May 10, 1991                    HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS            Vol. XLI  No. 47

The House met at 9:00 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Before going on to our regular business, I would like, on behalf of hon. members, to welcome to the House of Assembly today fifteen Grade V students from Purchase Academy, Botwood, accompanied by their teacher, Mr. Bruce Critch, and parents, Bonnie Critch and Annie Sacrey.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to make a final comment on a ruling of yesterday, with respect to a matter raised by the Member for Kilbride, seeking my ruling re a modification he had made to a badge, on which I had ruled yesterday. Substantially, I tell the Member, in the House, the ruling I made yesterday may equally apply here, because it is the same badge, carrying the same message, the same symbolism, the change being that a piece of masking tape is placed over one word, with another word being substituted. It is basically, as I said, the same badge, carrying the same symbolism, and if the Chair were to rule that the hon. Member were allowed to wear that, I think the Chair would not be making a very wise decision, but one that would be creating further disorder.

I say, that both slogans are offensive and disrespectful to a member of this House, and the British Parliamentary system is founded upon the principle of dignity and respect, dignity and respect attached to the Office of Premier, attached to the Leader of the Opposition, attached to the Chair, and, indeed, attached to all hon. members. Once that dignity and respect is lost, then we are into a situation of disorder and chaos. It is again a matter of trying to do, through the backdoor, what one is not allowed to do through the front door.

So, I rule again, with respect to this matter, that it is out of order and that the badge, in its modified form, ought not to be worn or displayed.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I accept your ruling and I will not wear that badge on my lapel, either with `lied' or `cried' on it, but, Mr. Speaker, the Premier might know that the badge will not be far away.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I want to revisit an issue that was very prevalent a week or so ago and, in fact, was recently raised, I think, just the night before last on NTV's First Edition newscast, so it is worthy of revisiting, I think. It is a question to the President of Treasury Board, concerning the nature of the pre-Budget talks that he and the Premier held with leaders of the public sector unions.

On March 12, the Minister said: Within two weeks of the budget he and the Premier - and this is virtually a quote - talked to the four major unions, indicating that we were looking at choices, and indicating what those choices were. He went on to say: It was within a week of the budget, in other words a week after the meeting with the union leaders, that the final decision was made in terms of the wage freeze, and how that would take place.

I want to ask the President of Treasury Board, does his statement of March 12 still accurately reflect the content of the meeting that he held with the union leaders, and does it accurately reflect the sequence of events in relation to Cabinet's decision to freeze wages?

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

MR. BAKER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, with the exception that there were two meetings, not one. The first meeting was not a meeting with everybody together, it was a meeting held separately with the union leaders, and the second meeting was a joint meeting of all unions, held at the request of the unions.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I do not think there is anything inaccurate in what I have said. I did not indicate otherwise, I do not believe.

Anyway, a supplementary: Can I then ask him, would he agree, then, that it is clear that the description of that meeting, from one of the leaders, Mr. Fraser March, was similar to the description given by the Minister in the House on March 12, when Mr. March, himself, said, in relation to the wage freeze, and I quote - this is a quote from The Evening Telegram, May 1 - "We were asked the question, what would happen if they, the Government, touched the collective agreements. We told them, it would be a declaration of war on the labour movement." Is that the context in which the freeze option was raised with the unions, is what I want to ask the Minister, and is that the response that the President of Treasury Board and the Premier received from the unions?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, first of all, what the hon. Member read out is not what I have said happened, and not what the Premier said happened. So the statement by Mr. March, that I understand the hon. gentleman referred to, is an incomplete statement. Mr. March is trying to make it appear as if the conversation with the unions was much more general than it actually was. The conversation with the unions was very, very specific, and not in the general terms that Mr. March describes.

So, the answer to his question is, that that description is not similar to the description that both the Premier and I have given, and is not an accurate representation of what happened at the meetings.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, one final supplementary. I mean, this is getting confusing again. My first question to the Minister was, if he would confirm that what he said on March 12 - and here is what he said, "Within two weeks of the Budget, he and the Premier talked to the major unions, indicating we were looking at choices and indicating what those choices were. It was within a week of the budget, in other words a week after meeting with union leaders, that the decision was made on a wage freeze." Now, is that the case or is it not the case? Is what he said on March 12 still accurate, or is it not accurate?

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I cannot account for the Opposition House Leader's confusion. He is confused quite a lot of the time. We have gone over what we said at the meeting many times in this House, and the hon. Member can look it up in Hansard. The information we gave the unions was this: That we had done, in terms of changes to the Public Service of the Province, as much as we felt we could do. We were still short a lot of money. We were very specific as to the options, and the options that we were looking at were these: A wage freeze, and we even discussed specifics of how that could be done and the number of ways it could be done; and the other option was the layoff of another, approximately, 3500 public employees, over and above what we had already planned to do. These were the options that we were considering, and we were very specific.

The statement by Mr. March is an attempt to give the impression that Government was not straightforward, honest, and forthcoming with the union leadership. That is the purpose of the statement by Mr. March. I would reiterate in the House, at this time, Mr. Speaker, that that is entirely incorrect. We were totally honest, straightforward, and up-front with the union leadership, all the way through the process.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the Premier, but, in his absence, I will refer it to the President of Treasury Board. Mr. Speaker, the Premier, in his speech to the St. John's Rotary Club on April 31, gave a far different version, I think at least, of what happened at the meeting between the unions and Treasury Board, a different version than either Fraser March gave, or the President of Treasury Board gave this House some time ago. Did I say Premier March? Hopefully, no!

Mr. Speaker, this is what the Premier said - and the President of Treasury Board can correct me, but this is what he is quoted as saying, I was not at the meeting: the unions were told in detail what the Government was planning to do, with specific reference to the wage rollback. He said: union leaders were told of the impending wage freeze, the clear meaning of the Premier's statement, being that the union leaders were told that the wage rollback was a certainty, not a possibility.

Mr. Speaker, in the Premier's own words, I say, who is lying to whom? If Mr. March lied about the meeting to his union members, as the Premier clearly implies, did the President of Treasury Board also lie to this House on March 12, and again today?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, they are grasping at straws, going around picking out partial quotes and everything else, trying to twist them and trying to assume that this means one thing, and something else means something else.

In answer to the question, Mr. Speaker, in many statements in this House we have described exactly what happened during these two meetings, and there was no conflict nor difference of opinion. The unions were told the options, and the options were explained to them. We had a choice of either, in our view, the wage freeze plus the retroactivity on the pay equity disappearing, or the layoff of another 3500 public employees, and the unions well knew the options. They were asked if they had any comments, any input, or any other suggestions that could be made, and there were none forthcoming.

As a matter of fact, I probably suggested one or two in the discussions myself, that we had considered but had ruled out. So, Mr. Speaker, they were well aware of exactly the options Government was considering. Well aware!

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, some of the problem that we are having -

MR. SIMMS: Hanging loose (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I would ask the Opposition House Leader to please restrain himself. I am trying to give the floor to one of his colleagues, and I find it difficult.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, one of the problems we have is, we know there were several statements made in the House of Assembly, particularly by the President of Treasury Board, and we know there were statements made outside the House of Assembly by the Premier, which contradict each other, Mr. Speaker. One said there were general discussions, and the Premier, in particular, said there were detailed discussions. The Premier said, at the Rotary Club, that there were detailed discussions, not possibilities -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Kilbride is on a supplementary.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, maybe the President of Treasury Board will clear up the confusion about what is being said in the House, and what the Premier is saying outside the House. Would he tell us when the decision was made to roll back the wages? Was it approximately one week after he met with the union leaders?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, we have some more confusion. We have a very confused Opposition these days, I understand, by their own admission.

Mr. Speaker, it is my recollection, at this point, that the final decision was made on the weekend before the Budget was actually introduced into the House. So, I believe it was a Thursday that the Budget was introduced.


MR. BAKER: So, it was sometime on that weekend. That is my recollection of when the final decision was made. Up to that point, no decision had been made, and we were still considering both options, and willing to listen to any suggestions that the union leadership had with regards to this very serious situation.

I might add, Mr. Speaker, that going back to last October we asked for input from the union leadership of the Province and, with one exception, did not receive any input.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Just a simple question to the President of Treasury Board: At the meeting with the unions, did the Premier or the President of Treasury Board tell the unions that there would be a wage freeze?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I think the answer is self-evident. I have just described that the decision was made on the weekend before the Budget. There were no meetings with the union leaders from that weekend to the Budget date. So, the answer is self-evident, the union leaders were not told what the decision was. They were told simply that there were two choices that Government was considering, and we would welcome any further input, whether there were any other options we should consider. They knew, in detail, what the two options were. It was not a general discussion, as Mr. March says, where there were no details discussed. That is not the situation. We were very specific in terms of the options that we were then considering.

The other point, Mr. Speaker, is that nobody is told of decisions that are brought down in the Budget, ahead of time. These are budgetary decisions that are released by the Minister of Finance in his budget.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, is the President of Treasury Board now confirming that the Premier misled the St. John's Rotary Club in his speech, and is he also confirming that the buttons and T-shirts and caps that are going around this Province are actually the truth?

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

MR. BAKER: No, Mr. Speaker, I am not confirming any such nonsense, any such foolishness. The Member has had some fun in the last few days, with his little bit of childishness, and I suppose we can excuse that for a while. Everybody is due his few days of childishness.

Mr. Speaker, both the Premier and I have gone over that process in this House many times. If the hon. Member wants to look back at Hansard, to see what is on the record of this Province, if he wants to examine the press statements, if he wants to examine the newscasts and so on, he should do so, and he would discover that there is no -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I have stood on a point of order. The noise level, particularly to my left, is becoming rather bothersome to me. I remind hon. members again about the swivel chairs. The Chair has done that, and members are not supposed to have their backs to the Chair. I realize that it makes it very, very easy for that. I ask hon. members, please, to remember that we are in Question Period, the acoustics here are exceptionally good, and it makes it difficult for the Chair to listen to everything that is going on.

Is the hon. Minister finished?

MR. BAKER: Just very briefly, Mr. Speaker. There is no conflict between what I have said and what the Premier has said, concerning this issue. The Premier and I have said exactly the same thing, because we have been telling the truth.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Harbour Main.

MR. DOYLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the President of Treasury Board. For the first time in the history of collective bargaining in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, a Minister responsible for public sector bargaining has been quoted in the press as saying: The unions have been lying through their teeth since day one. Now, that statement is so provocative, it is so destructive, that I have to ask the President of Treasury Board, is that statement correct and did he, indeed, say that?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, if you apply that to every action of unions, since I have taken over, and since we started the collective bargaining process, the answer is, no, that statement is not correct. If you apply it in the context, that during a collective bargaining process things are said to the press, that are sometimes not correct, then, in that context, the answer is, yes.

MR. SIMMS: Can you give a straight answer?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I have not recognized the hon. Member, simply because, the minute the President of Treasury Board finished there was too much noise coming from my right, and I think it is an appropriate time to read to hon. members a very important rule. If hon. members prefer, I will read it after, but the noise is becoming too, too much and I may have to do it during Question Period.

The hon. the Member for Harbour Main.

MR. DOYLE: Mr. Speaker, again I would say to the President of Treasury Board, that this is a direct quote: The unions have been lying through their teeth since day one. Now, again I ask the Minister, did he indeed say that. This statement comes days after the Premier's attack on union leaders at his Rotary Club speech last Tuesday. Is this a deliberate attack to discredit the public sector unions, and will the President of Treasury Board immediately issue an apology to the public sector unions and try to get some semblance of decent labour relations back on track?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I suppose I could take ten or fifteen minutes of Question Period, which I will not, to go over the whole commentary that I made, concerning the bargaining process. Mr. Speaker, all I can say is that from day one the statements that I have been making to the press, and the descriptions of what has been going on, have been the absolute truth. If, in fact, there were other statements at variance to what I have been saying, then they have not been the truth, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Harbour Main.

MR. DOYLE: Is the Minister concerned that the Government's efforts to destroy the credibility of the unions, following as it does on the heels of Bill 16, will destroy any possibility of rational and reasonable collective bargaining? Should he not be trying to repair the damage of Bill 16, instead of continuing with a strategy to destroy the unions in Newfoundland?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as I have said many times, and I reiterate at the beginning, if the hon. Member wishes to apply that statement he quotes, to everything that happened in the collective bargaining process, the answer was, that it was not correct.

Mr. Speaker, I have been very forthright in my descriptions of everything that has happened in this process. I do not believe that being forthright and honest will destroy the collective bargaining process. I believe that, in the next number of months, there are some major issues that have to be negotiated with the public service unions of this Province. I believe that these issues, particularly the one involving the possible indexing of the public service pension plan, these discussions will go on and we will reach satisfactory conclusions to them. So, the short answer to the question, Mr. Speaker, is that the bargaining will go on and progress will be made. But, Mr. Speaker, I am not going to put up with statements that are incorrect concerning the collective bargaining process. I can only say that I have been honest and forthright with the people and the press, and I will continue to be so.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Harbour Main, on a supplementary.

MR. DOYLE: A supplementary to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

Since the President of Treasury Board did, indeed, confirm that he made these very, very provocative statements, could the Minister of Labour tell me what she is doing to diffuse this potentially explosive issue, and does she agree that the unions have been: lying through their teeth since day one?

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

MS. COWAN: I am wondering who he is performing for this morning, Mr. Speaker.

I find that the only time the critic seems to have anything interesting to say is when someone up in the gallery is there watching him, and he feels some pressure from his so-called constituency.

I was not present at the meetings to which the President of Treasury Board refers, therefore, I can make no comments on them. I am confident that Treasury Board and the leaders of the union movement will act in the best interests of their members and we will act in the best interests of their members and of our fiscal responsibility, as a Government, when we sit down to do any kind of work regarding indexing of pensions, or whatever the topic might be at the time. If there are hitches that come into the process, then my Department is there with its usual mandate, to try to ease the situation through the use of conciliation and so on. We will continue to do that, Mr. Speaker, as we have in the past.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RIDEOUT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. As the Minister knows, the process that is laid down in the law, in The Municipalities Act, for amalgamation, before any amalgamation can take place, indeed before the Minister, according to the law, is even permitted to make a recommendation to Cabinet, there is, according to the law, supposed to be a feasibility report on Government's proposal, not on somebody else, but on what Government's proposal is, and there are supposed to be public hearings.

Would the Minister agree that in order for this to be a real process, and in order for it not to be a sham, that municipalities and citizens participating in this must be placed in a position of reacting to specific Government proposals?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, we are carrying out the requirements of the feasibility process to the letter. As a matter of fact, at the end of the feasibility hearings and the feasibility process, which involves some seventeen main points that have to be studied, heard debated, and so on, in the public forum - hearings are only one part of the process - but, certainly, towards the end of the hearings stage, I asked the four commissioners involved, in the Northeast Avalon, if they would join together for the purpose of writing a final commissioners' report that would deal with the three separate groupings that were being looked at, and the difficulties, if you like, of examining seventeen communities, all with adjacent boundaries, and arrive at a decision.

Having made that decision, of course, the Northeast Avalon was looked at in that context. That was part of the feasibility process, clearly stated publicly at the time, and then a decision and a recommendation was made to me, as the Minister. Having examined it on a global basis, if you like, but all seventeen communities, the feasibility process then requires the Minister to examine those commissioners' reports, have dialogue with officials, consultants or anybody else the Minister wishes to consult, and make a recommendation to Government. Mr. Speaker, I have followed that to the letter.

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, the letter of the law requires that the Government make a specific proposal and that there be feasibility studies on that proposal.

Let me ask the Minister this: Was the supercity concept proposed by the Government, was that given to his commissioners, and, did his commissioners make a recommendation, on that concept, back to the Minister?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, the word `supercity' has been used in different ways by different groups. Some describe the supercity as being all the lands east of Witless Bay and Holyrood, others describe it as being the urban core, and others describe it as being a diminished urban core. There are all sorts of descriptions for a supercity.

All I can tell the Leader of the Opposition is that the commissioners examined all the options available; they were asked to do that. Certainly, they were asked, at the end of the day, to do it, or towards to end of the day. I asked them, as I said, to come together with the reports they were working on separately. Three separate commissions started out. I said, `I want you to come together and examine this as a group, now,' because it is very difficult for three separate commissions to work in isolation, when we have seventeen communities, all with adjacent boundaries. They did that. So, all options, including three or four variations of a supercity, were examined by the commissioners.

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, I should say to the Minister that after you leave Witless Bay, 3600 kilometres later, you will hit Ireland? Is that included in the supercity concept?

MR. SIMMS: East of Witless Bay.

MR. RIDEOUT: East of Witless Bay, the Minister says.

AN HON. MEMBER: A shining star from the East.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. RIDEOUT: East of Witless Bay, the Minister says - the shining star from the East.

Mr. Speaker, there is something wrong with the four-eyed beetle over there this morning. The Minister of Forestry has not shut up since nine o'clock. He is over there ranting, raving, and babbling like I do not know what, Mr. Speaker, the four-eyed bark beetle.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: When `Clyde' is not here, he talks.

MR. RIDEOUT: Yes, when `Clyde' is not here, the Minister goes mad.

I have a supplementary for the Minister, Mr. Speaker.

On November 10, 1989, in this House, the Minister said, and let me quote the Minster: "If in the end we find" - `we' being the Government -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Another fellow upset over there - `Clyde' is gone.

MR. RIDEOUT: He is not eating chocolate bars this hour in the morning, is he, Mr. Speaker?

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

It is an appropriate time to remind all hon. Members, that the Chair is in charge of Question Period, and the Chair will decide when the questions are out of order and when the answers are out of order.

The hon. the Member.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: A good ruling, Mr. Speaker.

MR. RIDEOUT: It is time to put the Ministers in their place.

Now, the Minister of Municipal Affairs said this in the House on November 10, 1989, Mr. Speaker, and I quote from Hansard, page R11, on that day. The Minister said the following: "If in the end we find that even though the commissioners are recommending that amalgamation take place in certain communities and we still find that the councils or a council in question is opposed, the Government has said that in a case where it is clear that for the benefit of the majority of the grouping that amalgamation should take place, and it is being recommended by the commissioners" - and the Minister went on and repeated himself - "by the Commissioners - then we would take it into the House here" and we would have to debate, and so on. Now, is that still the Government's position, Mr. Speaker, I ask the Minister, or has the Minister reversed himself? And will he, contrary to that commitment, bring a proposal before this House that has not been recommended by his commissioners, one of whom is his own assistant deputy minister?

MR. SIMMS: Yes, that was his position.

MR. RIDEOUT: That was the position of (inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair is trying to get over the noise, as to who is speaking.

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, as happened a couple of days ago, when I was quoted out of Hansard and taken out of context, it is probably the case this time as well. I would have to go back and check Hansard for the full debate and everything I said, not just a few sentences. But certainly, clearly, the intent of what I said at that time, and I will repeat it now, is that we would look at groups of communities - and I was speaking of the entire Province, all forty-two groupings - we would look at the recommendations and, as a Minister, I would make a recommendation to Government to proceed or not to proceed, based on the best interests of the communities involved. Now, that was the intent of my comment. And if it was felt that there was a group of communities dissenting, in the best interest, globally, of those people, they should come together, and then Government might make a decision on that basis. That was clearly the intent of my comments.

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, when a Minister stands in this House as this Minister did on November 10th, 1989 and makes a clear policy statement on behalf of Government, and if Government does not, at the end of the day, support him, the Minister has one choice. Now I ask this Minister, what will he do under those circumstances?

MR. SIMMS: A good question.

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, my obligation, as a Minister, is to bring forward a recommendation, outlined as I described earlier, coming out of the feasibility process. The final point in that process is the Minister to make a recommendation to Government and the Leader of the Opposition knows that; he was over here and he knows that. That is the obligation I have.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. GULLAGE: Oh don't be so ludicrous! Lots of things are brought by Ministers to Government that are not accepted; if everything we brought in, as Ministers, to Government, was accepted -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. GULLAGE: Come on! Don't be so ridiculous!


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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Social Services: Last year the House of Assembly passed an amendment to the Adoption of Children Act allowing adopted persons to obtain information about their natural parents with the consent of the people, of course. Mr. Speaker, this was good progressive legislation, but progressive legislation is one thing and the will to implement the legislation is another. Can the Minister confirm that the Department has over 1,000 requests to search the records to obtain necessary consent?

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

MR. EFFORD: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

I want to bring to hon. Members attention a couple of matters with respect to Question Period that bear repeating now. Question Period has on some days been rather slow, only getting in four or five people for questions. That is the way it has been dragged out, and not, with respect, to the questioners entirely. The Chair continually having to rise on points of order, and some mornings the whole atmosphere is like that and this is one of those. I ask hon. Members to please follow the rules or adhere to the rules so that as many people can get in Question Period as possible. I want also to address hon. Members attention to supplementaries. The Chair tries to - if it has a number in mind it does not say it - tries to give the Member fair time to follow through on a topic that the Member might be pursuing, but in any event there should not be too many supplementaries and hon. Members should keep that in mind and it is at the discretion of the Chair as to precisely how many supplementaries are allowed any Member. I want to also remind hon. Members of one of our Standing Orders which says, 'In putting any oral question, no argument or opinion is to be offered, nor any fact stated except sofar as may be necessary to explain the same, and in answering any such question the Minister is not to debate.' Questions have been getting long, I say to hon. Members, particularly the supplementaries. A supplementary should contain no preamble. It should be the question right off the top. The Chair does exercise a bit of flexibility, I would think, and tolerance with respect to the preamble in the first instance, so I remind hon. Members of that. The final one causes a lot of disorder when people do not adhere to it in Question Period, and there should not be disorder in Question Period, I know there are times, but I want to remind hon. Members of Beauchesne, Page 123, 416, Replies to Oral Questions. Hon. Members will know why I am bringing this one to the attention of hon. Members. "A Minister may decline to answer a question without stating the reason for refusing, and insistence on an answer is out of order, with no debate being allowed. A refusal to answer cannot be raised as a question of privilege, nor is it regular to comment upon such a refusal. A Member may put a question but has no right to insist upon an answer." These things are put in there to make Question Period smooth and orderly and fast flowing, so I ask hon. Members on both sides to please follow these rules. Of course, as I say, they have to.

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

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, I fully concur with everything Your Honour said. Your Honour has the onerous responsibility of trying to keep Question Period on track, and we appreciate that as being a very difficult position from time to time, but I do want to say on behalf of this group here, the official Opposition, not pretending at all to speak for our friend for St. John's East, but for the official Opposition, I will decide who participates in Question Period from this side. We as a caucus will decide who participates in Question Period from this side, and how many. If Your Honour does not want to recognize us when we stand that is Your Honour's prerogative but we are going to decide who participates in Question Period from this group, and how many of us are going to participate. If we have more than enough, obviously we cannot get on, but if we do not have enough, which I have never seen happen so far, we will be caught with our parliamentary pants down and the clock will run out, but this group, and I as Leader of this group, is going to decide who participates in the daily Question Period.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair would like to, on behalf of hon. Members, welcome to the House of Assembly today seventy-six Grade V1 French immersion students from St. Joseph's school here in St. John's. They are accompanied by three parents and three teachers, Madam Noelle Whalen, Michele Stamp and Michel Genest - I apologize for any mispronunciation. Maybe I should get somebody to give me these names phonetically. In any event we extend a warm welcome to these people.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Notices of Motion

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

MS. COWAN: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Labour Relations Act, 1977."

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

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act Respecting The Regulation Of Lotteries And Amusement Devices In The Province."

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MS. COWAN: Yes. Several days ago, Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member for Grand Falls asked me a question regarding the hiring of nurses at the Bull Arm site. And I have that answer for him this morning. In actual fact there is only one nurse that has been hired from outside the Province. That individual has a background in occupational health and safety and has only been hired for a short term contract while they advertise to find someone in Newfoundland. They were given forty-eight hours by HMDC to find this person. And I might add - particularly for the Member for St. John's East who is trying to discredit HMDC and Nodeco - that this individual whom they have hired is not even required by the Occupational Health and Safety Act of the Province, but they are doing it as an extra way to meet the needs of the workers at that particular site.

So I have the full report on that that I will now table in the House and the Member for Grand Falls can read that at his leisure. If he has any more questions I will be glad to, certainly, take them under advisement.

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

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

MR. SIMMS: The President of Treasury Board, the Government House Leader will recall a few days ago I brought to the attention of the Premier a number of questions that I had asked over a month ago. The Premier I think was going to get on to the Ministers and get them to supply the answers because a month was not acceptable. Does he know where those answers may be or when they are coming or if they are coming? There are still a half a dozen Ministers who have not answered a bunch of questions.

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, my recollection is that the questions that the hon. Member is referring to had to do with the travel?

MR. SIMMS: That's one lot.

MR. BAKER: That's one lot. Okay, it had to do with the travel. That is the only point he raised and I will deal with both of them.

As far as I know, Mr. Speaker, the Ministers are getting the information put together and will be answering these questions. There was another lot of questions that the Member put there that has not been really discussed, and the Member has not asked about. That had to do with the number of individuals in each Department that were laid off - their names and addresses and all this kind of stuff. So since then we have had the salary estimates and I have some documentation now put together for the hon. Member from all Departments, in one lump. But I must say to the hon. Member, we are not going to give names and addresses and so on. But we will give all the other information. I am now putting it together for all Departments. The process will soon be finished and we are trying to include as many as we can.

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible).

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

MR. SIMMS: The other lot of questions that I asked, he may recall, were questions relating to the expense claims of the Chairman of the Economic Recovery Commission and all the other commissioners and some advertising costs to Enterprise Newfoundland. All of those questions had been asked April 4, well over a month ago. And -

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East on a point of order.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I raise a point of order with respect to the -

MR. SPEAKER: Pardon me, please. Sorry. Is the Member speaking to this same point of order?


MR. SPEAKER: He is on a different point. The Chair has to rule on this point of order, which is substantially not a point of order. Just points of explanation.

The hon. the Member for St. John's East on a point of order.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to raise a point of order regarding the remarks of the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. In her answer she was responding to a question asked by the Member for Grand Falls concerning a matter that he had raised in this House, and she responded to that question and gave him the answer. But instead of responding to that question, took the liberty of making slurs at the Member for St. John's East and suggesting -


MR. HARRIS: - suggesting that the hon. Member for St. John's East was attempting to discredit HMDC and Nodeco while the Minister was attempting to support them and praise them in this House and make excuses for them, and that was suggesting, Mr. Speaker, that my motives in raising questions, having nothing to do with the question that the hon. Minister had been asked, she was imputing motives to me totally unrelated to the question that the hon. Member had asked about nurses and jobs at the Bull Arm site, and that is not proper.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind Members that when the Chair rises hon. Members should take their place. I ask the hon. Member to quickly establish his point of order, it seems to be long and drawn out. I would ask him please to become more precise and finish up the point of order.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, the point of order is that the hon. Member, in rising to respond to another Member's question imputed motives to me that were improper, and she did it in a context that was totally improper and I think that she aught to be called to question on it.

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

MS. COWAN: Mr. Speaker, I have stood in this House on several occasions and listened to the crass political - excuse me, it is just that it annoys me to such an extent, the Member for St. John's East taking advantage of situations, telling things that are not true about the site out at Bull Arm. I talked only yesterday to the head of the employee group out there who says there are no occupational health and safety problems there and I would use -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I just want to remind hon. Members that we have to please get to know the rules of the House. It makes it very, very difficult for the Chair when hon. Members are not paying attention to the rules. I have time and time again outlined the procedures. There is a time for debate and it comes in the area of debate. Question Period is not a place for debate, answering questions is the same thing. When hon. Members are answering questions, they should understand giving Questions for which Notice have been Given that number one, there is no chance of reply afforded to the Opposition. This means that a Minister giving an answer has to be more courteous than they would normally be knowing that there is no chance of reply to the Opposition. I do not think there was any point of order, other than the Minister was entering into the realm of debate and ought not to have been doing that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. COWAN: Oh yes I do.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Orders of the Day

MR. BAKER: Order one, Mr. Speaker, Committee of Supply for a short while.

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

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Chairman, I would like to clear up some loose ends. There have been a number of detailed questions asked about the Executive Council that I would like to clear up. First of all there were a number of questions, comments, and so on, during the Estimates of this Department, asked by Members opposite regarding the employment of Ms Deborah Coyne and the amounts quoted in the Budget showing large increases and so on. The correct position, Mr. Chairman, is that the amount quoted in last year's Budget was a position: Director of Constitutional Policy. That position remained vacant for the fiscal year so that $44,790 that the Leader of the Opposition refers to was in fact -

MR. RIDEOUT: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Okay, what the Opposition House Leader referred to, was in fact a vacant position. In the Budget last year Ms Coyne was on a contract for the amount of $57,071, so the increase would be from $57,000 to $64,000. This is a permanent job this year filling that particular position. So, it is not from $44,000 to $64,000 and the huge percentage suggested by Members opposite, so I would like to table that response, Mr. Chairman.

The other question, and quite a bit of time was spent on it, had to do with the hiring of public relations directors under Newfoundland Information Services, Mr. Chairman, I promised I would get all the information and details. I believe this was mentioned in Question Period as well, so I could have done it, I guess, under Answers to Questions for which Notice has been Given, but I chose this particular forum. In terms of the public relations directors there is a lot of detail I have. There is a comparison of the public relations situation going back a few years, and as it currently is, with the names of individuals and the salaries paid. In actual fact you will find, Mr. Chairman, that we have cut down tremendously on the cost of the Government's public relations and will continue to look for ways in the Executive Council to save the people of the Province some money.

The difference that should be noted, and I do have a note on this, Mr. Chairman, is that under the previous administration, the Peckford administration, I do not have the information on the interregnum, but under the Peckford administration the public relations positions were all political appointments, every one of them. The fifteen of them, I believe, were all political appointments, but what we have done now is there is only one political appointment in terms of public relations and the rest of them are eight people who were hired in consultation with the Public Service Commission, and it was spelled out clearly that the positions were not political, that they were not being hired as press secretaries but as departmental public relations directors responsible to the Deputy Minister and so on. So, there is a tremendous difference in the approach we have taken, as well as the fact that we have saved Government a lot of money on the public relations directors. I would also like to table that information, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. BAKER: Well, you can see if you dispute it or not.

There were a number of speeches and questions asked about the Premier's office and I said I would put together some information. I have also put together information on the cost of the Premier's office which I would like to table showing, in fact, what has been spent in the Premier's office over the last number of years.

The fourth one has to do with a promise I made to one of the Members opposite, I do not know which one now, that I would provide information. I used some information from this document providing information on all the salary settlements that occurred during the last year. This came up in the questioning of collective bargaining, the collective bargaining process. There was a great deal of discussion about the Salary Estimates. I would like to remind Members that it is something that we hesitated, or it took us some time to put together this year, and the reason it took time was because there were changes in the public service because of the Budget and we wanted to make sure that there was an accurate representation in the Salary Estimates of what was happening. There may still be a few problems there because we rushed the document. We got it out as quickly as we could and as a result of this there was a great deal of discussion, a great deal of false information, and a great deal of false conclusions by the Opposition, and by some members of the press, concerning the Salary Estimates, the percentages and so on of the Salary Estimates.

In actual fact what happened with the executive and management was exactly in line with what happened to all Government employees during the last year. That in fact similar decisions were made relating to the management and executive as were made with regard to the unionized employees. There was no favouritism, no group got special treatment, no group in the public service. As a matter of fact all groups are treated in exactly the same manner.

So, Mr. Speaker, I would like to table the summary of the comments and the misrepresentations that have been made concerning the salary situation and the collective bargaining situation during the last year for. I am sure, all Members will be very interested to see the truth. So I would like to table these as well.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. We appreciate the President of Treasury Board has been so forthcoming today in tabling that information, and certainly when we get a chance we will study it. And if we have any other questions we will ask them later.

But there is one thing that I forgot to ask when I was speaking in this debate before. I wonder would the hon. the President of Treasury Board or the Premier when he gets a chance table the expenditures under the Premier's office,, allowances and assistance? There was nothing in the Budget last year for it but there was $20,000 spent and there is $20,000 in it this year. Maybe they could table how this was spent, some estimates or details on how this $20,000 was spent.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Yes, I would be glad to answer. When this was done there was a full explanation given in the House I believe as a Ministerial statement. I gave a Ministerial statement related to that whole matter. The past practice was for the Government to pay for the accommodations of the Premier. Whether it be in Mount Scio house, which we had a decision to make on at the time, or whether it be down in Tiffany Apartments or whatever it happened to be. The practice was for Government to pay for the accommodations of the Premier. And these accommodations plus food plus a whole lot of things was costing a lot of money per year. I mean, well over $20,000 per year.

In addition there was the Premier's private dining room, where costs were again very exorbitant. The last standing offer we saw indicated that over a year period it was projected that $20,000 would be spent alone on booze, another $10,000 on shrimp and a few things like that. So, the Premier's dining room was in existence and was being used. So when the Premier needed to entertain -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) responsibility to account for the stuff (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: (Inaudible). When the Premier needed to entertain the Premier used to use, by and large, the Premier's private dining room and entertain visitors from all over the world and what have you - people from Ottawa and so on. Now, we tried to save a bit of money in this regard. We decided not to pay for the Premier's accommodation. We felt that that was the Premier's responsibility. We decided to close the private dining room because there was, I believe, a full time chef involved, and the costs were exorbitant. And I believe we tabled the full costs in the House at the time.

So in place of this horrendous cost of paying the Premier's accommodation and food and everything else, plus his private dining room and his protection and his private chef and all that kind of thing, we instituted a - the present Premier entertains in his house. Instead of using the private dining room he takes these people to his house.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Oh yes, the executive dining room was there in addition to the Premier's dining room, is the point, okay? I believe during the last year, for instance, the amount charged to the Premier's office in the executive dining room for the full year was - $400 or $500? I believe that was the amount. And that had to do with, I believe, a meeting of a policy committee that the Premiers' chief of staff happened to sign, that ended up being assigned to the premier's office. It was actually a policy committee meeting.

So the Premier does not use the executive dining room over there. That is used now like it was always used, in terms of committee meetings and everything else. So, Mr. Chairman, we instituted a $20,000 housing allowance instead of these other things that I mentioned. All the figures have been tabled in the House, and I suppose we could dig them up for the hon. Member, if he wants. We instituted a $20,000 a year housing allowance, which was fully explained in this House, and that is where the $20,000 came from. It is in there this year for the same amount, at the same level, as was in there last year. Mr. Chairman, it is an amount that is given to cover a variety of things, as I have indicated. It is not that expenses are incurred and bills are put in and all this kind of thing, it is a $20,000 a year housing allowance given in lieu of paying for the residence, in lieu of the private dining room, in lieu of the private chef, in lieu of all these things. That is the $20,000 allowance that is in there.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I am surprised to hear that. I do not object to his getting that $20,000 grant, I am just surprised that it is not an accountable $20,000. I mean, if the Premier spends money in doing his job on behalf of the taxpayer, certainly, he should be reimbursed for it -I have no problem with that at all - but, at least, the same as the MHAs have to do for the allowances they get for doing their jobs; we bring in receipts and we are held accountable -

MR. RIDEOUT: We should not be having to (inaudible) for it.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Well, he should not be, either. It should not be taxable if he is entertaining.

MR. RIDEOUT: No, because it is his salary, that is what it is.

MR. R. AYLWARD: It is another $20,000 salary and it has very little to do with the entertainment the Premier is providing on behalf of the Province.

The Premier is a good enough businessman to know that if he is incurring expenses because of his business, he is not going to pay tax on it. He certainly never did while he was in private business and I doubt very much that he is going to do it now. So I would imagine, Mr. Chairman, that if the Premier is paying tax on it, it is just another salary supplement. It has nothing to do with the expenses of the Premier. You will probably find some entertainment expenses at Hotel Newfoundland or maybe the Radisson Plaza Hotel, that should probably be included in this $20,000, but it is being charged to others. It might not be directly charged to the Premier's Office but there are quite a few subheads in this Budget where you could hide away a dinner or a few free drinks or -

AN HON. MEMBER: You hid $400 a day.

MR. R. AYLWARD: I hid away $400 a day? No, I did not hide it away. The Minister of Transportation read out my expenses. I did not try to hide anything. Every expense account I ever filled out was in The Sunday Express. I have no problem. He can put them in again if he likes.

I do not know what that has to do with the Premier's $20,000 salary supplement, or home lunch program, whatever you want to call it. I guess he needs that to go home to lunch every day. I heard him say on television one night, he likes to go home to lunch so that he can break up the day. Well, I mean, if we are paying for his lunches - I go home to lunch most often, too, to break up the day, but, certainly, I am not being paid to do it. Whatever lunch is prepared, it certainly comes out of my grocery bill.

And, it was said. I mean, the Commissioner, Dr. Morgan, when he did the report on MHAs expenses, said that if you incur expenses while doing your job as a MHA, or while operating in this Legislature, it is very reasonable to get a receipt and submit it as an expense. If that is approved by whomever - it could be the Speaker's Office, the Legislature, or the Administration people in a department - if that is approved as a legitimate expense, you should be reimbursed for it. I have no problem with that.

I know the Premier closed the dining room downstairs, and there probably were savings, but, I mean, you just do not get $20,000 put in your back pocket because you say you were saving by closing something else down. If you still have an executive dining room at your disposal, certainly, you could close down one of the dining rooms. The Premier is going to have first shot at the executive dining room over in the West Block now. I am sure none of his Ministers are going to bump him out of it if he wanted to use it.

But, Mr. Chairman, it concerns me. I assumed when the statement was made that this $20,000 expense, which is called Allowances and Assistance, would be an accountable charge to the Premier, and he would submit his bills -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


- he would submit his bills for whatever expense. And if it went to $30,000, I would say it was still pretty cheap. But I do not understand that the allowances - I mean it is the grant -

MR. DOYLE: It is a tax statement, which means it is part of his salary, then?

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, if it is taxable, it certainly is part of his salary, and if it is part of his salary, the Premier is getting a $20,000 salary supplement that is not reported.

Now, I would expect that if the $20,000 sub-head No. 210109, Allowances and Assistance, $20,000, which was not budgeted for last year but was made through a statement in this House - which I accept, I think it is probably a good thing to do; you have saved money by closing the dining room downstairs and taking the $20,000, either through your home or through an expense account to provide entertainment, as Premier of this Province, and I accept that. It is probably - I do not say probably, it is a saving - but I understood this $20,000 to be the same as for an MHA and the rest of the MHAs in this House who have expenses while performing their duties, they are accountable; you put in a receipt and you get reimbursed for whatever you spent of your District Allowance, as I think it is referred to in the Legislature. I would expect that the $20,000 allowance the Premier had is a budgeting figure and if he spent $30,000, well, sobeit. He puts in receipts and he will get his $30,000, if he spends $15,000, he will put in receipts and get $15,000.

It was suggested here this morning - and maybe the Premier would want to differ with that - that this is not an accountable expense, it is a salary supplement; you pay taxes on it, and it is part of your income rather than a part of your expense claims working as Premier. Maybe the Premier would like to make some comment on that.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Chairman, I am happy to do so. In fact, it is paid as an allowance and, in fact, I paid income tax on it, so the net value of it is $10,000 or $11,000, or whatever it is; I do not like the thing, I wish it did not exist, it is not right, but, as hon. Members know, for every Premier before me, all housing expenses have been provided, complete house, all furnishings, dishes, crystal, china, silverware, food -

AN HON. MEMBER: Everything?

PREMIER WELLS: - full-time maid -


PREMIER WELLS: - everything.

AN HON. MEMBER: All that stuff is still there, somewhere, is it not?

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Peckford bought it for a few thousand dollars.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh no, no, no.

PREMIER WELLS: Oh, yes, yes, yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, no, no, no.

PREMIER WELLS: Well, I mean (inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). furniture.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: As far as I know -

AN HON. MEMBER: That is wrong -

PREMIER WELLS: Well, I will check it out.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is all stored over at Mount Scio House.

PREMIER WELLS: Maybe it is, I have not seen any of it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Well, I will check it out and see exactly what was bought for what and I will report to the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: I will do that.

Anyway, Mr. Chairman, as everybody knows, all this was provided for every other Premier; he had no investment in a House, he did not have his money tied up, invested in a house, he did not pay any rent, he did not pay any heat, he did not pay light, he did not pay any city tax, he did not pay any cable television, it was all done and all provided for him.

AN HON. MEMBER: Taxable?

PREMIER WELLS: A portion of it was attributable to taxation and the other part, the overall cost of Mount Scio house, was not, it was a portion of it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Not the total benefit. Anyway, Mr. Chairman, I had my own house when I became Premier. It was a fairly expensive House to maintain, fairly costly to pay the taxes, the heat, the light, the insurance; gardening: keeping the gardens cost over $5,000 last year. So, maintenance on it runs into a lot of money. Now, Mr. Chairman, that is what the $20,000 was intended to compensate for. I have to do that; I cannot maintain that house -

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not what the statement says. It says it is for entertainment allowance.

PREMIER WELLS: No it is not.

AN HON. MEMBER: Well, that is what it is called.


PREMIER WELLS: I have no problem. Just let Members keep their cool for a moment. What we decided was, instead of maintaining a house for the Premier, as had been done before, with all costs covered, instead of -

MR. RIDEOUT: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: If the hon. the Opposition Leader will just sit tight for a minute, he will have the full explanation of it instead of his own queries about it, he will understand.

Instead of maintaining a house for the Premier and the private dining room for the Premier to entertain in, and so on, we have closed both. No house for the Premier - Mount Scio House, as hon. Members know, is now the headquarters for the Pippy Park Commission, I believe. So that is not operating. We closed the private dining room from day one, and I have done all the entertainment in my own house, so I am providing the house, the building, the facility, I am paying the insurance, the taxes, the heat, the light, the maintenance, the lawn coverage and everything, and frankly, I cannot afford to do it. To be honest, I cannot afford to do it on my salary, and I think hon. Members will appreciate that. The $20,000 was intended to be a contribution toward that.

Now, in the ordinary course, when I bring somebody down for lunch, my wife will prepare lunch or something, unless it is a formal visitation like the other day when I entertained the Ambassador from Zambia and a few people. The other night, I entertained the Ambassador from South Africa, I had dinner for him and people who were interested in the South African situation, and so on. When I have that, what we do is engage a restaurant to supply the meal and you pay the direct bill for the meal that is supplied. Twenty thousand dollars is not, and never was, intended to cover these detailed accountable expenses for food or anything like that. I buy all my own food, all my own supplies, everything is all at my personal expense. I run that place totally at my personal expense. The province contributes $20,000 towards it. I end up paying taxes on it and it turns out to be $10,000 or $11,000.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why should you pay taxes?

PREMIER WELLS: Now, look, I do not disagree with hon. Members. I think they are probably right. I am quite prepared to alter the situation and have the Government pay a portion of the cost, accountable. Take the account. I do not want it in that way.

AN HON. MEMBER: We will think about it.

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, I have no -

AN HON. MEMBER: The Premier should not be out-of-pocket for doing public (inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: No he should not.

PREMIER WELLS: Of course. I understand that. The difficult thing is deciding how to do it, because I am part of the Cabinet, the Government. The Members here are part of the Cabinet that I sit in every day, and even though I may absent myself from the decision, in fact, they are sitting around the table with me every day, so it is not a very satisfactory or comfortable situation, and frankly, I do not like it. I would like to find some way to alter it that would enable me to maintain the house and save the Government a lot of money, instead of providing a house for the Premier, as was done in the past, providing the operation of the private dining room at a cost of some $100,000 a year - $78,000, I think was.

AN HON. MEMBER: Seventy-eight thousand dollars.


AN HON. MEMBER: How was the food?

PREMIER WELLS: I have no doubt the food was good, but I do not know, I never tasted it, so I cannot judge it.

AN HON. MEMBER: You mean you were not in there with Joey?

PREMIER WELLS: That was a long time ago, so long that senility has set in and I have forgotten!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Was it the same chef?

AN HON. MEMBER: He was a good chef.

PREMIER WELLS: Well it was good then. Yes, I agree, the food was good then.

AN HON. MEMBER: Way back.

PREMIER WELLS: But there were seventeen years when I was not anywhere near.

Mr. Chairman, to get back and be serious for a moment, frankly, I would like to find some other means -

MR. RIDEOUT: I will give you an alternative. Ask the former Premier (inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: There you go. I agree with that (inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, but I would sooner that it be done in some way that removes me personally.

PREMIER WELLS: Okay, that is a way that may remove me personally, but you see, the fact is, Mr. Chairman, I am providing the facility, it is my investment, a substantial one, in that property. It costs a substantial sum every year to heat it, it cost another substantial sum for taxes and insurance and grounds maintenance and maintenance of the building, and so on. I cannot live on my salary, I have to dip into my bit of savings that I have in order to continue and I do not like that situation, because I am absorbing the cost that the Government paid for prior Premiers for their residence and for the operation of the dining room for entertaining people. So I do not like having it that way. I do not like having an arrangement that I am part of making that deals with me. I feel uncomfortable doing that. The Leader of the Opposition may have a worthwhile suggestion, or maybe a committee of this House might make the decision with representation from both sides of the House. Something of that nature may be a better way to do it.

I would sooner that it be done in some kind of way that recognizes fairly what the burden is and compensates fairly, and leaves me paying my own personal expenses, which the Government should not pay. They are my own personal expenses and I should pay those. But the Government should at least make a substantial contribution toward the cost of providing the facilities that I am providing on behalf of the people.

So, that is the explanation. Up to now, what has been done is this $20,000 payment, and that is what it is intended to contribute towards, but it ends up being $10,000 or $11,000, because it is taxable. It is a difficult problem.

MR. RIDEOUT: Why did they make it a taxable allowance?

PREMIER WELLS: Because the accountants reported it as other taxable payment, so I just pay taxes on it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: No, I mean, I cannot go and cause -

MR. RIDEOUT: It makes it worse!

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, it has made my situation worse. The hon. Opposition Leader is quite right. It has made my situation worse. But just imagine what would have happened if I had gone to the Department of Finance people who issued this T-4 and said: Do not do that, change it, alter it, make this a non-taxable allowance, and then filed my tax return on the basis of that. The whole country would have been in an uproar.

MR. RIDEOUT: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Well, maybe. I agree, but let us look at some way to do it that will not have me perceived as creating a benefit for myself.

MR. RIDEOUT: (Inaudible), whoever it is.

PREMIER WELLS: Whoever it is, it does not matter, and the standard should apply. It is not necessary for me to have a house made available to me, because I have my house. I happen to like it and I would sooner not have to move out of it and sell it, quite frankly. I would prefer to keep it.

AN HON. MEMBER: You should have a garden party this summer.

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, maybe I should have a garden party for the Members of the House this summer and they can see. But, Mr. Chairman, I would be quite happy to sit with the Opposition Leader and discuss some kind of means that would be a better way of dealing with this.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: We want to get rid of this. The Premier said that when he is entertaining a restaurateur will come in and do the meal. That restaurateur who comes in to do the meal, to serve, do your entertainment, that expense, is that bill, itself, yours and you pay it, or is it the department's and they pay it?

PREMIER WELLS: No, it goes to the department. If I happen to be entertaining somebody - it is usually an intergovernmental matter, diplomats, and that kind of thing, who come here. And I suppose occasionally the Department of Development will ask me to entertain somebody, and I will. That bill is charged to my office if it is my responsibility, but if I am entertaining a diplomat, it probably is an IGA expense. I do not know how - maybe it is all in my office, but I do not pay it out of the $10,000 or $11,000 that is left, if that is what the hon. Member is asking.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).



AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)?

PREMIER WELLS: No food was bought for my house, or anything, I buy all that myself.

AN HON. MEMBER: Question?

MR. CHAIRMAN: Are we ready for the question?

Shall Clause 1 carry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: It is the Executive Council and the Consolidated Loan one.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Chairman, with the consent of the Members of the Committee, I apologize that I was not here for Question Period this morning, and to provide an answer to a question that I was asked yesterday. I tell hon. Members, I would much rather have been here. I was sitting in the dentist's chair for two hours. And, the dentist's chair, as opposed to being in this House, I will take the House. I will take the House any time, as bad as I may think it might be.

Yesterday I believe the Opposition House Leader asked me why the doors were locked out front. He asked me to check on a report that the doors were locked out front. I have checked on it, Mr. Chairman, and I have discovered that the explanation was that the security people had been advised that there was to be a major demonstration of some 2000 people, which was suggested, and they had to comply with the fire marshall's order to limit entrance to 200 people so they locked the two side doors and left the one in the middle open so that they could count approximately 200 people and stop the entry once 200 had gone in. That was the explanation for it.

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

MR. SIMMS: The other question I asked related to the instructions that had been given with respect to the future of demonstrations being permitted in the lobby of Confederation Building. Now, I double checked my sources again after Question Period yesterday and I understand, quite clearly, that instructions were given to them that what was happening was there would be no further demonstrations provided, or allowed for, in Confederation Building lobby, and that there had in fact been a decision by Cabinet, a Minute in Council by Cabinet. I wonder if the Premier would be prepared to perhaps table the Minute in Council from Cabinet dealing with it so that we could all know exactly what the decision was?

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Chairman, I do not know what the reason is. I am answering the question, not the answer the Member wants me to make, I will give him my answer totally honestly as I know it at this moment. If it is somehow incorrect I will deal with it. What I am saying is, security have a problem. They cannot run the risk of having the foyer overcrowded. Now, how they are dealing with it, sofar as I know, they are not barring any demonstration from the foyer of Confederation Building. If the people want to come and demonstrate in the foyer of Confederation Building, as far as I know, they can still do that provided it is not a massive mob of people that exceeds the capacity of the building. I do know that there was some discussion, or some concern, expressed to me in discussion, not in Cabinet but in discussion outside, about if you have 2000 people demonstrating, how you control the number that come into the building, and I gather from what I am told, that the means they have chosen is to close two of the doors, leave the centre one open, and count the 200. I will check and see what the situation is.

MR. RIDEOUT: I have one other question. Is the Premier aware, and I did not write the words, but there was a sign placed on the main entrance of this building yesterday, like I said I did not write down the words, but what I recollect it saying is: lobby closed, use northeast entrance - which is the entrance straight across from here - use northeast entrance and entrance on Government business only. Is the Premier aware that this big long sign, about three or four feet long, and that wide, was placed on the front door yesterday?

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Chairman, I do not know the details of how the security people manage, or what instruction they are given. They are only given a general instruction by us to maintain the laws and the rules, and if there is a problem with a demonstration, and they have been informed beforehand that there is going to be a demonstration of 1000 or 2000 people, then they have to take precaution, and it may well be that the only sensible precaution is to allow nobody to enter the building, allow nobody to enter the foyer and have the demonstration outside on the steps of the building. Maybe that is the course they chose to follow in that kind of circumstance. In another circumstance where there is a demonstration of 100 people what is wrong with them being in the building? I do not really see anything wrong with them being in the building. Now, maybe the security people do. Maybe they see something wrong with their being in the building, so I am not going to answer and say it is an absolute, and dictate this is the way it is going to be. I will talk to everybody about it and see what is the right security procedures for the people who work in the building, and for the demonstrators. We will develop a sound policy.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Chairman, I do not know if the Premier is misunderstanding what I am asking him, or what I am saying, I guess. I am saying that there were instructions that came down from Cabinet, okay, there was an MC issued from Cabinet, yesterday, I am told, and the interpretation of that MC clearly was that there would be no further demonstrations allowed in the lobby of Confederation Building. Now, that is what I have been told.

AN HON. MEMBER: None at all.

MR. SIMMS: None at all. All I am asking the Premier to do is, if he would check that, and more particularly just so that we can understand and see more clearly for ourselves, would he be prepared to table the MC? I mean there is nothing very startling about it.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Chairman, if that was the order, I will advise the House. It may well be that was the order. Maybe that is the right order, I do not know. Maybe there should be no demonstrations allowed in Confederation Building.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: We can debate that. I have expressed my personal view that if there were one hundred people or anything under the two hundred limit coming to have a demonstration, I cannot see anything very much wrong with it. Maybe there is from a security point of view, but that is my personal point of view. But it may well be that the only sensible way to handle it is that when there are demonstrations, have the demonstration confined to the front of the building outside maybe that is the right answer. I will check it and find out.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Shall the Heads of the Executive Council, the Consolidated Fund and the Legislature carry?


On motion, that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again, Mr. Speaker returned to the Chair.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Trinity - Baie de Verde.

MR. L. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report progress and ask leave to sit again.

On motion, report received and adopted, Committee ordered to sit again on tomorrow.

MR. BAKER: Order 7. Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 7.

Motion, second reading of a Bill, "An Act To Revise And Amend The Law Respecting A Pension Plan For Employees Of The Government Of The Province And Others". (Bill No. 6)

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is with considerable pride that I bring in this long overdue Bill to revise and amend the law respecting a pension plan for employees of the Government of the Province and others.

When we assumed office two years ago and I took the Portfolio for the Department of Finance, two things were very striking about the conditions of the finances of the Province. One was the debt which we inherited, the other was the unfunded liability of the pension plans and the serious condition that the pension plans were in. We looked at that for a short time and appointed a Commission of Enquiry into pensions, and after holding public discussions and looking into the pension plans of other provinces and the Federal Government, the Commission of Enquiry which consisted of: Mr. George M. Cummins, Chairman, who was a Professor at Memorial, Department of Commerce and a lawyer; two chartered accounts, one David Earle from Corner Brook and one Michael Power from St. John's, they constituted a Commission of Enquiry and brought in a report in March 1990, a comprehensive report. Volume one, most Members are aware of, there are also two or three other volumes consisting of the submissions that were made to the commission. That commission made a number of very serious recommendations most of which find themselves incorporated into Bill 6.

I would like to just say a word or two about that, the unfunded liability of the plans were at the end of December 1989 approximately $2.1 billion. Most of the unfunded liability, more than half of that was in the Teacher Pension Plan but a substantial amount was in the Public Service Pension Plan the last time we had an actuarial assessment done, at that time it was something over $730 million. The Uniformed Services Pension Plan was in a non-funded liability situation. In fact, we had no assets in the plan at all and all the pensions were paid out of revenue and a (Inaudible) with the MHAs' pension plan. So we did have serious questions with respect to pensions. And we decided to address these plans. And I would like to take Members through some of the changes that were made.

First, we will be dealing with the other two pension plans shortly. We are dealing now with the Public Service Pension plan. Shortly I hope to be able to deal with the Uniform Services Pension plan and the Teachers Pension plan which should be ready for Members shortly. We have not come to grips with the MHAs' pension plan as yet. By comparison it is a minor problem but it is has to be looked at and will be looked at. But it will not be ready for this session of the House, not this spring anyway. And so we will confine our remarks now I think to the Public Service Pension Plan and the changes that are incorporated in Bill 6.

I would like to call Members attention to some of the changes. In Section 23 (1), if you have your Bill in front of you, it makes the survivor's benefit - that means when a pensioner dies and leaves his survivor - that survivor gets 60 per cent instead of 55 per cent. We have actually increased the survivor's benefit. And that is in accordance with recommendations that have come out of a commission that was set up nationally with provincial and Federal representation on it. And they suggested that survivor's benefits should be 60 per cent rather than 55 per cent as being fair. So we have incorporated that amendment which does nothing for our unfunded liability but it does make things a bit fairer for survivors.

What Section 32(4) does is provide for splitting up pension benefits upon marriage breakdown. The notion that the pension is not just of the pensioner but also has to do with the other person in the marriage, and it should be appropriately shared at the time. So this Bill makes provision for splitting up pension benefits upon marriage breakdown.

The major change in the pension is in Section 5, and Section 5 increases the amount of contributions that employees make and also which the Government would make as well, because the Government will be paying in the same amount. Section 5 (2) says: "There shall be deducted from the salary of every employee to whom the pension plan applies..." and it says in (a): "6.6 per cent of that portion of his or her salary which is the basic exemption under the Canada Pension Plan." That used to be 6 per cent, it is now raised to 6.6 per cent.

Section 5 (2) (b) says: "4.8 per cent of that portion of his or her salary in excess of the basic exemption referred to" just a minute ago, "and including the Year's Maximum Pensionable Earnings as defined by the Canada Pension Plan." Which at the moment is $30,100. So between $3,000 - which is the basic exemption under the Canada Pension Plan - and $30,100, the people would pay 4.8 per cent. It used to be 4.2 per cent. And then for contributions above it becomes, as it says in Section 5 (2) (c), "6.6 per cent of the portion of his or her salary which is in excess of the Year's Maximum Pensionable Earnings." So for monies a person earns over thirty-one thousand it goes up to 6.6 per cent again, and that used to be 6 per cent.

So the overall effect of the change we have made in Section 5 is to increase the overall payment by .6 per cent. This for most employees works out to be about 5 per cent. And before it was somewhat less.

So that is the major point that we have made, to increase what is called the current service cost. Once the employer and employee pay that amount we should be able to cover the current service cost. In other words, the money that we take from the employees and what the Government takes from its own budget and puts in the pension plan, should be enough to meet the liability that is created during that year provided that the fund is appropriately invested. So that we will not be adding, hopefully, anything to the unfunded liability now as time goes on, and Section 5 is a major part of that.

Also Section 8 of the plan: I would like to call Member's attention to Section 8 where we deal with prior service, to increase cost to employees with regard to the purchase of pensionable service, employees may purchase if there has been a refund and the person leaves and then the person comes back, that person may purchase that service again and it will be done at half the actuarial value. If people bring in service from other institutions that is possible, but it will be at the full actuarial value. It is specified here under terms and conditions that may be prescribed. These are the terms and conditions that will be set out in the regulations which are just about completed now.

I would also like to indicate another change which is the change in Section 17 and Section 17 talks about vesting. Up until now a person had to have ten years in, in order to get a pension and we have reduced that to five years so that is a great benefit. So an employee now shall not receive a pension under the pension plan until the employee has been credited with not less than five years of pensionable service, previously it was ten years, so that a person could leave his six years or seven years in the plan, and when they have reached the proper age a pension can be paid whereas before it had to be ten years. So that is an advantage.

One of the major changes, I might add, that differentiates this Bill with the former Act, the Public Service Pensions Act of 1970, is that we will be discontinuing redundancy pensions. Up until now and up until the time that this Bill takes effect, which we anticipate being September 1, next, up until then a person whose job becomes redundant in the public service has been able to qualify for a pension if they have the appropriate number of years in would be able to draw their pension immediately. It has been a tremendous benefit to those people who were affected by layoffs or redundancies, but it is a provision that very few pension plans have and we have decided to eliminate that redundancy pension. That is one of the big drains on the pension fund. Instead we will implement a better severance package than we had before.

So another problem that we have had but which we have decided not to deal with, this time we could not, was the question of disability pensions, people who become sick on the job. When their sick leave is over if they qualify for a pension, they draw one, but we thought that we might be able to substitute some sort of an insurance package there. We explored it very carefully and the advice we had was that it would be just as well to retain the disability pension rather than to eliminate it and substitute an insurance plan for that. The cost of the insurance plan would be probably greater than the cost of the pension benefit. So at this point we have decided to stay with the disability pension even though there are problems with it, but we have altered it a bit to make a provision that once a person gets on a disability pension or is no longer able to perform the job for which he was hired, we will ask the public service commission to see if we can find a reasonably comparable job within the public service and give that person priority for a period of time in a job rather than having to go out on a reduced or disability pension. These are some of the reforms, Mr. Speaker, that we have been able to introduce into the pension plan, and hopefully some of the problems we have been experiencing will be eliminated. The big problem has been with the unfunded liability. Now, that still leaves us with the Public Service Pension Plan. It is still not fully funded because of the problems that have occurred in the past, and as time goes on and the finances of the Province improve it is our intention to put money into the pension fund so that this builds up. What we have been able to do, and this is a major reform of this Government, the reform of the pension plan, this is a major reform, we have been able to come to grips with the very serious problem of liabilities that have been created by our pension policies which have grown up over the years, and which have not been addressed up until now, problems which, I believe, should have been addressed long ago, but which were not addressed, but which are addressed now. The increased benefits that we brought in are not costly ones. They are in accordance with the national pension reform consensus which, as I mentioned before, was agreed on by a number of people. We are trying to bring into most Canadian pension schemes now, the increase of survivor's benefits from 55 to 60 per cent, and the splitting of pension benefits upon marriage breakdown, and reducing the best vesting period from ten to five. The pension consensus suggest that this be reduced eventually to two years, but we feel at the moment that we are unable to afford this yet, but perhaps later on we will be able to reduce the vesting period to two years. This is a major reform of pensions in the Public Service Pension Plan. What I will do now is stop my remarks and listen to what Members opposite have to say, or other Members, and if there are any questions we will do our best to answer them, and provide any other information you may wish to have.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you, very much, Mr. Speaker.

I want to have a few words to say on the pension reform that the Minister is touting as a major reform, and it is. I have no quarrel that it is a major reform. It is a more drastic reform on uniform services than it is on the Public Service Pension. Mr. Speaker, I was very fortunate to be on the Legislative Review Committee that reviewed the Pension's Acts. The Committee Members, the Chairperson, the Member for St. John's South, the Member for LaPoile, the Member for Pleasantville, and the Member for Harbour Main, were on the Committee and we had the opportunity to hear what the public service unions, their representatives, and people who are affected by these pension changes feel about the pension reform the Government is going to bring in. I will, over the next couple of minutes, give the Minister a rundown on what some of these people said. There were several of them, especially the people who are on pensions now, the Government Pensioner's Association, I believe they are called, had several questions in their brief which obviously the Member for St. John's South could not answer, because he did not know the answers to them. Nor, did the Member for Kilbride have the answers because we were not knowledgeable enough. We were there to hear their concerns, and hopefully we will be able to get answers from the Minister as the debate comes.

Mr. Speaker, just a couple of words on the Committee system first. Each of the Members of our Committee tried to be fairly diligent in getting the legislation as fast as we could out to the people who are concerned which we figure is our job. And give them enough time to consider the legislation and come back to us with some briefs.

Now unfortunately this time our Committee was really strapped for time. We had the Budget Estimates Review Committees coming on, we had the legislation a little bit late, and we expected that it was coming to the House before this, actually. So we had to push the people who were going to make presentations to us a bit more than we wanted to get the presentations in on time. And that in itself is a small flaw in our committee system. Because as a Committee we are relying on the people who are affected by this legislation - the experts, I guess we would call them - to come in and inform us what problems they have with it or what they see good about certain legislation.

If the people who are presenting the briefs do not have enough time to give them full consideration that takes away the advice, I guess, or the ability of the committees to be able to give Members of this House of Assembly the benefit of the advice given to us as a committee Member. It is just that this came in a crunch. I am not saying it is anybody's fault, I am not trying to blame anybody for the short time notice on this pension legislation. But it just came with the Budget and it came with everything in a pinch.

And there was not enough - particularly with the uniform services legislation - time for the people involved in the pension scheme to have proper consideration of what the legislation was going to do for them. They did, as the Minister said, have an opportunity to make presentations to the commission that was set up some time ago, the commission that made - the public service people pensioners did, anyway to make presentations. But there was not enough time given all the groups involved - in particular with the uniform services - to give it proper consideration so that the Committee could get a better feeling of how they feel about the legislation as it is being prepared and how it affects them. And the uniform services legislation drastically affects what the members of that plan had in their minds for their future. It really is a tough one. But we are not doing uniform services today, that will probably come some day next week, and I will have a better shot at that.

Now the Committee did get presentations from several groups. Some written, one oral presentation was given to us by Mr. Jim Ryan from NAPE, who obviously, from what he was telling our Committee, was very knowledgeable of the pension systems and the pension legislation changes. He was so knowledgeable and went in to such great detail that he never got a chance to even finish his presentation before the time ran out on us. He did give a lot of detail and I tried to take as many notes as I could, but the detail was even too overpowering to try to get enough of it. That again shows a small fault in our committee system. Because we as committee Members record the proceedings of our committees, yet because of staff shortages these reports, these transcripts, will not be typed up until next August or September some time.

So if I missed anything in my notes as the presenters go through their briefs I am not going to know I missed it until next August or September when they are printed up, when I review it, and then it is too late, the pension legislation has passed. That causes some problems to the committee system and I would expect that the President of Treasury Board is trying to work on that to expedite the printing of the different people who make presentations to our committees. NAPE did give a presentation on the Public Service Pension Plan, the nurses gave an excellent presentation, it was concise, brief, written recommendations very clearly and I must commend them on their professional presentation and the professional way that they did it, even though they did not have as much time to consider it as they would have liked.

Government Managers gave us a written presentation or a written letter. Our committee asked them to make a presentation to us and they suggested that they did not wish to appear before our committee but if we wanted to meet with the Government Managers Association, they would be willing to meet with us, but they did point out that legislation was drafted as a result of extensive consultation which occurred during the Commission of Inquiry on Pensions, so we did not meet with them.

The IBEW sent in a brief and they are looking for inclusion; I will mention this a bit later, they are looking for inclusion of one of their groups into the pension plan and the pensioners themselves, the people who are on present day pensions, made a presentation and I will highlight eventually what they had to say to our committee, but just to go over generally for Members of the House of Assembly, as the Minister did, what changes are coming in this pension plan.

Some of the benefits that are coming, the vesting period which is certainly a good reform and I do not think there were too many people who complained about reducing from ten to five; there were some who would like to see it at two years, but our committee, I do not think would recommend that we reduce it to two years yet because we have other problems in the system right now that need to be rectified, so I would be inclined to agree that it is an improvement of reducing the vesting period from ten years to five years and I think probably our committee did not make any recommendations to change that and -

Oh, another thing about the committee too. Because of the time crunch that we did have, our committee was sitting Wednesday night I believe it was. We sat to try to do our report, again, time constraints really had us, we made some recommendations; again, our report is not finalized; the clerk of our committee also has four other committees to try to look after and the Chairman of the Committee is also Chairman of another Estimates Committee, so our report has not been typed up yet, and I would like to have had it and have a look at it for this debate, maybe by the time the committee stages of this debate occur, we will be able to have our report and make the recommendations or show the Minister what recommendations we made as a committee.

Today I will go over some of the comments that were made by the people who made presentations to us, so that the Minister will be aware of what the presentations were, even if he is not going to be fully aware of what the committee's recommendations on it were.

Survivor benefits, which is another improvement in the pension plan; certainly people would have liked to see survivor benefits increased even more, but there is a certain cost to that and it does increase from 55 per cent in the old plan to 60 per cent which is an improvement. Some people would have liked to see it 65 per cent to 70 per cent, I believe one of our presenters suggested to us and certainly that would be good and that would probably be what is coming in the future, if you consider it a national trend in pensions reform and I guess our pension plans will follow them at the time.

There is a provision here, a new provision, that if an employee or pensioner dies without survivors, the difference if any, between the contributions paid plus the interest, less pension benefits received will be paid to the estate, so if you do happen to go on pension and you do not get a chance to even receive the benefits that you had paid into the pension plan, this new provision will allow your estate to receive the money and the interest - some interest on that money, so that your estate will have the benefit of what money you put into the system over the time. The old plan had no such mention of this and I really do not know what used to happen, what would happen to the money if you happened to die before you had all your money out of it; I suppose it just stayed in the fund or it disappeared but I am not sure what would happen to that.

Interest paid on contributions should the employee result in refund on termination: The old plan said 5 per cent per annum, which certainly was not fair, when you look at the interest rates that are being paid as they go up and down throughout the last seven or eight years; interest rates on savings accounts alone, went as high as 8 per cent or 9 per cent, so the 5 per cent certainly was not covered. The new plan - one year chartered bank fixed term deposit rate, established as of December 31 of each year. So you will have a little benefit if the interest rate on that one year fixed term is good on December 31 of each year, you will be getting a little extra interest on the money that is provided if you need to get it back. If you take your money back - if you finish your job and get your money out of the system - you will probably be due a bit more interest on it than you had been in the old plan.

Calculation of average pensionable salary: The average pensionable salary that is used as a base for determining the amount of pension. The old plan, the average base was the last five years of salary. The new system will be the best five years of salary. That technically for some will be an improvement. It is not going to hurt anyone. It is not going to take away benefits. For some people who, in the last years of work, wish to accept a job at a lower pay and work at a different pace for the last year or so, this will allow them to take that job at a less paying and less stressful position if necessary. And they will not lose their pension benefits by having the last five years. They can make the average on the best five years. So that is an improvement for some but it is not a great reform in any pension system. It will not affect most people, I would say.

Contribution rates: Percentage of salary required to fund future benefits, cost shared between employer and employee. In the old plan it was 4.5 per cent, in the new plan the effective rate is 5 per cent. Now this is not a great increase, I suppose, .5 per cent. But it is an increase and the increase comes at a time when salaries are frozen. So that caused some concern to people, not a great concern, because it is a small increase. It causes a much larger concern when we talk uniform services pension. And especially for the people who would like to keep the option of staying in the old plan. It literally - you can give anyone all the options you want. If you make it too expensive for them to be able to take advantage of these options it is just as well not to offer it to them. But that again will be more in line with the uniform pensions when it comes.

Redundancy pensions: The Minister mentioned the redundancy pensions when he spoke. And I have had some calls from members of the public service pension plan now who are working and who are considering the bumping procedure and the redundancy procedure. And if they want to avail of the redundancy, they are more or less pressured into it by - the Minister is saying the redundancy pensions are going to be gone by - I think the date has been moved to September 1 now? It was January 1, then the last of April. So this removal of the redundancy pension is definitely a loss to the members of the pension plan. It is not a loss to all of them, obviously, because they are all not going to be redundant. But I did have several cases in my twelve years in this House of Assembly of trying to help people to try to weed through the bureaucracy to try to avail of the redundancy policy that we had. Not yours - I suppose it is the same one there now. But even the one that was there when we were there.

And there was one person in particular, he was an engineer, a member of the Newfoundland Engineers Association. Certainly this system of ours, with 35,000 people, you would think could use a trained engineer. It happened that the Metric Division of Consumer Affairs was being wiped out after the five year plan when the metric - or ten years, whatever it was - system was introduced. There was no need for the Metric Division of Consumer Affairs, I believe it was at the time. So one position, director, who was an engineer, was declared redundant. Now I thought it was probably pretty good to have his position declared redundant. He was in the system for twelve or fourteen years at the time. So as I understand the redundancy position, he was well trained, well qualified, I will have no trouble getting him slotted into - the man was only forty-two or forty-three at the time, I believe, in his early forties anyway. So there will be no trouble for me to slot him into a position in the system. He does not have to worry about going out on a small pension. I was a year and a half on that one. We managed to get it delayed for a while, but I was a year and a half at it, and the outcome of it at the end of that year and a half was this qualified engineer who worked for us for twelve or fourteen years was out the door with a $6,000 pension. That in itself was a big problem, but if the redundancy clause was gone - when this reform comes in and the redundancy pension is removed he would have been out the door without a cent. I mean as bad as it was and as hard as it was on him and his family, and fortunately because of his training and because he was a good employee in our system, he had a good rapport with private industry that he was dealing with. He was not long when he got out in private industry in getting a job, and he was fortunate. But had he not been as fortunate and had there been times like we had today, only because the Tories were in and they had the economy working half reasonable, was he able to get a job. Today if that same person had to go out, and we have them in the system now being declared redundant daily, thousands of people to 2,500 guaranteed laid off up to 4,000 people before it is all over, and we have people going out on the redundancy and there is not a chance, not a hope the way our economy is in this Province, not a hope of finding a job anywhere in this Province. So they are going to go out after the next phase of cuts come when the Minister prepares his next Budget, and we know that there will be more cuts. There are going to be people going out into the system next year who will be declared redundant and they will not even have the $5,000, or $6,000, or $10,000, or $12,000 or $16,000 a year pension that they would have now.

Mr. Speaker, I find that very hard to - especially what the Government is doing now, especially when the Government's focus is on reducing the public service. I mean if you make a lot of jobs redundant at the same time, if you do a few here and a few there, you might be able to fit people in, but when you are making hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of jobs redundant at the same time there is no way for the people who are declared redundant to fit into the system, it is not big enough. You cannot get them into our system.

So, Mr. Speaker, I would recommend personally this redundancy pension, as small as it is, and as expensive as it is because it does cost money. It certainly cost a lot of money this year when we laid off 3,000 or 4,000 people when we declared 3,000 or 4,000 people redundant, and I guess this is the most expensive year on the pension plan ever in the history of our province because all of these people who are declared redundant should be working, should be contributing to the pension plan, should be into our system and paying income taxes, yet now they are all going to be out in the street. One, they will not find jobs in Newfoundland because there are none, they will be lucky if they can get a $10,000, $12,000, or $14,000 pension under the redundancy. They will take that pension now and run it and pay taxes on it in Newfoundland, they have to go to the mainland, take the pension with them and Ontario is going to benefit from what the Minister has done in damaging the pension system.

The next thing in this pension change is the purchase of service. The cost of an employee to re-instate periods of prior pensionable service. This caused a lot of concern for one of the groups that made a presentation to us. This is actually where he got bogged down I think when Mr. Ryan was here from NAPE and he really got into detail on this part of purchase services. I think he more or less left the impression with the committee and certainly with me that this part of the pension plan reform is going to effect women more than men, because a lot of times women come into the workforce for a few years sometimes, you are not able to afford to do this very much now, then decide to get married or raise a family and some decide to stay at home, so they go out of the work force and take their pension money with them because it is not built up enough, then after twelve, fourteen, or fifteen years when the children are old enough to get along on their own a lot of people, including my wife actually, want to go back in the work force. These are the ones who are going to be affected most by being able to buy back their pension plan.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: I do not know. I am not familiar enough with pension plans or the finances of pension plans to know what difference this is going to make to the bottom line in our budget plan. I think we could probably allow people to continue to buy this back time indefinitely, if they come back into the work force.

Now, there is one unfair part of it, I would say, and that is if someone comes back into the work force who had worked ten years ago and they wish to buy their back time, they could wait until the last day before they retire when they get their severance package and pay for all that back time, it might have been fifteen or sixteen years ago, and they will pay that today. The guy who has been in the plan for the fifteen or sixteen years has his money into it and they will pay it today and get the same benefit as the fellow who had been paying into the plan for the thirty years. That change I do not disagree with but I do disagree with not being able to buy your back time at a reasonable rate, at pretty well any time.

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to go through the nurse's presentation first because that was the best organized and the proposal that flowed fairly well while they were presenting it. They gave us a bit of history of whom the nurse's represent and their Association. Actually, there are 3800 registered nurses employed throughout the health care system in the Province, a lot more than I expected there were. Mr. Speaker, they also suggest -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Well, the Brief is a response to the plan and perspective from the union whose membership is 98 per cent female. So this Brief they presented to us is coming from a point of view that not a lot of us in here would always understand, or always think of because it is from a different point of view. This one is from the point of view of the nurses in particular and I do not think we have any nurses in our Legislature. It is from a women's or female point of view definitely.

Mr. Speaker, they say in their Brief the Nurses' Union of Newfoundland would welcome any opportunity for further discussion on the issues related to the proposed legislation. They would like more time, more discussion before this is finalized, to sit down with people in the Department of Finance who look after pensions and work out some of the suggestions that they give us in their Brief. Mr. Speaker, one of the issues that they raised in their Brief is that the Nurses' Union believes that it is the fundamental right of employees to have full and meaningful participation in all decisions regarding their pension plan. Section 31 in this proposed Act, which says that the Minister may set up committees for this and may set up committees for that, and the problem with that is the problem with that is the Minister does not have to do it. If a Minister sets up committees dealing with a pension plan, I would expect that the people whose money is in the pension plan would have representation, but, I think, one of our Legislative Review Committee recommendations will be that the section in the Act that suggests the Minister 'may' set up committees to deal with certain things, be changed to the Minister `shall' set up committees to include representation from the different groups. It is not easy to do, especially in the public service pension plan, because you have twelve or fourteen different groups, I suppose, involved with that and it is going to be hard to get a committee to work with that many on it. When you include employer, employee, and the Government representatives, it is going to be hard to do, but, as the nurses say, and as I believe, it is the right of those people whose money it is. Sometimes we seem to think, this is a pension plan here, and we will manage and look after it. We will take care of it, and tell you what the rules are, then when you retire we will give you whatever the rules say at that date. I think the way everyone should be looking at pension plans is, if someone got some money today and put some of it on their mortgage, some on their grocery bill, and some on their pension plan, that is their money, just the same as what they pay for their house, their groceries, and their car. That money is theirs. Part of the agreement they are working with includes that their employer put in an equal amount of money into that plan. Mr. Speaker, that money is theirs also. Both sets of money that go into the pot belongs to the employees who put it there, so it makes sense to me that the representatives of these employees should have a very meaningful say in what is happening to that pot of money.

Had that been the case when the pension plans were started first we would not be in as hard shape as we are now. I am very sure that in 1967, 1968, 1970, 1972, right on to 1981, I believe, when we started to fund these pensions, when we put the first money into the pension fund, if I were an employee representative sitting on a pension management board, I would certainly not have allowed the Government of the day - not only Liberals - Liberals or Tories, whoever they were, to take the money I was putting into that pot and pave roads with it. I do not think I would have allowed them to to take it out to build water and sewer. I would have told them those things were very necessary, but this was more important to my group.

Mr. Speaker, by allowing the employees to participate in the decision-making process of the pension plans, I think we would probably never have had that problem in the first place. We have it now and we have to live with it, and we need some changes to deal with it. One of the changes we should make is to be sure there is employee representation on the committees that are dealing with the pension plan. There has to be. We cannot leave it just to Section 31 of the Act, which says the Minister `may' set up committees to deal with, certain, certain, certain - our Committee recommends that wording be changed to, the Minister `shall' set up these committees. They probably will anyway, but, if you have a Minister someday who is not as reasonable as the Minister of Finance we have now -

MR. SIMMS: What?

MR. R. AYLWARD: If you had a Minister who was not such a great fellow as that, he might not set up the committees. If you had a Premier someday who was not as reasonable as the Premier we have today - certainly, this Premier we have today would not set up these committees. The Premier we have today certainly would not lie to anyone, and he certainly would not tear up agreements and things like that. Someday you might have a Premier who is like that, a Premier who is not fully trusted as the Premier is today. You might have a Premier in this Province who might banish all of these committees and try to rule as King of a Province. Mr. Speaker, you might get a Premier, someday, like that. Now, I would not suggest that we have a Premier, or a Minister of Finance like that today, but maybe someday in the future. It certainly would not be a Tory Premier, Mr. Speaker, it would have to be a Liberal Premier. It might even be an NDP Premier, but I doubt that very much because they -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Well, there will be some day; I have no doubt about that, there will be someday.

AN HON. MEMBER: You will not be around.

MR. R. AYLWARD: I will not be around, is right. I will not be around when there is an NDP Premier in this Province, but I will be around after the next election and there are going to be a lot of fellows over there who will not be around.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible). How is your health?

MR. R. AYLWARD: There are probably fellows who said that in the Ontario legislature not too long ago, so maybe I should hold on for a while.

Mr. Speaker, a major concern of almost everyone who came before both committees on uniform services and on the public service pension plan changes here, was the transfer of legislative responsibility to regulations. That was a big problem with everyone who came to us. We are changing legislated authority, which has to be changed by this House, to regulations. Now bureaucrats - I mean you will not even see half the regulations. You will see them, but you will not understand them and you will not read them - but bureaucrats love regulations and the regulations that might come out, about a foot thick, on these pension plans, if nobody can get a look at them, if they are not reviewed in a legislature, then my argument for having employee representations on committees, who have to look at these regulations, also stands up in that area. It would be better to have a committee of employees, who owned that money, reviewing all of these regulations before they become law, before they become gazetted, better than Members of the House of Assembly reviewing them, because they understand the implications better than most of the people in this Assembly.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: The Minister of Forestry - no. Well, he might look at it. He certainly should look at his pension, because the next time around he is probably going to need it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: But he will not look at the regulations. Yes, I agree, he will not be looking at regulations. I will get him a job cleaning up Jack McDonald's barn after the next election. Jack thinks he is pretty good. He said he would probably make a half decent labourer around the barn, so I will get him a job at that if he needs it, because I think he is a pretty good fellow and I do not mind helping him out after the next election.

MR. TOBIN: He will probably be good working on a poultry farm picking out the cracked eggs.

MR. R. AYLWARD: I would not mind helping him out after the next election if he needs a job, and certainly, there is lots of work to do on all the farms in the Province, as the Minister knows.

Mr. Speaker, the regulations - the nurses have said, NAPE has said, every group that came before us has said that there is too much being moved to the regulation section of the plan. Now, I think this fear would be alleviated somewhat if there were a guarantee that committees would be set up to review these regulations before they are made into law and before they are gazetted.

Mr. Speaker, another thing the nurses recommend is that there be full-time employee participation on drafting the regulations, not only when the regulations are prepared; but when they are finished, you do not just give them to people and say this is what we have, review them and see if we need to change them. There should be employee participation in the drafting of the regulations, because we are giving a lot of power to the bureaucrats and to Cabinet, generally, because regulations, although they are approved by Cabinet, are not necessarily scrutinized individually by Cabinet, unless there is somebody who can highlight the problems, and then it would take a lot of time to go over them in detail. But, Mr. Speaker, if there were employee representatives on a board to prepare the draft regulations and a committee to approve them, I think we would probably get a better set of regulations than if it were coming back to the House of Assembly for changes all the time.

Mr. Speaker, disclosure of information - one thing the nurses suggested to us is that proposed legislation does not address the issue of plan members' right to information. This was a serious concern of theirs. Mr. Speaker, the Nurses' Union, as representatives of the 3,800 nurses in this Province, would like to have it be each member's right to be able to get information on that plan, and not have to go begging to their Minister for information, and that the union should not have to go begging to the Minister or his bureaucrats to find out how much money is there, how much interest they made on it this year, and how it is invested. They should not have to do that.

Mr. Speaker, it should be each member's right because it their money. It is not the Government's money, it is not the money of some fellow you do not know, it is your money. It is the money of the people who are paying it in. Certainly, if they had the same money in a bank account, down at the Bank of Montreal on Water Street, they can get all the information they want on it, so, they should be able to get the same information on their money in the pension plan.

The nurses suggest, as a minimum, that the legislation should state the following be provided, and this is what they want for information, particularly for their union, I would imagine, who represents them all: They would like to see the planned text on amendments, they would like to see the plan regulations, they would like to see the annual information statements, trust documents, actuarial reports and financial statements including details of the portfolio and the rate of return. There is nothing in that, that I find unreasonable; I think these are very reasonable requests, everything they are asking for, and I would expect that if the Minister has to set up committees, the committees certainly will work on these requests and see that they are - but I do not know if the legislation remains that the Minister may set up committees. I am afraid I do not have a big lot of confidence in this Minister or this Premier to set up the committees that are necessary.

Mr. Speaker, another issue for the nurses, in particular, was the job-sharing section of this Act, being employed on a full-time basis or a part-time basis, the definition of being employed on a full-time basis, and that, in this Act, the full-time basis definition is included in the job-sharing section. The nurses are concerned that if you have a job-sharing position, if there is a nursing position at St. Clare's hospital and I am working in the morning and another nurse works that shift in - I would not be able to work it because I would not be able to be a nurse, it is too hard work for me - but if a nurse had job-sharing, one was there in the morning and another was there in the same position for half time in the next shift, who owns the job? Which one of them would be credited with pension benefits or do both of them get half the pension benefits?

It is not easy to figure out if there are two people in the pension plan instead of one person in the pension plan. It is not properly defined and they would like to see it defined. The definition there now would present many problems in the health care setting in particular. It says here: `We understand the definition being considered by officials within the pension and administration division is tied to the concept of incumbent, who basically owns the shared job. This would cause a lot of problems in the health care system, as the nurses say. Representatives of the unions again, request that they be able to sit down with the Department and try to work out a proper definition for this job-sharing.'

Mr. Speaker, employee contributions for nurses: There are also a few comments on that. `Members of the public service plan will be paying one of the highest contribution rates for any public service group, yet our plan provides significantly fewer benefits than most other groups.' I do not know if the Minister is aware of that, I was not aware of it. The nurses said our public servants pay more into their pension plan and get less benefits than those in most public service pension plans throughout the country.

I do not know why that would be. Maybe, when the Minister gets up to answer, he could comment. It may possibly be that we have a smaller group. Maybe he will answer that question when he does get up.

Mr. Speaker, another section in the Act that caused everyone major concern was Section 5(2)(d) about payments - how much you pay into the plan. The last clause there says: "other additional amounts that may be prescribed." Those other amounts are to be, the way the Act reads now, prescribed by the Minister. Nobody had any confidence that it should be left like that, Mr. Speaker. It was suggested by our committee that this would read "other amounts that may be prescribed and recommended by the Committee, with employee representation on that Committee." Now, Mr. Speaker, I am sure that would be more acceptable.

Mr. Speaker, the nurses recommended that this amendment would allow the establishment of supplementary plans. It says `the nurses cannot help but have grave concerns over the broad powers added to the contribution rates that this amendment transfers to those responsible for defining the regulations.' Again, Mr. Speaker, this fear would be looked after by a committee set up with employee representatives to help manage the plan and to keep an eye on regulations being prepared by the bureaucrats and by the Ministers or the Lieutenant-Governor in Council. `It is therefore of vital importance that employees be involved in the development of plan regulations.' That is certainly a recommendation of the nurses.

Repayment of contributions: Mr. Speaker, in this one, the change from ten years to five years, the nurses congratulate the Government on making the change, as I do. It is good. It says here, the Nurses' Union is pleased with this change. We hope the generally accepted vesting period, as it is in many other jurisdictions, will eventually be reduced to two years. I am sure that eventually it will be reduced to two years. At this time, with the pension plan in trouble, I imagine it is not possible to do it. Mr. Speaker, I would expect, because of the trends in pensions throughout Canada, it will eventually be reduced to two years.

Mr. Speaker, they also say that if the legislation is not amended now, it is likely there will be considerable pressure to make the changes over the next few years. Well, Mr. Speaker, I agree there will be pressure to make the changes but the changes will come. I do not necessarily agree that they have to come today, it would be desirable, but they do not necessarily have to.

Purchase of prior service: The new formula is a problem for the nurses in purchasing -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: You have another thirty minutes to got yet, Sir, so you can sit back and relax, tear up all the paper you like and make paper dolls out of it, just sit down and go to sleep. I will talk in kind of a monotone level so that I do not disturb you. I will make sure that you get a really good sleep. I will make sure I put you in a trance so that you can get a really good sleep and then you can stay up all week-end, if you want to.

AN HEN. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: You did not know I was hypnotist, did you?

Mr. Speaker, the purchase of prior service is a concern. The section introduces a completely new formula for the purchase of prior service. The nurses recommend that special bulletins detailing these changes be sent out to all people involved. There have been bulletins sent out. I must commend the Pensions Division, there have been several bulletins sent out, mainly because the Government have their legislative schedule all tangled up and this was supposed to happen in April. Notices were sent out before April, then it was changed to August and now it is changed to September. So, Mr. Speaker, I think that concern of the nurses has been fulfilled already.

Retirement, subsections 3 and 4: These subsections introduce the Pensions Act in a completely new concept of requiring disabled people to participate in a rehabilitation program. Mr. Speaker, this section here - the Minister did not say much about it when he got up - but it is a completely new section in our Pensions Act. Whereas if a person goes out on a medical disability pension, either before he gets that or after that person is on that pension for a while, the Minister has the right to tell him that they have to be retrained. The Minister can tell them that - well, the Minister in consultation with medical report, I should not say just the Minister - but if there is some medical report - and there is no appeal on the medical report in this legislation - but if there is a medical practitioner who says: yes, you cannot dig ditches any more but you can shove paper around. The medical pension which in the Act to date was a right of the people who ought to have it can be suspended and the Minister can force the pensioner to take retraining and go back to work. Whether that is acceptable to the pensioner or not or whether it is even practical.

This part of the Act moves more towards the worker compensation regulations and the workers compensation sections where they try to retrain you or rehabilitate you and get you back to work. Now, everyone knows that the whole part of workers compensation is in shambles down there. And if this is supposed to work the way the Workers Compensation Act or ability works, I think we should throw it out right away. Because that is not working down there. I have had many occasions too to appear before the Workers Compensation Appeals Board to try to help people get reasonable compensation for the injuries that they had at work.

And I remember one day there was one person there - and it happened to be a woman who worked in the health care system - she could not sit on the chair and she could not stand up. She was bent over that bad with a bad back and we were trying to make an appeal on it. I suppose they thought she was fooling, I suppose they thought she was making out that she had a bad back. But they refused her. I could not believe it. They actually refused to recognize her disability. And this woman literally could not stand up, her back was that bad, and she could not sit down, and she was all over the place.

But I hope the Minister - and again, when I look at that Minister I expect he will haul you off your deathbed and tell you you are going to be retrained rather than pay out a nickel in pension. He will certainly be the Minister who - whether you are able to work or not - he will threaten to take away your pension and try to get you back at something. But I suppose there is not a great concern of that, because he is just after laying off 3,000 or 4,000 people. So there is nothing to come back to now. He will probably have to take your pension.

The nurses oppose these amendments to the Act, to the pension plan, where people have to be retrained and go back to work whether they like it or not. It is possible that decisions of the Minister could be in conflict with the provisions of the collective agreement in dealing with fulfilling these vacancies. There are many problems the nurses pointed out with that. The nurses recommend that Section 16, subsections (3) and (4), be removed from the proposed Act. And the Minister might like to comment on that when he is - and probably he can give a better explanation than what I understand now., Maybe this is a good thing and we are just missing the point. So probably when he is closing debate he may make some comment on subsections (3) and (4) of Section 16. Which the nurses would like removed. I think it is commendable to try to get people back to work if it can be done at all. But if it has to work the way the Workers Compensation Act works it is not going to be a very commendable thing.

Nurses would like to see an amendment made in this Section - this is the survivor benefits section. And this is the best recommendation that I have heard from everyone who made recommendations. This recommendation is the most unselfish recommendation that I have heard from any group that came before us. And I hope the Minister would listen to this. The nurses union would like to see an amendment made in this Section - and that is Section 23 (2) (b) - which would provide a survivor benefit comparable to a spousal benefit to a handicapped child over the age of eighteen . Now, I do not know - maybe the Minister, I know the Minister's staff is doing some workups for us on what this would cost. I cannot see it being a very costly method. Actually I think it would save money from the Department of Social Services, probably. They will be paying money out from one or the other. Mr. Speaker, they would like to see it comparable to a spousal benefit for a handicapped child over eighteen. This provision is made in many other plans, and it is not something that is new and radical, but it certainly is one of the best recommendations, and I wholeheartedly support it, and I know the Government Services Legislative Review Committee wholeheartedly support this amendment, which we do not think will be an overly burdensome, costly, amendment to this plan, and hopefully the Minister will have a look at it.

Section 25 is when pensions are payable, Mr. Speaker. The nurses question that. That section replaces Section 29, dates when they are payable. Oh, yes, one other thing, it is certainly interesting to hear unions make presentations to the committees now. There was distrust when we were in there from unions, and us as PCs never had any great relations, but everything that involves a Minister's decision that is put in any legislation now, every union that comes to us distrusts it. They say the Minister should not be allowed to decide that. It should be a group, a committee, everyone together, or all the Cabinet, but not the Minister. They all took exception to the fact that the Minister could dictate, or suggest, when pensions are paid. If the Minister wanted to pay them all in one lump sum at the end of the year he can do that. That is what this Act will allow him to do. It is not quite as simple as that but every group that came to us said the Minister should not be able to allow that because the Minister could decide to delay pension cheques.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. R. AYLWARD: It would be hard to do. At the very least the legislation should state that pensions are payable in a manner prescribed in regulations. It makes sense to me if that change is made, and I do not think the Minister or his officials had any problem with putting in that change.

Section 31, the unions objective is full and meaningful participation in committees. Government's commitment is they should be stated clearly in Section 31. If we are going to have these committees set up, if Government intends to do it, they should not use wishy-washy words like Government may set up committees. The Government should stay in the legislation and if necessary I will move the amendment at the proper time, that the Government 'shall' set up these committees, not 'may.'

Indexation, Mr. Speaker, was a topic. The majority of public service pension plans across Canada are indexed and certainly indexation has a very desirable affect. I think it has to come, there has to be indexation. I know it is expensive, but it has to be, because if a person goes on a pension today and happens to be lucky enough to live for thirty years and there is no increase in his pension in that whole thirty years, obviously a person cannot survive on a wage that was set thirty years before that date.

Indexation has to come. It has to be studied a bit more to see how we can get it into our plans so that we can survive financially. I realize that. That plan is the best one we have in the Province, no doubt, and it is the most sound and secure, so you might be able to start off with one plan. I know if the Minister does it for one it will not be very long before he will have to do it for all.

The nurses recommend the introduction of a formal system of indexation, and give a higher level of priority to this by Government, which we would like to see. The right to negotiate benefits and special needs. The nurses recommend that pension legislation and regulations include clear wording recognizing the right of employees to negotiate pension benefits. That is a fairly reasonable request, I would say. Then the nurses go on to include a couple of more issues that the nurses and Treasury Board have been dealing with in their collective bargaining for quite some time, Mr. Speaker. They suggest there is a need for early retirement, and the need to provide some mechanism for recognition of pre-1989 part-time work is very important to the nurses union.

The need to provide pension recognition for services provided during nursing educational programs, that would be the same as the teachers, the same consideration be given to the nurses as the teachers, and their argument is fairly strong because actually while nurses are in training they are on the job training, they are training in the work environment. They have a pretty good argument that their training time should be included in their pension time. I am sure while that will be a part of negotiations no doubt I think the Minister should give it consideration. The need to provide a secure benefits pension plan for part-time and casual workers is very important to the nurses.

Mr. Speaker, given the essential nature of part-time casual workers the nurses say that they feel it is most unfair to discriminate against the large female group providing them with a different and an inferior pension plan. So they would like to see a better pension plan for the part-time worker. It probably would be good because more people would be able to avail of the part-time work. If you had a better pension plan more people might avail of the part-time work and you might get more people involved in the workforce. For female workers to have the option to purchase blocks of unworked service is a very important issue to the Nurses' Union.

Mr. Speaker, I have to read this last part for the Minister's benefit because I would not want him to get the impression that the nurses just sat down to pick apart this pension plan. Mr. Speaker, it says here on the last page that the Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses' Union is generally pleased with the steps taken in the proposed Act. They are not just sitting around and criticizing and picking apart the Act just for the sake of doing it. They are generally pleased with the steps taken. These concerns they have raised are legitimate concerns. These improvements to the plan are balanced by a decrease in certain benefits. Mr. Speaker, the nurses do have a concern and they expressed a concern they are going to be paying higher premiums for a pension plan that will have reduced benefits.

We had presentations from others, Mr. Speaker, there was one presentation that we had that was not presented in person, but it was presented by IBEW, by form of letter, as they never did get to our meeting. I just want to put it into the record so that they will know that the IBEW 1615 represents workers in Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and the Housing Corporation. I will read it as fast as I can. This local is asking to be included in Section 34 of the Act and that their -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: My time is up.

By leave, I will finish this letter that the IBEW has sent me and then we can move to Committee rise.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. Member have leave? By leave.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, it is just that the members of Local 1615 of IBEW of the Housing Corporation and Hydro would like to be included in Section 34 of the Act and are asking that the Act be amended as follows. I will not read out the amendments, Mr. Speaker, this will be tabled with our report when it is tabled.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Pardon? Yes, I did. I am just pointing it out. I do not know if I will be here for Committee stage or not, but I will point it out. We are not in Committee. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I see there is not very much time, but I will use what time there is to commence my remarks with respect to this legislation. I think at this stage of the Bill obviously we are talking about the principles involved in the Bill as a whole. There are a number of good features to the Bill for which the Minister can be lauded, and there are other features, of course, we think are detrimental to the pension plan and to the approach that should be in there in terms of flexibility and in terms of some of the benefits involved, and in terms of the pension plan as a whole.

One of the primary criticisms which I will be going into at some point is that it does not appear that serious consideration was given in the revision of this Pension Act. It is high time that a hard look was given to the Pension Act and the whole pension scheme. But the one thing that I think was overlooked in all of this was the issue of pensions as they relate to women. It seems quite clear from the legislation and from the briefs that were presented to the Legislative Review Committee that the Minister and his Department did not consult with the Women's Policy office of the Government concerning pensions, ask them to review it, for their comments, when they are preparing and revising a whole new Pension Act. This is before it went to the Committee now, when the Act was being devised. When the Minister was having a look at the Act and determining that it ought to be self-funding and concerning himself with the financial aspects of it.

He quite obviously did not take the time or have the interest or sensitivity to suggest that this whole matter of pensions ought to be reviewed by the officials of the Women's Policy office to see what changes ought to be made in the existing legislation to comply with the recognition of the differences between men and women as they relate to career patterns in the public service and to ensure that the pension benefits that are provided for public servants are adjusted so that there is an equality or an equity between men and women in the pensions that they will receive upon retirement from the public service of this Province.

We do know that this Government has taken the approach that they are the only ones that are going to implement pay equity in salaries. They are not going to honour existing agreements that were made by previous governments to redress pay equity in particular categories of the public service. And what could be more important in the long term of pay equity that pensions after a number of years of employment in the public service, what could be more inequitable after a number of years of salary and other differentiations between men and women in career patterns then the pensions that they would receive after that service?

Mr. Speaker, given the hour I think it is probably appropriate that I would move adjournment of the debate at this time so that I may take up my remarks the next time that this Bill is to be debated. So I would move adjournment of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: I do not know if the hon. the President of Council has anything to tell hon. Members?

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