November 20, 1991           HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS           Vol. XLI  No. 74

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: During the last few days we have been hearing the Premier and the acting Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, who have both said that contracts awarded to Trans City Holdings to build and lease these three health care facilities that we have been talking about will save the Province millions of dollars over the terms of the lease. In fact, just to quote from Hansard on November 15, the Government House Leader himself said, on the bottom of Page 2553, 'this proposal we are now proceeding with will, in the long run, save the Government tens of millions of dollars,' no less. Mr. Speaker, I have a comparison of the bids between the low bidder and Trans City Holdings and I also have the annual lease cost for each individual project as estimated by officials in his own Department, the Department of Public Works. I want to ask the Minister if he would confirm now that the cost of leasing the Burgeo facility from Trans City will cost this Province over $5 million more than the lease price quoted by the low bidder? Can he confirm that?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member's figures are totally incorrect.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, we have the figures, and as I said they are the figures estimated by his own Department, his own officials, so he might want to be careful in answering the questions. Let me ask him this then: Is it a fact that the cost of leasing the Port Saunders facility from Trans City Holdings over the thirty year term of the lease will cost the Province nearly $8 million more than the low bidder?

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

MR. BAKER: No, Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member's figures are totally incorrect.

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

MR. SIMMS: We might as well ask the other one then: Can he confirm that the cost of leasing the St. Lawrence facility from Trans City Holdings over the course of the lease, assuming the lease is thirty years, which we are told it was, will cost the Province over $6 million more than the lease price quoted by the low bidder?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I repeat again, as usual the hon. Member's figures are totally incorrect.

MR. SIMMS: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SIMMS: Can the Government House Leader tell us what the correct figures are?

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That question requires a detailed answer, obviously. First of all, we called for proposals that in some aspects were vague, and in the specifications given out in each case, over 100 pages, there were generally what is referred to as the functional plan for the facilities. We deliberately left it vague to see what proposals we would get. We have been told by developers that because of the nature of our proposals, this is why costs were escalating on buildings that we did. This is why we would start off with an estimate of let us say $2 million on a building, and it would end up costing $4 million and so on, because of the way we went about it. Also we have been told: look, just give us a chance; we can bring about cost-cutting measures. So we did. The tenders were a bit more vague than usual in that they did not include the specific details beyond the functional plans.

Mr. Speaker, we received a number of proposals. Some of them were totally, completely, unsuited according to the functional plan, so they were eliminated. They were examined in detail by officials in the Department of Works, Services and Transportation as well as an outside consulting firm. After this analysis was done a decision was made that, for a number of reasons, we would give further consideration to the brick/steel proposals. We did our analysis of the brick/steel proposals in more detail, and chose the bid that was the least expensive. I believe, in terms of the two bids for brick/steel structures, the bid we chose would save us about $14.6 million over the period of the term.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I had to outline that process because it was a process that involved three things. It involved design, it involved the construction, and it involved financing - all three; all three in the one package, and the ultimate cost of any of the packages depends upon the financing. It is a very big factor in the ultimate cost of the proposal's financing, and I would say to the hon. gentleman that if he is using figures that are as the money market was two months ago, that these figures have changed considerably in the last two months, as the Bank of Canada rate has gone down on long term loans, so I would say to the hon. gentleman that his figures are totally incorrect; they are out-of-date, they are totally incorrect as of this present time. As a matter of fact, I suppose you could get an analysis done day by day; every time the bank rate changes you could do another analysis as to how much we saved with this particular proposal.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the Government House Leader has struck on another reason to re-tender this whole thing.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, he can try to cloud this as much as he wishes. The fact of the matter is, the point that was raised is that the low bidder, the low bidder's bid versus Trans City's bid, will mean in fact substantial higher cost to the people of this Province. That is the point that I was trying to make. We know all about the vagueness of the specifications, we have been down that road. We know all about why they chose brick; everybody in the Province knows why.

Mr. Speaker, what we have here on our hands is a major scandal and the Government House Leader -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: - and the Government House Leader can try to smile and laugh about it as much as he wants, but he knows darn well that we have him on this particular one and The Evening Telegram editorial yesterday hit the nail on the head, they were right on the money, Mr. Speaker.

Now, I want to ask the Government House Leader one last time, is it not true that over the thirty year lease period, the Province will pay $90 million to Trans City Holdings, to lease those three health care facilities, and if the Province had accepted the lowest bidder on all three projects, the cost over that leased period would be approximately $71 million, and if that is true, why did they proceed to award those contracts even though they have already admitted that the specifications were flawed and now will cost the people of this Province an additional $19 million?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BAKER: No, Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman is not correct at all. Two of the bidders bid their costs on the basis of a spread between -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Does the hon. gentleman want to listen?

Two of the bidders, ultimately, the two that we looked at in detail, made their financing proposal on the basis of a spread above the Bank of Canada long-term borrowing rate. One company, their spread was 155 basis points above the Bank of Canada borrowing rate; the second company was 120 basis points above the Bank of Canada long-term borrowing rate. Also, one of the proposals gave us the option, if we chose their proposal, of choosing any time between now and the completion of construction to tie in the rate. In the last couple of months, the Bank of Canada long-term borrowing rate has dropped considerably, and projections are that it will continue to drop.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible) corruption, boy, give it up.

MR. BAKER: I am just telling the truth. If members don't want to listen to the truth they don't have to.

At a certain point in time we decide when we tie into the financing, and that financing will be at a rate that is extremely low. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, the Province of Newfoundland can borrow, and our rate varies from 100 to 135 - the spread is anywhere from 100 to 135 basis points above the Bank of Canada long-term borrowing rate, and that is what we can do ourselves.

Also, built into these proposals was the possibility of having very low rates up front escalating for the term. Government at that point in time can choose options which would make some proposals very, very cheap for the first ten years, escalating for the last twenty.

So, Mr. Speaker, all of these things had to be taken into account because we wanted construction activity during the next year without any outlay of Government money, and this is the proposal we went through. We did not take the low bid because, although nobody did, I suppose somebody could put in a bid on a pressed wood building, that being possible under the proposal. The hon. gentleman would not suggest we take that building because, obviously, it would be low bid.

We have indicated that we have followed The Public Tendering Act and that any exceptions to The Public Tendering Act will be made public, as they always are. We table documents in the House every month. All exceptions will be made public, and that is what is called for under The Public Tendering Act. Then it is open to everybody. Nothing has been done here, Mr. Speaker, that is underhanded or that is done in secret, everything is open to public view.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, a final supplementary, because we have some other questions to ask, and we will ask more questions on this as days go by. Let me tell the hon. minister that. No matter which way you cut it, you can try to cloud it with all the smoke and mirrors you want, the bottom line here is: Number one, they have been caught in a scandal; and number two, Mr. Speaker, he is trying to tell us now that we paid an extra $19 million for brick. That is what he is trying to tell us.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, since the minister has not been able to give us a direct answer to our question, let me ask him again: What will we pay Trans City Holdings over the life of this lease, over the thirty years? How much will the taxpayers of this Province pay them?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the Opposition Leader gets up and makes all those broad statements. Maybe, in his own mind he did not see a specific answer. I am sure other members and other people have seen a specific answer. I explained in great detail the financing arrangement, the spread -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I just ask hon. members to my right, please, to stop the interruptions. The question has been asked. Hon. members can ask other questions but, while a minister is answering, it interferes if people keep asking this question and that question. I ask for smooth operation, please, and that hon. members wait until they are recognized.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. BAKER: I explained in great detail the specific spread above the Bank of Canada rate.

MR. TOBIN: How much?

MR. BAKER: Now, if the hon. member does not understand that, that is not my problem. If he understood it, he would realize - I also explained that at a certain point in time we would tie in, depending on when we thought the Bank of Canada rate was at its lowest point between now and the end of construction.

So, if we put those things together - I am trying to go step by step for the hon. gentleman. If the hon. gentleman would put those two things together -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

If hon. members don't want the answer to the question I will stop and recognize another member. I will just give the hon. member a short period.

MR. BAKER: - he would realize that the final amount we pay will not be obvious until we decide to tie in, at a certain point in time, with the Bank of Canada rate. I do not know what the Bank of Canada rate will be a year down the road. However, I can tell the hon. gentleman that since he has had the figures he is using the Bank of Canada rate has dropped considerably. Therefore, the cost will be considerably lower than what the hon. gentleman is quoting, simply because of the changes in the Bank of Canada rate. Now, if the hon. gentleman does not understand that, I suggest that is a problem he has, and he had better get somebody to explain it to him.

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question was for the Premier, but, in his absence, I will ask the Minister of Education. Yesterday, the Premier, much to the surprise of the minister, told the St. John's Board of Trade that school tax authorities would be abolished. This morning, on CBC radio, he said he was misunderstood, again, that they would either be abolished or reformed. I wonder if the minister could tell us if the Premier has told him whether or not school tax authorities and school taxes will be abolished, or will the system be reformed?

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, the Government's position has not changed. Very shortly, we hope to make a decision on this. The position of the Government is that we will either abolish the system or reform it.

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

MR. HEARN: Mr. Speaker, this is thoroughly unbelievable. The minister, himself, has admitted he does not know what is going on, and the Minister of Finance is out telling everybody they have made the decision already to abolish the school tax authorities. In public! Let me ask the minister: We have around the Province several hundred people employed with school tax authorities, who, from one day to the next, have no idea of their job status. Will the minister tell these people when he is going to make a decision? When is he going to stop inflicting pain and causing concern upon people who, from day to day, do not know whether they are going to be working tomorrow or not?

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, thank you. I have heard a number of interpretations of the Premier's speech yesterday. I did not get to hear it myself. I heard one interpretation, Mr. Speaker, that the whole system was abolished, the school tax system. I heard one interpretation that school tax authorities will be abolished, and I have heard another interpretation where the Premier indicated in this speech that the whole school tax system might be kept. Then I heard the hon. Members interpretation. I speak for the Government. The Government is in the process of making the decision and when we make a decision we will make a detailed statement, and, of course, we will treat all the employees fairly. We are out to reform an inequitable, unfair, inefficient school tax system, or abolish it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HEARN: Mr. Speaker, I hope everyone noted he said they are out to reform the system. The Minister of Finance said the decision is made and it has already been abolished, and that is what the Premier said. Let me ask the Minister how he proposes to replace the revenues school boards will lose if the school tax is abolished? Will the Minister guarantee that no board will lose revenue because the school tax is abolished?

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, Government has already guaranteed that, that if the tax is abolished the revenues will be forthcoming to school boards. In fact, Mr. Speaker, this Government has to reform the grant system that provides more monies to rural Newfoundland. We have the next two or three years to undue or to change what that Government accepted for decades. For decades they accepted a school system funded inequitably in that if you happen to live in a certain part of the Province where you had wealth around you, and your parents were wealthy you got one quality of education and if you lived in another you did not, you got a much inferior, and we are not prepared to live with that, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

In the Premier's absence I would like to ask the President of Treasury Board if he is aware of the serious morale problem in the public service, especially among the management personnel, and is Government planning to take any steps to improve the morale in management, Mr. Speaker?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. Member for his question. It was unlike the kind of question I was expecting when he got up. I agree with him that there are perhaps morale problems in the public service and this applies probably to management as well as to the union ranks. We have gone through a very difficult time. People have lost jobs and there is less money to spend now than there was before. This creates a lot of uncertainty especially with the announcements that we are now talking to the unions in terms of next year, so I can understand there is a problem. The Public Service Commission has suggested that perhaps we open up more lines of communication around the Province in terms of the public service and the management units around the Province. We have initiated some steps whereby some of the senior management travel around the Province and listen to the concerns of the managers and others around the Province and brings that back. We are in the process of doing that now.

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

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

The Minister suggested that there is less money to spend now than there was before but the Minister of Finance in his past two Budgets has taken about $170 million extra in taxes, Mr. Speaker, so I cannot see how there is less money to spend now than there was a couple of years ago. I have a copy of a memo here from the Deputy Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to all the directors, and the Deputy Minister does refer specifically to morale problems in that Department and throughout the Government. Is the Minister aware that the Department of Works, Services and Transportation has convened a retreat for Departmental directors in Gander to be held on December 5, Mr. Speaker, dealing with the morale problems in that Department? Are there similar retreats planned for all the departments in Government to deal with this morale problem?

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

MR. BAKER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am aware of that, and I am also aware that this very week - and this has been happening over the last two or three weeks - that there are senior Government officials have been travelling all over the Province and having meetings with management and so on, in terms of listening to them and hearing first hand from these people exactly what they feel like in their jobs. Because we are attempting to perhaps allow the people around the Province an opportunity to express first hand to these senior public servants in St. John's - sometimes they are faceless and sometimes never get out around the Province - to express to them exactly what their concerns are and why they are felling perhaps not as good about their jobs as they should, and why they are feeling perhaps a little insecure in their jobs.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Final supplementary, Mr. Speaker. That is not at all what this memo says the purpose of this retreat is. Managers are going around the Province daily, I would suggest, talking to individuals. This is a special retreat to try to boost the morale of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation. The question that I ask: is this going to be for every department? Obviously if it is for one, if one needs it, they probably all need it.

What will it cost for all the management services to have retreats in Gander or elsewhere? What is the cost to Government of trying to build up the morale again so we can get some efficiency? Is this problem more serious in the Department of Works, Services and Transportation than other departments? And is it more serious in that Department because the Government consistently ignores the professional advice of that Department, particularly on contract awarding?

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

MR. BAKER: I knew the common sense could not last too long, Mr. Speaker. The truth of the matter is that the Public Service Commission has, in its regular budgetary allocation, funds having to do with this. It is part of the work of the Public Service Commission. I would like to advise hon. Members opposite that it is accepted, good management technique to open up these lines of communication. I know that they are not familiar with it because obviously they did not do it when they were in office, but it is good management technique to get the best work from employees and to make them feel good, and make them feel good about their jobs. To be able to influence and stimulate others to do a good job for the people of the Province. So this is a very good move and it is good from the point of view of management technique, and from the point of view of the workers in the public service of the Province.

Now he makes special reference to the Department of Works, Services and Transportation. This Department contains the greatest number of employees that Government has directly. Most of them are outside St. John's and scattered all around the Province, so we are talking about the bulk of our employees here when we are talking about this one Department.

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

MR. DOYLE: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health. The Minister will be aware by now that there is a very severe shortage of neurologists in the Province. There was a total of five, I believe, in the Province, two at the Grace and three at the Health Sciences Centre. Over the last number of months two have left. The Grace no longer has one because that service was transferred to the Health Sciences Centre. The three remaining doctors are severely overworked, and patients are waiting for long periods of time for appointments. Now is the Minister aware of that, and what plans does he have to solve that problem?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, some of the words the hon. Member used to explain the situation I do not accept. The extreme emergency, the overreaction, the fearmongering, I do not accept that. We need, in this Province, about five or six neurologists. At the moment we have made some changes where we were rationalizing the system in St. John's, where we were taking one service from two hospitals and now putting it in the one. So we are going through a period of some disruption, but I am not overly concerned. It is a matter which is, by no means, insolvable; there is a solution for it. Over the next few weeks and months the hospital boards, I am quite certain, will recruit replacements for anyone who has left.

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

MR. DOYLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Another issue that has recently surfaced that the minister should be aware of as well, involves the Burin Health Care Centre. Is the minister aware that the Burin Regional Health Care Centre no longer has the services of an ear, nose and throat specialist? That specialist is no longer visiting that area of the Burin Peninsula. People have to travel all the way to St. John's to avail of that service and, as the minister knows, at considerable cost to the patient. Can the minister tell us what is happening in that area? People are very, very upset on the Burin Peninsula that they do not have that service, and they are wondering when it might be restored.

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

MR. DECKER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am totally aware of the situation there. My understanding was that they never did have an ear, nose and throat specialist of staff, but they were receiving the visiting services. At the moment that has stopped, and the reason is broader than the hon. member is probably bringing to light, but the service has stopped right now. We are not sure that the quality of care has been diminished all that much. It was a convenient service which was being offered, Mr. Speaker, but by no means essential. Officials in the department have been in close talks with the hospital board who is responsible for that, and they are endeavouring to make some further arrangements. When they do make those arrangements, Mr. Speaker, I think they intend to change the method from what it used to be. I think their intent is to improve the service that used to be delivered there.

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

MR. DOYLE: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the minister another question on psychiatric services in the Province, and it is probably a timely question, given the program that CBC is doing on the Waterford right now. The minister can correct me if I am wrong, but we are given to understand that there is a severe shortage of psychiatric services in the Province. The average for Canada, I am told, is one psychiatrist to every 10,000 people. We have about 570,000 people, which means we should have sixty doctors operating psychiatric services in the Province, and the latest number that I am aware of is thirty-four. We have thirty-four doctors in the Province. Now is that true, and if it is, what is the Government doing to deal with that problem, because there seems to be long lineups in that area of health care as well.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I am on record as saying many times that psychiatric care is one of the areas in this Province where we are lacking, and the hon. member is right. We should have about fifty psychiatrists in the Province. I was not aware that we have thirty-four. I thought we had in the high twenties, Mr. Speaker, and it is a problem. The solution is not as simple as just recruiting psychiatrists, if that were possible. There is a shortage of psychiatrists in the world, so even if we decided tomorrow morning that we are going to pay every psychiatrist $1 million to come here, we could not get the bodies, but there is more to the problem than getting the bodies. There has to be a psychiatric program for the whole Province. You have to have a back-up system in place. You have to have occupational therapists in place. You have to have psychiatric trained nurses in place, Mr. Speaker. So the solution is not as simple as recruiting bodies who are psychiatrists. The solution involves a reorganization of the whole way that we deliver this particular service. That is, among other things, one of the things that we have been doing in the Province. We are trying to reorganize the way that we deliver psychiatric services. It is an immense task, and it is a difficult task for us to perform, but we are going with it. The hon. member is quite correct when he identified an area of weakness in the health care system, and the department and Government have been quite concerned about this for the last couple of years, Mr. Speaker, and we are trying to deal with it.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

Orders of the day.

Private Member's Day

MR. SPEAKER: It being Wednesday, Private Member's resolution.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This resolution, Mr. Speaker, perhaps one of the most important we have had, concerns all the people of this Province, and certainly, should concern every member of this House. It is similar, I suppose, to a Private Member's resolution by the hon. the Member for Bellevue, earlier this year, concerning Bill C-69, a resolution of great importance, regarding the health care of this Province, indeed, of this country.

Mr. Speaker, this is a resolution that I think all members of this House can support, one that affirms the basic principles of the Medicare system in this country. Further, it urges the Government to attempt to seek appropriate amendments to the Constitution that would help to enshrine those principles in the constitutional law of our country.

Mr. Speaker, the resolution begins by indicating the consideration by Canadians that our Medicare program is the centerpiece of social programs, central to our identity as a country, and is viewed world-wide with respect and envy. Mr. Speaker, that is true. It is not a motherhood statement when one compares the Canadian Medicare system to that of the United States and to those of other countries. The Canadian Medicare system stands head and shoulders above those systems, particularly in terms of its cost. It is cheaper, for example, than the American system. It provides services at a cheaper level, and to every citizen, as opposed to the United States, which does not, or has a two-tier or a three-tier medical system. It ought to be well known by now that more than thirty-seven million Americans have no form of health insurance and are at second-class status with respect to receiving medical care in the United States.

In this country, Mr. Speaker, we have a Medicare system with a set of principles that have been recognized in the Canada Health Act and acknowledged as the cornerstones of Medicare. They are, Mr. Speaker, the five principles of Comprehensiveness, Universality, Portability, Public Administration and Accessibility. All of them are important, Mr. Speaker, and they are contained in the Canada Health Act as norms of service.

These principles and, indeed, the Medicare Plan, itself, are under attack. They are under attack by actions of the Federal Government, under attack politically from certain political parties and political forces in this country. I could give you some examples, Mr. Speaker, of the kinds of things that are being said about Medicare, about what the Federal Government has been doing and, indeed, the reaction of many provinces and some premiers to this. We have a system that is supposed to be universal and available to all residents of Canada. It is supposed to be operated on a non-profit basis, and access to the services should not be inhibited by such practices as charging of fees.

Well, Mr. Speaker, not all Canadians support that particular approach, and we have in this country now, a growing support for certain political points of view.

There is some support in this Province - I don't imagine they are going to get very much support, but the Reform Party is a big player in Western Canadian politics. Let me give you a quote from Mr. Preston Manning, made April 11, 1991, on CBC. Here is what he says: 'If a province wants to re-allocate its health care resources differently, if they want to have a user fee or insurance premium, or want to have a deductible or some method of rationalizing their allocation of resources, they ought to be able to that, as well, and the only responsibility the Federal Government has is in its transfer payments to try and make it possible for an adequate level of health care within the financial reach of every Canadian.'

Well, Mr. Speaker, what we are talking about here is a user pay system in the hopes that the finances of every Canadian might make it possible to have adequate health care. Well, that type of medical care is of the kind we had in this Province prior to the availability of universal medical care. That was the kind of medical services where people determined whether they would go to a doctor or whether they would get medical services on the basis of whether they could afford to pay, and that is not very long ago, Mr. Speaker. It is only in the last thirty years, even in Canada. In fact, last Sunday was celebrated as the thirtieth anniversary of the introduction of universal hospital insurance in the Province of Saskatchewan, by a New Democratic Party government, I might add, and that government introduced universal health care in that province and was the beginning of the Medicare system in Canada, as we know it.

But what we see happening, Mr. Speaker, is a tax on the system, not only by people such as Preston Manning and the Reform Party who do not support that system, but the Federal Tory party. The Federal Tory party, at their national convention in August, voted in favour of the imposition of what they called in their resolution, modest user fees.

Now, I know that our colleagues here on this side of the House tend to disavow themselves with national Tory policies. I know they don't support the Prime Minister in his efforts. When it is convenient for them to disassociate themselves with his policies they do, and I fully expect they will disassociate themselves from this policy. Not only them - to give credit where credit is due - the Federal Health Minister, Benoit Bouchard, himself, has said he does not support this policy, and he said that he, as the Federal minister, would not consider user fees as an option. But, Mr. Speaker, his party and the party of the hon. members on this side of the House, their national party, does support that, which is a derogation from the principles of health care in this country.

Mr. Speaker, we do have a serious problem, because the Government of this Province does not seem to be fighting back with the degree of force that is necessary. But the Premier has been quoted, in fact, he said it in this House, reported in the March 5, 1991 "Evening Telegram", that 'The Federal Government has washed its hands of responsibility for the growing cost and has turned it over to the provinces, and, frankly, the provinces are not capable of looking after it all.'

Mr. Speaker, the Premier also, around the same time, is quoted as saying that 'It may well be that we will have to abandon the program, that is Medicare, altogether.' It may be that we will have to abandon the program altogether. That is the Premier of this Province, Mr. Speaker, suggesting that the costs of Medicare will force us to abandon it. Well, Mr. Speaker, we all know that the costs of Medicare are great, and they are increasing rapidly, faster than the population growth, faster than the growth of tax, faster than the GNP. They are increasing, Mr. Speaker, to the point where something has to be done, and I agree that measures have to be taken to decrease the cost. But what are we doing, Mr. Speaker? We are increasing the cost in manners such as we have been debating in this House for the past few days, by having more expensive services instead of less expensive services. We know, Mr. Speaker, that the cost of these medical clinics that are being set up is greater than it would be otherwise, and there is a great deal of suspicion as to why that is the case. It is not the most cost-effective method, Mr. Speaker, and extra cost could well be used to provide a more adequate medical service in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, it is not just the Government that has been saying things about the dangers of Medicare. The Newfoundland Medical Association put out in its bulletin on April 17, 1991: 'What can we expect? What will Bill C-69 mean for health services in Newfoundland and Labrador? We can expect to see, amongst other things, patients paying directly for most of the routine visits and procedures conducted in hospitals and doctors clinics, and an increasing number of medical services are de-insured. That is what the Medical Association is predicting, Mr. Speaker, and make no mistake about it, these are the kinds of things that this Government seems to be prepared to countenance because they have not taken measures to ensure that this will not happen.

Mr. Speaker, the coming constitutional situation that we have calls for action by all governments across the country and all provinces, but more particularly this Province. There is an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to include in the Constitution, by means of what has been called in some quarters a social charter, an affirmation of the basic principles of social programs, the basic principles that we have, as citizens of this country, adopted in our medical care system and in our social programs that we have expected and we want to see available all across this country.

Mr. Speaker, make no mistake about it, if there is a decentralization of Confederation, as is contemplated by the federal proposals, and was contemplated by the Meech Lake proposals, as well, the losers will be provinces like Newfoundland and Labrador. This is not just my view, Mr. Speaker. In Halifax, just on Monday, Judith Maxwell of the Economic Council of Canada told a business luncheon that massive tax increases in the Atlantic Provinces will be required for governments trying to maintain services with fewer federal dollars, with tax rates rising, Mr. Speaker, predicted as much as 68 per cent of gross domestic product in Newfoundland from the current 35 per cent, since many Atlantic Canadians and, in this case, Newfoundlanders, would leave this Province to get cheaper taxes elsewhere. This Province, Mr. Speaker, is not going to be able to afford to provide equal public services in health care, in education, and in general social services as other provinces, unless we have some constitutional guarantees that we will have the funding to be able to make it possible.

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Ontario, through its Premier, has issued a discussion paper on the social charter. I would urge all members to read it. It is not a final document, it is a discussion paper. It proposes the entrenchment and the enshrining of principles in the Constitution, and some institutional mechanisms to enforce that. Mr. Speaker, I would urge you to consider these measures as a method of affirming, for all-time in our Constitution, the social programs and, in particular, medicare, that is so vital to the needs of people in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk a little bit about what we can do here to eliminate some of the high costs of medicare, aside from having a more responsive and responsible public tendering process. Aside from that, Mr. Speaker, we can do things that will provide for the delivery of health care services in a more efficient manner. We do need efficiencies, and we need to have the control of the services a little bit closer to the people.

Mr. Speaker, there are methods of doing it. I understand the Minister of Health made some comments recently indicating that he now sees the wisdom in support for a program of using community-based, trained midwives as part of the health care delivery system. It is something that he has come to recently, but I give him credit for acknowledging that this could be a part of the health care delivery system in this Province. It has been in the Labrador part of this Province for many years, as part of the Grenfell Regional Health Services and prior to that the Grenfell Mission. Mr. Speaker, it is a method of delivery of health care services which more and more women are demanding and want to be a part of, and can provide a level of services at a cheaper cost because there is less need for high-priced medical intervention.

There are also community clinics, Mr. Speaker, as a way of having health care delivered, preventive health care with education programs and with community control of the delivery of this service. Studies have shown, Mr. Speaker, that the costs are less in delivering quality health care with local control at a less costly rate.

I want to quote from a recent Government of Saskatchewan study, Mr. Speaker, which looked at co-operative and consumer sponsored health care delivery systems in the Province of Saskatchewan. Looking at two clinics in Prince Albert and in Saskatoon, it showed that the hospitalization rates for patients at these clinics, or participating in these clinics, were 25 to 30 per cent lower in patient days than the provincial average. There were lower drug material and prescribing costs, and produced savings of between 11 and 21 per cent. The costs per patient, Mr. Speaker, were lower by 13 to 17 per cent. This was not in a second-rate system, Mr. Speaker, it was in a first-rate system which had community control.

So, Mr. Speaker, there are examples, and we have some in our Province. I know the Minister of Health talks about the experiment now being conducted on the Southern Shore, the Trepassey area, on the delivery of health care through a community clinic. We have the clinic operated by the medical school at Memorial, the family practice unit on Shea Heights, the Shea Heights community medical clinic, which is a separately incorporated body and has a local community board. These are a couple of examples where there is some community involvement in the delivery of health care services. This ought to be regarded by the Minister of Health as a model for ways of delivering the services, providing better service and care, at, in fact, what turns out to be, better care at a cheaper cost and providing for a healthier population.

Mr. Speaker, there are ways of doing that that I am afraid this Government has forgotten about or missed the boat on. One of them has to do with the issue of research into health care. This Government and the previous government were given by the Federal Government, as a result of Bill C-22, access to an enormous amount of money from the federal treasury in the order of $4.5 million, which was earmarked for research within this Province. It was held in a separate account. But this year, the Government, instead of using it for research, turned it over to general revenues and refused to use it to conduct research in this Province.

There is a problem with research, not only in this Province, but in the country. There is very little research being done into the effectiveness and the delivery of health care systems. This has been recognized by a national committee, a federal committee of the Federal House, which looked at the health and welfare expenditures for research and made recommendations for increases, as opposed to decreases, which are happening now in research and health care management, health care delivery and organization, and health care quality and standards and quality assurance.

These three areas are areas in which the quality of health care can be tested, in which the delivery of health care and the effectiveness of that delivery can be tested, and there is very little research in that area, an area which I think can provide perhaps some of the greatest results for the health of the population, and not only the health of the population, but the ability of governments, such as Newfoundland, to deliver these expensive programs. But what we really need is a national commitment from every legislature in this country, from the Government of Canada, and by the people of Canada in their Constitution, a commitment to these programs and to these principles.

I know that some of the members care about this issue. Some of them are even listening, many are not. But the people of this Province want to have a guarantee that they will not suffer because they live in Newfoundland. I know the Minister of Finance would not want any one of his constituents to have less health care and less access to health care because he or she lives in Newfoundland, than if they lived in Alberta or Ontario or British Columbia. The way to do that, the way to guarantee that, is to see and find a way in this constitutional process that we are on now, to seek amendments, whether they be to Section 36, as the Premier has indicated he might want to see changed, or whether it be a separate document or a separate social charter. But we need to find ways of providing in our Constitution some guarantee that Newfoundland will be able to deliver these social programs, particularly Medicare, that our people need and will be demanding.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port de Grave.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank my hon. colleagues for giving me the first opportunity to get up after the missing Member for St. John's East spoke because I have a doctor's appointment at four o'clock, and it is interesting I have a doctor's appointment when we are speaking on Medicare this afternoon.


MR. EFFORD: I am not going in at 7:00 in the morning, I am going to take my regular visit.

It is interesting to know that the hon. Member is so greatly concerned about Medicare and about the future of health in Canada, especially here in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is important to every individual, not only our great socialist friend over there who will be making some points later on, but nobody would ever want us to be in a situation, or to even come close, to eroding universality in Medicare in our health profession, to come down on it like in the United States, because the possibilities of what could happen to the health services is frightening, especially for people to get an opportunity to receive a decent health care in the country of Canada and especially in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Under the economic conditions we are facing now it is difficult. It is difficult for people to get admitted to hospital when they need elective surgery, and sometimes in the case of emergency, because with the taxes we are receiving through our own revenues here in the Province, and the payments from Ottawa, it is difficult to keep up with the demands on the health services. That is difficult enough, but to try and imagine that we could be taking some of those services away because of the economy in the country would be even more frightening. I remember visiting Florida about two years ago, the first vacation I had taken in five years. We were down there only two days and my wife took sick and ended up in hospital in Florida for three and a half days. For those three and a half days it cost nearly $9000. Now, that is something that as Canadians, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, you could never imagine or believe could happen. In the United States of American, with the system they have there, unless you have some company insurance or you belong to a national insurance plan it is devastating what happens when you get sick. I know of circumstances where people needed to go in hospital and the only way they could get in was to mortgage their home, it they had a home, or they had to put themselves in financial ruin in order to get into the health system.

It is certainly a major concern to every Canadian that anything in our health system could be tampered with to further deteriorate the possibility of people getting the health services they need. Now, keep in mind one thing, in order to provide health services you need money. You need taxes. You cannot pay for the cost of health, whether the individual pays the cost or some group pays the cost, or whether the Government pays it, the money has to come from somewhere. My socialist friend should sit down and listen to what I am going to say because you cannot collect money unless you can generate revenues, and the one thing I found out from our friends over in the corner, leader number one, and leader number two, is that they are mostly commonly against everything that makes any commonsense. Every time you start to talk of a project, an environmental study is the first thing that has to be done, and every stumbling block that you could ever possibly imagine is put in the way. Leave it to the hon. gentleman and the party to stop and undermine any possible project. Now, they want universality, they want every opportunity and everything we can get in health care, they want all the other social programmes, but they never seem to imagine, or try to understand how we pay for those programmes. How do you pay for programmes that we take for granted here in this country? Is health free? Does anybody have any health costs? Does the doctor have to get paid? Do you have to buy equipment? Do you have to pay a bill at the hospital for renovations? Does that cost money? Not according to our socialist friends. Somebody is suppose to wave their magic wand and flick in the money like the hon. Minister of Finance will have to do this year to pay interest on the $6 billion debt.

AN HON. MEMBER: Pretty close.

MR. EFFORD: It is pretty close to $6 billion. Now, if I could hear the hon. gentleman who spoke this afternoon speak about something constructive which his party, or the one he represents, were going to be in support of in this Province to turn around the economy and do something so that we could gain extra revenue, then it would make some sense in what we are trying to say about the Medicare system. At least we would have the money to pay for it. I never hear him say anything constructive. I have never heard him make a statement this year on the fishery and how important that is to the economy of the Province, never once. Never once has he ever opened his mouth and said: well the fishery is the mainstay of the economy of the Province and that we should do something constructive; that we should protect our fishery; that every tax dollar generated through the economy from the fishery creates an economy that could help offset the cost of health care in our Province; that could improve the health care in our Province. But how do you have time to talk about the fishery, if 99 per cent of your time is spent in a law office with the doors closed? How, Mr. Speaker, could you possibly have time to talk about the fishery in this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: If I were the old schoolmarm, I would say there are some members who have not heard a word of the last two speeches. The Chair, of course, cannot force people to listen. It is the Chair's job to ensure that there is order and decorum in the House so that the Member speaking can be heard, and it is very important. This House is a bit different from the other House. It is large, and members should know, when they are walking back and forth, that they cannot talk to people. It does not do anything for the decorum of the House. I notice members get up to leave, and on their way they will casually talk to this person and that person. This is not at all in the interest of promoting good decorum in the House. I have noticed that some members have been out of their places since the period began, and they have been in discussion the whole time. I would ask members if they want a meeting with people, have it outside the House. Here we are supposed to listen to the debate, and if we are going to allow this thing to go on, it is just going to deteriorate, and it is not a very good spectacle. So I ask hon. members to please keep these few words in mind.

The hon. the Member for Port de Grave.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, for an individual or a Member of this House of Assembly to be interested in what is taking place in the Province, and what the policies of governments are, and what the concerns for the future economy of the Province are - because we must be concerned about the future of the economy of this Province if we are going to be able to provide the health care services that people need. The two go hand in hand. You cannot provide health services if you do not have a good, strong base in the economy, and that is what is happening now. The economy is falling down around our ears, and the hon. Member over there is not saying one thing positive; not saying one thing to his other colleagues across Canada to acknowledge the problems that we are facing here in Newfoundland - and it is a national problem. It is a national problem. The fishery here in this Province is a national problem.

The wheat fields of Saskatchewan and the Prairie Provinces have become a national problem, and every government and every politician in the country is concerned about it.

Every politician and every member of this country supports the importance of the wheat fields and the farmers of all of Canada, and especially western Canada, so much so that $800 million of our taxpayers money was paid out just recently because of the problems they were experiencing this year in the farming industry. What did Newfoundland get? Nine million dollars. Nine million dollars. Did I hear you say anything? Not a word, Mr. Speaker. Not a word. Why? He was locked away in his law office, too busy making money - too busy making money. The great socialist attitude, concerned about the people of this Province, concerned about the poor people of this Province, and was he really concerned? - absolutely not, Mr. Speaker. He was absolutely not concerned, because if he was sincere about bringing this resolution into the House, he would be out there fighting for the poor people. He would be out there fighting for the economy of this Province. He would be involving the Premier of Ontario, and the Premier of British Columbia, and the Premier of Saskatchewan - have you written them? Have you written them and asked them to support the resolution that we are facing here in this House of Assembly? Have you written them to support the fishery? If you have, table it, bring it to the House of Assembly and show it to us. But I say, Mr. Speaker, that he has not written any letter. He has not taken the interest to ask for support across Canada.

Last week I sent out 330 resolutions across this Province to every municipality. What has the hon. Member done? Absolutely nothing, Mr. Speaker, because he is spending half of his time out in Corner Brook on arbitration hearings, plus collecting a full pay here in the House of Assembly. That is what he is doing, Mr. Speaker. I wonder why? Let me ask him another question about the Medicare problem. Is there a conflict when we bring in this Medicare? Let me ask the hon. Member, is he the lawyer for the clinic on Shea Heights? Is he the lawyer for the Medicare Institute at Memorial University? Is he the lawyer for the doctor at the Medicare clinic on Shea Heights? I tell you, Mr. Speaker, something has to be done with what is happening in this hon. House of Assembly.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Yes, I sure am, because I am bringing out the truth.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: That is right.

MR. EFFORD: I am bringing out the waste of taxpayers money. Every dollar wasted in this Province is a dollar that could go towards improving health care; improving the lives of sick people; improving the lives of our senior citizens and every dollar, or every hundred dollars or every thousand dollars that is wasted by a politician, is taking those services away from the sick of this Province, so let us not be hypocritical by what we are saying; let us stand up and face the truth. The hon. Member can point his finger and say I will get mine, probably I will, but I will get it honestly and fairly and aboveboard. Make no mistake about that. But I am telling you that we need dollars to pay for this health care system. What was it last year, $800 million ?


MR. EFFORD: $800 million plus to pay for the health care system in this Province, and what are our friends in Ottawa taking away from us? Every time you sit down and talk to them, every time the Minister of Finance or the Minister of Health or any of the Ministers - cut, cut, cut!

AN HON. MEMBER: $500 million.

MR. EFFORD: Let the hon. Member for St. John's East, who is concerned about the future of health care, table in this House one copy of one letter that he has written to the Federal Minister of Health about his concerns; table it, bring it to this House of Assembly. I tell you, Mr. Speaker, he cannot because he has not written one letter. He is too busy to write letters. So what is he doing? It is not enough.

When I presented a resolution last week on the fishery in this Province, I did not just stand up in this House and present a resolution and pay lip service to it and let it drop, I have spent the whole year on the fisheries. I have browbeaten everybody in this Province on the fisheries. I have hounded the Federal Minister of Fisheries on it. I have hounded the Prime Minister of Canada and when the Prime Minister of Canada comes to Newfoundland on December 9th, he is going to be hounded again. Let me assure you of that. There are going to be an awful lot of fishermen and their wives and their children in front of the Prime Minister when he comes here. That is doing something about a problem. That is not being hypocritical, that is working for the real answer to the problem and it is too bad that the hon. Member does not take the same attitude; and if he calls this Member sleazy, as he just said across there, he should remember what he did a couple of months ago.


MR. EFFORD: Talk about those sorts of things; tattle all, Mr. Speaker. We are talking about the attitudes of people, we are talking about the future of Medicare, we are talking about the things which will take place in this Province in the future and it has to. Every individual in this Province should be concerned about health care. Just imagine if you had to go to a hospital, the Health Sciences, and you needed an operation. Just imagine the thought of having to sell off your home or put another mortgage on your home or to mortgage your car or whatever to get into hospital, or, as one relative of mine who was in the United States and was in hospital and owed a bill, his wife went down to check him out - this was several years ago, and when she saw the bill it was $339, and they said 'no way'. She could not check her husband out of the hospital until she went to the bank, got the money and returned to the hospital; that was the condition. They would not release him from hospital otherwise.

That is not uncommon. That is the way health care is provided in the United States of America. So we should be concerned, but you cannot pay it without money, you cannot have a health care system unless you collect the revenues - it all goes hand in hand. And the fishery, Mr. Speaker, as I will keep saying it and I will keep saying it and I will keep saying it until someone does something about it. My hon. friend in the gallery is nodding his head, he has the time to do something about it. I do not know what he has done. I have never heard any comments about it, I have not read much in the press about it. Probably he is doing something behind the scenes the way they usually do things; but, Mr. Speaker, it is going to be interesting to see what happens behind the scenes -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I have just noticed the hon. Member talking to somebody in the gallery and I would advise hon. members that nobody in the galleries is supposed to be making any gestures to anybody in the House or any place else, and I would ask hon. members to also refrain from inviting that kind of gesture.

The hon. the Member for Port de Grave.

MR. EFFORD: I do apologise, Mr. Speaker. I do not normally do that, but the hon. member was nodding to me and I guess he just caught my attention, so I will make sure it does not happen in the future, if the hon. member stops nodding his head, or the hon. visitor I should say stops nodding his head to the gallery. But, Mr. Speaker, it is serious. It is something that we are going to have to face the consequences of in the future. I do not know where the money is going to continue to come from to provide the health care system that we need in this Province.

I listened to the demographics that were supplied by the Federal Government about the future of this Province, and what the population is going to be in, I think, 2001 or 2005, and it is going to be something over 65 per cent seniors in this Province. I mean that is going to be a tremendous cost and drain on the health care system. In most cases you need more health care services as a senior than you do at a younger age. I would think those would be statistics that wouldn't be very difficult to back up. So, when you look at ten years down the road and you get the economy of the Province deteriorating the way it is, and you get a lot of the youth of the Province leaving - and they will have to leave for one reason or another, especially to find employment if we allow our fishery to disappear right from underneath us - and if you have the greater portion of the population over the age of sixty-five in the Province, then there is no contributing factor to the tax revenues of the Province. Again the revenues, the taxes, and the health needs go hand in hand. One cannot survive without the other.

So, while we have got to be concerned about what the Government's policy is going to be in the future on Medicare, we have got to be equally as concerned about where the dollars and cents are going to come from to take care of the Medicare costs. That is where I am coming from, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure my colleagues, when they get up, will give many other examples and make other references to other things we will have to do. So I am telling you, it is just not enough to have a socialist attitude and stand up in the House of Assembly demanding that we keep the services. We have got to provide the alternatives and the ways and means of supporting those services. I don't think there is anybody in this House of Assembly or anywhere in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador who would ever think about voting against a motion such as this. I mean, you have to totally support -

AN HON. MEMBER: We are not going to be hypocrites.

MR. EFFORD: Exactly. We are not going to be hypocritical or hypocrites about the whole mess -

AN HON. MEMBER: You cannot vote in the House of Assembly and do nothing else about it.

MR. EFFORD: Exactly. We have to keep in mind that you just cannot bring in a motion, sit down on your laurels, put your hand under your chin and say: Well, that is it, I have done my job. I am satisfied medicare is here to stay. It is not that simple.

Now, we have got to be serious about what we are doing and we have got to work towards creating a positive economy for the future of this Province, and the only way we can do that is get control off and demand and protect our resources. When we have the opportunity to get a major industry or major development in this Province, let us be practical, let's use some common sense. I know we have to protect our environment and we have to make sure of all aspects in the fishery, in the oil industry, in the lumber woods, or in the hydro development, and we have to look at all concerns. But let's not just do it for the sake of doing it to promote the policies of someone in our party. That is what most commonly happens in a lot of cases, Mr. Speaker.

So, our socialist friends in the Province and our socialist friends across Canada would do a lot to contribute towards Medicare in the Province if they changed their attitude and were more co-operative in developing a good basis for the economy across the country, and instead of always being negative and picking at little things be a little more supportive of what matters most. When you build that basis for the economy and you build the revenues, then you have no worries about our Medicare staying in place, and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and the people of Canada getting the good health care system that they deserve.

Thank you.


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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DOYLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am very pleased today to rise and support this resolution being presented by the Member for St. John's East. It is a very, very good resolution. It is a resolution that I would suppose could be described as a motherhood resolution. I find it very, very difficult, I will say to the Member for St. John's East, to disagree with any part of that resolution. It is a very good one indeed. When you read part of it, the Member is saying that the Medicare programme, the Medicare system that we have here in this country, is the centerpiece of our social programmes and it is one that the whole world, well the western world, views with a great deal of respect and a great deal of envy indeed. I would agree with that totally and completely. Because there is not a Medicare system in the Western world that can be compared to the one we have here in Canada. We should all be very concerned, indeed, that we don't lose any part of that good health care system we have, and we should not, under any circumstances, ever take for granted what we have in the health care system, not only here in Newfoundland, but all across Canada.

We are very fortunate in this country to have this type of Medicare system, a free Medicare system. When you compare it, as the Member for St. John's East did a few minutes ago, to what they have in the United States, then it is probably time that we looked at our health care system from the point of view of entrenching it in the Constitution of Canada. The fact that it is portable, the fact that every citizen in our country has equal and free access to health care, the fact that we have a universality of health care in Canada, is something that we possibly should, at this point in time, look at entrenching in the Constitution of Canada. Because we are very fortunate to have that type of solid social program that we have in Canada.

As the Member for Port de Grave said a few minutes ago, we have an aging population in Canada, so it is going to become even more necessary as time goes on to ensure that citizens in the whole country have access to good quality health care. Because, as people get older, naturally, they have to avail more frequently of the health care system that we have.

So we should be proud of it, because it guarantees - well, it may not guarantee, but at least it provides quality health care to people regardless of what their individual circumstances might be in life. When we talk about health care in Canada, we always think of the U.S.A., where millions of people cannot have access to good quality health care. Why? Simply because they may not have the type of insurance program necessary for them to avail of that type of health care; maybe because they do not qualify under the limited health care system that they have in the United States. In the United States, they have to qualify for health care. We just take it for granted; one can go into a hospital or a doctor's office any time at all and just demand good quality health care, and for the most part, I guess, one will receive it. Whether you happen to be a millionaire or a beggar, you can receive the type of health care you are looking for.

Now, our system, of course, has a few flaws. It is not a perfect system but, for the most part, we can be fairly sure that if we are wheeled up to a hospital door we are going to be taken in. It is not like that in the United States. There, you might be wheeled up to a hospital door and the first thing you would be asked is: Where is your insurance card? Do you qualify for the type of health care that we provide here at this particular hospital? So, I guess, availing of health care in a country like that is comparable to buying a house. If you have to go in for surgery, if you must have some kind of serious operation, or a stay in a hospital, it could turn into a very big investment, indeed.

So we very often take our health care system for granted. We have always had a reasonably good health care system and we can only hope that it will continue to be that way. We have to be on our guard to ensure that it does stay that way. So maybe it is time we face that reality and look at the entrenchment of universality, accessibility, and portability in the Constitution of Canada. Because, after all, we, here in this country, consider health care to be a right in the very same way that we consider it to be a right to earn a living, a right to have access to good quality education, to have equality of the sexes, and what have you. High on that priority list, as well, should be the right to good quality health care when we need it.

So maybe it is time to consider health care to be a basic right, worthy of Constitutional entrenchment, as the Member for St. John's East has said. Of course, that has to be done through a partnership between the Federal and the Provincial Governments. Because health care in this country is becoming seriously underfunded, not only by the Federal Government, but by the Provincial Government, as well. One level of government, we find over the last year, is continually blaming the underfunding of health care on the other. Now the Province makes the point almost on a continual basis that, well, we have a reduction now, in established program funding, and this is causing a decline in our health care system, and the Federal Government will counter by saying that EPF is increasing every year.

Now EPF is increasing every year, incidentally, but it is not increasing at the same rate that it previously increased. The Province, of course, by the same token, makes the point that they are spending more money every single year on health care. Well, the Province is spending more money every single year on health care, but while the Province is spending more money on health care, they are not increasing, they are spending at the same rate that they previously did. So, you can make the point that EPF is decreasing each year when it is actually increasing, but not increasing at the same rate; and the Province, of course, is spending more money on health care each year, but they are not increasing their spending at the same rate as was previously done over the years. So it depends on how you view it. Generally, Mr. Speaker, whether you are spending it at the same rate or not, the people who generally have to bear the brunt of it are the people who are sick, and the Province is not funding the health care system in the same way as it used to, either.

Maybe it is time now that we looked at a different way of funding the health care system in the country. I believe, the way the health care system is funded now through established program funding is in a two-part package. You have a cash payment that is made by the Federal Government, and you also have a system of tax points or tax transfers that comes to the Province each year by the Federal Government. Maybe it is time that the Federal and the Provincial Governments right across the country got together and looked at what has become an antiquated system, and maybe it is time that the whole health care system of funding was thoroughly reviewed with a view to making it more efficient.

As I said a moment ago, the Province, each year, is drastically reducing its health care funding. If my memory serves me correctly, if I remember the Minister of Health's budget back five or six months ago, I believe health care in the Province took a dip of anywhere between $20 million or $25 million, and that is very, very serious. In a Province like Newfoundland, with a population of 500,000 people, when there is a dip of $20 million to $25 million in health care funding, then that becomes a source of concern.

If we had the guarantee of good quality health care and the five principles that have been outlined by the member entrenched in the Constitution of Canada, maybe the Province would not be allowed to do that. Maybe they would have to look at their priorities a little bit more seriously before taking a dip of $25 million in the health care system.

What we have had in Newfoundland over the last six-month period since the minister's budget came down, is a lot of bad news for the health care system in this Province. Continually, day after day, we are getting bad news in the Province on health care. We have twelve rural hospitals in Newfoundland and Labrador that have been either closed or seriously downgraded over the last six-month period.

One would question accessibility of health services, if you are closing down hospitals and seriously downgrading the health care system the way the Government seems to be doing, with brutal cuts in virtually every single sector of the health care system, 900 jobs, I believe, eliminated throughout the system right across Newfoundland and Labrador; 300 nursing positions gone over the last year; a $25 million shortfall in the 1991-1992 Budget; hundreds of acute care beds gone, I believe, 360 in all, and patients being charged for services now, in Newfoundland, under MCP. I never thought we would ever come to that in Newfoundland, where people would actually be charged for health care services under MCP.

Everyone takes the MCP system for granted, and here in Newfoundland now, we are being charged for certain health care services, all in the name of downsizing the health care system. Emergency patients - we are hearing horror stories day after day, patients having to wait many, many hours in hospital waiting rooms before they can get in to see a doctor. For what is sometimes considered to be emergency surgery, people are having to wait for days and weeks, sometimes running into months, before they can avail of hospital services.

So, Mr. Speaker, we do have a very serious situation here in the Province. I can remember a comment that the minister made some time ago. He said: 'It was lucky we came along when we did, as a government, and rescued the health care system from what it was getting into. Doctors and nurses are leaving the Province at an alarming rate, and there seems to be very little attention paid by Government to what is an alarming problem. I mentioned to the minister today about psychiatric services in Newfoundland. Twenty per cent of the psychiatrists that had been operating in the Province have left. We should have a ratio of about one for every 10,000 patients in the Province. We should have at least sixty in the Province, and I believe we have anywhere between twenty-five and thirty. And on it goes.

I had intended to speak for twenty minutes when I got up but I am just learning that the vocal cords are not back in the shape I thought they were in. So, Mr. Speaker, I will just say, in closing, that this is a good resolution that the Member for St. John's East has brought before the House today, and one that I take great pleasure in supporting.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, thank you. I am very pleased, today, to speak on this resolution concerning health care, and to discuss the many problems that exist with it, but also the good things about it.

The Government and the members on this side don't have any problem in supporting the resolution. The resolution, itself, is somewhat vague in some areas but, other than that, the overall thrust of it is something that I, and I am sure, the rest of the members, pretty well, over here on this side, support. It speaks of putting into the Constitution the five principles underlying the health care system in Canada and maintaining those principles forever and a day for the Canadian society. I believe that, as much as we can and as best we can, we should devote our resources, both human and financial to doing that.

I find that the resolution, itself, in one of the 'whereases', refers to the 'financial and political support from the Government of Canada and some Provincial Governments'. Mr. Speaker, I for one am somewhat happy that an NDP government was elected in a couple of the provinces because I believe that an NDP government in a couple of the provinces is going to be able now to face some of the real issues that a government has to tackle. As we in Canada now watch what is occurring across Canada, especially in Ontario and in British Columbia, and I believe they are now going to face the same thing in Saskatchewan, we are seeing some rapid changes taking place in health care. In Newfoundland the former Leader of the NDP, Mr. Fenwick, commented recently that the Minister of Health in Newfoundland and Labrador is one of the great reform Ministers in Canada when it comes to health care. The former NDP Leader, Mr. Fenwick, said that the hon. Chris Decker, the Minister of Health is one of the great -


MR. K. AYLWARD: That is a fact. I do not always agree with Mr. Fenwick but on this one I do. As a matter of fact it is probably the first time I ever agreed with him, but I have to say he was right on the money. Our Minister of Health is a reformer, he is a person who is trying to get the health care system in this Province ready for the future. I believe that some of the things he has tackled, some of the major problems he has tackled are problems that, thank God, are being tackled now for the future and are going to make our health care system in this Province better. We have some troubles in between but we have to go at these things in order to resolve the problem. The problem is not just financial, the problem is also structural. There have been a number of changes in the demographics that have to be addressed in the type of health care we have been offering in the Province and across Canada. Our population is aging and therefore different requirements are needed in the health care system for our aging population. Therefore we as Governments in Canada, and the Federal Government, have to address those problems and the type of services that are needed, not only the financial problems but the type of services that are needed. The Minister of Health in Newfoundland and Labrador is attempting to do that by implementing some of the recommendations of the 1984 Royal Commission Report which was done under the mandate of the former Government before we took office. Unfortunately some of the changes which they had mandated, which were suggested by the Royal Commission and which they decided not to tackle at the time we are now trying to deal with. They are not easy. Bringing changes in the health care, or bringing changes anywhere, is not easy. It is tough business, but if you are going to do it, if you are going to do it for the right reasons, and you are going to do it for the future, then you carry on. This Government has done that and is doing it, despite the Opposition, even thought they know, and I know this, and the Opposition knows, thank God, this Government is undertaking to do what should have been done a long time ago. They know that some of the changes have to be made and if we do not do it somebody is going to have to do it. We have the responsibility that is entrusted into our Government right now to do that, and we have to think of the future. The deficit that this Government has now is enormous. It has been passed onto us and our hands are tied.

MR. HODDER: We passed a surplus on.

MR. K. AYLWARD: Was a $4 billion debt a surplus? Let me tell the Member for Port au Port, who is piping up here, who is abusing me as I speak, Mr. Speaker, he has now crossed over to the Tory Party, the PC Government in Ottawa is a great Government for Medicare now. They have been great to Newfoundland and Labrador. Mr. Mulroney cares about Medicare, I know, in this Province and in Canada. We have lost $500 million over three and a half, or four years at the most, to health care and education. Every dollar that now goes into increased health care, 80 per cent of that is provincial dollars. Eighty cents of every dollar we have to come up with because the Federal Government has decided to give up on it. They just decided to give up on it. Bill C-69 which has now been passed by the Federal Government is now legislation and they are gearing towards getting out of it. Now, Benoit Bouchard, the Federal Minister would say, oh, no, we are not doing that. We want you to maintain Medicare standards. You cannot do this. We have a Canada Health Act you have to follow. We are not going to give you the money to do it but you have to follow it, and if you try to do anything else we are going to clean your clock and you are not getting anything else. It is time that we all got on the same track, the same bandwagon and tried to deal with the problems in a serious vein and in a serious manner. So the Opposition is going to lay blame on the Provincial Government for bringing in some needed changes, which have to be brought in, one way or the other they have to be brought in. If we do not do it, somebody else is going to do it. Now they would love to be over here doing it, that is the problem, but unfortunately they cannot do that right now.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) over here, but they would not do it.

MR. K. AYLWARD: Well maybe that is the case, but the politics of it in the future is going to be great for Newfoundland because in politics you are supposed to do the right things for the people, and this Government is trying to do that. Now we are going to take the short-term pain, but we have to try to do that and address the problem. It is not easy, but some of the changes that have been made in offering new services that have never been there before, and in replacing acute care beds in some cases with chronic care, which is definitely needed - I mean every expert in every hospital and nursing home will tell you the changes that they want to see, and most of the people in the administrations in the health care system are saying that some of the things that are occurring are long overdue.

Now mind you, it is unfortunate that the pain of having some people moved out of the system - that is very unfortunate, and I, for one, do not like to see it, and I am sure that nobody else in this House does either. But it is not just the Liberal Government of Newfoundland and Labrador that is doing these things. The NDP Government in Ontario, Mr. Floyd Laughren, the Ontario Treasurer, is now faced with a dilemma. He is a socialist politician helping head up a socialist government, and he has a certain principle that he wants to maintain, and Mr. Rae, who is Premier, has a Social Charter put into the Constitution about protecting the rights of individuals and so on. That is great! I am a Liberal, I am left of Liberal, I suppose. I think that is number one. But Mr. Laughren - who is the Treasurer of Ontario - is now saying that hospitals are going to have to face the fact that the days of large government grants are over, even if layoffs, bed closings, and hospital closings may be the result.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is that what he said?

MR. K. AYLWARD: That is what he is saying. He only said it four or five days ago. You know what else he is saying? He is also saying there is no money left anymore and that these changes should have been made a long time ago: We have to deal with our aging population, but changes were not made because governments had a lot of money and they did not want to deal with it. Now that we do not have any money - this is what he is saying - we have to deal with it now.

They are also saying in Ontario that they are now faced with another $600 million deficit, which was a result of transfer cuts. They just tried to tackle the $620 million deficit over the $9.7 billion deficit that they went with this year, and he is also talking now about further cuts and layoffs in the health care system amounting possibly to 7,000 people in the health care system that may be coming out of it in the short term. He has already told the Ontario Hospital Association that there is no way they are going to get what they want in their increase next year, that they are going to have to face reality, and that these are reality times, and that health care has to face the reality and become more effective.

Now, you know, I think he is getting all of this from the hon. Chris Decker, Minister of Health for Newfoundland and Labrador. He is not getting all of it, he is only getting some of the good thoughts, because the NDP Government in Ontario, the one in B.C., and the one that is coming in in Saskatchewan are going to realize that when you get in government in these times, in the 1990s, especially in a recession which we have no - I mean we are not to blame for it. But when you get in these times and you try to deal with putting forward the services that are needed for the people, especially in health care, then you have to deal with reality. Reality is less dollars, an aging population. You need a change in services, and you have to try and find a way to maintain the needed services that are required.

So while I would support the resolution that the Member for St. John's East puts forward, I would ask him to also consider that when he starts laying blame on this Government for bringing in things that have to be done, when he says these things he should say to himself: my colleagues across Canada are doing the same thing. Not only that, they may do worse things, God knows, than we have done, and we have not done worse things; we have not done bad things. What we have had to do is face reality, and this Government has the courage to do that.

So if you want to criticize, that is fine, but let's be constructive in doing that, and let's offer decent suggestions. The Member for St. John's East says that we should - the couple of suggestions that he makes - is that we should open more community clinics. Government has undertaken to do that. Home care: I think the Department of Health is really into that. As a matter of fact, we are probably leading Canada in home care efforts.

So we are leading the nation in trying to deal with health care, especially in rural areas. So when I hear the Opposition - they should make constructive suggestions, and if they are going to talk about brutal health care cuts they should refer to Mr. Mulroney and Benoît Bouchard instead of this Provincial Government. Because we are trying to deal with a crisis that we are now facing because of their counterparts in Ottawa who have decided that we in this Province, and Atlantic Canada, and other have-not provinces, are going to have to face the fact that we are going to have to deal with less funding arrangements to deal with health care requirements in the future.

So if you are going to criticize let's do it right. Let's make some positive suggestions about how to go about this and making the changes. Don't just get up and criticize for the sake of criticizing. If you are going to make suggestions, the Government will listen. I as a Member will listen. The Members for Carbonear and Eagle River will listen. We are listeners, we like to listen, and then we like to do. We will try to do what we think is best. But we are here taking the shellacking and we are caught right in the middle. Here we are delivering the service, supposedly, and the Federal Government is saying: we are not giving you any more money. Alright? You are having less money to deal with this fact. But go ahead, because you are to blame now. The Opposition Party in Newfoundland is down blaming us for what the Federal Government is not giving us.

Now I mean, you know, the time has come to tell. The day is over. We should be collaborating and trying to find effective ways to deliver health care in the Province. The recommendations that are being implemented now by this Government in health care are the same recommendations that the former government had to deal with. In some cases they brought them in, I think - in a few cases. But they just decided I suppose at the time that they did not need to do it. But the fact is, it is not only because they needed to be done but also because of the difficult financial situation that this Government finds itself in, not due to its own dealings, because of the fact that we have inherited quite a large debt, and also because of the recession, which we did not create. We did not create the national recession. It was created by somebody else who will remain unknown to all of us. That was created by somebody else and that has caused a downturn. A lot of our resource industries have suffered and our revenues have declined.

So let's be real when we are going to talk about how we deal with Medicare and how we deal with the services to be provided by people. We have to try to do our best with what we have right now. But we also have to make known to the Federal Government, as the motion put forward by the Member for St. John's East states, we have to make the Federal Government understand that Medicare and health care is a large issue with the people of Canada and that they want to see it maintained. They want to see it improved. They also want to see changes that will address the future demographics of Canada and especially of this Province.

So we support the resolution, even though it is vague and it does not really say how we get there. But the resolution itself we support and I believe that it is a positive resolution. I hope the Federal Government will start to understand that instead of doing some of the things that they are doing, that they should concentrate more on finding a new financial arrangement to deliver funds to the have-not provinces. I believe right now that negotiations are under way with the provincial governments, trying to come up with new fiscal transfer arrangements, so that the provinces which are having troubles in meeting their budgets will be able to get hopefully more funds to deal with the problems that they have to deal with.

But if we are going to keep this on an even keel we should understand that the NDP Party or the PC Party have no sole right to government, and as to how they would deal with it. They are in other governments, and we know how they are dealing with it. So all of us should understand that. They have not done as good a job as they say they would like to do, or they said they could do. We are trying to do our best. I think, as Peter Fenwick, the former NDP leader, has said, that we have a great Minister of health care. I think he deserves a thump (Inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. AYLWARD: The changes, while they are tough, are needed. The Opposition is green with envy, I think, because they see a Minister of Health who has the guts to face the reality, to bring in the changes that they were told they should make, but they did not make. We know that down the road people will say that this Government and this Minister of Health did the tough things, in the tough times, for the people, and they are roughing it out with us. In Baie Verte - White Bay they decided that they think we are doing the right thing. I think Harold Small is - by the way, welcome to the House of Assembly, I do not know if I welcomed you before - the hon. Member is working very hard. I know that people had a chance out there to say what they thought, and I think they spoke quite highly of what they think we are trying to do. At least they know, Mr. Speaker, that we are being up front, and we are trying our best in difficult, trying times. I would say that the resolution itself, I believe, is a good one. On the overall we support it, but let us all keep in mind what we have to deal with, and hopefully we will see a better day in the future as we take the right measures for now.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Government House Leader.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much.

AN HON. MEMBER: Soon to be the Government House Leader, Mr. Speaker.

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, soon to be.

MR. SPEAKER: I am sorry, the hon. the Opposition House Leader.

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

No, there are going to be enough competitions across the way, Mr. Speaker, I say with all due respect, for the Government House Leader in a short while, if Mr. Roberts is successful in getting a seat. I say my good friend from Gander may just have to move over and let Eddie sit next to the Premier, because they will be two peas in a pod, there is no question, when he gets here.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to rise to support the resolution - Private Members' Day - put forward by the Member for St. John's East about a very important issue; a matter that affects all of our lives; a matter that we all have grave concern about, particularly I guess about the future, where are we really headed in this country, and in this Province particularly, with the Medicare programme? I say that in a very sincere note, because it is, regardless of political stripe, a programme that we all value very highly and are very proud of, as a province of Canada, to have this very, very good Medicare programme.

I want to react to the Member for Stephenville who talked about the Provincial Government leading the nation. There is no doubt, Mr. Speaker, that the present Government is leading the nation in a number of ways. They are leading it with the unemployment rate in the Province. That has steadily increased since they came to power. They are leading the way nationally with the number of ministers that resigned from the Administration in the period of time that they have been in office. They are leading the nation in the number of civil servants who have been laid off-

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, because it is all true. It is very serious stuff, Mr. Speaker, I say to Doctor Death over there. I say to Doctor Death, it is very serious stuff.

They are leading the way with the lay offs of civil servants; leading the nation in political patronage appointments, and I would say leading the nation these days in the number of political patronage appointments who have resigned. Of course now, within the last week or so, leading the nation in scandals, Mr. Speaker.

I would have to say now that this Government is leading the nation, for any government in Canada, in scandals. I say to the Member for Stephenville, when he talks about his Government leading the nation, there is no doubt they are leading the nation.

AN HON. MEMBER: Does that include the Federal Government too?

MR. MATTHEWS: Including the Federal Government, and I tell you that is saying something. That is saying something. When you lead the Mulroney Tories in some of the things that I have alluded to here then you are really, really leading the nation, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Scandal, corruption, paying off the bag men.

MR. MATTHEWS: Now I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that we are talking here and the debate has been pretty wide-ranging. We have heard from the Member who introduced the resolution. Then we heard from the Member for Port de Grave who spoke briefly to the resolution, and spoke about other matters that seemed to be very, very important to him these days; then the Member for Harbour Main; the Member for Stephenville, and now myself. To me, what we are talking about today is health care in Newfoundland and Labrador - in Canada - but most importantly, in Newfoundland and Labrador. I go down to the third whereas: "AND WHEREAS the national medical care program is under threat through deteriorating financial and political support from the Government of Canada and some Provincial Governments." I think the hon. Member put this in there for a very good reason. He is talking about some provincial governments, and I am not trying to second guess the hon. Member, but I would think that he is certainly questioning the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador in this particular area, of political support for this very, very worthwhile Medicare programme. I am sure that the hon. Member could probably allude to it when he stands, but I do not think the hon. Member really thinks that the Provincial Government of the day in Newfoundland and Labrador, is that supportive of the Medicare programme as it should be, and I am really not sure sometimes when I stand in this Legislature and listen to the Premier react to questions on Medicare from the hon. Member particularly, and from others, and hear him take part in debates, I am really not sure how sincere the Premier is about being strong and supporting very strongly the Medicare programme in this country. Sometimes I really wonder how sincere he is, when we see some of the actions that his own Government has taken over the last two years particularly with health care in this Province, it makes you really wonder where we are headed in health care in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Now last year, we had a very, very serious Budget brought down in this Province with serious implications for the health care system. The system in Newfoundland and Labrador has really gone down hill in the last twelve months, I say to the Minister of Health. All of us out and about our own regions of the Province with our hospitals, particularly in our regional hospitals, know the pressure that they are under; patients are lined up trying to see doctors, waiting weeks and sometimes months trying to get a hospital bed, I say to the Minister, and it is very, very serious.

I know in my own area of the Province where we have seen the in-patients services phased out at Grand Bank and St. Lawrence and the shut-down of the old Burin Cottage Hospital, that the pressure on the Burin Regional Health Care Centre is tremendous. My colleague from Harbour Main alluded to some of the problems today in his questions to the Minister of Health, when he talked about the ear, nose and throat specialist, and of the services which we were so proud to get out and about rural Newfoundland, who would come down to the Burin Peninsula, hold their clinics, see patients who wanted to see them in their own region of the Province, even though they may have had to drive for thirty or forty-five minutes to get to see them, at least the service was offered in their part of the Province where they were, and now, what do we see? We see going back to the old days.

Now the people of the Burin Peninsula have to come to St. John's, they will now be referred to St. John's to see the ear, nose and throat specialist. It is a backward regressive step and most of that, Mr. Speaker - you can blame it on Mulroney, you can blame it on whomever you want, but most of the blame has to be laid at the doorstep of the Province's Minister of Health, the Premier and the Administration for the cutbacks that they have imposed on the health care system in this Province over the last couple of years, but particularly in their last provincial Budget. What we are gradually seeing again, is that what we thought was a very successful regional health care system in Port aux Basques, Grand Falls, Gander, Clarenville and Salt Pond, what we thought or what was, by the way, a very successful and improved system, we now see a shrinking and a withdrawing into the larger urban centres again of Corner Brook, Grand Falls and St. John's with all the other smaller communities and regional health care centres sort of being downplayed, being squeezed by the Minister of Health and the Provincial Administration.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I want to go on record and say that there are some very serious problems that have been created because of what is happening with the Federal Government, with -

MR. TOBIN: And this clique.

MR. MATTHEWS: What is that?

MR. TOBIN: And this clique.

MR. MATTHEWS: Oh I have just finished talking about them and I will talk about them again. But there are some very serious problems-

MR. TOBIN: Murphy in particular.

MR. MATTHEWS: - with the transfer payments and so on to the Province. The thing is we are not getting less money, we are getting less money than anticipated, that is where the problem lies; it is less money than anticipated. Almost every week we hear the Minister of Finance and the Premier getting up and talking about the cuts and the slashes and so on to transfer payments; EPF funding and so on in the Province, but what it is, is that we are not getting as much as we expected to get. It is not that we are getting less than we had last year, because we are getting more money that we did last year and I guess, if you want to compare, it comes back to comparing it with the school tax issue that we are going through in the Province, that if the Minister of Education and the Minister of Finance tomorrow, guarantees school boards that they will get their $30 million or $35 million, what will it be worth in five years time if it stays at $35 million? That is the same thing that is happening with the national programmes and with the transfer to provinces, the growth is not keeping pace with the demands. The dollar value is not maintaining or not staying steady, so that the value of 1990 dollars is reducing, and consequently the Province can't do as much with it. I mean, that is what we are into.

As the Member for Stephenville said - and I am glad to see he is back in his seat - he talks about governments having to do what had to be done. Every government does what it thinks it has to do. I mean, if you were to -

DR. KITCHEN: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: We were too chicken to do it, the Minister of Finance says. Now, the Minister likes to talk about chicken a lot. He loves to talk about chicken. I do not know what it is, but he loves to talk about chicken. I say to the Minister of Finance, it is not that you are too chicken to do something. We are talking health care here and we are talking education. We are talking about compassion for people, and the needs of people that need to be looked after, that have serious medical needs in the Province.

MR. K. AYLWARD: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: 'The Government did what should have been done.' - I think the Member for Stephenville said, 'We had to do what had to be done.' Well, if you went and sat down at a Cabinet meeting with Brian Mulroney and his ministers, I am sure they would try to convince you that they are doing what has to be done. Right? If you sat in the Smallwood Cabinet or the Moores Cabinet or the Peckford Cabinet or the Wells Cabinet or any Cabinet, the government would say, 'We are doing what has to be done.' That is an easy way out, an easy argument for the hon. Member.

I do not think you had to lay off the people you laid off in the Province last year. I do not think you did. I do not think you had to do with the health care system in this Province what you did in your last budget. And I say to the hon. Member -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) froze wages.

MR. MATTHEWS: Froze wages. We didn't lay anybody off, I tell the hon. Member.

DR. KITCHEN: Hold on until next week and we will tell you.

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, well you can tell us all you want. I say to the hon. Member that the Government's policies and the actions they took in the Budget have certainly proven counterproductive. Because the more people there are out of work, the less dollars there are to spend, and the less money there is coming into the Minister of Finance's coffers.

DR. KITCHEN: We should hire everybody.

MR. MATTHEWS: No. Let me say to the Minister, that is another easy way out, 'Hire everybody'. Two weeks ago, I say to the Minister of Finance, he had to admit his deficit was gone again. His deficit had doubled, I say to the Minister of Finance, again this year.

DR. KITCHEN: That is a (inaudible) theory.

MR. MATTHEWS: A double theory? Well, let me say to the Minister, he can try to slough it off all he likes because he thought when he brought down his Budget last Spring, Mr. Speaker -

DR. KITCHEN: Now, I've I heard it all. (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: I would have more confidence in that than the Kitchen -

MR. MATTHEWS: Let me say to the Minister of Finance, when he brought down his Budget last spring here in this Legislature, he said, 'We are doing what has to be done. It is a tough budget.' Quite a contrast from the Budget before when he said it was the common man's Budget. Remember? The Budget for the common man. This year it was a severe, tough economic statement, but it had to be done. It had to be done because it was done to improve the economic position and performance of the Province. What do we see now? The economic position of the Province has worsened again, I say to the Minister of Finance. Laid people off and increased taxes, that is what he did. Now, he has a $100 million deficit again this year. He has a perfect record going, Mr. Speaker. There has not been a year yet he has not had a deficit, and there has not been a year yet his deficit has not been double what he predicted. 'Old Double Double Herbie', I think we are going to call him from now on. That is what we have.

MR. TOBIN: I am half tempted to call a quorum.

MR. MATTHEWS: Getting back to the resolution, Mr. Speaker, the Member for St. John's East is calling upon the members of this House to affirm the principles of the National Medicare Programme, and these principles are public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability and accessability. I say to the hon. Member, that I would be very, very surprised if there is anyone who stands in this Legislature who does not support the principles of the National Medicare Programme.

DR. KITCHEN: We need to be sure.

MR. MATTHEWS: We need to be sure. But having said that I want to say to the Member that I am sure amongst Members of the Legislature there are those who within themselves may find the debate, particularly about universality - I cannot speak for anyone else, Mr. Speaker, but I am sure there is a debate within a lot of Members here. They wrestle within themselves about the principle of universality. There are a lot of people in this country and a lot of people within this Province, not enough, but there are a lot, that wonder really if the taxpayers, if the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland should be paying for the wealthy. There is debate about that. I do not know if the hon. Member knows but I would say that perhaps public opinion on universality, I would say, has probably moderated somewhat. I would think it has. I do not know. I am just guessing myself.

A few short years ago there was tremendous support for universality and I am wondering if perhaps that has not moderated somewhat as the economic position of the country is more particularly in the forefront, as economic matters are uppermost in people's minds, maybe more and more people in the country are saying: I do not know if everyone should be taken care of, those that can afford to take care of themselves, that are wealthy and so on. But having said that if you entertain the thought of doing away with universality where do you draw the line?

DR. KITCHEN: Should we charge premiums?

MR. MATTHEWS: I say to the Minister of Finance that there is not much left that he has not charged a premium for. No matter how many premiums he charges or how many taxes he increases his deficits get bigger. Mr. Speaker, we found out this last week where some of the extra premiums go, and where some of the taxes go.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where? Where?

MR. MATTHEWS: We know where they are going. I suppose he will have to up his premiums by another $19 or $20 million now.

MR. MURPHY: To Grand Bank.

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, there are a lot of millions gone down to Grand Bank, I say to the Member for St. John's South. The millions that are going into Grand Bank, Mr. Speaker, are coming from two sources.

MR. TOBIN: Not the Province.

MR. MATTHEWS: No, not the Province. We will not get into that. I am talking about health care. Mr. Speaker, we all know we are going through some very difficult times in this country. We all know that, but I think it is very, very worrisome, particularly for the elderly in the country and in our Province, when we see that Medicare may be threatened in the country. It is a very, very serious concern. It is a concern for all of us but when we are younger we do not worry as much about these things as the elderly in society.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, getting up there. I am starting to get a few aches and pains now in places. It is a big, big concern and I say the bottom-line is we have just got to find a way to keep our Medicare programme. As the Member says it is the centrepiece of the social programmes. I do not know if the hon. Member has touched on it, but, I suppose, he will be talking about the Social Charter and so on. He goes on, of course, in his BE IT RESOLVED he talks about the promotion of appropriate amendments to the Constitution of Canada that would guarantee the five principles referenced in the resolution and to which I have referred. If that is really what it takes to ensure and to guarantee our Medicare programme then I say sobeit. Let us promote that. I would be very interested in hearing the Premier, of course he is not here today, in hearing the Premier's reaction to the Member's resolution and particularly on the issue of the promotion of appropriate amendments to the Constitution of Canada that would guarantee the -now, I do not think I have heard the Premier talk anything like this. In all the debate over the last twelve months in particular I cannot remember hearing the Premier espouse any position, or promote the inclusion of these five principles in the Constitution.


MR. MATTHEWS: So I say, Mr. Speaker, I would be very interested, really, in hearing some day from the Premier, or the Minister of Health, if he has any strong feelings on the inclusion in the Constitution of the five principles of Medicare. I am really not sure. We know how the Premier feels about the - sorry, I apologize to the Member for Fortune - Hermitage there, I think I just about blew his eardrum out - how he feels about the elected Senate, the reformed Senate, the Triple E Senate. We know how he feels about that. We thought we knew how he felt about the distinct society clause with Quebec. I am not so sure I know anymore. He sort of changed and softened a bit on that. But it is most interesting, and I think this is what the Member for -

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

The hon. Member's time has elapsed.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much.


MR. MATTHEWS: By leave?


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

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to rise in this hon. House today, to support the resolution put forward by the Member for St. John's East. Over the next few minutes I would like to outline why I support the resolution and talk about some of the principles involved. I want, particularly, to mention the social charter and how that could be incorporated in the Constitution in this constitutional round, and give some idea of where I would be coming from in that particular area. But first of all, I would like to talk about the resolution, itself.

As all speakers have indicated, and some, specifically, no one in this hon. House, I don't think, would quarrel with the principles that are put forward under the Medicare program. Nobody, certainly, in the Liberal Party, would be able to quarrel with them. To be fair, I do not believe that anybody in this House would quarrel with the NDP's commitment to health care. We all have followed the debate from the early years of Tommy Douglas and his contribution to the health care program in the Province of Saskatchewan. We have seen that program and its elements enunciated positively by other members of that party - Mr. Blakeney and Howard Pawley, and others. So there is no doubt about the commitment to health care that the New Democratic Party has brought to this country on this issue. Certainly, we, in this House, would never question the commitment to having the standards kept in place, as set out in this resolution.

However, I guess we just can't look at the commitment to health care and forget everything else. That is one of the things that happens to the NDP all too often, they get parochial, and from our viewpoint here in Newfoundland and Labrador, we would have to question their commitment to employment, meaningful job opportunities for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. You have to wonder what commitment there is to economic growth when you have the NDP, federally, standing up and saying no to the Hibernia agreement. When we had a chance to see prosperity in Newfoundland and Labrador through the Hibernia agreement, with tremendous long-term meaningful jobs for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and certainly, a very beneficial boost to the economy of this Province, the NDP of the day got up and questioned, debated and tried to stall and hinder the passage of that legislation through the House of Commons. That was the record of the day.

Being a Labradorian, I remember also, all too well, the NDP demonstrations and opposition to the NATO base in Labrador. I well remember the demonstrations in Ottawa, Toronto and other places, and, indeed, in this House of Assembly. The former Member for St. John's East, I believe, was very loud and unequivocal in his opposition to the NATO base in Labrador when there was an opportunity for Labrador to gain good, solid, meaningful jobs in the defence of our country, and in compliance with our NATO obligations, our commitment to NATO, another commitment that the New Democratic Party so flagrantly avoids supporting.

This is the record we have to watch, and now, lately, we have to look at the Lower Churchill development. A prominent member of the New Democratic party in Labrador is saying no to the Lower Churchill development, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is that so? Who?

MR. DUMARESQUE: Oh yes - not necessarily a male member of the New Democratic party in Labrador - speaking out loudly against the development of the Lower Churchill because of the long-standing opposition to macro development in our economy.

So, we have to be careful, Mr. Speaker, that we do not all the time be pushed by a social conscience to the point of bankruptcy. We can have all the idealism in the world, but we must be able to pay for it, we have to see economic growth, with meaningful jobs for people in other sectors of the economy. These are things that we have to make sure our party is supporting.

Mr. Speaker, that brings me to the next issue, I guess, of the established principles of Medicare, and how that correlates with Liberalism. How does that correlate with Liberalism?

Now, Mr. Speaker, I gave honourable mention to Mr. Douglas. He did well in his early years in provincial politics, but the record is clear, it was the Liberal party of Canada that brought in Medicare in this country! It was the great Liberals under King, Pearson, Trudeau! That was the kind of social conscience and commitment to health care in this country that is on the books of this country, Mr. Speaker!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DUMARESQUE: That is right. We have seen the Canada Health Act, which is specifically pointed out in this resolution. The main proponent of that, Mr. Speaker, was the hon. Monique Begin, a prominent Liberal, a very solid, committed Liberal, a Liberal who has enunciated to this day the principles of equality, accessibility, comprehensiveness, national standards, Mr. Speaker! She was the one who brought that to the floor of the House of Commons and saw that Health Care Act go into place in this country! We cannot, for one second, allow the people of this country or, indeed, this Province, to ever forget that it was the Liberal Party in Canada that spearheaded the Medicare that is the envy of the world, today. It was our Government, Mr. Speaker, our leaders, who did that.

When we talk about our provincial commitment to health care, Mr. Speaker, let me say, it was this Minister of Health, this Government today, that said to the community of Forteau in the Labrador Straits, 'You are going to have $1 million for a new chronic care centre in your area'. In the seventeen years before, they had to go on bended knee trying to have people who needing chronic care looked after in their own communities. That was the Government's record, Mr. Speaker, and if you want to talk about our record in helping rural communities, it is there for everybody to see what we are doing in that area of the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DUMARESQUE: All we are hearing recently, Mr. Speaker, is the members trying to cast aspersions and innuendo on the Government when they talk about health care centres. The fact that we are building three new health care centres in this Province is lost on the people opposite.


MR. DUMARESQUE: In Grand Bank -


MR. DUMARESQUE: - in Port Saunders, and in Burgeo. That is a commitment, Mr. Speaker, that cannot go unacknowledged. We have nothing to be ashamed of over here when it comes to our commitment to health care. Our record shows our long-term commitment, with millions of dollars extra in the Budget every year since we came to power, millions of extra dollars every year to the health care sector in our budgetary process. That is the record, I think some $18 million more this year than last year.

AN HON. MEMBER: Turn down the volume!

MR. DUMARESQUE: The hon. member says, 'Turn down the volume.' I know the truth is very hard on the ears opposite. I know they can't stand to see new health centres built, they can't stand to see the Labrador people have access to good health care. They would rather be flying around, accompanied, in a helicopter, looking at trees, at $700 per hour.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DUMARESQUE: That is the mentality over there, and it is too bad that more people in the Province can't see the lackadaisical attitude that is prevalent over there. You talk about the values and the standards of a social charter. I think everybody opposite would find it very difficult not to see a social charter established and a social commitment made to the people of Canada through our Constitution. I, for one, have long advocated that we should look seriously at the economic rights of our people in this country. It may very well be that until we have a cleansing of the ship in Ottawa, we may have to cast a lot of things in stone to protect it from the Tory axe in Ottawa.

AN HON. MEMBER: It won't be long now.

MR. DUMARESQUE: I think everybody in this country has continued to send a signal since the last election, and it is clearer every day that we will not have much longer to wait before the Liberal Party is back in Government in Ottawa, bringing sound, sensible, conscientious delivery of health care programs and social programs in this country.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DUMARESQUE: However, Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that there are risks involved and some other things that have to be addressed when we look at putting economic rights, the social charter and so on, into the Constitution of Canada. We have to address, for instance, the notwithstanding clause, which has hindered a lot of development in this country and, I fear, could hinder other development, not only in the health care sector, but rights that people have taken for granted over time. I think that members opposite must be very clear, as to where they stand on this notwithstanding clause.

I know, the new Premier of Saskatchewan and the Western Provinces, generally, have long supported and long pushed for it and long said that it should stay. Now you cannot have it both ways. That is the kind of direction the NDP has always held.

MR. MURPHY: That is right.

MR. DUMARESQUE: They want to parade their social conscience, they want to tag the world with their great proclamations of justice, and equality for all, but on the other hand, Mr. Speaker, when the first plum comes along - like Mr. Broadbent, the former leader of the NDP - the first plum comes along of $150,000, 'Let's jump on, let's take it right around the world.'

MR. MURPHY: He got blue in a hurry, 'Danny'.

MR. DUMARESQUE: When the former deputy leader of the NDP had a chance to skip down a few levels on Parliament Hill to take a $100,000 job with the Labour Standards up there, did he wait around? Did he hang his social hat on the inside? You are absolutely right, his conscience never went any further than the pay cheque, and that is the problem that the NDP have always had. You can talk until you are blue in the face but until you show the commitment, until you lead the way, you will never convince the people. That is why, I submit, they will never be elected to the Government in this Province or, indeed, in this country.

So, Mr. Speaker, I have to say that we, on this side, are always proud -

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West, on a point of order.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I do not think it is appropriate for an hon. member to get up in this House and attack such a distinguished gentleman as the former leader of the NDP, who is probably well qualified for the job. You are not allowed to attack someone like that. Maybe if he wants to do something, he can explain about Beaton Tulk or about Grant Chalker or some of those people.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East. On the same point of order?

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, on that point of order, I believe it is unparliamentary to make comments about members of other parliaments, people who are not here to defend themselves -

MR. TOBIN: He is not a member of Parliament.

MR. HARRIS: - or former members of other parliaments, such as Mr. Broadbent.

Not only that, but - it is unparliamentary to use the word 'lie' - the member is being inaccurate in what he says and he should know better. He is being very loose with the facts and the truth.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I am having difficulty hearing the hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: I think, even though they are former members of another parliament, they are not open to attack from this Legislature. Mr. Speaker, I have not researched this point, but I believe it is unparliamentary for the hon. member to make these kinds of remarks.

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


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

I am having difficulty hearing hon. members, because of shouts going back and forth across the House. So, I request hon. members to remain silent while people are speaking to a point of order.

MR. DECKER: It is obvious, Your Honour, that there is no point of order. The Member for St. John's East is quoting some airy-fairy belief that he has. He has given no quotation from Beauchesne to back it up. I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, the problem is that hon. members are coming under the pressure of the tremendous speech which the Member for Eagle River is making. I would suggest that you rule on it and let the member continue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Further on the point of order, Mr. Speaker. The purpose of points of order -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: - is to be able to deal, in an appropriate manner, with such attacks as are not worthy of response on the merits, but these kinds of comments are not to be made in a civilized legislature. That is the point that I make. They are not worthy of response upon the merits, and they are not to be made in one legislature to attack members of another legislature, even former members, in that manner.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order. I think the reference was made to a gentleman who is no longer a member of parliament or a member of a House.

The hon. the Member for Eagle River.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The pious Member for St. John's East!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DUMARESQUE: There is a lot, I suppose, to be learned in this Legislature, Mr. Speaker, and I look forward to learning more and more things. But I can tell you that the pious attitude that is always personified in this House by the NDP will be nothing to take, for me anyway, to my constituents. Other hon. members have made reference to the activity and the attitude that that member has to this House, and that is all there for the record.

I just want, in my closing minutes, Mr. Speaker, to say to the hon. House of Assembly and members on both sides that the principles of Liberalism, of compassion, tolerance and moderation, these principles, Mr. Speaker, have always been there as a prominent part of the Liberal Party. It has been enunciated through our budgetary process, our commitment to the people of this Province, and it will continue to be enunciated.

The people of this Province, as the hon. the Member for Stephenville pointed out earlier, had an opportunity in the Baie Verte by-election to say to everybody, 'We do not like what the Liberals are doing. We do not like the fact that they have changed the focus of the Baie Verte hospital and the fact that we are putting extra thousands and thousands of dollar into that hospital, Mr. Speaker, to change its focus to chronic care.' They had a chance to say that. The 3,200 Tories that voted there before had a chance to stand up and still support that new leader, that understatement of the year, Mr. Speaker. They had a chance to do that but they did not do that in technicolor.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DUMARESQUE: They said to the people of this Province we endorse what the Liberal Party is doing, we endorse this Minister of Health, we endorse this leadership that is being provided in health care, Mr. Speaker. We uphold the principles of Liberalism, and indeed the candidate that is coming to this hon. House certainly personifies Liberalism as it has always been known in this Province, and I say as it always will be known in this Province in the days to come.

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.

I think it is very clear now to Members of the House why the Premier said a year or so ago that the hon. Member was too immature to be put in the Cabinet. He has illustrated his immaturity this evening because if he believes half what he said he certainly should not be in elected politics not to say in Cabinet. You can see that the competition is on. The Member for Stephenville spoke earlier, and the Member for Eagle River. I noticed the Member for St. John's South is eager and ready to go into the debate. They are all lining up now for the vacancies, the ones that presently are there and the ones that are to come. When the Minister of Education is no longer around, as rumour has it, and the Minister of Mines and Energy has moved into the Education portfolio, and there are all kinds of vacancies there is a real competition in the back bench. The unfortunate thing about it is that none of them really know whether they are going to be moved up or moved out, or whether somebody from outside is going to be moved in, and it is causing a fair amount of confusion.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is the internal competition. What about the outside?

MR. HEARN: Well, I suppose nobody really knows about what is going on with the outside competition because the Premier does not talk to anybody, as was quite evident yesterday when he went down and made a big announcement at the Board of Trade meeting and the Minister of Education had not even been consulted. He was insulted, of course, but not consulted, as the Premier would say, and there is a difference between being insulted and consulted. Hopefully, the Premier will consult with his Minister before he makes any final decisions. My main reason for standing was to say a few words, as my time is short, on the resolution. The resolution is a motherhood one. Actually it is one we could have voted on immediately without any debate because there is no one in this House, I am sure, who is against keeping Medicare as is, who object to the fundamental principles of public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability and accessibility. Over the years all of us have seen cases whereby people who certainly could not afford to pay for medical attention, who have had to spend lengthy periods of time in hospital, who have had to receive expensive medical care, and have done it without any cost at all to them. The Member for Port de Grave, I believe, when he spoke earlier today talked about an experience he had in the United States. Many of us have friends and relatives in the United States and when we talk to them one of the things they envy most about this great country, besides the abundant freedom that we have, the fresh air and sunshine, and the right to walk around our own ponds and rivers without being barred off, they are very envious of that but they are also very envious of our health care programme. It is extremely costly for seniors, in particular, and people who are sick, to live in the United States. Only a few days ago I had a personal example where a person from the area is trying to get back home, who is now living in a senior's home and she requires some help in that area. First of all in the senior's home in which she lives she has to walk down a very long corridor to a pay phone to be able to call anybody. Every time she moves she has to take any possession belonging to her that is able to be lifted, and take it with her, because of the type of conditions under which she lives. She wants to get back home to Newfoundland. I know I am straying a little bit but I think it is extremely important because I am presently involved with two different cases of older people from Newfoundland who have moved away and now want to come back home to live with their families because they have nobody left in the States. It is much harder for them to get back home than it is for a foreigner to walk into the country. If somebody comes from Vietnam, from Cambodia, from Africa, or wherever, they walk in say: I want to stay in Canada, and in no time at all they are here. While they are waiting for a final decision they are set up pretty well. We saw all kinds of examples with the Tamils a couple of years ago when they came into St. Shotts.

But the point is, when our own people who built our Province and then moved away because of the employment situation years ago, want to come back home and spend their remaining days with their family, they go through years of hassle to try to get back into the country. It is unbelievable. What they have gone through and how they are ignored certainly is a story to be told at another time. Let us say, one of the great things they miss down there is the type of universal Medicare we have.

One of the questions raised - and it is a legitimate one - is: how are we going to be able to continue to pay for the open Medicare programmes we have? Perhaps the question we should ask is: how can we afford not to be able to provide Medicare? One argument that is always used is: people who have high incomes, people who are rich, perhaps should not receive the open-ended programmes, or be able to avail of the open-ended programmes, that others can - people who are on fixed incomes or people with large families, people who earn meagre wages, et cetera.

But on the other hand Medicare, like our other social programmes - baby bonus, pension benefits, whatever - all of these are paid out of the public purse from money collected from individuals. If you are rich you pay more money than if you are poor. Quite often, in terms of Medicare, those who are better off in society, who can afford to dress warmly and eat properly, usually you will find that they avail of medical services less than those who are worse off and cannot afford to protect themselves from the cold weather and the other environmental conditions that lead to sickness and colds and what have you. Of course many of them cannot have proper diets which once again lead to health problems, and we can go on and on.

So those who contribute a lot sometimes do not get very much in return, and to say that they should be eliminated, I think is extremely unfair, even though realistically they could afford to pay at least reasonable cost for their medical coverage. But we have to remember that they are the ones who are making a major contribution, so consequently if we are going to have open-ended medical coverage then it should be completely open-ended and keep it the way it is - completely accessible, universal, portable and administered by the public and paid for through the public purse.

As our population continues to age, undoubtedly the whole area of health care costs is going to escalate somewhat, but there are many ways of curtailing expenses besides interfering with universality. I think proper planning not only in the administration of health programmes, but perhaps proper planning in the construction of health facilities. The Member for Eagle River talked about the great efforts that the Liberals had made. The Liberals are not alone in supporting universal Medicare, in supporting universal social programmes for youth, in supporting universal pension funds for old age people. All governments have contributed, have improved upon these programmes.

The only clause I suppose in the resolution here that is a bit debatable is: "WHEREAS the national medical care programme is under threat through deteriorating financial and political support...." There is no real evidence of deteriorating support. More and more money is put into health care every year. Maybe not as much as people would like to see happen. It is like our EPF. You know, the rate of escalation might not be what it was projected to be because of change in economic conditions, but the amount of money has constantly increased, and certainly the support has been there politically. I think it would be very unwise politically to tamper with a programme such as Medicare, which benefits everybody - every person in this great country of ours.

Consequently, when we are talking about keeping programmes in place, we then have to look for other ways to curtail expenses. We have seen an example in the last few days how the present Administration has not been very careful in how it spends its money in the construction of some of our health care facilities. These are the things, $19 million that we have seen thrown away on the construction of three clinics that are to be built, just to placate friends of the Premier - a decision made unbeknownst to Cabinet, apparently, and unbeknownst to his members - just a scheme cooked up to help placate people who helped him, a throw away of $19 million; a tremendous amount of money to be lost when such dollars are needed to keep our health care and our educational facilities going.

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, the resolution is a motherhood resolution. The House has just been asked to affirm the principles of the national Medicare programme and to take whatever measures we can to make sure that these programmes exist. I think every member in the House has the right and duty, the obligation to the constituents they represent, to make sure that we protect the Medicare programme, because nobody knows from one day to the next who is going to have to avail of it. Even though members who sit in this House have reasonable incomes, certainly not the type of incomes that a lot of people think we have, but we have reasonable incomes. Yet, if the member or somebody in the member's family is inflicted with a heavy disease that requires a lot of medical attention, or requires having to bring in specialists, or requires lengthy stays in hospital, you will find that even people who make the reasonable income that we do would have a job to try to cover such costs.

If we picture the amount of money that people in the rural parts of the Province made, especially this year with the total failure of the fishery, if we would expect them to have to pay for their own medical costs, then the question is, how would they ever be able to do it. The answer is, they would not. This year many of them are having problems even keeping body and soul together, keeping bread and butter on the table. Every day we are getting more and more calls from individuals who so far this year have not even found work enough to qualify for unemployment insurance. That means that during the winter there is no work on the go, they do not have unemployment insurance coming in, so there is no income at all in the family. If we ever had to tag extra costs on them, then they could never handle it at all.

Mr. Speaker, we are certainly glad to support the resolution, the BE IT RESOLVED part, and hopefully it will be unanimous approval. As I have said, it is the type of motherhood resolution that we could have approved right after we started today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to thank the hon. members who rose and indicated their support for the resolution before the House. I am sorry to hear that some of the people who did rise used their opportunity to attack people, individuals, some that are in this House and some that are not, on matters not related whatsoever to the motion before the House.

I want to speak to what some hon. members have called a motherhood resolution, and I really do not think it is. I know it is something that people would find difficulty voting against, when stated in such principles. I think it is a timely resolution, because it is time that we did examine as to whether or not we do, in fact, support these principles, and whether we support these principles strongly enough to see them being given constitutional recognition in this round of our Constitutional proposals because it is not as simple as saying: yes everybody is in favour of it - because it is not quite the case at all. As the hon. Opposition House Leader has indicated there are those, and I think there are those in this House who privately might have the view that people who are rich, or are millionaires, or people who have all kinds of stocks, like some members who I will not name, should pay their own way and that the Medicare system should exist for people who cannot. Well, Mr. Speaker, that is a two-tier health system. That is the system that they have in the United States. There is one system for the rich, and one system for the poor, and you can be sure that within a very short period of time the level of services, the quality of services, perhaps even the quality of doctors that the rich would receive would be different than the quality of doctors that the poor would receive. That is what happened in the United States.

Mr. Speaker, once you let loose the bonds, once you disentangle the Medicare system from these principles you will see that happening, whether it be extra billing, user fees, or anything that puts perhaps economic incentives in the hands of doctors to treat certain people but not others. Once you do that in your medical system you have problems. You have a two-tier system, and that is a system, Mr. Speaker, that I would be very fearful if we were to introduce in this country because it would make it impossible for many people, perhaps most people in this Province, to have proper and appropriate medical care. So it is not a simple motherhood issue. It is a motherhood issue to me, and it is probably a motherhood issue to every member of the New Democratic party, but I do not think it is a motherhood issue at all.

Mr. Speaker, the Member for Eagle River talked about what he called the great principles of Liberalism. I know that might include assisting Liberal supporters, which we have talked about, perhaps at cost to the health care system. But I want to remind the hon. Member for Eagle River that the fact that you happen to be a Liberal does not mean that you support these principles, and I would invite the Member to consult with the Minister of Health in the Province of Quebec who introduced a new health tax last March which was to put extra taxes on pensioners, on families, extra health taxes that did not exist before. It is clear, Mr. Speaker, and I am quoting from an article in the Montreal Gazette of March 1991, and the minister, for the interest of the hon. Member is Marc-Yvan Côté, Minister of Health, the Liberal Minister of Health that is. He says he makes it clear in his health plan that if the Canada Health Act did not exist he would impose a user fee on basic medical services.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the user fees are contrary to one of the five principles enshrined in the Canada Health Act that of accessibility. User fees as a deterrent to accessibility is prohibited by the Canada Health Act. That Canada Health Act was, as the Member for Eagle River quite rightly says, brought in by a Liberal Government, that particular Act was, but that Act says you cannot do it. The Minister of Health in Quebec would be quite happy to do it if he could get away with it, but the Canada Health Act is stopping him. He says that he would like to do it. So the fact that you happen to be a Liberal, Mr. Speaker, or even a Liberal Government in power in this country, does not mean that you support these things that our learned friends over here are calling a motherhood issue. It is not a motherhood issue because it is an issue of great importance, and in fact may well be a divisive issue.

There are those, Mr. Speaker, who regard Canada's health system as a barrier to international competitiveness. We should dismantle it so that companies can compete better because Canadian companies through their tax system help to pay for this medical care system. American companies, they say, have to pay for health insurance for their employees as part of the employment package and therefore they are at a disadvantage.

Well, Mr. Speaker, this is a systematic attack on our health care system which is publicly funded, universal access, non-profit, and those principles need to be enshrined now to protect them from the onslaught of this talk about international competitiveness. Which we need to be. We need to be competitive internationally. I have no quarrel with that. But where we are making choices, we are making choices about what is important for our country. What do the people of Canada want, what do the people of Newfoundland want, for their country? Are they making the choices to have a health care system which is different, which is just, which is universal, or are they choosing some other form of health care system?

So I am glad to hear - we will have to wait and see until the vote comes - but I suspect that the Members opposite will be supporting this resolution. I am pleased to hear that they will, because it is important that the Liberal Government of this Province, or the Liberal Members of this Province, at least here, support the five principles of the health care system, and support the continuation of a level of financing and support for that programme so that we here in Newfoundland - that our governments are not spending an inordinate amount of our taxes to produce a health care system equivalent to elsewhere.

Now there was some talk that there were - all Parties did provide assistance to the medical care system in governments, and that is true. I mean, every government in this country has paid for health care. But since 1976 there have been attacks on the health care system, on the financing of it, and it started with a Liberal government. In 1976 the Liberal Government of Canada made amendments to the Medical Care Act which imposed limitations on the amount of Federal contributions that could be made to medical care costs. In 1977 another Liberal Government passed legislation on the established programme financing which introduced block funding, which ended the previous practice of 50-50 financing, and allowed governments to use the funds for whatever they wished. In 1982 the Liberal Government in Ottawa eliminated the revenue guarantee component that it had put in the established programmes financing, cutting $5 billion of money that would have gone to health and post-secondary education for the five years following 1982. The Liberal Government of Canada did that in 1982.

What they started to realize in this country was that having done that, having taken away the controls, having taken away the funding programmes and eroded those programmes, provinces started talking about introducing user fees, other kinds of lack of universality, (inaudible) from these principles were introduced, and the Government had to do something about it. They had to do something about it and the Liberal Government of the day, under pressure, Mr. Speaker, under pressure from the New Democratic Party, which insisted on the aspects of the Medicare system that had been so important to the Province of Saskatchewan when introduced, the hospital care, and to the people of Canada, the Federal Parliament passed the Canada Health Act which contained provisions to deal with the problems of user fees and extra billing for medical services. That was a Liberal Government, Mr. Speaker. That Liberal Government was forced to bring in those measures because governments throughout this country were starting to erode Medicare. They were starting to take back and go away from those principles of universal access, of accessibility, of portability, of the strictly non profit nature of our system and the comprehensive nature of it. These principles may well be regarded by Members here as motherhood issues but they are principles that governments in this country in the last year, let alone the last ten years, have tried to take away from. I am glad to see that the Liberal Members of this House today are prepared to stand in their places and vote in favour of this resolution.

Mr. Speaker, that takes us up to 1984 in the Canada Health Act, and since then, in 1986, the Conservative Government in Ottawa reduced the rate of increase in the established programmes financing which will cost about $2 billion per year by 1992 from the established programmes financing by Bill C-96. In 1989 another Conservative piece of legislation, Bill C-33 attempted to further reduce transfers to the provinces under the established programmes financing by reducing it to the gross national product minus 3 per cent. Mr. Speaker, that legislation did not pass and was replaced in 1990 by Bill C-69. This legislation froze the level of funding at the 1989 rates until the end of 1992, and this year, Mr. Speaker, plans were announced that the APS freeze was extended for a further three years.

Mr. Speaker, what we are seeing at the federal level, by successive Liberal and Tory Governments, is an erosion of financial support for Medicare, and we saw when provinces had the right to do it, until 1984, we saw user fees, we saw extra billing being talked about, we saw other erosions of these programmes coming into force.

Mr. Speaker, what I am asking is that we, as a country, the provinces and the Federal Government and the people together, in their Constitution, recognize these principles so that they are enshrined and they cannot be taken away from, so that what we all agree here today as being appropriate for a medical care programme, those five principles, that they become an enforceable part of the Constitution of this country.

There are many things that one can say about health care; we see a lot of changes happening and changes are going to be happening in the medical care system. I would say to the Minister of Health, however, it may not be the best thing to be considered a reformer because reforms can go both ways; reform is a sort of a value neutral word. You can reform something by making it better or you can reform something by making it worse. To say that you are a reformer is often an euphemism for bringing about change and I would hope, Mr. Speaker, that whatever reforms the Minister of Health seeks to introduce, in fact are for the better and do not make the system worse.

I know, Mr. Speaker, that the Liberal Minister of Health in Quebec for example, would call his changes reforms as well, so I would hesitate, if I were the Minister of Health, to be so happy to be called a reformer, by itself, one would require of course that those reforms be for the better and not to bring about a worse system of health care in this Province. In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I see the time is getting near five to the hour, I would want to thank those hon. members who have risen to support the resolution. I hope that the passage of the resolution by this House will provide some support and momentum for the development of a consensus in the country about a Social Charter.

There obviously needs to be a lot of work done to bring about other aspects to it, support from other provinces and other leaders across this country, to see that we can enshrine some of the principles that we have in Medicare and in other social programmes, in our constitution, so that it properly reflects the values that we share as Canadians, that Newfoundland and Labrador became a part of in 1949, and which we do not wish to see taken from us by the changing fortunes of Federal/Provincial relations; by the changing fortunes of the economy; by the changing fortunes in some senses of support for these principles throughout this country.

I would stop there, Mr. Speaker, and thank the hon. members for the time to debate this resolution and ask for their unanimous support.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Before calling for the question, I just want to bring to hon. members attention again the couple of matters of decorum that are concerning the chair. I would ask hon. members again please to remember the rule about their backs to the Chair, their backs to the House. I still see members doing that, and hon. members know that as much as I have an obligation to enforce the rule, the hon. members have an obligation to follow them.

I want also to say that on two occasions today, two members walked across the floor without the appropriate bowing to the Chair, and I want to remind hon. members of that.

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

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


MR. SPEAKER: All those against the motion, please say 'nay'.


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