May 28, 1991             HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                   Vol. XLI  No. 58

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. GILBERT: Mr. Speaker, this week has been designated as National Access Awareness Week. The Government is sensitive to the many barriers still facing persons with disabilities today. We are also aware that more must be done by all sectors of society if progress is to be made.

I would like to take this opportunity to inform hon. Members of the Government's initiative to facilitate the integration of people with disabilities into the Provincial public service. Our efforts in this area have come about as a result of recommendations from the Task Force Report on Employment Equity. One of the recommendations stated that Government adopt an employment equity program this would increase the opportunities for persons with disabilities in obtaining employment in the Provincial public service.

The recommendation was accepted through the creation of the Public Service Career Development Program for Persons with Disabilities, we have designed and implemented the "Opening doors" program. The program is specifically aimed at increasing the number of permanent positions for persons with varying degrees of disabilities in the Provincial public service. Phase one of the Opening Doors Program recently concluded, following successful completion of this one year work assessment, fourteen persons with disabilities were placed in permanent positions. The second phase is now under way and we are currently recruiting to fill fifteen more work assignments in the various departments of Government throughout the Province.

In addition, this program includes a joint effort with Newfoundland and Labrador Computer Services to develop a computer applicant inventory. The inventory includes an employment profile of persons with disabilities who are not only interested in the public service but who may also be interested in employment in the private sector. Private and corporate sector organizations will be contacted and encouraged to utilize this resource in recruiting new employees.

The Opening Doors Program is a program we can all be proud of. There has been a great deal of co-operation in order for this program to exist. I would like to commend and thank the Public Service Commission for their hard work and to the Newfoundland Association of Public Employees for their cooperation for ensuring the success of this project.

Mr. Speaker, the theme for this year's National Access Awareness Week is "Access is a right". Access comes in different forms. We as a government feel that the "Opening Doors" program is a positive step for disabled persons in terms of better access to employment in the Provincial public service. We will continue to examine programs like this and encourage other organizations to do the same.

As the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission I am pleased to declare provincial support for National Access Awareness Week.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I am a bit surprised that the Minister was not a bit more enthusiastic with this statement. It is a fairly positive bit of information, and something that the Government should be commended for, and I do so. It is an excellent initiative. The Minister did not sound too enthusiastic about it, perhaps he has a cold today. He does have a cold, okay.

I do want to make the point, of course, something that the Minister skipped over and did not, of course, give any credit to the previous administration for, because it was the effort of the previous administration that brought all this about, because of the Task Force Report on Employment Equity that he briefly referred to on Page 1. He would know, of course, that task force was initiated by the previous administration and a lot of the work, and indeed the recommendations for a lot of the initiatives came from that report. So in that respect, both he and I, and both the Government and the previous Government stand, for once at least, hand in hand in trying to do everything they can to improve opportunities for people with disabilities.

I mentioned yesterday, and I will repeat it again since I have the opportunity, that a number of us from the Legislature, I think there were nine from both sides, sat with people with disabilities yesterday at a unique luncheon activity. It was during that activity that those of us who were there, certainly, experienced a great learning experience, and learned a lot about people with disabilities, even in that short period of time, about an hour and a half. It is, I suppose, a bit unfortunate that more Members were not there, but this was their first effort, and hopefully the next time they have one I would encourage and urge all Members to attend because it is a worthwhile experience.

Mr. Speaker, this is a small step forward and I commend the Government on behalf of this Party, at least, for undertaking this initiative, and hope that we will hear statements from the Minister, not only during National Access Awareness Week, of initiatives that Government will undertake, but they should be coming in here week, after week, after week, with similar kinds of initiatives. We look forward to hearing him do just that, along with his colleagues in the Cabinet.

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

MR. FLIGHT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, as usual there has been considerable interest about the level of employment at the Wooddale Tree Nursery this year. I would like to advise this hon. House about the status of production levels and projected employment.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a minute or two to first put the historical levels of employment at the nursery in perspective. The nursery started in the early seventies with heavy emphasis on the production of labour intensive bareroot seedlings. However, with the evolving trend towards container stock, ten greenhouses were built in 1980, ten in 1983 and the final ten in 1985. The Department's current strategy is to produce the maximum number of greenhouse grown container stock and meet the rest of the demand from bareroot seedlings. The production of bareroot seedlings has varied from 120,000 in 1970 to a maximum of 5.9 million in 1987, at which time employment reached its maximum of 175 people. Total seedling production that year was 10.8 million. I might point out, Mr. Speaker, that 175 people is in comparison with the 220 to 250 the hon. Member for Grand Falls was referring to in the debate yesterday.

Mr. Speaker, this year we are planning to produce approximately 8.8 million trees. Since 6.3 million of these will be container stock, the production of bareroot seedlings will have to be curtailed to some extent. As a result, 110 employees have been recalled for summer work. At least 99 of them will receive a minimum of 10 weeks of employment. Some of the workers will be receiving over 30 weeks of employment. My department will be reviewing the possibility of additional planting projects which may enable us to provide more employment to the remaining workers as well.

Mr. Speaker, I have met with the representatives of the workers at the nursery and the manager of the nursery. I have gone over the department's plans with the manager and I am satisfied that all efforts are being made to run the nursery as an efficient and viable enterprise. At the same time full consideration is being given to using the labour intensive techniques to keep employment at a reasonable level. Thank you.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of comments I would like to make on the Minister's statement. It is rather interesting that it was only yesterday in debate that I pleaded with the Minister to come forward with a statement today to clarify the situation with respect to employment at the Wooddale Nursery because there are in excess of 100 employees out there who are suffering a considerable amount of anxiety. They did not know what was going on because of news reports suggesting the Minister was saying that there would be a down sizing in the work force. I pleaded with him yesterday to bring a statement into the House today and if he did that, and if it was a relatively positive statement, that I was quite prepared to stand and sing his praises and commend him. So I am not quite sure if I will do that at the beginning or at the end of my comments. Perhaps I might as well do it now and get it out of the way. I commend the Minister for finally coming into the House and explaining to the workers at Wooddale exactly what is ahead for them in terms of employment.

Now I have to point out, of course, that I had a conversation with members of the union a week or a week and a half ago and they indicated to me that they would like me to come out and sit down with all the workers at Wooddale because of their concerns and discuss their concerns. I agreed to do so immediately. They told me a short while later, two or three days later, that they were attempting to get a meeting with the Minister, but the Minister was not prepared to meet with all of the workers, but he would meet with a select group, the executive of the Association. And they told him in no uncertain terms that if he did not do something for the workers at Wooddale they were going to get me into a meeting and really cause a fuss. So it seems that their threats to the Minister have worked, and the Minister has responded positively. So I commend him for that.

He made the point of course, he could not get through it without making a little dig: in 1987 the maximum employment, the peak employment at the Wooddale Nursery was 175 employees, not the 200 or the 220 that the Member for Grand Falls referred to yesterday. And I said to him: 200, 220, 250, whatever the number was. The Minister would never tell us what the number was. But I hasten to add that of course in 1987 when that facility reached its peak employment of 175 employees, it was that same Member for Grand Falls who happened to be the Minister of Forestry. So too bad this Minister is not performing in the same way.

Now there is some concern with respect to the use of the bareroots stock and the Minister is well aware of it. Most Members of the House perhaps would not be too familiar with it. My colleague the Forestry critic is quite familiar and others who certainly serve constituencies that depend on the forest industry for their livelihood. And there is some debate about whether the container stock or the bareroot stock is the best. As a matter of fact I do not think there is a lot of argument in terms of which is better. I think the quality of the tree that comes from the seedling is probably as good.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time is up.

MR. SIMMS: I will just finish off by saying that there is a bit of debate about that and there is reason for concern. I know the Minister is concerned even though his colleagues in the backbenches may not be. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Before proceeding to Oral Questions, on behalf of hon. Members I would like to extend a warm and cordial welcome to two or three student groups here this afternoon. And first we would like to extend a warm welcome to forty-five Grade VI students from Vanier Elementary School here in St. John's, accompanied by their teacher, Mr. David Wilding, and four parents.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Also, we would like to welcome forty Grade V students from St. Peter's School, Upper Island Cove, accompanied by their teachers, Mr. Winston Lynch and Mr. Norman Mugford.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: We have, also, twenty participants from The Women Interested In Successful Employment Programme, WISE, here in St. John's, accompanied by their instructors, Helen King and Sylvia Ash.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I have some questions for the President of Treasury Board.

Last Thursday, I asked the Minister about a proposal presented to Treasury Board by the Allied Health Professionals. That proposal, as I understand it, was for a joint study into recruiting, retraining and other non-wage issues, and my understanding, further, was that, if Government agreed to this proposal, this joint study which, by the way, in itself, was non-binding, then the Association tells me that an agreement could have been reached, and still can be reached in the current negotiations, which have gone on for nearly eighteen months.

Now on Thursday, the Minister, in response to my question said: `If the position is that simple, and I honestly hope it is, then obviously, we are ready to sign a contract at any time.' Can the Minister tell the House, why Treasury Board is not prepared to accept what appears to be still a simple and reasonable proposal, a non-binding joint study committee? Why is he not prepared to accept that?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, it may not be as simple as all that. Treasury Board Classification and Pay people, are prepared to do the part of the study that has to do with looking at the classifications involved in the AHP group.

The other input that AHP wants in terms of the other things mentioned by the hon. gentleman, is more properly done with the Hospital and Nursing Homes Association and with the management of hospitals, in terms of how the system operates and the recruitment happens, and so on.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, can the Minister confirm that what he has offered, a classification and pay study, by Classification and Pay in his own Department of Treasury Board, is something they can do, anyway? It does not require an agreement by the union, in fact, the Government proposal, as I understand it, is a proposal to have a classification review done by Treasury Board without representation from the Association and, also, with no right of appeal. Is that true? Is that what the proposal is? Is it as accurate as that? Can he confirm that?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the review of classification we propose will be done by the Classification and Pay people in Treasury Board. I could not prejudge what that might do. I presume, in any classification, there is a right of appeal, at some point in time, but it would not necessarily directly involve the individuals whose classifications are being looked at, except that input, obviously, would be sought from them, especially in terms of duties, job descriptions and all this kind of thing. So, the input comes from the people in the jobs, what they do, how they carry out their jobs, and so on. The input comes in and the evaluation will be done by the Classification and Pay people, in light of other units in the public service that have similar duties and levels of responsibility.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I will try to be specific about it, if I can. Is the Minister prepared, at least, to instruct his negotiators that any such review by Classification and Pay would only be done jointly with the Allied Health Professionals, and, secondly, that they would, in fact, have a right of appeal? - that is, on that particular point. On the other point, which he says should more properly be done by the Hospital and Nursing Homes Association, are they not part of the bargaining process, as well? Are they not usually at the table with Treasury Board and the bargaining unit involved? If that is the case, which I assume it is, why would he not accept the proposal of the Allied Health Professionals, which is simply to put what is left out to a joint committee non-binding? It is not even binding on the Government. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why he would not accept that.

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

MR. BAKER: The Opposition House Leader is correct in that there are not two parties at the bargaining table, there are three parties involved. The mere existence of the Hospital and Nursing Homes Association at the bargaining table does not necessarily mean that everything done would involve all three parties at the table. As I have stated to the hon. gentleman, the analysis of classification is quite properly the job of Classification and Pay Division of Treasury Board, and the recruitment and all the other matters associated with the conditions of work on the job is quite properly within the confines of the Hospital and Nursing Homes Association.

I am fairly carefully choosing my words, Mr. Speaker, because, whereas I do not mind talking to the hon. gentleman about it, and I do not mind informing the House of our attitude, at the same time, I hesitate to actually bargain in public in the House.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have questions for the same Minister, a minister with many responsibilities and opportunities to make a difference for the better, the Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, the President of Treasury Board and now the Acting Minister of Social Services. Since the Minister and his colleagues formed the Government two years ago, the number of single parent families on social assistance has increased from 6,300 to 7,500; that is a shocking rise of 20 per cent in just two years. These statistics indicate over 10,000 children, who are children of single parents, mostly single mothers, living in poverty. The alarming growth in the case load reveals a failure of the system to help the parents - as I said, mostly single mothers - get out of the welfare trap.

I ask the Minister, What does the Government propose to do to improve the outlook of these single mothers and their dependent children?

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

MR. BAKER: As the Member well knows, we recently made provisions in this Budget for considering the first child as, in fact, an adult, which would increase the allocation to single parents. The whole issue of single parents in our society is a very complex one and I understand the seriousness of the problem; we have, for some time. We are looking at the problem. There are some things that have been done over the last year or so to improve the lot of the single parent. There is one incident the Member keeps referring to that was a negative, but it was done for other reasons.

The hon. Member will know that we are currently having a look at a specific case of single parents who are attending University, to see what special allowances we can make for them. We have done several things in terms of social services, like increasing the fuel allowance, and so on, this year. We have made some moves, this year, in spite of the fact that we are in very difficult financial times, that will obviously assist single parents, as well as all social services recipients in the Province. So, I assure the hon. Member that we recognize the seriousness of the situation and we will deal with it as best we can.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

While the Government have made one or two steps forward, disappointingly, they have made several steps backward, and single mothers have actually lost ground over the last year or two.

I would like to zero in on an issue the Minister, himself, mentioned, which has to do with the social assistance policy regarding treatment of student aid. Many single mothers who are on welfare desperately want to become self-sufficient, and their route to independence is higher education. However, the current social assistance policy discourages single mothers on social assistance from going to school. The policy actually provides an incentive to quit school, stay home, and simply receive welfare cheques. The most glaring disincentive is the treatment of student aid as non-allowable income. Even student loans that have to be repaid in full are subtracted dollar-for-dollar from the social assistance entitlement. And I believe this Minister appreciates the problem and understands the disincentive.

My question is: When is the Government going to conclude the committee proceedings, finish the study - the issue is clear - make a decision, and make it in time for single mothers on welfare who want to go to school this September?

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear! A good question.

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

MR. BAKER: I congratulate the Member for Humber East on her conversion. The road to Damascus is nothing compared to the conversion that we have seen in this House in the last year or so. The hon. Member was sitting in Cabinet for how many years? - and did not solve all the problems of the single parents in this Province, and now she assumes that, in a few months, we could do it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) years, not a few months.

MR. BAKER: Well, it is not seventeen years, I remind the hon. Member. We recognize that, under no conditions, is the income for social assistance recipients what we would like to see it. If we were a rich province, there are many things we could do. We recognize that a single parent with one child, for instance, when rent is included, receives the equivalent of about $898 a month, in terms of assistance. When that single parent goes to university, he or she receives, after tuition and books are taken into account, the equivalent of a little over $1,300 a month, that is, student loan, grant, plus assistance from Social Services. We recognize it is difficult, in terms of raising a family, to survive properly on what is available. We recognize that, and we are currently studying it. I cannot guarantee when that study will be complete, but it should not take a lot of time.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I remind the Minister that we, over here, are progressive in our approach. The Government, of which he is a member, last October 1, made a terribly regressive change in social assistance policy by beginning to treat maintenance and child support as non-allowable income. My question is, Will this Minister, this acting Minister of Social Services, reverse that October 1 change and, once again, treat maintenance and child support as allowable income, and allow poor single parent families to benefit from the contributions of absent parents, or absent spouses and restore the incentive for absent parents to contribute to the support of their children?

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Once again, it is amazing! She has all the answers, now, and her years in Government - at the end of seventeen years of Tory rule in this Province, things are so disastrous as she claims. It is really amazing! I do not know how she has the stomach to stand there and say some of the things she says, I really do not.

Now, Mr. Speaker, first of all, I am not Minister of Social Services, I am simply spending a couple of days being responsible for the department until whatever happens is going to happen.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Whoever is, will be announced, I suppose, whenever the Premier is ready to do so. I am simply being the person who will answer the questions in the House for a few days, weeks, or whatever it takes. I am not the Minister of Social Services, however, I can assure the hon. member that we are just as concerned as she is about the plight of single parents in this Province. We, at the end of our seventeen years, will not leave this Province in the same state that she and her colleagues left the Province in. We will leave this Province in a much better condition, and the people of this Province in a much better condition than they left them.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A final supplementary to the Premier, the same question: Will the Premier reverse the October 1st social assistance policy change, and, once again, treat maintenance and child support as allowable income, improving the financial means of singe mothers and their children, and restore the incentive for absent parents, or absent spouses, to contribute to the support of their dependent children and relatives?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: As the hon. member noted, it was the same question, and the Minister, who is the President of Treasury Board, spoke for the Government in the matter and gave the answer.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Development. Has the Minister, or more appropriately, Government, recently approved the $100,000 loan guarantee to Great Northern Seafoods by Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador? I wonder if the Minister, in his answer, as well, could indicate to the House if any other Government loan guarantees made to another, or other companies have been transferred to Great Northern Seafoods?

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

MR. FUREY: That is a good question, Mr. Speaker. Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador have a series of programmes they offer with respect to private business. When it came to the Great Northern Peninsula Development Corporation there was what was called a community enterprise program that was added to the credit union and co-operative side program. That loan was approved at the board. It was brought to my attention some time ago, and I intervened as the Minister. I intervened as the Minister because I did not think that was a proper use of Government funds for a third sector organization which was added to this particular component of the program, and I will tell you why I did that.

Development associations - currently there are fifty-seven across the Province - have access to the Rural Development Agreement, a $30 million agreement that this particular Government signed back a number of months after we took office. Other areas such as credit unions and co-operatives also have access to that $30 million agreement. So I believe that there was already in place a pool of capital that development associations and the Great Northern Peninsula Development Corporation itself, which was an umbrella organization whereby there were five development associations reporting up under it, already had access to this pool of capital.

Secondly, along the northern peninsula we have two regional offices. We have one at Flower's Cove, and we have one at Port Saunders. These satellite offices have all the elements of all the programs of Enterprise Newfoundland. They can deliver our equity, our loans, our small programs to small business and other areas.

So what I said was how can we say to the Great Northern Development Corporation here is $100,000 which you can pass out to small businesses and at the same time have two offices operating along the great northern peninsula at Flower's Cove and at Port Saunders doing the same thing. It just did not jibe, it did not make sense, so I put a hold on that money until I had the opportunity to deal with the president of the corporation and Dr. House, responsible for the Economic Recovery Commission. In the belief that the Great Northern Peninsula Development Corporation, as do all development associations around the Province, have a pool of capital to draw on, $10 million of the $30 million sits there under a community development program fund. They can draw upon that, so they have a source of funds. I was not prepared to put $100,000 into the Great Northern Peninsula Development Corporation to deliver the same programs that Enterprise -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: It has been approved, but this Minister has stepped in and frozen it until I have had time to speak to the president and to the Chairman of the Recovery Commission, and I think that it is the proper thing to do. It would have been easier for me as Minister right inside my own District of St. Barbe to simply say yes, approve it and away we go. But that would have been irresponsible.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The loan was approved the Minister said, but in essence he has frozen it for a while. Can the Minister confirm that the Government recently paid $1.5 million to the Bank of Nova Scotia to pay off loans that had been built up by Great Northern Seafoods which have been guaranteed in 1989 and 1990? And will he also confirm that Great Northern Seafoods has an outstanding loan of about $400,000 from Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador on which no payments have been made to date, and apparently interest has built to approximately $100,000? Can the Minister confirm that?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, when this Government came to office we inherited a great number of things. There have been a lot of loans paid off, and paid off by this Government. One example was Twillingate. There were many millions of dollars that were paid out approved by the previous Government.

Let me just give him a very quick history of the Great Northern Seafoods. The former Minister of Fisheries, the current Leader of the Opposition, had a choice in the Brig Bay area, he had a choice. He could turn the plant over to Great Northern Seafoods which had no capital, no money, Mr. Speaker. There were two private sector companies at that time that were very interested in moving in, Mr. Blackwood of Clarenville Ocean Products, and Connor's Brothers, I believe at that time. But the then Minister of Fisheries determined that the best option to go was to pass it over to this development corporation that had no money.

So, Mr. Speaker, what happened was -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has to more or less determine whether or not the Minister is getting to the core - getting to the essence of the answer, and I do believe that the Minister is taking too much time, and I will ask the Minister, please to clue up his answer very quickly.

MR. FUREY: The short answer is, Mr. Speaker, yes, the Government did pay out the loan guarantee. The hon. Member's numbers are incorrect, it is $1 million not $1.5 million. Also, Mr. -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. FUREY: $1 million. Also, there was a loan to the former NLDC for some $300,000 or $400,000 and the interest was waived for the period of time, since the existence of Great Northern Seafoods, so he is correct in that assumption as well. He is probably quoting from a letter that I sent to the Great Northern Peninsula Development Corporation, pointing out all of the monies that has gone into that corporation since it was allowed to stand on its feet by the previous Government, and you know, Mr Speaker, I do not mean to deprecate the decision by the former Minister, but I just want the hon. Member for Grand Bank -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: - to understand that it was his colleague, the Minister of Fisheries who allowed this corporation to take over the assets of this company to allow it to stand on its feet and to give it an opportunity to survive so the short answer is, Mr. Speaker: yes, we paid out the $1 million dollars.

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

I would advise the Minister, please, to take the instructions from the Chair to clue up his answer. The Minister is finished?

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. A final supplementary to the Minister, but before I go to a supplementary, let me say to the Minister that he gave loans to this enterprise in 1990, we were not the Government in 1990, he was.

Now, in light of the letter that the Minister has indicated that he wrote to the director of Great Northern Peninsula Development Association, expressing grave doubts about the viability of Great Northern Seafoods, and some of the things in his letter refer to the failure of Great Northern Seafoods to make payments on loans and so on which the Minister now has confirmed.

Can the Minister explain why then a $100,000 loan was approved to Great Northern Seafoods? That is what I cannot understand in light of all those grave concerns expressed in your letter, why was the $100,000 approved?

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

MR. FUREY: The hon. Member is a little confused. There were two approvals; the first approval of the $100,000 was for the Great Northern Peninsula Development Corporation, it was that money that I believed that the Corporation, through the Development Associations already had access to a pool of capital from the Rural Development Agreement.

Secondly, Enterprise Newfoundland, through its west coast office and its satellites, indeed up the northern Peninsula, the two satellites I referred to delivered the programmes that, that very money was directed into, so that is the $100,000 under the Great Northern Peninsula Development Corporation.

The second thing the hon. Member points out, is Great Northern Seafoods: was there a loan approved or pending approval for Great Northern Seafoods? Yes, $100,000 was pending approval -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: No, that is not what I said, I said in the Great Northern Peninsula Development Corporation; I would ask the hon. Member to concentrate and get it right. There were two things, The Great Norther Peninsula Development Corporation and The Great Northern Seafoods.

The $100,000 which was approved for Great Northern Seafoods, was pending - pending; $100,000 each from Clearwater and Priess, two separate companies. When they came to the table to help with the operating capital for Brig Bay under Great Northern Seafoods and only, when they came to the table, only when they came to the table would we allow the release of the $100,000. I think that is being extraordinarily responsible by this Government and by Enterprise Newfoundland.

What did I say or how did I admonish Great Northern Development Corporation? I would ask the hon. Member to keep them separate: Great Northern Development Corporation, Great Northern Seafoods. Why did I lecture Great Northern Development Corporation? Because, in their original mandate, they had set out, as the hon. former Minister of Fisheries knows, set out to establish themselves -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible), so long to answer it.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, their original motto, their original terms of reference, their original raison d'etre, was, Mr. Speaker, to set up small corporations to feed them with seed money to allow them to stand on their feet, then to pull back.

Well, Mr. Speaker, this Corporation has been in existence since 1987, it has had $300,000 of operating capital from the Federal Government, governments in all areas, including the previous Government, have supported them. I simply said in my letter: return to your fundamental principles and your fundamental principles were to help small companies, get them on their feet, and withdraw.

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

MR. POWER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Considering how much time is left in Question Period, I have a couple of brief questions for the Minister of Health.

Yesterday, the Minister of Health, in responding to some questions as to why doctors have left this Province and why many doctors are contemplating leaving this Province, tried to give the impression that doctors are in the same financial situation all across this country, in Ontario he mentioned and in British Columbia in particularly.

I would like to ask the Minister of Health to confirm that in effect there is a vast difference between what has happened to doctor's salaries in Ontario, where the capping has been in excess of $400,000 a billing, whereas in Newfoundland we have had an across the board capping of doctors salaries, which is causing undue problems and causing doctors to leave this Province to go to Ontario and British Columbia. Will the Minister confirm that our method of capping all doctors salaries is not the same as the method now used in Ontario?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the principle is the same right across the nation. The way that principle is carried out differs from province to province. As the hon. Member pointed out quite rightly, in Ontario the capping is in excess of $400,000 and I think, if he continued to read the article in the Globe and Mail, he would have also read that it only effects about 3 per cent of the doctors.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member is still trying to put the fear of, I do not know what, into the people of this Province, to say that doctors are leaving because of what we have done in the health care system. The fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, I stand by my previous statement which was that no doctors to date have left because of the re-arrangements we have made in the health care sector. I cannot guarantee the people of this Province that doctors will not leave, I cannot guarantee that. All I can say is that we are monitoring this on a daily basis, we have concerns, we do not want to lose any of our specialists, to date we are not aware of any who have left because of the re-arrangements we have made in health care. Some have left, Mr. Speaker, and no doubt some will continue to leave, but we are very concerned and we certainly hope that they do not leave.

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

MR. POWER: Mr. Speaker, a brief supplementary.

Will the Minister stop trying to blame the Opposition for creating panic in this Province when in effect it is the doctors who are applying to the Newfoundland Medical Association for information not us, but the doctors themselves, caused by the Budget brought in by the Minister of Finance? Will the Minister of Health confirm that he and the officials in the Department of Finance are considering changing the capping procedure for Newfoundland doctors so that it is not unfair to all doctors, and that it is going to be like the Ontario capping process whereby only the most highly paid doctors, in excess of $400,000, or in the Newfoundland's case it might be in excess of $200,000 or $300,000, whatever is considered fair, that in effect there is a fairer capping system that could be put in place, and that in effect the Minister's Department is considering doing that just now?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, that question was dealt with yesterday. I pointed out to hon. Members yesterday when the same question was answered, that we have literally frozen the MCP Budget. It has been frozen. We made minor adjustments for normal utilization increases. Now, I said yesterday and I will say again, in case the hon. Member did not hear what I said, we have said to the Newfoundland Medical Association we are interested in capping the $120 million, that is capped. Now, if you can find a more equitable way that we can maintain the cap but pay certain doctors who make less than $125,000 or $150,000 whatever, by all means, Government's concern is to keep the cap at $120 million. We do not care how the Newfoundland Medical Association wants that carried out. It does not matter at all, the $120 million stays.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I have heard the hon. Member over the past number of days talk about doctors leaving this Province for money. I must say that is a very cynical view of the medical profession, which the hon. Member has. If that were accurate, Mr. Speaker, if doctors only worked for money, Great Britain would have no doctors, Sweden would have no doctors, most of Canada would have no doctors, only Park Avenue in New York City, would have doctors. The hon. Member has a very cynical view of doctors which I do not share.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has expired.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I have recognized the Minister of Justice.

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, as Minister responsible for the Public Utilities Board I file the annual report of the operation of the Board under The Automobile Insurance Act for the calendar year 1990, and that is made pursuant to Section 53 (1) of The Automobile Insurance Act. Thank you.

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, as Minister responsible for the Canada Games Park Commission I would like to table the Auditor General's report for the fiscal year ending March 31 1990.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a Bill entitled, "An Act To Amend Certain Departmental Acts And The Newfoundland Public Service Commission Act, 1973," Bill No. 36.

And I give notice that I will also on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a Bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Status Of Women Advisory Council Act."

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, yesterday while I was on the west coast of the Province the Premier was asked a question concerning my Ministry, and it involved the purchase of covers for the Arts and Culture Centres throughout the Province.

Now prior to January of this year we were producing these programmes in-house at the Arts and Culture Centre with the printing being done outside. The design, layout and proofing was in fact done by the manager in charge of that division. A decision was made to develop a new concept and to formulate that concept with outside assistance. So those ideas and concepts had to be formulated in order to bring in place a new programme and new covers and so on.

That is permissable under a special delegated purchase authority given to Cultural Affairs back in 1983 by the previous government. That delegated purchase authority is still in effect, and in fact we are permitted to access outside expertise and pay for that expertise if necessary from time to time. I cannot say now that the design, idea and concept have been finalized and in fact the covers are in use - and very successfully in use I might add - that it will be no longer necessary of course to follow that procedure in the future.

In fact I have asked my Director of Cultural Affairs, Elizabeth Batstone, to have a look at the special delegated authority that was given to us in 1983 as to whether or not it continues to be necessary or maybe it should not be as broad as it is in fact. And some items - and she would need to specify that for me - would continue to be under that authority, but others could perhaps be put properly under the public tendering process as they were previously.

But certainly in this case the authority is clearly in place and public tendering was not necessary. It was only done because it is very difficult to in fact tender for an idea or a concept, and that was in fact what we were dealing with in this case.


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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to present a petition of 1,312 citizens of the Province, many of them students at Memorial University in St. John's. The prayer of the petition is as follows: we the undersigned support the demands of the single parents at MUN that the Department of Social Services change its policy regarding the inclusion as income of the Canada Student Loan for purposes of calculating social assistance benefits.

Now I addressed this issue in Question Period today. I pointed out that there has been a 20 per cent rise in the number of single parent families on social assistance in just the past two years. Right now there are 7500 single parent families in this Province on welfare, and by far the vast majority of those families are lead by single mothers. We are talking about over 10,000 children of these single parents who are living in poverty. Mr. Speaker, many single mothers on welfare desperately want to become self- sufficient and for many of them the only way they are going to become independent is if they further their education. However, the present rules, the rules that have been in place for years, as the Minister is quick to point out, make it very difficult for people to go to school. It is actually easier for many of these people to stay home and simply collect welfare. Social assistance does not allow them to live properly. The social assistance rates do not allow them to buy nutritious food for themselves and their children, but it is worse when they try to get out of the welfare trap by going to school, and perhaps the worst part of the social assistance policy is the treatment of student aid. Even Canada Student Loans that have to be paid back in full by students after they graduate are treated by social services as non-allowable income. One single mother with whom I met today just had to give up a university course because she simply could not afford to continue. If she succeeds in going back to university this September under the present policy, and recognizing that tuition fees are rising, she will be left with only $500 for herself and her daughter to live on for about eight weeks from mid-September until mid-November when she can expect to get her student grant. That is what that woman is up against. Now, September is probably the most expensive time of the year for single mothers. They have to incur the cost of outfitting their children for school and they have to clothe their children for cold weather. For any single mother on welfare now contemplating the possibility of going to school in September she needs advanced notice. She needs to know how much money she is going to have to work with. She has to make advance arrangements for child care. I urge the Minister responsible for the Status of Women, the Minister holding the Government's purse strings, and now the Minister acting in Social Services, to try to wind up the study of this social assistance policy and make a decision, and make the decision in time to benefit social assistance recipients who may chose to go to school in September. Allow them to pursue that option so that in one year, or four years time, they can graduate and then become contributing members of society. That is all they are asking, they are asking for a chance to educate themselves.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I just want to say a few words in support of the petition. I am surprised that someone over there has not stood to respond to the petition by the Member for Humber East.

Mr. Speaker, I have met with some of these people back a month or so ago, and I wonder why it is taking the committee who is looking into the problems so long. I have in my hand a letter written by one of the people concerned - it must have been six or seven weeks ago that this committee was formed - who in her letter, which was a submission to the Committee, asked the question: `Do I give up what I am trying to do - which was trying to educate herself - and become a part of your system?'

Now, I understand, Mr. Speaker, the person who wrote the letter, who made this submission to the Committee, has now had to drop out, and very well documented it was, too, with every expense that she had. Mr. Speaker, very few members in this House of Assembly would even think of trying to live on what that person, with her child, was trying to live on and even comprehend, in their wildest dreams, trying to put themselves through university at the same time.

Now, Mr. Speaker, hon. members on the other side may ask why it was not done before. It is a problem now, and I, personally, was never aware of it before. But I say, now that the problem is here and the people have come to us, and now that a committee has been formed to look into it, some action on it should take place. It is not something that has to take six months or a year. There are people, at the present time, who are dropping out and going back to a life on social assistance and, Mr. Speaker, there is no need for that. There is no reason why Government cannot respond.

No one has yet adequately explained to this House of Assembly why Government would treat as income, a loan that a person must pay back. Why is this such a big problem? Perhaps the Minister of Finance might get up and explain why Government would even want to do that? But it is a problem that is there now, a very, very serious problem, particularly for those people who are trying.

I think, Mr. Speaker, any person who is willing, as this person was, after some years out of school, who wants to go back, who was on social assistance - and we know, Mr. Speaker, that if you have a university education, the statistics go up for employment. So, why would not the Department of Social Services bend over backwards to make sure that these people - and they are not asking for something more, they are asking that their loan, which they must pay back, not be considered income.

Mr. Speaker, I do not know what more I can say, except to ask the President of Treasury Board and the Premier and the Minister of Finance and whoever else is over there, to pay attention to the plea of these young people - these citizens, not all young people -who have found themselves in this situation and who want to get ahead but cannot.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all, I would like to say that I understand the prayer of the petition. I know there is a problem here that some (inaudible) address. We will try to address it as quickly as possible.

I thank the single parents group for the effort they have put into making their position known. They have not only talked to the Member for Humber East and other members opposite, they have talked to many members on this side, many ministers on this side, and they have made their case very strongly. I congratulate them on the way in which they have lobbied, in this particular issue. It will help us in our decision, certainly, understanding what the position is. We will try to deal with the problem that the previous minister indicated was going to be studied. We will try to deal with it as quickly as possible and I remind members opposite that, once again, we will do what we can within the limits of what we have available; we will try to do what we can to solve many of the problems that people, in less fortunate circumstances, find themselves.

I apologize for not being able to be more definite, at this point in time, but I can assure hon. members we will deal with it as quickly, as expeditiously as possible, and inform the House and the single parents group as to what our decision will be.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today, Mr. Speaker, to present a petition on behalf of 740 residents of Western Labrador, people who are concerned about the quality of health care being delivered in Labrador West. The prayer of the petition that these 740 people have signed is: `We, the concerned citizens of the groups against hospital cutbacks, would like to canvass your support against the cutbacks at the Captain William Jackman Memorial Hospital in Labrador City.'

Mr. Speaker, the 740 people who have signed this petition are but a small fraction of the numbers of people who are concerned about the quality of health care being delivered by this régime since they have been elected. They have cut back in their last Budget $870,000, a 12 per cent cutback of funds to the Captain William Jackman Memorial Hospital to deliver health care to an area, Mr. Speaker, that produces more revenue per capita than any other area in this Province and probably, indeed, more than any other area of this country.

They need more money -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) they want more money. (Inaudible) why they want more.

MR. A. SNOW: They want more health care. Now that is the problem with this régime, Mr. Speaker, you have fools elected from the City of St. John's who cannot see past the overpass. This fool, like a lot of fools inside the overpass, does not recognize the problems associated with delivering health care 600, 700 or 800 miles from St. John's.

AN HON. MEMBER: They are so parochial.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, the 700 people who signed this petition, and the 2,500 who signed the petitions that I have presented before are not parochial, they are concerned about health care. That is what is wrong with them, they are concerned about it. And this Minister of Finance, who slips his slimy little hands in their pockets every two weeks, hauls out the tax dollars and says they are too parochial up there.

Now, Mr. Speaker, they are concerned because he has no concern for the quality of health care being delivered or the quality of any Government service that is being delivered up there. He is not concerned -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) sensible.

MR. A. SNOW: Well, Mr. Speaker, it is sensible. He is not concerned, you are not concerned that 3,750 fewer patient visits will be delivered by a physiotherapist. You are not concerned about that, because you got your silly little head stuck in a book down here in St. John's. You are not concerned about the lack of a speech therapist because you do not want to hear them. You do not want to hear the problems of the people of Western Labrador. You do not care that we only have one surgeon. You do not care that if that surgeon has an accident we will not have any surgeon up there.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I said they pay the most taxes per capita of any electoral district in this Province. Now they are proud of that. They are proud of the fact that they spend so much money to run this Province, but what makes them afraid and what also angers them, Mr. Speaker, is the fact that we have fools sitting around the Cabinet Table like the hon. the Minister of Finance who says they do not care. You are parochial if you are worried about health care in Western Labrador. You are parochial if you do not recognize that you live in the North. You are parochial if you are concerned about not having a good quality health care system in Labrador City. You are parochial. Now, Mr. Speaker, they have a concern about that. They have asked me to express that concern in this House. I hope that the hon. the Minister of Finance will be able to convince the hon. Minister of Health that the people of Western Labrador have earned the right to have good quality health care, despite the arrogance of the hon. the Minister of Finance, Mr. Speaker. Despite his arrogance, they have earned that right.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, the hon. the Minister of Finance is running off at the mouth again. He does not recognize that the people of Western Labrador live 800 miles from St. John's, which is the centre of medical delivery when people have to get an air ambulance from Western Labrador. He does not recognize that, Mr. Speaker, because he has not been outside the overpass. I mean, the fool has his head stuck in the sand, at Memorial University, or now, in the Cabinet room, here in Confederation Building. And I hope that the Minister of Health, almost living up North, being from the Northern Peninsula, will be able to convince this fool that there are other places in this Province that deserve and have earned the quality of health care they should get in Western Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

I have been trying to hear what the hon. Member was saying. I think he was saying: ` a fool.' I believe that is what he was saying, I am not sure. If the hon. member was saying that word, it is not parliamentary to refer to each other as "fools" in the House.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, if the term is unparliamentary, I withdraw it.

Orders of the Day

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

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

MR. SIMMS: The Government House Leader and the Minister of Forestry are not here at the moment, but we have just reached an understanding, so, I guess I will have to speak for the two of them while they are rushing to come back into the House.

The first order that we had agreed to call was Order 29, which is second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Newfoundland Crop Insurance Act, 1973," Bill No. 30. That was a decision we just made, I mention to the Minister of Health, who is acting. Did he mention that to you?


MR. SIMMS: It was something we just decided at the moment. Now, unfortunately, the Forestry Minister and the Government House Leader are not here so -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Well, I cannot really introduce it, I am not a member of the Government. Perhaps the Minister of Health could introduce it. It is Bill No. 30. I understand it is fairly straightforward. It really gives the Provincial Government the opportunity, now, to collect funding from the Federal Government under existing agreements -

AN HON. MEMBER: Insurance.

MR. SIMMS: - the Crop Insurance Agreement. It is self-explanatory. So, if he would introduce it, our critic is prepared to respond and we could then move it into Committee.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Newfoundland Crop Insurance Act, 1973". (Bill No. 30).

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

MR. FLIGHT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I have already discussed with the hon. the Opposition House Leader and the President of Treasury Board, this is a very minor piece of housekeeping legislation. The purpose of the amendment is to amend the Newfoundland Crop Insurance Act, 1973, so that it conforms to federal enabling legislation. This will allow the Province to sign a new crop insurance agreement with Canada, wherein the Federal Government cost-shares the programme.

The revised Federal Act that we must comply with and do amending legislation, changes from a continuous - the present Act is continuous, there are no time limits on the term, whereas the new amended and revised Federal Act changes from continuous to five-year agreements. For that reason, Mr. Speaker, Section 18 of the Provincial Act must be deleted in order to allow the Province to sign a new insurance agreement as per the Federal legislation.

One of the reasons why it is imperative that we do this now, as opposed to a fall sitting, is in order for the Province to apply and be paid for losses under the Crop Insurance, effective from the time the new legislation is enacted. So, as soon as we do this amendment, we will be in a position to have the payouts under the Crop Insurance Agreement funded. Mr. Speaker, I do not think there is much more to be said. I will answer any questions the hon. Member may have and leave it at that.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of questions pertaining, under the Crop Insurance Act, to the payment of the premiums, primarily, and the agreement.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, but I do not see anything in this, and is there anything now - probably an opportunity to ask the Minister about different commodities being covered or different premiums or whatever. Is this covered in the new agreement or is this not a blanket or general agreement?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) agree.

MR. WOODFORD: Okay. Well, that is one of the things I would like to have answered, because there has been some concern, on the different commodity groups, as the Minister is well aware, of other commodities being covered under the Crop Insurance Act, the premiums that are being paid, and the different percentages. Now, under the new agreement, there is a different percentage paid on the federal/provincial cost-shared agreement. So, those are the three basic questions, the new structure for the cost-shared federal/provincial, the premiums, whether they changed or not, pertaining to the individual farmer, and the different commodity groups that are covered. There was an automatic renewal before and now the agreement would be locked in for whatever the agreement is, one, two, or three years.

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

The hon. the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture.

MR. FLIGHT: I advise the hon. member that all the commodities - and I cannot list them all right off the top of my head, but I can get them if he wishes - all commodities covered under the existing legislation are covered. It is the total crop insurance scheme we are talking about here, and this particular amendment will have no effect on the existing premiums. There are no premium changes whatsoever; because the purpose of this amendment is to allow us to `piggyback', for want of a better word, or to mesh, go along and dovetail with the new federal scheme that does make changes, and goes from continuous to five-year lock-in, and that kind of thing.


MR. FLIGHT: I will try to answer you if I could -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: On the federal/provincial agreement, the different structure - it used to be 50/25 or 75/25. Is that changed? It is the same?

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

MR. FLIGHT: I think this will clarify for the member's satisfaction, nothing under the existing Act is changing. The crop insurance is not changing, other than the way it is administered, no premium change, no commodity change, and no change in the cost- sharing between the producer, the Province, and the Federal Government. It is to accommodate the new federal legislation that covers the agreement, as it existed.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Newfoundland Crop Insurance Act, 1973," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow.

MR. BAKER: Order 4, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, on a quick point of order. Although we did not follow it yesterday, I do not think, in dealing with the other two concurrence reports, I think there are a number of members who would like to have a few words on this. Could we agree to ten minutes speaking time, and if you want to get up a second time, I guess, you can get up a second time, there is no big problem. I think there is only an hour or so left.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 4, the concurrence motion on the Social Services Committee.

The hon. the Member for Carbonear.

MR. REID: I may not need my ten minutes, so maybe one of my hon. friends over there could use my time, as well. If you remember, yesterday afternoon in the House when the Social Services Committee Estimates were called, surprisingly, my friend for Lewisporte rose, if you remember, and spoke on another group. We did that for a reason. We knew that our hon. colleague from Humber East was not in the House and she definitely would have wanted to comment on the Committee, and maybe, my hon. friend from St. John's East, as well, so we did that on purpose. There was a little bit of confusion yesterday, but we did that because we are so kind-hearted, and we want to try to get along as well as we can with our friends from the other side. On behalf of the Member for St. John's South, the Member is not with us, but he has asked me to say a few words of thanks to the members of the Committee.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible), Cabinet appointment, I suppose.

MR. REID: Probably. Let us hope - a good man!


Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Member for St. John's South, I would like to thank the Member for Humber East, as vice-chair, the Member for Trinity North, the Member for Bonavista South, the Member for Ferryland, the Member for St. John's East. We went through Social Services, Education, Health, Environment and Lands, as well as Justice. I must say everything went smoother than I had anticipated. I was surprised the Members of the Committees both the Opposition Members as well as the Government Members managed to get along so well at the meetings. It was really a little bit to my dismay because I really thought I was the only Chairman that could get along with the hon. Member for Humber East, but I am after finding out that the Member for St. John's South is after moving in on me and now he and the Member for Humber East are getting along probably a little better than we do. There was just a slight tinge of jealousy all during the meetings, but I must say the Member for Humber East did an excellent job.

The respect of the various Ministers for the Committee Members as well as the good job that the Ministers have done individually, and to be just two years in Government and to see without hesitation the number of Ministers answering questions one after the other without even getting assistance from their staff they had with them, is certainly an indication that the Ministers of this Government are certainly well versed in their departments. They are all doing an excellent job as far as I am concerned and as far as the committee is concerned.

I will finish off by making just a brief comment and thank the Clerk's Table and the Clerk's Office and their staff for helping us with these meetings, as well all those Members who participated. I hope the air of co-operation that has been shown between the Members of the Opposition and the Members of the Government in these Estimates Committees can continue in this House. Possibly, if it does continue in this House - the air of co-operation - maybe what we have been elected for we can accomplish.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am a bit taken aback by the remarks of the hon. Member for Carbonear, I have to say. Both because he suggests it is improbable that I can get along with anyone, but also because he talked about how remarkably smoothly our committee proceeded. On the whole, I think it was a satisfactory experience. While I tend to recall sparks flying on more than one occasion, we were given the responsibility of scrutinizing the estimates of five of the largest spending departments of the Government: Health, Education, Social Services, Justice and Environment and Lands. So we had a big job to do.

I was reasonably satisfied with the proceedings for two or three of the Departments in terms of the willingness of Ministers to address themselves to the questions posed by the Committee Members. There were frustrations, however, particularly with the late Minister of Social Services. The Minister of Social Services avoided answering questions, even questions that were simple and that were asked repeatedly. I tried to find out from him, I tried many times prior to the committee meetings, but I resumed my efforts to find out from him the financial implications of last fall's decision to categorize maintenance and child support as non-allowable income for social assistance purposes. He denys there was any saving to the Government. Now, for thousands of single mothers and their children there was a loss of social assistance. There was a drop in their family income of up to 20 per cent. So, conversely there had to be a saving for the Government. I am fairly certain that the amount of money involved for the Government was minuscule but it was very, very significant for the single-parent families affected. I said to the Minister finally: the reason you are avoiding answering this question is that you are embarrassed, you are ashamed to admit that this change which has been so keenly debated and which has caused so much damage actually meant such few dollars for the Government. At any rate, the Minister of Social Services first nor last has not answered that question.

That was not the only question, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister of Social Services skated around. So our efforts to analyze the Social Services estimates were rather frustrating even though the social assistance case load has risen at an alarming rate over the last two years since the Liberals opposite formed the Government, the Government has actually cut back on its social services funding. That is a fact that is stated in black and white in the Budget Estimates. If you go to the last page of the Social Services section of the Estimates, you will see the grand total of provincial spending last year which is double underlined, and then to the left you will see the grand total of what the Government has budgeted to spend in Social Services this year, and you will easily see that the Government has forecast spending $4 million less this year than it spent last year. The Federal contribution however has gone up, so the Provincial Government taking advantage of the greater Federal Government contribution, will be able to do more in Social Services this year than last year.

However, I come back to the fact that over the past two years there has been a shocking increase in the number of people in this Province on welfare. From March of 1989 until March of 1991 there has been a 20 per cent increase in the number of citizens of our Province on social assistance. There are now 50,000 men, women and children in this Province on welfare. Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Social Services could not offer an explanation for that phenomenon, neither could he offer any hope that the trend is going to be reversed.

The statistics indicate a failure on the part of the Wells Administration to manage the affairs of the Province to stimulate the economy. Now granted the Government is facing an international recession, the Government is facing, relative to inflation, a drop in Federal Government transfers, so it is not an easy situation for any Government, but the Wells Administration is taking a laissez-faire approach, washing its hands of responsibility, saying the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is expressing hope that the economy, on its own, may pick up. What the Government is doing is paying 50,000 people welfare. Instead of that, Mr. Speaker, the Government should be creating jobs, making work, allowing people who are able to occupy themselves productively. And as we have seen in the past from our experience with community development projects many people, single mothers on social assistants particularly once in the work force through a Government created project, are able to stay in the work force.

I say to the Member for Stephenville and my colleague from Port au Port here, one of the projects that was run by the Government previously through social services community development on the west coast in the areas represented by the Members involved social assistance recipients with the skills of sewing to make quilts. Now quilt making is an old Newfoundland tradition. Quilts are prized more than ever by today's society. Quilts have even been elevated to the status of art. Our Provincial Government art collection, which was started by the previous administration, I am glad to see is being continued by the new Government, includes quilts made by crafts people and artists. Now, the late Minister of Social Services scoffed at the Bay St. George area quilt making project, but it seems to me that was a project that was very worthwhile. I do not know the details of it. Perhaps it could have been done better, but the basic concept, I think, is admirable. It involves drawing on a traditional skill, which many women in particular, still possess, and which some of the younger women can learn from their mothers and grandmothers. It involves capitalizing on the growing market in North America and the more affluent parts of the world for quality handmade goods. It seems to me that if that kind of project were fostered it would be a way for individuals to involve themselves in productive activity and acquire home skills that would allow them to perhaps, on their own, carry out crafts making so that they could either make a living, or at least supplement their family income.

Mr. Speaker, there are all kinds of ways that Government could be doing better. Despite the hard times there are thousands of ideas the Government could be drawing on, instead of simply passively throwing up their hands collectively, and saying, as the Premier said to the fish plant workers from Grand Bank: I could if I would, but I cannot, or saying as the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations said about the people on Fogo Island: well, I guess they will have to go on welfare. Well, 50,000 men, women, and children in this Province today are on welfare. Now some of them have no choice. Some are disabled, some just cannot hold down a job, but I would suggest that many of them not only are able to work but would much prefer to be occupied in some productive activity, earning their own money, living self-sufficiently, and being independent. We saw some of them in the gallery here today, single mothers, single mothers who want to go to school, but who are finding that the system is discouraging them from that ambition. I think that the Minister responsible for the status of women is sensitive to those problems, and I am optimistic that if supported by the Premier and his colleagues in the Cabinet, that he will, fairly quickly, bring about some improvements in the social assistance policy that will support single parents and others on welfare in their choice to go to school. I certainly wish him well. Mr. Speaker, when we were looking at the Social Services Estimates we questioned the policies regarding children in need of protection. The Minister told us that despite his earlier projection that the number of reports of child abuse was levelling off and would actually go down in time, but in fact the numbers are still rising. There continue to be more and more cases of child abuse.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time has elapsed.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will continue later.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wish to speak to the concurrence motion on the Estimates for Social Services. We did, of course, consider five Departments, including Justice, Social Services, Health, Environment and Lands, and Education, and although the Member for Carbonear said that he thought that the Committee was most harmonious, I found in fact that the Committee was not harmonious at all, particularly in dealing with certain of the Ministers who were rather reluctant to answer questions. In fact in some cases, in particular the former Minister of Social Services, treating questions with great disdain, and really trying to find ways of either confusing the questions or not answering them, or failing to deal with the issues that were raised.

I am hoping to speak more than once in this short debate so I want to concentrate on just a couple of issues in this particular intervention. I do see the Minister of Health in the House and I wanted to bring up a matter which I raised with him during the course of the Estimates committee. Of course a lot of issues were raised with the Minister of Health but this is one which I think is important because it speaks to a most important issue about the future of health care in this Province. We were talking in many respects about the close downs and the closures and the changes in health care as a result of this Government's policy. But one issue which I asked him about, and discovered for the first time - it did not get any media attention - but I think it is a matter of great importance, and it has to do with the issue of research into health care in this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the Chair could ask for order?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: I agree.

MR. DOYLE: It is terrible, nobody listening. Government not listening to what is going on.

AN HON. MEMBER: Or the Opposition.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The question that I asked had to do with the funding for research that was made available to this Province as a result of Federal Government changes to the patent drug legislation, Bill C-22. This legislation was designed to assist the drug companies to have longer protection periods for patents and in fact make it more difficult for generic drugs to be used across this country, that Departments of Health would have to wait up to ten years instead of after four years to use generic drugs.

That cost a great deal of money to this Province and every other province in this country and was strongly opposed in the Parliament of Canada by the New Democratic Party and also indeed by the Liberal Party in the Federal House. The legislation was passed nonetheless. And one of the things that the Federal Government did to make it a little bit more palatable from a public relations point of view was to establish a fund for research across this country. There was a formula that was to put slightly under $2.5 million into the hands of this Province to be used for medical research.

Well, that in fact was the intention expressed by this Government and a previous administration. In fact I have with me a press release that was issued at the time, on April 14 1989, by the previous administration, the previous Minister of Health. In that press release it was announced that there would be a health research foundation and that anticipated was to be $2.4 million available for research. Now that was obviously during the election campaign, but the funds that were identified as being from Federal Government sources were earmarked by that administration for the purpose of health research in this Province. The Minister of Health at that time indicated its intention that this money be used to deal with health care delivery systems, research and development. This was designed to find ways of introducing health care or delivering health care in Newfoundland, presumably in ways that would provide better quality care, and perhaps in a less expensive way.

Well this Government took up that cause and in fact - I am reading from a news article in The Evening Telegram, November 21, 1989, the hon. Chris Decker, the current Minister of Health, is quoted as saying that the Province has $1.2 million so far, received from the Federal Government through this special fund set up. And the fund was established by the Federal Government under the Patent Rights Administration, anticipated was $2.25 million or thereabouts. Mr. Decker said the Government had this money, it was being held in trust. The Government wants to prepare a well reasoned approach with regard to how this money will be used. He said a decision will be made in a reasonable time and not unduly delayed. That was November 21 1989.

Well, we have heard very little about this money from that point on. So I asked the Minister in the estimates committee what had happened to this money, how much was there, was there any more coming? And the answer was: yes, there was more coming, the last payment I think is May 31. And that their anticipated amount was around $2.3 million or $2.4 million. When I asked what happened to the money: was there going to be any research into health care delivery systems, the answer was no. 'No, we held that money in trust for a while, and then we decided to throw it in the general revenues.' Well, that is what this Government did with the fund that was specifically earmarked, according to the Minister held in trust by this Government. I do not know what the trust conditions were or whether it was really a legal trust at all. But the Minister of Health and his Department decided that this money would not be spent on research into health care.

Meanwhile we have people at Memorial University here in this Province anxious to do research into finding ways of delivery of health care in this Province that would result in a higher quality of health care delivery, particularly in rural Newfoundland and, I would venture to say, at less cost. We have representations being made to this Government, representations being made internally, to make funds available for research into health care delivery. We have one experiment being conducted right now which the Minister of Health is very proud of in terms of delivery of nursing care on a primary basis on the southern shore of Newfoundland. We have many models to choose from and many opportunities to find ways of integrating a health care system with the quality personnel that are available and to provide a better service and a higher quality of care, particularly in rural Newfoundland. We have people willing to do that, do the research that is required, yet the Government has decided that it does not want to do that, that they are going to throw this money into general revenues where it will not have any significant affect on the health care system of this Province. Meanwhile the Government is cutting back in areas of health care that are desperately needed in this Province.

The Minister indicated that there was no money available, that we could not do that, this, or anything else because every time a decision had to be made we had to decide whether to cut back on a certain number of hospitals, beds, or nurses or other positions. Well the Minister seemed to find yesterday enough money to look after the latest problem that he is having to deal with with the doctors in this Province. Apparently he has found money, and perhaps it will be a couple of million dollars, to look after the latest outcry from the medical profession, quite properly made, that they were not getting any consideration - even though they were being capped - for the normal increased work load that was anticipated, and that was constantly being added to the Medicare system.

Well, the Minister can find money when people are beating on his door and when people are threatening in fact, I suppose, to cause problems for the health care system. But yet he is unable to look in the long term and see that to use this money which was specifically earmarked from Federal sources for this specific purpose, he was unable to have enough stamina and strength to say to whoever - perhaps the President of Treasury Board who was telling him how much money he was going to have - he was unable to say to him: no, it is important in the long term interest of health care in this Province that this money that is specifically designed for this purpose be used to improve the health care system.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time is up.

The hon. the Member for Stephenville.

MR. K. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would just like to have a few short words in this debate as to the estimates that were presented by the hon. Ministers of a variety of Departments. From Health, Education, Social Services.

I was reading The Globe and Mail this morning and the Federal Minister of Health was in the paper and he was talking - that is Benoit Bouchard - about refusing Quebec's proposal to put a small user fee or $5 user fee on a service. Nobody likes user fees of course, and nobody likes to see user fees in or whatever. But anyway, the Quebec Government is trying to deal with how they fund their health care system. So Mr. Bouchard warned them yesterday that it would be discriminating against the poor if they were to bring in a user fee for the specific service that they were talking about. And he says: it is a very dangerous field, he told reporters outside the House of Commons. He said: if you charge a user fee I fear that poor people will not go for the service because they will fear having to pay money. I will never accept two health systems, one for the poor and one for the rich. There is a risk of that happening. He also confirmed that his Department had advised that the $5 user fee would be a violation of the Canada Health Act.

Now I was reading that this morning and I am looking at the Budget that we had to bring in this Province this year, and looking at the lack of funding that we have gotten from the Federal Government for health care in the last couple of years. I took some time a number of weeks ago to go back and look and ask officials of Finance and Health how much funding we had lost in health care from the Federal Government responsible for giving us certain funds at least to maintain a national standard. It does not matter which government is in. Don Cameron is over in Nova Scotia trying to fix up his system. In BC they are having the same problem. Even in Ontario they are having the same problem. So there is a problem here that we have to deal with and every provincial government has the same problem.

Until the Federal Government decides on what standards in health care there is going to be then every province, especially the poor ones, are going to have an extreme problem in the next number of years. I am sure the previous government, the Members opposite who were in a previous government, wrestled with the same problem. That it is very difficult to bring in changes or to do things if you have not got the dollars. And the unfortunate part is that when you are counting on certain dollars, you are expecting certain things, and so you try to plan. But that is very difficult to do with the Federal fiscal transfer system that we have in this country. And that is the other question that I would like to get to.

Right now the fiscal transfer arrangements are being renegotiated or being looked at by the Federal Government with the provinces, and I can already see that there is a battle brewing on that end. It is to see how different funds are going to come from the Federal Government to the provinces to deal with national standards in a variety of areas. Unfortunately when I read something like this from Benoit Bouchard, the hon. Minister of Health, it kind of gets you poisoned, actually. Because you are there trying to do the best you can with the limited resources you have. We are in a recession not because the Provincial Government put us there, or any other provincial government. Unfortunately some policies of the Federal Government - not all, but some maybe - may have something to do with it. The economists can agree and disagree on that fact. But let's get away from who is to blame, but how are we going to solve the problem? And that is the question - how are you going to solve the problem.

I look at health care and I see the big geography that we have, we have a real problem in this Province in the next number of years, not only because of the lack of funding that the Federal Government is providing now to the poorer provinces. Because most of the new dollars - and I think the Minister of Health would concur with me on this one - that are going in, 75 per cent to 80 per cent of it is Provincial dollars. Which means that the coffers that we are collecting Provincially, most of the new money going into health is coming from the Provincial side. The Federal side, because of its cutback on spending in health side, and also in education but in health care also, is showing that most of the new dollars going in, for every new dollar going in, 70 cents or 80 cents of that is from Provincial coffers.

And that is becoming a very disturbing point and is something that everybody should take into account when looking at how you are going to deal with the health care system in the future. Because the population is aging. Demographics tell us that we are going to need certain services in the next number of years. The Provincial Government has to try to find a way - whichever government is here or in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick or wherever - these governments have to find a way to deal with the demographics that they are going to have to deal with over the next number of years and in health care they have to deal with them soon. Because if you do not plan ahead of time you are going to be in some real crisis situations over the next five to fifteen years. Some serious problems that are coming along and they have to be dealt with.

Now we are going to try here to do what we can with it but we are also going to need the help of the Federal Government and the fiscal transfer arrangements which are now being negotiated are extremely important to this Government and to the people of this Province, as to what kind of a standard they can expect in health care, what kind of services they can expect and how much they are going to have to pay for it, and you know, it is almost as if we are being forced to - in Canada now, the Federal Government is forcing provinces to go to user fees or forcing them to go to other ways of collecting revenue, so that they can try to maintain the system that they have, but there are also again, changes that are going to have to be made to the system to deal with it because the reality is, we are going to need different services in the future for senior citizens, more senior citizens who are living longer and who require new services and expanded services.

We have also our younger population to think about and it is a very difficult process, but it is something that the Provincial Government has to tackle and will tackle as best they can. When I read the comment this morning from Benoit Bouchard, I was disappointed because he is telling you: do not do this or do not do that, but really, you are in a straight jacket in this Province if you are trying to improve your health care system and it is very difficult to do, you just have to try to find the money from your limited resources as best you can. In taxation measures in this Province, we are very limited in what we can do now as to additional revenue, so you are almost dependent on the economy and the way it is going, if it is good or bad and that again, sometimes is not in our hands, some of it is and that is very difficult.

I would only hope that over the next number of months the economy will get better in this Province. This Government is going to work on that, and is working on it trying to improve it. It will happen, it will bring more revenue which will allow us to do this. But the straight jacket on health care has to come off by the Federal Government, if they are going to take responsibility or have responsibility or have part of the responsibility, they have to do it equitably, they have to share the resources with the poorer provinces and allow them to build up to the national standard that we all want to see.

Mr. Speaker, the nation has the best health care system in the world, but there are a lot of discrepancies in that health care system from coast to coast, and whichever Federal Government is there, they will have to decide what the standard is going to be and they will have to do it soon. They will have to decide where we are going in the future on this, as it is extremely important for the people who are going to service this, for the people who are working in the profession, and the strain that they are under, and also it is very difficult for the provinces and their governments in trying to deal with this very important measure.

Again, I think it is over $800 million dollars going into the health care system this year, a large amount of money with our big geography and we have to find a way to do it as best we can without the help we need, unfortunately, we need more help from the Federal Government in that sense and if they are going to take this responsibility, Mr. Speaker, I wish they would take it upon themselves to take it seriously and to provide it to us.

I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just a few moments to have a few words on the concurrence debate, although I must say that it is pretty hard to concur with some of the happenings as a result of the Budget, and the discussion on the Estimates; there are a couple of areas of concern that I would like to talk about briefly. One, in relation to the Department of Social Services. I know the new acting Minister is sitting there all ears, wondering how he can make his mark on the Department in a few short days and I will say to him, it probably will not be hard if he would have a quick look at some of the recent decisions made in the Department and the effect they have had on a number of people.

It is only now, within the last few days, that individuals are starting to come forth and make it known to politicians or whomever some of the problems they are experiencing, and it is now I suppose the chickens are coming home to roost, the effect of the Minister's decisions in relation to his cutbacks, is having on the average recipient spread throughout the Province and in fact, listening to the statistics quoted lately, a large number of recipients spread throughout the Province.

I suggest to the new Minister that he should look at the heavy load placed upon social workers in certain parts of the Province, particularly in the areas where office staff have already been removed; I refer him specifically to the St. Mary's office where the manager was taken out. The former Minister a few weeks ago in answering my question: I asked him who was in charge, he said there is a supervisor, and I suggested to him at the time that he should be careful with his answers, and the Minister if he researched it will see that there is no supervisor. No supervisor was appointed when the manager was taken out, no supervisor has been appointed yet. And the workers in the office are having to get together each day to look for direction. They are not under anybody specifically. Somebody breezes in from the regional office every now and then, sits down and makes a list of cuts, not realizing the effect, not knowing the local circumstances, not knowing the personal circumstances. And consequently a lot of people are being hurt severely by some of the decisions being made.

The removal of one staff out of four, so that is - well actually one-quarter, one-third, basically of the working staff, if you eliminate the secretary, in the office has been removed. Which means that the three remaining people have to pick up the extra work load. On top of that, as we see more and more cases being added to the social services list then the work load is becoming onerous indeed.

So perhaps the new Minister would look at that and in areas of need make sure that there are enough people in the offices to serve the needs of the people who themselves really have no recourse. All they know is the local worker who visits their home or they know there is an office in the area which some of them can get to. Some of them are fifty and sixty miles away from the office. So consequently they have very little recourse to anybody else. In relation to the cutbacks, where people have - drug cards have been taken on them, housing payments have been chopped, people have been eliminated. One person because he was getting two cents too much has been eliminated from the list, even though the person's circumstances were trying, by people who do not understand the individual case loads.

The only response is: tell them to appeal. An appeal to whom? All of us know many of the people who are recipients of social assistance, who know very little about how or where to appeal. And even when they do quite often they are appealing to the same people who made the decision in the first place. So it is certainly not the proper way to treat such people. I think the Minister should look upon these things immediately.

The transportation problems that have been brought to the attention of the House in recent days should certainly be looked at. I have no argument at all with the Department for trying to tidy up some of the transportation costs. I have personally witnessed in the past people I will consider to be able bodied people standing by the side of the road watching the regular taxi pass by where you could go to St. John's for $20, and having a special taxi haul up and bring them out at a cost of probably $120, just because they are on social assistance, with maybe nothing wrong except for the fact they could not find employment. That to me is total and utter abuse and I have no argument at all with trying to tidy up a system like that.

But I do have an argument when a person who has a child who is disabled and who has to have regular treatment - "regular" meaning on the proper time and the proper day - cannot receive proper assistance to pay for transportation for that child. That person is supposed to try to combine with others who might be going. That is okay if you are going visiting the welfare office or you are going for a general visit to a doctor's office or whatever. But not when you are dealing with specific cases. So in cases like that certainly there are exceptions to every rule, and hopefully the Minister will look upon making sure his local offices understand that where the need is for specific attention that special attention be given.

In relation to the Department of Education I would be remiss if I did not say a few words to my good friend the Minister of Education. As we basically get down to the point where the Budget is approved and the Minister can go off and spend his dollars and implement the decisions that he has made, all I can say to the Minister is I wish him luck. The Minister will find, perhaps not so this time of the year, because in the field most things are flowing and have flowed through the year. The decisions that are being implemented now were ones that were brought in earlier in the year. The funding that is being spent funding that was available and so on.

It is when September rolls around and we get into October and November and the boards see what they are without, when the people in the field, the teachers, the administrators, find out that the expertise they valued for so long, from the Minister's department, is no longer there, because many of these people are gone with the wind; and when they look at the new programmes they wanted to implement, and look at the field of special education, they will find there are some real difficulties there. And it will not be, as I said, until they get into the new school year, that these things start to take effect. I believe the Minister will have some real problems in the fall, trying to explain how he could sit there and put up with the severe and vicious cuts to his budget. When I raise the question of lack of funding he always says, boards will have more money than they had last year, and when he is asked to explain that he will say, practically - well, not practically, I presume every school tax authority throughout the Province was given the go-ahead to raise money. You know, that is really funny, because if the Minister had not been here during the couple of years preceding the last election, to hear the President of Treasury Board, in particular, day after day - he was education critic for a while, asking me a couple of questions, in fact, over his two year stint - to hear the Minister of Health, the Minister of Transportation and others talk about school tax authorities. If there was a phrase that was bad in the English language it was school tax authorities and, consequently, these people took full advantage of it, to the point where, even the President of Treasury Board brought a resolution before the House asking that school tax authorities be abolished, and many of them committed. It is on - dig back through Hansard; it is in Hansard, on the Order Paper. You will find that many of them, during the campaign - the Minister of Transportation just coming in, you know, on his ads. His one big commitment was to abolish school tax authorities. And the Minister still wants to do it, undoubtedly, but the unfortunate thing about it is to hear a Minister say that they should be abolished, they are wrong, they are unfair. And, in many respects, those statements are true. I always admitted that when I was Minister of Education. The school tax authorities were unpopular, but I would be a very popular Minister if I could stand up and say we will abolish them. But knowing a little bit more about the education system than many of the people opposite, we said, if it could be done, if somebody would show me how we could get $30,000 into the school system, into the hands of the local boards, the result of which, the expenditure of which, will be determined by the local boards themselves, then I will agree to abolish school tax authorities. Nobody, nobody, from the field or anywhere else came up with a better way to put money into the schools. So, it is a bit ironic that the Minister stands and says -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time is up.

MR. HEARN: Already? Well, I will get back to it. Thank you.

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

Is it the pleasure of the House to concur in the report of the Social Services Committee?

All those in favour, please say, `aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: All those against, please say `nay'. Carried.

MR. BAKER: Order 5, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. CHAIRMAN (Barrett): Order, please!

Bill No. 13. The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Bill No. 13, "An Act To Amend The Newfoundland Law Reform Commission Act, 1971." I do not have a great deal of knowledge about the details, Mr. Speaker. However, if there are any particular problems with any clause in this very important piece of legislation, I am sure the Minister of Justice will be able to satisfy everybody and answer every question and every concern, to everybody's satisfaction.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Newfoundland Law Reform Commission Act, 1971," (Bill No. 13)

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the Bill, without amendment, carried.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Law Society Act, 1977". (Bill No. 5).

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the Bill without amendment, carried.

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

MR. CHAIRMAN: Shall Clause 1 carry?

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. There are some very simple changes. There is a section that was cross-referenced incorrectly, it says Sections 11 and 12 but it should only be Section 11, so, switching the sequence of two clauses, Clause Nos. 12 and 13, Clause No. 13 becoming Clause No. 12, and Clause No. 12 becoming Clause No. 13, makes, I think, for the better flow of the document, and delete that cross-reference that should not have been there in the first place.

On motion, Clause 1, as amended, carried.

On motion, Clauses 2 to 10, carried.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Is there an amendment to Clause 11?

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. SIMMS: I could help him put it through, if he wishes, but would the Government House Leader, maybe, like to -

MR. RIDEOUT: Put it through for him. Show him how to do it.

MR. SIMMS: Are there a slew more of these things? Have we bunch of other ones? We do not have copies though. I say to the Government House Leader, why do we not adjourn the debate at Clause 11 of this Bill and jump on to the next one, which is Bill No. 3, "An Act To Revise And Consolidate The Law Respecting Juries?" Would the Government House Leader agree to adjourn the debate on Clause 11 now, and give us a chance to straighten out on this Bill?

Mr. Chairman, the Government House Leader and I just had a quick discussion. I think we could agree to adjourn debate at the present time on Clause 11 of Bill 6, which we are dealing with right now, just to get our house in order, and jump ahead to Order 10, which is the Uniform Pensions Act, an Act on which, in Committee, I know we have some Members who wish to say a few words. I would not be surprised if even the Member for St. John's East might want to say a few words. Perhaps we can get into some orderly debate on that one, and then straighten out these other items? Perhaps you could ask if that is agreed?

MR. CHAIRMAN: Bill No. 7.

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

MR. PARSONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

I rise today, because I believe it is incumbent on me, as a person who was involved - not involved now, or not receiving any pension from any segment of the uniform services - but, at one time, I was a member of the police force and also a member of the St. John's Fire Department.

AN HON. MEMBER: A boxer.

MR. PARSONS: No, I was never that, thank God. I became a part of the fire department in the early 1950s. I should not be telling that because I suppose it could be related to my age. Anyway, I did, and it was a foregone conclusion, then, that your pension was something of a sacred item, because it was there before Confederation, it was there during the time of Commission of Government, and it was just brought along, and, as far as I knew, it was part and parcel of The Terms of Union. Everything went fine as far as the uniform pensions were concerned, and there were no changes brought forward. In other words, I suppose, you could call it a sacred cow. It was never touched. In all the deliberations, all the pay negotiations, pensions were never on the table for discussion, until some junior members of the force, and, I suppose, rightly so, Mr. Chairman - I can look back to when I was in my 20s, when pensions were the last thing on my mind. I wanted some money upfront and I wanted it right away. I would almost be prepared, at that time, to forfeit any segment, or all of my pension, just to get some money for that particular time, which I suppose you would have to say, rightly so, when the need was greatest. Mr. Chairman, be that as it may, the pension scheme was never on the bargaining table until it was brought there, I think, I am right in saying, by members of the Newfoundland Constabulary, last year. They opened up the pension to scrutiny, and to negotiation, because I think there was an agreement for an increase in pay, subject to the opening of their pension plan, and they received a pay increase, subject to that agreement. Mr. Chairman, that is what opened up the Uniform Pension Plan.

Now, Mr. Chairman, as far as the Act, itself, is concerned, it serves most of the people well. There is no doubt in my mind at all about that. The only thing I can say, Mr. Chairman, is that in doing what the police did, they not only opened it up for the police, but they opened up the pension plan, again, for negotiation, for all the uniform services, because all the uniform services are part and parcel of the one unit. I know, when I joined the police force, the fire department and the police department were under the same chief and you could transfer from one department to the other, which I did. I transferred from the fire department to the police and I was there until I resigned from the police force and went to another job. But it was all part and parcel of the same overall group.

Mr. Chairman, the old plan, when I joined, was based on 25 years service and 60 per cent of your income based on your last day's work, on which I stand to be contradicted, but I think perhaps it was the best pension in North America. For that reason, alone, I felt very strongly that it should never be opened up again for negotiation. But that is beside the point, now, Mr. Chairman, it was opened up, and what the Bill says now is that everyone in the uniform services will have to join the new plan. The only people left out of that plan would be people with nineteen years service or over.

Now, Mr. Chairman, there is not a lot of difficulty with that to many people in the uniform services, but there is a minority in the uniform services who disagree, and rightly so. I mean, what they are saying is they came into the uniform services with the knowledge that they were going to retire after twenty-five years. Mr. Chairman, in realism, looking at the real life side of this, there are parts of this Act that really cannot be put in place. What I am saying is, in particular, with the fire department, where if we are going to go for thirty-five years, I cannot, for the life of me, see an active fire-fighter at sixty years of age. I mean, no matter where you are fighting fires, Mr. Chairman, I cannot see how any person - perhaps there is one in 100 - how a man up to sixty-five years of age can fully participate in the activities of a fire department. It certainly escapes me and I am sure it escapes all the rest of the Members of the House of Assembly.

Mr. Chairman, the men are not taking anything away. They say, okay for the senior men it is not right, and even the men who were there from day one to the nineteen years, consider it not right. What I say to the Government is that we should keep it grandfathered. Now, people coming into the service as of, let us say, the first of January or the first of August, or whatever, will certainly have to join the new pension program. Mr. Chairman, leave it optional and there will be a great number of the senior members of the uniform services who would not stay in the old pension plan because of the differences in the percentage they have to pay. If you were to stick with the old pension plan now, Mr. Chairman, I believe it is close to 12 per cent, which is quite an amount taken out of your cheque, whereas, if you went with the new programme, the new pension plan, it would be 7 per cent, which is again a large difference between the new and the old.

Mr. Chairman, I have been told by prominent people both in the police force and the fire department, that if this policy was adopted to grandfather that Bill 7, to grandfather the Act and make it optional for persons in the uniformed services to choose which one of the plans they wish to follow, and again I am told that with the exception of perhaps less than a dozen people, most of the policemen and most of the firemen would opt to stay in the new pension plan. Mr. Chairman, what I am saying, is that the minority should have that right, they should have the right of choice to choose which pension plan they want to stay in, because it has to be remembered, Mr. Chairman, that they came into the service under this agreement; they came into the service with this in mind: after twenty-five years, we are due a pension, we are going to leave here whether forty-five, forty-seven or fifty or whatever. This is what you have built your life around and, Mr. Chairman it is unfair to change it, it is unfair, Mr. Chairman.

If this bill goes through as we see it here now, the only persons who will be eligible to remain with the old pension plan are people with nineteen years service. I also have to remind the hon. House, that the teachers had a fifteen year plan; all the teachers, instead of the nineteen years were subject to the fifteen year freeze, so even in that respect, Mr. Chairman, I cannot see for the life of me why there was that much of a discrepancy. Perhaps the teachers were quite satisfied to go along even with the new plan, I did not hear much of an outcry, but what we are speaking about here is people who came into the fire department, into the police force and said: okay, after twenty-five years, we are ready to go. Their families are raised and many of them are now only starting to live after they have finished with their jobs because of the restrictions that they had shift wise and whatever, they had very little family life and this was one of the reasons why they joined those services in the first place and I think that this should be looked at.

Again, Mr. Chairman, there certainly is a loss in revenue for each individual who is pensioned on this new plan. The old plan was such that on the day you left the service; if you were getting $30,000 and your increase was on the last day before you became pensionable, then that is what your pension was based on, 60 per cent of your last day's service, but in the new plan, it is 2 per cent per year and to receive that 60 per cent, you would have to go thirty years and thirty-five years for the 70 per cent which is the maximum amount that is allowed.

But with the new plan, you have to do thirty years, compared with the twenty-five years in the old plan, so you have to give a lot to be part of the new plan. Again, I want to make sure that the House understands what I am saying. The pension plan itself,

dealing with people overall, is a good plan. The 2 per cent per year is a good plan, and the Government was right in bringing it in. The only part of that Bill that is wrong, as far as I can see, Mr. Chairman, is that nineteen years. I think that nineteen year bit should be taken out and the Act should be grandfathered. Give the people, Mr. Chairman, a chance to chose their own destiny because it is fair for a person, when he comes into a job tomorrow, for the guidelines and the rules to be laid out for him: this is what you have to do and this is what you will receive, and by the same token those people from the uniform services, when they came in, be it five years ago or fifteen years ago, were told: this is what you have, this is your pension act, these are your hours of work, these are your duties, whatever. Mr. Chairman, I think those people have a right to chose now. Again, I want to be explicit, and say to the Government that from all the people I have spoken with there would be no more than a dozen altogether, because of the monetary implication, that would chose to stay with the old pension act. I say to the hon. House that, being a democratic body like we are, and responsible men and women, I think we should give the uniform services the right for grandfathering. I think in doing so we will show that we want to make sure that they have faith in the Legislature, and have faith in the Government who is their employer, whether it was the Liberal or the Progressive Conservative Government, whichever Government they hired on under, whatever Minister of Justice was there, well, it does not matter, whichever one it was. It is not a political thing. It is a moral thing, a moral right of the people who were employed at that particular time to now have the right to choose their own destiny.

Mr. Chairman, I think this would be a fine gesture on the part of Government. I am not sure really how much extra this would cost. I do not think it would be a great amount because now the percentages have gone way higher than what they were. I remember when I joined the police force, Mr. Chairman, you did not pay into your pension at all. It was free. I am not sure how many years ago they started paying for their pensions but at one time it was free, perhaps ten or twelve years ago, or fifteen years ago, around there. At any rate, Mr. Chairman, they do pay now. There are not many people in the police force, the uniform services, fire department, warders, or whatever, with young families that could afford this 11 per cent. What I am saying is you would not have very many people that would opt for staying in the old pension plan.

Mr. Chairman, along those lines I would ask this hon. House today if they would support an amendment that I propose to make. I want to present that amendment now. It is on Page 5 and it is Clause 2. All I want to do is that Paragraph (r) of Clause 2 be amended by deleting the words, 'more than nineteen years of.' I have a seconder to my amendment in the hon. Member for Fogo, and I would ask the page if she would bring the amendment over to Your Honour

to see if it is in order.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The amendment is in order.

MR. PARSONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

I am having difficulty, with the private conversations going on in the House, in hearing the hon. Member for St. John's East Extern.

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Chairman, I would now like to adjourn the debate on Bill No. 7 and go back to Bill No. 6.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Bill No. 6.

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Chairman, because of the way this amendment is written here, we should move to Clause 13, first, do that change, and then do the change of Clauses 12 and 13.

Clause 13, Mr. Speaker, is amended by striking out the cross-reference `11 and 12', and by substituting the cross-reference `and 11', eliminating 11 and 12 and putting back `and 11'.

On motion, amendment carried.

On motion, Clause 13 as amended, carried.

MR. BAKER: Back to Clause 12 and 13 together, and renumber them. I move that Clause 13 of the Bill is renumbered as Clause 12, and Clause 12 is now renumbered as Clause 13.

On motion, Clauses 12 and 13, renumbered, as circulated.

On motion, Clause 14 through to 44, carried.

Motion, that the Committee Report having passed the Bill with amendment, carried.

MR. BAKER: Order 11, Mr. Speaker.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Evidence Act." (Bill No. 4).

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson. I wish to reiterate my opposition to this Bill amending the Evidence Act. When I spoke in the debate on second reading of this Bill I explained the reasons for my objection. Basically I believe this change has the effect of making worse or exacerbating the power imbalance between the health care establishment and consumers or patients. I do not believe that a case has been made by the proponents of the amendments for giving the special status conferred by this Bill to physicians, other health professionals and health care institution administrators. That is essentially what this change provides. It says that Members of Hospital Peer Review Committees or Quality Assurance Committees will not be required to repeat in court what they have said in a meeting of such a committee.

Chairperson, why should they not have to repeat in court what is said in such a committee meeting? The Newfoundland Medical Association, the Association of Hospitals and Nursing Homes, say that if committee members are required to repeat what they say in quality assurance or peer review committee meetings, that they may not participate, that they may not speak freely and frankly. Well, why not? Is it not part of their respective codes of ethics to take part fully in efforts to raise standards, in efforts to learn from experience, to improve on current practices?

The leaders of these associations in arguing and lobbying for this change express a lack of confidence in the ability of judges to distinguish between peer review committee explorations of different standards, of higher standards of conduct, from existing accepted practices. Well, judges make those kinds of distinctions all the time. They are perfectly capable of separating the reasonable person standard when a patient was injured from some proposal for reform in the future. The types of cases where this proposed change to the Evidence Act conferring a privilege on the health care establishment would arise are cases where a patient believes that he or she has been injured or has suffered because of the negligence of a health professional or a health care institution. Other cases might involve a death where the relatives of a deceased patient sue a doctor, a nurse, a hospital, alleging negligence leading to death.

Now in our system it is very difficult for a patient or the relative of a deceased patient to mount a case in malpractice, to mount a case in negligence. First of all because that is extremely costly, and our legal aid system does not provide help for that type of a legal action. But one of the reasons why such an action is expensive - I suppose every type of court case is costly - but a medical negligence case is particularly expensive because of the cost of getting the required testimony to back up the claim, and this amendment to the Evidence Act removes a potential source of evidence supporting a plaintiff's claim.

Now perhaps if there was a good reason for this exclusion I might be able to support it. But I cannot see any good reason for giving this kind of benefit or privilege to the health care establishment. In a nutshell, as I said before, the change is going to make worse a power imbalance. It is going to stack the deck worse against the patient, or the relative of a deceased patient, who believes that there has been negligence contributing to, or resulting in the injury, the illness, or the death. For all those reasons which I explained more fully in the debate on second reading, Chairperson, I, and my colleagues on this side of the House object to this bill. We oppose the contents of this amendment to the Evidence Act.

Thank you.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. HARRIS: I know I am far away, Mr. Chairman, but I am not so far that I cannot be seen, I do not think.

I did want to make a few remarks on this bill.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

Before I let the hon. Member for St. John's East continue I would like to bring some order to this Assembly. I am having difficulty hearing the hon. Member for St. John's East. I just cannot hear the hon. Member with the private conversations going on. I ask hon. Member to refrain from private conversations and if they want to conduct meetings I suggest they go outside the Chamber.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I want to speak about this Bill, the Act To Amend The Evidence Act, because I think it is one of those bills which comes before the House fairly rarely, and it is one which changes the balance of power in the legal system, and it changes it in a way that favours the establishment, the medical profession, and hospitals, against the individual consumer of health care, the patient, and the patient's family. I oppose this Bill because it is a piece of legislation that gives a right that no other group enjoys. We talked about this before in terms of the evidence that can be given. Any individual in our society is required to give evidence about things of which they know before a court, and they are required to do that because the system of justice cannot operate if people are not called upon to tell what they know, what happened, or what was said. This is a special exemption, Mr. Speaker. There are a few, for example, the so-called solicitor-client privilege exists, but that is not a privilege of the lawyer, that is a privilege of the client, so the client of a lawyer who discusses something with a lawyer is entitled to have that protected from the lawyer giving evidence about it. The lawyer is not allowed to tell anyone, even in a court under oath, what the client told him. That is protection of the client, to ensure that a client has a right to counsel. There is another protection from a priest and a penitent situation. The clergy person is not required to tell what his parishioner or penitent has said in those circumstances. Those are the only two of which I am aware, Mr. Chairman, aside from certain kinds of Cabinet secrecy, or matters of national security, that can prevent evidence from being used in a court. This is a very, very special kind of thing, and I oppose it, Mr. Chairman, because it upsets the balance of power and the balance of responsibility within society, and it does so in a negative way. I oppose it also because it is very difficult for a patient to know whether or not that patient has a claim against the doctor or a hospital, and any information that patient can get about the standards that might have been applied, or could have been applied in a particular situation or a particular circumstance, any information should be available to that person and that person's lawyer to be able to form a reasonable judgment about whether a claim is there and whether to proceed with the claim.

The third reason I oppose this, Mr. Chairman, is because it is unfair to single out one group of people for protection, and it also acts on the basis that this Legislature is saying: we do not believe that doctors and other medical professionals will do their job in either peer review and assessment, or in quality assurance, unless we give them that protection. Now, Mr. Chairman, that is what this Bill is saying.

This Bill is saying that we are satisfied that doctors and health professionals will not act ethically, they will not participate responsibly in this programme, quality assurance or peer review unless we give them this protection. Now, that is a very, very negative thing to be doing; so those are the reasons that I oppose it but I want to say something else.

The hon. Government House Leader is looking up and I know he is remembering the conversation we had the other night about free votes in the House, and I was talking about a free vote on the amalgamation issue for some municipal boundaries in the St. John's area, and how was it that there was a free vote on such an issue like that, when other issues such as matters of conscience, like Bill 16 before this House; matters of conscience where contracts are being broken; where the Government is going back on its word; where it is tearing up agreements for pay equity; these are not matters of conscience for individual Members over on that side of the House to make up their own minds about, these are matters of Government policy.

Mr. Chairman, I think the Government House Leader and I agreed there should be more free votes in the House and I would suggest, Mr. Chairman, that if there were free vote in this Legislature on this Bill, and if Government Members, Government backbenchers, Cabinet Ministers, perhaps the Cabinet Ministers will vote with the Government, but if Government Members were not required as a matter of party loyalty and party discipline, if the whip over there in the back corner was not keeping his eye on how people were voting, and if that system of parliamentary democracy that we have, the rigid system of parliamentary party control was not in place, I would suspect that hon. Members opposite would look very carefully at this Bill and my guess is that they would decide that they should vote against it, because it is not a Bill for the ordinary person; it is not a Bill that protects the interest of the ordinary person, it is a Bill that says unless we give protection to these doctors, they will not do their jobs.

I think hon. Members opposite would say as I say, that they should do their jobs and their Medical Association should make sure they do; their ethics committee should make sure they do; the Medical Association, the hospital boards and all of these other people who are involved in the medical profession should insist that people do their jobs without the special privilege and the special protection that we have here, so, Mr. Chairman, that is why I oppose this Bill and I would encourage Government Members opposite to hearken to these arguments, to listen to what has been said and to make up their own minds as to whether they think that this is a good idea to give this special privilege to doctors and hospitals and medical professions which is enjoyed by no one else in societies; not enjoyed by lawyers but enjoyed by clients of lawyers in certain circumstances; it is not enjoyed by priests or clergypersons, it is enjoyed by the people who go to them, so there is no special privileges for priests or lawyers under protection under the Evidence Act; there are special privileges for the individuals who seek the services of a lawyer or the counsel of a priest in certain matters of conscience. So we are making a special privilege here, unique in our law, one that I think that if hon. Members gave consideration to it they would not support.

Those are my remarks, Mr. Chairman, and I would be voting against this legislation and I ask all other hon. Members to do so.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

MR. BAKER: Order, 12, Mr. Chairman.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Co-Operatives Societies Act." (Bill No. 24).

On motion, Clauses l through 3, carried.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wanted to speak on this piece of legislation because I want to speak in favour of the legislation but I do want to make a few remarks generally about the Co-operative credit societies or Credit Unions as they are known. And I want to speak about them because I have some familiarity with Credit Unions, and I also have a great interest in seeing democratic organizations promoted. Particularly those such as the Credit Unions within this Province, which have control and which help to control, large pools of capital and savings such as we have in this Province.

Even in one institution alone we probably have the largest pool of capital in this Province that is under democratic control, and that in the Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union system, an organization which some hon. Members will be familiar with in its former life as the Newfoundland Teachers Credit Union. I know there are a couple of past presidents of the NTA here in this House and a number of members of the NTA who will be very familiar with the workings of the NTA Credit Union over the years. Which amalgamated with the Terra Nova Co-operative Credit Society back in 1970 and now has, as the Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union, an essentially Credit Union system all across this Province which is a modern, up-to-date, high-tech and very well run institution controlling assets of over $100 million. And these assets are in the forms of loans and mortgages and they take deposits from their members for all kinds of financial services that you would only find in a bank. In fact, some of the services that are offered are unique to the credit union system. They have the first drive-in automatic teller system, and this organization, Mr. Speaker, as are all credit unions, are controlled by and owned by their members, each individual who is a member of a credit union organization has a share called a membership share and they participate in the decision making by electing a Board of Directors and choosing a Board of Directors which hires the management and runs the credit union as a business, Mr. Speaker. It is democratically controlled by its Members. There are many other credit unions in this Province in addition, of course, to the Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union, and it is a system which has grown very rapidly in the last ten or twelve years, and that has been as a result of the efforts of the Department of Rural Agricultural and Northern Development which used to have a co-ops division. I understand that the Minister of Development may have other ideas about the development of co-ops, but at least in the credit union system I think the decision that has been made by the Government to move the credits unions to the - to register the regulatory control of the Department of Finance is right and proper. And I think it is a positive move which should have beneficial effects on the credit union movement, and indeed on the financial services sector in this Province. Hopefully, Mr. Speaker, as a result of this move the credit unions themselves will be regarded as a more serious and secure financial entity in this Province and more and more people will come to regard it as a proper safe, secure and democratic vehicle for their financial services and for their savings.

Mr. Speaker, the credit union system across this country is a vast system working together with the Canadian Co-operative Credit Society with Federal and Provincial bodies with huge systems in many of the other provinces. In Newfoundland, we had numerous number of credit unions develop during the 30's which went into decline in the 50's after Confederation. The banking system built itself up, but we found, Mr. Speaker, in the 70's and in the 80's that the banks seemed to be abandoning many of the rural communities of Newfoundland and we have seen in some cases, very successful credit unions take their place. The Member for Eagle River will be aware of the Eagle River Credit Union which developed as a result of the inciting incidents, if you will, the decision by a bank to move out of that area of the Province where no banking services would then be available.

Mr. Speaker, the residents of the Straits of Belle Isle, with the support of the Fishermen's Union established themselves as a credit union and have developed in the last number of years a very successful credit union providing banking and other financial services to the residents of the Straits of Belle Isle, and are doing a very good job of it. There is another very successful credit union in Happy Valley - Goose Bay called the Labrador Credit Union, and these credit unions are operating within an integrated system under the credit union council.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member for St. John's East but the Chair just cannot tolerate the conversations to my left, and I urge hon. Members to restrain themselves, and if they need to converse to go outside the Chamber.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I want to congratulate the Minister on the moves that are made in this legislation, and to take the regulatory aspects of credit unions into the Department of Finance, and I would encourage the Minister of Finance to also consider other ways -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The Chair has interceded numbers of times to call order in the House and the Chair will have no other option but to enforce the rules if hon. Members keep on creating a disturbance in the House.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I want to publicly encourage the Minister of Finance, as I have privately, to consider other ways in which the savings and capital of the people of Newfoundland can be encouraged to stay in this Province, because we have enormous amounts of savings and capital that are now used outside this Province. They reside in pension funds, either Government pension funds, very many union pension funds, and other accumulations of capital that ought to be used for investment in this Province. Other provinces have been very successful, notably the province of Quebec, also the province of Alberta and other provinces in having government plans which have the effect of retaining for investment within their provinces the savings, the capital, the investment potential of all the people of this Province rather than having it invested outside this Province on the New York stock exchange, or the Toronto stock exchange. The Government can do very many things to make it possible for these savings and this investment capital to be used in this Province to provide employment. Only, Mr. Chairman, when we start to integrate these capital systems can we hope to have improvements in our own financial structure, if we cannot find ways of having our own savings and our own capital investments in this Province, how can we hope to attract investment from other places?

Mr. Chairman, I see that the time is getting late. I want to speak in favour of this Bill and make these remarks about co-operative societies and particularly Credit Unions and offer those words of encouragement to the Minister of Finance on other fronts. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the Bill without amendment, carried.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I move that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

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

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

MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report Bills No. 13, 5, 4 and 24 without amendments and Bill No. 6 with amendment, and ask leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole reports it has considered the matter to it referred and has direct him to report Bill No. 6 with amendment.

On motion, report received and adopted, Bill Nos. 13, 5, 4, and 24, ordered read a third time on tomorrow.

On Motion, amendment to Bill No. 6 read a first and second time on tomorrow.

On motion, Bill No. 6 ordered read a third time on tomorrow.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Government House Leader.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House at its rising do now adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow, and that the House do now adjourn. Oh, before I do I would like at this point in time to ask leave of the House to forego Private member's Day tomorrow so that we can continue on with the legislation that we have now had such a good start on. And I wonder if the House would give leave for that?


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