October 30, 1991                HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS          Vol. XLI  No. 63

The House met at 3:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, at the outset I am going to apologize for the length of this statement. It is longer than I ever want to make as a statement again. It is fairly lengthy because it is a fairly important topic and I want to explain the issue fully to the House.

I am taking the opportunity to advise Members of the House of the decision of Government to enter into a co-operative procurement agreement with the other Atlantic Provinces.

A national process of removing barriers to the free flow of goods, services, capital and people across provincial boundaries started in 1987 at the First Minister's Conference. As a result of that initiative, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador signed an agreement in the summer of 1990 which would remove barriers in respect of goods procurement by governments. That agreement was finalized this year with the accession to the agreement of the Governments of Nova Scotia, and Quebec and the Government of Canada. The decision by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to enter an expanded arrangement among the Atlantic Provinces is another step in that process.

Before commenting on the specifics of this particular arrangement I want to set the matter in proper context. We are living in a world in which economic and commercial barriers are being rapidly dismantled. The four freedoms - the freedom of movement of capital, goods, services and people across boundaries is becoming a hallmark of not only the national but really of the new world economy. This movement is unleashing productive and competitive economic forces which are generally accepted by all to be a critical requirement for increased economic output and prosperity. As I have noted above, the process in Canada was initiated by the First Ministers in 1987. The Federal Government in its recent constitutional proposals "Shaping Canada's Future Together" proposed in Part 111 of the document a broadening of Section 121 of the Constitutional Act 1867 state that "Canada is an economic union within which persons, goods, services, and capital may move freely without barriers or restrictions based on provincial or territorial boundaries."

It is the objective of the Federal Government that the integration of the Canadian economy and the Canadian marketplace that is envisaged in this proposal be accomplished by 1995, and that is the direction in which we are clearly moving.

In addition to that you should note, Mr. Speaker, that the general agreement on tariffs and trade would also require such removal of barriers. Most recently a decision by a panel under the GATT made a decision that certain barriers within Canada to the free movement of beer held by Government is illegal and Canada must take steps to correct it; as well, the free trade agreement is taking us in that same direction.

This is the context of the decision by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to embark on this step of removing barriers at the provincial level between ourselves and the Maritime Provinces. We are increasingly living in a world where we cannot hide behind protective barriers. More than almost any other provincial economy in Canada, Newfoundland depends on its ability to export. More than 30 % of all goods and services produced in Newfoundland is exported.

I will turn now to a more specific description of the Agreement which the Government will enter into with the Governments of the three Maritime Provinces on June 30, 1992. I want to compare that to the National Agreement for Goods Procurement, and I will explain the parameters around the Government's decision to take this particular action.

In December 1989 the Premiers of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island signed the Maritime Procurement Agreement which came into effect on April 2, 1990. That agreement covers the procurement of all goods valued at $25,000 and above, all service contracts valued at $50,000 and above, and all construction contracts valued at $100,000 and above. The agreement covers procurement by almost all government departments, agencies, commissions and crown corporations. Maritime Premiers have committed to encouraging all organizations not covered by the agreement to follow its principles, and that would be municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals and so on, the so called MUSH factor.

The National Intergovernmental Agreement on Government Procurement is to remove all forms of discrimination based on the province of origin of goods or suppliers of goods, and applies to procurement contracts with a value of $25,000 or more. This includes contracts for goods awarded by government departments only. Construction and services, and all contracts awarded by crown corporations are excluded from the national agreement. Participating governments are committed to negotiations to extend the principles of the agreement to cover other procurement activities, particularly in the area of services and construction.

At the May 31st, meeting of the Conference of Atlantic Premiers, Newfoundland was invited by the Premiers of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI to become part of the Maritime Agreement. The matter was considered by Government which issued a series of guidelines for Newfoundland's negotiated accession to that agreement. The guidelines established by that Order in Council were as follows:

(a) that the text of the agreement must be strengthened to ensure open and transparent procurement systems exist in the Maritime Provinces. We did that because we were the only province with a full open public tender arrangement. The others had a more closed arrangement where they could invite special suppliers to bid on it and so on, so we insisted that would be one of the conditions.

(b) that equivalent procedures and practices exist in each province.

(c) an effective dispute settlement mechanism would be in place.

(d) signatories cannot exercise the option to revert to less open procurement practices in the future.

(e) the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador should negotiate a gradual phase-out period for the local preference policy in respect of suppliers from the Maritime Provinces.

(f) that the revised agreement must be given legislative effect in each province; and the agreement should be entered into on the understanding that it would not erect regional barriers against provinces outside the region, thereby precluding a fiscal advantage to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador of being able to accept lower bids from suppliers in these provinces, with consequent savings to the Newfoundland taxpayer.

In addition to these parameters, I instructed my officials to engage in a process of consultation with the Newfoundland private sector to ensure that any actions taken by Government would create business opportunities for, and have the support of the private sector. We engaged in a process of consultation with the following associations:

Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Association

Newfoundland and Labrador Road Builders Association

Newfoundland and Labrador Manufacturers Association

Newfoundland Environmental Industry Association

Canadian Federation of Independent Business; and by that we mean the Newfoundland Sector.

Newfoundland Ocean Industries Association

Newfoundland and Labrador Book Publishers Association

Newfoundland Association of Technical Industries

Newfoundland and Labrador Chamber of Commerce; which is the body that represents all chambers in the Province.

St. John's Board of Trade.

The industry message was that it welcomed an expanded procurement

market, but it urged the Government to take two specific measures:

(1) to ensure equal access to procurement opportunities in each of the Atlantic Provinces; and

(2) to take measures which places Newfoundland businesses in a competitive position with the Maritime firms.

According to these associations, they suggested tax reform is a particularly important part of the competitiveness issue.

I am pleased to be able to report to the Members of the House today that our negotiations with the other three provinces have enabled us to meet all of the requirements established by Government, and the measures recommended by the private sector.

The Maritime Provinces have agreed to drop from the agreement, certain commodity preferences which they had retained, e.g. culverts, paint, etc. This will take effect on June 30, 1992, which is the same date that Newfoundland would join the agreement.

We have agreed to a phase-out of the Newfoundland preference requirement in respect of suppliers from the Maritime Provinces within the threshold of the Agreement, our present preference which stands at 15 per cent. When we sign the agreement on June 30, 1992 it will be reduced to 10 per cent. It will be reduced to 5 per cent on December 31, 1992. The remaining 5 per cent will be eliminated on December 31, 1993. So that is the phase-out that the Government insisted be put in place. As the bulk of Newfoundland tender awards which benefited from the local preference policy required preferential treatment of less than 5 per cent, this phase-out period will effectively maintain that advantage during an adjustment period which will not end until December 31 1993, two years from now.

In the fiscal year 1988-1989 the Government Purchasing Agency issued approximately 11,000 purchase orders to purchase goods and services valued at $104.9 million. Approximately 480 of these Purchase Orders or 4 per cent were for contracts greater than $25,000 and account for $85 million. However, contracts both over $25,000 and awarded under the Local Preference Policy in 1988-1989 totalled approximately eleven contracts and accounted for only $3.2 million or 3 per cent of the total. So you can see from those figures that Newfoundland would not be severely, adversely impacted by this.

This brief analysis suggest limited negative impact if we amend the Local Preference Policy to implement either the Atlantic or the National Agreement in the area of goods and services procurement. Preliminary statistics for 1989 on construction contracts indicate that seventy-eight contracts greater than $100,000 each were awarded by Government for work totalling in excess of $54 million. So that much could have been affected.

The agreement will make provision for an effective dispute settlement mechanism. This mechanism will be available to any Newfoundland business which feels it is not receiving the full benefits of this agreement from any government in the Maritime provinces.

The Maritime premiers have agreed to give this agreement - and I just might add there - because it has been in effect and operating in the Maritimes for the last year or so we have been able to have a look at how it has been working amongst those three provinces and we are satisfied that the dispute settling mechanism does in fact work, and we are satisfied that they are broadening or opening up their tendering process. They have agreed, incidentally, to bring in legislation in those provinces within two years to make it comparable to Newfoundland's legislation.

The Maritime Premiers have agreed to give this agreement legislative effect within two years. This will coincide with the phasing out of our local preference policy. Newfoundland public tendering systems have been for some considerable time more open and transparent than similar systems in the Maritime Provinces. The agreement by the Maritime Premiers to give this agreement legislative effect within two years, will establish the same degree of openness and transparency in their public tendering system which now exists in Newfoundland. I should note here that the Newfoundland Act requires the public tendering of all purchases over $5,000. Therefore, our preference provisions will remain in place for purchases of goods, services and construction over $5,000 and below $25,000 in the case of goods, below $50,000 in the case of services, and below $100,000 in the case of construction.

The agreement does not now cover the activities of municipalities, universities, schools, and hospitals, the so-called MUSH sector. In Newfoundland the vast majority of that sector is covered by the public Tender Act. This is not the case in the Maritime Provinces. Accordingly, that sector in Newfoundland will not at the outset be subject to the provisions of the agreement. However, Maritime Premiers have expressed a commitment to bring that sector in their provinces within the ambit of the agreement. When that occurs, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has accordingly given its commitment that it will also bring that sector in Newfoundland into the agreement.

I was particularly sensitive to the advice of the private sector associations with which we consulted that they face a higher tax burden in Newfoundland than their competitors may face in the Maritime Provinces. This is a result of the fact that Newfoundland and Labrador is larger than the other three provinces combined, and as a Government we have to struggle to provide public services in that vast terrain, spread out along 6,000 miles of coastline, with a much smaller population and tax base, at a greater cost to the public treasury than is the case elsewhere. There is only one way that I could see to reduce the tax burden in Newfoundland without unduly curtailing public services, or increasing the Government deficit, and that is by building on the principle of equalization to include a formula based on a need factor. Now, I know the former government attempted to achieve that, and I would suggest that perhaps they were not successful primarily because they did not have support from the Maritime Provinces. This is a requirement which, as I have noted, is particularly unique to Newfoundland, and we were up to this point unable to secure the support of other Premiers for Newfoundland's position on this matter. As a result of negotiations yesterday, the other three provinces have agreed to work with Newfoundland and to support Newfoundland in its efforts with the Federal Government to have a need factor built into the equalization formula.

I am confident that the expanded market which this action will make available to the Newfoundland business community is good for all of Newfoundland and Labrador, and that the benefits to the public treasury of increased competition in the provision of goods and services to government is in the interest of taxpayers.

I again apologize to the House, Mr. Speaker, for the length of the statement, but I felt it was necessary to provide some detail.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to thank the Premier for a copy of the statement, although, as he knows, I only received it about ten minutes or so before the House opened, so I barely had a chance to read through it. I now have had a chance to listen to the Premier read it into the record. So my comments at this stage are going to be somewhat preliminary, but we will obviously have other comments to make as time goes on.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is fair to say that most people, off the top of the head, would agree in principle with the elimination of barriers, whatever barriers might exist in the Province. But when you are a Province that has 20 per cent, or whatever it is, unemployment, it is extremely important that the Government proceed cautiously and ensure, first of all, that our people are protected. That is of the utmost importance to any government in this Province.

At the outset, I have to say to the Premier - I am speaking individually at the moment - that I have a lot of concerns about the direction in which we are heading, as a Province, as a result of this type of agreement, and particularly, I have concerns about the speed with which we seem to be moving. Because the Premier's statement, I think, in essence, is probably a very significant step towards the establishment of a common economic zone in Atlantic Canada. In other words, that is the old Atlantic economic union, we have heard a lot of talk about. This is a significant step in that direction, I believe.

I can also say to the Premier that, just this morning, we have had several telephone conversations with people who have called us, business people, in particular, and others that we have communicated with ourselves. I can tell him that we are not the only ones who share a lot of concerns about what is being announced here today.

Now, there are three specifics, I suppose, that I have been able to identify in his statement. One is the participation by Newfoundland and Labrador in a procurement agreement that would presumably be binding on the governments, the institutions and agencies, school boards, universities, colleges, and hospitals, those agencies that he has mentioned. This, I would presume, means there is an agreement now among the four governments that not only the governments, themselves, but all of the agencies, would be involved in bulk purchase arrangements. I presume that is what he is saying and what he is announcing.

For example, just to use a simple example, toilet paper - is this what he means? These are the questions that are being raised. Bulk purchasing -


MR. SIMMS: No bulk purchasing involved at all, absolutely none?

PREMIER WELLS: Not in this, nothing whatsoever.

MR. SIMMS: Not in this. But what is the plan, what is the thinking, what is this going to lead to? That is the point we are trying to make. Is this where we are heading? Is that the direction in which we are heading? That is the point I made right at the outset when I talked about it being a significant step towards the Atlantic economic union that people have talked about.

Now, there are some other ideas in the statement, of course, that deserve to be mentioned. I want to talk, specifically, about page 4, where the Premier talked about instructing his officials "to engage in a process of consultation with the private sector to ensure that any actions taken by Government would create business opportunities for, and have the support of the private sector." Then, there is an interesting statement right after it. The sentence after it says: "We engaged in a process of consultation with the following associations: ..." And he lists off a number of associations. That does not imply that you necessarily had their support, simply that these are groups that were consulted with. Is that what the intent of that comment is? That is the question I am asking, and he can address that a little later on. Because we have talked to some of them, and the implication certainly is here that you had their complete support for it.

In addition to that, the Premier mentions the fact that there will be a legislative agreement required to put this agreement in place. So we will have a better opportunity at that stage, I suppose, to debate and discuss it. The Minister of Development nods and says yes, so I assume that is accurate.

Mr. Speaker, there are all kinds of other items in here, of course, too. He mentions that the Maritime Provinces have agreed to drop from the agreement certain commodity preferences which they had retained. He talks about culverts and paint and so on. I seem to recollect that those items were agreed to at an earlier meeting that would take place in 1995 or something, and now they have moved it ahead to 1992 or whatever.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: That's correct. The Minister of Development says no, the Premier says it is correct. I will take the Premier's word on this occasion.

Now, Mr. Speaker, as I said, there are a lot of concerns that people would have to express about this whole issue. And you cannot slough off the fact of the matter that there are, for example, as he, himself, announced on page 6, $54 million worth of contracts. Fifty-four million dollars worth of contracts is a lot of money in the context of Newfoundland and Labrador. It means a lot to a lot of those businesses that have been calling our offices this morning. It means a lot to businesses that I spoke to myself this morning. They are quite concerned about what is going on.

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

I do not know if the hon. the Leader of the Opposition is aware that, on Wednesdays, the Chair is obligated to call Question Period at this particular point, unless by agreement of the House.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, by leave, I am sure that we could allow the hon. member to finish up his statement in response to the Premier.

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

MR. SIMMS: I will just try to clue up. Obviously, you only get half the time to respond, and on a Private Member's Day, it is very difficult.

In any event, Mr. Speaker, I have just raised some issues and questions. There is an overall question that we have about the necessity to get rid of the Local Preference Policy. I think that is one of the biggest issues on the minds of people and I will address that a little later on - we will address it. The other specific element in the statement, I think, deals with taxation. On the issue of equalization, for example, I understand what the Premier is attempting to do there, and if he can get the full support of the other Atlantic Provinces, that will be very helpful to our case. As he said, we, ourselves, as a government in the past, attempted to do it. That would be helpful to us, and I really have no difficulty with it, from what I understand he has been talking about in terms of equalization. But in the coming days we will be seeking further clarification and asking questions of the Premier as to the significance of this particular item in the statement.

Mr. Speaker, I do want to say this: I believe, in fact, that what we have unfolding before us perhaps might be considered by some to be the ultimate amalgamation. A lot of people will put it in that perspective because that is a topical issue to debate. I want to simply urge the Premier, before he takes unilateral action, that he consult with the people to ensure that they are fully informed and that their views are respected in the process that the Premier now has undertaken, which will bring Newfoundland closer, I think, economically, and probably closer to a political marriage of sorts within the framework of an Atlantic Canada. I think that is where we are moving.

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, while that is a movement that has long been supported and advocated by Federal Governments in the past, every single Provincial Government in this Province's history has strongly resisted that kind of a move and I urge him to be extremely cautious.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, sticking with the same issue and the same topic that we just deal with during Statements, the Premier announced this new program, this new policy and, as a result, as we said, the Newfoundland Government's local preference policy is going to be phased out by 1993, I think it is, within a two year period. Now, as was indicated at the time that the local preference policy was initiated, that policy was never intended to be in place permanently, but it was an affirmative action program, I guess, that is the best way to put it, to help Newfoundland businesses be in a position where they could compete with outside businesses from the Maritime Provinces. I want to ask the Premier today, given that - and that is a fact - have we, in fact, in his opinion, now reached that point, and if so, has he some economic studies to show that we are, in fact, now at a level competition playing field with other businesses in Atlantic Canada?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that in respect of the production of some goods we have less capability than other producers in Atlantic Canada. With respect to the production of other goods we have a greater and more effective capability and can do a better job, and can compete in Atlantic Canada and, in some cases, in other places on the mainland, effectively, with other producers. Just to give you an example, one of the big concerns of Standard Manufacturing, the manufacturer of paints, is they have never been able to compete for the major highroad businesses in Atlantic Canada, because Nova Scotia, for example, would invite tenders or do business only with the Nova Scotia manufacturer. The manufacturer in Newfoundland was confident that it could work competitively and bid to get jobs if only we did not have these kinds of restrictions between provinces. So that is one example. There are numerous other examples, Mr. Speaker, that could be mentioned, but to also add to the information, I would point out that just two days ago, or maybe it was only a day ago, the Minister of Development announced the `Buy Newfoundland' policy that the Government is carrying on and implementing. This was our initiative, Mr. Speaker. As a matter of fact, I will even go further, the original plan and purpose was my own and I got the Economic Recovery Commission to design the approach and work with industry to design a program so that we would provide the basic money necessary, the seed money, if you will, to get an advertising program going, and after that the producers who participated by buying the stickers would pay the cost of future advertising and we would be able to carry it on. In that way, we will help our producers to be more competitive, but I am satisfied, Mr. Speaker, that we will be competitive. More particularly, Mr. Speaker, the important factor is, face the inevitable, it is coming, anyway. If we do not get the maximum advantage that we can out of it now, it is coming as a result of the application of the GATT, it is coming as a result of the application of the Free Trade Agreement, it is coming as a result of the Constitutional changes. So, face the inevitable, it is going to come, anyway, and let us get the maximum advantage that we can, now.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, that is all fine and dandy and a great speech by the Premier, but he should also talk to businesses like Blue Buoy Foods, for example, a Newfoundland company, solely owned, in fact, by Newfoundlanders, and ask them for their view of this policy, what they think of it. I can tell you, they are very concerned about it and, in fact, they think it is going to lead to devastation for them. Maybe the minister could call them afterwards and have a discussion about it. I also understand from the statement, the Premier said that, after consultations, he had the support of business community and they were in agreement, generally, with the elimination of local preferences. That is what he is telling us in the statement. Can he confirm for me that, really, it was only a week or so ago that a meeting of the various business sectors was called to bring the various business sectors together in a hasty way to try to get their significant agreement on this issue, and can he confirm that they were in fact unable at that meeting to reach a common position on the whole issue, can he confirm that for me, and secondly, can he tell us which business interests agree that local preference should go and which ones disagree?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is not properly informed. Meetings took place, some of them months ago; they were initiated months ago. The final meeting on the matter occurred on October 23rd I believe was the date - yes, that was the final one after months; it is not one that was just hastefully called together last week as the Leader of the Opposition implied. That is not so. The discussions were initiated and the assessment was initiated months ago.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that group that came together last week, were generally speaking of a mind on the issue. They agreed that they would support the issue providing we could ensure equal access to procurement opportunities in the other Atlantic Provinces and secondly, that we could make sure that we took steps to improve the playing field as far as Newfoundland producers were concerned. Two means they suggested in the resolution on that: one, to try and get Newfoundland's tax levels to be roughly the equivalent of the Maritime tax levels; and I have told you what we have done with respect to that and what I think would make a significant contribution and secondly, they suggested some changes in transportation regulations and so on that would also make a contribution; they felt that the Government could help improve the competitiveness of the Newfoundland producers.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I am advised - I was not at the meeting, so I cannot speak with absolute certainty - but I am advised by the officials who did participate and who know of it, that all groups basically supported this and that in fact, a resolution in that form was drafted; some wanted some minor changes in it that would not affect the principle. But I am advised that basically all groups supported this approach.

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

MR. SIMMS: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

Well, somebody's advice is not quite correct. I spoke to somebody who was at the meeting and that was the information that was relayed to me, they felt it was hastily called prior to the Premier's trip to PEI, so he could have some indication and that is why it was called just last Wednesday, the 23rd of October or whenever it was; secondly, that there was not common agreement on the issue at that meeting. That is all I can tell the Premier; that is the information that we have. But I want to move on quickly and ask him this question.

Does he think, if in fact the Government is going to proceed, and it appears that this is their intention and they are determined to move in this direction, does he think that the two years, I think, that has been allowed for the phaseout of local preference, does he think that that is long enough, time enough, or does he not think that perhaps he is moving a bit too hastily? Could he not look at, if they are going to move this way, look at the possibility of the phaseout over a longer period of time, so that people have a better understanding of how it is going to work and how it is going to affect them and have more opportunities I suppose, to let the Government know what their views are on this whole question?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: There are two things that I need to address specifically, one of which is the suggestion that this is being done with inordinate speed and haste. Let me remind members, Mr. Speaker, that the Maritime Provinces and Newfoundland have been discussing this for several years, years, that the Maritime Provinces signed the agreement in April of 1990; Newfoundland did not. We are a further year and a half - a further year and a half, where we have taken a process of consultation with the public sector and, Mr. Speaker, when I say months ago, the first consultation with the private sector took place more than a year ago and I have some personal knowledge of that, when it started more than a year ago shortly after the Maritimes signed their agreement and we did not sign the agreement, because we wanted to do a more thorough assessment, so there is no rush, this has been underway for years.

Now you can sit and do nothing except contemplate your navel forever if you want to, and if that is the approach you take, you will achieve nothing; so I do not want this suggestion that there has been inordinate speed to stand unchallenged because it is not at all accurate.

The second point that the hon. the Leader of the Opposition made was: shouldn't we have arranged for a longer phaseout period. I agree with him. If we could have achieved it, it would have been desirable. As a matter of fact, we started bargaining with a phaseout to be effective on January 1, 1996, which would have given four years instead of two years. But do not forget, there were three other parties to the agreement and we could not unilaterally declare the phase-in period. So we spent all this time and months negotiating the phase-in period. Well, we got what we think is a reasonable compromise in the circumstances. It phases in, to be completely in effect, on January 1, 1994. So I think that is a reasonable one in the circumstances. If we could have gotten 1996 it would have been better, I agree.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINDSOR: Along these same lines, Mr. Speaker, the Premier is quite accurate when he says this issue has been discussed for several years. The initiation, however, has primarily been from Newfoundland to break down the hidden barriers that other provinces have had in place. Newfoundland was honest and straightforward and came forward with a local preference policy that protected our people, but it was impossible for our people to compete against the hidden barriers that were put in place in other areas.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINDSOR: It is interesting that the rush seems to come on now from other provinces to participate in this kind of a free trade thing. Now that major procurement for Hibernia is taking place in Newfoundland, all of a sudden they need us.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, let me ask the Premier, as it relates to tax policies here - we are talking about harmonization of the tax policy. Maybe the Premier would like to tell us which taxes now will be harmonized? Are we talking about a complete harmonization of tax policy? Will the Premier tell us, in order to off-load the burden from the public sector will he now eliminate the silly payroll tax that he implemented, which puts us at a direct disadvantage with other provinces of Canada, and is this another attempt by the Premier to off-load this on equalization? Is he now going to depend on equalization instead of taxation? Is this his game?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Let me explain to the hon. Member, that nothing he mentioned has any particular relevance to this proposal. To begin with, it has no application whatsoever to Hibernia, none. It affects it not one iota.

MR. WINDSOR: Do not be so foolish! That is extreme naivety.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: Just incredible! This, Mr. Speaker, applies only to purchases by governments and government agencies. Private enterprises can go and purchase wherever they like, whatever they like. It does not make any difference. We cannot tell private enterprise where they are going to buy. If they want to buy from New Brunswick for a higher value they can do it. If they want to buy from New Brunswick for a lesser value they can do it. That is up to private enterprise. This has no application whatsoever to Hibernia, and I am quite surprised at the suggestion by members opposite that it could have any application at all to Hibernia.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, he talked about harmonization of taxes. Now, what we have been talking about in terms of harmonization is harmonizing the retail sales tax with the Federal goods and services tax. It has nothing whatsoever to do with this agreement, no application to it in any manner whatsoever. If we were to harmonize with the Federal goods and services tax, and that would enable us to drop our retail sales tax rate and enable us to provide business input credits, it would put our businesses at a competitive advantage with the other Maritime Provinces. So we had to take that into account, but this agreement makes no provision for it and does not relate to harmonization in any way whatsoever.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, at it relates to Hibernia the Premier seems to have forgotten the best efforts clause in the Atlantic Accord, under which the companies undertook their best efforts to do the procurement in Newfoundland. I assume that one has now gone out the window.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, the Premier said in his statement that in order to equalize the tax burden on businesses in Newfoundland versus those in other parts of the Maritime Provinces, there are only certain options. One is to reduce expenditures. Would the Premier like to tell us if a way of reducing provincial expenditures is to further down-load the tax burden to municipalities since municipalities in other parts of Canada support a larger share of the tax burden than do municipalities in Newfoundland? Is the Premier telling us this will be part of his scheme, to move more of the tax burden from the provincial coffers to municipal coffers.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Let me deal with the Hibernia best efforts again.

Mr. Speaker, if it has not been made clear to the hon. Member for Mount Pearl, who should be knowledgeable about the matter, I am concerned that we have not made it clear to anybody else. This agreement is an undertaking by governments in respect of purchases by governments and government agencies, and that is all. Hibernia companies, and anybody else not in any manner affected. The best efforts with respect to Hibernia is not in any manner affected by this.

AN HON. MEMBER: Crown corporations?

PREMIER WELLS: Crown corporations, yes, but Hibernia is not a Crown Corporation, Mobil is not a Crown Corporation, Gulf is not a Crown Corporation, Chevron is not a Crown Corporation, Petro-Canada is a Federal Crown Corporation in part still. So it has no application whatsoever to Hibernia, best efforts or otherwise, in any way whatsoever.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the second part of the question was: is it part of an overall plan to down-load onto municipalities? No, Mr. Speaker, it has nothing to do with loading on municipalities, up-loading or down-loading. Absolutely not.

Mr. Speaker, the Maritime Provinces are engaged in another undertaking that is quite separate and apart from this, nothing to do with it, arose after this agreement was put in place, and that effort is what they called - originally it was talking about economic union in the Maritimes and they wanted Newfoundland to participate, and I said to them: I don't think you can achieve economic union. You cannot have an economic union within an economic union. The only way that can take place is if you go all the way with political union. That is right, this is what I said to them. If you are talking about political union, yes you can achieve economic union. Can you achieve co-operation amongst the four provinces? Yes you can. You can save a lot of money for taxpayers if you have in place a single securities management regulatory system. You could do that because we do not have enough securities activities in any one of the provinces to warrant a separate regulatory agency, so we could save a lot of money by doing that. We can save a lot of money by working co-operatively on post-secondary education. We do not need to put in place another dental school in Newfoundland in order to provide dentists because we can work co-operatively with the other Atlantic Provinces. Those kinds of things can be done and we can increase the level of co-operation, but economic union is quite something else.

Now, Mr. Speaker, with respect to municipal taxes in particular, the one field of taxation where Newfoundland is way below the national average is in municipal property tax. Basically we are about 42 per cent of the national average, the lowest in the country, and that is because former governments in this Province put in place a system of provincial grants to municipalities and so on, and this probably needs some adjustment in the future so that municipalities take a fairer share of the burden.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, before I get into my question, what I really want to say to the Premier is that is exactly my point, that we are lower at the municipal level, and if the Province is going to somehow lower the burden on businesses then they have to gain it back some other way and I suspect that this is another example of seeing down-loading to municipalities.

Mr. Speaker, if I may have a very brief preamble, when the Premier talks about economic union and political union, I represented the Opposition at the APEC conference in Halifax a couple of months ago where economic and political union were very much the topic of the day, and I tell the Premier, if he is not already aware of it, and I am sure he is, that there is a very strong move in Atlantic Canada for economic union. There was not quite as strong, but still a very strong movement toward political union, and we may well be faced with that, and I suspect that this whole move is the first step in that.

Mr. Speaker, along that same line, if we are now going to harmonize all of our taxes with the other provinces of Atlantic Canada will the Premier not confirm that that therefore is giving up an awful lot of our flexibility in doing our Budget and setting our social policies? This is the same problem we have with harmonization with GST and the Minister of Finance proposing to piggyback on GST. If he does that, it takes away a lot of our flexibility to use the taxation system for social reasons. Will the Premier confirm that we are giving up a lot of our flexibility and the opportunity to manage our own budget?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I do not know where this is coming from - that we are harmonizing all our taxes with Atlantic Canada? Nobody ever suggested it. It certainly does not appear in this statement. It is not in the agreement.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: But this is not tax harmonization. The only role tax plays in this is that we, the producers in Newfoundland, the ten groups that we met with, said: look, one of the factors in our being less competitive than some producers in Atlantic Canada is the fact that in Newfoundland we have to pay higher taxes, higher provincial taxes, and it is hard to argue with that. They pay higher retail sales tax on goods and stuff they purchase for the business. They pay higher corporate tax and so on, so they said we have higher taxes to cope with, so this makes us less competitive, and you have to try and do something about that. Here is what we said: we agree, now there is a reason why Newfoundland's taxes are higher on average than the Maritimes, simply because we have a small population of 575,000 that is distributed among some 700-plus communities, spread out along 6,000 miles of coastline, in a geographic area three times the size of the other Atlantic Provinces put together, and they have nearly 2,000,000 people between them. Now there is our fundamental problem. So, we get equalization paid to us by the Federal Government without taking that into account, so that our cost of providing governmental services is obviously much higher than it is in the Maritimes. So we have to have higher taxes. So what we said was: you support us to get the needs factor, and the cost of building highroads and maintaining schools and hospitals in a province the size of Newfoundland, with our small population, is ten, fifteen, or twenty per cent higher than it is in the Maritimes; you support us to get that included as a factor in equalization, and we will get higher equalization and have less need for taxes, so we will be able to lower our taxes.

MR. WINDSOR: Was the agreement contingent on the Federal Government (inaudible)?

PREMIER WELLS: No, the agreement is not contingent on that, no.

MR. WINDSOR: But you will have to raise taxes?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I have recognized the hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West, but just before he speaks I just want to make a comment again to hon. Members about Question Period, and the necessity to keep questions brief and, of course, the necessity to keep answers brief. If the questions are not brief, it is not likely the answers are going to be brief, so there is a responsibility to keep the questions brief, although that does not necessarily follow. But when the question is brief, at least the Chair is in a better position to know what the answer is. Now, the hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Development.

Presently on the Burin Peninsula there exists, I guess, what would be termed an economic crisis; the equivalent, Mr. Speaker, of a close-down of fish plants in terms of the Marystown Shipyard. Two and a half years ago there were between 500 and 600 employees at the Marystown Shipyard. In two weeks time, Mr. Speaker, there will be thirty-five unionized employees left in that facility. Mr. Speaker, people like the president of the union, for example, who for twenty years has worked uninterrupted at the Marystown Shipyard, has now received his layoff notice, and in two weeks time he will join the rest of the unemployed people there.

I want to ask the Minister of Development, Mr. Speaker, what he is going to do to stop the crisis, and when can we expect to see some positive action to keep the highly skilled tradespeople, our highly skilled technical people, and our highly qualified management people on the Burin Peninsula to continue to work for the Shipyard?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. Member for his question.

First of all, let me correct the record. At present, there are 218 people working at the Shipyard; 141 of these people are unionized employees, and seventy-seven are staff employees.

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the Shipyard has come upon very difficult times. I would be the first one to admit that, and I have admitted it publicly on a number of occasions inside the Legislature and in the media. There are no magic solutions, Mr. Speaker. This Government has always said that we cannot wave a magic wand, nor are we in the position to concoct contracts for the sake of concocting them. Because all that does is add to the considerable burden and debt that is already at this Shipyard, and it is hovering, I think, right now, around $37 million or $38 million. We have to service the interest on that debt and pay operating overruns every year.

So, there are no magic wands and no simple solutions. This Government undertook to divest of the Yard; we made that known and public some time ago. We think that the future is not with governments. We are not good shopkeepers, we are not good shipbuilders, we are Government. We are not in the private sector. So we have taken the position that if we can we will divest of the Yard and place it back out into the private sector with a reputable firm, preferably an international firm that can bring its skills to bear at the Yard, to go out into a very competitive environment to chase down various contracts.

In the interim, we have a number of bids that we have placed. One of those is a considerable bid, and it is with respect to the embedded pieces of the GBS. If we are successful in that bid, it will employ anywhere from 100 to 150 people over a considerable period of time. But we are moving forward on our divestiture package. We think it is the right way to go, a positive way to go, and if we are successful on that, we think, in the long run, it will be for the best for the people of the Burin Peninsula.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: The minister left out one thing, Mr. Speaker, when he said, `We are not good shipbuilders.' They are not good government, either, because the people in Marystown worked at the Marystown Shipyard on the Burin Peninsula when there was another government in this Province. May I ask the minister, then, will he make a commitment that the Marystown Shipyard - forget Cow Head for a minute. Will the Marystown Shipyard continue to operate as a shipbuilding industry? Will the several hundred employees at the Yard throughout the years continue to be part of that operation under new ownership? Will the Minister guarantee that a new owner will not be able to dispose of the Marystown Shipyard at his convenience?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, there are no guarantees in anything that we do. I explained to the hon. member, and he knows, above all people in this legislature, what this Government inherited. We inherited a Shipyard that was burdened with considerable debt. We inherited a Shipyard that has to operate in terms of ship construction in a very competitive environment, recognizing the Canadian shipbuilding policy is diametrically opposed to putting us in a competitive position. What the Government has attempted to do is to place this Yard in the private sector with a reputable firm that can go out there, and using its international reputation -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind the hon. minister that it is 3:00 p.m. and, again, I am obligated to call Private Member's Day, unless by agreement. When I brought the Leader of the Opposition to order, the agreement was to carry on Question Period.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. BAKER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Four minutes?

The hon. the Minister of Development.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, what I am saying is that we cannot give any guarantees. I can guarantee you that we are attempting, as diligently as possible, to divest of the Yard. This is nothing new, Mr. Speaker. It is something that our Government has just proceeded with, and it is much the same way that previous governments, including his own government, attempted to divest of the Yard on a number of occasions. If we are successful, it is my firm belief that, in the long run, it will be in the best interests of the Yard, the best interests of the employees, unionized and non-unionized, and it will put us in the best position to secure some kind of prosperous future for these workers.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the minister also inherited a subsidy programme that had $9 million left in it to construct vessels at the Marystown Shipyard. He refused to put the money there, spending it elsewhere in the Province.

Let me ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, Can he tell the House when will Rosenberg be purchasing the Marystown Shipyard? He referred to snags in the sale of the Marystown Shipyard, recently. Let me ask him if one of the snags was an overrun of several million dollars on the facility, and have they now sought other avenues to try to be bailed out on that?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I am amazed that the hon. member continues to bring up the $9 million subsidy. This Government, in concert with Mr. Crosbie and the Federal Government, directed that $9 million into Marystown for the construction of a shrimp trawler for Fishery Products International. Now, the very simple terms and conditions that we laid out were rejected at the time. I do not want to dredge that up or rehash it but I would be interested in knowing where the hon. member was on that particular issue, and what he advised the people of the Burin Peninsula.


MR. FUREY: No, Mr. Speaker, the money has gone back into the Ocean Industries Subsidiary Agreement under an amended agreement, so that we have increased the amount from $9 million to $13.5 million for the ocean industries and marine sector of this Province. But, it is for the whole Province, not just for Marystown.

Now, the hon. member asked me when was it that Rosenberg, I think he said, would be purchasing this Yard. The company that we are dealing with has asked me, specifically, to retain and keep their name in confidence. I have, though, made arrangements for the negotiating team to meet with non-union and union employees to discuss, in a preliminary way, what we are about with respect to divestiture of this Yard. I hope to be in a position within the next two to three days to explain to the public exactly where we are and to have a definitive conclusion to this agreement.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East, time for a brief question.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On a brief question, I would like to ask the Premier, getting back to the Atlantic Procurement Agreement, what consultations he had with the unions in this Province, and, particularly, the construction unions, which will be most seriously affected by this agreement, especially, now that the Government has failed to resolve the problem of double-breasting? Are we going to have now, another problem with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick coming in and bringing in their workers, non-union or otherwise, and thereby destroy the construction labour force in this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, we are not going to have any such problems. We have not failed to deal with double-breasting. I believe the minister will be bringing in legislation within the next week or two. Some additional adjustment was necessary. I think that has now been worked out.

Anybody who comes to work in this Province will work subject to our labour laws. We will take steps to make sure that those laws are fair to both employers and employees alike, as they must be fair. We will insist that that be the case.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has now expired.


MR. SPEAKER: It being Wednesday, Private Member's Day, I call on the Member for Eagle River to introduce his private motion and carry on with the debate.

The hon. the Member for Eagle River.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is my pleasure, today, to propose this resolution to the House for consideration:

WHEREAS the geography of Newfoundland and Labrador creates undue costs to our citizens; and

WHEREAS many of our people must survive on seasonal employment; and

WHEREAS present income support programs do not have components to reflect this reality;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT both levels of government work towards a new income support program which will stimulate the work ethic and maintain a reasonable level of income for all our citizens.

Mr. Speaker, over the next little while I would like to outline what I see as the problem, and in my closing remarks later this afternoon, to offer some solutions for this problem.

The issue, Mr. Speaker, is more real now, I guess, than it was, say, even several years ago. We have problems in income security, we have problems in the level of income of our citizens, we have problems with the nature of the programs being offered, and problems with the general work ethic.

Mr. Speaker, income security has always been a big question of liberalism and, I guess, a big question of any government in this country. In the McDonald Commission, a number of years ago, the whole question of income security for Canadians was addressed in a substantial way, because, as Mr. McDonald outlined, the present system is ineffective. It is far too complex, it creates a work disincentive, and it is also very inequitable. He went on to further point out that it is regressive and it is hard, especially on the working poor.

Mr. Speaker, I want to outline how this problem particularly affects a number of people in our Province, first of all, the fishermen of our Province. The fishermen in my riding - and I know it is not unusual in other parts of this Province where the inshore fish stocks have their own migratory patterns. Ice conditions prevail in different degrees. Basically, Mr. Speaker, what is happening now is that hundreds and even thousands of fishermen in this Province have to go without income for, in the case of my district, up to eight to ten weeks each year. They just do not have any certainty, because the date of unemployment insurance is fixed so that you can only qualify and collect unemployment insurance benefits from November 15 of one year to May 15 of the following year.

This problem creates all kinds of difficulties at the two worst times of the year when fishermen and their families need income. In the fall of the year, it certainly does not enable them to prepare for Christmas, it does not enable them to prepare for winter and it does not enable them to get the kind of income necessary to meet their upcoming needs. In the spring of the year, Mr. Speaker, in my part of the Province, people have to prepare for the fishing season and, in our case, many of our fishermen cannot think about fishing until the first of July. So, you are stuck there for six weeks without adequate income to plan for your fishing season, to be able to buy your groceries if you are moving outside, as hundreds of our fishermen do, move outside to their fishing stations, to buy supplies for their fishing industry, and to meet any other demands they would have.

Now, I do not want to indicate to the House that income security is a problem only for fishermen or people in the fishing industry. We have a general work force out there, Mr. Speaker, that just does not have the kind of income security that, I believe, they deserve. The funding arrangements we have, either in the UI system or the social services system, are not appropriate, they are just not there. It is the same way with the old age security. The programs that are there right now, Mr. Speaker, are just not set up to be able to adequately address the cost of living that we find ourselves in. People are having to work on very fixed incomes. In our case, many of the people in the service industry have to meet their daily needs on minimum wage or something just a little better.

We are finding that the level of income of our citizens is just not able to meet their needs. Therefore, there has to be, I think, reassessment of the whole issue of income security. Certainly, there has to be greater income for families in this Province, for them to have any hope of getting their children through school, into post-secondary education and having them educated in the way that is necessary to avail of possible job opportunities.

As I mentioned earlier, the levels of income for the working poor is an issue that has not been addressed. The people of this Province, hundreds and thousands of them, particularly, in this city, to meet their daily needs, housing, clothing, and entertainment, if they can afford to do that, have to do it on very basic wages. That is the kind of thing we, as a society, cannot continue to stand for. I believe there is evidence that the work ethic has been reduced over the last number of years, that people are not encouraged to work in the general income security programs we have in place. The work ethic is being reduced because under the existing programs you just cannot go out there and earn that extra income without losing it directly off the assistance you might be receiving. Whether it is under social assistance or the unemployment insurance scheme, you lose the incentive that I believe is essential.

As it stands right now, for fishermen who have to go out there and make whatever income they can, there is a regulation that says you must have fifteen insurable weeks in order to select your best ten weeks. What is happening is that, in many parts of the Province, especially in my area, once fishermen get to the level of ten insurable weeks, they cannot take the chance on going for fifteen weeks, since the weather for the greater part of the year is harsh and due to inshore migratory patterns, the fish do not stay around. The regulation is prohibitive, because if you get eleven, twelve, thirteen or fourteen weeks and these weeks happened to be reduced compared to your previous ten, your unemployment insurance benefits can be drastically reduced. So that is a real disincentive, after having completed ten insurable weeks, if for a day or two in that coming week the fish are still around, to going out there for that extra income. Mr. Speaker, this is an example of how a particular guideline, a particular regulation in the unemployment insurance system, is being a direct disincentive to fishermen, keeping, I guess, extra revenue from the family and, in turn, immediate spin-off from the community. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, we have a general lack of economic activity because of the regulations on these particular programs.

The work ethic is very important, no doubt, to our productivity. We hear all kinds of words from Governments these days as to why we have to strive for greater competitiveness in our marketplace and how we have to be able to beat the competitor no matter where we are. We see more and more in this country, statistics showing that our productivity is falling. That is a very big concern.

The nature of the programs, themselves, Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, are a direct disincentive to our people being able to access job opportunities. The programs are regressive. The unemployment insurance system in place today is a regressive system. If a person, through tremendous effort, going out and doing his best, earned $200 a week, he would get $120 a week in Unemployment Insurance benefits; however, if a person, putting the same effort into it, happened, by luck or whatever, to go to $600 that particular week, he automatically would be able to get $360 of insurable earnings for the rest of the time that he would be on these benefits.

So, Mr. Speaker, what we see here is a very regressive program, one that keeps the poor, poor and one that is not providing the incentive that I think we desperately need to have in place. Certainly, over the last ten, to fifteen years, the gap between the rich and poor has not closed in this country and I would submit that if we are not going to see any drastic change in income security programs, there is not much hope that that gap will, indeed, close, a goal towards which we should all be working.

There is little incentive to work under the existing programs. Under the Social Services programs that are in place, and the UI, which are the two most prominent ones, when you go out and work, you lose practically dollar for dollar. These programs are not able to give you the kind of flexibility that I believe many of our people really need when we have to deal with seasonal industries and, indeed, look to every possible avenue to be able to access extra income.

Another problem that I believe is predominant in some of our programs and one that has to be dealt with in some way, I believe, in the future, is that of lack of regional sensitivity. No matter where you are in this Province today, or, indeed, no matter where you are in this country, the unemployment insurance system deals with you the same way. Except for the number of benefits you get, the unemployment insurance system says you will receive the same number of dollars in Labrador as you do in St. John's. Except for the fact that you work two or three extra weeks in St. John's, you would get that extra five or six weeks benefit in Labrador.

But the fact is, Mr. Speaker, that dollar in Labrador is supposed to go to the same length as the dollar does in St. John's or any other part of Canada, and that is very unrealistic, not that Labrador should be treated differently - and we expect that Labrador is going to have that extra cost - St. John's also has that extra cost; they just have different costs. I think, in some income security program, a regional sensitivity factor has to be built into it, and that can certainly be done, as we will elaborate later this afternoon.

So, Mr. Speaker, I think that what we are seeing here today - and I know all members get the same kinds of calls - is a situation where people just do not know where their dollar will be coming from; they just cannot plan their family budgets and thereby be able to see that there is going to be something for them in the weeks and months ahead.

The same thing can be said for the business community. How can the business community plan for its annual forecasting if it cannot look to a certain level of income in its particular market area? And again, I go to the Coast of Labrador. How can a small-businessman, now, someone in the grocery business, go out and put a certain amount of money into inventory for six months of the year, if he has no idea of what people's level of income will be? It just causes all kinds of problems in inventory costs and interest costs, and therefore we are seeing, Mr. Speaker, I think a totally unreasonable situation. As we go towards the twenty-first century I think we should be looking at having a programme put in place where people are being given an incentive to work, but the overriding thing has got to be that security of income. There is no reason, in my view, why that security cannot be put in place. There is no reason why governments cannot come together, that administrations cannot deal on that level of income security and put their partisanship aside, because all governments must recognize that after the election is over you are no longer a particular political party government, you are there for the best interests of all the people.

So, Mr. Speaker, I hope that we will hear support for this particular issue over the coming few minutes that Members opposite and Members on this side will have to speak. I know that the issue is a long standing one. It is one that has garnered a great deal of public attention particularly on the guaranteed annual income.

But, Mr. Speaker, in my closing remarks this afternoon I would like to expand upon the options, and at that time apart from looking at the guaranteed annual income I would like to look at the option of universality and how that should be reviewed, how we should be looking at seeing whether, in fact, the universality should always be there as a fundamental aspect of the Canadian social safety net.

We should also be looking at, Mr. Speaker, reconstituting income security, and it is a good time, in my view, to be looking at having that done under our present constitutional debate that indeed there is a way and there should be a way found to reconstitute income security where greater sensitivity, a greater mandate for income security is given to the provinces, to the people who are more sensitive to the regional problems we have even within our own areas, Mr. Speaker. Certainly that must me done accompanied by the appropriate tax credits and tax points that would enable the revenue to be present to carry out the national standards that we may very well have in place. But indeed, I think it is all too long at this point in time to still be looking at having Ottawa determine how many weeks it needs to be for people to earn a certain level of income in Labrador, or indeed if there cannot be any change unless you go to the national federal institution in the House of Commons to see something, because when you look at it from Ottawa all you see is a Canadian picture, and you do not want to do one thing because it will upset the whole Canadian apple cart.

Mr. Speaker, I think that it is time, and I will elaborate on that later, time that we reviewed the Constitution and the responsibilities for income security within that. So I close now, Mr. Speaker, and I look forward to hearing the commentary for the remainder of today and hope that we can get support on this particular issue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the Member for Eagle River as he spoke on the resolution he put forth yesterday. The issue that he addressed is just motherhood. Who can argue against the kind of thing that the Member proposed? We on this side have to agree with the general intent of the resolution, that the programs, the safety nets that have been put in place for perhaps some of the most disadvantaged people in our society, is not adequate.

What concerns me, and I want to make some general comments before we get into some specifics, what concerns me is that the Member for Eagle River is sometimes a little too parochial, he only sees the province through his own district, and he has to realize that there is a bigger picture. And it is going to be very difficult in this country to carve up the country into little kingdoms or little fiefdoms with different directions, different instructions as to how each area of the province can be addressed.

Mr. Speaker, it is going to be a monumental task to ask a national government to put that kind of program in place. If that kind of thing that the Member advocated -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Audio trouble.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I do not know whether hon. Members heard me. Thank you, very much.

The hon. Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: As I was saying the kind of program that he envisions is going to be very difficult to administer from an national perspective. While we have all kinds of problems with the present ones in place I think that carving the country up into little sections, little portions, will not adequately serve the interests of this country. The part of the resolution that the hon. Member put forward: to move that the geography of Newfoundland and Labrador creates undue cost to our citizens. There is no question about that. There is no question that it varies with season, with place and with time. I do not know how you adequately put in some kind of program that is going to reflect the difficulty of getting fresh produce into Fogo, into L'Anse-au-Clair, L'Anse-au-Meadows, or wherever it is at given times. It is very difficult to put that kind of program in place because the needs and the cost of your district, I am sure, escalate three-fold in the Winter over what they are in the Summer because of a number of conditions. I do not know what kind of safety net you could put in place that would take care of the local aberrations that occur. The second part; whereas many of our people must survive on seasonal unemployment. That does not just apply to the Member's district, it applies to the entire Province, my district being no different than the Member for Eagle Rivers is. 'The present income support programs do not have components to reflect this reality.' There is no question about that, and neither does the one that perhaps is of the greatest benefit in a district like mine where most people own their own homes and do not have mortgages, the people who are on fixed income, old age pensioners, and so on who do not have the problem that someone who lives in a city with a $600 a month mortgage has. That is not there either. As I said earlier we cannot go carving the Province up into little portions and say, you are going to get a certain level, someone else is going to get another level, and someone else is going to get something else. I just do not think it is practical. The program that comes in has to be national in scope and has to address the entire Province and indeed the entire country. I have great difficulty in saying that we can have something for Labrador City and something for Red Bay. It is just not the way the country can put a programme in place. 'Be it resolved that both levels of Government work toward a new income support program which will stimulate the work ethic and maintain a reasonable level of income for all citizens.' That is a motherhood issue. There is no question that we will have to support a good and a new income support program, whatever it is, and I am going to be looking forward most anxiously to the Member in his conclusion, when he tells us what kind of programme he can put in place. It is very difficult to address the problems of this country because the National Government is going to have to be involved. If the Provincial Government can do it then go out and do it, but we saw what the Provincial Government can do in the Fisheries Adjustment Program when the Minister said in his press release that he thought $2 million reflected the Province's share that it should have in addressing a problem that, while it might be national in payment, was provincial, the issue was a provincial one. I am not sure that the people in Montreal, Toronto, or Ottawa cared very much that the fishery failed in Newfoundland. The Government of Newfoundland could only find $2 million to address this crisis and I am not sure where we are going to find the millions of dollars needed to expand on any kind of programme. The Member was quite right when he spent some time addressing the problems that fishermen experience in this Province. We have a unique situation with UI. I suppose it is unique to fishermen in that they are the only group in the country that are allowed to collect UI benefits from self-employment. The problem with it, as he suggested, is the November 15 to May 15 deadline. The problems that his fishermen experience are no different than the ones in my District. It is virtually impossible for small boat inshore fishermen, to fish past October 1 on a regular basis. It is virtually impossible for anyone to fish on May 15, since fish do not normally arrive, if we are talking cod fish, they do not normally arrive in this Province now on the northeast Coast - the Avalon is a little earlier - until usually around June 20. So there is a full month there that these fishermen too have similar problems as the fishermen in your District, and no doubt that needs to be addressed. That needs to be addressed, not for Eagle River only; that needs to be addressed for the Province.

I note with some interest he talks about the work ethic. That comes to another point of the resolution, an income support programme. What would that do for the work ethic? What would that do? I am much concerned, much concerned, that might not stimulate the work ethic, if we know there is going to be a guaranteed income without some incentive to work.

Well, in fact, I am going through it on a daily basis now with the fish aid package - where a number of fishermen are attempting to get UI benefits, and their complaint, the complaint of many of them, is that they are not going to get time to do gear, and then the other one is that they do not want to work at programmes that are somewhat demeaning.

But, Mr. Speaker, in this country there is just not a bottomless pit that we can draw money from. The Province does not have it. The National Government does not have it, and employers do not have it; and who is going to pay for a programme that is as large in scope as the one you are talking about? Who is going to pay for it? How are we going to address it? It is of major, major concern. Can we raise the taxes of those who work, even more? I suggest you might have a revolution on your hands if that occurs. You could very well. The Province, we are told, cannot pay any more. Does it mean that we are going to scrap the present UI system? Is that what you are asking for, a complete revamping, and a scrapping of the UI? Is it going to go across the board and extend to the other 43,000 Newfoundlanders today who do not have jobs? Are they going to be included? Who is going to be included in your Guaranteed Income Support Programme? Does it apply to fishermen and fish plant workers, or is it going to apply across the entire spectrum of the Province? Because if it does, then we have one massive problem that is going to require millions, and millions, and millions of dollars that have to come from the taxpayers, and that is going to be very difficult.

So, if we are going to do this, we have to put a programme in place that can be financed. If we are going to rely on the UI system as it is, we know that already this year, I think where the Federal Government is now going back to employers and employees looking for more contributions, because the fund is in trouble again. We just fixed it last year to make it pay, and now it is in trouble again. Now where is the money going to come from? That is a real concern - a real concern.

The miner who just lost his job in Labrador, how does he fall into the network; or the fish plant worker in Trepassey, where does he fit into the scheme of things, who has just lost his job and now has an added $500 a month mortgage, and he does not have any income? What happens to these people?

These are the kinds of problems. If you are going to have this network, if you are going to have this kind of network that the Member talks about, then that is going to be mighty, mighty difficult to put in place.

The Member spoke about people who are on social services, the work ethic is not there, because if they go out and make a dollar, then it is taken from them. I would like to remind the Member of an action that this Government took some time ago, when single mothers who were receiving maintenance support, had deducted, dollar for dollar, dollar for dollar, their maintenance support that spouses, or whatever, estranged spouses, or parents, were paying them.

Now, Mr. Speaker, if that occurred then is that not a disincentive for these people to go out and look for this support? Is that not the same? So you cannot have one and not have the other.

AN HON. MEMBER: Look at the fight we had to get - with the student loans (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Yes, the loans for single parents for that to not count as income. What a disincentive. So we have to look through the entire thing. Disincentives from working.

AN HON. MEMBER: This fellow corrected it (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: This fellow, he is going to fix it. Oh, I know this Member corrected it, yes, sure, it is fixed, I know he did. I know he fixed it.

AN HON. MEMBER: He's a good Minister.

MR. WINSOR: He fixed it a few weeks ago. The Minister of Education is trying to take credit for it, by the way. I phoned him the other day. I meant to tell you that. I phoned him the other day. He said: but you know that good thing we did for the single mothers?

AN HON. MEMBER: Who said that?

MR. WINSOR: Oh, the Minister of Education trying to take credit for the Minister of Social Services' initiative.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: I agree. Anyway, Mr. Speaker, we on this side agree in nature with the resolution. We think it is a good resolution. We have some problems with it that we hope the Member is going to address in his summation. To make the resolution more effective I move, seconded by my colleague for Menihek, the following amendment. And at the end:

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Provincial Government take the lead by immediately establishing an all-Party committee of this House to initiate the necessary groundwork to bring about the desired objective.

So, Mr. Speaker, we put forward that amendment to get the ball rolling so it is just not going to be idle talk. That this Legislature and this House take the initiative to get on with it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: The Member is saying we are playing politics. We are proposing an amendment to it now that will give it some teeth, that will get it moving. Because other than that, it could even - even though the vote will come - it will die on the order paper. Now we this Legislature will take the initiative to see if we can start a process to do as the hon. Member suggested.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am sure that one of the speakers on our side, or the mover of the resolution in closing, will deal with the merits or lack thereof of the amendment. I will not deal with that at the present time. But I certainly expect that probably the Member for Eagle River in his closing will deal with - I could give my own opinion right away as to whether or not we should have a committee of the House and so on to study the matter if it is as important as it is. But I will not do that right now.

I would like to spend a few minutes if I could addressing the Private Member's resolution that we do have before us. I commend the Member for Eagle River for bringing this matter to the attention of the House again today. It is a matter that has been discussed in several different fora, I guess, if that is the plural of forum, is it? My Latin scholars could help me with that one. I guess that is close enough, anyhow.

But the issue has been discussed I suppose in political circles in many areas for a long time. I would like to spend the few minutes that I have this afternoon looking at the different parts of the resolution as put together by the Member for Eagle River. Looking at it in the context probably most particularly of the second preamble discussing the seasonal nature of employment in our Province and how people have managed over the years to survive in that kind of an environment.

But certainly the resolution begins in the preamble by talking about the geography of Newfoundland and Labrador and the fact that that creates undue cost to our citizens. That very point was referenced today by the hon. Premier in his answer in response to some of the questions in Question Period, in talking about our population, our geography and the kind of stress and strain that that puts on the Government in terms of providing services to the people that they require, in the locations that they desire to reside on an annual basis, and an ongoing basis.

This resolution, in the reference to it by the Member for Eagle River, talks about the cost incurred by the citizens themselves, because of course one of their costs as indicated earlier today is higher taxation necessary for the Government to provide the services in the areas where the people choose to live; but the individuals themselves run into higher costs when they try to access services that they need because of the scattered nature of our population.

When we talk about the provision of Services, Mr. Speaker, we recognize full well, and our colleagues and comrades and our compatriots in similar assemblages across the country, all recognize that it is indeed a much more difficult prospect to provide basic Government services to the population in Newfoundland than to probably any other location in the country. When we talk about the road links that are necessary to hook up the 600 to 700 communities in Newfoundland; forty years ago, forty-five years ago, many of these road links were not in place and people commuted over the waterways, but now, it is an expectation, and we in Government say not an unreasonable one, that in this advent of automobiles, the age of the automobile and land transportation as it is, it is not unreasonable to expect that people, no matter where they live might be able to go by land in a motorised vehicle to other parts of their own province or other parts of their own country.

We have made great progress on the Island part, we are continuing to make progress in Labrador and we certainly hope to hook up the rest of the Trans Labrador Highway so that people there would have that equal access, but everybody recognizes the cost to Government of providing even a basic service like that. A lot of people when they compare what has happened now to what it was, say at the time of Confederation, would commend governments of both stripes that have committed in this Province to providing those kinds of services and links, but they are not without costs and the costs are inordinate to the Government compared to elsewhere in the country, and as the mover of this resolution indicates, they are also inordinate to the citizens, because once you put the road links in, a person living in one of the extremities, if he wants to go and avail of some of the services that are in some of the centralized service centres in the Province, then you have to incur personal expense to travel there. All you have to do is talk about people on the Burin Peninsula or people in the Bonavista/Catalina area who would go to the Clarenville area, because the services that are provided in Clarenville are not matched in their home towns and home communities.

So, the road links to make that possible are a cost to the Government which is reflected in higher taxes to the people, which is a burden to them. Then the individuals themselves when they go to the larger service centres to avail of those services, incur expenses themselves. If we took our 560,000 people and put them in the down town core of some place like Montreal or Toronto, we could service them all for a fraction of the cost that it takes to service them right here in our Province in the Island of Newfoundland and in the larger part of continental Labrador. So there are cost factors as indicated that are created due to the geography of the Province that we choose to live in and enjoy living in, the same kind of argumentation can be made, Mr. Speaker, in relation to provision of health care services, education services, essential basic services that every citizen expects the Government to provide to them from the tax dollars that they give us to expend on their behalf.

So the Member for Eagle River, in his preamble to the resolution, rightfully points out that the geography of Newfoundland and Labrador creates undue cost to our citizens, both directly to them when they try to avail of services that are the norm elsewhere and we are trying to make sure that they are the norm in this Province as well, and undue cost and additional cost as they pay higher levels of tax to the Government so that the Government of the day can try to provide those services to the individuals.

The second point that the resolution deals with in the preamble, Mr. Speaker, refers to the fact that many of our people must survive on seasonal employment, and herein again is another crux of the matter as it is brought forward by the Member for Eagle River, in terms of debating this issue.

I think the latest numbers that are available to us in the Government indicate that in the Province, 42 per cent of the people who are employed in Newfoundland and Labrador are employed on a seasonal basis. Now that is almost one half of the people who are working and work regularly in the Province, and who have no expectation that they would work at a job that lasts for the full year. Almost one half of them are into an economic environment and an economic climate where the norm is that they only work for part of the year. Therefore, one of two things has to happen: they have to earn enough money in that part of the year that they work to sustain themselves for the full year, or there has to be some kind of a social system or social network in place to allow them to access income for the remaining weeks or months of the year when they are not employed. That is a matter of fact that we have been dealing with in the Province ever since there has been a Province, I guess, from the very beginning of time in Newfoundland and Labrador.

We look at the seasonal nature of work in the fishing industry, the construction industry, the tourism industry, in transportation. The major parts of the economy are structured such that people working in those sectors only do so on a part-time basis, and as I indicated, the latest numbers show that in Newfoundland 42 per cent of the people are in that category. Again it relates to the first part of the preamble because in other parts of the country, in Nova Scotia you would have 58 per cent - actually I should reverse the numbers for the record, Mr. Speaker, it is 42 per cent of the people are employed in Newfoundland and Labrador on a full-time basis, which means 58 per cent of them are seasonal or part-time, so it is a little more than half. It is actually in the seasonal or part-time nature of the work force, so just so we set the record straight.

In other parts of the country and other provinces, in our neighbouring province of Nova Scotia, for example, the numbers are reversed. It is 58.4 per cent are full-time year round employment and 41.6 are seasonal, and that kind of a swing gives them an advantage in the sense that you have that many extra people in full-time employ in that province on a year round basis.

In Ontario, which is considered to be the economic leader and the beacon in the country, 67.8 per cent of all the jobs in Ontario are full year, full-time jobs, and you can see that in that particular case there is a 25 per cent difference between this province and Ontario. The Canadian average, just for comparison, is 64.8 per cent across the country. So if you look across the country, people who work on an annual basis, for rough calculation purposes we can say two thirds of them, 64.8 per cent, almost 65 per cent, two thirds of the jobs in the country on average are full-time year round. In our Province only 42 per cent are in that same category.

So as you can see in the resolution moved by the Member for Eagle River our people must survive on seasonal employment, and I think that it is useful for us every now and then to remind ourselves of those kinds of numbers so that we recognize the magnitude of it and know how it compares to our neighbours in the rest of the country. So we are at a 25 per cent disadvantage when we compare ourselves to the most economically advanced province in the country in Ontario, and we are at a 22.8 per cent disadvantage when we compare ourselves to the country as a whole. So there is no question that every since the Province has been in the Confederation we have been dealing with a problem caused largely by the seasonal nature of work and employment in the Province itself.

There is some good news however, Mr. Speaker, that I should report to the House. I do not know if it is a coincidence or not but it happens to show a change since 1989. I do not want to bring any politics into this discussion at all, but there is a noticeable change since 1989. It is a noticeable change in employment on a full time basis in the Province versus employment on a part time basis. I might point out to you the reference from the latest labour market bulletin, from January to September of 1991, the most recent one, I just might read again this item comparing full year to part year employment.

'The changing trend observed in the composition of employment last year has continued into 1991. Full year employment rose by about 2,000 or 1.2 per cent on average in the first eight months of 1991, compared with the same period last year, and part year employment declined by about 6,000, or about 8.9 per cent.' So there is a 1.2 per cent increase in full year, full time employment, and an 8.9 per cent decrease in part year or part time employment. That shows a continuation of a trend that has been evident in all of the analyses of the labour markets in Newfoundland since 1989.

Prior to that there was an increase, particularly noticeable from 1981 to 1988, and early 1989, of total employment increasing but almost 90 per cent of it was part year, seasonal, short term employment, and only about 10 per cent of it could be attributed to any full time, year round, long lasting jobs being created in the Newfoundland economy, the Newfoundland environment. So I just wanted to point that out for the purposes of this particular debate on this resolution.

In addressing the third part of the preamble - "WHEREAS present income support programs do not have components to reflect this reality" - that kind of a statement was made just about a year ago in this House of Assembly by my predecessor in this position as Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, the hon. Patricia Cowan, when in fact she introduced a resolution to the House a year ago that was unanimously passed. It was in reference to the Government's position, and as it turned out to the position of all Members of the House, in opposition to the Federally proposed changes in the unemployment insurance system introduced in Bill C-21.

This whole House unanimously went on record as saying that we had serious reservations about the changes; that we felt that there was a definite need that if there were going to be reductions in monies available to residents of Newfoundland and Labrador that they normally would have accessed through the unemployment insurance system through the old rules, that if there were going to be reductions in the amount of monies coming into pockets of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians through that system as a result of the changes in Bill C-21, that the Federal Government and the Provincial Government and everybody should look at ways and means of making sure that any negative impact was minimized. And that some interim measures were developed to make sure that you would pass from the old system to the new system without too adverse an affect on the people who relied on - because of the seasonal nature of work in our Province - particularly and most greatly, the unemployment insurance system to sustain themselves in the periods of the year when they were not gainfully employed and earning income.

I might remind hon. Members of the House that on November 1, 1989 the resolution that was carried unanimously: BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT this hon. House endorse the Provincial Government's position that implementation of the proposed changes in Bill C-21 be delayed until a financial program is developed to ensure that people adversely affected will have adequate income during the transition period.

Again we see ourselves here today where that was not adequately dealt with, from the point of view of there is no noticeable transition period allowed for. People have struggled over the last year to deal with the new approaches and the new rules relating to the unemployment insurance system. The mover of the resolution, the hon. Member for Eagle River, points out that we have in fact a combination of earned income, unemployment insurance benefits, social assistance benefits, and other forms by which people access money in their pockets. And that it really is time for the levels of government to come to grips with how we might coordinate all of this in a meaningful way, as the resolution says: to look at a new income support program which will stimulate the work ethic and maintain a reasonable level of income for all our citizens.

In closing my few remarks I just might point out for the House and for the record again that there is a pilot project relating to the notion of guaranteed annual income currently under consideration with the next meetings scheduled for November 19. There have been reports prepared by the CEIC for a steering committee of Federal and Provincial representatives, along with representatives of the Economic Recovery Commission. There is a symposium on income security planned for late November or early December to again discuss in some detail this whole issue that the hon. Member has brought before the Legislature today.

I know it is a little bit of bad timing in the sense that the Federal Government has already made certain decisions as a result of Bill C-21 to cease funding certain aspects of the programme that could have been useful in tying into this kind of new income support program. But we are still hopeful that the discussions will be meaningful and that with the support of a resolution passed here in the House of Assembly today that all levels of government can work together to put their best interests forward in trying to assure that, as the hon. Member proposes, we will have a support programme that does two things.

Notice that in the resolution I commend the Member for indicating the two things that are of utmost importance. A reasonable level of income to be maintained from all sources, and the hon. Member for Eagle River has been a strong proponent of this, even long before he was elected to this Legislature. But secondly, that there be in some way meaningful work associated and attached to this income, so that in fact everybody would stimulate and encourage the work ethic. And in whatever way and whatever methods people can find to be creative or ingenious, or whatever it takes to meet these two objectives, that I think all of the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador - and if we can lead by example through the pilot project which we are hoping to put forward in Labrador or in other ways - then all of the citizens here as well as across the rest of the country will be very well served by such an initiative.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Before recognizing the hon. Member the Chair would like to inform all hon. Members that the amendment put forward by the Member for Fogo is indeed in order. At the same time I want to welcome a delegation from the Marystown Town Council. They are in the Speaker's Gallery. Mayor Jerome Walsh and Deputy Mayor Hodder, accompanied by Councillors Brenton, Keating, Ducey, Baker and Synyard. Also, Town Manager Jim Mayo, and Mr. Harvey Lunan (?) from the Burin - Marystown Chamber of Commerce.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WARREN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. As I said yesterday when my colleague brought forth this resolution, I believe it was a good resolution and I have no problem at all supporting it. However, I am sure that the hon. Member and those opposite will also support the amendment to the resolution. It is no good for us to continue to debate such a resolution unless we take action on what we are saying. The reason I say that is I went and dug up Hansard this afternoon from May 28, 1986. May 28, 1986, I say to my hon. colleague for Eagle River, there was a resolution then by Mr. Patterson from the district of Placentia. I want to read some of the whereases in the resolution in 1986.

'WHEREAS disadvantaged Newfoundlanders and Labradorians continue to suffer the indignity and ravages of real poverty;

AND WHEREAS poverty is oftentimes an inherent problem amongst the disadvantaged;

WHEREAS the increasing cost of living continues to be an insurmountable burden and places poverty-stricken families at a level below subsistence;

AND WHEREAS poverty contributes to a host of social ills affecting the entire community;...'

So, Mr. Speaker, those same whereases are consolidated in what my hon. colleague for Eagle River has said in his resolution. So we have been debating this now, as far as I can determine, since 1986 when Mr. Patterson brought in this resolution. I would suggest to my hon. colleague he should go and dig up this because Mr. Roger Simmons at the time, the Federal Member now for the southwest coast -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WARREN: No, in fact, Mr. Barry was leader at the time. But Mr. Roger Simmons brought in an amendment to the resolution, and it is interesting to know what the amendment said. Now, let me just see if I can find out where the amendment was.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let me just try to find it. I just had it there that second but I must have lost it somewhere along the way. Let me see. Yes, why don't you have a peep at that while we're waiting? The amendment was basically the same thing as the former Minister of Labour Relations brought in last spring, it was: don't tamper with our Federal programmes unless we are going to put something else in place first.

Mr. Speaker, I must say, I apologize for my voice today because I am not feeling - I've felt in better shape, put it that way. What I want to say to my hon. colleague for Placentia is that I want to say this for the record. I think that we have to get rid of the unemployment insurance that we have in our country. The unemployment insurance program that we have in our country is not working. The only way to get rid of it is that is has to be replaced by something better, something that will help all people in their particular circumstances. I was listening to my colleague for Eagle River when I was up in the library earlier when he was talking about the disparities in the unemployment insurance. I have to agree that there are too many disparities in the unemployment insurance program that we have in our country. It is interesting to note that the Federal Governments of Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Mulroney, have, neither one of them, did or will change the unemployment insurance act.

Unfortunately it is not going to benefit those who need it most. Because it is going to - thank you very much, Mr. Leader. See how competent our Leader is? Just like this, went and found the resolution. As Mr. Simmons said:

'THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT this hon. House urge the Government to implement a guaranteed annual income for all Canadians to insure universal income security and to avoid tinkering with family allowances, unemployment insurance, or any other national income security programmes, until such a universal programme of guaranteed annual income comes into place.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who said that?

MR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, that was an amendment to the resolution by, I think at that time, the Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir, Mr. Simmons.

AN HON. MEMBER: Fortune - Hermitage.

MR. WARREN: Fortune-Hermitage? Maybe so.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, Fortune - Hermitage.

MR. WARREN: Okay, Fortune - Hermitage.

So, Mr. Speaker, we can see that even back in 1986 we were still concerned about a guaranteed income. My hon. colleague from Fogo brought in the amendment today that we really need to put our teeth into this resolution that was brought forward. I cannot, for the life of me, see my colleague voting against this amendment. Mr. Speaker, I cannot see anybody on that side of the House voting against this amendment.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what we are saying, and what we are saying to our colleague from Eagle River, is that we are willing to help you achieve a successful conclusion to this resolution. We will do this by saying to the Government that is in power, would they kindly immediately set up a select committee of the House - Mr. Speaker, I am willing to say to you, Sir, that I would love to be on that committee with my colleague from Eagle River.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, you would not.

MR. WARREN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, because if there are any two people in this Legislature who know about people who are on low income they are the Member for Eagle River and myself. If there are any two members in this Legislature who know more about people on low income who need assistance and cannot get assistance, they are my colleague from Eagle River and myself.

Mr. Speaker, I know my colleague, the Minister of Social Services, should know but it is going to take him a while to understand the plight of those people in the remote areas of our Province who have to live on as low as $3,000 a year for a family of three. But for embarrassing the family, Mr. Speaker, I could name a family whose income last year was $3,000 for a family of three.

MR. MATTHEWS: Is that with or without a drug card?

MR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to my hon. colleague from Grand Bank that there is no drug card required on the Labrador Coast because it is under the Grenfell Association and drugs are very reasonable.


MR. WARREN: Yes, and that was instituted by a former government in this Legislature, Mr. Speaker. It goes right back to the early 1950's.

MR. SIMMS: The same government that brought in school tax.

AN HON. MEMBER: School tax and (inaudible).

MR. WARREN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, but let me say to the hon. the Minister of Health that this past year the people are paying more for their drugs on the coast of Labrador than they were two or three years ago. So the Minister should not shout too loud.

Mr. Speaker, a guaranteed income is a necessity for many people in this Province. Maybe there is a perception out there, I guess, whether it is Newfoundland, Labrador or any other province in this great country of ours, if I have a guaranteed income why do I work? That perception is going to be out there. Regardless of where you live, there are always going to be people out there who will say: if I am guaranteed an income of x number of dollars a year, why do I have to go to work? I will get up if I feel like getting up in the morning and I will work if I feel like working. This attitude will still exist among a minority of people.

Mr. Speaker, we have to assure that a guaranteed income is instituted by the Federal and Provincial Government, not only guaranteeing the families that they are financially looked after but, at the same time, guaranteeing the Province, as a whole, that work will continue.

I have to go back to a situation with the Hibernia development, and I want to tie this into this whole thing, because the number of fishermen in Sunnyside, in my home town of Chance Cove, and in Bellevue itself, in those three communities - I do not know if it is thirty-three fishermen or thirty-eight fishermen but for the next five years a number of those fishermen are guaranteed 75 per cent of their income on average over the last five years while fishing in those three areas. Mr. Speaker, now naturally they are going to have to prove they were fishing and were unsuccessful but, Mr. Speaker, they are guaranteed an income.

Mr. Speaker, if a consortium such as Hibernia can guarantee this for a number of fishermen, surely goodness we as parliamentarians and this Government can do something - when the Premier is always saying fairness and balance, his words have been fairness and balance. What a move by this Government today to pass this resolution as amended and get the Member for Eagle River, myself, and one other person to go around this Province and get the views and ideas of other people on how we can implement the programme properly. Then when the Premier brings down his budget in the spring of the year he can announce that the Provincial Government is ready to go forward with their commitment to the income supplement and that will force the Federal Government then to act accordingly. If not then, this House can condemn the Federal Government for not progressing favourably.

MR. SIMMS: With you and the Member for Eagle River on the Committee and insist that you do your work when the House is open.

MR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I think this can be done in two months in January and February. This can easily be done if we just pass it today. I can tell you this much that it will be one of the most in-depth reports that ever was presented in this Legislature. There will be so much substance to it the debate will go on for months because we would have the answer for every question any Member or anyone else would ask, because we would talk to the people. Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that my colleague will take the same slogan that our Leader has taken, we will put the people first.

With those few remarks, Mr. Speaker, I will take my seat and I will support the amendment as presented by my colleague for Fogo. I have every confidence in my colleagues opposite that they will also support this resolution. Let's get a select committee started immediately. The Premier will come in tomorrow or Tuesday or Wednesday of next week and announce who will be on the Committee, I know who our side is going to nominate already, so there is no problem on our side.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Trinity North.

MR. OLDFORD: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise and speak to this resolution that was so ably put forth by my colleague from Eagle River. Of course, when it comes to social issues we can always count on the hon. gentleman to be in the thick of the debate and be up front fighting for the welfare of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Mr. Speaker, if there ever was a time when the issues raised in this resolution needed attention, I think it is now. The country wide recession, the failure that we have experienced in the fishery, the downturn in the other primary industries and the overall general negative impacts on our economy should certainly give rise to discussions on how we as Government support the less fortunate in our society.

Mr. Speaker, we must question the effectiveness of our present income support programmes. We must question the inequities that the present programmes promote between Provinces with sparse populations like Newfoundland and Labrador and other more richer and populated Provinces like Quebec and Ontario. There are inequities which exist too within provinces, between rural and

urban areas of provinces. We must question the gaps that exist between the rich and the poor, the working rich and the working poor. We must determine whether our present social programs, like social assistance, and UIC are meeting the needs of our people. Are they really doing what they were intended to do?

We must ask: are stop gap measures like UI the answer in this day and age, or are they really adding to the misery that exists in some sections of our society and our economy? Mr. Speaker, if we work from the premise that everyone in our society is equal, or should be equal, then should we as a Government, both Federal and Provincial, not work towards a programme of income support that allows for income equality? It does not matter whether we live in Vancouver, Makkovik, or in Port Rexton, we need a system of income equality in this country because that is fair, that is just and that is reasonable. I feel quite strongly that the economic contribution of a fisherman or a fisherwoman in Old Bonaventure who makes $10,000 a year working in an open fishing boat, or a fish plant worker in Fogo who makes $10,000 a year, have an inherent right to a decent total income to support their families. A person should not have to go on bended knee to Governments looking for assistance. His or her contribution is no more or no less valuable to the Canadian economy than is the contribution of a factory worker in Ontario making $50,000 a year or a lawyer in St. John's making $150,000 a year. That is because we have to consider the geographical and climatic circumstances under which we exist in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, our present UI programme is flawed. It does not seem fair that UI benefits paid to a worker making $10,000 a year is paid at the low end of the benefit scale while a worker who is displaced from his or her job after making $50,000 a year is paid at the upper end of the benefit scale. One would reason that from a social perspective the opposite would be the case. If UI is a stop gap measure meant to allow people an income while seeking alternate employment one has to question where the need is greater. Reasonable people would reason that the lower your income the greater is your need for income support from Government. The Federal UI program as is presently structured does the complete opposite and I suppose, as the Member for Eagle River suggested, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Mr. Speaker, there is a stigma attached to our present day social income support programs. I have met with individuals over the past few weeks who, because of the recession and the failure in the fishery, are contemplating seeking social assistance for the first time in their lives. They have gone from Fort McMurray, through Ontario, to Toronto, and back to this Province seeking employment. They are people who have fished for most of their lives and because of the problems in the fishery some of them have received very low unemployment benefits. In order to survive they will have to request additional benefits from social services. These workers have contributed to our economy for a number of years. They have faced uncertainty in previous years, but fishing is their way of life and they do have a will to work.

Mr. Speaker, people in our primary industries, as in other walks of life, need the assurance that they will have income support programmes that will allow them the means to support their families with dignity when there is a down turn in our primary producing industries. It is my personal view that Canada should provide, as a matter of right, sufficient income to support an adequate standard of physical and social wellbeing for all its people.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OLDFORD: This is based on the principle of social justice, which should be afforded to all Canadians, regardless of where they choose to live in this great country. We need an income support program that says to someone on social assistance, you have a right to an income that supports your aspirations and those of your family. We need an income support program that says to these people, you have a right to share in the wealth of this great country, even though you are socially disadvantaged. We need an income support program that says to those who are temporarily unemployed due to circumstances beyond their control, you have a right to a decent living, you have contributed to the economic growth of this great country, and government has an obligation to support you in a decent and just way during this temporary period of unemployment.

Mr. Speaker, I support this resolution because, in my opinion, it promotes the premise that we are all equal in this country and all citizens deserve a reasonable level of income to support their families in good times, as well as in difficult times.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

First of all, let me congratulate the former speaker on his maiden speech in the House. He did a good job and made some excellent points. Actually, all the speakers who have spoken so far on the resolution have been making points which show that they are in agreement with the resolution, itself.

Hopefully, the amendment, then, proposed by the Member for Fogo, will also receive the agreement of those opposite, because we have been talking about this for quite some time. The Member for Exploits, when he spoke, gave examples of statements that were made by his predecessor suggesting such a thing quite some time ago, and it has been a plank in the platform of the Government, and undoubtedly, will be one in the upcoming election. So if that is the case, if members opposite really feel it is about time we addressed this - everybody else is saying, Richard Cashin, for example, every time he speaks to his membership, makes no bones about the fact that this should be addressed. And people who really understand what is happening in society will say that the present support programs are neither proper nor adequate, nor can they be properly monitored. Consequently, we have to find a better way to address the social needs of the people in the country. Specifically, here in Newfoundland, where we are worse off than in most provinces, we have to find a special way to do something about it.

What is wrong with being the ones to really initiate such an activity? And if the Federal Government agrees, Yes, we agree this is the way to go, someone has to start the ball rolling. So what we are saying is, perhaps if Newfoundland, if the Government here, decided to roll up its sleeves and start the ball rolling -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: Yes, exactly. If the Government is serious about what it is saying, if government members are satisfied to put their efforts and their money where their mouths are, then perhaps we can initiate some action by setting up a committee, as we suggest, or some other form of organization to get the ball rolling, and put some pressure on the Federal Government to join us in providing some proper stabilized income for the people in our Province and in the country generally.

Let's have a look, Mr. Speaker, at some of the programs that are presently available to people in the Province who have to depend upon government support. The first one we probably think of is Unemployment Insurance, and there are more loopholes in Unemployment Insurance than in any other scheme, I suppose, that anyone could think of. You have people who work in construction, people who work in factories, people who work in mines. Let us take Labrador for an example. Every now and then, they will have a slow down and for a few weeks they are off, their work is disrupted. Many of these people are working thirty, forty, or forty-five weeks a year, and when there is a slowdown, or the work is disrupted, there is an unemployment insurance plan which helps them offset a loss of income, and it is great, because it fills in those few dead weeks, or sometimes months, between jobs, or while as I say, their factory, or the mine, or the construction job is shut down. Then, on the other hand, you have people involved in seasonal industries, especially the fishery, where sometimes it is practically impossible to come up with even the minimum required weeks to obtain UI, ten weeks in most parts of Newfoundland. So, for many of them, most of their income is coming not from the job or the profession or the occupation in which they are involved, but from the social programs that back up such jobs, and, in this case, unemployment insurance.

One of the things that the Government has to do is clean up the mess in relation to social programs, both governments as far as that goes, but, particularly, the Federal Government, as it applies to the unemployment insurance schemes. There are so many abusing the system, that if the system is properly cleared up, there would be a tremendous amount more assistance for those who legitimately qualify for such assistance. I am not against anybody trying to make a living and use what social programs are available, that is why we bring in social programs, but I certainly cannot support somebody who is ripping off the system, and there are so many loopholes in the UI. Nobody seems to care where you get stamps, as long as you get them. If you can show up at the UI office with ten stamps and start drawing your UI, there are no questions asked. And we have people who do absolutely no work; we have people drawing fishermen's UI who have never seen a boat, not to say who have gotten in it. And, consequently, those who are in real need, in a year like this when we are on our knees begging for some extra funding for fishermen who got no fish this year, legitimate, hard-working fishermen - the Labrador Coast is a prime example. People who have lived by fishing their lifetime, who in some years have done very well, who this year probably did not even see a fish, not to say catch one, have to go on their hands and knees to try to beg to be qualified to go on a fishery response program. These people are being told that there is so little money, you know, we have to double check the rules and all of this - and we all face it day in and day out - yet, we have so many abusing the system. So this certainly has to be cleared up.

If we go beyond the UI programs, we have our own social assistance program, and certainly, the same thing could be said about that. We have a lot of people out there who have no way at all of making a living. We have sick, we have disabled, we have widows with families, we can go on and on, who have no way of getting out into the work force, and yet have to try to find a way to survive, and their way is by turning to social assistance, which is really barely enough to keep bread and butter on the table, in most cases, not enough to pay the light bills. Occasionally, I have people say to me, you know, we would all be better off if we were on social assistance, they have it knocked. Well, I have to deal, as does every member in this House, I would suggest, with people who are in receipt of social assistance, and I tell you, I would not want to be on social assistance, trying to survive. Because, when you look at the minimum amount of money they get to try to raise a family, feed them, clothe them, pay maintenance on their house, pay their light bill, their heat, perhaps a phone bill, by the end of the month they are certainly not putting any money in the bank. So anybody who is not on social assistance can be very, very thankful that he is not, and I do not think he should be saying, I wish I were, I would have it knocked. People on social assistance are going through pretty hard times; not that governments can do very much about it. I would suggest that the Minister of Social Services is stretching his budget as far as he can, to try to accommodate such people, but the demands are so great, and the dollars are so few, and we all realize that. That is why, if we could just eliminate the abuse in all programs and perhaps then develop some kind of a stabilization method for getting dollars into the hands of people in need, then we could zero in on the problems that we face in society.

I am not sure, either, whether we should be just passing out money to people who are healthy and well able to work. Most legitimate cases, when they have to turn to Unemployment Insurance, when they have to turn to social assistance, in particular, will tell you, I would rather be working for the money I am getting than to have to go with my hand out. If we could turn back the clock a few years to where we could talk about the old Newfoundland pride, which I think, to a great degree, we might be losing because of so many of our social programs. But I know Newfoundlanders. I am old enough, as many members here are, to remember people working, trying to survive, when there was no such thing as welfare, no such thing as - there might have been welfare, very little - no such thing as UI. You worked in the summer if you were a fisherman. If you caught fish, you had enough to tide you over for the winter. If it was a poor year, you still had to make do, there was no assistance. Even when social programs came on the scene, many people who felt they were working people refused to accept them. Even when they had nothing else, they refused to accept them, because they figured these were for the people who were not able to work, the sick and the disabled, etc.

Times are changing. We now find too many people who are just ready to set themselves up to avail of the social programs, and that is wrong. Governments cannot afford it, people cannot afford it because, of course, it is people, the working people, who put the money into Government, who, in turn, passes the money along to those who cannot, for some reason, make it on their own. Consequently, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Governments asking people to work, those who can, for what is given out.

You can pick any area of the Province, any community in the Province and list the many needs that exist in Newfoundland today, from recreational improvements to community infrastructure, to brush-cutting on the sides of the roads and you can go on and on and on, so many jobs that are really under Government control. Government is responsible for the brush on the side of the road; Government, at some level, is responsible for recreational facilities; Government is responsible for fisheries infrastructure; Government is responsible for the provision of water supplies; Government is responsible for pasture lands, yet, in many areas these infrastructures are there, poorly done, if started at all, and the needs are there. People are crying out for such infrastructure, and yet, governments say, we cannot afford to do your waterline, cannot afford to improve your pasture, cannot afford to do your playground, and yet, in the same area, governments can dole out hundreds of thousands of dollars to individuals to sit at home and do nothing. I think morally there is something wrong with that and our whole structure of passing out money has to be reviewed.

So maybe it is time we looked at a better way of delivering support services to our people, not necessarily handouts, but a guarantee that would make sure that every family in this country would have sufficient money upon which to exist. If they could work for it, then, yes, they should work for it; if they cannot, then it should be given to them, but each family would have money enough to be able to walk around with heads high, knowing that they do not have to go begging on their knees.

But somebody has to start the ball rolling, and now that the Member for Eagle River has brought in the resolution, maybe it is the time for us to start moving, and moving immediately; that is why we suggest, yes, we agree with you. We agree that it is time that we re-assess our social programs and our needs. We agree, it is time that we work towards some kind of an income support program, but let us not be talking about it again next year, let us do something about it. All we can do over here is say, yes, we will agree, and we will work with you and support you. It is up to Government to initiate it. So, hopefully, the amendment will be approved that will see the formation of some kind of group or agency or committee from this House that will start the ball rolling, that will meet with the federal people involved, and that will start putting in place some basic ideas for an income support program.

Governments tend to shy away from income support programs because they say, oh, we cannot afford them. Maybe, if we look at it properly, we cannot afford not to have them, because a properly planned and delivered income support program might be a lot less costly to government than the haphazard measures they have right now of delivering funds to people in need.

I will just give you one example. The fish plant in Trepassey is presently closed and the plan is that it will never open again. The closure of the plant puts approximately 600 people out of work. The Provincial Government, with extended notice, kept the plant open for a year. Government might say two years, but it is not two years, the company did it for one year and the Government did it for another. But whatever, the point is there was some life there to do some planning and assess other possibilities. But if a plant closes both governments have said and will continue to say, we will not continue to put money into keeping plants open, we cannot afford it.

Let me give you an example of what happens next year, well, starting immediately, I guess. In the next twelve months, because this plant does not open, 600 workers drawing top UI, which they will be doing - well, not top but close to top, approximately $300 a week, each employee will be drawing. That amounts to approximately $9 million or something over $9 million, money coming from where? - from the Government. What did it cost the Government to subsidize it last year to allow 600 people to go to work each day with pride? - half of that, $4.5 million. Next year, with the retirement package and retraining allowances and other monies that are there for modernization, whatever, the cost of subsidizing an operation would be considerably less, maybe $2 to $3 million. It would be a lot cheaper for Government to keep the plant open by subsidizing it than it will be by closing it. Because, after the first year, when the UI runs out, then the burden falls on the Provincial Government where, instead of the people receiving UI, they are going to be receiving welfare. When you factor in all the social costs and the costs of drugs and transportation and all of that on the medical side, and the social needs, the social infrastructure that has to be put in place to address such needs, the cost to the Provincial Government alone is going to be more each year than if they said to Fishery Products, `We will subsidize your operation in keeping that plant open.' It does not make much sense.

AN HON. MEMBER: And a loss of taxes too.

MR. HEARN: My colleague reminds me that the other side of it is when people are not working, of course, they are not paying taxes. If they are picking up a UI cheque or welfare cheque, their taxes are very minimal. The spending power of the people is much less. So, Government are just throwing out every cent directly on one end and they are getting back very little. If the workers are working the company, of course, is kicking in quite a lot of money because there is production and whatever else, taxes are flowing in, money is coming back into the Government coffers and, in turn, people take pride in knowing they can get up in the morning and walk to work every day with their heads up.

I am not saying that we are going to be after you, as a Government, to continue to subsidize the fish plant in Trepassey and every other plant. I think there are better ways, if better ways can be found. But in the short term, while the fishery is changing and being restructured and hopefully being put back on a stable base, if that is possible anymore, then maybe in the short term it is a lot more beneficial and a lot less costly to look at putting some dollars into keeping people at work, than paying them to stay home and get no return.

So, Mr. Speaker, something has to be done, yes, to address the social needs of this country; something has to be done to make sure that people can live in comfort without pressures, which in turn add to the social costs, knowing that they have at least the minimal support income coming into the household. I think properly structured, perhaps it could be done with a lot less worry, a lot less effort, and a lot less money than we see happening under our present support programmes. The key is, when are we going to do something about it? I suggest we start doing something about it this very day. We look forward to the opposite Members supporting our amendment which will make a resolution which says: yes, we support an income support programme and we will get working on it right away to make sure that it becomes a possibility down the road.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Eagle River.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I want to use the remainder of my time this afternoon to deal with a few issues that were raised by the Members opposite.

First I would like to acknowledge and thank the Members opposite for giving their general support to this resolution. It is comforting to have what seems to be unanimous support from the Opposition on this particular resolution. There are a number of points that were raised that I would like to address. I think it was the Member for Fogo who talked about how it was impractical to carve the country up into little pieces, and not effective if it is really done by a national government. Mr. Speaker, that does not necessarily have to be the case. What we are talking about is having some regional sensitivity, and I will mention a little bit later how we can reconstitute the income security as it relates to the jurisdiction, that provinces could take over the jurisdiction providing that the tax credits and the tax points thereby ensuring the revenue, would accrue to the provinces to be able to put this in place.

Mr. Speaker, another thing that has been brought up in most of the debate on this particular issue is whether a guaranteed annual income would really be a disincentive to work. As I indicated to the hon. Member, a recent study by the Economic Council of Canada, which was an analysis of the pilot project that was done some years ago in Manitoba, concluded quite clearly that the programme itself, which was administered, did not inhibit the work ethic. It certainly did not make people less inclined to work. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, there were encouraging signs in that particular pilot project that people were taking more opportunities to go and be retrained, to go and be upgraded, to improve on their skills and at the same time to progress, because I believe fundamentally it is human nature to work, and no matter what programmes or what kind of assistance one receives in terms of dealing with a cash economy, you are not going to see that fundamental aspect of human nature taken away by some kind of a transfer in a system.

So, Mr. Speaker, I believe that concern, albeit a legitimate one, has not proven to be a fact in the study which was done, and in the only pilot project, up to this point, that has been carried out in this country.

He and a number of Members opposite also, I think, raised a concern about the funding that would be required. Is it possible to do this given the constraints of Government, given the fiscal positions that governments find themselves in, and he wondered out loud if it was impossible to fund. Again, I would say, 'no' it would not be impossible to fund. I think what we have to see is a redistribution of the existing funds that are available in this country nationally and provincially to see it put into a one pot of money to be redistributed to the people that desperately need it.

So, Mr. Speaker, after covering those points, I would like to move on and talk about how I believe something like this can be worked on and how it should, I think, come to a positive policy change, a fundamental policy change for Governments nationally, and certainly in our case something that has not come forward in the last number of years. I think all of this has to be premised on an elevation to a greater level of universality. I think what we have to see in this country is a new and concerted effort to a universal social welfare system. I believe what we have to see in this country is a commitment to the basic incomes that people have to make. I guess as the definition of a new, renewed, if you want, universality in this country, I think it is only a natural way of responding to the changing needs and adapting the present programmes.

I believe, certainly, that the existing programmes, the children's allowances, the old age security, and other income, direct transfers to individuals in this country, must be looked at to see if there is not a better way to have the redistribution made, keeping in mind that universality must remain, standards must be paramount, and standards must be put in place to see that the people of this country have the right to a decent level of income, and that they are guaranteed that either by a social charter, as some people talk about, or by guaranteeing their economic rights. Many people in this country, Mr. Speaker, for a long time, have been advocating that not only should we have mobility rights and legal rights, but that economic rights should also be something to be looked at for our constitution. It is all good and dandy to have guaranteed freedom of expression, Mr. Speaker, but I believe that it is unconscionable for Governments, particularly in a country with such prosperity and such potential as Canada, to not have some kind of guarantee of economic rights and a decent standard of living for all Canadians no matter where they live. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that while universality, I guess, one would argue - many may argue in the Liberal Party - that the universality of social programmes has been the hallmark of the Liberal Party, however, I believe that a more substantial and more significant hallmark of the Liberal Party has been reform and will continue to be reform, reform for the sake of having things change as times change, Mr. Speaker. As I indicated earlier, it will not mean a neglecting of the overall principle of universality but a commitment to reforming the present programmes to see that the changing needs of our society are met. As I indicated earlier, I believe there is another way to see this come about than having a national programme put in place and having the national standards or the national particulars apply as it does presently in the unemployment insurance system, that no matter where you are, if you have so many insurable weeks you are automatically indicated to receive 60 per cent of your gross earnings, and it is the same wherever you live in this country.

I believe, Mr. Speaker, that we should take advantage of the opportunity that prevails before the country right now in the constitutional debate and look at seeing if there cannot be some reconstituting of the responsibility for income security and income programmes in this country, and more of a transfer to the provinces for that responsibility. I know some of the provinces have made specific demands, including Quebec, for a transfer of the training and the job development aspects of training.

But, Mr. Speaker, I think there is a possibility of seeing some greater commitment to regional sensitivity and greater control over how the dollars must be spent in terms of the regions of the country, and in our federation, of course, that would mean the provinces should have greater say. Mr. Speaker, I think there should be a commitment to seeing that particular issue dealt with in this round of talks, and hopefully we will see a system put in place where if the provinces do not have the actual administration, that at least they be consulted and their standards at the provincial level be included in the overall program.

Mr. Speaker, these, as I said, would be the basic premises behind a guaranteed annual income. Now regarding the guaranteed annual income itself, I guess there would be no way in ten minutes that one could talk about all the intricacies of how a guaranteed annual income should work or can work, or whatever.

But basically, Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of members opposite who have wondered about it, the guaranteed annual income, as I would see it working, would be a direct cash transfer to the individuals of this country, that certainly there can be aspects of that programme built in for particular disadvantaged groups, be it the disabled or people who are in a certain income category. I believe this can be done and set up on a regular payment system, and, certainly, people would not have to pass means tests in order to receive this particular income. It could be done on the basis of a standard of living that is certified to be a reasonable standard of living by our national government, keeping in mind the regions of the country and the differences in the cost of living as we see it.

So this would, I think, cut out a tremendous amount of cost to both levels of government. It would cut out a tremendous amount of abuse that is presently taking place in our unemployment insurance system and other income support programmes that we have at the provincial level. It would make people, I believe, more inclined to work. It would see them have a regulated lifestyle, albeit it would be changing as they would be able to access different income sources. But I believe that the overall idea of the guaranteed annual income as a fundamental aspect of the social policy of the future is a must for our society, and, indeed, in our particular case in Newfoundland and Labrador, I think it is long overdue.

In conclusion, I would just like to say that time is always of the essence, that child welfare is a very high priority and important issue to be dealt with. Certainly, the working poor is another important issue, another big segment of our population that just cannot be ignored for the future generations of our society. The local economies must be getting greater stability, and I believe all of this is only going to come out with a guaranteed annual income. Hopefully, this will be put in place very soon.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I would like to note, before concluding, that the amendment put forward by the Opposition, of course, is - I thought we would get through the day without having politics played with the overall issue, but that has not prevailed, of course.

Mr. Speaker, it was interesting that the Member for Torngat Mountains pointed out and read from Hansard, apparently, that in 1986, a member of the government of the day brought in a similar resolution and asked for this to be considered. Well, I am very happy to say that while the member from that government was there for whatever it was, three to four years, three years I guess, and had to wait for some initiative to be forthcoming from his government, that is, indeed, not the case with this present Administration.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

MR. DUMARESQUE: Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations has pointed out, at the present time there is a committee in place that is working quite vigorously and aggressively to seeing a pilot project for Newfoundland and Labrador be put in place under the guaranteed annual income concept. We now have had a number of meetings on this issue. The next meeting is scheduled for November 19, to be followed up by a symposium in late November or early December, that will deal with this issue even more substantially.

But, Mr. Speaker, this is not a Government that is going to sit on something; as a matter of fact, what we have seen here from this minister and this department and this Government, has been a commitment to this concept right from day one!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DUMARESQUE: So, Mr. Speaker, I will conclude by saying that the members opposite need not fear, they need not think that this Government will ignore such a fundamental issue as this, and while they are anxious to try to play some part as Government again, that is not the order of the day. That is not what the people said a couple of years ago, Mr. Speaker. We will continue doing what we are going to be publicly acknowledged for, time and time again, as we were recently in the Baie Verte - White Bay bi-election.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: Open the wound!

MR. DUMARESQUE: We are going to be, time and time again, acknowledged for good government, good, honest, hardworking government. This issue is one that will be brought to the floor and one of which we will be able to proudly go out the next time around and say, this is what we have done on guaranteeing social and economic security for the citizens of our Province, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Are all members familiar with the amendment? It says, `And be it resolved that the Provincial Government take the lead by immediately establishing an all-party committee of this House to initiate the neccessary groundwork to bring about the desired objective.'

All those in favour of the amendment, please say, `aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: Those against the amendment, `nay'.


On motion, amendment defeated.

MR. SPEAKER: All those in favour of the main motion, please say, `aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: Those against the motion, `nay.'

I declare the motion passed.

I do not know whether the Government House Leader or the Opposition House Leader wanted to have some words.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. BAKER: I just want to advise members that we are dealing with the Supplementary Supply Bill tomorrow, the one we were dealing with on Tuesday.

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