May 14, 1991                   HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLI  No. 49

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Before moving on to our business I would like to welcome to the Speaker's galleries today a group of mayors from the north east Avalon as follows: Mayor Peter Murphy, Goulds; Mayor Cyril Power, Torbay; Mayor Paul Reynolds, town of Wedgewood Park; Mayor Sam Connors, Pouch Cove; Mayor Richard Squires, St. Thomas; Mayor Harvey Hodder, city of Mount Pearl; Deputy Mayor, Rex Hillier, Conception Bay South; Mayor Heber Walters, St. Phillip's; Mayor Shanny Duff, city of St. John's; Mayor Pat Murray, Portugal Cove; Mayor J. Byrne, Logy Bay - Middle Cove - Outer Cove; Mayor Marven Whalen, Bauline; Councillor Reg Carter, Petty Harbour; John O'Dea, Chairman, Metropolitan Area Board; Mayor Diane Whelan, Paradise; Mayor Gerard Whelan, Hogan's Pond, and finally Mayor Joseph Maynard, Flatrock.

Also, I would like to welcome to the public galleries today thirty Grade V11 students from Catalina Elementary School, Catalina, accompanied by teachers Marven Rider, Gill Howell and their bus driver, Mr. G. House.

Also, I would like to welcome to the galleries twenty-six Grade V students from L.R. Ash Elementary School, Lethbridge, Bonavista Bay, accompanied by their teacher Sandra Wicks and six parents.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, hon. Members of the House of Assembly, it is my pleasure to announce today that this week has been declared National Tourism Week. This national event celebrates the importance the tourism industry plays in our economy and our everyday lives.

All too often, Mr. Speaker, we tend to underestimate the significant impact the tourism industry has and will continue to have on all communities throughout our Province. This industry has no geographic boundaries. As well it is composed for the most part of small and medium size enterprises, that part of the economy which as we all know, Mr. Speaker, is growing at the fastest rate. In the last decade Tourism has gone from being a marginal economic activity in this Province, limited in large part to catering to the business traveller, to our fourth largest employer. About 14,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are employed in this industry, or one in every twenty-two employed persons. We calculate that for every 1000 new tourists visiting our Province fifteen new jobs are created.

Mr. Speaker, Tourism is a significant player in the economic activity of Newfoundland and Labrador with limitless opportunities available for entrepreneurs. I believe that the Tourism industry is not only here to stay but that it has the potential to become one of the most important economic engines all throughout this Province. That is why as Minister responsible for Tourism I am very pleased to announce the week of May 13 to 19 as National Tourism Week.

Thank you, very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to respond to this petition presented by the Minister and to welcome the announcement of National Tourism Week. As the Minister has quite properly stated the Tourism industry is one of the major industries in our Province, and in my view has probably the greatest potential of any of our resource based industries for growth in the future in our Province. Most of our industries are based on non-renewable resources but the Tourism industry is not only a renewable resource but it also has almost unlimited potential.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador and the people involved in the Tourism industry who have made great strides over the past number of years in bringing the industry of Tourism very much to the forefront and making it the very successful industry it is, Mr. Speaker.

We welcome this announcement.

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, today I will be tabling for the consideration of this hon. House a resolution dealing with the amalgamation of municipalities within the Northeast Avalon region of the Province.

Mr. Speaker, there was a great deal of public participation in the feasibility hearings, and the public rightfully took advantage to make their views known, both in writing and verbally. The results of these hearings were provided to me and Government. I have received advice from the commissioners for the feasibility studies, from planning officials in my Department, and from various Members of the House of Assembly. Based upon all this input, and after reviewing the financial criteria relating to each municipality, as well as assessing the future longer term needs of each, I am recommending a number of amalgamations within the Northeast Avalon region.

The municipal structure in the Northeast Avalon region has been the subject of a considerable number of studies during the past twenty years, and all recognize the need to reduce the number of existing municipalities with a view to eliminating or reducing duplication of the provision of services in order to create more viable communities. At a time when money is very difficult to come by and the taxpayers are already paying substantial sums for their services it is not acceptable to continue duplicating the provision of major services thereby increasing the overall cost to the taxpayers of the Province. It is proposed, Mr. Speaker, that the seventeen municipalities be reduced to eleven, and that the areas of the present St. John's Metropolitan Area Board be attached to adjacent municipalities. This move will result in the St. John's Metropolitan Area Board being disbanded.

It is also proposed that the Towns of Conception Bay South, Torbay, and Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove remain unaltered.

The Towns of Pouch Cove and Bauline will remain substantially unaltered except for the inclusion of adjacent territory which is presently incorporated within the St. John's Metropolitan Area.

The Town of Flatrock will remain substantially as it is, although it is proposed that some territory which comprises the domestic watershed for the Town of Pouch Cove be removed from the Town of Flatrock and placed within the Town of Pouch Cove.

It is proposed that the similar rural Towns of Portugal Cove, St. Phillip's and Hogan's Pond be amalgamated into one new municipality to include also adjacent territory presently within the St. John's Metropolitan area. The latter includes the community know as Windsor Heights and territory lying between the Towns of Portugal Cove and Bauline.

The Town of Paradise is proposed to expand with the inclusion of the adjacent Elizabeth Park and Evergreen Village, which are serviced sub-divisions presently within the St. John's Metropolitan Area. As well, the unserviced Town of St. Thomas, which must ultimately receive services via the Town of Paradise, and the adjacent Metropolitan Area lands known as Topsail Pond and Three Island Pond are included. This community, although essentially rural at present, is likely to urbanize as is evidenced by the proposed Trails End subdivision and the proposed Octagon Pond Industrial Park.

It is proposed that an urban core municipality based upon the existing City of St. John's and including the totally encompassed Town of Wedgewood Park, along with the developing Town of Goulds, the watersheds servicing the urban core (namely Windsor Lake, Broad Cove River and Bay Bulls Big Pond) along with adjacent territory presently within the St. John's Metropolitan Area Board be constituted as one City to be known as the City of St. John's.

Furthermore, it is proposed that the new urban core municipality also include some lands presently within the City of Mount Pearl and the Town of Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove which are capable of service from the City of St. John's. That is to say, the area know as Southlands which presently falls partially within the City of Mount Pearl and partially within the St. John's Metropolitan Area is proposed to be included within the City of St. John's, along with a portion of the Town of Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove in the vicinity of Snow's Lane and Logy Bay Road, which is currently serviceable from the systems within the City of St. John's.

The existing developed area of the City of Mount Pearl will remain as a separate municipality.

The Town of Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove will remain substantially unaltered with only the removal of lands currently serviceable by the City of St. John's.

All assets of the St. John's Metropolitan Area Board including the Provincially owned Bay Bulls Regional Water System will be transferred to the City of St. John's to be managed and operated. In addition, St. John's will be given the assets of the St. John's Fire Department and the Canada Games Park Commission. In the case of the Fire Department, St. John's will operate a regional system including the Mount Pearl Fire Station. The station in Mount Pearl will be opened as soon as a suitable arrangement is worked out with the City of Mount Pearl.

Mr. Speaker, the resolution itself will outline more of the rational for the proposed amalgamations and will detail the composition of the detailed groupings. Once that is done, there is considerable work still required in putting together the municipalities as proposed. It is proposed, therefore, when this resolution is passed, and subject to the approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, to put in place a transitional team to work out the administrative and technical details of bringing the proposed groupings together.

It is proposed, Mr. Speaker, to expand the size of the Council for the new enlarged City of St. John's and to hold by-elections this November in time to effect the proposed consolidation on January 1, 1992. Two new Wards will be created with one Councillor from each of Goulds and Wedgewood Park for the duration of the existing Council term.

In Paradise, a new Town election will be held this November to provide for the election of a fully representative Council for the Towns of Paradise, St. Thomas and the areas of Evergreen Village, Elizabeth Park, Topsail Pond and Three Island Pond. This new Municipality will take effect January 1, 1992.

There will also be a new Town election this November for the new municipality to be comprised of St. Phillips, Portugal Cove, Hogan's Pond and Windsor Heights. This new Municipality will also take effect January 1, 1992.

Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow move that this hon. House of Assembly -

MR. SPEAKER: That is under Notices of Motion.

MR. GULLAGE: (Inaudible). Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, one can only ask the Minister of Municipal Affairs, after he read this statement today, Why did he wait so long to call elections in the past year? There is nothing here, Mr. Speaker, by which the Minister deserves to come into this legislature today and take any credit for amalgamating certain areas of this town, or do what he said he is going to do. As a matter of fact, what the Minister has said today is the direct opposite to what he and the Premier have been saying for the last two years. There is not one shred of truth in what they said before or what they are saying now, and, if Your Honour had not ruled a few days ago that a certain button was out of order, we should all be wearing them here today, because that is what is taking place.

And when the Minister reads this - let me start off by saying that when he talks about the new St. John's area, taking in the Goulds and Wedgewood Park, that is not what the Goulds or Wedgewood Park was told. Let me further state that not only will there be, I suggest to the Minister, an additional tax burden imposed upon the people of the Goulds and other areas, as a result of this, but that the St. John's people will have to pick up the tax tab for a lot of problems that exist in some of these communities that he has amalgamated. So this is neither good for the Town of Goulds, in my opinion, or the City of St. John's.

Speaking of Mount Pearl, which the Minister has been talking about in the past few days, as I read this, from what he has said, Mount Pearl remains in name only. Mount Pearl, Mr. Speaker, has been boxed in. Growth can not exist in that community anymore with the removal of Southlands and other areas. They have been punished by this Government for their stand a few days ago. That is what is taking place here. Indeed, Mount Pearl has been literally choked in terms of future growth as a result of the actions of this Government. And, furthermore, what we have seen today is Mount Pearl having become the new Wedgewood Park of the City of St. John's.

What is going to happen in terms of regional services? The Minister just outlined that the City of St. John's will be responsible for the St. John's Fire Department, for the water system, for solid waste disposal, and the list goes on. That, Mr. Speaker, is taxation without representation imposed upon certain people. That is what is taking place here today, and we have seen it. It is a sad day for the Minister to come into this Legislature in a dishonourable way; in terms of bringing in amalgamation, it is not what he promised. And when the Premier of this Province can write letters that state: I assure you that if the majority of residents of your community oppose being amalgamated with any surrounding municipality, then there are no plans to force the issue.

Now, what does that say? That says the Premier of this Province did not tell the truth to the people of this Province! This Government has lied to the people of this Province, with the amalgamation that we have seen here today! And it should not be allowed to be brought to the floor of this Assembly! There must be justice and we have not seen it today. The Member for Mount Scio can laugh all he likes. Go talk to the people of Wedgewood Park if you want to talk about truth and promises. Talk to the Mayor of the Goulds and other people in the Goulds if you want to talk about truth, honesty, and integrity. That is where you should go, Mr. Speaker. The fact of the matter is this is not worth the paper it is written on. When you choke communities, when you box them in where they cannot grow in an effort to punish them, is that fairness and balance, Mr. Speaker? No, it is outrage and disgust. That is what it is. We have seen too much of this over the past couple of years coming from this Government, and it should not be tolerated. I spoke briefly with the Mayor of the Goulds before I came into the Legislature and I can tell you that he is not amused, he is not laughing, nor are his residents, nor are the residents or the Mayor of Wedgewood Park, nor other areas of this Province. The list goes on. I do not think the residents of St. John's are going to be laughing, Mr. Speaker, when they find out what has taken place today in this game that was played by the Minster and the Premier. I do not think they are going to be laughing either because I venture to bet what the City of St. John's wants to do, and have been doing to some extent, will be paralysed by this announcement today. What is St. John's going to do with the Goulds, Mr. Speaker? That is the question. What is the Goulds going to do by becoming part of St. John's? I am sure as each day goes by my colleague for -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time is up.

MR. TOBIN: Well, I will get back to it pretty soon.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to address the statement by the hon. Minister with respect to amalgamation. I feel that what the Government has done in the amalgamation announcement today is really a hodgepodge solution to a big problem which will not stand the test of time. The Government here has lacked the courage, and lacked the vision, to develop a solution that would meet the needs of the City of St. John's and the urban core that we have. What the Government has done here is taken communities like the Goulds, with clearly the most productive agricultural land on the Avalon Peninsula, put it in the City of St. John's and yet left Mount Pearl, an urban area, on its own. Instead of doing what makes sense and saying all the urban areas should be together in one municipality, they failed to do that because they were afraid to stand up to the political response of the people of Mount Pearl. Instead of having a solution that made sense, that made logical sense, and which was part of a long-term plan, they have done half measures all the way. They have picked on the people who did not fight back like the Goulds, but the organized people from Mount Pearl, the Government responded to and said: we have a plan but we do not have the courage to implement it. That is what they have done. Wedgewood Park who could not fight back because they were too small, the Goulds who could not fight back because they were not organized to do that, they have been steamrollered, but the people like the people of Mount Pearl, who if we have a genuine plan for a urban core ought to be included, have been left out.

Mr. Speaker, I will not speak about some of the other areas. I think some of the removal of anomalies is a good thing, but I think in the main what Government has failed to do is demonstrate leadership and political courage in developing a proper plan for the urban area of St. John's. It will not last and it will have to be changed in a matter of a couple of years.

Oral Questions

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

MR. TOBIN: On August 17, 1989, The Evening Telegram carried a story with the headline, "Cabinet will not force amalgamation." The lead paragraph in that story reads and I quote: "Premier Clyde Wells says he does not foresee any set of circumstances where it would be necessary for the House of Assembly to decide whether or not certain municipalities should be amalgamated." So, I ask the Premier, what has changed? There was strong public opposition to forced amalgamation in 1989 and there is still strong opposition. Why has he decided once again not to keep his word?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I can only say that the hon. Member has again misstated the position in 1989. The position clearly taken in 1989 is that the Cabinet would not sit in the room and secretly decide to amalgamate communities but if -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: That is precisely what I said.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: Now, Mr. Speaker, let me go back and restate what I said in 1989: the Cabinet would not sit in secret in the Cabinet room and direct the amalgamation of municipalities. If it became necessary, and I did not foresee circumstances that would require it at that time, and I did not, to require amalgamation, in Government's opinion, of any municipalities we would bring it before this House of Assembly for debate.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that is precisely what the Minister has done or will do shortly, and announce that he is going to do. I guess the Minister will shortly, when the Speaker calls for Notices of Motion, announce a motion to deal with it that will be decided by this House of Assembly. So, Mr. Speaker, the Government has followed completely the position that it took two years ago and we intend to continue to do that.


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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, with this Premier wonders never cease.

Why does the Premier have so much difficulty in keeping his word, that is the question? Will he at least stand by the pledge he made last year to his own constituents when he said, and I quote, "It is not Government's policy to ram through amalgamation. We live in a democracy so amalgamation is not going to be forced on anyone." Will he now live by his words and not force amalgamation on any community in this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I am living precisely by the words and I have great pride in doing so.


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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, we will see if he has pride in this one. I would like to ask the Premier about a letter he wrote last year to the Mayor of Lewin's Cove on September 24, 1989. He said in the second paragraph of that letter, "I assure you that if the majority of the residents of Lewin's Cove are opposed to being amalgamated with any surrounding municipality then there are no plans to force the issue." I have the letter here, Mr. Speaker, so he cannot deny that. He repeated that assurance in the second last paragraph of the same letter. Is that assurance not consistent with all the other statements made by the Premier in the fall of 1989? I now ask the Premier: will he keep his commitment to the community of Lewin's Cove and not go back on his word on this one like he has done on previous ones?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: To restate again, Mr. Speaker, there are no plans to amalgamate the community of Lewin's Cove with anybody else that I know of. I am not aware of any such plan. I have no knowledge of any such plan.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I say to the Premier that the recommendation is in the hands of his Minister.

The Premier keeps saying that Government will not force amalgamation but will have the House do it. Does the Premier really believe that the people of the Province do not see through what he is proposing? That we do not know that the House will obey the Government proposal and it will be passed through the Government majority? Is the proposal before the House today not one more example that the Premier cannot be trusted to his word?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, we have been entrusted with the responsibility to govern this Province on the basis of fairness and balance and we will continue to do so. We will not abandon our responsibility to the taxpayers of this Province as a whole and create for political purposes little municipalities here and there to meet the political needs of some individual sitting on the Government side of the House. Mr. Speaker, we will act with courage, with integrity and will deal properly with the orderly management of the municipal affairs of this Province.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, this announcement lacks integrity totally. Let me say that this Minister has now made the City of St. John's a regional authority, in effect creating a super city by the back door that he could not do by the front door. We now have all the regional services under the City of St. John's. He has, in fact, made all other municipalities including the City of Mount Pearl subservient to the City of St. John's. Would the Minister like to explain to us why he would take that action instead of creating a Regional Services Board in accordance with the Act that this Government forced through this House using closure only a few months ago which, in fact, would have created a regional authority to govern such services instead of creating what we have now which is, in fact, taxation without representation?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, we do indeed have legislation in place for regional services boards, but the Government felt that in this instance where we had a Metropolitan Area Board in place delivering a lot of the services that are regional in nature, that rather than create another board, because once we distributed the metropolitan area lands to the various communities we were left with the servicing aspect of the board. Rather than assign those duties to another regional services board about which many of the communities were saying that they did not want, not all communities wanted a regional services board, a lot were saying they did not want another, as they perceived it, tier of Government. Government felt it wiser to assign those responsibilities to the City of St. John's where there is a large administrative structure in place, engineering, planning and other administrative abilities that could very well carry out the functions that were in place with the St. John's Metropolitan Area Board. So that is the way we proceeded as a Government.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl on a supplementary.

MR. WINDSOR: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. The Minister is, in fact, taking an area from the City of Mount Pearl which has been part of its planning area since 1955. He is, in effect, Mr. Speaker, giving the City an area to which they can only provide services through the City of Mount Pearl. On the basis of which feasibility studies and what public input has the Minister made these decisions? Why has he chosen to come to the House of Assembly and circumvent the protection inherent in the Municipalities Act and his own Regional Services Bill, Mr. Speaker, by forcing this resolution through the House of Assembly?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, as the Member knows, Southlands is a development that is under the auspices of the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation and encompasses land presently under the City of Mount Pearl but also under the St. John's Metropolitan Area Board. That land is undeveloped at present; it is on the other side of the harbour arterial route. Government felt it wise to identify a boundary for Mount Pearl that would be the arterial road and that those lands that are presently outside of that particular boundary be developed within the jurisdiction of the City of St. John's.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, if that Minister can find one professional official who will recommend to him that the Southlands should be part of St. John's and not Mount Pearl, I will pass in my license to practice as a professional engineer, let me tell you. There is absolutely no rationale whatsoever for such a move.

Mr. Speaker, Mount Pearl is now totally engulfed as a result of this. In fact, Mount Pearl has nowhere to go but straight up - absolutely straight up. As my colleague said, we are now, in fact, the new Wedgewood Park. Will the Minister not confirm that this proposal, in fact, represents his revenge on the people of Mount Pearl and a total betrayal of the people who elected him to represent them?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, as this House knows, with seventeen municipalities in the Northeast Avalon, 160,000 people, the numbers of scenarios that could have been arrived at, the number of decisions that could have been arrived at were numerous. We feel we have made the best decision in the long-term interests of the people of the Northeast Avalon, and the decision such as the one the Member speaks about is one of those decisions. We had to arrive at the end of the day with the best rationale, as a Government, we could see for these seventeen communities. We believe we have done just that.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. First of all before I ask the question I have to tell the Minister and this House on behalf of the residents of the Goulds of my complete disgust in this statement that he has made today.

Mr. Speaker, does the Minister realize that there is very little if any difference between the Town of Paradise and the Town of Goulds, both having some urban and some rural activities? Mr. Speaker, in particular the Town of the Goulds has a very sensitive agricultural zone included within its boundaries. The Town of the Goulds is completely serviced from within the Town of the Goulds except for the water supply which has to go through the Town of the Goulds and is taken from a resource that was always a part of the Town of the Goulds except that it was never included in their boundary. Mr. Speaker, will the Minister tell me what is the difference between Paradise staying on its own and the Goulds staying on its own?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, the Town of the Goulds, of course, as we all know, is quickly urbanizing, and the Member is quite right when he says that there is a lot of farmland. That farmland is presently zoned agricultural in use. It is controlled by the Department of Forestry and Agriculture, and will be frozen, as far as development is concerned, as it is presently. So, we are dealing with the rest of the Goulds, which is predominantly an urbanizing area, and people from St. John's and other areas are locating and living in the Goulds, much like they are in Paradise, I would admit. But it is different in the context that the water supply sits directly behind it. We had to deal with the servicing aspect of the Northeast Avalon Region, the fact that the water lines are connecting through the Goulds and to the Goulds and through to Bay Bulls Big Pond, in many cases.

So we felt that the natural growth of the City of St. John's - and it could be argued, I guess, the natural growth, eventually, of the City of St. John's could be the entire Northeast Avalon. Fifty years from now, who knows? But certainly, the natural growth of the City of St. John's appears to be, right now, along that corridor and certainly out towards an existing water supply which supplies the entire Northeast Avalon, with the exception of the eastern part of St. John's.

MR. R. AYLWARD: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to hear that the Minister considers the natural development of St. John's to go along that corridor, because St. John's and the Goulds are completely separated by the agricultural zone.

Will the Minister tell me if he plans now to take away the agricultural zoning on the very small piece of land that is left to protect it for agriculture in this part of the Province, right now, and allow the city to expand into that agricultural land, as I believe is his and the Government's plan?

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

MR. GULLAGE: That is a good question, Mr. Speaker. The same question was asked of me by the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture. His concern was that the pressure may be there, eventually, to develop that farmland. I assured him that we intend to leave the same restrictions and regulations in place, leave the control of that farmland as it presently is, under the control of Forestry and Agriculture. it will, indeed, continue to be frozen and used for farmland and agriculture, as it is now.

MR. R. AYLWARD: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, will the Minister not admit that this not only does not help the City of St. John's taxpayers one little bit, it exacerbates their tax burden by having to look after this agricultural zone now, since some of it, at least, was looked after by the Department of Transportation at one time? Will the Minister not now admit that the City of St. John's taxpayers will be looking after this agricultural zone, providing services to it, as they are now providing services along the Parkway here to Government buildings, and receive very few or no tax dollars for the services they will have to provide?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, if the Town of the Goulds can effectively regulate and control the farmland that is under Government authority, surely, the City of St. John's can do it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. GULLAGE: Yes, I think the City of St. John's can very effectively -

AN HON. MEMBER: Or the Metro Board.

MR. GULLAGE: - or the Metro Board, whichever it happens to be, Metro Board or the Goulds - can very effectively control that particular land in the Goulds, whether it be Goulds or Metro Board. I feel quite confident they can carry out those controls, make sure that that land remains controlled and, in fact, frozen, as far as development is concerned, strictly for use as farmland.

MR. R. AYLWARD: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Kilbride, on a final supplementary.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, the Minister completely avoided the question. The City taxpayers will now have to suffer the burden of looking after the agricultural zone, which includes Brookfield Road, Old Bay Bulls Road and those areas, which were administered by the Metro Board but serviced by the Department of Transportation and private contractors for garbage and street lighting.

Would the Minister confirm to me that they have had their plan ready for expanding the City of St. John's into the agricultural zone, and this is part of the reason why the Department of Forestry and Agriculture has reduced the amount of their budget for the Land Consolidation Programme, and they plan to reduce the Land Consolidation Programme because they do not see any future for the agricultural zone in this area of our Province?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, I am sure, if the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture were answering this question, he would say how important the agricultural zone and the farmland in the Goulds/Metropolitan area is to the Province. It is one of our most important areas as far as agriculture is concerned. I am quoting him when I say that. We will continue to impose those controls, Mr. Speaker, combining our resources with the City of St. John's. I think the City of St. John's is quite capable of handling the control of that land with the co-operation of the Province.

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker.

MR. R. AYLWARD: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I had indicated to the hon. Member a final supplementary. If the Member for St. John's East Extern would yield to his colleague.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride, on a final supplementary.

MR. R. AYLWARD: One final question, Mr. Speaker. I do not feel that this is a fait accompli, but just in case, by some stretch of the imagination, the Goulds does have to go into the City of St. John's, does the Minister have any plans to help the taxpayers of the Goulds try to rationalize their taxes by at least 80 per cent, probably almost 100 per cent, with a five-year phase in, so that the people who own homes in the Goulds right now, will not have to sell them and mover further up the Southern Shore?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is our intent, of course, at this time, to hopefully receive approval from the House of Assembly to proceed with the resolutions as I will shortly outline them to the House. We realize there has to be a period of transition, but we will be making sure that a transition team is put in place to properly incorporate the towns involved in amalgamation, whether it be the St. John's amalgamation or the other amalgamated groupings, making sure that consolidation takes place properly, because we have to have staff re-assigned, we have assets which have to be looked after, we have tax structures in place; all that has to be dealt with as a separate item after the resolutions, hopefully, are passed by the House.

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

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

Mr. Speaker, we have seen it again. This Premier and, now, this Minister, using the old hobnailed boot attack, and this time they attacked the Town of Wedgewood Park, after 100 per cent of the people out there, 100 per cent of the residents, objected to being amalgamated. In the studies that were held, the Commission advised the Government against amalgamating.

Now, I ask the Minister, why did you run roughshod over the Town of Wedgewood Park?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, Wedgewood Park is a town that has some 1,350 people, somewhere in that neighbourhood, 1,200 to 1,350 people. It has now become totally surrounded by the city of St. John's and, Mr. Speaker, any planning criteria will tell you it does not make a lot of sense to have a small town, with that number of people surrounded by a larger entity, totally surrounded, and it was felt that it was wiser to have it as part of the larger entity, where indeed, it is part of St. John's now in so many ways. Except for a very small commercial tax base, many of the services of St. John's, commercial, cultural and otherwise and the University and Government, and all the other parts of St. John's that are accessed by the people of Wedgewood Park, they are very much an integral part of the larger city and it was felt that for all those reasons and others, that they would be better off, part of St. John's.

MR. PARSONS: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern, on a supplementary.

MR. PARSONS: I ask the Minister, Mr. Speaker, Why was Mount Pearl left out? Why was it left out and Wedgewood Park put in? And why was Paradise left out? Was it because of the pressure exerted by your backbenchers, or was it - and I have to congratulate the Member for Mount Pearl: You certainly motivated the people there to come out in strength and preserve their town. I ask the Minister, because Wedgewood Park is perhaps of the same geographical nature as Mount Pearl, why was Mount Pearl left out and Wedgewood Park put in?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, first of all, we are dealing with a city of some 22,000/23,000 people. I do not think the same comparison can be drawn. Mount Pearl is a city that has a strong industrial business base, is self-sufficient, able to exist as an entity on its own.

AN HON. MEMBER: So is Wedgewood Park.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, for those reasons we felt that Mount Pearl, at this time, should not be part of St. John's.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern on a final supplementary.

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to say to the Minister, is it not a fact that the Premier and the Minister stated that no one would be forced to amalgamate? Has the Premier and the Minister again broken their word not once, not twice but on numerous occasions? I also want to ask the Minister while he is on his feet, will the layoffs in the St. John's Fire Department which were announced this morning, because of the services deal with Mount Pearl, will those layoffs be put on hold?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, those layoffs were effected because we had suggested to the union in negotiation because of the Budget cutbacks to suggest to us ways to accommodate the reductions that were necessary other than lay off. We did not get any suggestions forthcoming from the union so we were left with the decision to have to lay off six fire fighters. Mr. Speaker, I would hope those layoffs would be of a temporary nature because we do intend, as I have already said in my statement, to proceed with opening the Mount Pearl Fire Station. Hopefully, that will facilitate the rehiring of some of the firefighters who are affected now by the layoff which took place today.

MR. SPEAKER: Before recognizing the Leader of the Opposition on behalf of hon. Members I would like to welcome to the Speaker's gallery today the Ambassador for France, His Excellency, Monsieur Francois Bujon de l'Estang and the Consul General for France in Canada Monsieur Michel Couthures. Je veux vous souhaiter les bienvenus à L'Assemblée de Terre-Neuve et à la Province de Terre-Neuve.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Monsieur le Président is learning much more quickly than the Premier, I believe, -

MR. SIMMS: It is not costing near as much.

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. It has taken this Minister two years to devise a plan for amalgamation on the Northeast Avalon that pleases nobody. All the Minister has done is bungle and confuse the whole amalgamation issue on the Northeast Avalon.

Now, Mr. Speaker, two years ago when the Minister had this major dream and vision of amalgamation he also cast his vision to other parts of Newfoundland and Labrador, amalgamating islands served by ferries with mainland communities, for example, and hundreds of other proposed groupings he talked about all around Newfoundland and Labrador. I want to ask the Minister today in view of what he has proposed for the Northeast Avalon, where does amalgamation stand in other parts of Newfoundland and Labrador that were referred to two years ago?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is moving along very, very well. We have commissioners reports in now from all the amalgamated groupings and they are under consideration by myself as the Minister and by my Department, and recommendations will be forthcoming. I can say, Mr. Speaker, contrary to the comments of the Opposition about how negative the amalgamation process has been, I simply say it is not over until it is over. You are going to be very, very surprised at the result of many of the amalgamation groupings. Many of these groupings are now saying, where they said no previously, they want to reconsider amalgamation. They are beginning to see that the benefits are evident and obvious. So, Mr. Speaker, the amalgamation process is going, very, very well and announcements will be forthcoming on other groupings throughout the Province.

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, the Minister is indicating or suggesting that communities are changing their mind and coming to this Government and asking for amalgamation. Mr. Speaker, they are being threatened, blackmailed, and intimidated by this Government, that is what is happening.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Minister this: In view of the fact that the Minister disregarded the advice of his commissioners in the case for example of Wedgewood Park and other groupings that he announced here today, is the Minister intending to disregard the advice of his commissioners in other parts of Newfoundland and Labrador? If he is, why are we going through this charade and the fraud?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, the feasibility process clearly states that feasibility hearings first of all - hearings being one part of the process and there are another sixteen main points - after the feasibility process is complete, the Minister has the responsibility to take the commissioners recommendations and have deliberations with staff and other people he deems advisable and eventually make a recommendation to Government. He is clearly not bound, and it says so in the Act, to accept the recommendations of the commissioners, that is obviously very important but he is not bound to accept it. Mr. Speaker, granted, it was not accepted in the case of Wedgewood Park and it may not be the case in other groupings, Mr. Speaker. I have an obligation as the Minister to make a recommendation ultimately to the Government, having the advantage of the feasibility process, the hearings, and the commissioner's reports, and any other information and advice that I can access. That was the case with these seventeen communities in the Northeast Avalon and that same procedure is being followed, and will be followed to a conclusion with all the other groupings that remain to be finalized.

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, it is time for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs to forget the fact that he used to be a city councillor and become a Minister of the Crown for Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker. The Minister has said consistently in this House, and outside, that any amalgamation process he would recommend to Government would be based on the advice of his commissioners. That is what he said time and time again in this House and outside. Now, why has the Minister disregarded the advice of his commissioners in the plan announced here today, and why is he proposing to do the same for other proposed amalgamations in rural Newfoundland and Labrador?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition has a terrific talent for taking things out of context. Obviously, my comments were meant to suggest that I would take the commissioner's recommendations and use that as a basis for a decision. That has always been the case, and will always be the case, but to suggest that I will take the commissioner's recommendations, in any one or all of the forty-two groupings, and verbatim go forward with a recommendation to Government without considering all the other aspects of the feasibility process, which includes the Minister's inpute, the inpute of senior staff, the input of planners, the input of outside advice if the Minister deems it necessary - to suggest that I would ignore all that possible advice that could help the Minister arrive at a good, sensible decision, is obviously ludicrous, Mr. Speaker. That is important, and I intend to follow that procedure in the future.

MR. RIDEOUT: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, would the Minister who spent two years procrastinating about amalgamation on the Northeast Avalon, and in other parts of Newfoundland and Labrador, would that Minister tell us what he intends to do about Mount Moriah and Massey Drive in Corner Brook? That is one example. What does he intend to do about Kippens in Stephenville? What does he intend to do about Triton, Brighton and Pelleys Island, that great vision of amalgamating mainland communities with islands served by ferries? What is the Minister going to do about those groupings he brags about, Mr. Speaker?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, all of those groupings which he has mentioned will be addressed very shortly by Government and subsequently a decision will be made. We will not be proceeding with amalgamation in all the groupings. There are some groupings which the commissioners are recommending against and I doubt if I as Minister would go against them in these particular groupings. There are some half dozen, and possibly more, that I know they are recommending against, so it is not as if the commissioners are simple saying all amalgamations should proceed. The feasibility process is there to identify whether or not a commissioner, or commissioners, would recommend at the end of the day amalgamation to proceed, or otherwise. If they do recommend amalgamation to proceed, and recommend a suggested grouping, then my responsibility is to look at that grouping, to seek advice, as I have explained two or three times, from officials, staff, outside consultants, whatever it takes, and ultimately make a recommendation to Government. In all the communities he just mentioned, Corner Brook, Stephenville, Kippens, Deer Lake, and all the other rural areas of the Province, amalgamations will come forward, recommendations will come forward to Government and ultimately to the House for finalization, either to proceed or not to proceed, depending on how the Government decides.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has expired.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow move that this hon. House of Assembly adopt the following resolution:

WHEREAS since 1957 there have been nine commission reports on local government in the Northeast Avalon Region and all have recognized the need to reduce the number of municipalities;

AND WHEREAS a 1990 feasibility study which included nine public hearings and received eighty-four written briefs and numerous oral presentations recommended a reduction in the number of municipalities in the Northeast Avalon Region;

AND WHEREAS there are now seventeen municipalities in the Northeast Avalon Region comprising a population of 160,000, with a total of 124 councillors;

AND WHEREAS there is an inefficient delivery of services such as sewerage and solid waste disposal, water supply, firefighting and urban transportation;

AND WHEREAS there is unequal taxation and unequal sharing of responsibility and liability within the region for the delivery and use of common services;

AND WHEREAS there is duplication of town assets, such as town halls, fire departments, and duplication of staff effort;

AND WHEREAS certain regional municipal assets such as The St. John's Fire Department and The Canada Games Park including The Aquarena are currently owned and managed by the Province;

AND WHEREAS if the number of municipalities were reduced there would be a reduction in the duplication of development competition and activity and there would be a greater efficiency due to economies of scale;

AND WHEREAS the municipal groupings, as proposed in this Resolution, will eliminate the need to set up a regional services board to deliver commonly used services in the region;

AND WHEREAS the consolidation of municipalities as proposed in this Resolution, together with the assignment to the City of St. John's of responsibility for management of water supply, sewerage and solid waste disposal, firefighting and urban transportation in the whole Metropolitan Area, will eliminate the need to continue the St. John's Metropolitan Area Board;

NOW, THEREFORE, THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY RESOLVES THAT the City of St. John's, the Town of Wedgewood Park and the Town of Goulds and a small section of the Town of Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove and the portion of the City of Mount Pearl south of the Harbour Arterial Road, be combined into one City, to be known as the City of St. John's;

AND THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY FURTHER RESOLVES THAT adjacent areas of the St. John's Metropolitan Area Board including the Windsor Lake, Broad Cove River and Bay Bulls Watersheds be included in the City of St. John's;

AND THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY FURTHER RESOLVES THAT the St. John's Fire Department, including the Mount Pearl Fire Station, and the Canada Games Park including the Aquarena be transferred to the City of St. John's, and all those facilities associated with the St. John's Metropolitan Area Board be transferred to the City of St. John's;

AND THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY FURTHER RESOLVES THAT the Town of Paradise and the town of St. Thomas be amalgamated into a single town, and adjacent areas of the St. John's Metropolitan Area Board including Topsail Road, Three Island Pond, Elizabeth Park and Evergreen Village be included in this town;

AND THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY FURTHER RESOLVES THAT the Town of Pouch Cove and adjacent areas of the St. John's Metropolitan Area Board be combined into a single town;

AND THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY FURTHER RESOLVES THAT the Town of St. Phillips, the Town of Portugal Cove and the Town of Hogan's Pond be amalgamated into a single town and adjacent areas of the St. John's Metropolitan Area Board be included in this town;

AND THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY FURTHER RESOLVES THAT the boundaries of the City of Mount Pearl be re-defined generally using the Harbour Arterial Route and the St. John's Agricultural Development Area as the southern boundary;

AND THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY FURTHER RESOLVES THAT the timing of the consolidations and the amalgamations and other technical and administrative details be set by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council;

AND THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY FURTHER RESOLVES THAT the Government of the Province shall introduce legislation where necessary to effect the municipal and other changes set out in this Resolution.

Mr. Speaker, it is further intended that after discussion about the options available to Government, whether Government would have this brought in to this House of Assembly as a Government measure, or indeed as a free vote with Members free to vote as they choose, Government has decided that when a vote is brought to this House that it will be by measure of a free vote of Members of the House of Assembly.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Not much to lose, now, by having (inaudible). They have Jim Walsh put to bed.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

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

MR. SIMMS: I wonder, since this is such an unusual resolution, I mean, a four-page resolution is very unusual to be seen in this legislature. Did this Minister bring fifty-two copies for every Member of the House to have a look at now? - because it is rather lengthy. Secondly, I wonder if the Speaker might consider how we are going to eventually vote on this resolution, because there are ten resolved parts to it, and that, as well, is extremely unusual. You might have a couple, sometimes maybe even three, but to have ten, and they are very specific in most cases. So, is the intent to break them, as they often do in some legislatures? In the House of Commons, for example, they do break resolutions so that you can vote on them individually. There may be some parts of it that some Members will support, will like, and would like to vote for, and there may be others they do not support. So perhaps a simple way to do it at this point in time under a point of order is to leave it - the Premier or somebody might want to comment - but maybe leave it with Your Honour. The Premier perhaps was not listening. He understood what I was saying? Some Members might wish to vote for some parts of it but maybe not other parts, so there may be some process put in place where we could vote on each, you know, when the time comes, whenever the vote comes, next month or next year.

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

MR. BAKER: To that point of order, Mr. Speaker. In our usual expeditious manner, we have already taken care of the first part of his point of order, which is the distribution of the copies of the resolution. So that is taken in care of.

With regard to the second part of his point of order, Mr. Speaker, this is a resolution, obviously, that whereas there are parts to it, changing one part, of necessity, involves changing all parts. And, as I said, it is a single resolution to deal with the situation on the Northeast Avalon. We view it, Mr. Speaker, as a single resolution. It cannot be dealt with in sections simply because a change in one section would, of necessity, mean a change in the whole resolution. So, Mr. Speaker, we view this as a very simple one resolution, not a lot of resolutions.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

To the point of order, the Chair will make note of the point raised by the hon. Member and I will have an answer later.


MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, before you move Petitions.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Under Answers to questions, last week, the Premier will recall, I asked him if he would bring in the guillotine on his Ministers who have yet to respond to questions that I put on the Order Paper on April 4th, forty days now, forty days and forty nights, almost. Forty days have gone by.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: They are. The Minister of Municipal Affairs - I suppose, he has been preoccupied a bit the last couple of years - the Minister of Development, the Minister of Forestry, the Minister of Fisheries, and the Minister of Justice have failed to respond to that simple question. All other Ministers have.

Secondly -

AN HON. MEMBER: I will table them tomorrow.

MR. SIMMS: `Table them tomorrow'. did you hear that?

Secondly, I asked the Minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: It is amazing how fast you can do it when you are told!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Now, I say to the Premier, of course, he told them last week to do it and they did not do it, so we will see.

PREMIER WELLS: That was my fault.

MR. SIMMS: What? Your fault?

PREMIER WELLS: I did not tell them.

MR. SIMMS: Okay, but they have certainly been told today. Now we will see how quickly they jump up tomorrow.

My second question was to the Minister of Development, asking for a copy of the expense reports of the Chairman of the Economic Recovery Commission, the President of Enterprise Newfoundland, all the vice-presidents and all the commissioners. Again, that was forty days ago. That information has not been tabled, and we really see no reason why it should not be tabled. I know he was away, but he is back today and he might take time to pitch and put the answer together.

PREMIER WELLS: This is for Answers to Questions, not further questions?


MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. HARRIS: To the same point of order, Mr. Speaker.

There is also on the Order Paper a question which I asked of the Minister of Health. I do not know the exact date of it but it has been on the Order Paper for some three weeks or more and has yet to be answered. It concerns the hospital beds which were announced in last year's Budget, and what has happened to the additional beds that were added as a result of last year's Budget?

MS VERGE: Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber East, to the same point of order?

MS. VERGE: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

A month or so ago, the Premier, in Question Period, in answer to questions I posed about the Government's new policy for awarding work to private law firms, said he would be tabling in the House, a description of the Government's new policy, the policy that guided the decision to award the Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador contract to Ed Roberts' law firm, and the Premier also promised to provide a list of all Government and Crown corporation arrangements with private law firms.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier, to the point of order.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I promised to prepare a written statement of Government's policy? If I made such an undertaking, I have forgotten. As far as I know, I made no such undertaking but I will check it, Mr. Speaker, and if I did, I will honour any undertaking that I have given. What I did say with respect to tabling a list of law firms, was that I was prepared to go back over the last five to ten years and table the complete list, if the House wanted me to go through that expense. If they want me to go through that expense, I will go back and provide the list.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Orders of the Day

MR. BAKER: Motion 4.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Finance to introduce a Bill entitled, "An Act To Revise And Amend The Law Respecting A Pension Plan For Teachers." (Bill No. 25)

On motion, Bill No. 25, read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

MR. BAKER: Motion 5, Mr. Speaker.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Fisheries to introduce a Bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Fish Inspection Act." (Bill No. 34)

On motion, Bill No. 34, read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

MR. BAKER: Order 14.

Motion, second reading of a Bill, "An Act To Revise And Consolidate The Law Respecting Juries." (Bill No. 3)

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This Act, as it says, revises and consolidates the law respecting juries. I believe it has been considered, to some extent, by Committee. I have received some comments from the Department concerning the matter and I believe some concerns were expressed at that level. I will probably leave it to the Opposition to raise any general concerns they have about the principles involved in the Bill, but if there is any detailed work concerning amendments, I think that might be appropriately left to Committee of the Whole.

As people know, the Juries Act is a significant Act in this Province, because it provides a mechanism for selecting individuals to serve on juries in criminal matters and, also, in very exceptional circumstances, in civil matters. One of the main protections, I suppose, for an individual who finds himself or herself accused of a serious criminal offence, is that he or she has the right to select trial by a jury of one's peers. The juries are administered by the Sheriff of Newfoundland. That is a traditional function of that particular office and will continue to be so in the new Act.

Perhaps the major change to the law, Mr. Speaker, is that, instead of impanelling jurors by each individual trial and selecting and summonsing jurors for one particular matter, there will be a panel of jurors from which a number of juries may be selected. That will be, I think, the significant advance in terms of the administration of the courts of the Province, since it will provide a list of people, at any given time, who are summonsed and ready to serve on juries. It will result in a significant cost saving to the Province in the order of $150,000, and I think that particular method and change in the administration and selection of jurors will be an improvement for the system of justice and also for those people who may find themselves as prospective jurors.

Other than that, Mr. Speaker, I do not have any particular comments. I invite my colleagues opposite to make any comments they wish with respect to the principles involved in the Bill.

MS VERGE: Mr. Speaker.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am surprised the Minister of Justice spoke so briefly on such an important piece of legislation. It reminds me of my days in the Ministry when the Government House Leader, then the Member for St. John's East, used to caution me and other Ministers to speed up the process so we could get it through as quickly as possible. Of course, I could not resist giving fairly elaborate explanations of the principle and passionate presentations of why the new legislative provisions were good and beneficial.

As the Minister indicated, the Social Legislation Review Committee has examined this Bill. We received it just before Christmas and we have had, I think, two meetings on it early in the year, and one within the last week or so, to hear presentations from two members of the private Bar.

I would like to say, up front, Mr. Speaker, that I think the thrust of this reform is very good, and I support it wholeheartedly. The main effect of the changes is to reduce inconvenience to the public, to the citizens who are summonsed to appear in court or, in St. John's, at the Arts and Culture Centre, for jury selection, and for the smaller number who ultimately are selected to serve. Additionally, and perhaps this was the Government's main thought in putting forward the reform, there is the happy side effect of making the selection process more efficient and less costly to the Government and, of course, by extension, less costly to the taxpayers. One of the reasons for this is that the changes will allow the Sheriff and his staff to function more efficiently.

The changes involve requiring fewer people to be summonsed for jury selection, and also, in situations where more than one jury trial per month is anticipated - and that would usually be in St. John's, occasionally in Corner Brook, not very often anywhere else - to allow for the selection to be done at the start of a month for the month ahead. So, for example, it is anticipated that there might be four jury trials in a month. Instead of having to summons and require to appear for selection purposes four times 144 people, which would be roughly 600 people, under this changed arrangement only 250 people would have to be served and have to suffer the inconvenience of appearing at the designated place for selection purposes. The fact that four juries could be selected at once, of course, is a saving for the sheriff and his staff. Another feature which will cut down on cost for the Government is allowing the service of prospective jurors to be done by ordinary mail instead of the present requirement of personal service which, of course, involves the sheriff or one of his staff physically taking a summons and going to the place of residence of the citizen being summonsed. A change that I think is eminently sensible is providing for the jury list to be derived from the voter's list. The Department of Justice, through the chief electoral officer has a jury list compiled every three or four years and under this Bill there will not be a requirement for a separate enumeration for a jury list in each of the judicial centres. The sheriff's office will simple be able to look at the voter's list and take names from that. That is a significant cost savings because I believe the last jury enumeration cost about $150,000. There is a special provision in the Bill for French juries. Under the Canadian Constitution citizens of our Province, the same as the rest of Canada, are entitled to be tried in either of the two officials languages, in either English or French. Of course people charged with the more serious criminal offenses are entitled to elect to be tried by judge and jury, and obviously such a trial in French would have to have a jury who can understand very well the French language. Our francophone population is small and it is located mainly in just three or four centres of the Province. This Bill allows the sheriff, in compiling names of possible French jurors, to consult the voter's list but also other sources, including, for example, the membership list of the Francophone Federation for the Province, or the various local and area francophone associations. The Francophone Federation has keenly advocated the provision of court services throughout our Province in both official languages.

Mr. Speaker, the principle of the Bill I can support without hesitation. It is good in terms of impact on the public. It will involve less inconvenience or disruption of people, and at the same time, happily, it will involve a more efficient use of Government resources and cut down on cost to the taxpayers of administering the criminal justice system. Now, unfortunately, in reviving the Juries Bill that is all the Government had in mind, that is all the High Sheriff, who I gather initiated this reform thought about. There are other important features of the Juries Act which also need to be modernized and improved and these were not looked at at all. For example, near the beginning of the Bill there are clauses dealing with disqualifications and grounds for exemptions. Now, some of the officials and professionals who are disqualified, it seems to me are not entitled to disqualification.

These officials and officers and professionals were given this privilege, this automatic disqualification by virtue of their jobs or their occupations generations ago, and as is so typical in the legal profession, these kind of things just get carried forward year after year, generation after generation and now, few lawyers or judges would be able to explain how they originated, let alone justify why they should appear in the present law.

For example: why should it be as is provided in Clause 5, that all employees of the Parliament of Canada and the Privy Council of Canada automatically be disqualified from being even summonsed for jury selection, why should all employees of the House of Assembly and the Executive Council of the Province, automatically, just because they happen to work either here, in or around this Chamber for example, for Hansard, or a page or a clerk or a secretary or a policy advisor upstairs on the seventh floor, why should those people automatically be disqualified from being summonsed for jury selection?

Why should they have that privilege when people working in private business, people who are self-employed are subject to being required to appear for jury selection and potentially to being required to serve on a jury, missing time from their business, which in some cases is irreplaceable, and further along in this Clause, there is a provision saying that, spouses of all of the above are automatically disqualified.

Well, under our present Charter of Rights and Freedoms, people are supposed to be treated as individuals, and not labelled or given a privilege or a penalty simply by virtue of their marital status. Indeed, when the High Sheriff appeared before our Legislation Review Committee, he, drawing on his background as a member of the civil division of the Department of Justice specializing in Charter compliance, offered his opinion that, that spousal disqualification violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Then there is the clause dealing with grounds for exemption. At the Committee's last meeting we had an excellent presentation by a member of the private defence bar, Brian Casey, who was representing the criminal law sub-section of the Canadian Bar Association. He pointed out that under Federal law, people who are required to serve on a jury, who have been receiving unemployment insurance are cut off, because the Federal CEIC regulations require that UI recipients be available for work and evidently the Federal authorities rule that any one serving on a jury is not available for work and therefore must be cut off UI.

Now we have a very large number of citizens of our Province at any time receiving UI. There is a clause in the present law which has been carried forward into this Bill, saying that people may get out of serving on a jury if they can convince a judge that serving would constitute a hardship. Now, Mr. Casey pointed out to the Committee that different judges have interpreted and enforced that provision differently when it comes to UI cases. Some judges have been convinced that serving on a jury and being cut off UI is a hardship warranting an exemption, whereas, other judges have ruled in the opposite way and despite pleas on the part of citizens fearing the loss of UI, the judges have said, sorry, that is not a hardship, you are going to have to serve regardless, and, Mr. Speaker, jury trials can go on for a long time, the longest jury trial in our Province and I am told perhaps the longest in Canadian history was the Rideout trial in Corner Brook last year, it lasted for about a year.

AN HON. MEMBER: Longest trial in Canadian history?

MS. VERGE: People have suggested that trial was the longest criminal trial in Canadian history, I do not know if that is true, but at any rate, it did go on for about a year and twelve jurors were totally involved during the many months of that trial. Mr. Speaker, there is a need to address this practical problem, to recognize the conflicting rulings of courts in this Bill; there should be a revision to the Bill to address that problem .

Another recommendation of the representative of the private bar, the criminal law sub-section of the Bar Association, had to do with Clause 11 which sets at twenty-five kilometres, the radius for jury enumeration and selection for any one of the judicial centres. Now in the case of the St. John's judicial centre where most of the jury trials take place, twenty-five kilometres encompasses probably 150,000 people and that is a very large pool from which to select a jury, so that is not a problem in the case of St. John's. It is not a problem in the case of Corner Brook, however, in the case of the Grand Bank judicial centre, it is submitted and I would agree, that a twenty-five kilometre radius is too small an area because it covers too small a pool of potential jurors.

It is important for the lawyers involved, for the parties involved, the Crown on the one hand and the accused, represented by defense counsel in most cases on the other hand, to be able to select twelve people to serve on a criminal jury trial who are impartial, who are not involved with either party, who can decide neutrally, and in the case of a trial in Grand Bank, when the pool has to be drawn from only a twenty-five kilometre radius, it can be difficult to get a large enough number of impartial jurors, so the recommendation is that the change, perhaps by the Bill authorizing the Cabinet by regulation to prescribe varying sizes of radii for the different judicial centres in the Province; twenty-five kilometres is plenty large for St. John's and Corner Brook but not large enough for Grand Bank.

It may be plenty large for Gander, that would have to be examined, it may be large enough for Grand Falls, but another problem would arise in the case of a French jury trial. If an accused in Corner Brook elected to be tried in French, then, within a twenty-five kilometre radius of Corner Brook, there would be very, very few francophones to draw from. Perhaps in that kind of a situation there should be provision for selecting jurors from the Port au Port Peninsula and the Stephenville area.

A third suggestion made by Mr. Casey, representing the criminal law sub-section of the Bar Association, had to do with Clause 18. He expressed some apprehension about the proposal to select jurors a month ahead for all anticipated jury trials in the month following. Having listened to expressions of concern, personally, I am satisfied that the current provision is reasonable; I understand it is so in other Provinces and it has worked well in other parts of Canada.

The other member of the private bar who appeared before the committee addressed the issue of civil jury trial. Now, throughout the history of our Province there have been very, very few civil jury trials, I am told there have only been two in the last ten years. The lawyer who made a presentation to our Committee represented the plaintiff in the most recent civil jury trial which took place in St. John's, Janet Henley Andrews. She recommended some modifications to the clause dealing with civil jury trials. To make clear that the litigant seeking a civil jury trial, the litigant exercising his or her right to have a civil trial by judge and jury, would not have to pay a prohibitive cost. The suggestion is that the deposit be reasonable and that the total expenses be just those that are additional to the cost of providing an ordinary trial by judge. Perhaps when we get to Committee stage we can look at precise proposals for amending those clauses.

So in conclusion I say for the third time that I thoroughly support the principle of this Bill. I think the main features of the changes are good. Good for the public, good for the Government, and of course by extension, the taxpayers who generate revenue for the Government. The only real complaint that I have with the Bill is that it does not go far enough. The Department of Justice and the Government did an incomplete job of revising the Juries Act. Presumably they had in mind simply cutting cost. Now, cutting cost when it does not diminish public service - and even better in a case like this when it actually enhances public service - is commendable. But there are other aspects of the legislation that cry out for modernization. And I think it is a shame that when the Government is bringing in substantial reforms of the Juries Act that it does not do a thorough job, that it does not do the full job. I would recommend to the Minister and the Government that they institute an effort to revise other parts of the Juries Act, perhaps this fall, while it is fresh in people's memories.

Unfortunately, the way things go, is that usually whatever is being changed now is where it will be left for several more years. But I would urge the Minister to break with the past and carry on an effort of modernizing the Juries Act and bring in another bill to amend the Juries Act in the fall.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to make a few comments on the general principles in the Bill before the House respecting juries, "An Act To Revise And Consolidate The Law Respecting Juries."

As hon. Members will know, one of the most significant features of our legal system is the ability of an individual to have in certain circumstances at least - not all circumstances - the right to a trial by jury. And the right to be judged on a cause by ordinary people. 'By a jury of their peers,' is the traditional expression. And that right has to be given effect in terms of access to this right by having a law that allows access to it without creating difficulties in the way of people achieving access to it.

In that respect I say that the changes that are brought in the Juries Act for criminal juries are I think on the whole acceptable, a new system which provides for a panel of jurors from which a number of juries may be selected. I think it is more efficient certainly, less onerous to the public, where more people will be required to show up for jury duty for a number of different trials and may not be chosen. Quite often large numbers of people are called for one trial one day, and another group of large numbers for one trial that might start the next day or the next week, and perhaps 70 per cent or 80 per cent of those called would not be expected to serve, and it is a wasteful system in that respect. I think that the changes that are brought in in that regard are very useful and very good.

With respect to the civil jury trials I think that the Government has made a mistake. Because what they have done is in effect made it more difficult for people to have civil jury trials in a Province where civil jury trials have been underused. There was a time when criminal jury trials were very much underused in this Province, particularly in the St. John's judicial district, while in other parts of the Province - notably in Labrador and Grand Falls and I believe on the west coast - criminal jury trials were very common. And there was active discouragement I understand historically from the Bench and perhaps the Crown of having criminal jury trials. And there are subtle ways of course in which that can happen.

But that has changed now and jury trials in criminal matters are very commonplace in St, John's. Even in the last ten years since I have been a Member of the Bar since 1980, jury trials were relatively uncommon. Now they are very frequent. And of course this is what has brought about the need for the Minister of Justice to change the system to accommodate this need.

In the area of civil juries as was demonstrated to the Review Committee, and of course as part of the knowledge and experience of Newfoundlanders, civil juries are very uncommon. In the Province of Ontario, on the other hand, they are very common. And there are lots of cases where a litigant, a person going to court seeking justice, may well wish to have the decision about liability - for example, in a motor vehicle accident, or liability or damages in an area of litigation - determined by ordinary people and not necessarily by judges who may - and I would not say that it comes with the territory - but who may be out of touch with where the ordinary people are 'at,' to coin a phrase. Where the thinking of ordinary people on issues, particularly when there are social issues involved, or issues that affect what ordinary people may have a view on, which might well be different than that of the well-educated and sometimes isolated judiciary. Isolated from the ordinary comings and goings of human beings.

So there may well be lots of occasions when a civil jury trial would be desirable. And the system in place ought to provide that access to it. But if one looks at the provisions here - we are at second reading, we are talking about the principles of the Bill. But the principles of the Bill really are the changes that have been made in the Bill from the last one, so the Members will forgive me if I talk about the particular aspects of civil jury trials and the changes that have been implemented to make it more difficult for people to have jury trials.

I do not know if that is the intention. Maybe the intention is - as the hon. Member for Humber East says - to raise money or to save money. Maybe that is the intention. But the effect is to require more money from an individual litigant requiring or wishing to have a civil jury and frightening them off. Scaring them away. Deterring them from having access to a civil jury trial.

Clause 21 of the Bill is the one that does that and indicates that an order for a civil jury once obtained shall be filed with the sheriff who then - the litigant, the person seeking to have a jury, is required to deposit with the sheriff, "money sufficient to pay the expenses of conducting the jury trial and if the money is not sufficient, the party shall on demand pay any further money that the sheriff or sub-sheriff requires."

Now that is a fairly onerous provision, and not only onerous, very uncertain. On reading that any ordinary person or any lawyer reading that can attribute a number of meanings to it as to what the expense of conducting a jury trial are. And no one would know what the sheriff or sub-sheriff - whoever that may be from time to time - was prepared to demand. Which is then a pre-condition of course to having your jury trial. If you do not pay up what the sheriff demands then you do not get your jury trial.

It is a very onerous provision, and it is an onerous provision because in many circumstances cases that may wish to go to court under the civil jury provisions may be cases where the litigant, the plaintiff who is seeking justice has no money, and it may well be that the person has obtained the service of a lawyer on a contingency fee basis. In other words that there are no legal fees paid unless the cause is successful in which the lawyer taking the case receives a percentage of the award as a legal fee. But that does not include the cost, Mr. Speaker. A person seeking a court trial for perhaps a car accident or personal injury situation would have to go to court and would have to pay the cost along the way for subpoenaing individuals, perhaps for medical reports if they cannot be obtained in any other way, and also for the cost, in this case, of a civil jury.

So, Mr. Speaker, when a litigant is advised by a lawyer that a jury would be appropriate in the circumstance and an individual wants that jury, he or she should be allowed to get it. And when we were talking about that in Committee, the interesting thing, Mr. Speaker, that the lawyers who were present on the Committee, there were two lawyers on the Committee and there were two other lawyers present and perhaps three other lawyers present, and the issue of payment for civil juries came up. One Member, the Member for St. George's, who took an interest in this issue said quite openly, and the first time he considered it, 'why should people have to pay anything for a civil jury, they do not have to pay for a criminal jury? If they are entitled to a jury there should be no payment.' I must say, Mr. Speaker, that the Member for St. George's had a very, very good point. The lawyers did not come up with it, interestingly enough, because the lawyers are so steeped in the whole notion of paying costs and the sheriffs demanding this and fees for that and fees for something else that they did not see the pure idea in the midst of that, that a jury trial is a matter of right under our Constitution, under our legal system, a jury trial is a matter of right and why should a poor person or any person have to pay for something that is his right. If I am charged or anybody is charged with an offense that entitles me to a jury trial, I can insist. I merely have to stand up in court and say that I choose to be judged by a judge sitting with a jury, and then the legal system goes into effect. The Minister of Justice, his people, the sheriff goes out and subpoenas people, they come, they have the jury and the jury selection process goes ahead, and that person gets his trial by jury. But in a civil trial where a person is also entitled under certain circumstances to a jury, the person is then asked to come up, reach into his or her pocket and come up with the entire cost, the expenses, money sufficient to pay the expenses of conducting the jury trial, and any money that the sheriff demands. That, Mr. Speaker, is a fundamental difficulty with this Bill that the Minister of Justice ought to reconsider.

I say this sincerely, Mr. Speaker, because I do not think that in putting together this Bill before this House the Minister of Justice actually considered the whole of the Bill. I am disappointed, Mr. Speaker, because there are many aspects of the Bill that if the Department of Justice, if the Minister of Justice and the Government had a look at this when they were presenting this Bill as a whole Bill rather than just one or two amendments, they would have brought about some changes.

MS. VERGE: They did not consult outside.

MR. HARRIS: They did not consult outside the Member for Humber East says, did not consult outside when they were putting together this Bill. They did not consult with the other people. This seems to be a Bill that was presented, or the idea for this Bill comes from the sheriff to make his job easier and bring about some efficiencies, yes, and bring about some efficiencies to save money, laudable goals to save money. But when we are dealing with a fundamental issue of juries and the right to trial by jury and how the people obtained that right, the Minister ought to have given a little more thought or directed his officials to consider other problems that are adherent in the jury legislation. I will give one or two examples, Mr. Speaker, just one or two examples of the disqualifications for service as jurors.

Service as jurors is a privilege, Mr. Speaker, in our system and it is also our right and duty, and those who want the protection and need the protection of this important element of our legal system ought to be required to participate unless there is a very good reason for them not to. I see no real good reason why a person who happens to be an employee of the Parliament of Canada, the Privy Council or an employee of the House of Assembly, anyone who is employed by the House of Assembly, presumably employed in any of the Members offices ought not to be able to serve on a jury or ought not to be required to serve on a jury, or why an employee of various departments, of the Federal or the Provincial Department of Justice who has nothing to do with the legal system as such and is not on one side or the other of any particular case or any case at all, ought not to be required to serve.

In terms of exemption, Mr. Speaker, I look in vain for an exemption for someone who perhaps has difficulty hearing, for someone who has difficulty hearing or understanding what is going on. That is another one. But where does a person, who has difficulty hearing, look for exemption? We do not see an exemption. In fact, I have had occasion to seek exemptions on those grounds, for people who are hard of hearing, who would not be able to hear the proceedings and participate, because they did not have their hearing properly corrected, I suppose, or were not assisted by a hearing aid, and I looked in vain, as I look now, for any section which applies.

Nothing in Clause 5 covers it. In Clause 6 they talk about language difficulty, but that has nothing to do with it. In Clause 7 we have to see if there is a serious hardship or loss to that person or to others, but that is sort of stretching it. It may be a hardship or a loss to the litigants, or it may be a hardship or loss to the accused, if one of the jurors cannot hear what is going on, but that is sort of stretching it, Mr. Speaker. There ought to be some specific grounds of exemption that would give reason to deal with a person who is hard of hearing. As I say, that is a minor example, but it points out, Mr. Speaker, that not a lot of thought went into the consolidation of this Act, and the cleaning up of some of the problems that exist there.

Again, dealing with exemptions, I do commend the Justice Department and the Minister for including in this legislation a more simplified procedure for exemptions. It was sometimes quite difficult to get exemptions because you had to travel to where a provincial court judge was. Now, as a result of yesterday's legislation, we are going to have fewer judicial provincial courts sitting, with fewer provincial court judges available for these tasks. The tasks, for exemptions, have been spread around to others, and that is proper and appropriate, because the procedure was a little bit onerous.

I do, again, have a minor quibble with the Minister. Perhaps the Minister can adjust this. Why, for example, in 23 (3) would a person have to make application to a judge in chambers, who may make a decision summarily as to whether a person is exempt or disqualified from jury duty, if the sub-sheriff, or whoever that person happens to ask, says no? There is a provision for an appeal there. "A person who applies under sub-section (1) and is refused an exemption or disqualification by the sheriff, sub-sheriff or the Provincial Court judge may appeal that determination by application to a judge in chambers."

Now, perhaps the Minister, or whoever has drafted the Bill, assumed that someone could attend on the judge in his office to obtain such an appeal and have a re-hearing there. Perhaps that was the thought, but, if that is the thought, then perhaps it ought to be changed, because an application to a judge in chambers is ordinarily by an originating application which requires a lawyer, and is an expensive process, to appeal a determination by a sub-sheriff who may make a determination, willy-nilly. A sub-sheriff is required to make determinations of whether a person has a hardship. These decisions about UI for example, that the Member for Humber East talks about, whether that is a serious hardship or not, you are going to have sub-sheriffs making that determination. We now already have different determinations from Supreme Court judges, but now, sheriffs and sub-sheriffs are going to be making determinations as to whether or not a person, who is going to lose his UI is going to suffer a serious hardship or not.

What are they going to do, apply a means test to people, and say, `Well, if you happen to have lots of money and you are on UI you are not going to suffer a serious hardship,' but, on the other hand, `If it is your only source of income, and you are on UI, it is a serious hardship?' And the sub-sheriff is going to make that determination! I do not think that is appropriate, Mr. Speaker, that a person who does not like what a sub-sheriff says has to make an application to a Supreme Court judge in chambers involving lawyers and paying big legal bills, a person on UI for example, having to pay a lawyer to take an application to a Supreme Court judge, which could cost several hundred dollars, who knows, that that person ought to have to do it that way. There should be a simpler procedure and instead of applying to a judge in chambers, it could be on application to a judge summarily, and not in court. As the Minister will know, the judge in chambers now is actually sitting in the court but dressed differently from what, ordinarily, he would. So, I say this in general, it appears the Bill has not been thought through thoroughly and some of these problems have to be fixed up.

We are dealing with it now in second reading, there is still a Committee stage and the Minister's officials have been considering some of these points that have been raised; that was not one of them. Some of these points have been raised in the Committee and we will be reporting back to the Committee once the Committee meets again. But I ask the Minister to seriously consider this issue because it is an important one.

Another issue which I think deserves consideration comes up under Section 42. If we have the jury system, with persons being required to serve on juries, some provision has to be made for them to be paid while they are serving as jurors. The employer is required by Section 42 to pay jurors while they are serving jury duty, and an employer who fails to do that - perhaps the President of Treasury Board should listen, because this is an important point; if you serve on a jury, your employer is required to pay you and, if he or she does not, they are going to be fined and charged.

Now, this also applies if you are required to be a witness for a court or a summary proceeding, an inquiry under the summary proceedings act, like a judicial inquiry, but it does not apply, Mr. Speaker, to any other places where people are required to attend by law; it does not apply to public inquiries under the Public Inquiries Act; that ought to be included, as well. Wages ought to continue when a person is summoned and required to appear before an inquiry under The Public Inquiries Act, such as, for example, the inquiry being conducted by the Public Service Commission into the allegations to do with the job in the Department of Social Services.

They have the right to summons people, require them to attend, and they have to attend under penalty of law because they have they powers of the Public Inquiries Act, but, Mr. Speaker, if that person is employed, the employer should also be required to pay the wages of an employee in those circumstances, as well. And this may be an amendment that could be introduced in the House. It can be changed and I hope it will be. That is why I bring these issues up, because I want to say that when a Government is taking a bill and consolidating the law and making changes to it, it ought to clear up some of these anomalies that exist along the way, while it is at it, and that is one that I think ought to be done.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there is another consequence of the changes in the way that juries can be summoned. By being able to summon juries through ordinary mail, by sending mail to their houses, their addresses, I think that is more efficient obviously. It is certainly a more efficient way of serving jurors and getting jurors to attend, but I think there is also a consequence on what failure to appear is under Section 38: Where a person who has been summoned to serve as a juror fails to appear and serve, that person may be brought before the court and if, in the opinion of the judge, that person was not prevented by sickness or other reasonable cause from appearing and serving as a juror as required in the summons, that person is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to $1,000.

But, Mr. Speaker, that wording may well be appropriate where you have a person personally served. If the sheriff goes out and says, `I served the Minister of Justice with a jury summons, I gave it to him, and here is my affidavit of service,' and he failed to show up, bring him before the court; bring the Minister of Justice before the court because he failed to appear when he was summonsed. But, what if he sent it through the mail and the Minister of Justice happened to be on vacation or on business somewhere else, out of town that particular day, and failed to appear? Should he be brought before the court to explain it to the judge, or should there have to be some proof, some notice, or some indication that the Minister of Justice, or whoever it is, knew that he was required to appear before they are dragged before a court? There ought to be, Mr. Speaker, some method of not going out - and judges are prone to do this, Mr. Speaker. You might have seventy, eighty, or ninety people on the jury list and only seventy show up, and the judge will say to the sheriff, I want you to go out and find out why these other twenty people did not come, and have them brought before the court. There have been people charged under that section, Mr. Speaker.

I think if the Minister of Justice is changing the method of serving jurors and requiring them to appear he also ought to look into the consequences of that on individuals who happen to receive this service by mail, or some mail comes to their house that they may or may not be aware of, not to have them dragged before the court without any proper investigation being done as to whether, in fact, they knew that the summons required them to appear at a certain time and place.

Those are my comments with respect to the Bill. I think the changes being made with respect to the selection of a jury is a good thing. I think, on the other hand, that the Minister has missed the boat on the civil jury side. He is making it more difficult -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) the boat.

MR. HARRIS: Now, the Minister of Social Services may at one time wish to have a civil jury to decide a case between himself and others and he can afford to. He can go down to the sheriff and say, here is the money you want, if you want $2000 or $5000. He can cash in some of his stocks and he can put down the $5000, or whatever the Sheriff demands. I do not think the Sheriff could demand enough money to keep the hon. Member for Port de Grave out of court because he can afford it. But what about the person who cannot? That is who I am speaking for, the person who cannot afford it, and who still needs access to justice. The Minister of Social Services can afford to pay whatever the Sheriff might demand, but the ordinary person cannot, and that is what I am speaking to here. I think the Minister of Justice ought to bring in changes to prevent that injustice from being perpetrated by this legislation, and I ask him to do that.

Those are my comments on this Bill, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. the Minister speaks now he will close the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Briefly, in closing, I will deal with the points raised by the two Members who spoke on the Bill. First of all, I am pleased that the hon. the Member for Humber East supports the proposition put forward by the Bill and the consolidation and revision of the law that is contained in it. As she says, it is good for the public and it is also good for the Government. She raises several points that I would like to deal with to some extent at this time. She says, first of all, that concern was expressed at the committee stage about Section 11 and the twenty-five kilometre radius from which jurors would be drawn. The only community mentioned was Grand Bank, and I point out for Members that Section 11, Subsection (2), I believe it is, provides that the Minister may, by order, vary the boundaries of an area for which a jury list may be prepared under subsection (1). Grand Bank appears to be the only community in the Province in which this concern has been expressed, and, to that extent, we are prepared to revise the boundaries. For a matter of general application, I do not see that it is appropriate to extend the boundaries beyond twenty-five kilometres, since the balance of convenience to the public and the Government in terms of cost and inconvenience to both would be outweighed by expounding of boundary. However, in the case of Grand Bank, an appropriate case might be made following the implementation of the legislation to expand the boundaries in that particular community.

She also indicated a concern about the disqualifications of jurors in Section 4 of the Act. She particularly questioned Subsection (a) which exempts Members, officers, or employees of the Parliament of Canada or the Privy Council of Canada. I believe it stands to reason, Mr. Speaker, that it would not serve the interest of any of the public or the Government to try to summons people from Ottawa to

jury duty here in Newfoundland. Secondly, she questions sub-section (b) which deals with members, officers, or employees of the House of Assembly or the Executive Council of the Province. Those are the only Provincial Government employees, as such, who are exempted, and I think that is a necessary incident to the proper working of the House of Assembly, which is, of course, a legislative arm of Government, and that, I suggest, is a justifiable exemption.

The other people mentioned there are, judges of the court, officers or employees of the Department of Justice, and the Government of Canada, and so on, these are defensible and, I might add, traditional exemptions, since most people, who are defendants in a cause, would not want a member of a police force sitting on a jury, for example, or a member of the Crown Prosecutor's office, or - God forbid! - another lawyer. So, I would add that these exemptions are defensible, on the one hand, because it is inconceivable in most cases that a defendant in a trial would agree to select someone who is involved in the process by which that person would end up in court or be incarcerated following a determination of that person's guilt. Secondly, I believe the exemptions in (a) and (b), dealing with the legislative arms of Government, are defensible on the basis that those particular aspects of Government must be allowed to function on an ongoing basis.

The member expressed the concern that sub-section (l), which exempts a spouse of a person referred to in these sub-sections, (a) through (k), is not defensible, given the consideration of the Human Rights Code. I suggest that is not the case, Mr. Speaker, for the same reason, that the public policy is such that a defendant, I think, in most cases, would be a little concerned about having a spouse of a police officer sit on a jury, since there may be some possibility of inherent prejudice or also some particular knowledge of the facts that might be with that person. I think that can be made of any of the other officials that are there. So, to that extent, I believe it is not discrimination. That is outside the Human Rights Code, and I think the interest at stake here, and that is the fair trial of an accused, is such that a disqualification is warranted.

If I can couple that with a comment made by the Member for St. John's East, who suggested that a person who has difficulty hearing is not automatically exempted, Mr. Speaker, if we were to include in the Act a provision automatically exempting people because of particular disabilities, I believe that would be an offence to the Human Rights Code. I was recently lobbied by a particular group with disabilities, who, under the current Act, may not be able to serve, to the opposite effect, that that should not be automatically disqualified. I would suggest to the hon. member that if we were to have disabilities, as a general section, as an automatic exemption, that would not be fair to those people who have a disability but could still reasonably participate in a process. So, I think he would agree that, on the face of it, it would be contrary to the Human Rights Code to so provide.

Now, his concern may be warranted to some extent, in that, if a person has an inability to follow the proceedings, as a result of a hearing impairment, whether or not that person could be exempted at his or her request - I take that to be the thrust - it would seem to me, on the face of that, sub-section (7) (1) would apply, that that person, serving as a juror, may cause serious hardship or loss to that person or others. I think, in the category of others, would be the defendant. That may be stretching it a bit, but I think, if you consider how we would draw an exemption to deal with disability, it would be very difficult to frame, as such, that it might not, on the face of it, offend the Human Rights Code. I am certainly open to further suggestions on it. That was considered, in fact, and we did not see something, on the face of it, that could be defensible as a legislative enactment of this Assembly.

If I might just continue on. The other matter raised, both by the Member for St. John's East and the Member for Humber East, dealt with civil juries. Our concern there, Mr. Speaker, is a matter of determining what is an appropriate mechanism to enable civil juries to be obtained. There is a matter of the public interest, because people always say, `Well, this service should be provided free by Government, and that service should be provided free by Government.'

I would like to make several comments. The first is that, in jury cases involving criminal matters, that right is of such long- standing, going back to Anglo-Saxon times, and is such an inherent matter of our criminal law, probably in excess of a millennium, that those juries have been provided at no cost to defendants in criminal matters. I think most people would agree that it is such a long-standing principle in our criminal justice system, that society, as a whole, should provide and pay for the right of an accused to be tried by a jury.

(Inaudible) that that is not the case in civil matters, that there is not the same inherent right of a defendant or plaintiff in a civil matter to a jury, nor is there an overwhelming matter of public policy that would say that the Government should pay for it rather than the people in a civil jury process. And if I may enlarge, for example, if a person goes to court in a criminal matter, he or she is never ordered to pay the costs of the Crown should the person lose and be found guilty, nor are they to pay any costs in the court proceeding, although they are occasionally made to pay restitution to people who are victims of their crimes.

However, in civil matters it is a long-standing principle that the unsuccessful litigant has to pay the costs of the other side. In some cases, well, if you have an impecunious plaintiff or defendant who is going to court, under our rules you can obtain an order for a security for cost. In other words, you cannot go to court unless you are prepared to put up the money; so our whole civil system is based on the principle that any person becoming a litigant in our civil process bears a corresponding obligation to pay costs of the other side, and, to some extent, to pay some fees to the court to offset the costs of that, although, by and large, that is nowhere near the actual cost of the proceeding.

So, on balance, Mr. Speaker, someone could make a case that the Government should provide civil juries free of charge, but I think that the aspect of requiring a defendant requesting a jury - which as everyone would acknowledge, is a very exceptional mechanism in civil procedure - is very much in line with our general principle in this civil system, that litigants who are unsuccessful have to pay. And, I would suggest, that amount would not be so onerous as to preclude a person who has a genuine faith in a jury in a civil matter to proceed and to want and to post security and to post the potential cost of what the jury would be.

As well, that is in line, as I say, with our principles in civil matters, that you normally expect people contesting that to pay the costs of the other side. And if one, for example, were to say that the Government should pay the cost of juries, then you could easily expand that and say Government should pay the costs of experts in civil trials. And we certainly do not do that. And there is a process for costs to be taxed and for the unsuccessful litigant, the person who loses the case, to pay it to the other side.

So, notwithstanding the comments of my learned friends opposite, I would suggest that their comment in the matter is not one that we are prepared to accept, for the reasons I have stated.

The other matter raised by the Member for St. John's East dealt with Section 23 (3) which allows a right of appeal to a judge in chambers from a determination by a sub-sheriff or Provincial Court judge. And his issue, and his point I believe, was that this may be a somewhat cumbersome process, in that one has to follow a certain procedure in civil law to have the matter heard in chambers and that would involve an application, affidavit and so forth, notice and whatnot. However, I point out to him that subsection (4) gives a further remedy, in that a person, on the day of the jury trial, itself, can appear before the judge and ask for a disqualification at that time, and the judge may deal with it summarily. So, although that is there, there is a further remedy which is very expeditious, and I would suggest that the general revisions to this type of procedure which now requires a personal attendance, are such that it can be done much more expeditiously, since a person can now apply by ordinary mail in the first instance, which is not the case now, and these determinations can be made by the sheriff.

Were it not for a further right to have the matter raised before the judge on the day in question, we might look further at that. But that is only one of many steps that may be taken to obtain an exemption, and I do not really think it warrants further attention.

His point on Section 22, as well, dealing with summonses - I do not see any undue inconvenience here. The fact of leaving a summons at a person's residence or with an employee, I think in most cases the individual affected will find out about it in due course. Summonses served by ordinary mail, I can understand, might be a little more problematic and I am probably prepared to consider something on that in Committee. But, certainly, I have no problem with service at a person's household or place of business, and I will consider further his comments on the mail, because there are problems with delay of mail. Although again, if a person were to be summonsed for failure to appear, that would form a complete defence had the person not been notified. Nevertheless, it does raise the point of delivery which I will certainly consider.

This is on the other point in section 42 about paying jurors. Again, and I am not sure if I got his point entirely, but Government is not prepared to compensate employers for the expense of a person's wages. He is shaking his head so I take it that was not his point, but there is a whole balance of things, Mr. Speaker, with employers and advocates. I have a concern over long-term trials where people are called to serve on juries for protracted periods, and we are looking at a policy, once a person has served on a jury for beyond a certain fixed point in time that we may then ask Government to pick up the cost of wages, but in most cases jury trials last three to four days, so I do not expect that the implicates for an employer are all that onerous. As for Government paying, I would also point out that there are many instances in which Government as well pays the cost of civil servants and their wages when they appear in jury trials, so to further burden Government I do not think is justifiable. The private sector, inasmuch as it has the manifold benefits of Government also has some of the expenses charged their way. So I therefore at this point move second reading, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

On motion, a Bill, "An Act To Revise And Consolidate The Law Respecting Juries," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 3).

MR. BAKER: Order 15, Mr. Speaker. Bill No 4.

MR. SIMMS: "An Act To Amend The Evidence Act." The hon. the Minister of Justice. Second reading.

Motion, second reading of a Bill, "An Act To Amend The Evidence Act." (Bill No. 4).

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

MR. DICKS: Yes, Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to see that the Opposition House Leader is now sitting as acting Justice critic, and no doubt things will move much more expeditiously.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DICKS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, he seemed to be indicating a desire to get on with the proceedings, so I do not know if he has imparted that to the critic from Humber East. Nevertheless, I will try to be brief in my comments as I always am, but I certainly feel impelled to answer the concerns raised by the people opposite.

Mr. Speaker, this is an unusual Bill in some senses because it essentially provides a specific exemption to deal with a problem we have in the health sector in the Province. It came to Cabinet as a joint paper of the Minister of Health and myself, and I took quite some time before I was convinced that it was the right thing to do. Nevertheless, I believe that the Bill before the House is a proper amendment to make to the Evidence Act. The Evidence Act, of course provides rules by which persons can be compelled to give evidence in court and also provide some basis on which judgements can be made as to what evidence may be received or rejected by courts.

What this particular Bill does is it provides an exemption to people who are involved and to certain types of proceedings in hospitals. These essentially deal with committees that are know as quality assurance committees or peer review committees. What these committees do, I am told by the people in the health field, is that they review what happens in hospitals, particularly in cases involving death, and the procedures of hospitals, and they also review the conduct of doctors in carrying out procedures on patients. The difficulty I had with it personally was that I feel that we should in very, very rare circumstances ever provide a blanket exemption to people from testifying in court. What you have here, however, is an amendment that would protect those committee proceedings from being forced to be produced in court. And the reason for that, Mr. Speaker, is the social importance and the general necessity to provide for an honest, fair evaluation of hospital procedures and doctors performances is such that if those proceedings were to be compellable in court, I am told, I have been convinced that the doctors simply will not participate in peer review, nor would they be involved in these quality assurance committees. In fact, to the extent they now exist they are, in essence, non-functional, and unless this exemption is granted they will not participate in those committees, which are generally struck to police the doctors in our hospitals and as well the other staff, and to improve the quality of health care in the province.

So, Mr. Speaker, inasmuch as I am reluctant to grant an exemption because I really believe that all these things should be compellable in the best of all possible worlds, we do not live in such and unless these committees are to be granted these exemptions, they will not function properly, and I am convinced that the overwhelming importance of improving health care in the Province as such, that we should grant this exemption to see if these committees will function properly.

I do not say I approve of the principle, but nevertheless, we must deal with reality and it is perhaps unfortunate that people are not more forthcoming in committees because of the fear that whatever they say will be used against their peers or will be a matter of public record in that at least it is compellable in court, but all that being said, I think that the exemption, inasmuch as I find it somewhat distasteful, is one that we should implement and try to see if we can get these quality assessment committees ongoing.

Mr. Speaker, as I say, it is not a matter that appeals to me as a lawyer, but certainly in terms of a general Government policy and perhaps trying to improve the quality of our health care, it is something that we should entertain and something this House should recognize as affording an exemption or rather an exceptional exemption, to a particular group of proceedings that does not apply outside some very narrow categories that now exist, such as the rights of a spouse not to testify against his or her husband or wife, so, Mr. Speaker, I do not know if my colleagues Opposite have any questions on it, as I said, I came to this conclusion with some reluctance and I have become convinced that it is something we should do after misgivings that took me some time to resolve.

Thank you.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wish to express my opposition to the principle of this Bill, quite simply, because it would extend a privilege to health care professionals and administrators which is not warranted and it would do so at the expense of consumers or patients. Mr. Speaker, this change has been sought by physicians and nurses and health care institution administrators, and it has been sought by them basically to give them a special privilege.

They are worried that in the event that patients initiate legal action claiming negligence on the part of a doctor or a nurse or a hospital, alleging medical malpractice, that should the deliberations of hospital peer review committees or quality assurance committees be required to be recounted in court, that their interests may be jeopardized, that they, the physicians, nurses or administrators, may be exposed and found wanting, that they may be found to have made disparaging remarks about their colleagues, their working associates, their friends.

On the other hand, patients or consumers of health care, historically have had great obstacles to surmount in taking on the health care establishment. For a start, a legal challenge is terribly expensive, legal aid generally does not fund civil actions in medical negligence, medical malpractice, and the cost of a court action nowadays is prohibitive for most ordinary individuals. Apart from the cost hurdle, it is very difficult for the average citizen to muster sufficient expert evidence to establish a case in medical negligence.

The burden of proof involves establishing the reasonable standard of care and to do that of course, expert medical or nursing or health care testimony is necessary. In many people's assessment doctors are reluctant to testify against other doctors and nurses are reluctant to testify against other nurses, The medical fraternity, and I say fraternity because it has been dominated by men, is a clique and the effect of this Bill is compounding the problem for the ordinary citizen, for the consumer of health care, for the patient who feels that he or she has not been treated properly by the health care system, who feels that a doctor who performed surgery was negligent, who feels that an anesthesiologist was negligent, who feels that a death, an injury, or an illness was caused through carelessness, through negligence. The burden of proof of that individual is difficult now. It is hard for the average citizen to muster sufficient evidence from the health care establishment to make out a case in medical negligence. As I mentioned on top of that any kind of a legal action nowadays is very expensive, so, Mr. Speaker, the effect of this change is going to exclude from the pool of evidence available to substantiate a patient's claim the proceedings of hospital quality assurance committees. Now, is there any good reason why this potential evidence should be denied a health care consumer? Well, the doctors claim that these committees are made up of volunteers. They say there is no ethical compulsion for physicians, nurses, or other health care professionals, or administrators, to take part in such committees or to contribute frankly and freely. Well, I think that could be debated. Human Rights advocates in the Province have challenged that assertion. The Human Rights Association has pointed out that health care professionals should observe a code of ethics involving taking part fully and honestly in quality assurance efforts. The Medical Association which is leading this charge, and I should point out here that I do not think that the vast majority of physicians in this Province are even aware of this effort on the part of the Medical Association to obtain this legal privilege for physicians, but the NMA executive say that quality assurance committees, or peer review committees, are composed of volunteers and they say that if members are subject to being required to repeat in court what they said at committee meetings that they will not take part. Now, it so happens that even under the present law, which does not give these people special privilege, committees are operating. There are quality assurance committees functioning in health care institutions in this Province today, so the claim of the Medical Association is not supported by current practice in health care institutions in the Province.

Now the medical association executive go on to say that basically you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink. You might be able to get a group of health care professionals to turn up at a quality assurance committee meeting but you cannot compel them to participate frankly and honestly. You cannot force them to have probing examinations.

Well, that represents a rather selfish and cynical view of the health care professions. The NMA asserts that while the standard in any court proceeding is the reasonable practice at the time of the incident, the thrust of quality assurance committees is to look to the future, to consider alternatives which involve changes from current practice or past practice. They seem to have a rather low opinion of the courts, of judges and juries. They evidently believe that judges are incapable of distinguishing the accepted reasonable norm at the time of the incident from some alternatives that might be laid out at a peer review committee for improvements or changes in the future.

Well, I have more faith in the legal system than some of these physicians. I think judges are quite capable of distinguishing between the standard of last month, when a patient died on the operating table at a hospital, and possible alternative procedures and practices which might conceivably be the norm in hospitals in other jurisdictions or might possibly be adopted by hospitals here next year or the year after. I think judges are quite capable of making that distinction. They make such distinctions, such findings of fact and law, routinely. That is what they are paid to do, that is their job. They judge. They judge discriminately within the parameters of the law.

It is regrettable that the Social Legislation Review Committee did not complete our work on this Bill. As I pointed out before, after a year and a half of successful functioning under the Chairmanship of the Member for Carbonear, about two months ago the Committee ceased to function. Now we were revived for one meeting a couple of weeks ago but we still have not finished our work on this proposed amendment to the Evidence Act. We did hear presentations from the advocates of the change: from the Newfoundland Medical Association; the Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland; and the Provincial Association of Hospitals and Nursing Homes. We heard from the Provincial association, the Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Association. And we received a request for a presentation from the Human Rights Commission, which is on record as opposing this change. But we never actually had a session with the Human Rights Commission.

Neither have we yet met to make a decision as a Committee to see where the five or seven Members of the Committee stand on this Bill. I know from having taken part in this Committee deliberations on the Bill that some of us oppose the Bill, others have reservations. I do not think any of us supported it enthusiastically.

In summary, I am against this proposed amendment to the Evidence Act quite simply because it compromises the rights and jeopardizes the interest of patients, of health care consumers. It is calculated to give a special privilege to the health care establishment which is not justified.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I have a few brief remarks to make on this Bill. I certainly will be supporting this particular Bill, and I certainly want to commend this Minister of Justice for bringing this Bill forward.

MR. EFFORD: This Minister of Justice! That is right. Not the former Minister of Justice. She never did anything.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that a former Minister of Justice, whose name I do not want to mention, but I can tell you she is not of the same gender that I am, Mr. Speaker, nor is she of the same political party that I am, nor is she as progressive in her thinking as this particular Minister of Justice, but I regret very much that a certain Minister of Justice did not have the good sense to bring this Bill before the House of Assembly. If anyone were to listen closely to the way a certain member of this House spoke today, a certain member who used to be a Minister of Justice, they would notice the attitude that this hon. member, who used to be Minister of Justice, has for doctors and nurses. It came through very clearly in the way that this hon. member spoke, Mr. Speaker. She refers to doctors and nurses as a clique. She talks about them as being some sort of a clique, who are a law onto themselves. It is obvious, Mr. Speaker, why she did not bring forward this piece of legislation, which is extremely important.

This legislation, Mr. Speaker, is important to people who serve on peer review committees in the hospitals throughout the Province. Now, let me explain for hon. members what a peer review committee does. It is just, as it says, a committee which reviews it's peers. It reviews the work of doctors and nurses, and professionals who work in the hospital system. Now, one thing hon. members must be aware of is this, that nobody in a democracy can force a doctor or a nurse or any professional to serve on a peer review committee. Nobody has the right to force an employee of a hospital to serve on a peer review committee. But people, who voluntarily serve on these committees, cannot be expected to speak openly and frankly, if they know that every word they say can be used in some court of law against them. So, the result was, Mr. Speaker, that there might have been mistakes made in the health care system, or, worse still, someone might have suspected that a mistake was made. Some member of a peer review committee might have suspected, but had no proof, no backup, just a gut feeling, just a feeling that, `I would have performed that procedure in a different way.' Members of the peer review committee were afraid to even express their opinion, unless they had all the back-up proof that you would have in a court of law.

So, the end result was that members of peer review committees were unable to carry out their functions. If a particular surgeon had performed an operation in a particular way, and something had happened or something had gone wrong, members of the peer review committee might have suspected that it should have been done differently, but had no proof, just some word of gossip, or just a feeling. Yet, they were afraid to mention this in the peer review committee, because even their thinking out loud could have been dragged into the courts, Mr. Speaker.

Now, this piece of legislation today will bring us in keeping with the rest of the Nation. The vast majority of the other provinces have this legislation, whereby members of peer review committees can get in and, based on a hunch, based on opinion, they can better the overall health care system of this Province. That is why I am supporting this legislation, and that is why I am commending the Minister of Justice, the progressive Minister of Justice, who is bringing this piece of legislation in.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, the Newfoundland Medical Association wants this particular piece of legislation. The hon. the former Minister of Justice, when she spoke, said that doctors throughout the Province do not want this legislation. That is pure, utter, unmitigated hogwash. The hon. Member does not know what she is talking about. This is the official position of the Newfoundland Medical Association, which is backed up by every doctor in the Province who is a member of the Newfoundland Medical Association. So the hon. Member does not know what she is talking about. She is going on with the same old silliness she goes on with in this House so many times. She is just getting up under the protection of the legislative immunity she has. She gets up and goes on with a pack of nonsense that she can not substantiate.

The fact of the matter is that the Newfoundland Medical Association and doctors in this Province, know full well that this will improve the delivery of health care, that is why the Newfoundland Medical Association supports it.

The Newfoundland Hospital and Nursing Homes Association are supporting this Bill. They are the ones who are delivering health care on behalf of Government, and they are the ones who know how important it is that every single procedure that is carried out in the hospital system must be up for review. There must be a programme in place, a process in place, whereby everything that is done in a hospital can be questioned. Prior to this legislation, Mr. Speaker, even questions which were asked by a doctor - Why did you put in ten stitches when you could have done it with eight? - if that question were to come up, under the old system that would have been dragged into court as evidence, that someone suspected that eight stitches should have been used instead of ten.

This is the nonsense that the hon. Member opposite would have allowed to continue. But, now, members of peer review committees can speak openly, knowing full well that their hunches and their suspicions, although not substantiated, will not be dragged into a court of law.

The hon. Member, when she spoke, said that this somehow would not benefit consumers. I am supporting this legislation, I am praising the progressive Minister of Justice, because this piece of legislation, in the long run, will make the health care system better for the consumers who use it, Mr. Speaker.

I believe this is a red-letter day for health and for the consumers of this Province, and we certainly should commend the progressive Minister of Justice and thank our lucky stars, because the people, in their wisdom, threw out the former Minister of Justice and put someone in place who has concern, who can look at the whole picture, the health care system included.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, I do not think you have to be a lawyer or a Minister of Health or have anything else to do with any other part of the administration in this Province. All you have to be, as far as I am concerned, looking at this particular Bill, is a concerned citizen, and someone who has the patient in mind, firstly, rather than the administrators in the hospitals of this Province.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WOODFORD: I was not going to have anything to say on this particular Bill, Mr. Speaker, at first. But, as I got into it and asked a few questions on it, a little story came to mind that happened not too long ago on the west coast of the Province, about a particular small child. Well, it happened here in St. John's, but they were from the west coast part of the Province, in the Humber Valley area, and this all brought it back to me.

If a doctor or a nurse or anybody else working in a health care institution in this Province is not prepared to say in a court or anywhere else outside the confines of a hospital what they are prepared to say inside, then I question the health care sector in our Province. If they are not prepared - based on hunches or suspicions or innuendo or rumour or anything else - to come forward in a court of law, then, as far as I am concerned, Mr. Speaker, they have no place in a hospital in the first place. They have no place putting a knife to me or anybody else -

AN HON. MEMBER: Right on!

MR. WOODFORD: - whether it is on the operating table or anywhere else. If you go to a garage and get your car fixed and he is working on the brakes, and you go out and something happens, Mr. Speaker, that mechanic in that garage is responsible. He could be taken up for manslaughter, in the case of death, and it has been done around this province before, and around this country. What we are saying here, Mr. Speaker, is that a doctor or a nurse in this Province can do absolutely what they like, whether indirectly or directly, and they are not responsible for it just because of the fact that they answer -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, they can answer to their peers, but they cannot answer outside. And the other thing that worries me, Mr. Speaker, is this - maybe the Minister of Justice can answer this question when he gets up.


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

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

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, the other side of the House is making so much noise and not listening to the speaker, who has some very valuable points to make about this Bill, contrary to the partisan ramblings of the Minister of Health. The Member has some honest points to make about this Bill and legislation, and if this side would listen to them, perhaps they would consider what their Government is doing in their name and not be making such noise. They should listen, and if they listened they would be concerned, because this Member has something -


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

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you going to let this go on?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member's point is well taken. There is a level of noise in this House at this point in time that impedes the debate, and the Chair is having difficulty in hearing what the hon. Member is saying, so I ask all hon. Members to co-operate. I again remind them that it is their responsibility, as well as that of the Chair, to make sure that we have good order and decorum in this House.

The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, some of the questions that I would like for the Minister of Justice to answer when he gets up to speak on the closure of the Bill: Section 6.(1), in the first part of it, about arbitration or judicial enquiry, is that applicable there? Is the same thing applicable in the commission or judicial enquiry as is to the parental or the review part of it. Do they have to give evidence there or do they have protection? Because a commission or an inquiry set up as has been done in the last few months, I mean, this is very important. If they do not have to give the evidence there, are they protected? Are not the hospitals in this Province responsible for the hiring of doctors? And if they have protection like this without giving evidence and without evidence being taken out of those committees and brought forward into a court of law if someone should pick it up, are not the hospitals and the administrations responsible for the hiring? And how can they protect the average patient, the everyday patient who goes into those hospitals? Those are my questions.

Mr. Speaker, why is it wanted? That is the bottom line. Apparently there is one other province in Canada, I think it is Ontario, that does not have it.

MS VERGE: There are three.

MR. WOODFORD: Oh, there are three others, including Ontario. And why is it, what is the basic reason? If someone could give one good, solid reason why those people should not have to give evidence because they spoke about it in the committee or wherever under any administration, then maybe our fears would be allayed. So that is probably the main question here, Why do the doctors and the medical people in this Province want this particular clause? If that could be answered, then probably we would be satisfied. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I welcome an opportunity to speak on this Bill and I invite hon. Members to consider and contrast the remarks of the Minister of Justice with those of the Minister of Health. The Minister of Justice quite properly said that he was very nervous about bringing this Bill in. He knew he was treading ground, but the Minister of Health, on the other hand, tried to turn it into some sort of partisan issue -

MS. VERGE: But `Clyde' promised the President of the NMA they were going (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: - tried to make it some sort of partisan issue that it had to do with what a wonderful Government this was, led by the Liberal Party. Well, Mr. Speaker, it is nothing of the kind; what this Government has responded to, is, a lobby from the Medical Association or the medical profession. It is a lobby that has been carried on, Mr. Speaker, not this year, but for many, many years in this Province and in other provinces and other jurisdictions all over North America, and they have been successful in a number of them.

Where their lobbying efforts are strong, they have been successful in getting this legislation in, and where they have not been, such as in the Province of Ontario, they have not been able to get this Legislation in - and I do not mean the current Government of Ontario. It is not a partisan issue. I mean, with the Government of Ontario, which they have been lobbying for many, many, years and with three different political parties in office, they have not been successful in getting this legislation through. This is a very specific and special exemption for a particular group of professionals, Mr. Speaker.

In our Evidence Act, there are no exemptions, except for two cases, exemptions for having to call evidence about things that happen, and those cases have to do with a priest-confessor relationship, if you want to call it that, where someone goes to an authorized religious person and speaks about matters to do with their moral persuasion, the priest and confessor situation or a minister and parishioner situation, which is protected in our law uniquely in Newfoundland.

The other situation is in a solicitor-client privilege, where a person who is deemed to have the right to have counsel and have legal representation, has to have the protection of being able to speak to a lawyer about his or her legal circumstances without that lawyer being required to come to court and tell what that person told them, because it is important to the administration of justice. The administration of justice could not exist, people could not have the right to counsel if that provision were not there.

So, this is a very, very, very rare type of exemption that the laws allow for rules of evidence. It is the question of extreme privilege. There are some, with respect to Cabinet, but other than that, Mr. Speaker, they are very, very, very rare exemptions. And this is ironical, Mr. Speaker. You have the Medical Association which (inaudible) testified to the committee. The Medical Association came and said: `Look, if you do not exempt us,' in effect, they were saying, `our members of the medical profession will not perform their duty, they will not act in an ethical manner to contribute to the well-being of their patients and the well-being of the system. They will not act in that manner.' They were asked whether they considered it a breach of ethics for a medical practitioner to refuse to participate in a quality assurance committee or a peer review committee. Was it a breach of ethics?

Well, they did not answer that question very well, Mr. Speaker, they said that you could not force them to do it because many of these doctors were not employees of the hospital and so, Mr. Speaker, what we have here is a problem. If the problem is that doctors will not talk about the problems in a hospital, or the problems in procedures, then the solution is not to exempt them from testifying about it. The solution must be to have a closer look at the ethical practices of doctors, and the way that those ethical practices are enforced by the medical associations or the medical groups. That is the solution, not to open the door. We are not to say that they are afraid of the truth, that they fear the truth, and that this Government is going to protect them and allow them to hide behind them.

What faith are we expressing, Mr. Speaker, in the legal system, if we assume that to call evidence in court and to allow litigants or allow patients, who have perhaps - and maybe only perhaps - suffered from the negligence of a doctor or some other procedure being inadequate - why are we preventing these people from obtaining the evidence that may be necessary in order for them to be able to pursue a claim. That is what we are talking about here. We are talking about a law which has the effect of preventing a patient or a patient's family from finding out what was the cause of a death, or perhaps a botched operation, or some serious consequence of a medical procedure.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I see the Minister of Justice swinging his hand and a finger. I think it must mean something. He is not the House Leader, so he cannot be doing it to his own members. I do not know who he is swinging his fingers around at. I think maybe he wants the bill to end this afternoon sometime.

Mr. Speaker, this is what we have here, we have a provision being put before this House which is basically a response to a lobby from the medical professionals. Now, we have heard the Minister say that he is not even sure what a quality assurance committee is, or a peer review committee. He has some notion of it, but he is not really sure. Yet, he is prepared to come to this House and, at the request of the Medical Association and the other professional bodies, introduce this legislation. We even had trouble, Mr. Speaker, finding out what a provincial perinatal committee was. We had trouble finding out from the people who were there, the medical professionals, as to who was on this committee, when it met, and why it should receive some special protection. We had trouble finding that out, Mr. Speaker. I do not know if the Minister knows. If he does not know what a quality assurance committee or or a peer review committee is, for sure, he might have an idea.

I suspect, Mr. Speaker, that the Government has not really seriously considered this, other than to respond to the lobby and, perhaps, as the hon. Member for Humber East says, to some promise made by the Premier at some point in time. She seems to know something about it. Perhaps she should tell the Committee. So, I do not recall that particular information, but the member says - and I should let her say it - that one of the medical doctors who testified at the Committee, said that the Premier had promised it.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I do not think that is a good enough reason. I think there has to be a reconsideration of this whole Bill, in light of the representations made to this Committee by, amongst others, the provincial Human Rights Association, which, quite strongly, opposed this legislation. They opposed this legislation because they believed that it fundamentally altered the rights of the relationship or the balance between patients and the possibility of them having equality before the law in seeking to have their cases litigated in court, or to find out what is going on.

Mr. Speaker, anybody who knows anything about medical malpractice actions, if you have a difficult situation in a hospital where you just do not know what happened to your relative, or yourself for that matter, while you were under a general anesthetic or while you were under a hospital procedure, and you have to have a means of finding out. Mr. Speaker, we even had difficulty finding out from the Newfoundland Medical Association, because they did not know. They could not even tell us how many lawsuits there were against doctors in this Province. They could not tell us, because they did not know. This is all organized by an organization called the Canadian Medical Protection Association, which is an in-house insurance company that looks after doctors in hospitals, and these people do not tell doctors, and they do not tell provincial Medical Associations, how many cases they are dealing with.

I can assure you, and I can assure hon. members, that if you are asked by an individual to try and assess whether or not they have a claim for medical malpractice, because of an operation or a procedure in a hospital, you have one hell of a difficulty trying to advise people, because you just cannot find out the facts. You have a situation where there are certain things committed to writing and medical records, and there are certain things that are left out. You have access to certain kinds of documents but not access to others, without going to court just to find out. It is very expensive even to find out whether or not you have a claim or whether or not you have a case.

This, Mr. Speaker, is one more block in the roadway.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Social Services on a point of order.

MR. EFFORD: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I have been sitting here trying to hear. It is very difficult to hear the hon. Member for St. John's East and the points he is trying to make at the best of times, but the hon. Members opposite seem to be having a private meeting over there and I bring to the attention of the Chair, having their backs to the Chair. And I thought that was very disrespectful for the House of Assembly, to have that done to the Speaker.


SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition to the point of order.

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, if there was ever a case of the pot calling the kettle black you just saw it in this House that time. We are listening very intently to the hon. Member who is making a good speech. And when we have a discussion over here we normally just talk in whispered tones. Not the shouts that come across from the other side when half a dozen of them get together.

And in terms of having our back to the Chair, no, Mr. Speaker. My back to the hon. Minister, yes, because I cannot stand his face.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: Got a face like a robber's horse.


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

I think the point raised by the hon. Minister is a valid one. The Chair has already ruled on a number of occasions that for Members to use the chairs and turn their back to the Speaker is an affront to the Chair. And I would ask hon. Members for their cooperation and not to do it any more.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I was speaking of the difficulties of individuals who are patients or former patients who have had a medical difficulty, a procedure, which has resulted in an unfortunate circumstance usually in a hospital and these are relatively common. They are not the rarity that one might suppose.

But in terms of telling you or telling this House how many there are, I do not know. The Newfoundland Medical Association does not know. Perhaps the Minister of Health does not even know how many people commence lawsuits against doctors or at hospitals for medical malpractice, because there is no way of telling and no way of keeping those statistics. Because this particular lobby, and this particular organization - the Canadian Medical Protection Association - is a very powerful, very well funded and fairly secretive organization.


MR. HARRIS: And that is one of - and the hon. Member says "shame," and rightly so. Rightly so. So he should speak to his colleagues who were on the Committee and hear what was said by the representatives of the Newfoundland Medical Association. That they did not know how many medical malpractice actions there were in Newfoundland because the Canadian Medical Protective Association did not tell them, so we did not even know what we were talking about here in terms of a problem. They could not tell us how much of a problem it was because they did not even know how many actions there were. But I am able to say, and I know hon. Members do not like lawyers, necessarily - I do not like lots of lawyers either - but I think it is important for hon. Members to listen to the experience of some lawyers who have had the task and the job of advising clients as to whether or not they have a medical problem, and that is a very difficult problem in the light of what is going on.

Mr. Speaker, in light of the time, it has been suggested to me that perhaps I should adjourn the debate at this point in time, and I so move.

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think we are only a minute or so away from 5:00, but I do want to have a few words to say on this Bill too before it passes, and -

MR. HARRIS: I adjourned it.

MR. RIDEOUT: Oh, you adjourned it! I thought you just sat down.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Obviously tomorrow is Private Member's Day and the motion is from the Member for Harbour Main, I believe, is it?


MR. BAKER: The two line job put forward by the Member for Harbour Main we will be debating tomorrow. On Thursday I intend to call this Bill again, and if we hopefully sometime in the near future get through that Bill I would like to move to the Loan Bill or Pensions depending on - there are reports from the Committees yet to come in. So those are my legislative plans, Mr. Speaker. I believe there is a meeting of the Estimates Committee - is it the Social Estimates Committee - in the House tonight. There are three Ministers going to be in attendance, so we will call this an omnibus meeting of the Social Services Department or Committee.

We will stop the clock, Mr. Speaker?


MR. BAKER: So the Departments of Education, Health and Social Services will be available.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Well, we may only do one or two. They have already been -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: No, but they have each already been done. And if like what happened last night, after two hours last night -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: After two hours last night - if the Opposition House Leader will listen for a minute I will explain it to him.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. BAKER: For two hours last night the committees finished with one Minister. If another Minister had been available they could have continued on for the full three hours, so it is rather propitious to have the three Ministers available seeing they have already been there once anyway.

So, Mr. Speaker, that is tonight. I believe that tomorrow night - tomorrow morning, is it, the Legislative Review Committee for Development is here in the House - tomorrow morning.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: That is Resource tomorrow morning.

So, Mr. Speaker, as far as I know, these are the only committee meetings scheduled in the next short while, at least between the time now and when the House opens tomorrow. I do not know if there is anything scheduled for tomorrow night.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

Did we have an agreement to stop the clock?

MR. SIMMS: Yes, we did. Mr. Speaker, I just want to double check with the Government House Leader. First of all, it is really strange bringing three Ministers to sit around all night long because the likelihood is if he calls Health there is a very good chance that the Committee might spend most of the night on Health. I do not know, but just as a guess, or maybe even Education or Social Services. But I presume they have discussed it. I do not imagine we would have any objection if the Chair wanted to bring the three Ministers there, but I sort of warn the three Ministers that I would not expect there is a likelihood of the three of them getting on tonight, I would not think. We have all tomorrow yet and tomorrow night, lots of time yet.

The other one is Resource Committees, the last Department they have is Development, as I understand it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Oh yes, I know he had a preliminary round, but importantly, the Government Services Committee, the Minister did not mention them. Tomorrow being the last day, I understand that the Government Services Committee has not yet finished with the Department of Employment and Labour Relations. And I am wondering, when is that? What time tomorrow night or what time tomorrow is that Committee going to have a meeting to deal with it, because it has not been announced. Perhaps it is just an oversight.

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

MR. BAKER: No, Mr. Speaker, there is no oversight. I dealt with both questions. If the Opposition House Leader would listen for a few minutes instead of trying to carry on conversations perhaps we would get these things straightened out.

First of all, the reason for having three Ministers available is that all three Ministers have already had their appearance before the Committee. Their Heads were not finished and to avoid having a committee close down after an hour or so, because there is only one Minister here, and having lots of time to go on to some other Minister or two other Ministers, we want to avoid that possibility. So it is better if the Ministers are available in case they are needed. That is point number one. It is called good planning.

Point number two: I said that these are the only two meetings that are scheduled. One tonight here in the House and one tomorrow morning here in the House. I do not know at this point in time if anything has been scheduled tomorrow night. If it is I will do the announcement tomorrow afternoon.

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible) when is Employment -?

MR. BAKER: (Inaudible) in the House tomorrow.

MR. SIMMS: Not between now and tomorrow?

MR. BAKER: No, no.

MR. SIMMS: So presumably there will be a meeting tomorrow night to deal with Employment and Labour Relations.

MR. BAKER: We will see, we will see.

MR. SIMMS: What do you mean you will see? We have to deal with them over here.

MR. BAKER: We will see.

MR. SIMMS: There is another sitting day.

MR. BAKER: We will see.

MR. SIMMS: And the Committee wants to have discussions.

MR. BAKER: Yes, we will see.

MR. SIMMS: You cannot see, you have to have it. Is the Minister going to have a meeting to deal with the Employment and Labour Relations Department or not?

MR. BAKER: There is no meeting scheduled tonight or tomorrow morning.

MR. SIMMS: So is there one tomorrow night?

MR. BAKER: I have no idea at this point in time. If there is I will announce in the House tomorrow.

MR. SIMMS: Could you check with the Chairman?

MR. BAKER: I have already checked.

MR. SIMMS: And what did he say?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House at its rising do adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow, and that the House do now adjourn.

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