April 7, 1992                  HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS               Vol. XLI  No. 21

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. GOVER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, as my hon. colleagues are aware, the road building industry and the independent dump truck operators in particular are experiencing a very difficult period. Among the challenges they face, a primary concern is a large oversupply of tandem dump trucks. In an effort to address this oversupply, government placed a freeze in July, '91 on the number of dump trucks and dump truck certificates and called for a comprehensive review of the dump truck industry by the Board of Commissioners Public Utilities.

I am pleased to announce today that the following decisions have been made based upon the recommendations from the recent Board Enquiry into the Newfoundland and Labrador Dump Truck industry.

1. In order to stabilize the industry, the freeze on the number of dump trucks allowed to operate in the Province will be continued and is confirmed as government policy as stated in The Motor Carrier Dump Truck Order, 1991.

2. Mr. Speaker, in adopting this legislation, we must be fair in recognizing there are dump truck operators who have been working in this industry for years and have been caught in the moratorium of dump truck certificates through no fault of their own. To this end, the Department of Justice, in consultation with the Department of Works, Services and Transportation will prepare the necessary regulations and Orders under the Motor Carrier Act, 1990, to allow the Registrar to reinstate certificates for those carriers who held certificates in the April 1, 1990 to March 31, 1991 operating year. Mr. Speaker, this will permit these traditional dump truck operators to resume work.

3. The Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities will continue to regulate rates. In the near future, a review of the asphalt and hourly rates shall be undertaken by the Board as these rates were the subject of much debate during the hearings.

4. The Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities and the Registrar of Motor Vehicles have been directed to report to me yearly on the state of the dump truck industry.

5. The Department of Works, Services and Transportation will continue to apply the provincial government's General Conditions of Contract. This means the department will have no involvement in a contractor's hiring practices; in particular, we shall not dictate any percentage of hire on the basis of faction location and/or type of equipment.

6. The Department of Justice, in consultation with the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, will prepare amendments to the Motor Carrier regulations to again, again, Mr. Speaker, increase the fines for contractors and/or subcontractors found guilty of not paying the PUB prescribed rates to independent truckers. Those contractors violating regulations as set out in Section 95(3.1) will be fined to a maximum of $25,000 (with a minimum of $5,000). Mr. Speaker, I would indicate this is a tenfold increase in the current penalties which were increased by this administration previously, tenfold, I believe. In addition to that penalty, any contractor found guilty of violating the rates by not paying the prescribed rates will be prohibited from bidding on Department of Works, Services and Transportation contracts for one year.

7. Counterbalancing this regulatory penalty, the hon. the Minister of Justice will request assistance from the enforcement agencies to control disruptions and mischief at project sites. I recognize the level of frustration experienced when work is not available, however, this is no excuse to violate the law, and such violation cannot be condoned.

8. The Department of Justice, in consultation with the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, will prepare the necessary regulations to permit the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities to suspend for a period of one year the operating authorities of any carrier found guilty of offenses which lead to the creating of instability in the trucking industry.

9. Mr. Speaker, I must confirm that independent truckers will remain ineligible for subsidies from the provincial government. Government cannot resolve excess capacity in any industry by a program of ongoing subsidies.

10. The Department of Works, Services and Transportation, through the Motor Registration Division, will conduct investigations into complaints from independent truckers. Mr. Speaker, while I cannot divulge details of ongoing investigations, let me assure you recent complaints brought to my attention are being dealt with.

11. Also, Mr. Speaker, municipal governments will maintain their exemption from the Motor Carrier Act, 1990.

As well, Mr. Speaker, I am releasing to the public the report of the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities on this matter.

We feel these decisions adopted by government are positive measures and provide for fairness and balance in addressing the concerns of government, independent truckers and contractors. Combined with the co-operation of independent operators and the construction industry in general, these steps will go a long way to begin a process of change that will result in an overall improvement in the way the dump truck industry is structured and operates. I also make a commitment to an ongoing evaluation process.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to conclude by expressing my appreciation to the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities for their assistance in this particular matter.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that the minister just dropped off a copy, or at least someone from his office dropped off a copy just prior to me coming to the House, and I have only had time to read it since I came here. I would appreciate it if the minister could make sure that it gets to my office, particularly a report of this size, a little bit before 1:50 p.m., when the House opens at 2:00, as other ministers do. Then it would give me a chance to study it.

Mr. Speaker, as I understand it for some time there have been a group of truckers in this Province who have been asking Government for the right of registration. That is not what has happened by this certification. That is not what has happened in this ministerial statement today. The wishes and the requests of the dump truck association in this Province has once again been totally ignored by this administration. For some reason they do not want to give certification to dump truck operators in this Province. The minister has said the freeze will be continued. That is nothing different, that is what we had last year.

He talks about the Motor Carriers Act, 1992, to allow the registrar to arrange certificates for those who held certificates from April 1, 1990 to March 31, 1991 operating this year. He further goes on to talk about various issues as it relates to what his department will be doing. This means that the department is going to have no involvement in the hiring practices and whatever else may happen. He brings in some heavy fines for contractors found violating and I recognize, Mr. Speaker, that is a very good move to increase the amount of funding that will be provided. Then he goes on to say - and this is very interesting, this is what is very interesting in this report, Mr. Speaker, the minister goes on to say there will be no more disruptions. The Government will not tolerate any further disruptions: this means the operators will not have the right to protest anymore and if there is a demonstration put on by dump truck operators, as I read this, they will be suspended from operating for up to one year. If the dump truck operators decide to protest, the right that everyone else in this Province and everywhere else in a democracy have, if they decide to have a demonstration for a day they will lose their licence for up to one year, as I understand from reading this, and that is shameful. Then he goes on to talk about - in conjunction with the Minister of Justice. Mr. Speaker, where is the Minister of Justice? It is fine to have a Minister of Justice who is barred away in an office on the fifth floor and cannot be questioned in this Legislature, well it is about time he got a seat in this Assembly so that we can ask questions of him regarding this implementation and others. The fact of the matter is quite simple, there have been polls done, as I understand it, there have been polls taken in three districts which show that the Minister of Justice cannot win either one and that is why he hasn't got a seat in this legislature, Mr. Speaker. That's why he is locked away on the fifth floor.

AN HON. MEMBER: Gone south to run.

MR. TOBIN: But that's what is happening here.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there is nothing here dealing with the certification of dump truck operators in this Province, and it is about time the minister stopped ignoring the dump truckers and their requests, as the previous minister did, and give them the right to certification.

Oral Questions

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I have some questions for the President of Treasury Board. The Government has served notice that it intends to bring in Bill 17, which will extend the public sector wage freeze to the year 1992-93 and provide for a maximum salary increase of 3 per cent, I think it is, in 1993-94.

Last year's Bill 16 postponed the negotiated contracts that the government had with its public sector unions for only one year. Is it now the government's intention then, to wipe out completely the wage and benefit increases negotiated by this government with its public sector unions for the years 1989 and 1990?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, during the last fiscal year we have been under restraint and all public sector unions and all public servants in the Province have been under restraint with 0 per cent increase. Our intention is to bring in a bill and that is for this past fiscal year, 1991-92. For 1992-93 there will be a 0 per cent total compensation. It cannot exceed 0 per cent, and for 1993-94, total compensation will not exceed 3 per cent. So this would total two years of zero, and to come out of the two years of zero, a year of not beyond 3 per cent total compensation. That is all I can tell the hon. member. All other conditions remain the same, but these will be the compensation increases for that period.

MR. SIMMS: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SIMMS: The minister has confirmed then, I guess, that they do intend to wipe out the contract agreements made with public sector unions for last year by extending it now for another year even though they brought in legislation last year to extend it for only one year, so they intend to do the same thing again.

The government and the Premier often refer to the number of meetings they had with the public sector unions, leading up to the Budget, and so on, over a period of months. I want to ask the President of Treasury Board: Did the government at any time during these last several months leading up to the Budget, ever formally request that the unions re-open their existing contracts for negotiations? Did they ever make that formal request so that you could have negotiated something over the last several months? If not, why not?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has a way of standing up to ask a question, first of all, then misstating what was said previously. I say to the hon. member that I said what I said and I don't need it improperly misstated by the hon. gentleman.

Now, in answer to the question. We were not bargaining. We were simply sitting down with the public sector unions and offering them a chance to become part of the solution to this very serious problem that we have encountered in the last year or so. We have offered them an opportunity to become partners in terms of making fundamental decisions that affect their lives as well as the lives of all other people in the Province. We offered them that opportunity in many meetings. We simply provided information on the financial position of the Province, day by day, week by week, the most up-to-date information we had at the time.

That was the process we were doing. This was not a bargaining process, it was an offer to allow the unions to become part of the fundamental decision-making process of government. Unfortunately, as I have said before, they chose to be part of the problem and not part of the solution.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I have to try to interpret what the President of Treasury Board says. Somebody has to try to interpret what the President of Treasury Board said. Because this government have become known as masters of verbal illusion and verbal trickery, that's the problem.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Let me ask the President of Treasury Board this question, if I might. With respect to the NTA - specifically the NTA - government agreed with the NTA to allow a reopener clause for this year on everything in their contract, including wages. Does it intend to destroy that particular provision or that particular agreement for this year with the NTA? If so, how does it intend to eliminate that particular provision? Through legislation, through Bill 17, or what other mechanism? I know he met with them this morning. Perhaps he can tell me.

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

MR. BAKER: I'm sorry, Mr. Speaker, if the hon. gentleman doesn't understand my answers. Maybe he isn't used to the straightforward truth.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: Now, Mr. Speaker, in terms of the NTA, which is his third question, there was a provision under Schedule H of the collective agreement that anticipated the second year of wage restraint. Under these conditions the contract would be reopened. On Thursday of last week, I received a request from the NTA to reopen negotiations, and they suggested the earliest date possible, which they thought would be this morning at ten o'clock. So, Mr. Speaker, we reopened negotiations this morning at ten o'clock with the NTA.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am tempted to ask the minister how long he thinks negotiations will continue, but I will leave that one for now.

Mr. Speaker, I have a supplementary for the Minister responsible for Labour Relations in the Province. With respect to the question I just asked the President of Treasury Board concerning the breaking of the agreement and contract with the NTA, I want to ask the Minister of Labour: Does he think, as Minister of Labour Relations for this Province, that this is fair labour practice for his government to be taking with the NTA?

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

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

In this instance, as I understand it fully in discussing the matter with the President of Treasury Board, there is a round of negotiations which commenced this morning between government and the Newfoundland Teachers' Association, which is what the NTA and, as I understand it, all of the public sector unions want to do with this government, get back to negotiations. So there couldn't be anything fairer than that in the sense that a full round of bargaining commenced as of this morning.

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

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask a final supplementary of the Minister responsible for Labour Relations. I want to ask him: Would the provincial government permit a private sector employer to do what the government itself is doing with its public sector unions and specifically, if they did, what action would he take, as Minister responsible for Labour, if a private sector employer ignored the labour laws of the Province and tore up its contracts with its employees? What would the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations do then?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, if such an occasion should arise we would deal with it in an appropriate fashion. We have no indication that anyone in the private or public sector is doing anything to violate the law of the land and the labour laws. What we have is, decisions will be made and ratified in this Legislature which will make that the then law of the land as it applies to a set of rules and regulations.

If there is something to be dealt with, it will be dealt with in an appropriate fashion at the appropriate time. Hypothetical questions don't really do anything to add to anything we are about to do in the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: Idi Amin! Well done, 'Idi'! 'Idi' upset him.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I want to remind hon. members that it is not appropriate to refer to hon. members in ways labelling governments not practiced in this Province. Our authorities are filled with those kinds of orders and regulations. The hon. member did not refer to anyone in particular, but the Chair just wants to bring that to the attention of hon. members.

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the Premier. Before the Premier leaves the Province again on business, and before the House recesses for Easter, I would like to ask the Premier once again about the failure of the police to respond correctly to the sexual assault complaint against the Member for Naskaupi, at the material time a member of the Premier's cabinet.

Mr. Speaker, it appears to everyone that there are two possible explanations for the nineteen month delay in the police investigation. One is police negligence involving the RNC losing a file on a cabinet minister. The other is deliberate stalling, or political interference.

My question is: Why will the Premier not agree to have a judicial inquiry into the police response, as I have requested? Secondly, surely the Premier realizes that I am not asking for an enquiry into the substance of the sexual assault complaint. Presumably now that will be dealt with by the police and the Crown attorneys. I am asking for a judicial inquiry into the police response from August of 1990 when the complaint was made.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I referred the hon. member a week or so ago when she asked this question, to the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, I believe it was the Patti Starr decision, where they decided that such an inquiry is an improper inquiry and may well prejudice the proper prosecution. I think it was the Starr case. I have forgotten. Maybe it was another case, but it was a decision about a year or so ago.

Now we do not want to do anything that is going to prevent the proper administration of justice. When this matter is properly completed, and the police have completed their investigation, and if any charges are to be laid the police will decide whether to lay them or not, I can assure all hon. members that whatever inquiry is necessary -

AN HON. MEMBER: You already (inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member who is making that noise will refrain from making such noises, I will attempt to answer the question, but I have no intention of engaging in a shouting match with somebody who does not know what he is talking about.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, when the police have completed their investigation and decided whether or not they will lay charges, a matter that is entirely for their decision, I have no doubt that the Minister of Justice will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that if there was any laxity on the part of the police, it is exposed and dealt with. Now if a judicial inquiry is necessary to achieve that, I can also assure hon. members that it will be done. But if a judicial inquiry is not necessary in order to do that, then I have no intention of creating these witch-hunts to satisfy the whims of the opposition from time to time.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to ask the Premier if he has a legal opinion from the Department of Justice on the effect of the Supreme Court of Canada decision on my call for a judicial inquiry into the so-called 'Kelland affair'?

Next, I would like to ask the Premier why he cannot make a commitment now that at the culmination of the police investigation, however that may conclude, that he will have a judicial inquiry? Everyone realizes that whatever the outfall from the police investigation in terms of whether or not charges are laid, there still remains the historical fact that there has been a nineteen month delay in the RNC response, and that after fourteen months -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member should get to the question. The hon. member is now making a speech.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

After fourteen months the Constabulary told the complainant, in the presence of the NDP leader, that the Constabulary had accidentally shelved the file -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a couple of occasions the Chair has reminded the hon. member about getting to the question. The hon. member just proceeds to say what is to be said, and the hon. member ought not to do that. When the Chair asks her to get to the question, the hon. member should get to the question. I think the question has been asked, so we will address the Premier.


PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is not interested in a question - just a little political grandstanding - and that is pretty obvious for all to see.

Mr. Speaker, let me assure the House that I will cause a judicial inquiry to be held if there is any shred of credible belief that anybody on this side of the House - anybody - caused any delay in the proper carrying out of a police investigation. If there remains a shadow of a doubt - other than in the minds of people who are politically bigoted toward that position anyway, and want to convey that impression - but if there remains any credible shadow of a doubt as to whether or not there was any interference on this side of the House, I can assure the House there will be a full-scale judicial inquiry.

AN HON. MEMBER: Cover-up! Cover-up!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Now, Mr. Speaker, other than that I have no intention of acting as the former government did when the opposition criticised them at the time of running scared and failing in their duty to administer justice in an impartial and fair way. They ran scared, and to hide and cover their own political uncertainties they rushed out to cause people to be hurt. Now this government has no intention of causing persecution in that way. We intend to see to the full, fair, complete and proper administration of justice. If there is ever any credible doubt whatsoever about the administration of justice, or any suggestion of interference, we will cause a judicial enquiry to be held.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) covered it up, your minister should be charged.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is a new question, although before I get into that I will note that the Premier indicated he does not have a legal opinion from the Department of Justice about the effect of the Supreme Court of Canada decision.

PREMIER WELLS: I did not say any such thing.

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, my new question begins with a preamble. On March 30 I asked the Premier if Doug House had repeated to him what the complainant told Dr. House about her complaint to the police. The complainant discussed the matter in detail with Dr. House over a year ago. The Premier said he did not remember talking to Doug House about it. I will ask the Premier again. Did Doug House repeat to you what the complainant told him? Or did you learn from any other source what the complainant told Doug House?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, let me do the same as the President of the Council did. The answers to the questions are the answers I have given. The restatement of a position by the hon. member is totally incorrect. I said no such thing.

Now with respect to the question she has just asked, my answer is the same as it was the other day when she asked. I have no recollection whatsoever of Doug House telling me any such thing. Nor do I have any recollection that anybody else told me that Doug House - other than the member asking it - I have no real recollection of any such discussion with Doug House. Now, it is entirely possible that Dr. House may say that he did discuss it with me. Maybe he did. But I have no recollection whatsoever of it.

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

MR. WARREN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Minister of Finance. On Budget day the Minister of Finance announced in the Budget that he was getting rid of school tax and bringing in personal income tax, to be increased by 2.5 per cent this year and 1.5 per cent next year. Would the Minister of Finance advise if those increases will apply to the residents of Sheshatshit, Rigolet, Makkovik, Hopedale, Postville, Davis Inlet and Nain?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, the increase in income taxes will apply to all those who pay income taxes in the Province.

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

MR. WARREN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Development and the President of Treasury Board in July of 1989 signed an agreement with the Government of Canada where $1.2 million in agreement had been allotted to the school boards in Labrador for education in the designated communities. Now I ask the Minister of Finance: by increasing this taxation, does he not consider this a double taxation on the people in Torngat Mountains district?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. No, Mr. Speaker, there is no double taxation. I do not know what the member is getting on with about double taxation. I do know though, that Labrador generally will benefit pretty well from the equalization that we will be applying.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, does the minister realize that this year alone a grant in lieu of taxes has been given by this agreement from the federal government to the school boards, for the operation of schools in those communities? Now, would the minister consider amending this personal income tax to not apply to the residents of those communities or, would the minister consider taking the 60 per cent of the $105,000 from this year's budget, that the federal government is going to give to this government, and give it to the people in the district of Torngat Mountains?

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

DR. KITCHEN: No. Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister of Education.

The minister said several weeks ago he would look into the cash flow problems that school boards were experiencing as a result of less than expected school tax revenues since January. Has the minister completed his study and does he know now how big the problem is?

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

DR. WARREN: No, Mr. Speaker, we have not completed that assessment. We know there are areas of the Province where School Tax Authorities are collecting what they collected last year and what they expected to collect this year. There are other areas where the collections are down and I assure the hon. member that we are going to study that, and if action is necessary, the government is prepared to help those areas where needs are real.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, on a supplementary.

MR. HEARN: Mr. Speaker, I heard the minister say some time ago that school tax revenues were up significantly in certain areas. The school tax revenues for the two St. John's school boards are down $400,000 in the first quarter and these are accurate figures as of today, and they are expect to be down $800,000 by the end of June. Since from June on the school boards will have to rely completely on government funding, what does the minister intend to do to help the St. John's school boards pay the bills they cannot afford to pay now, due to less revenue than expected?

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, some of the collections are down but we expect the people of the Province to pay. They know this is a tax, it is a legitimate requirement that people pay taxes, and we are going to enforce it and we expect that most boards will collect an amount equal to or greater than what they collected last year. Mr. Speaker, some boards may have to borrow a little money in the interim. There are a number of options open to the boards, but I assure you that we expect the people of the Province to pay before the end of June, and if not, we will initiate actions to collect after that.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to add one other thing. All I have heard the hon. member discuss in this House is the cash flow problems. Does he not realize that beginning in July, for the first time, since we initiated this school tax, there will be additional monies put into the revenues of many boards in this Province and we will have, Mr. Speaker, a quality of opportunity as far as revenues for school board operation and maintenance are concerned.

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister is talking about the extra funding put into school boards, but the minister should recheck his figures and he will find out there is actually no extra money going to school boards. By the time they figure out the CPI, boards will have less money next year than they had this past year, and I ask the minister again, despite the fact that they might -

AN HON. MEMBER: Not true.

MR. HEARN: Not true, we will talk about it later on today in the Budget. I ask the minster: since the St. John's school board and that is only one, there are several others- the money so far received is down significantly over the same time last year, there is no indication that the boards are going to get the money and the minister did not answer the question, What is he going to do besides hope and pray that the public pays?

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I do not know what the hon. member is reading or what he is hearing, but we put into the Budget for this year, for the nine month period, $9 million more than school boards had put in through school taxes, $9 million. $12 million a year.

Mr. Speaker, $12 million a year will be available, a lot of it I must admit will go to rural areas of this Province, because we are not going to tolerate what the former government tolerated for years. We are not going to tolerate it. I am not going to tolerate it as a minister, Mr. Speaker, and this government is not going to tolerate it.

Now with respect to the question of cash flow problems we are looking at a variety of options, we have an implementation committee examining these options, and in due course we will take the appropriate action.

MR. HEARN: My final supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes on a final supplementary.

MR. HEARN: I wonder will the minister show us where in his Budget there is an extra $9 million for school boards in this Province?

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I will get the figures for him and go through the - there is a nine month period there, grants are increased. I think it is $30-something million, $27 million to replace the school tax, and $9 million more, Mr. Speaker. It is there, and I will provide the data for the hon. member. I assure him one other thing, this government will not bring back the school tax.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. WARREN: I tell you they can keep on. If they want the school tax they can have it. This government will not restore the school tax, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the minister who doubled the school tax. Some time ago, Mr. Speaker, the former member for Port de Grave and his Minister of Social Services promised the single mothers attending university that they would put in place a committee that would study what was happening in terms of making post-secondary education available to the single mothers of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, that committee was put in place, the findings were submitted to the minister and changes were made to the Department of Social Services to accommodate the request. What is happening now, Mr. Speaker, is that single parents at Memorial University are being penalized by the Department of Education by reducing their provincial grant because of the social services increase. Let me ask the Minister of Education, Mr. Speaker, did he not reassure the Women's Resource Centre at Memorial University that such a thing would not happen?

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate this question. The hon. member has asked an important question. I do not have all the details, but let me give him the answer as I recall, Mr. Speaker. This is a very important question.

Yes, there have been some problems with the application of the regulations by both departments. We are concerned that some grants and some loans are being considered income by students who are on social services. These students have appealed to the Appeals Committee. The government has established an Appeals Committee, and these students have appealed. I was informed late last week that the Appeals Committee has deferred consideration of these appeals until we have had a full discussion with the Department of Social Services. I have had discussions with the minister and we will attempt to resolve that. This government is committed to treating single parents who are students fairly, Mr. Speaker, and I assure the hon. member that we will do everything possible to see that they are treated fairly.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I guess the minister has another group who will refuse to shake his hand.

Let me say to the minister, Mr. Speaker, that he has just confirmed the worst fears of the single parents regarding their grant structure at Memorial University, because what the minister is saying, and I will ask him to confirm it, is that there will be a process now put in place that will see the end of this semester - the semester will have come and gone - before they will receive any of their funding from Memorial University. Is that what the minister is now telling these people when all they are asking for is a fair and balanced education, Mr. Speaker? Will the minister now also confirm that he did tell the Women's Resource Centre at University that what is happening would not happen, and will he apologize to the single parents in this Province for the hardship he alone has created?

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I do not where to start to correct some of the misinformation that was included in the hon. member's statement, but I will assure you that this only got to the Appeal's Committee very recently. There is at Memorial, an advocate who works on behalf of these single parents. We have been in conversation with that person, a Ms. Peddle. She is actively seeking to resolve this problem and we as a government are anxious to resolve it. We want to treat all persons fairly. I remind the hon. member that two years ago we increased the grants to single parents and others with dependents by 27 per cent. It was the first time that grant had been increased in ten years and we are going to continue to improve the student aid program. I am hoping that the Department of Social Services and my department can resolve this matter at the earliest possible date.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, you could increase it by 100 per cent if you are going to take it back by 100 per cent from another department. That is what the minister is doing. He is robbing the 27 per cent he has now taken back.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. TOBIN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, Ms Peddle is very actively involved in trying to have this resolved and she is extremely frustrated because of the way the Minister of Education has handled this issue.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to get on with the question.

MR. TOBIN: Let me ask the minister if he would make a commitment today that he will indeed honour his word he made a couple of years ago and immediately put in place what was agreed upon in the committee in the Department of Social Services? I ask him the second time if he would apologize to the single parents of this Province who he has created so much hardship for?

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to say that since I became minister I have held a series of meetings with single parents and with students from all over this Province. I have shaken hands with thousands and thousands of students. We are trying to do what is right and within the regulations we will do everything possible to ensure that these students are treated fairly.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I am tabling today in this House of Assembly the 1991 Workers' Compensation Commission Annual Report. There are just a couple of things I would like to point out to all hon. members.

The report provides a comparison of program costs and utilization in 1991 compared to the previous year's experience. It reveals that although new claims reported in 1991 are below the 1990 levels, total program costs are up considerably on account of payments for prior year injuries.

Also, Mr. Speaker, the 1991 annual report also contains the financial statements of the commission for the year ended December 31, as well as an updated actuarial valuation of liabilities based on claims experience to this date. The financial situation now facing the commission, Mr. Speaker, is more serious than previously estimated as there is now a projected unfunded liability in the range of $160 million.

The results of the latest annual report emphasize the need for action to be taken to sustain an adequate and affordable system of workers' compensation in the Province. Cabinet is currently addressing a variety of approaches in this area and I expect to be able to respond to the 1991 Statutory Review Committee Report shortly. I commend the report to everyone's attention.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if you will rule this in order or not, but yesterday the Member for Fogo asked me some questions about the payroll tax on fish plants and I answered them briefly. I have some more information to give, if you and others feel that it is the appropriate place to respond.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the House said yes, by leave.

DR. KITCHEN: The member was concerned that some fish plants were paying more than $50,000 in payroll tax. He asked the question: Whether fishermen would be included in the payroll? The answer to that is that individual fishermen are not considered to be on the payroll of fish plants, but they sell their raw materials to them. For unemployment insurance purposes, I believe, there is a special arrangement in that regard.

Now, there is another point I would like to just follow up on. There are only two fish plants in the province whose payroll tax will exceed $50,000 and from that there has to be deducted whatever school tax they are paying.

Orders of the Day

MR. BAKER: Order 11, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 11.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Utilities Act, 1989." (Bill No. 18)

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleague, the Minister of Justice, I am pleased to move second reading of this small amendment: "This bill would exempt from regulation by the Act a person or corporation which engages in the hydro generation of electricity provided the generating capacity at each site is 15 megawatts or less and the electricity generated is sold to a public utility regulated under the Act."

In The Public Utilities Act now there is a one megawatt limitation and, as hon. members will recall, many months ago we announced a change in policy that we would be making the limit ten megawatts. After much discussion and assessment of this we have decided to make it fifteen, because it fits in conveniently with the regulation under Revenue Canada rules.

This particular bill has just one clause, 3.1, which is being added to the Act. The first part of it is making that change from the one megawatt to fifteen megawatts, and the second part of it is exempting corporations which are regulated utilities.

I move second reading.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Just a few short comments, Mr. Speaker, on this particular bill. Mr. Speaker, as far as I am concerned this is something positive and something that is going to be acceptable to a lot of companies, not only in this Province but outside, who are willing to put dollars up to partake and to construct mini-hydro sites in the Province.

I have to commend the minister on this as well, Mr. Speaker. I was involved personally over the last couple of years, ever since the announcement on the mini-hydro sites in, I think, the l989 Budget with a few companies around the Province who have tried very hard to establish mini-hydro sites in different areas. They have been stymied time and time again, primarily by Newfoundland Hydro, and I can see now the reasons why. They mistook some of the, I suppose, comments coming from Hydro as barriers, as if Newfoundland Hydro were trying to put up barriers to the development of those sites.

I talked to the minister and asked him questions, last fall, in the House. I have talked to him in the last month or so, since the House opened, and I have to commend him on, as far as I am concerned, a job well done in trying to get Newfoundland Hydro involved and trying to get his people involved, including his Cabinet colleagues, to try to bring a piece of legislation to this Chamber that is positive, that will create jobs in this Province and that will enhance, I suppose, the assets of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro so they will not have to go out and borrow; especially now, when times are so bad, they will not have to do any of those sites themselves. It is an example, though, of what can happen in a Budget. That was announced, if I am not mistaken, in the Budget in the spring of 1989 or the spring of 1990.

AN HON. MEMBER: Spring of 1990.

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, the spring of 90 in a Ministerial Statement, where the government was willing to go ahead with those mini-hydro sites. It was, I think, announced at that time the maximum would be ten megawatts, yet we are here today - two years later - trying to bring in a piece of legislation to amend a decision that was made two years ago. We thought everything was above board; we thought we could go on and proceed with this particular kind of project but now we find out we could not. At least, now, it is on the floor of the House, and I say to all members that this should be given speedy attention through this House. All approval should be given so that people can proceed with those particular projects. I would like to comment a little further and say that I have found through the people I have been involved with that there is not one cent, not one copper of government funding going into the projects I am familiar with. I have seen some on the Island that have made application for, and acquired ACOA funding, but if I were on the ACOA board, I would not give one cent to anybody looking for funding. Those sites are viable. When Newfoundland Hydro calls for proposals they will be done on a viable basis by whatever company presents a proposal.

One of the concerns I have, and I would like for the minister to take this under consideration and pass it along to Newfoundland Hydro officials: A lot of companies have done an awful lot of work in the past couple of years on particular sites around the Province, to the extent where some of those sites have been approved, have gone through environmental assessments and in some cases environmental assessments have been waived. I would think that Newfoundland Hydro, once this bill is passed, will ask for proposals again. I just hope that Newfoundland Hydro in their wisdom do not try to negate, and do not try to dismiss any of those companies that have already put an awful lot of dollars, time and effort into recognizing some of the sites in the Province. I hope they take that into consideration. I know pricing is going to be a big thing. I say to the minister that he should probably talk to Newfoundland Hydro officials and make sure they take into consideration those companies which have put a lot of time, effort and dollars, their own money, into identifying sites. In fact, I know of one in my area which is ready to go tomorrow morning with $13 million of their own funding to start a particular project in this Province. I wouldn't want to see a company like that go by the wayside just because they had come in with proposals before an amendment came in to Newfoundland Hydro's regulations. I understand, under this particular piece of legislation, that now, any private individual or corporation in the Province, or outside, who starts a mini-hydro site, meaning anything up to fifteen megawatts will not have to go the Public Utilities Board for approval. That is one of the good things under this particular piece of legislation.

Also, I think, one of the reasons why the minister and Newfoundland Hydro kept it at fifteen is because of the fact that, I think, there are some goodies there from Revenue Canada for any corporation which invests up to fifteen megawatts.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Yes. So that is a plus, as well.

So, Mr. Speaker, in order to create jobs, in order for private enterprise in this Province and outside to participate in some major development in the Province without Newfoundland Hydro getting involved, I say to the minister, I commend the minister for bringing this particular piece of legislation to the House in such a speedy manner. I will say to all members that they should act likewise and let it go through the House. I tell the minister again to make sure he notifies Newfoundland Hydro and has a talk with those people, that those particular companies that have been involved up to this date should be given some preference when it comes to any projects being approved.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to speak briefly on this legislation, as it does provide an interesting alternative to the production of electricity in this Province. I want to inject a note of caution and make some remarks that I hope the minister, in his closing remarks at this stage of the proceedings will refer to.

I do welcome an opportunity - and I guess this legislation could be called 'permissive'. It would allow a private developer, or allow Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, to engage in mini-hydro projects - I don't know how 'mini' fifteen megawatts might be - but in a small hydro project that would not be subject to the same rigour that the Public Utilities Act would subject an enterprise to.

I see that as a positive thing, at least to provide that alternative there. Because one has to recognise that electricity generation on a small scale is not the same kind of enterprise as you would see on a large scale where you have long-term capital, where you have access to the major capital markets, where you have the expertise and financial vehicles available to you that a small enterprise operation might obtain in the markets of today.

I do have to say that I have a couple of concerns that this might open the door to a wholesale utilisation of hydro sites in this Province which, coincidentally, are often very important environmental and wilderness sites that need to be protected. Mr. Speaker, we, in this world we live in, are constantly making choices. If we choose to catch fish by trawlers in a certain method of fishing, then we are eliminating another type of fishery on the inshore. I think the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay knows that full well. If we choose to engage in a small site hydro development in an area that is a wilderness area, that is used as a resource for wilderness use, for recreation, for tourism, for the enjoyment of its beauty - such as Paradise River, which is recently developed - then we are making a choice to eliminate that from the other uses, by using it for hydro.

So we have to be very careful that we are not just opening the door and saying: Come on in, make use of whatever is left, and eliminate the other choices, because there are other choices. There are other choices available to Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and to the other major power generator in this Province, Newfoundland Light. Now, there is a concept which I am sure the Minister of Mines and Energy is familiar with, which can be implemented on a very important scale to eliminate the need for further generation.

This is the concept of demand management. It has been used quite successfully in some cases in other provinces, and also in states of the United States, in a very effective way. Let me give you an example. The concept of demand management and the economics of it relates to, what are you spending? What is the capital cost of the next megawatt of power that your system is going to generate? What is the next source? If the next source of energy, Mr. Speaker, is the Lower Churchill, what is the capital cost per megawatt for that project? If the next choice happens to be the Lower Churchill, what is the cost of that per megawatt; not, what is your average cost on the system right now, but what is the cost of the next megawatt, because that is what you have to decide. If a utility is deciding to engage in a new generating capacity they have to decide what is that capital cost for the additional megawatts of power that they are adding. When they do that, of course they are making a decision to use their capital in that way.

The demand management concept, Mr. Speaker, is one where the alternatives are considered. So if a program undertaken by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, in this case, can spend a certain amount of money and can, through that program, reduce the demand for power by an equivalent amount of megawatts, one megawatt, two megawatts or ten, there is a cost associated with that. Mr. Speaker, lo and behold, when the proper economics are applied to this, it turns out that demand management, up to a certain point, is a very effective and much cheaper way of controlling the cost of new generating capacity and keeping the cost to consumers down, avoiding alternatives such as coal-fired or oil-fired generation, avoiding the alternatives of nuclear power with all the problems that are associated with it. Mr. Speaker, it is a way to conserve energy, to save money, and to keep the cost of electricity down. So, Mr. Speaker, instead of going out and generating an additional ten, twenty, thirty or fifty megawatts of power, the system is able to save fifty megawatts of power by introducing that type of program.

This has resulted, Mr. Speaker, in some cases, with a power company actually going out and buying energy-efficient light bulbs, for example, and giving them away. It sounds stupid, Mr. Speaker, but it has been proven in certain circumstances that the buying of energy-efficient light bulbs and giving them away by a power company actually saves that power company money. That is not in a public utility, Mr. Speaker, where it is publicly owned, that has been done in North America by private utilities because they know that they are saving money by doing that. So, Mr. Speaker, those kinds of concepts have to be considered. They have to be taken very seriously.

I know that Ontario Hydro - and it is not, Mr. Speaker, for those on the opposite side who would like to criticize the current Government of Ontario, it is not through their initiative, although they are very supportive of it -but Ontario Hydro has, since the last administration, been undertaking a major project in the area of demand management spending a considerable amount of resources between now and the year 2000 to decrease its cost, the required capital cost in the future, by providing power through demand management as opposed to new power generation.

Mr. Speaker, while I welcome the legislation that is providing a new alternate way for private developers to get involved in hydro generation, I have that concern, the concern of the environment, that as it happened in the past, proper environmental assessments have been waived by this government and I am afraid they may be waived again in the interest of somebody having to invest some money into the economy without doing a proper assessment of the alternative uses or without properly setting aside, for wilderness uses in this Province, a sufficient amount of land and particular resources. So I am concerned about that.

I am concerned that maybe hydro development might take place where it is not necessary. I am concerned that sufficient attention will not be paid to the alternatives to demand management by allowing this alternative here.

I have another concern, and perhaps the minister can address this because this is, as I said, a permissive piece of legislation does not really require anything. It just allows a public utility to engage in a contract with a private hydro developer without having to have that contract approved by the Public Utilities Board. If I have misstated the purpose of this legislation, the minister I am sure can correct me in his closing remarks. But as I see it, all this does is permit a private contract to exist without the Public Utilities Board having a look at it on behalf of the public. That is what it permits. Now I am not totally opposed to that, but I see the implications of it as being fairly open-ended and in the control of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro without necessarily having the right amount of public input.

One of the issues that arose in our sister province next door, the Province of Nova Scotia, was that private hydro developers were being discouraged by the major utility in Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Power, and they were being discouraged from developing alternate hydro sites, I think it was, or wind generation or other alternatives. The reason they were being discouraged was because Nova Scotia Power did not want them in the business. One of the ways that they discouraged them was by pricing. What they did was they said, well we will buy power from you, yes of course, when we need it. When we need it we will buy power from you, but we will not guarantee you any purchase. Secondly they said, we will buy power from you, but we will only buy power from you at our average cost. If our average cost happens to be, in the case of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, the sitting facility at Bay d'Espoir, if that was part of their average cost, and if their average cost includes other facilities that perhaps have been paid for, then their average cost is going to be far, far lower than the cost of new generation.

There has to be a balance achieved there between the cost of new generation of electricity as a means of making a new project viable for people other than Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro who have access to the capital markets. The pricing policies have to be consistent with really allowing alternative energy sources to be developed. They may not be hydro. This is a bill for hydro. There may be alternative energy sources that might be available. We see, and I suppose it is pretty expensive and has been looked at only experimentally in this Province, but when we see on television the fields and fields of the wind generation farms in Arizona and other places in the United States where they do not have hydro-electric power, but they seem to have some wind. I know that one thing that we do possess in abundance in this Province on every coastline and everywhere else, is wind. There may be other alternative energy sources that can be explored and encouraged if the pricing is addressed as well as just the availability of alternate energy sources.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: It has been suggested, Mr. Speaker, by the Member for Humber Valley that a wind generator in this House might prove to be very viable indeed.

So there are other alternative energy sources that can be explored, and ought to be encouraged by legislative policy as well as government initiative. I see this as a start only. It is a start only in opening the door. I hope it has not opened it too wide in terms of the very few hydro sites that are available yet in this Province, but I hope that the minister will also consider legislation that will ensure that the pricing policies that are engaged in by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro in dealing with these new energy sources, or alternate energy sources, will provide for or will ensure that viable alternatives can be produced by the private, and perhaps by the semi-private or the public sector community development corporation type alternatives as well as somebody with private capital.

Mr. Speaker, I support the legislation, because it allows the development of alternatives, but I would ask the minister to address these remarks in his closing comments to see what other plans the government may have in this area to encourage alternatives and to prevent perhaps the waste of energy by not fully addressing all the potential of demand management before looking at new generation sources.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy. If the minister speaks now he closes the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments of my two hon. colleagues. I will speak a little bit about the Hydro sites. To date, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro has assigned rights for a total of 150 megawatts, approximately thirty rivers to private developers who are interested in assessing them. Some of these have already gone through the environmental assessment process as was indicated by my hon. colleague from Humber Valley. Some of the others are part way through that process, all the money being spent being private money by these companies, and I would expect that over the next few months there will be some more registered.

Hydro's plan is to call bids in the very near future for fifty megawatts, and they are interested in taking the least cost fifty that may get bid. So maybe we will get 150 megawatts or more that gets bid in response to this call for proposals and they will take the cheapest amount, the first fifty probably at the best price.

With regard to some of the concerns of my hon. colleague from St. John's East on demand management, well we are already into that business in a fairly extensive way but there is probably room for us to get into it in a bigger way through our two public utilities.

Recently we approved a ten year strategic plan for energy efficiency in alternate energy sources put together by an advisory committee that included representation from both of our public utilities as well as from all of the user groups. One of the key parts of that is demand management. The Power Smart Program that is now being promoted by both Newfoundland Power and by Newfoundland Hydro is a demand management mechanism. So we are not going to lose sight of that. Every kilowatt saved is equivalent to a kilowatt produced, and it is often much cheaper to save a kilowatt than to produce a kilowatt.

In terms of the mention of their concern about pricing and how the price will be set, Hydro is not looking at the average cost to them in setting their price, but they are looking at their avoided cost. The cost for Hydro for new generation in the future for new sources, not for saved energy, would be something like Holyrood number four or some other Hydro development somewhere, and they are doing their pricing based on their avoided cost. That is quite a considerable amount higher than the average cost of their power at this time. So I believe that price should be within the range that is acceptable and will make these small hydro possibilities quite viable.

With regard to the comments about this making everything wide open for destruction of wilderness rivers and so on, I think that is adequately covered in the environmental assessment process. Any time there is a great concern expressed, whether it is with regard to the fishery or some other matter, that will be covered in the environmental assessment process. Where there is no concern with regard to that type of issue, a site can get through the EIS process very quickly, otherwise it might take longer. As a matter of fact, and I have said this before in other areas, for some cases there can be considerable enhancement here of the fishery related to some of the rivers, considerable enhancement of the salmon in particular and the trout. That is being addressed by the proponents in some cases where there is a concern.

Ladies and gentlemen, I do not think I have anything further to say. I believe I have covered the concerns that were raised, and I am pleased to move second reading.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend the Public Utilities Act, 1989," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 18).

MR. BAKER: Motion 1, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion 1, the adjourned Budget.

The hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thought it was Bill 17 that we were going to have addressed today, but I guess the President of Treasury Board - after the scalding that he took this morning with the unions - did not have the nerve to introduce the bill into the legislature this afternoon.

Mr. Speaker, I have a few words to say. The Minister of Finance rose in his place today to answer a question. I was not quite sure if I got what the minister said with respect to the tax on fishermen who sold fish to a fish plant. It is my understanding you said that would not be included in the payroll of that particular fish plant unless the plant happened to own the boat, I would assume, and then it would be the property of, for example, FPI or a plant that had a fleet of trawlers, then the payroll would be a part of the plant's payroll in that case.

DR. KITCHEN: Fishermen on the trawler are part of the payroll.

MR. WINSOR: Yes, okay. But the minister seemed to indicate that no plants would pay that much? I did some quick calculations -

DR. KITCHEN: Only two will pay $50,000 or more.

MR. WINSOR: Only two would pay. Wouldn't it be quite common in this Province for a plant, and when I say a plant, quite often we have plants with (inaudible).

DR. KITCHEN: I should say a company.

MR. WINSOR: A company, so -

DR. KITCHEN: A company, that is even more so because they are totalled. If you are a company that has five fish plants, even if they are operating under different company names, they are put together and you get one deduction of $100,000 and there are only two of these conglomerations or whatever you call them that will pay $50,000 in payroll tax.

MR. WINSOR: So the minister is saying that there are no fish plants in this Province that would have payrolls of $5 million?

DR. KITCHEN: No more than two.

MR. WINSOR: No more than two.


MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, I find that hard to believe, that would only -

DR. KITCHEN: So did I.

MR. WINSOR: A plant that would have 600 people on their payroll is quite common - Beothic Fish, Quinlan's and a variety of them around the Province would have at least 600 seasonal employees and if they paid $8,000 a year to each person, that would make $4.8 million, added to that is the seasonal staff who are on all the time and make much more than $8,000 a year. It would seem quite unusual that the one plant which happened to contact me did have a payroll of $5 million and will pay $50,000, a difference, as I told the minister yesterday of - I think they paid $17,000 last year, this year they will end up paying $58,500 because of the $8,500 they have already paid, and then it is going to be $50,000 on payroll because it is a seasonal plant, the bulk of their payroll, all coming from, as all the seasonal plants in this Province are, they are all from June onward basically, so anything that is paid prior to that on the assessed value is still going to be charged against them because the bulk of their payroll is not going to start until June 30 whenever it kicks in, July 1, and that will be the bulk of their payroll. I am sure there are others, I would think that the Co-op in Fogo Island is getting close to that number of employees with their crab operation as well. Mr. Speaker, I will do some further checking, but I would be quite surprised if there are only two fish plants if we include NatSea and FPI, there would have to be more than that.

Mr. Speaker, I think the minister should check his facts again. I would like to ask the minister another question then, because some boats themselves, especially the bigger long-liners or otter trawlers or some of the shrimp trawlers, instead of having fishermen who share the enterprise, one individual owns it and then he pays a proportion of catch, like he is an employer, would he be subject to the payroll tax? There are a number of them with set up companies.

DR. KITCHEN: The bottom line is what they put on the T-4 slip.

MR. WINSOR: Okay, in that case, if it is an enterprise set up as a company who pays the fishermen who work on their boat a wage, then they would be included as a company and would be subject to payroll tax?


MR. WINSOR: Alright, that is fair enough, if I understand the minister correctly. I also want to -

AN HON. MEMBER: It is not fair.

MR. WINSOR: It is not fair. I do not think it is fair, Mr. Speaker, to attack fish plants at a time when they are perhaps most vulnerable. Most of them as the minister knows had quite a difficult time in the past three or four years in making ends meet, and instead of taking away from them, we should be offering them some incentive. I happen to look through a government guaranteed loan bill the other day and it was interesting to note that a fair number of fish companies in this Province have guaranteed loans with the government and government has had to continue to guarantee the loans and I think we asked the other day - sought permission from this Legislature to continue the Guarantee Loan Program for some plant operations in this Province. I wonder how they are going to meet their financial obligations now, with the government taking more dollars out of their pockets. Mr. Speaker, I think it is a regressive step. The chairman of Abitibi-Price in Grand Falls, I am sure my friend from Windsor - Buchans, heard the statement from the President of the Company the other day, when he talked at great length about the potential damage it could do to the forest and pulp and paper operations in central Newfoundland as a result of this disincentive for business to stay here. Mr. Speaker, I think it was very regrettable, and a regressive tax. The minister should re-examine it to find if there is some alternate measures that can be approved without attacking the few vulnerable resource based industries that are around in the Province.

When the minister read his Budget the other day he projected that the UI rate, on page 4, in Table 1 of his Budget, he says the UI rate as a percentage is going to increase from 18.4 per cent to 20.4 per cent. That in itself is bad news. What is even worse is to turn to the estimates and see what the Department of Employment and Labour Relations have in their budget to offset the problems that we have encountered in the economy of this Province.

In the estimates on page 190 we go through all the programs that the minister had in place. The minister confirmed yesterday that the employment generation program had $3.1 million allocated to it, but that is not going to create new jobs. That is a continuation for about half of them, of jobs that are already there. So of that $3.1 million, $1.5 million roughly is all that is going to go into the creation of new jobs. So that is going to do precious little to combat an unemployment rate of 20.4 per cent. One point five million dollars, that is all the new dollars that he found in his employment generation program. If you look through the other divisions last year in the minister's emergency response we see no allocations at this point in time in any of them for anything in any substantive way to prepare this Province for the difficult, bleak summer that is ahead.

I hate to be a doom and gloom speaker, and certainly pessimistic, but I read an account in the paper yesterday of where some fishermen from the St. John's area fished quite extensively for the past three or four weeks. I do not think they caught enough fish to have a meal. They said the only resource that they could bring back from the ocean I think was $1,700 worth of seals. If the minister, being aware that the situation is so bleak, the prognosis for the summer in the fishery, I cannot for the life of me see why the minister did not immediately initiate some program that would do something to stimulate the economic sector of this Province.

When we look down through his budget we see the only program that had any substantive increase in it was the graduate employment program that increased by some $1 million. Everything else was reductions and decreases. Is that any way to attack the 20.4 per cent unemployment rate in this Province?

The person who will find out quite quickly the impact of that depressed economy is the Minister of Social Services. The Minister of Social Services in the past four or five months has seen a caseload increase I think from 63,000 to 68,000, and still increasing, as the minister is well aware. That never before. When I talk to social workers throughout the district that I represent they say they have never seen as many people. People they have not seen in fifteen and twenty years are coming in to seek social assistance. People in fact they had never seen have this year had to come seeking assistance.

The real tragedy in all of that, besides these people having been forced to resort to Social Services, is what it does to the overall economy when they do not work. The local businessman no longer can sell his services, his products. The ripple effect continues on down through the economy. What this government has failed to realise is that its own image that it projects of how bad the Province is makes people do anything but spend. There has been no frame set where people can go out and spend any money. Everyone you talk to is afraid he will be next to be laid off. That kind of attitude is out there, and hon. members opposite know that people are very pessimistic. There is a very gloomy atmosphere out there and they are afraid to spend money, and it can do nothing to stimulate the economy. If this Budget should have done anything, it should have made a major attack on the economy. Now, by an attack, I mean doing something to solve that economic malaise out there.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to give the government credit for doing something. Last fall when there was an emergency response program of $13 million - the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations might know the exact amount, I think it was $13 million. You talk to the local businesses in rural Newfoundland and they will tell you that during that period of time, they had their best sales for the summer, that period of time when you put $13 million into the local economy. Mr. Speaker, on a $3.5 billion Budget, $13 million is not very much, not very much at all. In fact the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations knows, I told him so, that the only time there has been any little change in the UI stats in this Province was when he had a program in place last fall that employed thousands of people. He got up in the House and boasted about the number of people the program employed, and rightfully so, because it was a good program.

Now, if it was good, the question has to be asked, why was it scrapped now? Why is there nothing in this Budget to do the same thing this spring, this summer and this fall as was done last fall? This Budget does nothing to stimulate employment. I looked at the estimates for the fishery and when I turned to the last sheet I was quite pleasantly surprised to see that in fisheries we have increased the Budget from $25 million last year to $27 million, a $2 million increase. I thought it was good news until I went through the estimates and found that of that $27 million $7.6 million is going for the buy-out of the salmon licenses, which means that the Budget is really, if you look at actual dollars that are going to be spent in the fishery, only going to be $20 million, some $3 million less than was budgeted last year. We actually spent some $5 million less than was budgeted.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: That is good.

Mr. Speaker, what we find here is that the area where we could look at some value added, some secondary processing, that is not going to be spent. All we are doing is giving $7.6 million to the salmon fishermen of the Province as a compensation for the lost revenue they would have normally accrued in the salmon fishery. I was quite surprised to see that had occurred. Then, if you look into the different categories in the department, in marketing, in market development, in aquaculture - in fisheries and aquaculture development last year, we spent $7.5 million and this year it has been reduced to $5.2 million. There is over a $2 million reduction in an area where if we ever need market development, if we ever need money being spent it should have been there. I am sure the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay could tell you of the great need for us to do some marketing.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I tell you there was something written about it. The $59.5 million for capital works for water and sewer in this Province was a good move, a good initiative.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not a part of the Budget.

MR. WINSOR: It is not a part of the Budget but it was announced in the Budget. That was one of the items of good news in the Budget, the $25.5 million for road construction that has been announced since, that was a good announcement except that we would like to have seen twice as much. If he is wondering if there is any good news in the Budget I am hard pressed to find it, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Social Services was able to find 2.2 per cent for social service recipients. What it does not say in the Budget, and I hope it was kept in place as I was going to ask the minister, was the $50 a month during the winter months for fuel allowance. Is that still there? What is that? It is gone? Is that gone?

AN HON. MEMBER: No, it is gone.

MR. WINSOR: It is not there. You can't tell if it is there.

AN HON. MEMBER: You wouldn't believe it, anyway.

MR. WINSOR: Well, certainly I will believe it. Yes, I will believe it. The fifty dollars a month given for the six months for fuel adjustment during the winter months was announced in last year's Budget as a special feature. Now, there is no indication if it is there or if it is gone. We will assume it is there. The Minister of Social Services didn't say anything but the former minister, who prepared the document, I am sure if he says it is there, we will believe him.

MR. HOGAN: (Inaudible) say it was there.

MR. WINSOR: Oh, no! The minister said it was there.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs wants to take part in the debate. Under the section of Capital Works in Community and Sports Facilities, Mr. Speaker, he has reduced his budget from $2.2 million to $1.5 million. Mr. Speaker, that is a small portion of money, but it gives municipalities in this Province -

MR. HOGAN: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs wants to take part in the debate I think he should get in his place, and I will certainly allow him to ask a question. Otherwise, he can keep his interjections awhile and then he can take his place.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what I want to ask the minister is: Last fall, the former minister had a part of the make-work program that was in place, a little more substantive budget than that. In addition to that, recreation -

MR. HOGAN: Didn't you (inaudible)?

MR. WINSOR: I didn't get it yet, no.

Mr. Speaker, the minister has reduced this very worthwhile program by some $700,000. Now, Mr. Speaker, the minister, a former councillor himself, a former mayor, knows how much that was appreciated in small communities, when you got $5,000, $6,000 or $8,000 as a grant to work on your ball field or soccer pitch.

MR. HOGAN: (Inaudible) out, the middle of the road.

MR. WINSOR: The minister might think that but, if that is the case, if the minister knows so much about it, I ask the minister, why did he find it necessary to reduce that small amount of money, some $2.2 million, down to $1.5 million when the demand for recreational facilities exceeds every year the budget that the minister has. The demand far outstrips it and yet the minister chose not to include any new monies in his department. I would like to ask the minister why he did that.

DR. KITCHEN: It wasn't there to put there.

MR. WINSOR: It wasn't there to put there. The minister had no money is what he is suggesting.

AN HON. MEMBER: It wasn't a priority.

MR. WINSOR: It wasn't a priority.

Now, Mr. Speaker, to get back to some things as they affect the district.

MR. HOGAN: Give back the money from Fogo that was (inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: No, I won't give back the money. In fact, I am just going to ask the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation for some more money because the residents of Fogo Island and Change Islands too, Mr. Speaker -

MR. HOGAN: You agreed it was all right to reduce the recreation money.

MR. WINSOR: No, I didn't agree to reduce the recreation money.

MR. FLIGHT: What about (inaudible) Zamboni?

MR. WINSOR: I am going to address that in a second, I tell the member for Windsor - Buchans.

Mr. Speaker, I want to address the question of the Fogo Island ferry, that boat that has served the island.

MR. WALSH: Fix up the Hamilton Sound.

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, we should take the Hamilton Sound and drop it on the head of the Member for Mount Scio - I won't say for what reason.

Mr. Speaker, the Beaumont Hamel: The 1991 Budget said that construction of that boat had been deferred for one year. Now, Mr. Speaker, we find in this budget no mention of plans to proceed with the construction of the ferry. I have heard the Premier, Mr. Speaker, lecture the other premiers of Canada, the Prime Minister, and people in this Legislature about what the federal government should do to kick-start the economy, as the Premier likes to say. One of the things he said that we should do is we should get on with capital works expenditures today that we are going to have to do tomorrow or the next day.

Mr. Speaker, that is a pretty good idea. That is an excellent idea, except that he failed to apply it to the Province, because officials in the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, have advised that the present boat that serves both Fogo Island and Change Island is not capable of navigating the winter run without the assistance of an icebreaker. As a matter of fact, an icebreaker, as the people from Fogo Island say, has to baby-sit it from January up until the end of March.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: From January until the end of March.

MR. DUMARESQUE: We don't even have one from January to May.

MR. WINSOR: I have all the sympathy in the world for the Member for Eagle River. And the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island in the last two or three years has experienced some ice conditions, not as bad this year as it was in the year previous, but we still might get it yet - the ice - the northern ice. The Arctic ice still might find its way in along the shore and create the same kinds of problems this spring as happened last year.

To get back to what the Premier had said, there is a ready recognition everywhere in this Province that we have economic difficulties, but the very thing he suggested Ottawa should do - when we said he should get on with constructing the roads across the country; build the Trans-Labrador Highway. You are going to do it anyway. It is money that you are going to commit within the next number of years. Now I say to the Premier, why could he not have done the same thing for the Fogo Island ferry? Why could he not say, we have got to build that boat, no matter how we cut it, down the road, one, two, three years time we are going to have to have a replacement; and if the day should ever come when the federal government is unable to provide icebreaker assistance, it will be very similar on Fogo Island, as the Member for Eagle River suggested, there will be no boat operations during the winter months.

That is not what this government promised in 1989. Upon their election in 1989 they said they were going to make transportation to the islands by ferry the same as by car. Subsequently, they started to reduce the amounts charged to users. They did that. But if there is not an adequate service, if it were free, and the Member for Eagle River can appreciate this - if it were free, if the Puddisters, or whoever runs the thing said, 'It's free transportation during the months of January, February and March,' then there is not one person in the member's district who can use it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Zamboni.

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, if the Member for Grand Falls - I could talk about the moose.

MR. FLIGHT: Two ministers want to know about the Zamboni.

MR. WINSOR: Two members want to know about - yes, I can address a few minutes, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to ask the minister another question then, since you have reminded me. I noticed last spring - I think it was last spring. I am not sure of the time - maybe last fall, the former minister, the present Minister of Social Services, made a pilgrimage across the Province, starting in Port aux Basques. He announced, I think, a swimming pool for Port aux Basques. Then he came on to Stephenville and announced another one, and on to Port au Choix and announced another one. Then I think he made a stop in Bishop's Falls and that area and announced another one. Grand Falls I think is where he had his press conference. He went on to Harbour Breton and announced another one. Then, finally, in the Bonavista North area he announced the last of his six recreational complexes that were going to be built to the tune of $9 million.

When I look through the documents, and one entitled 'The Economy', I notice that only four of the six that the minister had announced show up. Two are missing. Perhaps the minister can tell what happened to the other two. Is that money still available? Because if that money is still available, I have a -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. WINSOR: By leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Queen's Printer.

MR. WINSOR: Mistake in the Queen's Printer, is that it?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for LaPoile.

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

With the Budget as the topic for discussion under this part which we are discussing here now, it gives it a lot of leeway, I suppose, in what we can speak about. There are a lot of different items.

I note in Appendix A of the Budget document, itself, some of the detailed analysis of what is available under the different headings. Going down through some of these, of course, I note first the Department of Development. It says: "Funding for Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador Corporation and the Economic Recovery Commission has grown in response to increased emphasis on economic development."

Now, I have often been spoken to by the hon. Member for Burin - Placentia West insofar as a fabrication yard for Port aux Basques was concerned. He would often mention this. I was pleased to be involved on Friday in a press conference announcing the Atlantic Seaboard Industries Limited fabrication yard facility for Port aux Basques. I was quite pleased to have been involved in the approval of the project.

MR. TOBIN: May I ask you a question?

MR. RAMSAY: Go right to it.

MR. TOBIN: How much money is the provincial government putting into the fabrication yard?

MR. RAMSAY: The provincial government is participating by way of a loan to the company. The figure, I think, is $2.6 million. Then ACOA is in for a similar amount. Private funds make up the balance of the capital costs of the facility.

MR. TOBIN: ACOA is in there for over $2 million and the Province is providing over $2 million in loan guarantees.

MR. RAMSAY: Yes, exactly, that is the way it works. Also, the railway diversification money is involved in the set-up, as well. It has been listed by ACOA. The figure seems a little bit large. But they signify a total of $17.6 million overall. This will include the working capital arrangements made by the company through their own private arrangements with banks, fund lending institutions and what have you, for the private capital required to do projects and whatnot that will be done at the facility.

Just a little bit about Atlantic Seaboard Industries Limited, Mr. Speaker. I wanted to get it on the record. I have had a lot of involvement with this company as they submitted their business plan to both levels of government last April 30. The business plan was brought in and an evaluation was done by the government departments concerned and by Enterprise Newfoundland. The evaluation was done and it does have some good prospects for the future beyond Hibernia, as well. It will target some Hibernia-related work as a part of its initial start-up, but also, it will target some other areas. I note the defence industry is one area, in particular, where Newfoundland has never done the amount of work that it was entitled to do because the capability just was not here. The high quality welding standards, the high quality standards of construction that are required to do defence-related contracting, this expertise has just not been available.

So with the company involved, the Norwegian partners of the company were brought in. They, of course, have the expertise to bring to Port aux Basques, to share, and bring forward the training necessary to bring the skill levels of our people up to the standard required, also then, to enable us to bid on things in the future with our local people involved.

Now, the companies involved, the foreign partners - one is called Vindholmen Services of Arendal, Norway, and they are a very strong company. They have a very solid reputation in the offshore industry. I note some projects here that I have a list of that they have been involved in in the past. The company has been involved in construction of oil rigs, steel decks, process modules. It goes on and on, and really a lot of different oil projects over the years. This is the kind of expertise and engineering experience they will bring to the small town of Port aux Basques and establish their engineering and design services out of there and hopefully be able to tap into that market, as well as many others.

I note environmental concerns brought in through the initiatives of people throughout the world now that highlight the requirements of improving the pollution control situation as it relates to pulp and paper mills and other industries. This is a wide open market for people with the expertise and capability to construct these environmental components that are required, the components that will clean up the effluent and also the smoke stack pollution control devices, etc. So this is another target market that will be looked at for Port aux Basques.

I note that the company has also affiliated with another corporation out of Norway called Andersens Mechanical Works, or in Norwegian, Mek Verksted is the name. They are a drilling manufacturer for a mining drilling and that sort of thing. Now they, of course, will have a different area of expertise for boring of underground tunnelling, maybe some of the things that would be required should we manage to get a go-ahead on the Lower Churchill development. This is the kind of thing they see as a possible opportunity for their expertise and involvement.

The company also has a number of products that will be brought to Newfoundland by technology transfer arrangements with the Government of Canada's Technology Transfer program. These products will be licensed to be produced here in Newfoundland. One is an environmental product called a clear water separator, and I have a small brochure here if any hon. members want to have a look at it. It is a unit which separates water that comes out of the bilge tanks of large ships and oil rigs and so on into drinking water. It will bring it down to the level of potable drinking water, and that, in itself, as an environmental product I think, Mr. Speaker, would have a very solid future with a lot of concerns over the oil tankers and other ships that pass by Newfoundland frequently and dump their dirty bilge water into our ocean area, thus affecting the wildlife and the fish off our coast. This is a concern that sort of hits home, and the North American market for this product will be served by manufacturing the product in Port aux Basques.

As far as the Hibernia project goes and its involvement in that, the company has pre-qualified to bid on some Hibernia-related components, and will be submitting its bids and working on this over the next number of months. Now, again, the company has full confidence that the Hibernia project will proceed, and they have invested their own private funds, along with the investment by the respective governments, and are going full speed ahead. Hopefully, this will be an indication to other businesses in the Province that some people are, indeed, interested in making investments here in the Province, in spite of the current economic climate with fear of the problems with finding a new investor for the Hibernia project.

We have here a multi-national consortium that are very eager to get involved in the project, and they are willing to spend money and establish themselves here to be prepared to take advantage of the contracts and the work that will come out of the Hibernia project. So I think it is a very positive sign that they have decided to proceed. It will certainly lend a certain element of credibility to the feeling and the optimism in some sectors of the Province stating that people feel Hibernia is far from dead, and that it will certainly go ahead.

To get into a little more detail on the Budget I would like to look at the Enterprise Newfoundland budget. I think some $27 million this year has been dedicated to the fund that is established to allow for business related loans and initiatives that are done through Enterprise Newfoundland. This will help stimulate small business here in the Province to help build an entrepreneurial economy. People who are having difficulty with a variety of problems with the fishery, and some people in forestry and what have you, if they take their own ideas and bring them to Enterprise Newfoundland they are met with open arms and given assistance in the planning of their business. They are given assistance in seeing if their idea has anything that they can help research to see if there is a way they could change their business plan to effectively go out and start their own job - to create their own job. This is far and away different from the culture of the past. There were only a few people one time in Newfoundland, Mr. Speaker, we often refer to as the 'merchants' - the 'merchant society'. The people were looked at as either the fishermen or the merchants. Now people who are having a difficult time would have an opportunity, through regular lending institutions, but more so I think through the help and assistance that can be provided by an initiative like Enterprise Newfoundland that is distributed through its regional offices throughout the Province.

There are some other points of note in the Budget that I would also like to speak about, one of which is the changing of the school tax. The opposition seems hell-bent on wanting to make sure that it is seen as a terrible thing; that the elimination of the school tax is a fallacy, or it is another piece of selective verbosity by the government. Really, we didn't do anything, they say, but it is just the wording - the way we have worded it that we have actually done something. Well I think that the person who scraped by with maybe $10,000 to $15,000 in income in rural Newfoundland by participating in the fishing industry, by logging in some areas of the Province, or just through no fault of their own have had a year with very low income will be able to look at this and say, the elimination of the school tax is good. They won't pay as much as they paid in the past, and this is the kind of initiative that will make those who can afford to pay, pay more. Granted, everyone in this chamber I am sure may end up paying more because of this, so maybe this is one of the reasons why the opposition are interested in criticizing the changing of the school tax, and would prefer to pay eighty-five to $150.

The other initiative which I wanted to mention is, along with the school tax there is a point that refers to the changing of the school capital budget from $27 million down to I think it is $20 million after a three year commitment of $27 million. They said, why would you want to do that? You are lowering school construction. You are doing something bad for education, but the reality of it is that this is not doing something bad for education. This is, in effect, the beginning of a long-term planning process for capital expenditures in the Department of Education. If we decide to plan this out - okay we will bring it down to the previous level of $20 million after committing an extra $21 million over the last three years, just in order to get a ground floor amount that we will begin with and plan for the long-term future. That is one aspect of our planning - planning that has been, in the past, shoved to one side for the sake of ad hoc political expediency that the opposition often subscribed to, and I would say more often than not subscribed to this political expediency in their budgeting - the process that they followed.

When the money was flowing in from Ottawa, and when the tax revenues through the growth cycles that were very evident in the economy of the 1980s, the government opposite chose to grow along with it; they did not decide to lower the debt, they did not decide to take the initiative that would be required in planning the future, the choice was one of spend, spend, spend for political expediency and it is that kind of situation, Mr. Speaker, that has put us into the current economic situation we are in where we now have to take some very drastic measures.

The drastic measures which were begun last year and continued into this year of a wage freeze as one example, which is very difficult I am sure for a lot of MHAs, regardless, those who participate here in democracy in this Chamber, I am sure all have some aversion to a wage freeze philosophically, but the point is, it is tough medicine for tough times; it is a problem that we have where we cannot always use our credit card to pay our light bill. We cannot always use a current account deficit on which to run the Province, therefore, we have to lower the current account deficit that has been experienced and brought it down from $59 million last year to hopefully, keeping it below $30 million this year.

Now that is the kind of initiative that will secure the fiscal integrity of this Province. It is the kind of initiative that will hopefully, sometime soon, possibly see us being able to have our credit rating improved and therefore lower our overall cost of borrowing. I had a discussion with some officials from the Department of Finance when we were doing the Budget lockup process and I asked one of them if the fishery situation had not eroded as it did, was there any consideration given to the fact that because of solid fiscal management of this government, may we very well see a possible increase in our credit rating? His analysis was that of course, given the unforseen circumstances, that there was a possibility that our credit rating could be certainly considered to be upgraded by some of the bond rating agencies, so this essentially will dictate to you that the job we have been doing of managing the Province's economy through the able efforts of the Minister of Finance, has certainly had some effect, we are seen as being very much taking a leadership role as far as managing Provincial economy here, relative to other provinces throughout the country.

We have taken the initiative, we took the bad medicine last year, we are continuing this year and we have, through the corrections made to bring about a more efficient public service, lowering the numbers and re-organizing the health care system, so that we could allow for a lower budget deficit this year, is certainly the kind of situation, Mr. Speaker, that sends a good, strong signal to the financial markets throughout the world.

Now, we have also, insofar as our planning initiatives go, taken an effort in this Budget to go for the planning of compensation. Now this of course, is looked at in a way by some who say, oh, yes, that is just another way of freezing wages at a 3 per cent increase next year. Well, that is one way of looking at it. Another way of looking at it is, it is a planned approach to the overall expenditures that government will make; it is a planned approach to the current account expenditures that we will make in the future and our overall strategic economic plan to make sure that future expense of the provincial Treasury is done on a very astute and planned basis.

Now the Minister of Finance has done this through the presentation of his Budget. The planning of capital expenditures over a long term, they are working on a long-term capital expenditure plan; the planning of the amount of total compensation increases in future years by virtue of putting a 3 per cent cap on next year's agreements that will be able to increase. These are the kinds of initiatives, Mr. Speaker, that will allow us to maintain and improve the fiscal integrity of the Province and the restoration, I should say.

If we had continued along the lines that the former Governments - because we had two different Premiers in the former PC Government that was in power, if they had continued along those lines I am often told by constituents: for you to have to do what you did, and they firmly believe we did what we had to, and as bad as it was - even some people who were unlucky enough to have had their own positions with the provincial government terminated have said to me, even though they have been denied work by virtue of the problems, they blame the others who spent like drunken sailors at times. They do not entirely blame us. It was a harsh measure but again we share the blame by virtue of, I suppose, our position, all of us, as individual taxpayers.

Mr. Speaker, the Opposition often tends to look at the Budget and look at anything that is spoken of in this Chamber and decide how they can criticize. Well, I think the Opposition also as MHAs elected to their respective positions certainly do have an obligation to the people to define good in what we do as well. Occasionally you hear it mentioned, occasionally you have it squeezed out of them by putting them in a difficult position, but often the case is it is criticism for criticism sake and not criticism for a good reason. The possible constructive criticism of the Opposition would do much to help improve the situation here. Maybe they have ideas of what they can do in helping to save some of the cost of running Government. Maybe they have some ideas of what we can do overall. Often the case is just to criticize and offer no alternative. If you remember last year, Mr. Speaker, the case was often to criticize but offer no alternative to the solution whatsoever. They would say, borrow more money. Well, that solution has been tried in Ontario and we can see by the inherent results of a $14 billion deficit in Ontario this year just how successful is a system where we go out and borrow more money.

We also have the case of Saskatchewan where the former PC Government under the former Premier, now Leader of the Opposition, Grant Devine, paid little or no attention to the happenings last year and the year prior and chose to continue spending as they had spent in the past. They continued to try, even though they were a PC Government, they continued to try, unlike their federal counterparts, to spend their way out of the said recession and the economic problems caused by the farm problems in that province. We see today with Saskatchewan's credit rating having been lowered twice in the past six to eight months and also the possibility that they may drop off the edge of the A credit rating is a very fearful thing and it will not only affect them but it will affect the whole country because if we look at the way the formulas are used to arrive at equalization for the country when one part of our country hurts financially we all hurt because we are then being equal at a lower level. I have no satisfaction in speaking about Saskatchewan's problems but I do have a sense of satisfaction in that we took the bad medicine last year, Mr. Speaker. Hon. members opposite got up and berated me for supporting the government initiative but yet speaking out against the closure of surgery in the Port aux Basques hospital.

Well, Mr. Speaker, we might note in the back of the Budget document, Appendix A, under the Department of Health, we see that surgery has been reinstated to the Port aux Basques hospital. This certainly is a recognition by the government that there was more information required to be analyzed on this situation. The surgery re-establishment in Port aux Basques recognises the geography of the region and the fears and anxiety of the people of the area, in wanting to maintain surgery for the sake of emergency surgical procedures.

Through the initiative of the Minister of Health and other individuals in his Department - some able officials in there - what we did was establish a method by which we could maintain the integrity of the doctors who are practising surgery there through an initiative in assistance with the Newfoundland Medical Board. This will see surgical services maintained hopefully in perpetuity. Until a human being is to require surgery no more, we will maintain a surgery in the Port aux Basques hospital.

That is the kind of initiative, in spite of fiscal restraints, that the hon. minister's reorganization of the health care system can address. That is the kind of situation that this government which has a heart, this government which cares about people - and rather than short-term political expediency as a way of gaining the overall confidence of the electorate, rather than going for the short-term political expediency, this government has taken a long-term approach with the interest of fiscal integrity of the Province being foremost in our minds as we proceed to govern the Province. But also keeping in mind that short-term measures and short-term initiatives are required at times, and will be undertaken by this government to assure that the people who are being affected by the problems associated with the international recession, that the problems associated with the difficulties that we have had in the fishery, mining and forestry sectors of the Province will be attended to by many of the programs that we have.

Also, to maintain the fiscal integrity of the Province I think is to ensure the future for our children and grandchildren, to ensure the future for generations to come. It is a Budget document like this that will - a Budget document in red that will see to it that the people of the future are treated properly by governments in the future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I think we should bring a rule into this House which would state that in order to speak on any topic you should know at least something about it. Because we saw an example that time on several topics the former speaker spoke on that he knew very little about what he was talking about.

I cannot help but remark in conclusion that he mentioned: fiscal integrity is first in our minds. Maybe he should realise that governments are elected first of all to look after people, and that should be first in your minds. Another thing, before I get into my main remarks, that the member dwelt on was school construction. I just cannot let this one go. He got talking about the amount budgeted this year for school construction. Now I wonder why? Because in most of his speech he talked about his own district and the new opportunities. I am glad to see that there are opportunities out there in the great area of Port aux Basques. But the member all of a sudden went out on a limb and started talking about the amount of money in the Budget for school construction. Now why would you zero in on a small section in a large budget among many departments?

The answer is, of course, that the Opposition has been getting heat - or the government has been getting heat. I am so used to looking across at them. About the amount of money put in for school construction. So the member tried to justify the meagre amount put in the Budget for school construction. We dropped the amount from $27 million down to $20 million in order to plan long-term. It is the ad hoc political decisions, the ad hoc political expediency, that was used by the former government in relation to school construction. There was no planning.

Let me tell the hon. member that the first thing he should do is apologize to the DEC's. He should stand up and apologize to the DEC's, because the former government, as with the present government I hope, had no connection at all to how the money was spent in relation to school construction. Each year a certain amount of money is budgeted for school construction, and passed on to the Denominational Education Committees who in turn, in consultation with the school boards throughout the Province, based upon the priorities of each board and then based upon general priorities, construct or do major repairs to buildings.

I hope there is none, or there never has been, any political involvement with the construction of schools. The member is now talking to a former chairman of the board of one of the largest boards in the Province, and he will tell him, I hope, that the government does not get involved with the building of schools. They do not go out and tell boards which schools to build - or they never did. Maybe this government is doing it. They have not done it in the past. They have never told the Denominational Education Committees where or how to spend the money. It is done in a very impartial, non-political way, as it should be when you are dealing with education.

For the member to get up and talk about money being spent without planning, in a political expedient way, he is insulting the Denominational Education Committees in this Province, and he is insulting the school boards right throughout this Province, because they are the ones who, entirely on their own as your colleague will tell you, make the decisions on where that money is spent. They have been making that decision for the years past for long before I can remember. Consequently, for the member to say, oh, we dropped the money - number one he alludes to the fact that money was wasted; that the $27 million was not needed; that it is trimmed down to $20 million because a lot of money was wasted because of political decisions that were made. So if he is accusing school boards and Denominational Education Committees of playing politics with the money, then it is strictly within their own ranks internally, because they have no dealings with government in relation to how the money is spent, the member should apologize on his hands and knees. He should get down and beg forgiveness for insulting people who volunteer to make such decisions so that they will not be left in the hands of politicians who could go out at election time and promise schools, as they promise roads and hospitals and everything else. It has never been done, and hopefully it never will be done. So I say to the member, he had better get his facts straight and before he does anything else, he should apologize to the DEC's and the school boards of this Province.

Let me look at why he mentioned it. He got caught up in what he was saying, because he had been told to highlight that issue because of the embarrassment of cutting down on school construction when it is so badly needed. The $27 million that was in the Budget over the last few years for school construction was not only directly related to the building of schools and the repairing of major needs, weaknesses with different schools throughout the Province, but there was a certain amount of money in that allocation which helped school boards restructure some of their old debt load, and it enabled a number of the boards to start rising towards the surface. Many school boards throughout this Province a few years ago had a tremendous debt load. Some of them were actually bankrupt. If it had been business they would have been bankrupt. But with proper allocation of funding to the DECs and through them to the boards they were able to address some of that debt load and consequently move towards the black. The boards today are in better shape than they were in the past in relation to their debt load. The problem today is in relation to their operational funding which I will get into in a few minutes.

But to look at dropping the amount of money that has been allocated to them by $7 million is extremely significant. The boards are having a hard job themselves, especially in light of the centralization that we see, which is good; the coming together of schools within certain areas; the coming together of school boards of different religious persuasions; amalgamation throughout the system. It is encouraging. It can only be done - how you bring the different denominations together, how you eliminate smaller schools, and how you eliminate duplication - you build new schools. You build centralized schools, such as Venture Academy on Fogo Island. A prime example of what can be done.

You cannot build new schools and you cannot expect people to come together, eliminate the duplication, if you have no money to repair or rebuild. When a government which goes out, and a Minister of Education who goes out, and preaches coming together, the need to conserve, and the need to be more prudent about our expenditures, who then goes out and cuts a construction budget by $7 million - by over a quarter of the total budget that they had for school construction - that is flying in the face of everything that they preach. Preach one thing, do the exact opposite.

The poor Member for LaPoile was told to get up today and try to explain this embarrassment. Try to get on the record that we had to do this, that we had to change from $27 million down to $20 million in school construction, so that we could implement long-term planning because of all the political interference that was done in the past. The words he used: the ad hoc political expediency, is what he used.

So what he is saying is that because the DECs and the school boards have been playing petty politics internally over the past few years - I am not sure whether he meant on a religious line or on a construction line - that the government is going to cut their funding. Surely he is not talking about the former government, because like I said, governments do not interfere with the expenditure of these dollars. So we see a total embarrassment here of the DECs and the school boards by the Member for LaPoile, who had been told to go out and make an excuse and got carried away.

So perhaps the hon. member should get the facts of the matter. Maybe he should ask the Minister of Education to explain how - if he is so interested in education - in light of the needs in education today you can take a construction budget - one of the parts I suppose, one of the sections of our total Budget that is spent non-politically, that is spent according to need. Where there is strict scrutiny, where you have lists of priorities coming in from boards, where you have them being assessed at the board level by independent, voluntary people, by professionals involved, then being forwarded to the DECS and all their committees, once again made up of numerous people, most of them volunteers, who then pick on a priority basis the construction needs for the coming year.

How you can take money like that and cut it because of the political expediency leaves one to wonder what the government really knows about what is going on in the field of education.

Mr. Speaker, there are a few other things I want to say about education, but before I get into that - because I want to spend maybe more time on that than anything else - I want to highlight a couple of other departments. I was going to ask the Minister of Environment and Lands, I guess, who is responsible for Wildlife -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if you could quiet down the natives -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. HEARN: I wonder if we could ask the Minister responsible for Wildlife why it's taking so long to capture a polar bear? We have a polar bear up in St. Mary's - The Capes going from door to door, coming in, sitting down in living rooms. How would the minister like it tomorrow morning to get up and see a polar bear in eating her porridge?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: That is exactly what is happening. Polar bears sitting down in your living room, knocking on a different door every night. I was getting a little bit nervous. First of all I heard of the polar bear being in Trepassey, and then it was seen in St. Shotts, then it was seen in Peter's River, yesterday it was in St. Mary's and today it is up knocking on doors in Mount Carmel. I got the feeling that the Liberals are trying to run the polar bear because he would have as good a chance as any Liberal of getting elected up there as they know.

AN HON. MEMBER: They are sending a yellow dog to Goose Bay.

MR. HEARN: That is right, but the question is why is everybody else seeing and talking to the polar bear and the wildlife people can't find it? The serious thing about it is what might happen if a polar bear - a hungry polar bear - runs across some individual? A fellow from St. Shotts was telling me today that the people of -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


MR. HEARN: The people of St. Shotts on Saturday night were extremely worried when they heard the polar bear was in the area. The people went out to put their animals in and went home to be sure there was somebody with the family because it had crashed through a window of a house in Trepassey. Luckily the man of the house was home. He is usually on the draggers. If he had not been there his wife and two small children - just imagine the trauma of trying to face a polar bear in your living room. It certainly is not funny. But like I said the question the fellow in St. Shotts asked, what would have happened if somebody had met him out on the road? There is not even a tree to climb. So the problem is what would you do? It is extremely serious when you have a wildlife officer, one apparently according to the news - I hope they are wrong - driving around to see if he can spot it. Surely there should be a concentrated effort. When the bear has broken into one home and attempted to break into a couple of others and is there.

Now luckily he has not attacked anybody, but what happens if somebody is attacked, hurt or mauled by a polar bear? What excuse can the department come up with for having the polar bear on the loose being seen by everybody for a week and they cannot find him. I think perhaps some concentrated effort should be put on to make sure that the polar bear is captured and transported back to his own area. Bring him back again election time if you want to.

The other concern -


MR. HEARN: Mr. Speaker, it is extremely hard to shout over the noise on the far side.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEARN: The other concern today is with the roads. Anybody who drove over the highways this morning had to be concerned about the condition of the roads. I left home this morning around 7:30, a beautiful morning up the shore, beautiful, mild, no moisture, nothing. About halfway out I started to meet snow. The road from then on was progressively getting worse. There was one car four wheels up down over a bank in Tors Cove. There was another car off the road on Bay Bulls Road. You could see on a number of other occasions where people had gone out on the shoulders and spun around and so on. I drive seventy-five miles to get to the Confederation Building and I did not see one piece of Department of Transportation equipment, not one solitary piece. There were two -

AN HON. MEMBER: Two people died down on the Burin Peninsula on Friday night because (inaudible).

MR. HEARN: Because of poor road maintenance. Not one piece on the seventy-five mile stretch of highway, first giving credit to the people on the far end for the first fifteen or twenty miles there was absolutely nothing on the road anyway, but for the other fifty miles the road was extremely treacherous, a fair amount of slush, very, very slippery, there had been a lot of freezing rain beforehand because all the trees were covered, and I did not see, despite the fact there were cars turned over and off the road, I did not see, pass, or meet one solitary piece of highway equipment.

I was informed by somebody today that in all the St. John's area covering the Trans-Canada for miles there were two people, apparently, working, because everyone is gone on summer shift now. I do not know whether that is factual. The minister might tell us that. But most of the equipment had been dressed down, I guess, for summer maintenance, the ploughs taken off the trucks, most of the flyers dismantled, and here we are in early April in Newfoundland. It is a little bit too early yet to take out the summer underwear, and certainly too early to take the ploughs off all our trucks. So, consequently, what would have happened if we had had the major snowstorm that was forecast? It is bad enough as it is, when we haven't got any equipment to go on the road. We could be talking once again, as we did with the polar bear, about life and limb.

Now, I haven't raised highway conditions very often because usually during the winter, I must say, certainly on the stretch over which I drive, the road is fairly well maintained. We have some pretty good people. You know, it doesn't matter how good the people are, if they are not given the direction and the funding to be able to maintain the road at all times. In a Province like Newfoundland, in early April, you can't cut back on safety, and that is exactly what happened today. Hopefully the minister will have his crews geared up, because we might not be out of it yet. I remember one year before when the only time I got stuck in a snowdrift for that year was May 15. So it is a little early yet to plan on putting away our highways equipment.

There are a number of other departments that we would like to touch upon, such as Employment and Labour Relations, to ask where are the jobs that -

AN HON. MEMBER: Where is the minister?

MR. HEARN: Where is the minister, yes. The NTA is asking that: Where is the minister? They are asking: Where is our former colleague who led us in so many fights? All of the sudden he is converted on the other side.

The Department of Social Services: Where is all the funding in the job development section? We are talking about jobs. Even in social assistance where the workload off the social workers out there is astronomical, where more and more is being thrown on their shoulders, the only little break they had was when they could place some of their people into jobs where they could get out and do some worthwhile work. They have cut that budget tremendously also, even in the Department of Social Services. Where the workload has increased, they have cut the opportunity of giving some of these people the opportunity to get out and find some employment for themselves.

Mr. Speaker, I want to concentrate for a while on the Department of Education. In Question Period this afternoon I asked the minister about the operating grants and school tax, how the boards are going to keep going in light of the fact that they were not collecting the amount of school tax that should be collected. The minister says: Not to worry, we are taking care of them, they will be all right, the people will come across, and we have put all kinds of extra money into the budget.

I asked him to show us where the $9 million would be in the budget. So, instead of having him show us I will show the minister, I guess. If we look at the section in the budget called School Board Operations, Section 2.1.02, we have Grants and Subsidies, approximately $39.5 million, basically the same as last year. Student Assistance, which really has nothing to do with this section - I mean, that should not even be in this section - there is an increase there. Part of the total increase, if the minister wants to look at the bottom line here, a $1.5 million increase, is simply because they became organized, they got a better contract and they are getting better pay, not because of more people. So that has nothing to do with school board operations. Like teachers salaries, it is money in, it is money out, and it has nothing to do with board operations at all.

School Tax Equalization Replacement: The minister says $45 million. Now, $10 million of that is a carryover from the equalization. So there is $35 million to replace lost school tax. The amount of money collected last year -

DR. WARREN: Over nine months.

MR. HEARN: I will get to the nine months. I am not going to be like the minister, I am not going to try to pussyfoot around the figures or try to deceive. I am going to tell it exactly as it is. The $45 million, $35 million over last year because $10 million was for equalization which did not equalize as the minister knows. It would take $15 million or more to equalize. So we have $35 million to replace lost school tax revenues. Now, $32 million was collected last year.

DR. WARREN: Nine months.

MR. HEARN: I am going to get to the nine months. Don't worry about it. I will make that quite clear. The record won't be incorrect. Last year $32 million was collected, not collected but rather went into the schools. More than $32 million was collected, but $32 million went into the schools from school tax authorities. So now we have $3 million.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: But the minister says: this is only for nine months. The minister is saying because the school tax is going to be collected for April, May and June.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's right!

MR. HEARN: That will give them another... let me see. One-quarter of the year, at about $32 million, about $8 million more.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: That gives us the $9 million, he says. Well, it would be less than that. So that gives us the $9 million. What the minister is not saying is the fact is the money is not being collected. It is paper money. Right now the St. John's School Board has collected half the money that it should have collected. They are down $400,000. By the end of the year they are going to be down $800,000. That is only the St. John's School Tax Authority. The question to the minister is: where is the gap going to be made up? It is no good having it on paper.

The other thing about it of course is to fully - you are still not equalizing out there. Boards are still going to be down. Some boards are going to hurt. Number one, we are now down, with the loss of $4 million - if you analyze the figures to the finest point and allow for a reasonable collection it means that boards have a 3.9 per cent increase in funding. Now, what the minister has not pointed out is that the $35 million that is going in there to replace the school taxes - and that is about it, because very little is going to be collected above and beyond. They are only going to collect half of what they should from January to June, which only gives them the regular amount from January, February and March. April, May and June they are going to have very little collected - maybe none, according to the way it is going - to put in. So the $35 million then is a yearly thing.

Where it would take $15 million plus to equalize the funding for boards, they are now $5 million behind already. Not behind what they got last year, but behind what is needed to fully equalize every board that is out there. This is what the government has committed to do.

So there is not going to be the same amount of funding available for boards as the government has promised. They will not even have the amount they had last year, so consequently they will have less funding and there will still be discrepancies in the system. All boards might have the same amount of money per pupil now, but it now means that some of the boards will have less money than they had before. There is no way the minister can play with the figures that will give the boards the amount of money they need.

On paper yes, you can do anything. The boards are not worried about what is on paper, they are not worried about what the minister tells them, they are worried about what the minister gives them. The minister is giving them less money this year than he did last year. The total increase, forgetting about the equalization factor, is 3.9 per cent -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: No, the member will not permit a question, or a comment. The minister had lots of chances today to answer my questions and he did not. He has lots of chances to get up now after this and try to explain his way out of a jam and he cannot do it. Because the minister is in a pickle here and he knows it. Besides the five -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: There is absolutely nothing wrong with what the government is doing in the elimination of school tax and provision of money. What is wrong with what they are doing is that they are pontificating in how they are doing it. Number one, they are just doubling up on the school tax in certain areas, and number two, they are not being fair to the boards. They are going to have less money out there than they had before. The 3.9 per cent increase this year alone, when you factor in the CPI, when you look at the cost - look at the increase in heat. How much did the cost of heat and light go up this year? Three point 9 per cent? No, a lot more than 3.9 per cent.

The money we are talking about here is not about salaries. The minister might say there is a freeze on salaries. Very few of these dollars go to pay salaries. Teachers' salaries are not included here at all. What we are talking about are the bread and butter issues at the school board level.. heat, light, cleaning, minor repairs, insurance, stuff like that. Interest rates on the money that they have to borrow now because they cannot collect the school tax. So by the time the school boards borrow to pay for the debt load that they are carrying, by the time they borrow to pay for the interest on the money they have to borrow now to survive while they are waiting for government to come across, by the time they pay the escalating heat and light costs, by the time they pay the escalating cleaning costs, by the time they pay the heavily escalating insurance costs, by the time they pay for the repairs that are needed and in light of the cutbacks in school construction, the minister - how hypocritical can anybody be. The minister says the boards are going to have more money than ever, $9 million which we prove now is not there, it is a fallacy and on top of that, as ashamedly admitted by the Member for LaPoile, they have cut $7 million of school construction - $7 million cut from school construction, so the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, the point is, the Lord taketh away here and he does not even giveth.

MS. VERGE: That is what they did to the single mothers at university.

MR. HEARN: Exactly. The same concept, the same game they played with the single mothers at university; promise them to give it in one hand and while one minister is passing out the cheque and smiling and shaking hands, the other minister is reaching in their back pocket and taking the money away, and this is exactly what happened here with the school boards. Paper money up front and secondly, even if it were, as it is not, even if it were real dollars, the $7 million that they are putting in on one hand, school construction is taken away.

Now the boards, because they do not have the money to construct and do major repairs, have to use their maintenance money, they have to use their operating grants to do repairs on the schools, so the boards, whatever way you cut it, the minister can play with the figures from now until doomsday, but there is no way he can show boards that they are getting as much or more money this year than before; they are getting considerably less. They are getting considerably fewer dollars than they ever got, consequently school boards this year are going to be in a real tough situation.

So maybe the minister, by talking to the genius of the calculus, the President of Treasury Board, might be able to come up with an explanation of how these figures match. The point is, it does not matter how they jibe on paper, anybody analyzing this and knowing what goes on in school boards, knowing what is happening out there in the field in relation to School Tax Authorities and school boards, know full well that the bottom line this year means, fewer dollars for each child in our schools than last year, than the year before, than the year before that, consequently, instead of being the saviours of education in this Province, this government has done everything it could to wipe out the chances of our young people for the future.

The other question I would like the minister to comment on: In several of the headings in the minister's department, we see a great reduction in the salary vote and I ask the minister: does that mean that he is going to continue what he has been doing up to now, eliminating positions in the Department of Education? Most of the headings you will see salaries - considerably fewer dollars than last year. You are either going to roll back and pay them a lot less or you are going to eliminate jobs; which is it?

Mr. Speaker, I think my time is up and I will give the minister a chance now to respond to all these questions.

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

MR. BARRETT: I will let the hon. Minister for Education respond to the hon. Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. BARRETT: Before I get into my speech this afternoon, I would like to wish a couple of hon. members on this side, a very happy birthday. The hon. Member for Harbour Grace, who is sitting on the other side now -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BARRETT: - and the hon. Member for Burgeo - Bay d'Espoir, who is not here today, he is celebrating his birthday and of course, not to be outdone, the hon. Member for Bellevue, is also celebrating his birthday today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BARRETT: While I was listening to the hon. Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, when he was talking about the polar bear and the route that the polar bear is taking, pretty soon it was going to be on its way to Bellevue, probably that is the candidate who is going to run against me in the next election, he may be looking for the new paved road in Markland, but he will probably have to come on the dirt road from Colinet, but when he gets to the paved road in Markland -

MR. HEARN: The Bellevue district, though, isn't it?


MR. HEARN: I used to have dirt roads once.

MR. BARRETT: Yes, we are working on eliminating all of these in the Bellevue district right now.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BARRETT: In Bellevue. We are talking about the Bellevue district and I would like to follow on. We talk about this particular Budget and we talk about the Budgets that we have had over the last two or three years.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. BARRETT: The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West can shout all he likes but there are five people lined up to run against him next time around. So he had better be concerned about his own district and not be concerned about the district of Bellevue. I can assure you that the hon. Member for Bellevue is not worried about his particular district.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BARRETT: I would like to do a comparison of municipal capital grants over the last ten years between Bellevue district and the district of Trinity North and look at the fairness of the previous administration. The district of Bellevue, for seventeen years previously was represented by a Liberal member who now, as I hear, is out in the district gearing up to run either for the NDP or the PC Party, I am not sure which, but the word is out that he is roaming around looking for a place to run and he is looking for a party to run. I would guess that he will run for one of the parties. I hear, as well, that the Leader of the NDP is also out looking around for the district of Bellevue - even the Minister of Justice, according to the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible) boy, can't you get your facts straight?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. BARRETT: The hon. member for Bellevue always got his jobs the right way, and will continue getting his jobs that way. Mr. Speaker, I would like to have protection from the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

In Bellevue district in 1981, do you know how much was allocated to municipal capital grants?

AN HON. MEMBER: How much?


AN HON. MEMBER: What? Zero?

MR. BARRETT: Yes, zero dollars in Bellevue. And I will do a comparison with the neighbouring district of Trinity North which was represented by a fine man, a well-respected gentleman, the hon. the Member for Trinity North, a good friend of mine and he represented his district quite well. We have an equally good member in Trinity North now, but he represented his district well. In 1981, they received $175,000, and Bellevue district received zero. In 1982, the district of Bellevue received $50,000, and the district of Trinity North received $780,000. Fairness and balance. In 1983, the district of Bellevue, I do not know what happened that particular year, look at the big sum of money they received: $150,000.


AN HON. MEMBER: Oh my God!

AN HON. MEMBER: That is terrible.


MR. BARRETT: Yes, it is. And Trinity North got $155,000. I do not know what happened there.

AN HON. MEMBER: Placentia West.

MR. BARRETT: I have the figures blotted out on Placentia West. I can't find them.

In 1984, in the district of Bellevue, there was $120,000.

AN HON. MEMBER: Getting back to normal.

MR. BARRETT: And in the district of Trinity North, it was $675,000 - very consistent. But listen to this one, in 1985, the district of Bellevue got so much money in the municipal capital works they didn't know what to do with it. They didn't know which community they were going to spent it in.

AN HON. MEMBER: How many communities?

MR. BARRETT: As a matter of fact, it was so large that they didn't know if they were going to get a contractor to do the work. In 1985, they got a total of $19,000.


AN HON. MEMBER: In Trinity North?

MR. BARRETT: No, in Bellevue.

AN HON. MEMBER: How many communities?

MR. BARRETT: Thirty-six communities in Bellevue district.

AN HON. MEMBER: Now, what did Trinity North get?

MR. BARRETT: Trinity North, in 1985, got $1,263,000.

MR. TOBIN: You are a bunch of liars.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West to withdraw that statement.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: I ask the hon. member to withdraw it, unqualified.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I withdraw it, they are all not liars.

MR. SPEAKER: Will the hon. member please withdraw his statement, unqualified?

MR. TOBIN: I withdraw it, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. BARRETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Another big year for municipal capital works in the Bellevue district was 1986. There was an 80 per cent increase over 1985.

MR. BAKER: That was $30,000.

MR. BARRETT: Yes, $30,000. It is easy to know why you are the President of Treasury Board.

AN HON. MEMBER: What did they do with it all?

MR. BARRETT: I don't know what they did with it all. In 1986 in the district of Trinity North, they got another $1,263,000.


MR. BARRETT: In 1987, Bellevue did quite well, it got $170,000 and the district of Trinity North got $553,000.

AN HON. MEMBER: The beginning of fairness and balance.

MR. BARRETT: No, no. Fairness and balance was brought to the district of Bellevue in 1988. What happened in 1988? The former Minister of Municipal Affairs will remember that quite well. There was a by-election in Waterford - Kenmount and a certain individual crossed the floor to join the Conservatives, and in that year, the fairness and balance, the needs and priorities of Bellevue district changed all of a sudden. After all those years since 1981, the municipalities in Bellevue were fighting for water and sewer, road work and all the various other services in the district and there wasn't any need for it, but in 1988, do you know what Bellevue district got?


MR. BARRETT: They got $1,014,000.

AN HON. MEMBER: That was because 'Wils' crossed the floor.

MR. BARRETT: The needs weren't there before that time and then, all of a sudden, in 1988, Bellevue got $1 million. Did they take it from Trinity North?


MR. BARRETT: Talk about thirty pieces of silver. They didn't take it from Trinity North.

AN HON. MEMBER: They must have.

MR. BARRETT: No, no. They still got $875,000. Listen to this now, the real fairness and balance. The year that Bellevue district got its equalization payments, all of the people, my colleagues over here, will understand what I mean when I talk about equalization payments. I mean, I compare Bellevue district. They hear it all the time. The Cabinet ministers over here, when I meet with them, hear it all the time. I am saying, for seventeen years we got nothing and we need equalization payments.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BARRETT: Well, the hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount, the former Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs - I convinced him that Bellevue district, in 1989, needed equalization payments to catch up with the other districts in the Province. You know what was allocated in 1989 in Bellevue district?

AN HON. MEMBER: Two million.

AN HON. MEMBER: Three million.

MR. BARRETT: No, $3,670,000 in the district of Bellevue.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BARRETT: The hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount, who then became the Minister of Municipal Affairs - I convinced him of the discrimination, and the officials in the department agreed with me. The officials in Municipal Affairs said, 'For years, Mr. Barrett, the people in this department have been recommending projects in Bellevue district, but for some reason they never ever got approved.' They never ever got approved. As a matter of fact, there was a Cabinet document, a Minute of Council, in 1976 allocating water and sewer for the community of Sunnyside, but for some reason it got cancelled. I couldn't determine why it got cancelled, but when it got to the political level it was cancelled.

Now, to continue on the great work of the Member for Bellevue - that is why I say I am not concerned about any polar bears or anything like that - in 1990, the district -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BARRETT: I will have to make a comparison now with - even though the equalization payments, and we came up in the district of Bellevue in 1989, but did this government forget the district of Trinity North? No. The district of Trinity North, do you know what they got?


MR. BARRETT: They got $1,108,000 . Now, that is fairness and balance. That is fairness and balance.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BARRETT: The people, in 1981, in Trinity North needed water and sewer and road work. I am not saying that the people in Trinity North did not need it, but also that the people in Bellevue district from 1981 needed these services, too, and the previous governments did not treat them fairly. What a campaign brochure. If the Premier were to call an election tomorrow there will be no doubt people within my campaign who will pressure me into releasing these kinds of statistics on my campaign brochures. They are going to force me to do it, and I am going to have to do it. I have no other choice but to do it.

In 1991 the District of Bellevue - we went down to $1,232,000, and this year I only got one half of what the hon. Member for Burin - Placentia West got.

MR. TOBIN: What!

MR. BARRETT: I only got one half of what he got. I got $1.5 million and I think he got $3 million.

AN HON. MEMBER: And I suppose he turned it back. His conscience was bothering him.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BARRETT: What I am trying to point out in this particular Budget and with this particular government we are trying to treat the people in this Province fairly, and that is very, very important.

The other thing I would like to touch on is we hear a lot of things in this House about the MOGs, the municipal operating grants, and the whole idea of the municipal operating grants was to be put in place to assist the smaller towns in this Province. I have met with every town council in my district and I have not received one complaint. As a matter of fact, most of them received increases in their MOGs. Most of the municipalities in my district have received increases in their MOGs.

I would like to also share with the hon. members of this House another little bit of information. There is another program in Municipal Affairs that I would like to touch on. In my district I have fourteen Local Service Districts.


MR. BARRETT: In my district I have fourteen Local Service Districts and in the ten years previous in Bellevue District under the community service water grants there was $50,000 allocated to Bellevue District. Fifty thousand dollars over a ten year period in community water plants.

AN HON. MEMBER: Ten years.

MR. BARRETT: Ten years. And in the last three years - this is going to be great for the campaign brochure - the District of Bellevue - now you have to look at it, there is only $1 million a year in that budget for community service grants - we increased it one year to $1.5 million but normally there is $1 million, $1.5 million in the community water grants for the whole Province and in the last three years in the district of Bellevue, in the community water grants, there have been $680,000 spent, and that is fairness and balance.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BARRETT: After ten years of $50,000, we finally receive $680,000.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BARRETT: Yes, three years; we have not been allocated for this year yet. It might even top a million after this year. The other thing I would like to touch on is the school tax.

DR. WARREN: Yes. We are not going to bring it back.

MR. BARRETT: No. no way. I just finished doing clinics in my district, I went around to every community and everybody who came to see me, the first thing on the agenda was the school tax and I talked to people in my district where, when you look at the average income in rural Newfoundland is $12,000. Now we are talking about averages, but the majority of the people in my district you are talking about people who make $8,000, $9,000, $10,000 a year, if they are lucky.

Most people coming to see me would say, Percy, you fellows promised to do away with the school tax. Last year my income was $7,050 and I paid $135 school tax, and I said to him, I would assume that when the Budget comes down this year - I do not know what is in the Budget, but I would say that we have a great Minister of Finance who is looking at this and I say, next year, you won't have to pay the school tax. We all know somebody making $7,000 a year, the minimum deduction, if he is single is $6,000 in terms of income tax and these people who are making $7,000 and $10,000 in rural Newfoundland won't have to pay the school tax, and won't have to pay of course, the increase in the provincial tax.

The other area that I would like to talk about is the best tax that was ever implemented in this Province and it is about time we started to charge business and industry some fee for the training of our work force, and that is the payroll tax. If you look at a lot of the European countries and if you look at Sweden, Norway, and all these countries, they have a payroll tax that is used solely for the training of the work force. We know that in this great country called Canada, over the years, governments have subsidized entirely, providing industry and businesses, totally, their trained work force, and it is about time that business started to pay its share of the education of our young people and of our adults. I spoke in this House before when the payroll tax was implemented and at that particular time I asked, who benefits from a good educational system and who benefits from a good training system? Who benefits?

AN HON. MEMBER: Everybody.

MR. BARRETT: Three groups. The individual benefits - the individual, in terms of being able to upgrade himself and have the skills to be able to go out and market himself and get a job, and also to create a job - not only to get a job but to create a job. Another is business, itself. By having a trained work force it increases its productivity and its profits. Why should it not contribute? In addition to the corporate income tax, why should it not contribute to the payroll tax and to the education of our children and our adults? Of course, the other one, who benefits from educated and trained individuals? Society. Let us face it, in this particular Province of ours, we have to put more emphasis on the training of our work force and the training of our people. I sit here day-in and day-out and I hear the Opposition complaining about increases in taxes. I hear them complaining about cutbacks, and they want to increase programs. Let us face it, if we are going to have increased programs in this Province, who is going to pay for them? You either have to raise taxes or not have programs. There is no way that this caucus and these people over here will ever bow to pressure to bring back the school tax.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BARRETT: It was unfair in terms of the individual, it was unfair in that school boards in rural Newfoundland got less money, and it was also unfair to the business community, very unfair. There was a business in my district that had just started off. As a matter of fact, it was a funeral home business. It was in operation for a whole year - had no business whatsoever - and was hit, the first year of operation, with $1,500 in school tax. The man had no income whatsoever, but he had property, and was hit with a $1.500 school tax, and he never had one cent of business - not one cent of business. Now, under this new scheme, that particular person doesn't have to pay any tax, because he doesn't have a payroll that comes up to $100,000. So I think it is a fair tax. I think the payroll tax is a fair tax. I think, based on what I make, I should contribute more to the education of adults and young people in this Province. If my salary is high, I think I should pay more; but I think we have given a break to the working poor in this Province. We are not talking about the people on social assistance. We don't hear very much in this House of Assembly about the working poor. There are a lot of people out there making the minimum wage.

I adjourn the debate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow is Private Members' Day, so we will go through the resolution for the Member for Torngat Mountains, I believe.

On Thursday, it is my intention to introduce Bill 17, if that Bill is indeed, at that point in time, ready for presentation. I have indicated to members opposite that as soon as it has been printed, and so on, I will make the final version available to them. So, if the final version is ready for Thursday, then that will be the debate on Thursday. Otherwise, we will continue with this rather stimulating Budget debate.

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

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