Project. That is a programme that has been enhancing and promoting women's participation in community leadership in rural communities.

Examples of the Women's Learning Project programmes are: a workshop on effective lobbying, held with the Cape Shore Development Association; an assertiveness training session held at Main Brook with the Status of Women Council there, a session on brief writing that was given at Port Hope Simpson at the Women's Centre there, a session in public speaking for the Goose Head Farm Women's Association, and sessions on conducting effective meetings that were given at Dunville with the Anglican church women. Now, most of the recipients of these workshops -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time is up.

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, with leave I will just round out my thought.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no leave. The hon. Member has no leave.

MS. VERGE: Okay, Mr. Speaker. I will have another chance.

Thank you.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to rise and support the petition presented by my colleague for Humber East. I notice the Minister of Education has again not responded to the petition. He waits for both of our Members to respond and then he gets up to try to defend the indefensible. The Minister of Education has constantly, every time he got to his feet, tried to defend the cutbacks to MUN Extension: no, that is the university, we give them a budget and the university decides on how it is going to spend its money, yet yesterday the Minister said: certainly the Government does not expect an institution to cut programmes when students are half way through without providing an opportunity for students to complete their program. Certainly, we would reject that as a Government. So, he indicated yesterday that he would be quite willing, and he should interfere in the cutting of second year programmes. But what it is, is the Administration becoming involved in the running of an institution. Now, the question is why cannot the Minister get involved in the running of the University if he can do it at Cabot, as he indicated yesterday he would do? It is one or the other. The Minister is going to leave it alone, at arm's length as he said, or he is going to be involved. Now, we support his involvement at Cabot because we think he should not cut the programs. We would also like his intervention at MUN Extension and see that that program is not slashed. Now, if he has the power and the authority to do it on one hand he should have it on the other hand. I want to address the prayer of the petition, that the residents of Newfoundland and the Minister, obviously, has I guess put on some kind of earplugs or earmuffs, or something to drown out the noise that is coming from all over Newfoundland as one group after the other is calling on the Minister to reinstate the programs that were offered by MUN Extension. Now, unless the Minister does not read papers, I am sure he heard in spades on 'A Lunch with Phil' at which I am sure we got roasted properly, what the people of Newfoundland think about it. I am sure Mr. Bartlett, if he can remember, talked about the vital role that MUN Extension has played in the fisheries movement along the Northeast Coast. If the Minister cannot acknowledge that that is not a contribution then the Minister has earplugs on twenty-four hours a day. He does not listen to anything in the House of Assembly, he just listens to himself talk. I ask the Minister now to be fair to residents of Newfoundland, particularly in rural Newfoundland where MUN Extension was so important, that he would reconsider and do as he said yesterday: certainly we would reject that as a Government, and the Government would now intervene and direct Memorial University to reinstate MUN Extension or find some $1.4 million that we lost on a contract in Labrador, to reinstate that project or MUN Extension so they can get on with their work.

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, perhaps one of these days I will take some time to try to explain to the hon. gentleman how universities operate in this world and how post-secondary institutions operate. I regret that he does not have an understanding of 'arm's length' relationships and so on. I will not waste the time of the House because I need to state it in very simple terms so that he can understand it once and for all. Mr. Speaker, all I can say - I have said everything about Extension that I can. I have said it provided a very important service, I have said that the University had made its decisions. We will not be providing additional funds to Memorial University in these very difficult times. And I am not sure what else I can add, other than to advise the Member to send his comments to Dr. May and to the University, and I am sure they will consider them in due course.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a petition to the House of Assembly from nine students attending the Port aux Basques Community College. The prayer is as follows: The Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Students, Port aux Basques Community College Students' Council, students of Port aux Basques Community College, protest the possibility of financial cutbacks to the Port aux Basques community college. These cutbacks will result in loss of courses, reduced staff, increased tuition, user fees and possibly the closure of the institution. We the undersigned request the Provincial Government to reconsider the proposals to impose any financial constraints on the operating budget of any post-secondary institutions in our Province.

Now, as I indicated this was signed by nine students attending the community college in the Liberal district containing the town of Port aux Basques.

MR. BAKER: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if we could have the petition checked to see if in fact it is a petition?


Yes, it is roughly in the form of a petition, not exactly, but it is roughly in the form.

MR. HEWLETT: I take it I have Your Honour's leave?


MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I was working for the previous Administration when the educational system of the Province was restructured and certain labour training and employment initiatives were put into a new department with certain post-secondary institutions, a department that ended up becoming called Career Development and Advanced Studies. I personally know about it because I was given the task - probably two hours - of coming up with a succinct name for the department. And did come up with the name, Career Development. But the University decided that the name was not sufficiently encompassing and word came down from the University that it had to be expanded, and eventually Cabinet decided on my Career Development and added Advanced Studies in order to come up with the name of that particular department.

Now we have a Minister from out of the University, goes to work in his new portfolio, is sort of undoing what we did in separating these functions, really losing the career development aspect of our post-secondary institutions in the larger Department of Education, which includes kindergarten to Grade XII. The Minister, when he was in University, did many studies and made many speeches with regard to education and was always considered to be a big spender in the field of education. Yet here we see the Minister from MUN is really, you know, the big spender no more. The big spender only has time to spend sympathizing with students. He is not doing us any favours in the post-secondary situation in this Province whatsoever.

I support the prayer of this petition, and ask that it be tabled and sent to the Department to which it relates.

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I stand in support of the petition as presented by my colleague, one of many that are coming in from all the post-secondary institutions from students who are extremely concerned about the effects of the drastic cuts given them by the Minister of Education.

The Minister today in talking about school boards said: no cuts in grants to school boards. The Budget will show that grants to school boards were cut. The transportation grant was increased a bit because of public tender, he could not do anything about it, direct grants to school boards were cut. Direct grants to post-secondary institutions have been cut, not frozen as the Minister talks about, cut, c-u-t, cut. Less money, fewer dollars this year than they have had in the past.

So the drastic measures taken by the Department are having an effect. We are starting to see layoffs by school boards of support staff. We are going to see the same thing at the post-secondary institutions. A number of people, above and beyond numbers dictated by Government, will be affected and laid off, and the cuts in the Budget are playing havoc with the working people of the Province. But the main effect here is the effect it is having on the education of our young people.

I realize it is 3:00 p.m., Mr. Speaker, and being Private Member's Day, I think we are on to other business.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, the Minister if he speaks has about forty seconds.

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, a little bit of good news to end up today's Question Period for the hon. Member for Green Bay. In the news release from the Western Community College they described the campus in Port aux Basques as one of the most successful small campus operations in the Province, they are booming this year, very few reductions in programmes to students, and we are delighted with that, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It is 3:00 p.m.

Orders of the Day

MR. SPEAKER: Before calling Private Member's Day, we would like to welcome to the galleries today the Mayor of the Town of Grand Falls/Windsor, His Worship Walwyn Blackmore.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: This is Private Member's Day and I believe it is the private member's resolution of the Member for Humber East.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is with considerable anger that I stand here today trying to represent the women of this Province, the women who make up the majority of the citizens of this Province, to move that this House of Assembly oppose Provincial Government Budget restraint measures that discriminate against women.

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious to people throughout the Province that the Wells Administration's March 7th Budget contained terribly regressive measures that are going to exacerbate or make worse the inequities faced by women in this Province. I will recite the most flagrant examples of the Wells Administration's Budget restraint measures that discriminate against women.

The pay equity rollback, the Bill 16 contract stripping that takes from men throughout the public service one year's worth of contractual obligations for pay and benefit increases, but which stripped from women public employees not only one year's worth of negotiated pay and benefit increases, but more than three years worth of pay equity adjustments, a stripping that will cost women in the health care sector alone up to this point an estimated $27 million. A stripping that will deny forever, to women who are retiring now or who retired last year, the year before or any time since April of 1988, any adjustment to recognize that while they were working for this Provincial Government or its agencies, they were paid less than men for doing work of equal value. So the pay equity rollback, Mr. Speaker, is the most flagrant example of this Administration's discrimination against women.

A second example is the layoffs. A disproportionate number of women are going to be laid off by this Administration. The Government has chosen the health care sector for the greatest proportion of the cuts, the health care sector is bearing the brunt of this Administration's cost cutting measures, and as people should realize the vast majority of workers in the health care sector are women. Therefore, a disproportionately or unfair number of the layoff casualties will be women.

A third example affect of the Budget in terms of hardship to women is the effect of the deterioration in public services. The reduction of spending on health care will lead to more sick people having to stay home and it will be the mothers, the daughters, and the sisters at home, as usual, who will have to bear most of the burden of home health care.

Social assistance, Mr. Speaker: More women than men are on social assistance. Mother lead single parent families form a significant portion of the social assistance case load. Therefore, the freeze in the basic social assistance rate, in the face of a Government projected 5.7 per cent rise in the cost of living, is going to have a harsher effect on women than men.

Now the new $55 a month supplement for quote "eligible" single parents with dependent children is a good move. I do not know how eligibility will be defined, but I am expecting a generous interpretation. However, that $55 a month supplement does not offset the terrible loss suffered by single mothers on social assistance.

Last October 1st when the Government suddenly and without any warning to the women affected, reclassified income from maintenance and child support as non-allowable income, that change cost social assistance recipients getting maintenance up to $115 a month. That measure was discriminatory because it provided for a different treatment of income from a partner in the household, derived from that partners job, than it provided for when the partner separated or deserted and was paying the same contribution in the form of maintenance or child support. In the former case when the partner remained part of the household the income being contributed to the family was, and still is, categorized as allowable income and the family is able to benefit up to $115 a month. In the latter case, when the partner is outside the household after the partner has deserted, the contribution, which then becomes maintenance or child support, is treated differently and the single mother and children are no longer able to benefit at all from the absent parents contributions. That is discriminatory.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: What I promoted when I was Minister of Justice and what I achieved was the establishment of the Province wide support enforcement agency, which is a division of the Department of Justice. That agency has been extremely successful in improving the enforcement of court orders for family support. And just as the program was working well after a year and a half of operation the Government made this terrible change in social assistance policy and denied the benefit of the support enforcement program to the poorest of the beneficiaries. In other words, the beneficiaries no longer benefit. In fact, some of these people are now victims of the system, a system which enticed them to go to court to get an order for child support or maintenance with the expectation that they would gain - not much mind you, only up to a maximum of $115 a month - and which then took away that incentive and that benefit but has the support enforcement agency acting like a police force and continuing to extract the money from the absent partner and antagonizing relations between the two partners, the two parents.

Mr. Speaker, this budget continues that terribly regressive change in social assistance policy. So while I welcome the new $55 a month supplement, I have to point out that because of the freeze in the basic rate, when the cost of living is going up by 6 per cent, and because of the loss that was suffered by single parent families getting maintenance as of last October 1st there is still discrimination.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, the Government's Budget reduced or cut in absolute terms the budgets of the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women and the Women's Policy Office. Now the Government may come back and say: Well they weren't alone. Lots of other offices had budget cuts too. Those two offices happen to be divisions of Executive Council, a Department of Government, presided over by the Minister responsible for the Status of Women. My colleague for Kilbride went through every heading in Executive Council the other evening and pointed out that the vast majority of divisions of Executive Council got increases this year. On the page opposite the Women's Policy Office vote, there is Protocol which has a massive increase. Protocol has gone up over a half million dollars we are told because Princess Anne is coming to visit. The Government invited Princess Anne, and evidently the Government places a higher priority on having Princess Anne come to visit and lavishing on her a state banquet and festivities than it places on operating its own Women's Policy Office.

The Women's Policy Office budget was cut by 4 per cent from what the office spent last year - I am sorry, it was cut by 12 per cent. A 12 per cent cut for the Women's Policy Office and - what is it? -a doubling or trebling of Protocol; I do not have the numbers here in front of me now. On the same page as the Women's Policy Office that is being dealt a 12 per cent cut is the Government's propaganda office, Newfoundland Information Service. That has been increased four-fold in the last year.

The Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women budget was reduced by 4 per cent, so, Mr. Speaker, examples of flagrant Government Budget measures that discriminate against women are first and foremost: the pay equity rollback, the disproportionately high number of women who are being laid off, the increased burden put on women as opposed to men because of the reduction in public services, particularly the deterioration of health care, the freeze in social assistance rates and the budget reductions for the Women's Policy Office and the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I am the first one to say that we have never - we have never - seen equality for women and men throughout my lifetime and throughout the lives of generations before; there has been discrimination against women; there has been inequities between women and men. Women have been disadvantaged by having a smaller say in decision-making, by having a much smaller amount of income; women have had less control over their lives than men have had over theirs, so there has always been discrimination. But the real question is are we improving? I would submit, Mr. Speaker, that there was some progress made during the 1980s. We were narrowing the gap in some respects, but now, as a result of this Budget and measures of other governments, the gap is widening. I have called this Budget regressive because it discriminates against women, because it discriminates against people in rural areas, and because most of all it discriminates against poor people, against people with low incomes.

Mr. Speaker, I have wondered how the Liberals opposite who are responsible for the Budget with these measures will vote, and I am predicting that these Government Ministers who are so adept at sophistry will vote for the motion. I predict they will claim that their budget does not have any measures that discriminate against women. That is what I am predicting.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I have done some research and checked on what the Liberals opposite said when they were campaigning for election two short years ago. I found first a letter from Clyde K. Wells, Leader of the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador dated February 11, 1989. It is too bad the Premier is not in his seat to be reminded of what he said then. He said, `The Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador is dedicated to the principles of fairness and balance in all sectors of our society, political, economic and social.' He went on to say, `The most glaring examples of imbalance and unfairness are in the areas of women's issues and the participation of women in the political process.' Then he uses a familiar word, `It is unconscionable that women be treated differently than men in the workplace when dealing with wage rates and job opportunities.' `The recent revelation' - this was recent for him - `the recent revelation that even in such an enlightened environment as our university pay scales are lower for women than for men is unacceptable in our modern society.' I wonder what happened to him in the last two years.

Then, Mr. Speaker, when the campaign started the Liberals published a manifesto, a forty-odd page document which all their candidates had, it was their bible. They had in it just at the end a section on women, and in that section was a paragraph saying `a Liberal Government will introduce and enforce pay equity legislation. Not only must women and men receive equal pay for doing the same work, but jobs traditionally held by women must not be ghettoized at lower pay scales if they are of equal value with jobs held by men. And then, Mr. Speaker, the Liberals distributed to every household in the Province this slick, glossy brochure, with full colour photographs of the Premier, summarizing their election platform, and there is not one but two commitments for pay equity legislation.

Under the heading of Labour, it is too bad the Minister of Labour is not here, `a Liberal Government will develop progressive and fair legislation to deal with pay equity.' Now I don't think that meant a Bill 16. Then under the heading of women, `a Liberal Government will introduce and enforce pay equity legislation.' Well, Mr. Speaker, just before the Budget came down, when there were rumours that the Liberals might do the unthinkable and cut pay equity, I asked the Premier in Question Period about his intentions and the Premier said - I have it here, the official transcript - `the Government commitment to pay equity remains as it was.' That is what he said on March 4th. When I asked him when he was going to introduce the promised pay equity legislation the Premier said, `I am not quite sure what the hon. Member is talking about, the promised pay equity legislation.' I guess he forgot he promised it twice in his brochure, once in his manifesto and he wrote such an eloquent letter as Liberal Leader back in February of 1989. I guess he forgot that. Convenient! Then three days later, on March 7th, we get the news in the Premier's Budget that he is going to roll back pay equity, he is going to tolerate wage discrimination against women.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I wrote the Premier as soon as I got a copy of Bill 16 and I told the Premier as a lawyer I believed the legislation, the Bill 16 rollback legislation is unconstitutional. I told one of the country's leading constitutional legal authorities that his legislation is flawed constitutionally. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is an integral part of the Constitution of Canada, says that all the equality rights guaranteed apply without discrimination, particularly without discrimination on the basis of sex. Mr. Speaker, that means that no legislation of any provincial legislature or the Federal Parliament may violate equality rights guaranteed by the Charter.

Now there is a way out, and that is the infamous notwithstanding clause. The Premier last year repeatedly expressed his opposition in principle to the use of the notwithstanding clause. He did not like Quebec's use of that to uphold the sign language law, so I asked him in my letter if he would promise now not to use the notwithstanding clause in the event that the courts strike down his Bill 16.

The main request I made in the letter was for the Government to take the initiative to refer Bill 16 to our Supreme Court Court of Appeal for a ruling on its constitutional validity before proceeding any further. I am still waiting for a response. It seems that this Premier is totally inconsistent and hypocritical, and he is quite prepared to discriminate against women in favour of pumping additional money into his pet project, the Economic Recovery Commission which has a $44 million budget, in favour of giving interest free loans to his businessmen friends, in favour of increasing the votes of Ministers' offices.

There are alternatives for the Government, and the alternatives include treating women and men in a way that is fair, including measures -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time has elapsed.

MS. VERGE: - that narrow the gap between women and men.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to this resolution. I had hoped that I could give a very short, sensible commentary on the resolution, but it is very difficult. After the display of half-truths and sheer hypocrisy coming from opposite, it is very difficult to do that. I will try to deal with the issues and try to stay away from the politics the hon. Member plays with, issues she should not play politics with.

First of all, in terms of the Budget there are no budget restraint measures that discriminate against women. I would like to deal with the issues that the hon. Member raised.

First of all, in terms of Bill 16, Bill 16 is something that was done of necessity, and I am talking now about the wage restraint part of Bill 16. The wage restraint was done of necessity. There were no other choices at this point in time. We do not have a triple A credit rating. Members opposite squandered money and threw away money so freely that we can no longer go to the markets and have freedom in our borrowing. They ran us out of credit, Mr. Speaker; they ran the credit cards beyond the limit and left us with a real mess. So we had no choices. We had to do the wage restraint legislation.

The reasons for having to do that are well known: the lack of increase in money from Ottawa, the downturn in the economy that happened recently. The hon. Member argues that the freeze coupled with the layoffs somehow discriminate against women. She is stretching a point, desperately grasping at straws. In terms of the positions that are lost in the public service there will be no disproportionate number of women laid off - there will be no disproportionate number laid off. If in a section of Government there are, let us say, three times as many men as women, then obviously if the layoffs are done fairly, there will be three times as many women as men get laid off. I mean, the proportion remains the same. In areas where there are 75 per cent men and 25 per cent women, if the thing is done fairly then there will be approximately 75 per cent men laid off and 25 per cent women. The thing will be done proportionately. There will be no discrimination against women.

The hon. Member thinks, I suppose, that if one single woman is laid off, then somehow that constitutes a case for discrimination. The only thing I can say about that, Mr, Speaker, is that it speaks volumes about her ability as a lawyer.

With regard to the pay equity section of the legislation, Mr. Speaker, there is no pay equity in the public service at this present time; there has not been for the last five years; there has not been for the last four hundred years, or whatever.


MR. BAKER: There is no pay equity, number one. Number two, a group is studying pay equity in a small segment of the public service. Not in the whole public service, a small segment, the hospital segment and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. The study has been ongoing for three years, so one segment of the public service has been studied. Alright? Now, then, that segment of the public service was treated very favourably by Members opposite when they agreed that once conclusions had been reached, pay equity would be retroactive. In other words, Members opposite discriminated against women in the whole of the rest of the public service. That is what they did.


MR. BAKER: Now, then, I want to point out the silliness of the arguments opposite. We found ourselves in a financial bind. The Member opposite says that the layoffs are disproportionate, there are more women being laid off than men. Let us for one moment assume, just assume, that she is correct. She is not, but let us assume she is correct. Then we had a choice to make with that $24 million: layoff another 900 or 1,000 people or not do the pay equity retroactively. We chose rather than all those layoffs, which the Member opposite says would have discriminated against women anyway, we chose to eliminate the retroactivity. Not roll back pay equity - there is no pay equity - but eliminate the retroactivity.

So had we not eliminated the retroactivity she would have said we were discriminating against women because we did not. Now that we eliminated it she says we are discriminating against women because we eliminated it. Now you cannot have it both ways.


MR. BAKER: You should understand that. Mr. Speaker, pay equity will be implemented in the public service of this Province, it will be implemented by this Government. I suspect that within the next month the first segment of the public service will be receiving pay equity adjustments, within a month or so.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: That will happen and it will happen as quickly as possible in the rest of the public service, and we will eliminate, Mr. Speaker, the discrimination against women that has existed for years. We will eliminate it. That is what we mean by our commitment to the pay equity. We will eliminate it. The Member for Humber East seemed to be concerned about only one group of women in the public service, one section, the hospitals and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. That is all she is concerned about. She does not see the rest of it. We will introduce pay equity in the whole of the public service in this Province, make no mistake about it. And it will be done as quickly as possible and we will not wait another three years to do it.

Mr. Speaker, the resolution does not make much sense because there is no discrimination in the Budget restraint measures we have taken. We have been very careful to ensure that whatever we have to do the pain is equally shared all around this Province. She makes the point that there are somethings happening to rural Newfoundland, and somehow in the back of her mind she says that anything that happens in rural Newfoundland, that is discrimination against women. I mean, those strange little associations the Member for Humber East has are amazing.

Mr. Speaker, there is no discrimination. The resolution simply makes no sense at all. I regret the Member for Humber East spent most of her speech waving around political documents and becoming very political with an issue that should be treated seriously.

I am very familiar, and have become very familiar over the last couple of years, with the Member for Humber East and her grandstanding and her shallow and hollow arguments, that are produced simply for the purpose of grandstanding. She has been using this one issue, the women's issue, to try to create a reputation, and perhaps help her out in some of her immediate political ambitions. Mr. Speaker, I do not think this is the place to be doing that. We have experienced this a couple of times from the hon. Member.

The resolution is simple, 'Be it resolved that the House of Assembly oppose provincial government budget restraint measures that discriminate against women.' Mr. Speaker, there are no budget restraint measures that discriminate against women. We would not bring in any such measures. We would have nothing to do with any such measures, so the resolution, Mr. Speaker, simply does not make sense.

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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I guess it could be said that the subject matter we are discussing here today has to deal with the status of women in our society, and, I guess, according to the Constitution of Canada and the Charter of Rights, males and females are technically equal. We know that reality is something else altogether. Efforts are being made at many levels in our society to redress some of the inequities that have existed literally for generations, if not thousands of years, but I have a feeling, Mr. Speaker, that under this particular Administration such efforts are grinding to a halt and probably rolling a bit backwards. If we look back at our society in Newfoundland prior to Confederation, in those days, certainly where I come from on the Northeast Coast, a man is probably gone all Summer fishing on the Labrador, gone all Winter in the lumber woods, and working under conditions that can best be described as some form of serfdom in those days. Meanwhile the woman of the house was usually left with the business of rearing upwards of a dozen kids, quite literally, well, fifteen in a family was not uncommon. During the Summer it was her job to make sure that the sheep and goats were looked after, that sufficient vegetables were set, grown, and weeded, which was the most difficult task of all, in rural Newfoundland in the Summer, while the man was away on the Labrador Coast during the Summer, that was the work of the women. Drying sufficient caplin and locally caught inshore cod for a Winter's supply quite often was the role of the woman and the older children because, as I indicated, the man was away. It is not surprising that in generations past men often had two or three wives. My grandfather on my father's side had two wives. My grandfather on my mother's side outlived his third wife by a good dozen or more years, and in those days, Mr. Speaker, I think it is safe to say that the status of women was not even close to what it is today and in those days I think it is safe to say that women in our society were literally worked to death. I am pleased to say that with the coming of Confederation and certain social programs, etc., that things have improved considerably.

My own mother in particular became a Canadian citizen at an age where I think she qualified for one baby bonus cheque and then she reached the age whereby she was too old to qualify. But that was the beginning of some modern times for Newfoundland women and escape, I would say, from the serfdom that their husbands found themselves in prior to Confederation.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to work for the Peckford administration for ten years and during that particular time -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) severance pay (Inaudible), a $100,000 severance package (Inaudible).

MR. HEWLETT: - Mr. Peckford made it a matter of policy in his administration to advance the cause of the status of women in society. He, when running for the leadership, committed to establish a Status of Women Council, and he so did. He was responsible during his tenure in office for the establishment and evolution of the Women's Policy Office which right now answers to the hon. President of the Treasury Board.

When I was in charge of the Premier's office I made some changes myself that I feel personally proud of. There were a number of secretarial staff who, I guess by the nature of the times and when they went to school, they did not get university degrees. They ended up going to stenographer school, that sort of thing. But I identified among the secretarial staff a number of people who had potential far above their own expectations of themselves. And I promoted them during my tenure to executive positions. And they performed admirably. I can only regret that they had not been born probably ten years later. In the case of those two or three particular individuals they probably would have had a college education and would have automatically been considered for executive roles in any senior office.

But the Wells administration put forward a platform to the people of the Province, a liberal, small 'l', platform. Many people in the labour movement, many people in support of what might be called 'left wing causes' during the last election decided, and it was certainly their choice, to support the Wells' administration because it portrayed to the people of the Province a progressive, small 'l' liberal image. It put forward a progressive, small 'l' liberal party platform.

However, since coming to office we see that this particular administration has changed like a chameleon. The social side of this Government, the social conscience of this Government, is not a priority with this Government. And you see very little pro-activity in areas such as women's issues, environment, recreation, culture, et cetera.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HEWLETT: Apart from Meech Lake just what is this Government famous for? The hon. Minister for Social Services who should be one of the more pro-active, small 'l' liberal Ministers of this Administration, spends most of his time in this hon. Assembly, at least when I am on my feet, arguing about the Sprung Greenhouse and my own particular severance package when I left the government.

MR. EFFORD: How much was it?

MR. HEWLETT: That is all that gentleman tends to do. That gentleman would do well to attend to the duties of being a pro-active Minister in a social department. But unfortunately his job in this hon. House appears to be official heckler for the other side.

MR. EFFORD: Did your secretaries get $100,000 severance pay when they were laid off? You got it. They do not get it? (inaudible.)

MR. HEWLETT: Mr. Speaker -

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Point of order, the hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: This is a serious motion. Our time is limited. And the nattering and heckling of the Minister of Social Services, who is not even sitting in his own seat, is becoming tiresome. I am having trouble -

MR. EFFORD: You are not interest in hearing the truth.

MS. VERGE: - even hearing my colleague. Whether the Minister is telling the truth or not is irrelevant. If he wants to talk I would suggest you invite him to leave the Chamber.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. Member request silence?

MR. HEWLETT: Yes indeed, Mr. Speaker.


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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, many of the people in this Government who have been laid off are female and I would submit that probably a disproportionately high number are female. When we look at the health care sector alone where 900 people were predicted in the Budget to be laid off, a full 300 of them were nurses and I have been in many hospitals and I have not seen too many male nurses; I would say the vast majority probably 90 per cent or more of the nursing profession are female.

Then, when you get into other categories of health care employees, janitorial, food service; a lot of people in the health care system are female and I think a lot of females in the health care system will be laid off. I have a personal friend of mine who worked at Memorial University, a single mother with a child, because of the actions of this Government was bumped and is now having to search for work, in this particular society, not an easy task.

A good friend of mine whose wife was a nurse was one of the 300 casualties I mentioned earlier; everywhere I turn in my life of late, you meet someone who has fallen victim to this particular Government's Budget and more often than not, more than 50 per cent of the time, the casualty is female. I think, Mr. Speaker, a lot of this has to do with the Premier's outlook on life and Government and what his role is in this particular Province. I think the Premier, having come from a corporate background, having been in politics twenty long years or so ago, having come from a corporate background tends to run this Government like a business and I do not think you can run a family like a business and neither can you run a government like a business.

A family consists of a home and the government is of a province and a province is a home. A family unit is just several individuals but the province is a home in this particular case, for more than a half million people and you cannot run a home like a business. We have a Premier who is running this Province like a business and unfortunately it is the public servants and the people at large who are feeling the brunt of his style of administration.

This particular Government appears to be wielding an axe in meeting certain budgetary bottom lines rather than using a scalpel. No one disputes the fact that we are in difficult times, but the way the Government has approached the cutbacks, has been somewhat crude, rude and arbitrary; it has really almost destroyed the faith of people in rural Newfoundland, that they can remain there, earn a living there, raise a family there. My colleague from Humber East talked about how women in rural Newfoundland will suffer as a result of this; rural Newfoundland today, where I come from, often means a husband in the woods or in a fishing boat and a wife in a fish plant, but that wife's responsibility usually involves something to do with the children as well, and because of this Budget right now, when a child gets sick, you cannot run to the nearby hospital, it is a sixty to ninety mile drive in my district depending on where you live to seek medical attention. That means a day's wages, that means a shift gone for that wife and that family income at the fish plant, it means dragging your youngster for an hour and a half in a car to receive basic medical services. It means a young woman in rural Newfoundland getting married can not count on having her child anywhere near where she lives.

I know of one particular young woman in Springdale who for medical reasons had to go to Grand Falls to have a child delivered by caesarean section and that was an exceptional case. But now, Mr. Speaker - that was a surgical case - we have a situation where, by virtue of this Government, all young expectant mothers will have to travel disproportionately large distances, probably take out hotel room or boarding house space in a larger regional hospital centre, in order to wait your time for delivery. It is amazing that they say that women in rural Newfoundland are not going to be negatively affected by this Budget.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Springdale Hospital (Inaudible).

MR. HEWLETT: Mr. Speaker, Springdale Hospital delivered sufficient number of babies every year to receive accreditation as a maternity centre. It continued to deliver babies right up until it got the word from this particular Administration that the women of Green Bay, be they from Brighton, or Harry's Harbour or Jackson's Cove or Triton - Jackson's Cove, which voted Liberal, King's Point which voted Liberal - which sent 500 names on petitions into this Assembly to save its hospital, because the people of King's Point did not want to see their young women have to go all the way to Grand Falls or Corner Brook to have their children delivered - have grandparents drive an hour or two to come visit the newborn.

Mr. Speaker, that these people would say that this Budget does not discriminate, does not cause damage, does not increase hardship on females in rural Newfoundland, is incorrect, because it causes tremendous harm to persons in rural Newfoundland and females are persons.

I might add that I think it was only sometime earlier in this century that some court in this country actually ruled that females were persons.

MS. VERGE: Privy Council, in London, England.

MR. HEWLETT: What time, what date?

MS. VERGE: Nineteen hundred and twenty-eight.

MR. HEWLETT: Nineteen twenty-eight. Up until 1928 females were not persons in this country. Persons in rural Newfoundland are suffering from this Budget, female persons I think are suffering from this Budget more than male persons.

The Premier, Mr. Speaker, is a man from a different age, and is a man who regards his position in this Chamber as a transition place to a greater Chamber a couple of thousand miles to the west of here, called the House of Commons in Ottawa. However, the Premier would do well to be mindful of the fact that he has his place in this Chamber with the support of 47 per cent of the voting population of the Province. I would indicate that the female percentage of this Province, of the population generally, is 52 per cent. And I would indicate that this Government had better watch out. This 47 per cent Government had better beware of a 52 per cent solution.

I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS. COWAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: Now we will hear it, let's hear it.

MS. COWAN: First of all, I want to make a comment, Mr. Speaker, on the fact that a woman feels obliged to speak in a debate such as this. And I was just even further pushed forward to make a comment on it by the Member for St. John's East over there saying: let's hear it now. And somehow or other putting the burden on me to defend and protect womanhood in this Province. I would say I find that objectionable. I found it quite objectionable on several occasions when the Opposition has seemed to think - and my colleagues find it objectionable. That is the most important part. What I feel is not that important. Because we share the responsibility for women in this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. COWAN: Now the hon. Member for Kilbride made a few points yesterday and I will tell you right now, he revealed far more than he ever intended to when he stood up.

My heart goes out to the Member for Humber East, because I knew at that time what she had to tolerate when she was in that particular Cabinet. It was her particular responsibility apparently to bring the men around every time and to bring them to heel, sort of, when it came to women's issues.

Now when I was contemplating on whether I would go into politics, I sort of debated whether I wanted to go into an all-male forum again. I have operated in all male-forums a lot of my life and I found it pretty frustrating I will have to admit, and I just did not know whether, when I was sort of reaching peaceful middle age, if I wanted to really take it on again. And lo and behold I found it quite refreshing to be in the presence of men who share many of my feelings about the advancement of women.

I am not beating my head against a brick wall in Cabinet, I am fighting for a chance to speak on behalf of women in Cabinet because so many of my Cabinet colleagues are trying to get in a good word themselves. So I think we should set that argument to rest once and for all now, that somehow or other I am over here carrying a torch for women in the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do not forget your caucus buddies, now.

MS. COWAN: My caucus buddies are excellent, as well, and I certainly include those gentlemen in my discussions. Do not worry about that at all.

Now, when I think of the wastefulness of the past government, it is going to be very hard to refrain from going over the time period that I have been allotted today. And I happen to know that the wastefulness of the past government would have built a few rape crisis centres in the Province, which we needed. They might have seen to bringing about the Victim Assistance Programme, which my Government has seen fit to put in place, they might have been able to build more homes for battered women. But they chose that they would rather party than do those things, rather party than address themselves to the needs of the people of this Province.

I decided today that I would just jot down a few things that we had done as a Government for women since we took office, and I must say that we have done very well. The list is quite impressive, and I will just name a few of the things. Of course, the one thing that I am particularly proud about as Minister of Labour is the fact that we saw fit to remove one of the most blatant forms of discrimination against women, and that was allowing domestics to be paid less than other workers.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. COWAN: That not only put down women, it also showed what the society and what the Progressive Conservative government felt about children. Children, they suggested by that action, are not worth being well paid for when it comes to their care. And I find that appalling.

I am particularly pleased, too, that a large part of the Budget for the employment programmes in my Department go towards advancing women. We have the WISE Programme, which I have had the opportunity to speak about before in this House. We are funding that and trying to see it spread throughout the Province to help women get back into the work force. And extremely successful programme, and one that is being looked at now by other groups from across Canada, hoping to emulate, hoping to adapt it to their particular need.

The Job Bridges Programme, bringing women from traditional into non-traditional work. I actually was able to with this fine Cabinet, supported by an excellent Government Members' group, have a feminist counsellor engaged in my Department who can consult, counsel, assist women who are having trouble adapting to the non-traditional workplace, or whose employer is having difficulty.

Now how many Ministers, how many Cabinets, how many governments in Canada would actually let somebody hire a feminist counsellor? Most people find the word `feminist' frightening. But, no, we have a feminist counsellor in my Department attending to the needs of women.

Furthermore, outside my Department I noted a few other things that have been taking place, and excuse me any of my colleagues in the various Ministries if I have missed something from your particular Department. We have in Justice, for example, the Victim Assistance Programme which, of course, is going to address women and children who have particular needs when they have been sexually or physically abused or whatever, and may find the whole court process intimidating. We have the Women's Policy Office and the Provincial Advisory Office. Now we could have very easily said, and I have heard these sorts of arguments in my day, why do we need two? Let us get rid of one of them, and so on. We did not do that. We readily realized they both fulfil a different function and there they sit, both today. In spite of the fact that we had to take some sharp measures in other areas, those two groups have been left intact.

We have, in spite of the financial situation, decided that we will treat the first child as an adult in single parent families. I think that is a remarkably progressive step. Battered women are given first choice to get into public housing. Again I think that is an advance forward, that is excellent.

We have been able to change health services in this city so that we will have one hospital which will eventually come to have state of the art facilities for obstetrics and gynaecology, which again will provide a great service for women. I could go on about this really, Mr. Speaker, for some time, and it makes me feel good. It really does. As a women and as a Member of Government that shares the responsibility for women in this Province, I think we can be pleased with what we have accomplished. We certainly are not going to sit back on our behinds and let everything go on now and just think we have done a good job. We will be looking for other ways to advance women and children, a very, very important part and very, very important to our society. For many, many years women have been discriminated against. It did not just start when we took office. I mean, the suggestions that come from other there, you would think discrimination had never existed until we came to power.

AN HON. MEMBER: It started in 1989.

MS. COWAN: It strikes me as a very strange approach to take, a hiding-the-head-in-the-sand approach, and one that I would be very ashamed of.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) deputy ministers (inaudible).

MS. COWAN: Yes, indeed. That is another good point. Three Deputy Ministers now are women, and my department is flourishing, of course, with a female as the Minister, the Deputy Minister, and two ADMs. So we are setting a fine example for Government.

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I stand today to make these comments and to promise the men and women of this Province that we will continue in a progressive way when it comes to dealing with the needs of women and with children. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to have a few words to say in support of this resolution moved by my colleague, the Member for Humber East. I am somewhat surprised with the tenor and tone of the debate, at least coming from the other side, particularly the Minister responsible for the Status of Women who was the official lead speaker for the Government on this resolution and who spoke, I think, for 10 minutes and that was it. Then we just heard from the Minister of Labour and, Mr. Speaker, I have to say, quite frankly, that it was a very pitiful contribution to the debate, and I will tell you why. The resolution reads: `Be it resolved that the House of Assembly oppose provincial government budget restraint measures that discriminate against women.'

Now the Member who just spoke did not address that resolution once, did not mention it once. She did not mention pay equity. She did not mention any of the other discriminatory actions that had been taken by this Government in the Budget. That is the resolution. What she talked about, Mr. Speaker, she commended -

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell us what you did.

MR. SIMMS: If hon. Members can keep their mouths shut I will do just that. I will do just that, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Speak from your own seat, too.

MR. SIMMS: Particularly Members not even seated in their places.

She commended the Government on initiatives they have undertaken and things they have done. And she -

MS. COWAN: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Now, Mr. Speaker, I did not interrupt the Minister once.


AN HON. MEMBER: You are yapping.

MR. SIMMS: Now, Mr. Speaker, I will try once again. The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations talked about the things -


MR. SIMMS: This will give you an indication, Mr. Speaker, of the interest in this issue of Members on the other side, I can tell you that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations talks about the wonderful things her Government has done. Now we have no problem with her touting the wonderful policies they have brought in over the last two years which have been beneficial to women. That is fine. We support her Government. We commend her Government on bringing in improvements dealing with the domestic wage issue. We commend the Government for that, and we commend the Government for whatever other initiatives they have undertaken. But, Mr. Speaker, she should not try to give the impression that nothing was done ever before this Government came to power with respect to women's issues. Mr. Speaker, we have as a previous Administration much to be proud of in the advancement of issues dealing with women and improvements in enhancing things for women in this society in Newfoundland and Labrador. We did a considerable number of things. Not as many things as we would have liked to have done maybe, not as many things as people would have wanted us to do, but, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: Name one.

MR. SIMMS: Name one? Well, Mr. Speaker, what Administration do you think brought in the matrimonial property legislation? a major, major advancement. What Administration brought that in I wonder? It was the Conservative Administration under Premier Peckford which brought that in. What Administration founded and funded and brought in the Advisory Council on the Status of Women I wonder?

MS. VERGE: And appointed an outspoken feminist.

MR. SIMMS: And appointed an outspoken feminist to serve on that council, and appointed an outspoken feminist, I might add, to be president of that council for a long number of years? It was the previous Conservative Administration. And what Administration appointed and set up and established a Women's Policy Office within Government? It was the previous Conservative Administration. And let me tell you, as the President of Treasury Board well knows, when I was Minister responsible there were women in that Policy Office who are feminists I can assure you. And that was to deal with internal issues within Government, and the President of Council knows what I am talking about. So who did that? The previous Administration did it, Mr. Speaker.

Who provided the initial funding for transition homes? Who provided that initial funding, Mr. Speaker, to help people who suffer from family violence? Who provided the initial funding and got that started? It was the previous Administration.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: And who brought in other significant policies?

MS. VERGE: The support enforcement agencies?

MR. SIMMS: The support enforcement agencies, that was done by the previous Administration, Mr. Speaker. There are other things that we have done, but that is not the issue we are dealing with here today. That is not what people are here to hear, people who may be in the galleries who have an interest in this issue. But both Members who have spoken on the Government side that is all they talked about, what they have done. That is not the issue, Mr. Speaker. And by the way, I will say just to respond to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations who made the sarcastic remark about the Member for Humber East having difficulty and having to be the one to lead the charge around the Cabinet Table and make the decisions, that that is not accurate at all. Obviously I can tell you -


MR. SIMMS: Well, if the hon. Member will stop yapping, I will try to answer again. These Members are extremely sensitive, as far as I can tell. The point I was trying to make, Mr. Speaker, if Members opposite would give somebody the courtesy of trying to make a point, is that the Member for Humber East was not solely responsible for it. But I will tell you she did one hell of a good job. But do not forget there were twenty around the Cabinet table in those days, nineteen or twenty, and they supported it.

MS. VERGE: And you led pay equity.

MR. SIMMS: Well, I will get to that. They supported it, Mr. Speaker. They supported anything the Member for Humber East was promoting and advocating and had no difficulty doing it. We brought in some major, major reforms and we are quite proud of these reforms.

Now there is one other reform we brought in, and I am proud to say it was not the Member for Humber East but the Member for Grand Falls who did it, and that is the pay equity legislation, the pay equity agreement. The reason I want to deal with it is because the Government in an attempt to explain away what they have done with their budgetary measures in terms of discrimination against women, in terms of the pay equity issue, they are trying to perpetrate this myth out there in the public that there was no pay equity, no such thing as pay equity. They are totally misleading the people of the Province, because the fact of the matter is there was pay equity established in 1988. It was established, it was agreed on in a collective agreement signed and agreed to by all parties with all parties giving their word.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much money did you put in?

MR. SIMMS: The Member says, how much money did you put in? Well if the Member understood the process at all he would know you could not put the money in until the program had been thoroughly analyzed and studied by all parties, including Government, including unions and so on. That is what was put in place. But the commitment was also given that once the analysis was done and the positions had been analyzed and the assessments made and it was found that this position here required 5 per cent extra to bring it equal, or it required 6 per cent to make it an equal position, once all of that was done, and we knew it was going to take quite some time to do it, everybody knew that, but once it was done then the commitment was - back in 1988 - that discrimination against women was recognized then and it would be payable effective in 1988. In fact, effective April 1, 1988 whenever the study was completed and compounded.

It is about to be finished in a month or so the President of Treasury Board tells us, but the Government has backed off from a firm commitment, a commitment in a collective agreement signed by both parties in faith. They have breached a very basic premise of collective bargaining, that basic premise being faith and trust. They have breached it, and all those women who were discriminated against for years beyond that I agree, but all those who were recognized effective April 1, 1988, who would no longer be discriminated against, would receive the appropriate pay increase back to April 1, 1988. Now what has happened of course is that this Government, because of the budget action it has taken, is now saying that the money you were entitled to - the money you were entitled to - for the last two years, the last three years now, you will not get. Now in the Budget that is the only retroactive discrimination I guess, and it affects who? The working women in the public service, at least in the sectors that were identified at the time, health care and... I think hydro was the other area. Mr. Speaker, I do not need Members opposite to try to play down the fact that there was a pay equity agreement reached, because there was. And no amount of - I had better choose my words carefully -clouding the issue will change that fact. It is, Mr. Speaker, that pay equity agreement was reached, it was recognized that there was discrimination and now that has been taken away. Now, Mr. Speaker, what other areas of discrimination are there in the Provincial Budget? Well, first of all, I guess it has been acknowledged by most parties that in the public service, the sector which will have a wage rollback applied to it, in most of the areas the majority of those affected will be women. I do not hear too many people arguing - I beg your pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: It is not true.

MR. SIMMS: It is not true. Well, let me tell the President of Treasury Board then, what the largest public service union in our Province told me today.

AN HON. MEMBER: You do not know.

MR. SIMMS: I do not know, but I have to take the word of the groups involved. NAPE says 18,314 members will be affected by the wage freeze, is that true? In excess of 53 per cent are women, that is a fact -


MR. SIMMS: Oh, I thought you said I did not know! Well the President of Treasury Board could tell me.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are they not glad they have jobs?

MR. SIMMS: That is not the issue. The Minister said I did not know what I was talking about.

AN HON. MEMBER: Well he said are they not glad they have jobs.

MR. SIMMS: Oh yes. CUPE: 5,767 members who will be affected by the wage freeze, close to 55 per cent will be women, so the majority of people who are affected by the wage freeze are women. Nurses, nurses, nurses: 3,800 members, 98 per cent of them are women and they will be affected negatively by this wage freeze and the NTA again is in the area of 54 per cent roughly out of their 10,000 members, so first we mentioned the discrimination with respect to pay equity; now we mention the discrimination with respect to the wage rollback that has been implemented, Mr. Speaker, and clearly women are the ones who are going to be most profoundly affected.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not true.

MR. SIMMS: Lab and X-ray workers, the vast, vast majority of them are women.

AN HON. MEMBER: Read your figures again, read your figures again because you (inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, the nurses union: 98 per cent of them are women, so do not tell us that the majority of those discriminated against because of the wage freeze are not going to be women, because it is a fact. Members Opposite can babble and yabble and gaffle and interrupt all they want, but it is a fact. And what other ways, what other ways, Mr. Speaker, are women going to be discriminated against as a result of this Budget, and that is what the resolution is, that is what the resolution is about.

How about the layoffs, how about the layoffs, can the President of Treasury Board tell us that the vast majority of those affected by the 900 layoffs in the health care sector are men, can he tell us that? The Minister of Social Services laughs, can he tell us, can he tell us that? Of the 900 layoffs in the health care sector announced by this Minister of Finance in the Budget, what percentage does he think will be women, what percentage, any idea?

MS. VERGE: He did not think about it.

MR. SIMMS: No, of course - Mr. Speaker, you know why they cannot answer the question, because they did not give it any thought, that is exactly the reason.


MR. MATTHEWS: They did not care.

MR. SIMMS: But we are told close to 80 per cent of those laid off in the health care sector will be women, Mr. Speaker. And then there are the other issues. Issues such as the care that people who are elderly and infirm, are going to require as a result of other actions and initiatives undertaken in the Budget, Mr. Speaker, with the hospital beds closing that my colleague, the Member for Green Bay mentioned. In some cases hospitals themselves actually closing, I guess, or being changed to clinics or whatever, that more of those chronically ill people, older people in particular, are going to have to stay home. And who is it, as a result of those initiatives, who is it, Mr. Speaker, -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: That is fine. Let him babble on. Let him babble on and interrupt. There is no problem there, Mr. Speaker. But who is it is going to have to look after those chronically ill and infirmed elderly people in particular as a result of these Budget initiatives and the hospital bed close downs? Can anybody answer that question, Mr. Speaker? Can anybody answer the question, Mr. Speaker? I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, who is going to have to look after those elderly people. It is going to be the wives; it is going to be the daughters, and those people who are at home. That is who is going to be responsible for looking after and providing this additional care. So the cutbacks in the Budget with respect to hospital beds and hospitals themselves are going to, again, discriminate against women. There are all kinds of examples in the Budget, Mr. Speaker, all kinds of examples. Social assistance: Maybe the Minister can tell us.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Okay. How many people are receiving social assistance in the Province today?

MS. VERGE: Individuals.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: No, how many people are receiving social assistance?

MS. VERGE: How many individuals?

MR. EFFORD: Twenty-five thousand, five hundred and fifty.

MR. SIMMS: Twenty-five thousand, five hundred and fifty-two. Is that what he said?


MR. SIMMS: Fifty. Twenty-five thousand, five hundred and fifty. Could he tell us what proportion of those 25,550 are female and male?

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Well, Mr. Speaker, I thank the Minister.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) 9,900 single parents.

MR. SIMMS: I can thank the Minister, Mr. Speaker, because he has just given effect to the point I am trying to make, that when this Government undertook the nasty Budget cutbacks in their Budget they did not give consideration to whether or not they were discriminating against women. He does not even know what proportion of the 25,000 receiving social assistance are women. He just admitted it. He just confessed it here in this House, and that, Mr. Speaker, is precisely our point.

So, Mr. Speaker, I support the resolution, and I hope Members opposite who still have some time will be able to get up and defend these accusations. I would like to hear them do it rather than sitting there cat calling and interjecting, before my colleague, the Member for Humber East, concludes the debate. I would challenge them to get up and respond to all of these issues and items that I have addressed. We will be supporting the resolution mostly because the resolution itself, I suppose, could be said to be motherhood, if that is an appropriate word, an acceptable term: Be it resolved that the House oppose Provincial Government Budget restraint measures that discriminate against women. Now I cannot see Members opposite voting against that, and I have a funny feeling they will not vote against it. I suspect they are going to vote for it anyway.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: No, but their strategy has been to get up in the debate, try to deflect any accusations that might come from over here, try to argue there are no discriminatory measures that have been taken in the Budget. That is what they will try to argue. But in the end, having done all of that -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Your old colleague, what did he say?

MR. SPEAKER: Order please!

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your protection. It is badly needed against the Minister of Social Services who is well known for his antics in the House of Assembly.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I will try to conclude by simply saying we will be supporting the resolution on this side of the House, and I trust Members opposite will also voice their support and make sure they vote in the right way.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I would like to begin my comments by thanking the Member for Humber East for putting this resolution on the Order Paper to give us an opportunity to debate it. I must say in listening to the speakers for the other side I am delighted to see that the Member for Humber East has spoken and will close debate, and that the hon. Member for Grand Falls, the Opposition House Leader, participated as well because I will be making reference to a letter to the editor in the Western Star in a few minutes which talks about the performance of both the hon. Members.

By way of introduction, the hon. Member for Humber East indicated that as she rose in her place and stood to begin the debate it was with considerable anger, and to hear that coming from her causes in me nothing but considerable disbelieve because I am sure that she also indicated that she expected speakers on this side to rise and say that the Budget measures introduced did not discriminate, that she looked in her crystal ball and expected that would be the predictable approach that Members speaking on behalf of the Government would use in this debate. You would have to be brilliant to do that because she knew herself, in her own heart of hearts, in her own soul, as she wrote the resolution, that that was in fact the truth, and that she is up to her games again of trying to play politics with very serious matters, and is looking for some kind of other cause that she can try to be the champion of for a day or two. In fact if she were really serious about it she would not get into the political rhetoric, but would deal much more seriously with the issue at hand. She indicated as well that she and her colleagues were very serious about the debate and it showed that as she gave her introductory remarks - there were two of her colleagues who stayed in their place to listen and show support for the concerns she was expressing. That is how serious they were about the debate, and still are, so there is no seriousness. It has nothing whatsoever to do, particularly with this debate, but a telling comment that she did make which belies everything, I guess, that she and other Members opposite do, she indicated at one point in responding to one of the interjections, in rising to a point of order, Mr. Speaker, she said: the truth is irrelevant. That is what she said.


MR. GRIMES: The truth is irrelevant. She admitted that what the Member was saying probably was true, but then went on to say, do not bother to deal with that, that is irrelevant. You can see in some of the thinking and some of the actions the kinds of things that occur. I think the politics of the debate today, Mr. Speaker, gives a lot of credence to a letter to the editor in the Western Star dated April 2, 1991, a paper that the hon. Member for Humber East takes great pride in quoting on occasion, because there has been some fair criticism of the Government of the day from time to time in that paper, editorial comment and otherwise. Just yesterday a person writing to the editor in the Western Star said: Mr. Editor, while I am at it please allow me to say that I am sick to my stomach of the sheer hypocrisy, and the sanctimonious selfrighteousness of Len Simms or Lynn Verge picking up the gauntlet for the labour movement. And I might add today, in this case, for the women's movement because any bandwagon at the time will do. It goes on to say: people like these have the audacity to propose that he or his cronies, or she or her cronies, are anything other than union bashers who love the rich, and abide the poor and the middle class, as something to be seen and not heard, and of course pay taxes. All of a sudden now there is a completely different slant from anything they have ever done. What a transition in going from being in power, being an Administration governing the Province, to being in Opposition. The road to Damascus is still alive and well. It goes on to indicate, from that one writer: that they see through the hypocrisy and the deceit. In fact the unions who now are pleading their case in the best way possible, because having involvement in the union movement and understanding fully that one of their main roles is to try to the very best of their ability to protect the best interest of their membership, and they will take whatever measures they deem appropriate to try and protect their own membership. Then again Members of the Opposition, who have a track record of their own that they can be anything but proud of in terms of labour relations over their seventeen years in office, are now seen to be the great champions of the union movement, and that we would never consider any of these things that these dastardly people on this side of the House have now perpetrated upon unions. It is very convenient, all of a sudden, to be a friend of unions.

Also, Mr. Speaker, there is one other telling comment in debate earlier today that I just want to touch on briefly before my other few remarks. The hon. Member for Green Bay, speaking with great pride of his days in the Premier's office, his phrase was 'when I ran the Premier's office' - I do not know if that is true or not but he said it, his days in the Premier's Office, when he purported to have some influence on the direction taken and some of the thoughts and some of the things that happened and occurred while the hon. Brian Peckford was Premier of the Province.

He indicated again when making those few comments and talking about his own District a very telling point, and that was that he knows down to the very community how people voted in the last election. And the telling point in that, Mr. Speaker, is that that is how they ran this Province for seventeen years. Nothing mattered about fairness or equal treatment or anything else. The one thing that happened was that on the wall in the hon. the Member for Green Bay's office, when he was a staff member with the Premier of the day, was a map marked with some red and some blue. And when a decision was about to be made, one of the critical factors admitted to repeatedly by this Member was, where were the blue parts of that map and where were the red. And the story is well known in this House that for the whole seventeen years, woe be unto you if there was a bit of red on the map next to your community, because you were finished. It did not matter if you deserved it or not, you were getting nothing. Now as we try to correct that kind of unbalanced inequitable treatment that went on for the whole seventeen years, we will be accused by that same hon. group of taking part in patronage, of doing things only for Liberals and things of that nature. Unbelievable! No wonder a letter to the editor talks about `what deceit, what hypocrisy', and words of that nature.

With reference to the motion at hand, Mr. Speaker, I would just like to point out again, as the hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations indicated in her comments, that the most telling statement of the day in the last two days was the hon. the Member for Kilbride yesterday. They have tried to weasel out of that today, but he stood in his place as a person who sat around the Cabinet Table and declared - as a matter of fact, I was kind of proud of him - said to this House that things were in good hands for the women of the Province when we were in power, because any time an issue came up, we would just lean over to the Member for Humber East and say, is there anything that should have been done about that for women? They did not know. He admitted it. He said, I did not know. He said, how should I know? How would I know? Those were the phrases. I mean, we should get Hansard out and see what the man said. Then he condemned his colleagues, because he said the rest of my Cabinet colleagues were the same way. We did not know. We did not know what we should be doing. And the indication was that if the Member for Humber East did not come forward and rise to the occasion and browbeat the twenty-two other men around the Table into seeing the light, it would have been a total disaster altogether for the women of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Now that is the kind of group we had to deal with. And I am delighted to see our poor, lone female Minister, because as she has indicated she has been in male dominated fora - `plural of forum' -for most of her life, and now in again. I have seen her with the struggles she has carried on before, and it is nice to see that she can stand and say that with this group she has been very pleasantly surprised to see that she does not have to preach and rant and rave with this bunch over here, because they came to the positions with some clear understanding from their previous experiences of the kinds of things that are of immediate and pressing concern to the women of the Province.

Mr. Speaker, they talked about the wage freeze and pay equity. Just let me talk for a second about twisted logic. The hon. the Member for Grand Falls, the Opposition House Leader, he indicated that with the largest public service union, with NAPE, 53 per cent females in the work force, 53 per cent of the layoffs would probably be women, therefore that is discrimination. Now where the logic is in that, to take those two statements and conclude discrimination, it absolutely defies logic. I do not know but it is an absolute twisting of it to try and come up with a desired result for none other than some kind of political rhetorical purpose. That is all it can be.

He mentioned the nurses, 98 per cent female, employed in the nursing profession in Newfoundland. And he would have us believe that if 98 per cent of the layoffs happen to be female, that is discrimination. That is what he tried to say to this House a little while ago, that because that would probably happen in the nursing profession, there are measures in this Budget that discriminate against women. Now I just cannot follow that for one little minute.

One of the things I have tried to pride myself with is that through university and so on, and probably from being a math teacher and trying to inculcate in all my students the necessity of some logic prevailing in an argument, that one and one should add up to two or something like that, that you should have some logical basis for your argument and your conclusion should flow directly out of whatever you used for some preamble, then this absolutely defies logic. Ninety-eight per cent female in the group, if there are layoffs 98 per cent of them will probably be female, therefore that is discrimination. Now if that is the kind of logic that prevailed in the other group, then again I can understand the problems we have and why they would bring forth a motion such as this to try to suggest that this particular Budget has specific, particular items in it that are discriminatory against women.

On this side of the House we are very serious about things such as barrier removal. All we have to do is look in this Chamber and recognize that there have to be some reasons - maybe we do not know what they all are - why there are two women sitting in this Chamber and fifty men. Now you do not have to brilliant to understand that in society where that comes from there is something amiss somewhere. And there probably are clearly recognized and identified, and getting to be more so every day, barriers that exist which prevent women from participating at the same levels and the same rates as men. And this group I know from my discussions with all of them are saying that as long as people are successful in identifying those barriers, whatever can be done to remove them will be done.

And then we get the same kind of thing, you get arguments here that we have done something in the Budget though that further discriminates instead of helping to remove barriers. And we hear about rollbacks and all those kinds of things. You cannot roll back things which people never ever had - another specious argument. If I had a dollar in my pocket this week and someone told me next week you are only going to get eighty cents, that is a rollback. Now if I had a dollar and I thought I was going to have a $1.50 next week and never ever got it, that is not a rollback. Again using logic, that is not a rollback, it is an unfortunate restraint measure this Government had to introduce. And you should believe every Member on this side, that they do share with Members opposite that if there was a choice and if we did not have to do that, we would not do that. Let us face it, who in their right minds in elected political office wants to make a decision that when you make it, when you are sitting there and standing there to make it, you know it is unpopular?

But faced with the choice Members on this side any time would say, and would say it over and over again, that if the choice is to remove another 2,000 people from the employ of the public service in this Province or freeze the wages for a twelve month period for those who are there providing good, valuable service, we will choose the wage freeze route every time. At least I hope these colleagues will. We are hoping it does not have to happen again, but if those are the choices, as they clearly were this time, then rest assured that I hope these colleagues will make the same choice they made this time.

The whole issue of measures that discriminate against women is too serious to politicize. What we want to do on this side of the House is vote for a motion which says that everybody in this House should oppose measures that discriminate against women. The difficulty is that the hon. the Member for Humber East in being cute as she usually tries to be, in being political and those kinds of things, trying to be kind of neat and tidy about these things and slick, being political for whatever reason, she put in words that did not apply, trying to suggest that there are specific measures in the Provincial Budget which are discriminatory against women.

To give her an opportunity, to give all the House an opportunity to broaden the intent of the resolution so that we can all stand and support it, I will move, Mr. Speaker, seconded by the Member for Stephenville, that the words "provincial government budget restraint" as written in that motion be deleted, and that the motion we would vote on at the end of the day would be, be it resolved that the House of Assembly oppose measures that discriminate against women.


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

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. Member wishes to bring in a new resolution next week reading the way he just said that is fine, we have no problem with that. We would support it unanimously as well; we would not even want a debate on it.

The point of this resolution, of course, is to deal with measures that are discriminatory against women in the Provincial Government Budget, and that is the whole purpose. What the amendment does here is change the total intent of this resolution, and I would submit, Your Honour, that the amendment is out of order.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am not going to go on for very long because I do not want to interrupt the debate. However, it is obvious, Mr. Speaker, that the insertion or deletion of words is permitted in terms of amendment to a motion. I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, as all Members who have spoken have indicated, that the main concern is that we oppose measures that discriminate against women. If in fact that is not the intent, then we have been led down the garden path all the way. If that is not the intent, it is an admission that simply cute little games, little political games are being played. So, Mr. Speaker, I would submit that the deletion of these words is perfectly in order, because the words are themselves incorrect and add nothing to the concept that their should not be discrimination against women.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I submit to Your Honour that the amendment proposed by the Member for Exploits is not in order because it changes completely the main point of my motion. My motion is meant to deal with the recent Provincial Government Budget. The motion is meant to deal with specifically the pay equity rollback, the disproportionate number of women public employees being laid off, the great extra burden being put on women as a result of the deterioration in public services, the freeze of social assistance affecting more women than men and the cuts in the Budgets of the Women's Policy Office and the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women, to give but some examples.

Now, Mr. Speaker, if the amendment is granted, if it is ruled in order by Your Honour, we will have before us quite a different matter, a motion that deals with all issues under the sun when the particular focus of my motion, was the contents of the recent Provincial Government Budget.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair will recess for a few moments.


MR. SPEAKER: Order please!

In making the ruling on this amended motion I refer hon. Members to Beauchesne page 175, clause 569 (1), which says, "A motion may be amended by leaving out certain words", and the amendment meets that criteria. On the same page, 175, clause 567 goes on to say, "The object of an amendment may be either to modify a question in such a way as to increase its acceptability or to present to the House a different proposition as an alternative to the original question." That is what the amendment has done, and I rule the amendment in order.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to give the Member for St. John's East a chance to speak for five minutes in this debate.

MR. SPEAKER: Fine. Fine by the Chair.

MS. VERGE: All the Members in the official Opposition wish to give leave for that, and then I will take the remaining ten minutes to clue up.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to thank the hon. Member for Humber East for most graciously permitting me some of her time that she has to conclude the debate.

I want to speak briefly about something that the hon. Members opposite, including the Minister responsible for women's issues and the Minister of Labour do not seem to understand, that pay equity is about discrimination against women. If I may read briefly from the agreement signed by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador in June of 1988 known as the Pay Equity Agreement most recently signed by the Minister of Treasury Board on March 1, 1991: Pay equity means a compensation practice which is based primarily on the relative value of the work performed irrespective of the gender of employees and includes a requirement that no employer shall establish or maintain a difference between wages paid to male and female employees employed by that employer who are performing work of equal or comparable value. That is what pay equity is. And the purpose of the Pay Equity Agreements, Mr. Speaker, was to achieve pay equity by redressing systemic gender discrimination in compensation for work performed by employees in female dominated classes.

Mr. Speaker, that is what pay equity is, and that is what discrimination is against women, regardless of what the Member for Exploits understands this to be. When you treat a group differently, and the result of that is that women are treated unequally to men, that is discrimination.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Now in this Government's Budget for 1990, last year, on the page devoted to women's issues, the Government said: this Government is firmly committed to improving the economic and social well-being of women. We all agree.

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

I find the noise level rather high and I am not able to hear the Member for St. John's East, so I ask Members please to keep the noise level down.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. They need obviously to listen. The next line of this Budget speech says: the Budget is providing $6.3 million to support pay equity in the health sector.

That was last year's Budget. Now where is the $6.3 million gone? It is gone. It is out of last year's Budget, it is out of this year's Budget, and the pay equity agreement of 1988 agreed to by this Government, where they agreed that they had established and were maintaining systemic gender discrimination against women of the public service, this Government has committed itself in this Budget to continue to discriminate all through 1988 -

AN HON. MEMBER: Not true!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: It is true!

MR. HARRIS: - all through 1989, all though 1990, and through most of 1991 in discrimination against women.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: That is the reality of this Budget -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: -and that is the reality of what this Government has done in introducing a Budget that has removed the pay equity agreement and has rolled back that agreement and refused to recognize and honour the agreement that it signed with Government workers. Not only in 1988, but again in 1991, by this Minister in the month of March.

Those, Mr. Speaker, are all my comments, I only had a few minutes. But I wanted to make sure that the Members over there understood what it was they were doing, and what it was this Government was doing to the women of this Province. They are discriminating against them and they ought not to do it. They ought to change their mind, they ought to make a different Budget and come back to this House with something that is fair and equal to men and women.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BAKER: I know that debate back and forth and everything else, and some rather harsh things in some cases have been said here today, but I still think there has to be some attention paid to the truth. And it seems to have gone out the window. I would say to the hon. Member for St. John's East that we have removed the retroactive provision for pay equity for one group of workers in the public service. We have not removed pay equity, we are implementing pay equity.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. BAKER: That is the-

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order. The hon. Member is just taking advantage of an opportunity to make a certain clarification.

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: They are really sensitive over there today.

MS. VERGE: The President of Treasury Board and the Minister responsible for the Status of Women is very testy today because the truth hurts.

MR. SIMMS: Right on!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: He and his colleagues are trying to deny that they have a written contract promising pay equity retroactive to April 1, 1988. They are trying to deny that in stripping that provision of the contract and taking away $27 million to date from women in the health care sector, that they are discriminating against women. They are trying to deny that their Budget discriminates against women. Now, Mr. Speaker, they cannot defend the indefensible. So they did not even try.

The President of Treasury Board when he rose stated flatly that his Budget does not discriminate against women. He did not explain. He did not defend. He switched to a personal attack against me, accusing me of grandstanding.

MR. SIMMS: Right on!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: He said that I am crusading on one issue. Well, Mr. Speaker, I assure him that the cause of women is multifaceted. There are many issues, and they are issues that I will continue to speak up for because women make up a majority of the population of this Province. But, Mr. Speaker, what I feel, what the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations feels, how we get along with our colleagues, what any of us think about each other is not relevant, what matters is what Governments are doing for or against the women that we are here to serve.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, this Government has reneged on its campaign promises to improve the lot of women, this Government has reneged on its contractual obligation to implement pay equity for women in the public service retroactive to three years ago, to April 1, 1988. And the reason the Member for Exploits moved an amendment to my motion is because he and his colleagues are ashamed to have to get up and vote on the motion.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: Their choice, Mr. Speaker, would be to vote the truth and admit that their Budget discriminates against women -

MR. SIMMS: They would not do that.

MS. VERGE: - which would look very bad on the record, or else to continue their acts of hypocrisy.

Now, Mr. Speaker, when I spoke opening the debate, I predicted that the Government would claim that their Budget does not discriminate against women, because I have seen them get on with sophistry before. They argue that down is up, that wrong is right. In their March 7th Budget they stripped the contractual promises to implement pay adjustments to pay women in the public service the same as men for doing work of equal value. Yet, three days before that, in answer to a question I asked the Premier, the Premier said the Government's commitment to pay equity has not changed. I quote: `The Government commitment to pay equity remains as it was.' Mr. Speaker, the rollback legislation that was announced in the Budget takes away from men in the public service one year's worth of negotiated wages and benefits. The Budget takes away from women in the public service one year's worth of negotiated pay and benefits, plus more than three year's worth of negotiated pay adjustments.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear! Right on!

MS. VERGE: The value of the retroactive pay equity adjustments for women in the health care sector is estimated at $27 million - $27 million. The President of Treasury Board says only $24 million. Only $24 million he is taking away from women in the health care sector, and yet has the face to claim that that is not discrimination against women.

Mr. Speaker, I have never in my life seen such extreme hypocrisy. Usually the President of Treasury Board is very smooth in saying that the Government is doing something for women when it is really taking away gains that women won through their efforts and struggles through the last couple of decades. Mr. Speaker, this Government is rolling back progress; it is widening the disparity between women and men, between people who are well-off and people who are poor, and between people in rural areas and in urban centres. This Government is extremely regressive in its thinking and in its actions. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and in their March 7th. Budget they are blatantly, flagrantly, unacceptably and inexcusably discriminating against women. And they may not be willing to own up to it, they may not be willing to admit it even to themselves. Actually, sitting and watching them this afternoon I am inclined to think that most of them do not even realize what they are doing. They are so insensitive to systemic discrimination against women that they do not even realize the extent of the problem, and they do not know that they are making the problem much worse.

Mr. Speaker, I just hope that a majority of the women throughout Newfoundland and Labrador will have a chance to read the transcript of this debate. Because every single woman in the Province should know what was said here this afternoon, should know that the Government's Minister responsible for the Status of Women is claiming that the Government's Budget which took away three years and more of pay equity adjustments from women public employees is denying that that discriminates against women, that the President of Treasury Board and the Minister of Labour seem to be denying that there was ever a contractual obligation to give the pay equity adjustments back three years ago to April 1 1988, that they are denying that a disproportionately high number of women are going to be laid off.

Now what does the Government's own Advisory Council on the Status of Women have to say about the March 7th. Budget? They say it is unfair - unfair - and unreasonable. They also say that this Government has demonstrated little commitment or initiative in addressing the issues of economic security and safety for women. What are women in the labour movement saying? They are predicting that 80 per cent of the 900 health care sector layoffs will be women - 80 per cent. That is 720 out of 900. What do you call that, Mr. Speaker? Is that not unacceptable discrimination against women? Is it not discrimination against women?

And finally I would like to reiterate my point that not only is the Budget being unfair to women and discriminating against women, it is also violating the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The rollback legislation which was announced in the Budget is violating the Section 15 Charter provision which says that the equality rights guaranteed have to be provided without discrimination, including without discrimination on the basis of sex.

And even if Members opposite with their majority can smugly sit in their seats and deny the discrimination and deny the Charter violation, I trust that one day soon a Supreme Court will rule otherwise and they will have no choice but comply. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

If hon. Members want me to read the amendment, I will.


On motion, amendment carried.

On motion, resolution as amended, carried.

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