May 27, 1991                HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                Vol. XLI  No. 57

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, it is with regret that I accept, and announce the acceptance of the resignation of the Hon. the Minister of Social Services. I assure the House that this acceptance does not, in any way, indicate acceptance of the fabrications and innuendoes generated in relation to the matter of allegations concerning the release of questions in a public service competition.

John Efford has served the people of this Province in an exemplary manner. As the Minister of Social Services, he has shown compassion for, and understanding of, the concerns of the people served by the Department. However, as he has acknowledged, as Minister, he failed to exercise appropriate judgement in addressing the allegations of improper conduct by officials in his Department when he became aware of them. Had he taken a different course of action, this whole situation would probably have been avoided.

Mr. Speaker, for that reason, only, I am accepting his resignation and acceding to his request for a judicial inquiry into the allegations which resulted in an investigation by the Public Service Commission. I am also releasing a copy of the Commission's Report.

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all I want to thank the Premier's office for sending me a copy of the statement a few minutes before it was delivered here in the House. I want, secondly, to, say to the Premier that, as Leader of the official Opposition, I take no personal pride in the fact that the Premier, as Leader of the Government, has had to make this decision today. I think the Premier has made the right decision and I compliment him for making it. The fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, that it was a member of the general public of this Province who made certain allegations about the behaviour of the former Minister of Social Services. It was not the Opposition, it was not the Member for St. John's East, the beginnings of this whole business came from a member of the general public. Obviously, as a responsible Opposition we, from time to time, took up the matter in the House of Assembly and asked that an enquiry be carried out. It is unfortunate that this is the result of it, but I am not surprised. I have to say to the House, Mr. Speaker, I am not surprised. For some reason or other, there continues to be always certain allegations surrounding the former Minister of Social Services, and I am not surprised that at some point, something like this would happen. I am pleased, as well, Mr. Speaker, that the Premier is proposing there be a judicial enquiry. While I have not had the opportunity to go through Mr. Pike's report in any detail, only in a very, very, cursory manner, it does seem to me that there ought to be a further inquiry; the actions, for example, of Mr. Beaton Tulk, the Assistant Deputy Minister in that department, the actions of the Executive Assistant to the Minister, these are actions that ought to be looked at by some independent, outside, judicial inquiry and I compliment the Premier for agreeing to set that up.

Mr. Speaker, having said that, I say once again, this is not any day for shouting, but I think the Premier has made the right decision.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: I want to ask whether there is leave of the House for me to respond to this.


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

MS. COWAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I inform Members of the House, Mr. Speaker, that this week is National Access Awareness Week. This week provides an opportunity for us all to look back on our achievements, but also to look ahead to see what remains to be done, ensuring that people with disabilities enjoy a quality of life equal to those of persons who are not disabled.

As Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, I have a dual role to play; my department is responsible for building accessibility for persons who are disabled, and is also responsible for planning development in implementation of employment programmes in the Province.

Mr. Speaker, one of the major problems facing people with disabilities is, educating people without disabilities. There needs to be an increased awareness of the contributions of people with disabilities. When we think of a person with a disability, we usually think of a person with a physical disability and problems they have related to mobility; however, disabilities may be present in other forms.

People with vision impairments are forced to read fine print in books or documents. People who are hard of hearing encounter difficulties attempting to understand announcement in public places. These are but two examples that point to the need to be aware of the needs of these people. In the area of accessibility, I am expecting in the very near future, new regulations under the Building Accessibility Act, which will address the concerns of people with mobility disabilities.

In the area of employment, I am very aware of the needs of persons with disabilities, and their search for meaningful and rewarding work. I note with pleasure, the efforts made by the Bay St. George Community Employment Corporation. It has assisted adults, with a developmental disability, in finding jobs. It has become a model from which organizations across the country and around the world are learning. It recently won the Atlantic Canada Innovator of the Year Award in the Community Service Category. It is through projects such as this one, that we can see tangible results for our efforts. We must strive to increase accessibility to the disabled.

The theme for this year's National Access Awareness Week, is: "Access is a Right." People with disabilities have the right to equal opportunities in all aspects of everyday living. As Minister and as an individual, I am committed to doing all I can in helping people with disabilities take their rightful place in society.

Mr. Speaker, we should keep this theme uppermost in our minds not only during this week but at all times because every week should be access awareness week. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I did not have a copy of the Minister's statement, I just got it now this second.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: It was sent over?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: To our offices? - our critic is not here, so unfortunately he did not get it. In any event it is not really necessary to condemn the Minister for that. But let me just say, Mr. Speaker, as one individual who just enjoyed probably an eye-opening luncheon along with my colleagues on that side of the House, three or four from that side and three or four form this side, I believe, were down and had lunch with members of the disabled community during this first ever, I think they call it legislative luncheon, or something along those lines. It is the third year, I think, for the National Access Awareness Week activity, but the first year only where they invited members of the House of Assembly to come along and sit down with members of the disabled community. I had occasion to sit with three members of the deaf community, two blind individuals, and one young man who suffered from cerebral palsy. Aside from the interpreter that the three deaf people had at the table, I guess I was the only individual who did not have at least any evident disabilities.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that the conversation around the table for that hour and a half was most enlightening, most enjoyable. I know that there are an awful lot of people who do not have any disabilities who shy away from people who have disabilities. One message that I got from the luncheon that I attended was that people should not shy away from people with disabilities, but it is a natural thing, I suppose, for people to do.

The other thing I learned is that the Department of Social Services had received a request from the deaf community for some funding to provide some kind of a group home atmosphere or accommodation for deaf people from out around outside of St. John's in the rural parts of Newfoundland to bring them in here, and the Department has not been able to find the funding for that, but that was one issue that was brought to my attention. Another issue that was brought to my attention was from the blind people who wondered if under the Provincial Legislation Labour Code - and the Minister who just made the statement might be able to respond - there was a clause in the legislation that said disabled people could be hired below minimum wage because they were disabled. That used to be in the Provincial Labour Code. I do not know if it is still there or not, they do not know and they asked me if I knew or if I would find out. So I will flick it out to the Minister now and perhaps she can tell me. She knows what I am talking about, I presume. So those were the blind people. And the young fellow with cerebral palsy, twenty-three years of age, is going through a programme now where within a year he will be able to move into the community on his own. That is the intent of the programme that he is going through.

So it was truly an enlightening luncheon and I know the Members who were there from the other side of the House as well as my colleagues on this side also found it very enlightening. It is unfortunate that it has not happened before. It is the first time they had it and I argued strenuously with the organizer afterwards that they should do it more frequently. Because there are two things we can do as Members of the House: we can educate ourselves and thereby our constituents when the opportunity arises and as an Opposition of course we can continue to put pressure on the Government as best we can in the House of Assembly forum to help them and support them in their causes.

In any event, Mr. Speaker, the announcement by the Minister of National Access Awareness Week is one that we support, and we too trust that people will keep uppermost in their minds the disabled community. Not only today or this week, but all times during the year.

Oral Questions

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

MR. TOBIN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the Minister of Health. Several times lately we have heard the Minister of Health speak about the shortage of doctors in the Province, especially outside the Avalon area, yet the Medicare cap is a major disincentive for individual doctors, and the profession generally, to support new recruitments. I ask the Minister if it is not a fact that the cap on the Medicare budget means the same number of dollars must be spread over whatever number of doctors practice in this Province? For example, if one new doctor comes to the Province, say this week, then that doctor's income will in effect be deducted from the income of all other fee for service doctors in this Province?

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

MR. DECKER: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, now that the Minister has confirmed that let me ask him if the policy is deliberately intended to discourage new doctors from practicing in the Province? Is not the Minister basically telling them to stay away and go somewhere else to practice? Is not the message they will hear from their professional colleagues in this Province, who will be forced to pay the cost of new doctors to set up practice here, going to be the same as the Minister is saying to them?

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

MR. DECKER: No, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TOBIN: Let me say to the Minister then, last year the number of doctors who submitted claims to MCP rose from 878 to 955, an increase of 8.8 per cent. That increase occurred gradually over the year and the cost was only partially reflected in last year's Medicare budget. This year the same Medicare dollars must be spread over a larger number of doctors. Why is the Minister now forcing all doctors to pay for those who were recruited by the Province last year, and is he putting pressure on the medical profession to reduce the number of doctors in the Province, and does he want 8 or 10 per cent of them to leave? What is it?

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

MR. DECKER: To the first part of the question, Mr. Speaker, I say I thank the hon. Member for stating the obvious, and to the second part of the question the answer is still, no.

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

MR. POWER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have some questions as well for the Minister of Health, and they relate also to doctors and doctor's services in this Province, realizing, I suppose, that the core of our health care system are our doctors, and should we lose our doctors and specialists then obviously it is very difficult for all the other persons in the health care system to function properly.

Last week the Minister said he had not heard of any doctors who had left the Province because of health care cutbacks, but on CBC radio on Friday afternoon I heard, myself, two doctors, two specialists, who said they were leaving this Province because of the health care cutbacks, and for no other reason. Mr. Speaker, that is proof that some have already left because of the health care cutbacks, but what is even more bothersome is the fact of how many doctors might leave this Province. Could the Minister please tell us if he has been briefed on the number of doctors who have made requests, or enquiries, to the Medical Association, or to the Medical Board for certificates of standing? Has he been briefed and will he inform this House on how many doctors, both specialists and general practitioners have asked for the required information to enable them to leave this Province?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I stand by my statement, which I made a week and a half ago. If something has happened over the weekend, I am not aware of it. As to the number of people who apply for information, that is an ongoing thing which has been going on for the last dozen years or so, where people make enquiries. Some of them follow through, some of them do not. So, there is really no change.

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

MR. POWER: Mr. Speaker, again it is very difficult to get any straight answers from the Minister. Even though his answers are a lot briefer today, they are still not necessarily any more accurate.

There are at least three doctors in this Province who have announced, since Friday, that they are leaving the Province because of the health care cutbacks. What we hear from the Medical Association is that they are swamped - those are their words - with requests. Could the Minister please tell us if hospital administrators, who are very alarmed over the number of specialists who are leaving this Province, if they have been directed by the Minister, or by his officials, that no new specialists are to be hired by hospitals, until such time as a specialist actually leaves, that they cannot replace a specialist unless one actually leaves, or cannot hire a new one?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, if we have a specialist who is doing a particular job, there is no point in hiring superfluous specialists. If a job is filled, it would be pointless to replace him while he is still there?

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

MR. POWER: Mr. Speaker, just on that point, what we are saying - you did not understand my question - is that, if a hospital chooses to hire a specialist for any given area, that that specialist cannot be hired unless there is a vacancy. Is that the direction that this Department and this Minister has given to the hospital administrators?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, we are not filling any positions which are not vacant.

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

MR. RIDEOUT: (Inaudible).

MR. POWER: As the Leader of the Opposition says, the Minister is skating. He certainly is skating very close to the truth.

The point is, that we asked the Minister last week about recruitment of specialists in this Province. The Minister went through a great song and dance, Mr. Speaker, about the problems with Immigration Canada in getting specialists into this Province. Now, is the Minister saying, today, that there is in effect a freeze on the hiring of additional specialists for this Province? Is that the truth?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, last week we were talking about psychiatrists. We are still trying to recruit some psychiatrists.

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

MR. POWER: Mr. Speaker, I will ask one more supplementary to the Minister, to see if he will confirm this, if he will not confirm what is really happening in the hospitals. Maybe he does not know. The reality is, will he confirm that the main difficulty he is having in keeping specialists in this Province, are the health care cutbacks, the number of bed closures, the capping of their salaries, the lack of adequate lab and X ray services, and, I guess, other services that are required in and around the hospitals. Are those the reasons that he cannot keep his specialists and cannot hire new ones, because of the health care cutbacks?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, it will soon be time for the hon. member to get his head out of the sand. If he had read the Globe and Mail last week he would have seen where Ontario doctors are complaining because of the system in Ontario. If he were to get his head out of the sand he would see where the Quebec doctors have had it with the medical system and they have threatened to throw it in. If he were to get his head out of the sand he would see that in British Columbia people are actually suing the health care system.

The fact of the matter is, the hon. Member's colleagues in Ottawa are trying their best to destroy the health care system that we have in this nation. The provinces - British Columbia, Newfoundland, and all the rest - are trying to cope with this position which has been foisted on us by the friends, cousins, colleagues, of the hon. Member in Ottawa. There is where the real problem lies, and that is where we all have a problem in this nation.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have some questions too for the Minister of Health. Methinks that with the NMA convention coming up on Thursday that the Minister has been warned that his coyness and cockiness in his answers of last week have gotten him into all kinds of trouble. So this week he has been warned and asked to keep his answers fairly straightforward.

I want to ask the Minister if he could confirm for the House that for the past twenty to thirty years the demand for doctors' services - in other words the utilization rate, he would know all of these stats no doubt - the utilization rate has increased by about 4 per cent a year, and the experience over that long a period - twenty to thirty years - is probably a reliable indicator that the utilization this year should increase at about 4 per cent. Would he agree with that?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I would draw to Your Honour's attention that the hon. Opposition House Leader is attributing motives to me which I do not share. I do not believe he has any justification in doing that.

The utilization rate has been about 3.8 per cent. And to anticipate his next question, Government has already dealt with that and we are increasing the Medicare budget to deal with the normal utilization. This particular year, for some strange reason, utilization has gone up on a couple of billing dates to 8 per cent or 10 percent. Both the Newfoundland Medical Association and the Department of Health are trying to ascertain why the utilization rate has gone up. But the normal utilization rate, 3.8 per cent to 4 per cent, we have addressed that issue as the Newfoundland Medical Association knows. Maybe next week or the week after they might get around to telling the hon. Member. They usually wait a while before they let him have that kind of information.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Opposition House Leader.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, we are obviously aware, that is why we are asking the questions. But we are surprised that the Minister did not announce it in the House of Assembly, where it should be announced, where the people of the Province should know.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Well, you never announced it! Now I want to ask the Minister then if he will confirm what he just said then. Is he saying that the Minister has reviewed the policy, and now has decided to at least compensate or provide compensation for up to that 4 per cent increase in utilization to show that the Government is not prejudiced against the doctors and has, in fact, now provided - is he saying he has provided the cap plus up to 4 per cent for doctors? Is that what he just said?

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

MR. DECKER: Now, Mr. Speaker, when this questioning started off, he was going to castigate Government for not funding increased utilization. I would suggest, now, Mr. Speaker, he is going to castigate Government because we did increase utilization. The hon. member cannot have it both ways, he has to make up his mind.

The fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, that normal increase in utilization is about 3.8 per cent to 4 per cent. Had we not made the adjustments for that, it would have been the same as if we had said to the teachers, your enrollment is increasing, but we are going to freeze your salaries, so you are going to reduce your salaries. We recognized that, Mr. Speaker, and made adjustments for it. It is going to cost us a couple of million dollars to do it, but it was fair and it had to be done. I am quite pleased that this Government, in our tradition these two-and-a-half years, of listening and trying to correct unfairness, corrected the matter, Mr. Speaker, and it has been fixed.

MR. SIMMS: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SIMMS: I wonder, can the Minister tell us now, when he made the decision to do exactly what he just described to the House?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, whether it was yesterday or the day before or last week, these things are difficult, but, it has been made in the last week or ten days.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, let me ask the Minister if he has looked at another problem that exists.

The adjustment that is made to Medicare claims each billing period, is applied as a percentage reduction across the border to all doctors, I believe that is correct.

Now, across the board percentage adjustments might be acceptable among groups where the salary scale differentials are fairly narrow but, as he knows, that is not the case with doctors; some make $60,000, some make up to $600,000, I guess, although, I think there are very few in the high category, and the ones at the lower end are probably younger doctors just starting out, usually with horrendous debts from medical school and starting up practice.

Has the Minister considered some form of proration, for example, a graduated adjustment scale related to income levels? Has he done that, and, if not, would he consider it? And, would that not introduce a greater element of fairness and balance?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, when the decision was made by Government to cap the Medicare budget, we had talks back and forth with the Newfoundland Medical Association. It was brought to our attention then, that maybe an across-the-board pro-rated cap, that I already dealt with, would not be appropriate, because there are doctors who make in excess of half a million dollars and others who make around $50,000.

The instructions I gave to the Newfoundland Medical Association were, `As long as it does not interfere with the cap, if you have a better way whereby we can deal with this problem, we will be wide-open to it and will listen; we cannot play around with the cap, but we are not concerned, if there is a better way to do it.' I understand, the Newfoundland Medical Association are having ongoing meetings with the department and with Medicare, and we are trying to find a better way. Ontario has such a system in place, so has New Brunswick, and I am certain we can work it out, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SIMMS: Is it the Minister's intention, Mr. Speaker, to announce his decision on this pro-rated issue prior to the NMA convention, or is he going to wait until Saturday, when he is guest speaker at the convention?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I have not really given it any thought. Unlike the previous administration, we do not go around trying to make political points with the people's money. I have not given it a thought, Mr. Speaker, but it might be worth considering.

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I had some questions for the Minister of Environment and Lands but, in his absence, I will put the questions to the Premier.

MR. WARREN: The Premier is not listening.

MR. SIMMS: The Premier is not listening.

MR. WARREN: Listen to the question, Mr. Premier.

MR. RIDEOUT: I said, it was intended for the Minister of Environment and Lands, but he is not here, so in his absence, I will have to put the question to the Premier.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier would be aware it has been reported in the last few days, that expanding the hydro-generation facility at Holyrood would increase by over 48,000 tons, or 81 per cent, the sulphur dioxide emissions from that facility into the atmosphere. Now, I ask the Premier, as leader of the Government, can he confirm whether or not that is so? Secondly, can the Premier tell the House whether or not the Government have determined that no further environmental study is necessary before any planned expansion of the facility at Holyrood?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I am unable to confirm the precise numbers, it may or may not be correct. The one thing that is certain is that there would be pollution out of it. It would be designed and built in such a way as to ensure that the pollution would be minimized, the minimum absolutely necessary, in order to generate the electricity through that means. I have no doubt, whatsoever, that some environmental assessment may be necessary for any further activity of this kind. That is my automatic assumption. I have not gone into the detail of it, but I will undertake to find out and let the member know. Perhaps the Minister of Mines and Energy might be able to answer that particular question. I do not know the detail, that is why we have other Ministers.

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, I am aware of why there are Ministers. My supplementary was intended to go to the Minister of Mines and Energy, actually.

The Minister knows that sulphur dioxide emissions is one of the principal causes of acid rain. Now, I want to ask the Minister, as the Minister responsible for Newfoundland Hydro, has Newfoundland Hydro told the Minister of Environment that it will keep the sulphur dioxide emissions from the proposed expanded plant at Holyrood to 25,000 tons? Has the Minister of Environment been informed how Hydro proposes to do that? And is this Minister, the Minister responsible for Hydro, satisfied that Newfoundland Hydro does, in fact, have the capability of keeping the emissions below 25,000 tons?

MR. SIMMS: Good question.

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, again, I am not familiar with the details. I just saw what was in the paper over the weekend. I am aware that the Minister of Environment has accepted the Environmental Preview Report and is not requiring any further environmental assessment if a decision is made to put unit number four at Holyrood. At this point, Hydro has not made a decision on unit number four, but it has now cleared the environmental process. If a decision is made to do this unit, then, clearly, Hydro would be doing everything in its power to minimize all types of emissions from that facility.

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I assume the Minister will undertake to answer the question. I believe that is what he indicated. Let me ask the Minister this, Mr. Speaker, Is the Minister responsible for Hydro aware of any agreement between the Province and the Federal Government which would limit the total amount of sulphur dioxide emissions for the whole Province to a maximum of 45,000 tons annually? And, if that is the case, with this proposed expansion of the Hydro generating station at Holyrood that would, according to the information available to the public at the moment, generate an additional 48,000 tons of emissions, how can that be allowed to happen and still live within the confines of the federal-provincial agreement on sulphur dioxide emissions into the atmosphere?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, again, I am not aware of any such federal-provincial agreement. I will try to find out if there is such a thing in place. All of us are concerned, these days, about emissions into the atmosphere and we want to minimize it. I am not aware of any such federal-provincial agreement. I will have to check into that.

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

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, I ask the Minister, as the Minister responsible for Hydro, Would it not it be reasonable for this House and the people of this Province to expect that Minister to know what the maximum sulphur dioxide pollutants allowed into the air space around us are, and what contribution Hydro is making or proposes to make to those maximums if they should go ahead with an expanded facility at Holyrood?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, in this Government, we want to minimize such pollution, that is one of the reasons that we are emphasizing hydro power wherever we can, and one of the reasons we would like to have access to the hydro power from Labrador. That way, we could shut down Holyrood and have it only for temporary back-up, and I want to see that happen. I hope we can get an acceptable agreement. We may never get an acceptable agreement, and if that is the case, we will have to have Holyrood for further expansion in the future; but, from my perspective, I want to keep it down to the absolute minimum, zero, if possible.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister responsible for Mines and Energy. Over the past two years, mine closures in this Province have set new records. When the Hope Brook Gold Mine closes, there will not be a single operating mine on the Island portion of the Province. The Hope Brook Mine has announced an indefinite closure to take care of some environmental problems. Is this the only reason for the mine shutting down operations for an indefinite period?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, to the best of my knowledge, that is the reason for the close down. We all know that Hope Brook has had some - well, it has been running in the red in its operation in the first couple of years, and that is not unusual. They made a reference to financial viability in the release they put out on Friday. But they had to close down at that time, that was a decision of their board, made on Thursday night after getting a report from Federal Environment on Thursday that if they released effluent into the environment they would be in contravention of regulations, and Environment Canada would have had no choice but to charge them.

So, this company acted very responsibly. Rather than breaking the law, they suspended operations, and are hoping that in the next few months - 'up to,' the release said, up to five or six months - the environmental problem will be solved. And certainly, at that time, I would hope that, financially, it will be seen to be able to proceed, as well.

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

MR. A. SNOW: As the Minister suggested, Mr. Speaker, we have all been aware this mine has been operating at a loss. But has the Minister been assured that the mine will re-open? Will it re-open after this environmental problem is solved?

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

DR. GIBBONS: No, Mr. Speaker, I have not been assured that it will be re-opened. As the release stated, there will be a financial review done in the next few months, as well, before possible re-opening, after up to about five or six months, depending on what happens to the environmental problem they are now facing.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, does the Minister agree in the forecast in the budget documents that the higher production of iron ore and gold would contribute to an overall increase of 5 per cent in the total value of the mineral production of this Province in 1991? We will not have a gold mine, iron ore production will be down at least around 1 million tons. Where will he get this anticipated 5 per cent growth?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, with the gold mine closed down and with a reduction of 1 million tons, approximately, in iron ore, it is unlikely that there will be that 5 per cent increase in overall production value. I cannot see how it is possible.

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Menihek.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary, again, to the Minister of Mines: Will the Minister pressure his colleague, the Minister of Finance, to stop discriminating against mining companies, and exempt them from the infamous payroll tax, as he has done all other resource industries?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

DR. GIBBONS: No, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question, originally for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, but probably the Premier might like to answer it.

The Premier is no doubt aware that a contract to supply the Province's Arts and Culture Centres with the Outer Programme Covers for performances was recently awarded to a party with very close Liberal connections, the same company that in fact had a $2.3 million contract awarded to it last year from the Tourism industry. Could the Premier explain why there were no tenders called before APPA Communications was given this $25,000 contract, $25,000 in public money to produce this?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, I am not aware that it existed or that the situation exists, or any of the representations made by the hon. Member. I have no idea whether it is accurate or inaccurate, if we are having covers, or if we are not, but if it is significant I will undertake to find out and advise the House.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, a principal of APPA, Mr. Gary Anstey was quoted in the Sunday Express, I think it was a week or two ago, saying that he felt it only proper that his company be given this contract because his company was the one who came up with the idea to produce these covers in the first place. Does the Premier agree that this is the main reason why Mr. Anstey's company might have received the contract, because it was his idea? Has this Government now completely abandoned the public tendering system?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I can neither agree nor disagree because I do not know whether it exists or that the covers were being made, or any such thing. What I have undertaken to do is determine what the situation is and advise the House, and I reaffirm that I will do that.

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

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

The Premier might check the news report while he is checking it, Mr. Speaker, in which Mr. Anstey suggested that he was going to take a 30 per cent commission off this contract. One of the officials in the Department of Municipal Affairs, I believe it was, Mr. Speaker, said that maybe in a couple of years or so, when we have the bugs ironed out, certainly we may go looking for a three or four year public tender. Would the Premier, when he is checking this out, confirm to that official that the Public Tendering Act is in effect right now, and that it will not be two or three years before the bugs have been worked out that he will call public tenders for work for the Arts and Culture Centres?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I reaffirm that I will check the full matter and advise the House as to what the situation is with respect to it, but I will not undertake, with the hon. Member or anybody else in the House, what I will say to any individual until I find out what the circumstances are, and what it is appropriate to say.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Would the Premier give an indication to this House on how long he will take to check it out and when he might report back to the House on this matter?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: As long as is necessary, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WINDSOR: I have a few questions for the Minister of Finance, Mr. Speaker. The Minister's Budget Estimates were based on some very favourable economic indicators that were available at the time, which predicted that Newfoundland would lead the nation in the rate of growth in gross domestic product that would stimulate employment growth and in fact keep annual unemployment at 18 per cent, or lower. I ask the Minister now, in view of the recent statements from Statistics Canada showing that employment is down about 5000 people from last year, and the unemployment rate is in fact up four percentage points to 22.2 per cent, or higher, is that not a poor start to his Budget, and will the Minister now confirm that indeed his estimates were overly optimistic, and the Budget deficit will be worse than even he had predicted?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, thank you, very much.

In response to the question, we are carefully watching the situation and I might point out that the Conference Board of Canada quite recently indicated that Newfoundland would be leading Canada in its growth in GDP this year, so while we are concerned with the unemployment statistics, at the same time there are other favourable indicators. Our own information as to our projections for the revenue and expenditures this year: we do not have any appropriate feedback for this current year because the April figures are just now in, but we will shortly be in a position to comment on the extent to which our Budget predictions are on track, but we cannot do so at the present time. There is nothing ontoward happening at the moment.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, Statistics Canada also said that the fall in employment and rapid rise in unemployment was due primarily to restraint measures introduced by the Minister in his Budget. Will the Minister now confirm that he in fact grossly underestimated the impact, as we told him at Budget time, that he had really not made allowances for the very negative impact that some 3000 public service layoffs would have on the economy as a whole, and that is a major factor in increasing the deficit this year?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

When we made up our figures we factored in the layoffs, and I might add that the Member's statement is not the layoffs that we predicted. We indicated that there would be 2000 layoffs and 500 jobs that were presently vacant, and not filled, and not the 3000 he keeps quoting.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, I think we will find that before the end of the year there will be far more than 3000 laid off in the public service. The Minister's Budget is a very tight document and there is very little, if any, margin for error in the predictions he made. No doubt the Minister has been monitoring. He tells me he will soon have the first quarter figures, but he must be monitoring on a weekly and a monthly basis. He must have some idea now as to whether or not the deficit will be increased above or below the level he predicted. Will he tell us where he expects to be at this point in time?

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in the first question that the Member asked, there is only one month really gone, one month and almost another, the April figures are now being analyzed so after the first month we should have some indication as to how our revenues are coming. The initial indication before the proper analysis is that the retail sales tax seems to be on track, but we will have an appropriate answer very soon now.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

Before moving on to the next item of business I would like, on behalf of hon. Members, welcome to the public galleries today the Mayor of the Town of Millertown, His Worship, Mayor Richard Fitzpatrick.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the Member for St. John's East asked the Minister of Health to lay on the Table of the House the following information: A breakdown, by institution, of the number of beds per institution; or fifty-five additional hospital beds announced in 1990-1991 Budget Speech; and a list of institutions identified, in answer to the above question; and the number of beds to be lost in these institutions, as a result, of the 1990-1991 budget numbers. I have that information ready to table, Mr. Speaker.

Mathematically we opened fifty-five and we closed fifty-nine, but I would caution members not to fall into the trap of believing that we closed the same beds. For example, we opened intensive care beds, but we did not close the same intensive care beds. So, it is more than a mathematical procedure, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

MR. SIMMS: I wonder if Your Honour could revert back to Notices of Motion. He ran over them fairly quickly, and we had notice of a private member's motion.

MR. SPEAKER: Is there agreement of the House to revert to Notices of Motion?


Notices of Motion

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

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

I give notice that I will, on tomorrow, ask leave to present the following resolution:

Whereas the commercial salmon fishery is of utmost importance to Labrador fishermen;

Be It Resolved that this House support the rearranging of boundaries for the commercial salmon fishery in Labrador.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, on April 16, the Opposition House Leader asked me to table an itemized list of the cost of meals, meetings, and functions held in the executive dining room in the West Block since May 6, 1989, paid for by the Executive Council or any other Department.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the detail, which I will not go into, has taken them, apparently, some considerable time, to ferret out all the variable little bills. I will just summarize, that the total amount for that period, from May 6, 1989 until March 31, 1991, just under two years, was a total of $24,131.62. For the similar period, from May, 1987 until March, 1989, it was $39,000. For the whole period, Mr. Speaker, the total expenditures in Confederation Building, for the period from May 5, 1989 to March 31, 1991, was $55,130.00. For a similar period, ending on March 31, 1989, it was nearly twice that amount, $103,000.

So, as you see, Mr. Speaker, we have lived up to our undertaking to be frugal and spend wisely.

Orders of the Day

AN HON. MEMBER: Order 27.

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

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

MR. SIMMS: The Government House Leader is not here, and I do not know if there has been a miscommunication or not, and maybe even the Minister of Finance can tell us.

I understood, we were proceeding, first of all, with Bill 24, Order 20, the Co-ops Act, which, I think, was adjourned the last day. Are we going to finish that off, Order 20, Bill 24? That was adjourned the last day, and I think we were going to finish that and then go to the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Oh, really? For any particular reason or -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: That is not what he told the House on Friday.

MR. SPEAKER: So, Order 27.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Revise And Amend The Law Respecting A Pension Plan For Teachers". (Bill No. 25).

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is the third of the pension reform bills that we have introduced into the House. The first one we introduced had to do with the Public Service Pension plan. We introduced the Uniform Services Pension plan changes and now we are introducing changes with respect to the pension plan for teachers. And I might say in a few short words in introducing this Bill that we have been concerned with three things and these three things underlie the three pension bills that we have introduced.

We have been concerned with the unfunded liability of the teachers' pension plan and this is the main reason we are bringing in these reforms, these changes. We are also concerned to try to bring the teachers' pension plan in line with the Federal reforms that they are making with respect to income tax credits and other matters. And thirdly we are trying to bring our pension plans in line with the pension consensus that has been arrived at by people who are involved with pensions across Canada, the national pension consensus.

In particular I would like to call attention to hon. Members with several of the changes that are set forth in this Bill just so that people can follow what we are discussing. The first thing I would like to call your attention to - it is not a major point - but it is Section 2 (d). Section 2 (d) of the Bill suggests that the: "'Minister' means the Minister of Finance." Up until this Bill the teachers' pensions came under the Department of Education, the Minister of Education. And it is now being transferred to the Department of Finance so that it can be administered along with the other pension plans and hopefully all of them can be administered perhaps more efficiently, maybe? Although I do not wish to convey the fact that the teachers pension plan was not well administered.

In fact I want to pay some tribute to the people who have administered the pension plan. Ted Jones and all these people over the years, have done a tremendous job. They are now working with the Department of Finance. I might add though that they are still over in the other building because despite all the layoffs there does not seem to be any space in this building and I am finding that very strange. Even though we have laid off 8 per cent of the public service yet there is no room in this building to bring over two or three people from Education. So it is very interesting. Anyway, we will have to get some space somewhere. I do not know, maybe we will have to reduce the number of Members in the House of Assembly, particularly on the Opposition side.

The next section I wish to call attention to is Section 22 (1). Section 22 (1), what it does in effect, it reads: "A pension awarded to a teacher is the product of 2 per cent of the average annual salary of the teacher for the highest of 5 years" and so on "multiplied by the number of years of pensionable service...." Before, the effective service accrual rate was 2.22 per cent, and now we are reducing that to 2 per cent. That is in conformity with the Federal Government's rules about pensions. And the service accrual rate will be effective January 1 1991. Because that is when this new Bill, if it is passed by the House, will come into affect, January 1 past.

And I might add that this new Bill is an agreement between the Government and the teachers. So if we make any adjustments here we are going to have to discuss them with the Teachers Association. However, I might say that for teachers who have already been accumulating pension, that for the years up to January 1, 1991 it will be at the old rate of 2.22 per cent. But from then on in it will accumulate at 2 per cent.

Section 46 is worth looking at as well, I call your attention to Section 46 of the Act, which deals with the purchase of teacher training years. Now what we have agreed to do here is to allow that to continue up until December 31 1991. But anyone who wants to get those four years of teacher training had better go

after it before December 31, 1991, because after that they will not be counted as pensionable service. This is a major change in the Teacher's Pension Plan, and it will go a long way towards funding that plan, we think.

Now, another section which you may be interested in looking at, is Section 11 which deals with substitute teachers. Basically, all we are saying here, although it is not set forth in the act, as such, is, where a teacher was formerly covered by the pension plan established under The Government Money Purchase Pension Plan Act, the Minister shall accept the transfer of funds from that pension plan, and establish the amount of related pensionable service in accordance with those terms and conditions that may be prescribed. There are another couple of subsections dealing with substitute teaching.

What we are really saying here, is that substitute teaching time may be purchased at the full actuarial cost. That is our intent here, so that, people, who are substitute teachers, right now are on the Government Money Purchase Pension Plan and they pay in 5 per cent, and the Government pays in 5 per cent, what will happen is, if such a person becomes a fully-fledged teacher, no longer a substitute, gets a permanent job teaching, and transfers to the Teacher Pension Plan, then we will figure out what that amount of money that that person has in the plan, or the Government has in the plan, how many years that will buy in the other plan, and then the years will be transferred. So that person may pick up whatever the amount accumulated in the Money Purchase Pension Plan will buy, in the fixed plan. So, that is another alteration.

Now then, Section 47 is an extremely interesting one. What we are establishing here is an ancillary pension plan. In fact, it is called the Teacher's Ancillary Pension Plan. Some people would like to call it the TAPP. A separate Teacher's Ancillary Pension Plan has been established, which must finance both the thirty and out retirement option, and any indexing programme that may be developed. Because it is the thought that the teachers and the Government may want to develop an indexing plan, and that this will be set up parallel to the normal plan. These benefits will not be guaranteed by the Province, though, and if the money runs out, then the money runs out. That is what it amounts to. It will be discontinued should funds be insufficient to meet the cost. But we will be establishing a Teacher's Ancillary Pension Plan. That is a good thing because it means we will be addressing the whole question of indexing, which is one of our major thrusts now. Once these pension plans get accepted by the House, or should they become accepted by the House, what we intend to do, then, is to work at the MHAs pension plan and to work at the whole question of indexing.

The third thing we have in mind to do - at least, I have in mind to do - is to have people look at the various little anomalies that are creeping into these four or five pension plans that we have, because there are certain things that may have to be addressed over time. What we are doing here now, is basically addressing the unfunded liability, and trying to bring the plans in tune with the national pension conform consensus and with the Federal Government's moves on pension. But there are still a number of points that have to be looked at, this is not a total pension reform package. It is a major development, but it is not complete.

Section 6 is worth looking at. I call your attention to Section 6 of the new act, because it prescribes the contribution rate. The contribution rate - on page 8 of this thing - shall be 6 per cent of salary. At the moment it is 5 per cent and 4 per cent, 5 per cent for most teachers, and some teachers have opted for the old 4 per cent single female person benefit. We are doing away with that now so everybody pays the same 6 per cent. We have increased the amount of money that is to be deducted from the cheque to 6 per cent, also, the Government's contribution will be increased to 6 per cent. That will mean that the current service cost will not be exceeded. We will not build up further liability with respect to teachers' pensions. The unfunded liability will remain as it is and when Government gets sufficient funds we will be putting money into the fund to compensate for past unfunded liability, but the 6 per cent is sufficient so that the teachers' pension plan will not be any worse off. In other words, every year, it will cover the current service cost. That is our actuarial figure here; but, in addition to that, under the ancillary pension plan, Government and teachers will each pay 1 per cent, as contained in Section 47. I refer you back to Section 47 - I mentioned it earlier: Effective January 1, both Government and teachers will pay 1 per cent into that ancillary plan, and then, in September, 1992, it will be increased to 2 per cent by each, so that 4 per cent of salaries, 2 per cent by the Government and 2 per cent by teachers, will go into this ancillary plan to come to grips with the question of indexing.

AN HEN. MEMBER: Indexing of (inaudible) and everything?

DR. KITCHEN: Yes, the whole thing, because there are a number of special benefits in the teachers' plan which will come out of that, thirty and out, and indexing, right.

Now, other amendments in the Public Service Pension Plan, the vesting period will be reduced from ten to five years, so that brings it into conformity with the other pension plans; survivor benefits will be increased from 55 per cent to 60 per cent for new survivors, and the same provision for division of pensions upon marriage breakdown, and remodifying the rules for the purchase of prior services.

I do not think, Mr. Speaker, I need to go into any more detail because, undoubtedly, in Committee there will be various questions asked, and perhaps other Members would like to make some points.

Thank you.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I just want to make a few comments on the bill without going into a lot of detail because, obviously, what the Minister has outlined now are amendments to the legislation and to the law that have been agreed to by the Newfoundland Teachers' Association and, in fact, I understand they signed their agreement, on Friday past, did they not?

AN HON. MEMBER: Another announcement?

MR. SIMMS: Today, I announced the increase for the doctors, Mr. Speaker, up to 4 per cent, and now, I am announcing that the NTA signed an agreement, on Friday, with the Government. In any event, they have signed the agreement. All of the items outlined by the Minister, he tells us at the outset, have been agreed to by the NTA and by the teachers. No teacher, that I know of, or NTA executive representative had contacted the Opposition office to raise any concerns, so there is not much, I guess, we can argue with. Why would we argue if they do not have a big problem with it? I should not say they do not have a big problem with it, because I suspect they do, but they have agreed, nevertheless. Because of the responsible attitude, I suppose, of teachers in the Province, they have agreed to proceed along these lines. I presume the clause is still in there that says, any changes to this legislation has to be done with the agreement of the NTA, which used to be there in the past. Is that there now? The Minister recalls what I am talking about, I guess? There used to always be a clause there.

DR. KITCHEN: It is in the collective agreement.

MR. SIMMS: Oh, it is in the agreement, not in the law? It is still in the agreement is it?

DR. KITCHEN: It is not in the Pension Act, it is in the collective agreement.

MR. SIMMS: Still in the agreement, was it? Okay.

Some of the more mundane points that he raised, I guess, like the transfer of the responsibility for administering the pension plan now, to the Department of Finance from the Department of Education, I do not imagine there will be any riots in the streets over that.

MR. WINDSOR: It is long overdue.

MR. SIMMS: It is probably a good idea. As my colleague, the former Minister of Finance says, it is probably long overdue. It is retroactive legislation, of course. We cannot let the bill slip by without making note that it is legislation that is retroactive five months back to January 1st, 1991, this, from a Government who, when they were a party in Opposition, were violently opposed to retroactive legislation of one form or another, as I recollect. But I suppose they have since seen the light and realized that, from time to time, these things have to happen.

I just want to make a brief comment, that I know, for a fact, that teachers are not happy with a lot of the changes contained therein. I know the teachers are not happy, and they certainly were not happy with their negotiations and the way their negotiations were handled. The negotiations for their agreement was handled by the President of Treasury Board, the Minister of Education and the Minister of Finance, all of whom had their noses stuck into the business of negotiating a collective agreement, no doubt. They all had their ten cents worth or their two cents worth, or whatever. And I think it is fair to say, and an appropriate opportunity to say, that the teachers in the Province were not at all pleased with the process and the way it went, and they were not happy with the Government and the way it dealt with negotiations. But, at the moment, that is history, and I am sure that many of them will remember. The old saying that teachers will remember - I remember seeing badges saying that in front of us when we were the Government back in 1985. Teachers used to wear the badges, `We will remember', and I have a feeling that they will be wearing those same badges, no doubt, in 1993 or whenever the next election is, 1994, 1992 or whenever it might be.


MR. SIMMS: No, I do not think it will go to 1995, that would be stretching it. Joey tried that, I believe, but I do not think you can get away with it.


MR. SIMMS: 1994, yes.

So, no doubt they will be wearing badges saying, `We will remember'. What they will be saying, of course, is that they remember the way this Government treated teachers during the last set of negotiations, and in remembering, they will, no doubt, place their ballot for some candidate other than a Liberal candidate. I have no doubt there will be a considerable number of teachers doing that the next time around because of what this Government has done, and the way it handled their negotiations.

Mr. Speaker, I have asked the Table - I know the Minister went through a number of the changes to the various clauses that are substantive changes, I guess. We would be interested in having a look at something like that. I know, he read through a bunch of changes and referred to various clauses, and so on. What I would have liked to have, and I have asked the Table to try to provide if they can get it from the pensions people, is the one or two pages or whatever is required to show us the substantive changes to the various clauses like the ones he outlined in his speech. The problem was we could not hear what he was saying very well. Nobody else could, but I could, because I have one of these little aids, and that helps a bit. I know we can read Hansard tomorrow, but I am not sure the Minister covered everything. We are not interested in changing the `a's to `the' or the dots and the crosses of `t's that the Premier used to always be interested in when he was in Opposition. We are not looking for that kind of stuff, but if there is a change to Clause 47 - and there are several - compared to the last piece of legislation, the old existing bill, it would be helpful to us in comparing, when we get to the Committee stage, if we wish to get into more detail in the Committee stage. So, hopefully, the Clerks at the Table will be able to obtain such a list. I think they understand what I am asking for, hopefully. If not, maybe the Minister of Finance could help the Clerks or tell his officials to co-operate with the Clerks. I am sure he will. Then, when we get to Committee stage, no doubt, if there are any more detailed questions, we will ask at that stage, I guess. I do not know if my colleague, the former Minister of Finance, the Member for Mount Pearl, might want to have a few words to say, as well.

MR. SPEAKER: Before recognizing the hon. the Member for Mount Pearl, I think it was, who stood in his place first, on behalf of hon. Members, I welcome to the Speaker's Gallery, the Ambassador of the Netherlands, His Excellency Jan F. E. Breman, the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Canada.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a few minutes. I understand, the Member for Mount Pearl also intends to have a few words to say about this particular bill. I had not intended to until the speech given by the Opposition House Leader, the very provocative statements that he made, no doubt, reminded me of a few points that I thought should be made.

Mr. Speaker, I am just joking when I say that. In actual fact, I really wanted to get up and take five or ten minutes, because I am very proud and very pleased with what has happened here.

Mr. Speaker, a couple of years ago, I guess, at the very first meetings that I had with the NTA executive, one of the problems that we discussed was their pension plan and providing a secure pension plan for the future. We spent some time discussing it and, at that point in time, they indicated to me that they thought there had to be some changes, and I indicated to them that there had to be some changes. It has been two years since then. Now, the changes are going to be made.

The NTA is very pleased with this new pension Act. They are very pleased with the changes that are now taking place in their pension plan because, for the first time, they can be assured that they will have a funded plan that will last and provide a proper pension for years to come. I wish the Opposition House Leader could have been at - maybe I should have invited him - the signing, when we signed the collective agreement on Friday, to hear the President of the NTA indicate that it was quite an accomplishment, that at this round of collective bargaining, we have accomplished a lot. And whereas teachers, like everybody else, do not like having to experience one year of a freeze, that aside, the President of the NTA made the point that this is a superb collective agreement, an excellent collective agreement; and perhaps the best part of it happens to be what is being done with the teachers' pension plan.

Teachers are pleased that they now have a pension plan that is fully funded. They are pleased that co-operatively, we have been able to reach some kind of agreement on this. And, Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you that many people told me when we started this process, we would never negotiate with the teachers, any changes to the teachers' pension plan, we would never accomplish that during collective bargaining, that it was an impossible task. Well, it was possible because people on both sides, the NTA and Government, recognized it was something that must be done. And we were successful, granted over a long period of time, in negotiating these particular changes. It was a negotiating feat that I was told by many people who have been in this business for a long time, politicians, and so on, could not be done. Well, it was done, and now we have a teachers' pension plan that we can all be proud of.

So, I just wanted to point that out. Because it is not true that the teachers are dissatisfied with this pension plan, not true at all. They are very, very pleased with the pension plan. They are agreeing to pay more money into their pension plan.

MR. SIMMS: Which they (inaudible).

MR. BAKER: And Government are paying more money into the pension fund.

MR. SIMMS: (Inaudible).


MR. SIMMS: They did, for `thirty and out', 1 per cent.

MR. BAKER: No. I say to the Opposition House Leader, the stance before was that they would pay the 1 per cent a year for two years, providing the `thirty and out' was added, which would cost the 2 per cent. The previous Government did not have the guts to tackle the problem, that was what happened. We have done it, we have accomplished it. It is one of our tremendous accomplishments. The previous government thought that they could not negotiate a new pension plan with teachers. They were convinced, they were told by their bureaucrats, you could not negotiate a new pension plan with teachers. Well, it has been done. I know that we have gone though some hard times, I know that we have had to bring in a one year freeze and all that kind of thing, but all that aside, this has perhaps been the most successful round of collective bargaining ever carried out by Government. The teachers are pleased with the pension plan. They are happy about the fact that both Government and teachers are contributing more to ensure that the plan is a solid plan, will become 20 per cent funded in a few years, and the level of funding will increase beyond that and that their plan is secure.

As well, we have, as part of the collective agreement, indicated that we will now sit down and try to come up with an indexing scheme, so that ultimately teachers can have an indexed pension plan within the limit of Government's ability to pay for it, which is the only way that it can be done.

So, Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased with the Bill and teachers are very pleased with the Bill, and I guess there is not much more needs to be said about it.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just to briefly address this Bill. I rise to give credit where credit is due, and not quite to give as much to the President of Treasury Board as he would like to take for himself. First of all, let me simply address the fact that the previous administration did indeed tackle this problem, and I take exception to the Minister's statement that we did not. In fact, it was the Minister's colleague, the Minister of Labour, who was president of the Teachers Association at the time, president of the NTA, who I and my colleague for St. Mary's - The Capes, who was Minister of Education at the time, met in the new collective bargaining boardroom. I think it was the first major Ministerial meeting held in that boardroom after that wing was redecorated, in fact. It was the first time, at least, that I sat in that room. First time certainly that we met the NTA there.

That was about three if not four years ago I would think now that we first met with them, and we for the first time broke the news to them as to the present state of the teachers' pension plan. I think it was quite clear to us as a government, and we made it quite clear to the NTA at the time, that we had serious problems that had to be addressed. Nobody was being well served. We broke the very significant ground I think of getting over the concept that a pension plan is something that government gives. A pension plan is something that one contributes on an equal basis to and that any problems that were created there or that are involved with the pension plan had to be dealt with cooperatively as well.

We made it very clear to them at that time in fact that the unfunded liability, which was as a result of government using that money or not even not assessing enough or not having negotiated something, would be absorbed by government, that we accept that responsibility, and I think we could do no less. And so we made that commitment to them which was a major first step. We also made it very clear that this could not be allowed to continue, that government could not accept on behalf of the taxpayers of this Province the continuing growth in unfunded liability. We were prepared to meet our obligations but that we expected teachers to meet their share of obligation as well and that serious negotiations would have to take place.

I congratulate the Government on the resolution thus far. I think there are some major steps here. The teachers' pension plan was probably the most generous pension plan anywhere in Canada. I have no doubt they are all happy with that - no doubt they all deserve that. I would say that no doubt because the pension plan was so generous that government was able over the years to negotiate lower salary increases. Here is a point that I would make here. Even in the agreement that was negotiated certain salary increases were included in that. As this memo from the NTA that I have here points out: those increases were there but the scales will have to be changed because of the wage freeze that has now been instituted.

So the only problem I have here, and I suspect the reason these negotiations were as protracted as they were, was first of all because of the extreme difficulties and the very important points and the very important principles that are being changed by this new pension legislation but also because the rules of the game changed as well. As we all know, and we have all tried to separate negotiation of pension benefits from salary increases, but unfortunately it inherently involves the two.

So I think there was some misleading of the teachers here in negotiating these changes in good faith and then finding out well into the process - not completed, but well into the process - that indeed a wage freeze was going to be instituted by this Government which really changed the rules of the game. So I think they are to be congratulated for in spite of that. Because many of us thought at the time that these negotiations would indeed be very seriously impeded as a result of the wage freeze. I think it is certainly to the credit of the teachers and primarily to the executive of the NTA and Mr. Coombs their president to come forward with what I believe is a very honourable and reasonable solution from their point of view. They had made major concessions here. Government is not making concessions. Government is of course negotiating a decrease in pension benefits and making the cost of pensions higher for the employees.

I am not criticizing Government. I am not criticizing Government for that, that needed to be done and it was not easy to do. The major concessions have come from the teachers themselves. That breach of faith as it relates to salary negotiations could have impeded if not made impossible this set of negotiations. But I do not disagree with the items that are there. I agree that pensions should be under the Minister of Finance, now there is some uniformity here and some continuity. It was always very difficult to try to negotiate with public service unions and then find the Department of Education primarily responsible, although there was always cooperation and consultation with the pension division. But most unusual for the Department of Education to be negotiating pension benefits with the NTA.

Other aspects of it I do not think we can deal with in the Committee stage. But let me simply say that we are pleased indeed to see that there has been some meeting of minds with the teachers, that we have been able to get these concessions and that the teachers' pension now will be in good shape in future. I do know, however, that Government is indeed paying more, now 8 per cent, or at the end of this term, 8 per cent Government is paying. Is that not 2 per cent higher than for other pension plans? So I mean I think we must have some concern that teachers have a better pension plan because Government is paying more for this pension plan and that in future negotiations - I realize you can only do so much at a time - but at some stage in time either we have to contribute an equitable amount to other public servants or have the teachers bear a larger share as well of what they are paying. I think there is an inequity still here of 2 per cent. They will have a better pension benefit because Government is paying 2 per cent more. And I think that needs to be addressed in future.

But as far as this goes, Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the Government. I particularly congratulate the NTA.

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, I have no further remarks except to move second reading.

On motion, a Bill, "An Act To Revise And Amend The Law Respecting A Pension Plan For Teachers," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 25).

MR. BAKER: Order 20, is it, you are ready for?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I remember the Minister introducing this Bill several days ago, and I am not sure if I adjourned the debate or was about to speak. So maybe someone at the Table might check to see what -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: I did not speak? Okay, I did not speak.

AN HON. MEMBER: So you have an hour now.

MR. R. AYLWARD: I will certainly not need an hour. But, Mr. Speaker, on this side of the House as an Opposition Member, we are always expected to be critical and I suppose that is a part of our job. But I would like to commend the Government when they do something that I think is reasonable and correct and in this case the Minister is making a reasonable move in this matter.

As far as I understand it the Co-ops and the Credit Unions are very supportive of what the Minister would like to do in this Act and I congratulate him for a change, for listening to the advice of the staff and the people who are involved in the co-op and credit union movements throughout the Province.

Mr. Speaker, I think the credit union people have been looking for this type of an amendment for quite some time and I think it will be very beneficial for the credit union movement and for Newfoundland, because it will allow the credit union movement to be able to finance some of the business opportunities that might be around in this Province and I am sure that this will be beneficial to Newfoundland. I have always been a strong supporter.

When I was Minister of Rural Agriculture and Northern Development, Co-ops and Credit Unions did come under my Department and I was very supportive of both groups because what they are doing is keeping more money in this Province and recirculating it; rather than use just the banks, if you use the credit union, up until this, the Board of Directors were from Newfoundland, they were not from Montreal or Toronto or somewhere else, so whatever the Board of Directors input was, it was a Newfoundland input and Mr. Speaker, whatever profits were made, if any, were shared amongst Newfoundlanders again, all the members of the credit unions, so I thought this was a very good system and I was always very supportive of it, and rather than go on and say that 100 times, I just want to say that I commend the Minister for listening to the advice of the credit unions on this matter and for listening to the advice of his staff in introducing this Bill and I certainly will be supporting it when it comes for vote.

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

The hon. the Minister of Finance.

DR. KITCHEN: Well, Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to hear the support from the other side of the House, because we look forward very much to working with credit unions and to build up the whole question of the whole credit union movement. It is coming along reasonably well, but at the moment only about 7 per cent of Newfoundlanders are in credit unions compared to over twice that many in the population as a whole and in the province of Quebec, the vast majority of people are in Caisse Populaire credit unions, and we too would like to see a similar move in this Province, so with no more talk, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading.

On motion, a Bill, "An Act To Amend The Co-Operative Societies Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 24)

MR. BAKER: Order No. 4. Concurrence Motion on the Resource Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

My remarks will be brief during this particular portion of the Concurrence debate and I would like to begin by thanking my committee members, in particular, the vice-chairman of the Committee, the Member for Humber Valley, as well, the Member for Pleasantville, Fortune - Hermitage, Green Bay, La Poile and Menihek.

I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that the various committees which were reviewed in this particular process by the Resource Estimates Committee, were Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture, Mines and Energy as well as the Department of Development and Tourism.

I want to take the opportunity to thank the Ministers in particular, for their bringing forth as quickly as possible, all information in terms of questions that were being asked, and some Ministers who actually came back for second and third visits with their officials to deal with their estimates.

The Estimates Committees went very well; there were a number of

committee meetings held in this Chamber and also, I must say that we were very pleased to have had the opportunity to utilize the Colonial Building for further discussions as well.

I note that my colleague for Humber Valley is not with us today, but I want to again thank him for his co-operation and also his guidance, having been a Member of this Legislature for a long time, he certainly offered us -

AN HON. MEMBER: Whom are you talking about?

MR. WALSH: The Member for Humber Valley.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, I thought you were talking about me.

MR. WALSH: Sorry no. - who offered guidance from his experience and I must say he did an admirable job in keeping us on track and allowing us to deal with the Departments; so, Mr. Speaker, to conclude, I want to say that the Estimates went well, they were dealt with in a very fine and orderly manner, and that all participants, both the Members of this Legislature, the Ministers and their staff, and in particular I want to take the opportunity as Chairman to thank the staff of the House of Assembly, who also were diligent in their dealings with and their assistance in dealing with the Estimates on behalf of the Resource Estimates Committee. With that, Mr. Speaker, I submit that as a conclusion to the remarks, not my remarks, but to the Estimates Committee on behalf of the Resource Committee.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I want to have a few words to say in the Concurrence debate of this Committee's report. I want to also indicate of course, that my friend, the Member for Kilbride also wants to have a few words to say in this particular debate, because we have issues that we want to raise in front of the Members opposite, the Government, in the hopes that we might get them to open their eyes; open their eyes, clean out their ears and listen to what the people are saying; that is the main reason why, to answer the Member for Carbonear's question, that is the main reason why we want to have a few words to say.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Member for Carbonear asks the question, why, and we could respond in a sarcastic way, but it is not our style to do that. We could say, that we want to ask questions on behalf of those thousands of people out there who are suffering as a result of the policies of this Government, similar to the concerns expressed to the Member for Carbonear and his Premier just a few nights ago at a Liberal Party function in Carbonear, when I gather from the press 100 or so demonstrators let the Member for Carbonear and the Premier know what some of their concerns were, and we could do the same and I could refer to that over and over again, but I do not want to do that, so I hope the Member for Carbonear will not bait me into it by reminding me what happened in Carbonear last Friday night. I am trying to stay away from that tack and try to ask some clear, specific questions.

MR. R. AYLWARD: What happened? I never heard about that.

MR. SIMMS: You did not hear what happened?

MR. R. AYLWARD: No, I have not.

MR. SIMMS: Oh well, I might have to elaborate.

MR. SPEAKER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: No, Mr. Speaker, I will not elaborate. The Member for Kilbride is a very, very busy Member and obviously did not hear the news reports over the weekend, but I think everybody in the Province, people in the gallery, people all over Newfoundland and Labrador, and I would not be surprised all across Canada, I dare say might have made that Newsworld national news clip at 7:30, channel 15, which it comes on.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Oh the Minister of Education would not be aware of what I am talking about, because I do not think he is listening, which is not new of course, it is not new at all.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I have been baited and I have been taunted by Members opposite, at a time when I am trying to make some serious points, and in view of the fact that Forestry and Agriculture is one of the Departments we are debating here, in this Concurrence Report, along with the other resource Departments, Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture, Mines and Energy, Development, that is it, four Departments.

Those are four fairly large Departments as we all know and very important to the future of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador; it is very important to the future of its people and, the difficulty is that we do not seem to be making much progress in any of those areas.

Now, in Development I suppose, one could argue that we are making some ongoing progress at least from the tourism aspect of that department. I think it is fair to say that the Minister of Development and Tourism is - Is it called Development and Tourism now or just Development?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Just Development. The Minister of Development, I think, is making some laudable moves to try to keep tourism in the forefront as he should. It is probably the one resource area that we can look forward to, and having his assistant, the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island, chair this committee was probably a great asset to him. He was able to promote tourism.

So the Minister of Development is probably doing an admirable job in the tourism sector. I cannot say the same in terms of development for this Province. This Government has now been in place, they are in their third year of their five year mandate, and many Governments, in fact, go to the polls after three years. Lots of Governments did. David Peterson in Ontario was the most recent one that I recollect.

So here they are into their third year and I am afraid there is not much we have to show for it, Mr. Speaker, in terms of development, not a lot that we have to show for it. The Economic Recovery Commission has been under a cloud right from day one. It has not been able to prove itself to the people, and here they are in their third year of operation, several millions of dollars spent to employ half a dozen, or whatever it is, five or six commissioners at very significant wage levels. So they have created some jobs there, but that is about the only place that most people can think of. A lot of the other things that the Economic Recovery Commission has done or is doing were the same kinds of things that the Department of Development always did. And the Minister of Development, had he had under his control the operations of the Economic Recovery Commission, which he should, then you would not need the Economic Recovery Commission. The Department of Development and the Minister of Development perhaps could do just as good a job, perhaps even better.

So from the Department of Development and Tourism perspective I cannot say there is a big amount to brag about or to talk about in terms of progress. It makes some, but nothing that one should show or a department should show after three years of a new Government supposedly coming in in 1989 with all kinds of enthusiasm, raring to go, great new ideas, fantastic promises. Lord knows they made promises to the people of the Province. So that is development.

From the perspective of the Department of Mines and Energy, I mean the real positive story is the Tory initiative, the Hibernia project which would not have gotten under way, I guess, if it had not been for efforts of previous administrations, not just the last one, but it goes right back, perhaps right back to Mr. Smallwood's day, some credit.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes, and he was at the signing. I would not go so far as to say Hibernia was a Liberal initiative, the Member for Stephenville will be stretching it a little bit there. I think it is fair to say that Mr. Peckford was probably the one who should receive the most significant acknowledgement for the Hibernia development. Nevertheless, it is a significant development and Members opposite, when they were in Opposition, used to accuse us, when we were the Government, of trying to portray Hibernia as the be all and end all, which we never did, but that is what they used to accuse us of.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: No we did not. We did promote it positively, and that is what this Province needs, unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, that is what this Province needs in this day and age. One of the major responsibilities of any Government is to instill confidence and pride in its people, but we are not seeing much of that. That is what we tried to do with Hibernia and any other development; we tried to instill some confidence and pride in the people of the Province and we do not see that these days. Doldrums, that is all we hear about these days and see.

So, the Minister of Mines and Energy I do not think has a lot to be happy about. Hibernia - yes, very positive; not the be all and end all, no question about that. It is a significant development. God help us if we did not have it today in this Province. We would really be in trouble. But certainly from the mines sector of his department there is not an awful lot to be happy about as we heard the Member for Menihek mention today in question period. With the close down of the Hope Brook Mine last week, I believe he said there is no mining activity on the Island taking place today, I believe that is what the Member for Menihek said. Now you have to sit back, put that into perspective and think about that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: No production he meant, yes. But that means something. Something is wrong, something is happening, whatever it is. So there is Development and Tourism, not a lot to brag about; Mines and Energy, the Tory initiative, Hibernia, that is about the only positive thing this Government can talk about and brag about; then we move into the fishery.

Well, I mean, what can one say about the fishery? You can blame it on the Federal Government, which this Government always does, and this Minister. And I have often asked myself: I hear the Minister of Fisheries, the Member for Twillingate, castigate the Federal Government and the Federal Fisheries' people so frequently, I often wonder to myself: why do we need a Provincial Department of Fisheries? What does the Provincial Department of Fisheries do? What is it responsible for? And it is a good question.

AN HON. MEMBER: Makes good Opposition Leaders.

MR. SIMMS: Makes good Opposition Leaders, that is correct. But you have to really - people out there in the Province have said to me time and time again, they hear Walter Carter on talking about attacking Valcourt. Bernard Valcourt, his old friend. Attacking the Federal Fisheries' people for this or not doing that. And they say to me: Simms, what do they need a Provincial Minister and Department for? I say: that is a good question, very good question.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes, it was. But not really. Because the previous administration's Department of Fisheries and its Minister, now the Leader of the Opposition, took a lot of initiatives at the Provincial level with funding for job creation programmes and projects to help fishermen who in this Province today are suffering. They have one awful job trying to get ten weeks work. Through no fault of their own. They live in rural parts of Newfoundland where there is no micro-chip plant, there are no other job opportunities, only fish. And if there are no fish, who is supposed to look after them?

Well, I will tell you who is supposed to look after them, it is the Provincial Government, that is who is supposed to look after them. When we were the administration under the Minister of Fisheries then, now the Leader of the Opposition, he used to come to Cabinet week in and week out with all kinds of suggestions to help these fishermen who are suffering from lack of income with some kind of substantial job opportunity, whatever it might have been. It might have been short term but they had to be helped. But this administration sit on their hands, attack the Federal Government, and the people out there are asking the question: why do you need a Provincial Minister of Fisheries, what does he do? Now that is from the fishery's perspective.

I just want to touch briefly on the Forestry area. Forestry and Agriculture. Because my friend, the Member for Windsor - Buchans, the Minister of Forestry, would be disappointed if I did not make some comment.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: I always compliment the Minister when he does something. I have not been complimenting him that much lately, I will not say why. No, I always compliment the Minister. Now the Minister does not always compliment me though, I must say. He likes to attack me for some reason. I think he forgets that I am not the Forestry critic any more and I have not been for a couple of years now, we have a new Forestry critic. But every time he gets up to make a statement or answer a question he always flicks over at the Member for Grand Falls, I do not know why.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: He has this fixation. Yes, he is only in office two years and he got rid of the budworm, he says.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: And the hemlock looper. Anyway, I would like to ask the Minister a serious question. I may raise it depending on his answer today, if he gets a chance to speak in this debate - I may raise it again the next day or two in Question Period - but I do want to flick it out, for the benefit of Members opposite. Not so much for the Minister of Forestry's benefit, because he is quite familiar with it, and I am familiar with it, and the Member for Exploits is familiar with it, members on this side are familiar with it, but there are an awful lot of Members over there who are not.

And it deals with the operations at the Wooddale Tree Nursery, the Provincial tree nursery, operated by the Department of Forestry and Agriculture, the largest tree nursery operation that the Province has and the Provincial Government operates. I want to talk about the employment out in that facility. Now as the Minister would know, and members opposite might know, from time to time over the last ten years, I guess it is now, since that facility was put in place, built, constructed, expanded and enlarged upon, it has provided job opportunities for up to 250 people at one time or another. Somewhere in that area, 225 or whatever it is. Anyway, certainly up to a couple of hundred jobs have been provided.

And it was always looked upon - people used to always say: what are we going to do about a secondary industry in this region, the Grand Falls - Windsor region? All we have is the mill. There were some concerns, as there should be in any one-industry town, about what might happen if anything ever occurred with respect to the mill operations. The government, and governments of the day, did a good job in putting industries out there, related to government operations. I guess, the employment, for example at the Central Newfoundland Hospital, this day, would be greater than the employment at the mill, in terms of hospital services at the regional health care center there. You have the vocational school, and now the community college, actually, and there are other government services out there. Most government departments have some presence in the area of Grand Falls - Windsor.

So, that aspect was covered, but a secondary industry was always asked for by people. Little did people realize, there was always one sitting there under the noses of people, and that was the Wooddale Tree Nursery. It employed people, albeit seasonally, but there is nothing wrong with seasonal work. That is what this government has to get through its head, there is nothing degrading about seasonal work. In certain places, in Newfoundland and Labrador, people do not have any choice but seasonal work. In all the remote communities in this Province, you could not expect them to have full-time, twelve-month jobs. It just is not possible. So, there is nothing wrong with being a seasonal worker, and the 250 or 200 or so at the Wooddale Nursery were seasonal workers, because that is the nature of the operation.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what has happened, though, is that over the last few years the numbers of people employed at the nursery have declined considerably, to where, today, there were recently 117 or 119 employees called back. I just forget exactly the number, 117 or 119 the Minister told me there one day last week. There were 117 or 119 called back, and that is everybody who is employed at the nursery, as I understand it. So that is considerabe downsizing from 225 or 250.

AN HON. MEMBER: When was it 250?

MR. SIMMS: Back in the mid-1980s, I think, or sometime like that, back when I was minister, probably. So, I will say that now, in case you say it. But I did create some jobs, I remind the Minister. He is going to get up now and accuse me of hiring people from Grand Falls District, from my constituency, and employing them. I remind him, he better look at the list, because a fair number of them were from his district of Windsor - Buchans, and a fair number were from Exploits and so on. So, it was not quite the way that members opposite used to paint it when they were in Opposition. Nevertheless, the point is, there were 225 or 250 people working, whether they are Tories or Liberals or NDP. Who cares! They were working, and that is the important point.

So, I say to the Minister, there are a lot of concerns now that the numbers have dwindled down to 117. But, more than that, the bigger problem now is, of those 117 or 119, whatever it is, a week or ten days ago the Minister is quoted as saying, - note I said, he is quoted as saying: There is a very good likelihood - and that is the perception, there is a likelihood - that at least fifty of those 117 or 119 people might not get any more than four weeks work. I think those were the numbers attributed to the Minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: Only attributed (inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes, well I am being very careful. He was quoted as saying it, and certainly the impression is out there. He would know that I had a call from the union, because I told him privately. I did not raise it in the Legislature, and I do not intend to until I give the Minister an adequate amount of time to respond to their concerns. They called me, and that is what they read into the news story. If it was incorrect, then it was unnecessary anxiety caused to those workers, is what I am saying to the Minister. If it is the press's fault, then sobeit. But, if the Minister is going to provide those 117 or 119 workers, whatever it is, with ten weeks work, then, please, if he has not done so, tell them, tell them quickly, tell them soon, to relieve their anxieties, because he can imagine, as I can, if you are a worker at that operation and you were expecting you were going to get at least enough work that you could qualify for your insurance, which is what the insurance programme is for, there is nothing degrading about it, that is what it is there for - and now, all of a sudden, they hear a new story which gives perception that, `Maybe I am only going to get four weeks work. Where am I going to get work for the next six or seven weeks that I need?' then you can imagine the anxiety. So, I am hopeful, since the issue has been raised by the workers with the Minister - he met with them, I believe, a week ago Friday.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: A sleaze bag? He called you a sleaze bag.

MR. SIMMS: I understand his staff are aggressively trying to find a way to make more productive use of the bare root stock, and everything, at the nursery. I know all of that is happening and, as I said, I have not raised it in the House because I know the Minister has been working on it. Now, I also understood that he was supposed to respond to them by Friday past. I do not know if he knows that or if that is the way he understood it, but I am told that is what they were expecting. Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: I think they were expecting to hear. Maybe they have. Maybe the Minister has already talked to them, but if he has not, I plead with him, I urge him and I beg him to please let the workers know whether it is negative or positive. If he cannot do anything, well, then sobeit, but let us put the cards on the table and let them know so they can do whatever it is they have to do. If it is positive, then take away all that anxiety that is out there and is unnecessary if, in fact, the Minister has a positive word. And, Mr. Speaker, if the Minister comes into this House tomorrow with a Ministerial Statement to negate the media reports in Central Newfoundland of a week or ten days ago or, at least, to explain how the misunderstanding developed and, at the same time, says in his Ministerial Statement, `We are going to do something positive and I have been able to find a way to keep, if not 117, a vast majority of them,' then, I will be the first one in response to his Ministerial Statement. I throw this out to him now, because he always like these kinds of suggestions.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: No, but I am sure I can get approval from our official critic and from the Leader of the Party to respond to such an announcement, since it would affect my constituency. We always do that.

MR. RIDEOUT: It is a matter of course.

MR. SIMMS: Yes, it is a matter of course. So if the Minister were to stand in this House tomorrow with a Ministerial Statement saying, `I have resolved this problem,' I will stand in this House on my two feet, Mr. Speaker, tomorrow, and heap loads and loads of praise upon the Minister of Forestry, I assure him.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Well, I do not know. I will even talk privately to Scott Chafe from VOCM and ask him to turn the mike on so that we can get a voicer of me praising the Minister of Forestry if he does this positive thing for the Woodale Tree Nursery workers tomorrow or the next day, whenever he is going to do it if he does it. I will talk to Scott, and I bet you he is very co-operative, the media people are very co-operative usually. I would not be surprised if he might use the clip of me praising the Minister of Forestry. So I ask the Minister of Forestry to keep that in mind.

MR. RIDEOUT: They will play it on CKCM.

MR. SIMMS: They will play it on CKCM day in and day out, probably for the next decade, who knows?

MR. RIDEOUT: You might be careful though, he might use it as a paid add the next time.

MR. SIMMS: He might even use it as a paid add in the next election, yes. But if he does that, I have one on him, to come back with, as he knows. I wonder should I tell that story. What?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Oh, come on, I should tell it. It is cute. No, I had better not, it is a sin.

AN HON. MEMBER: Don't leave us in suspense.

MR. SIMMS: No, I cannot, I will have to tell you privately. The Minister might be embarrassed by it, but he should not be; it was meant in jest, anyway, it was a joke.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, not to get sidetracked again, I only intended to speak for a few minutes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: My colleague, the Member for Kilbride has a few words to say related to - should I tell him so he can prepare himself?


MR. SIMMS: Okay, I will not even say what it is. But, that is my brief contribution, as humble as it may have been, in this debate, in concurring with the motion that the Resource Estimates Committee be approved. Now, I should say in conclusion, though, it is with a great deal of reluctance that we - I am not even sure if we will support it. We will not support it, will we?


MR. SIMMS: We will not be voting for this motion, anyway, we will be voting against it, because the Budget, itself, we totally oppose. It is nothing personal against the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island, as Chairman. I understand, he probably did a half decent job - probably. I remember there was the odd time when he tried to make a couple of little sneaky changes, and we caught him. Now, he may not have been part of all of that, but there was some collaboration over there.

AN HON. MEMBER: The House Leader.

MR. SIMMS: Yes, the Government House Leader, the President of Treasury Board, was trying to worm his way through some sneaky changes until we caught him and he had to back off. I do not know if he was part of that, but if he was, he should apologize and admit that he is embarrassed by that whole scene.

Mr. Speaker, we will not be supporting the motion to concur in this debate, and my friend for Kilbride and any other member who wishes to speak on this particular resolution can do so.

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

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

I have a few brief words. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend part of one of the meetings of the Resource Committee, although I am not a Member of that Committee. The meeting happened to be the one in which the Minister Forestry and Agriculture was defending his Budget Estimates for this year. I was pleased to be able to attend, because I guess the Minister knows, and most others know, that I have a very large interest in the agricultural industry in this Province, and I wanted to see what the Minister was doing to improve it.

Before I start, Mr. Speaker, I just want to say to the Minister that he certainly is doing his best, he is trying extremely hard to get information from the farmers of this Province. I noticed at several meetings I attended, and several others I have had reports on, that the Minister is working diligently on the agricultural side of his portfolio. I believe I heard him say at one dinner I attended that he spends probably 70 or 80 per cent of his time on the agricultural side rather than the forestry side. There is probably a good reason for that, Mr. Speaker, because the agricultural industry has been neglected for so long in this Province that it needs that little bit of extra attention now. The forest industry has been pretty well looked after over the years because of its size more than for any other reason. They have had a long history of federal/provincial agreements, even moreso than the agricultural industry, so that is probably the reason why.

Mr. Speaker, there is one thing about the Committees, generally, that I would like to get a ruling on, or have someone interpret for me, because both the Chairman of our Committee, the Member for Lewisporte, and the Chairman of the Resource Committee, interpreted a rule in the Standing Orders to suggest that any other member of the House who happened to be at a Committee meeting, has the right to speak only if the rest of the Committee will allow him to speak. I read the rule and I think the interpretation is probably wrong, because I understood that every member of this House of Assembly always has the right to speak at all Committee meetings. I do not understand what that rules means. I know, when I was chairing these Committees, it was definitely the understanding that any member who attended any of the Committee meetings had the right to speak if they wanted, and people were recognized in order, the same as they are in this House of Assembly. One person could not monopolize the whole function. What I see about the interpretation is, whoever happened to be on that Committee, whichever majority was represented on that Committee, if they did not like the member of the House who happened to show up, they could technically not allow that member to ask questions on the Estimates of any of the departments. I think that should be looked into and interpreted differently, or certainly, made clear to this House of Assembly, by either the Government House Leader or - not necessarily the Chair. The Chair will make a ruling, when requested, on a point of order, no doubt. But I think that is very important. I understood, and always have worked under the assumption, that any member of this House of Assembly has the right to sit in on, or to speak and ask questions at any of the parliamentary committee meetings, the exception being that that person cannot vote on any of the motions or amendments or any of the votes taken in the Committee. So a person could be there to speak, but not necessarily - well, definitely, they could not speak because of the way the Committees are lined up. But, Mr. Speaker, before next year comes around, probably we will have a clarification on that.

Now, I did attend the Resource Policy Committee hearing on Forestry and Agriculture and at that time, I questioned the Minister on the appropriateness of the amount of money that he had in his Budget for the Land Consolidation Programme. Anyone interested in Agriculture in this Province will be aware of the need for agriculture.

We can produce food on 2 per cent of our land, I believe the Department of Agriculture figure is 2 per cent of the whole land mass of Newfoundland and Labrador - and, if you include Labrador, it is 1 per cent - but we will say 2 per cent, anyway, on which we can actually produce food, so obviously, if we are going to have a resource in the future, we must protect this agricultural land.

Now, some of that agricultural land which has already been developed, happens to fall in the general St. John's area, and there are extreme pressures on that land to ease up on the restrictions that are placed on it by the Agricultural Development Regulations, I believe they are called, but the Agricultural Zone, as it is commonly referred to in this area. There are many pressures on that land now.

A developer looking to develop a portion of the land, knows that nice green fields are the easiest areas, usually, to develop, and those are the first areas that most people go after. But, Mr. Speaker, because only 2 per cent of our land can grow food - and on the other 98 per cent, we can do anything else we wish, we can build houses, we can have industrial areas, we can have commercial areas, we can put roads on it, we can do many things on that 98 per cent - but I think the 2 per cent we have should be protected. Therefore, I ask the Minister, why has he continued, since he became Minister, to reduce the amount of money in his Budget for the Land Consolidation Programme? Because, Mr. Speaker, if there is one programme that Agriculture introduced over the last seven or eight years that has been a major benefit to the Agricultural industry, particularly in this area - and it has also been a benefit to the people who own land and do not wish to farm it - that major benefit was the Land Consolidation Programme.

It was a fairly good programme, where you could buy land at reasonable prices for agriculture - the Government could, not anyone else. And Government gave the land owner, at the time, an option, that if the Agricultural Zone were lifted within the next fifteen years, that, that person or his estate would get back the land and they could capitalize on any improvement in the value of the land, which is fairly reasonable.

I find it very reasonable, because most of the land, in the first place, was given out for farming, so there was no change in zoning. People often get upset when their land is zoned differently from what they have been used to, and that causes some concern, but most of this land that is zoned Agricultural, if it was developed, has been developed for agriculture, so the zoning had not changed when, in 1972 I believe, agricultural protection was brought in. Mr. Speaker, I expressed my concern to the Minister, that the Land Consolidation Program, in itself, helped to get some - I think already they have bought back some 800 acres of land in the general St. John's Metro area, land that is now in use.

Some of the land had been just lying idle before the Land Consolidation Programme came in; the people who owned it, either did not want to farm or had retired from farming, and they did not want to sell their land to private individuals because they figured if the land freeze were ever removed, they would lose out on a lot of money, and rightfully so, they would. So, they were just sitting on the land. Mr. Speaker, the Land Consolidation Programme started to get this land back in production, something that we needed. It increased the agricultural output in this general area, and it was such a successful programme, that the next Federal-Provincial agreement that was signed - with every Federal-Provincial agreement, when I was in there, we would try to get some kind of a consolidation programme or a land banking programme. The Federal Government would always say: No, we do not want anything to do with land banking. Mr. Speaker, our local, Provincial programme was such a success that the last agricultural agreement that was signed, the Federal Government agreed to do some land banking in the rest of the Province, or land consolidation. What happens when the government gets the land back, for prices somewhere between 3,000 and $6,000 a acre, is, they will re-lease that land. They do not sell it, they re-lease it, to people who will use it for agriculture.

Mr. Speaker, a land base is the most important thing that agriculture needs in this Province, and a developed land base is even more important. That is why the land around the St. John's area, which has been developed, is very important to the agricultural industry.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister did not give any satisfactory answers. He gave some short-term answers, that the Province is in trouble financially, and we have to cut back in all areas. That can be understandable, I guess, but the problem with that is, when you cut back on a programme like the Land Consolidation Programme - and it should be capital funding, it is only a one-shot deal, it is not current account funding - what happens is that the land is not being put into production. So you lose jobs, and you lose in the long run. So, I would like the Minister to re-consider that Land Consolidation Programme for next year, so that he can improve the funding for it and get on with the job of getting the developed agricultural land, that we have, in production.

Mr. Speaker, I had the distinct pleasure, yesterday, of being a judge on a speak off of the Avalon East 4-H Club members. Mr. Speaker, they had representatives there from many areas around the Avalon Peninsula. The Chairman of the Avalon East 4-H Movement, I guess you could call it, gave his President's address, or his opening speech, to the parents and members and guests who were at this meeting. Mr. Speaker, he lambasted this Government. He was completely upset with what this Government has done to the 4-H Movement in this Province.

Anyone who looked at the Budget would see that last year there were some cutbacks, and this year it was almost completely annihilated. All the support staff are gone from the 4-H Movement. There are no more support staff. The 4-H Movement, which used to be in Youth Services, Culture, Recreation and Youth, has been transferred to the Department of Forestry and Agriculture, which is a good move, if they had any money to go with them. But, Mr. Speaker, the 4-H Movement was completely gutted, and the Junior Forest Warden Programme was not touched. The 4-H people find that offensive, actually.

I was not expecting to hear such a talk from the President of the Avalon East 4-H Movement. I have known the person for quite some time, and I would not have expected him to attack the Government. But, Mr. Speaker, he was so upset with what has happened to the 4-H Programme in this Province, and he is so committed to the 4-H Programme in this Province, that he could not hold back any longer. It is another frustration, something like the Allied Health Workers who were in our galleries last week, when their frustrations boiled over and they interrupted the proceedings of this House.

Mr. Speaker, the Chairman of that 4-H Movement, suggested to all the members, parents and friends, to write the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture and ask him if he will take another look at what has happened with the 4-H Programme in this Province. It is a very good programme, it is a community based programme, and it is a programme that produces future leaders. If you could see the eleven, fourteen and sixteen year-old people who made speeches at that meeting yesterday, Mr. Speaker - I wish I had had the opportunity, when I was fourteen or fifteen, to have the training in public speaking that those young people have and presented yesterday. Mr. Speaker, probably I could do a half decent job here now, but I never did have that opportunity and this program provides it for many young people around this Province. It also provides an opportunity for our young Newfoundlanders to be affiliated with a national group and to attend national meetings.

One other thing that the Chairman said, Mr. Speaker, and the Minister of Forestry might want to listen to this, he said that they have a summer camp and have had it for some time. I forget what the name of it is, Camp Nipper, that is it, Camp Nipper was the summer camp for the Four-H movement. Two years ago the department was going to improve Camp Nipper. So last year they went in and destroyed it; they tore it to pieces. They took the middle out of it and left it. Hopefully, the plan was that this year they would continue and have it fixed up again. But, Mr. Speaker, Camp Nipper now has been destroyed by a program from this Government, a program that they did not follow up on, Mr. Speaker, and this year's summer camp for the Four-H's at Camp Nipper is now in jeopardy.

Mr. Speaker, I would also ask the Minister, if he gets a chance to speak in this debate, if he could address that problem in particular of the Four-H Members, and hopefully he will have a meeting with some of the people on the Provincial Four-H Council so that he can get a better insight on what is happening in this Province with the Four-H movement, and hopefully he will be able to improve the situation for the Four-H's, and in particular try to get Camp Nipper ready so that the Four-H's can have their summer camp this July I think it is. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Shall the House concur on the question?

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. RIDEOUT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. While we are on the motion here to concur in the estimates for the Department of Fisheries, and yes, certainly the Department of Mines and Energy and the Department of Environment and Lands for certain - Environment and Lands is not under this?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RIDEOUT: It is moved to social? How come Environment and Lands is moved to social?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RIDEOUT: Thank God the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island is not in charge of those matters.

AN HON. MEMBER: He said at this time.

MR. RIDEOUT: Well that is like a remark I read in the paper on the weekend, Mr. Speaker, about a certain individual who said I can tell you that I had no involvement in this one. So the Member is not in charge of those things yet, so he says. I thought it might be an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, for the Minister of Mines and Energy in particular -

MR. SIMMS: Do you have questions for the interview?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. RIDEOUT: - I thought it might be an opportunity during this concurrence debate for the Minister of Mines and Energy in particular, being that there has been a number of things happened in the mining industry of this Province since the Minister's detailed estimates were considered by the Resource Estimates Committee. I thought it might be an opportunity for the Minister to give us some indication of where he and his officials see the mining industry going in this Province just for the rest of this year, for example. I mean the mining industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Speaker, since this Government came to office, in particular over the last twelve months or so, have never fell on harder times. Daniel's Harbour is gone.

MR. SIMMS: Gone.

MR. RIDEOUT: Baie Verte is gone.

MR. SIMMS: Gone.

MR. RIDEOUT: St. Lawrence is gone.

MR. SIMMS: Gone.

MR. RIDEOUT: Hope Brook is down. Whether it is gone or just down we do not know.

MR. SIMMS: That is the question.

MR. RIDEOUT: But, Mr. Speaker, we have a twelve week shut down I believe it is in Wabush in western Labrador, so the mining industry needs, I think, to have some - ten weeks is it - the mining industry needs to have some focus at the present time. It needs to have some leadership because the whole mining industry, Mr. Speaker, is going through a state of crisis, certainly in Newfoundland and Labrador at this point in time, and I think it is incumbent on the Minister to talk about what we have left if we have anything left worth talking about on the Island, we certainly do have something left worth talking about in Labrador. But to talk about what we have left in the mining industry and tell us where the Government sees the industry going over the next twelve months. Does the Government expect that the economic conditions

will be such that the industry will stabilize?

AN HON. MEMBER: It was only two months ago that the Minister of Finance predicted a 5 per cent increase.

MR. RIDEOUT: It was only a couple of months ago, on March 7, that the Minister of Finance predicted a 5 per cent growth in the value of the mining industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, and since that time you have had a total close down in Baie Verte, and now St. Lawrence, I guess, has been totally closed, probably just before that, and now you have the problems at Hope Brook. Mr. Speaker, that is one side of the mining industry, the physical activity of extracting metal from the earth, that has been deemed to have value, to be able to mine it. There is another major sector to the mining industry that has contributed tremendously to the economic growth of this Province over the last half a dozen years or so, and that is extremely ill at this present time, extremely sick, as a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, it is so sick that it is terminally sick at the present time, and I am talking, of course, of the exploration industry, the other side of the mining industry, the exploration dollars that are spend by companies to go out and search for new minerals, search for new mines, and to hopefully find enough mineralization to be able to have a new mine brought on steam here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Now, I know it is not all the fault of the Provincial Government, so it is no good for the Minister to get uptight about it. The very fact that the Federal Government changed some of the fiscal incentives, the flow-through shares, and so on, have had a negative impact. But, Mr. Speaker, it is more than that. At the present time the exploration industry in this Province is going through such a crisis that you cannot explain it all away, and people in the industry will tell you this, you cannot explain it all away by blaming it on the lack of flow-through shares. It is more than that. As a matter of fact one chief mining executive in this Province has been quoted, over the last weekend, or this past weekend, when talking about the mining industry, the exploration side of the mining industry in the Newfoundland, as saying we are operating in the worst economy in twenty years.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who said that?

MR. RIDEOUT: One of the chief exploration companies in this Province, when explaining the lack of exploration, it is not only the flow-through shares and the problems associated with that, it is more than that, because this executive says we are operating in an economy that is the worst in twenty years in the exploration industry in Newfoundland and Labrador today. The result of that, Mr. Speaker, is economic devastation in many parts of rural Newfoundland and Labrador. A lot of that exploration activity took place in my district, for example, on the Baie Verte Peninsula, where there is still a lot of hope and expectation within the mining industry that there are new discoveries to be made. There are new ore bodies to be found. Up until this last year or so there was several millions of dollars, $25 or $30 million on the Baie Verte Peninsula alone was not unusual a year over the last three, four or five years. Now, we expect that there would be a decline in that because of the changing of the fiscal regime by the Federal Government, but you would not expect it, Mr. Speaker, to dry up to almost a trickle, to become almost nothing, and that is what has happened with the exploration industry out in Central Newfoundland, and on the Baie Verte Peninsula in particular. It has dried up to almost a trickle. There is very little, if any, activity taking place at all, and, Mr. Speaker, it is not because there has not been encouraging discoveries. In almost every rock hole and cove on the Baie Verte Peninsula, over the last four or five years, there has been enough discovery to generate the companies to want to look further, to spend more money to do a bit more work. It is only a couple of years ago that there were 250 or 300 people, basically young people, who could put their packsack on their back and go in cutting the lines and doing the exploration work that needed to be done. There were 200 or 250 of them every summer, upon until a couple of years ago, who were working in exploration, employed by a dozen companies or so that were exploring for mineralization on the Baie Verte Peninsula. Now, that has gone, basically, and it could not be gone at a worse time for my area in particular. I suppose it could not be gone at a worse time for any area but it could not be gone at a worse time for my area because the other things that were economic generators in the mining industry on the Baie Verte Peninsula are gone also, 400 jobs gone at Baie Verte Mines, and there are 100 or so jobs gone at the hospital. So, the whole economy of the Peninsula has been devastated.

So, I hope there is an opportunity here, while we are at this debate, for the Minister to give us some overview of how he sees the mining industry developing or not developing, and how he sees it existing. What kind of mining industry are we going to have over the course of the next twleve or fourteen or eighteen or twenty-four months in Newfoundland and Labrador? Certainly the Minister, being a professional in the field, himself, should be able to tell us. Can he tell us whether he has had any indepth discussions with the top managers of Hope Brook Gold since Friday, and has the Minister been in touch with them?

We know right now that the cause of the temporary shutdown is an environmental problem. It must be a very, very significant environmental problem, to take five or six months or so to correct. But nevertheless, the public information is that it is an environmental problem. Are there any other problems? Is it relatively certain that this operation will go back into mining or into production, after the environmental problem is corrected? Has the Minister been in touch with the Chief Executive Officers of that company. We know that the company has been a money loser over the last couple of years, I suppose. I do not know if they have made any money, really. How long are they likely to continue to operate in a situation where they are not making money? We all realize that they are not a charitable organization. They have a right to expect a return on their investment, and if that return is not forthcoming, then you do not expect them to continue on forever, with a losing proposition on their hands.

I think this House deserves to have the benefit of the Minister's views on that operation, and on the whole industry, Mr. Speaker, because the industry in Newfoundland, at this period in our history, is a very, very sick industry.

On motion, Report of Resource Estimates Committee, carried.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to do the Social Services Estimates Committee next.

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

MR. PENNEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to stand in my place today, as the Chairman of the Government Services Estimates Committee. Our Committee reviewed the Estimates of the following Departments: The Department of Works, Services and Transportation; the Department of Finance; the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and Housing; and the Department of Employment and Labour Relations.

I would like at this time to thank the Members of the Committee. They were the Members for Kilbride -

AN HON. MEMBER: Social Services. We are dealing with Social Services.

MR. PENNEY: No, Government Services.

AN HON. MEMBER: I am sure you said Social.

MR. PENNEY: This is the Committee responsible for Government Services. The Committee Members were the Members for Kilbride, Harbour Main, Fogo, St. George's, Harbour Grace, and Bellevue. I would like to acknowledge the members who filled in, as well. They were the Members for Fortune - Hermitage, Mount Scio - Bell Island, and Burin - Placentia West.

I would like to make note, Mr. Speaker, that each and every one of those individual members handled themselves in a manner of total respect and courtesy. They all acted as honourable gentlemen, and, as such, I was proud to be the Chairman of the Committee. It just goes to show, I think, that the political rhetoric and political nonsense that we hear here in the House of Assembly, from time to time, is just not necessary. We can conduct the peoples' business without having to do that.

I would like to make just a couple of brief comments on each of the four departments that we did, but before I do that, I would like to thank, as well, the Members of the Staff of The Evening Telegram

who covered all the meetings we did. I think it would be fair to point out that of all the media in this city, the newspapers, all the radio stations, the TV stations, only the Evening Telegram saw fit to send somebody to the Estimates Meetings to cover them. They did not miss a meeting, and the coverage was very fair. I would also like to recognize as well the Member for Kilbride who was the vice-chairman of the meeting and who, like all of his colleagues, was a gentleman. He was of great assistance to the Chair, and I would like to acknowledge that and thank him.

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to point out a few highlights from the Department of Works, Services and Transportation. Under the Provincial-Federal cost shared programes there will be $106 million this year spent on highway and bridge construction, and repair. There will be approximately $50 million in building construction and I would like to highlight just a couple of them, just a few of them: The MED centre in Foxtrap $4.9 million, the Centre for Engineering Technology $4.5 million, Extension to the Fisher Institute in Corner Brook $4.5 million, the St. Lawrence Nursing Home $3.5 million, the Young Offenders facility in Whitbourne $3.2 million. Mr. Speaker, there is one other thing that must be pointed out under this Department, in March 1990, there were 1217 vehicles in what is referred to as the light vehicle fleet, and as of May 1991 that figure will have dropped to 911. That is a reduction of 25 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, this year we will see the third phase in a three year phase to reduce the ferry rates to the islands off the coast of Newfoundland. My hon. colleague the Member for Fogo was quite pleased with this program and he complimented the Minister because the rates for the residents who have to live in places like Fogo Island and Change Islands is down to a level comparable to what an individual would have to pay if he were using a road. It just goes to show, Mr. Speaker, that we have eliminated the discrimination that had existed with the previous administration.

Also, Mr. Speaker, the total provincial expenditure this year on public works and transportation - $294 million. Sixty-six per cent of that is spend on construction and maintenance to our roads. Now, that is noteworthy, Mr. Speaker, and I just point out a few items, just enough to stimulate the hon. Members in Opposition so when they get up to debate they will have something to debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. PENNEY: No, we have gone into another Department now, Employment and Labour Relations. Under the Department of Employment and Labour Relations I would like to point out to my hon. colleagues that there were 1100 long-term jobs created or approved in that Department, 1100 jobs of long-term duration. There were 1000 jobs approved for post-secondary students. The Youth Employment Strategy Program, Mr. Speaker, let us talk about that one for a minute. There were 5350 youth assisted directly, and if we include indirect assistance, we recognize that there were 25,000 of our youth who benefited from that program, 25,000 of our students, Mr. Speaker. As of April 1, 1991, and this is one that all hon. Members should be quite interested in, the minimum wage increased to $4.75 an hour for everybody in this Province, including domestics, one more example, Mr. Speaker, of how we have eliminated the discrimination that existed for the last fifteen or sixteen years.


MR. NOEL: You are the one always looking for silence, why do you not grant it?

MR. PENNEY: Mr. Speaker, with great pride I join with my colleagues in the House of Assembly, and my constituents in my district, and all the other people in this Province, in commending the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear! Well done!

MR. PENNEY: Mr. Speaker, the total estimates for the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs is $168,474,000.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why don't you ask the Speaker to shut him up?

MR. PENNEY: Mr. Speaker, I wonder is there any way we could have the hon. members on the other side be quiet for just a few minutes -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PENNEY: - in the same manner that they normally get up and ask us to be quiet when they are speaking?

Mr. Speaker, $47 million, statutory grants to municipalities - $47 million, $55 million to cover the repayment of the debt financed to the Municipal Finance Corporation. It has already been tabled, I believe, in the thing that we call the Budget and the Estimates. Twelve million dollars, Mr. Speaker, for water and sewer facilities for the northern and coastal areas of Labrador, is one more example of our eliminating discrimination.

Under Finance, Mr. Speaker, I think rather than address some of the issues that came out of the Estimates, I would like to make a general comment on the Budget. Hon. Members will allow me to make a comment. I have spoken with hundreds of my constituents since the Budget was read, thousands.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, thousands!

MR. NOEL: Thousands. And, Mr. Speaker, I say with no apology, the people in my district do not like the Budget. I will make no apology for that statement. They do not like the Budget. I have spoken to people in the District of Green Bay; they do not like the Budget either. I have spoken to people in the District represented by the Member for Fogo; they do not like the Budget either.

AN HON. MEMBER: They do not like the Budget.

MR. PENNEY: They do not like the Budget, and, Mr. Speaker, I do not like the Budget either.


MR. PENNEY: I must recognize it, I do not like the Budget either. It is a very severe Budget and it hurts. I will tell you what I have been hearing. The people that I have spoken to say, `We do not like the Budget, but we recognize that there was no option; we recognize that the Government did what it had to do. We recognize that the Government did what it should have done a long time ago.'

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: No he is not. Keep going.

MR. PENNEY: If I am out of line, I am sure somebody will make a point of order and it can be ruled on.

AN HON. MEMBER: Silence, Mr. Speaker!

MR. PENNEY: But, what my constituents have said, Mr. Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member has requested silence, and traditionally, in this House, when an hon. Member requests silence he has the right to be heard in silence.

MR. PENNEY: Mr. Speaker, what my constituents are telling me is that Newfoundlanders recognize what we did had to be done, and they thank God that we have a Government with enough common sense and enough courage to do what had to be done. They recognize that we have been living for years beyond our means and we cannot operate a Government like that. The Tory philosophy was very similar to a man running a household with an income of $50,000 and spending $75,000 and it just cannot happen. So we have corrected that, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to compliment the Minister of Finance in the same manner that the people in my district have been complimenting our Government. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The only thing I can say about the report given by the Chairman of our Committee was that we attended the same meeting. I do not think we heard the same results, because I did not hear all of that unanimity he referred to. I want to address some of the things that came out of our Committee, one of them being what the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation said related to the cancellation of the ferry for Fogo Island. I noticed the Member for Lewisporte forgot to mention that a portion of his own district, Change Islands, is also stuck with an inadequate ferry system; as a matter of fact, I had to prod and pry on his behalf to find out what boat was going to make the crossing for the Change Islands run for the summer months because the member did not know.

In addition to that, the Member referred to the rates, and yes, I did compliment the Minister of Transportation for lowering the rates; I did not compliment him, though, for failing to lower the commercial rates, because the catalyst that drives the economy of the Islands, is the commercial sector of it being able to get out there and compete with the rest of the Province, and the Minister's explanation for not lowering it, certainly did not sit well with me, I cannot believe it. His reason, he said, was, `We did a survey, and in that survey it was found that 60 per cent of the business community would not pass the savings on to the consumer.'

Well, my question to the Minister is, where was the survey done? I have checked all of the commercial users in Fogo Island and none of them were ever surveyed on it. In addition to that, there is the blatant unfairness of it; if you can have a policy for individuals to use the waterways of this Province, at the same cost as normal users, then, the same thing should apply to commercial rates.

The Member for Lewisporte also forgot to mention that we failed to get the road. We question the Minister about the paving of the road in part of his own district to the Fogo Island - Change Islands ferry terminal and we could not get much of a commitment from the Minister on that. I was very disappointed that the Member for Lewisporte did not lobby more so that we could have that section of the road paved, and we would have at least a paved length for the people of the district. I have to say these things on his behalf, because he failed to do so.

Now, Mr. Speaker, with respect to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations -

AN HON. MEMBER: The shining star.

AN HON. MEMBER: What humility! The shining star!

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, the shining star that the light went out in, in that debate, one of those things that burn out, I forget what it is called, the black hole, these things out in space. But there was no shining star here, Mr. Speaker, because the Minister's critic, responsible for labour, tore into shreds, her explanation of what went on in the employment generation.

Mr. Speaker, it was nothing but a twisting of heads, going from one official to the other in trying to accurately determine what was going on in the department. We finally figured out there was actually nothing going on, they had cancelled the Employment Generation Programme last year, Mr. Speaker, cancelled it last year, with money left on the table, because there was no money to be carried over for this year. And, the same Minister has, on several occasions, stood in this House and boasted about the fine programme, but did not have one statistic to verify that anything went on it. So, Mr. Speaker, this Employment Generation Programme that she boasted about was nothing but a farce. The Minister has not been able to deliver. I do not know where the Member for Lewisporte heard of all these job creations, it certainly did not come from the Department of Employment and Labour; the only thing I could recall that happened -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: That was the second night back when the President of Treasury Board, the Union basher from Gander, filled in. Actually, I heard of good reports in the paper out in Gander last week. Apparently, there are some more coming this week. My sources in Gander tell me that another attack will be levelled at the President of Treasury Board again this week, so we are looking forward to Part Three of Mr. Baker and the Gander Beacon.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the other thing we were quite concerned about was Health and Occupational Safety Inspectors in this Province. We asked the Minister about what was going on at Nodeco, and, I mean, it was appalling to listen to the Minister trying to explain what was going on; for the most part, she did not know, but, to explain the cutbacks that were happening, Nodeco, which is the employer, is also going to police itself; she was not quite sure how it was going to be done, but her officials had gone to, I think Norway - a Scandinavian country; I am not sure if it was Norway - it might have been a part of Scotland, too, and they were going to implement the system that had been tried there.

MS. COWAN: Why would I know that Scotland (inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: The Minister did not have to go. The Minister should have known that the record there has been abysmal; in the last number of weeks there have been more concerns about safety. The Minister did not even know that the Safety Inspectors were laid off, and could not very well defend it.

I am quite surprised at the Minister. This was going to be our second instalment, but we knew the Minister was not going to be there. We were wondering what was happening with the double- breasting legislation, the trucker certification and so on, but the Minister chose not to come for that portion of it.

The Member for Lewisporte neglected to mention that we also did the Department of Finance. We had the Minister of Finance at our Estimates, and I do not know if he was aware of it, but the Member for Lewisporte neglected to mention that you had attended. I do not know what you contributed to it, your officials did quite well. But the Member for Lewisporte made no mention of the Department of Finance. We, as usual, could not get very many answers from the Minister as to what was going on.

Municipal Affairs was another one that took two nights, still with no answer. We are still waiting for the Minister. We asked him when the capital works is going to be announced. It is still a couple of weeks away, the Minister said. There is no money for recreation in his programme again. The only thing they could refer to was the Labrador Agreement, which is mostly Federal Government.

I know that my colleague for Kilbride might have a few more words to say after one of the people from the other side, so I will sit down now and pass it on to someone else.

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

MS. COWAN: (Inaudible).

MR. RIDEOUT: Now, Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of unemployment in the Province, the shining star, wishes to get herself into the debate, the first thing she can do is go back to her own seat. Then, I might entertain a few interjections from the non-productive Minister of Employment, the Minister who has not contributed one single job to Newfoundland and Labrador in two years, and gets paid $100,000 a year to do it. Now, that is the legacy that Minister has contributed so far.

MS. COWAN: (Inaudible).

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, the Minister is like a nomad, she is all over the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

MR. RIDEOUT: Twinkle, twinkle, little star. I looked over a couple of Friday mornings ago, Mr. Speaker, and she had this big nunny-bag on her back and she was going from one end of the House to the other. I mean, the Minister is like a nomad. Does she ever pitch? Does she ever settle down? Does she ever go to her own seat and stay there? Can't the Minister of Mines and Energy bring his colleague back to sit alongside him, and keep her there so that we might be able to do something with the Estimates that are related to her department? - keep her on a shorter rein?

Mr. Speaker, I have to say to my colleagues, I had to kind of grin as I sat back today and listened to the Member for Lewisporte give the report of the - what is it - Government Services Committee? I had to grin. I mean, he rushed as quickly as he could through the various heads that had been related to that department, and then he made the great thrust of wanting to defend the Government and the Budget and what kind of feeling he is getting from around Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing that re-invigorates and puts a new bit of vitality back into dejected government backbenchers like a Cabinet opening, nothing, Mr. Speaker. You see them huddled over there today. Every time you look over across the House today, they are huddled up in one corner, they are huddled in the block of seats in the middle, they are huddled down in the other corner. You go out on the steps and you run into another three or four. They are huddled together like homing pigeons, talking about who is going to replace their poor, fallen, slain colleague.

You know, I have gone through this before.

MR. SIMMS: The knives are out.

MR. RIDEOUT: The knives are out and the projecting is on, the bets are on.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Member for Stephenville!

MR. RIDEOUT: The Member for Stephenville deserves it, Mr. Speaker. The Member for Stephenville is the only veteran, the one who laid down his political life for his leader, and never even got a reward. And he is too much of a gentleman to kick up a stink. Now, the gentleman for Stephenville committed a crime. He refused to lift up his seat as a sacrifice to the leader. And he is paying the price for that. But it is time for that old foolishness to be gone now.

And the Member for Exploits will sit back and grin, and the Member for Lewisporte and the Member for Pleasantville should sit back and grin.

AN HON. MEMBER: How about the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island?

MR. RIDEOUT: The Member for Mount Scio can blow out his chest and try to button up his coat, Mr. Speaker. The Member for Carbonear can grin and twinkle, twinkle in the corner of his eye. If there is any fairness and balance on that side of the House, Mr. Speaker, the Member for Stephenville will be a Minister.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RIDEOUT: Now, Mr. Speaker, I could not help but acknowledge, as well, the tremendous foresight of the Chairman of this Committee, in making the announcement that the Government was like an ordinary individual. You could not have an income of $50,000, I believe he said, and spend $75,000. There is a lot of logic in that, Mr. Speaker, but look what the Member is trying to defend. This is a Government that twelve months ago, around March of last year, came in this House and said, we will have a $10 million surplus, and they proceeded to go through the next twelve-month period and run up a deficit of $120 million. I have to say to the gentleman for Lewisporte that there is no comparison. It was this Government that so badly managed the fiscal affairs of this Province that they drove the fiscal position from a surplus of $10 million to a deficit of $120 million. That is why we have the fiscal problem that the Member says he does not like. The Member says he does not like the Budget. He says that his constituents are telling him they do not like the Budget, and other Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are telling him they do not like the Budget, but he says, `We had no choice.' Well, there was a choice, Mr. Speaker, because the incompetence of the previous fiscal year made this year much more difficult than it would have been. This year, Mr. Speaker, the Government, because of the way they failed to have a handle and properly project the fiscal realities of last year, this year, Government found themselves in a position where they could not afford to finance the deficit. They could not afford to finance the deficit because their fiscal managers told them the credit rating would be reduced, and therefore, they had to attack hospitals, they had to attack school boards, they had to attack social programs, they had to attack everything, Mr. Speaker, that meant something to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. And, out of all that, the Chairman, the Member for Lewisporte, tries to find a silver lining, talking about the spending on transportation in Newfoundland and Labrador. Never once did you hear that the vast majority of all that, Mr. Speaker, is coming from one form of federal-provincial agreement or another, neither one of, by the way, Mr. Speaker, had been negotiated by this Government! Not one! Not one transportation agreement has been negotiated by this Government in the two years that they have been in office. They are very quick to try to take political credit for something they inherited when they think it is to their political advantage so to do, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I want to come back for a second to the Department of Employment and Labour Relations. I mean it is a gross insult that we have a Ministry in this Province today called the Ministry of Employment; leave the Labour Relations part aside for a moment. It is a gross insult when we have had a consistent increase in the number of unemployed in this Province every month for the last two years with one exception, there has consistently been an increase in the number of people unemployed in this Province.

Do you know, Mr. Speaker, that we, a month ago, had 50,000 souls in Newfoundland and Labrador on welfare? Fifty thousand! Twenty-six thousand families on welfare in this Province. The figures that were given to the estimates committees a month ago. Fifty thousand men, women and children having to depend on what they called in the old days the dole to keep body and soul together. Twenty-six thousand families on the dole having to depend on public welfare to keep body and soul together. An unemployment rate of 22.5 per cent, and we have a Minister who wants to be called the Minister of Employment.

Mr. Speaker, if there cannot be any more done to generate employment and economic activity in this Province, one thing we could do would be to save $100,000 and eliminate the Minister and give that to the poor. That is one thing that could be done. But, Mr. Speaker, I believe there are ways to cushion the blow. I believe there are ways that the Government could go about - the Minister is not getting her nunny-bag out again is she? Mr. Speaker, I believe there are ways that the Government can go about creating some employment in this Province. And this Government, for some reason or another got this aversion about seasonal short-term jobs.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is better than none.

MR. RIDEOUT: Well, Mr. Speaker, I will tell you a slice of bread on the table with a bit of molasses on it is more palatable than a slice of plain bread.

MR. SIMMS: Right on.

MS. COWAN: This is a swan song.

MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, I have no swan song for the Minister of Unemployment. If there are any swans there the Minister knows it. She has been around and looked under every desk. If there is either one here, Mr. Speaker, she should find it. There is not a desk here that she has not pitched in over the last month. If there is anybody in this House who should know about swans it is the Minister. But, Mr. Speaker, I would like for the Minister to know something about job creation. That is what I would like for her to know something about. This Minister has not created one job in this Province over the last twelve months. This Minister, Mr. Speaker, had an Employment Generation Program and with 22 per cent unemployment, with 50,000 men, women and children on the dole, with 26,000 families on the dole, this Minister left several hundred thousand dollars on the table and did not create a job. Now, Mr. Speaker, if that is not bungling incompetence I do not know what it is. Why did she leave the money on the table? Because she could not get a guarantee of more money this year. That is why she felt obliged to leave it on the table. Can you imagine any province in Canada today, with the economic environment that we have in this county, where a Minister worth his or her salt would leave five cents on the table that was available for job creation? I say it would not happen in another jurisdiction in Canada.


MR. RIDEOUT: Mr. Speaker, they can howl all they like. It does not bother me if they were up too late last night and they have to be discourteous in the House, deliberately so, I suspect. You, Mr. Speaker, tell me one other jurisdiction in Canada today where a Minister of Employment would leave money on the table and not use it for job creation. You would certainly not expect it to be in Newfoundland and labrador. You would not expect it to be anywhere. Mr. Speaker, where is the innovation? Where is the initiative? Is it any wonder, Mr. Speaker, that the employment rate in this Province has gone sky-high since this Minister took over?

MR. FLIGHT: (Inaudible.

MR. RIDEOUT: It was not 22.5 per cent I say to the Minister, and there is a Minister who is cutting employment out in an area where he could be having greater employment opportunities, out in Wooddale. The Minister should be seen and not heard until he comes in here with an announcement saying there are more jobs there now than when he took over - then he can come in and crow. The Minister can come in and crow when he produces an extra job above and beyond what he inherited. Other than that there is no crowing allowed, or no crowing permitted.

But what I find so discouraging is the Department of Employment and Labour Relations and the Minister. When my colleagues came back from those Committee hearings and told me in chitchatting around a caucus meeting that the Department had even left money unspent, and there were adults out in this Province starving, children going to bed hungry. And this Minister would leave several hundred thousands of dollars unspent in an employment generation vote in her Department. It tells you a lot about the mentality of this Government.

Had this been anything other than a very, very right-wing Government it would be gouging its way through every Ministry to try to find a few extra hundred thousand dollars to put together and transfer over to the Minister to have a meaningful job creation programme. If this were any government other than an extremely right-wing Government they would be going through every subhead of the Budget, saying: where can we lop off a $100,000 there, or can we take a $100,000 here and a few more dollars here and give it to the Department of Employment to create jobs out there in Newfoundland and Labrador for citizens of this Province?

Mr. Speaker, she is on the prowl again. Where is she going to pitch to this time, I wonder? Ah, the Minister of Finance. She is gone over looking to get the money back that she left on the table last year. She is gone over saying: Herbie, please, Herbie, can I have a few dollars? There are 50,000 Newfoundlanders out there on welfare and I would like to help a few of them. Herbie, please open up the pocketbook. Give me a few dollars. And Herbie of course, the hon. the Minister of Finance, being the tightfisted Minister that he is, says: go away, boy, go back to your own seat.

Mr. Speaker, getting near the hour of 5:00 I do not see any evidence that any new money is forthcoming from this Minister, from this Government, to create a single job in Newfoundland and Labrador, so I can not see anything unless somebody else has something to say, that the question be put, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it the pleasure of the House to concur in the motion on the Government Services Committee?

All those in favour, 'aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: Those against, 'nay'.


MR. SPEAKER: Carried.

The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Tomorrow it is my intention to continue on with the Concurrence. After that I think we will probably move into the loan bill. Would you prefer not to do the loan bill tomorrow?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: No, we had not. So, there are some Committee stages we could do. So maybe we will do some Committee stages tomorrow instead, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Yes, in order, yes, yes.

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

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