April 28, 1992                HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS               Vol. XLI  No. 25

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise, Mr. Speaker, to inform this Honourable House that today April 28 is the day of observance for workers who have died, or been injured or disabled on the job. At noon today I attended a wreath-laying ceremony representing the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador at the Ocean Ranger Memorial with the assistant deputy minister from the division responsible for Occupational Health and Safety within the government who also laid a wreath.

The Canadian Labour Congress has observed this day for the last number of years as one way to draw attention to the sacrifice which many of our workers have made in earning a living for themselves and their families.

As Minister responsible for Occupational Health and Safety, I am committed to effective safety standards, including enforcement, to ensure that every worker is afforded an opportunity to work in a safe, hazard-free environment. Workplace accidents affect not only workers but their families and co-workers as well.

Mr. Speaker, the department is taking a proactive approach with respect to occupational health and safety. We want to deal with the prevention of accidents in the workplace rather than being involved after the fact. Employers, employees and the department have to work together to attain this goal. Only with the co-operation of all will we be able to reduce accidents in the workplace.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First I want to thank the minister for providing me an advanced copy. We on this side certainly want to associate ourselves with the remarks of the minister and commend the minister for acknowledging the tremendous effort of workers in this Province.

The last part of the minister's statement, I think, is very significant: that the department is going to actively promote the prevention of accidents in the workplace rather than being involved after the fact. I think, Mr. Speaker, that perhaps the most important thing that might have come out of all of this is an acknowledgement that there are unsafe conditions in the workplace, and we hope that the minister will not only do this with words, but some actions to make sure that accidents do not occur in the workplace.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East on a point of order.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to reply to the ministerial statement.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. member have unanimous approval?


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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to also add my words in support of the observance of the day of mourning to remember workers killed or injured in the workplace and commend the minister for giving a statement on this matter today and representing the government at the ceremony.

Hon. members may also know that not only has this day been celebrated by the Canadian Labour Congress for a number of years, it is also an official day of mourning by virtue of an Act of the Parliament of Canada passed last year, and there is currently, by notice of last sitting day, a Private Member's resolution asking this House to support the same declaration by the government as an official day, and I would like to ask the government to consider doing that - it may not be something that would need to be debated and perhaps all members could have it passed tomorrow by unanimous consent.

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I have been saying for some time now that foreign overfishing is as damaging to this Province as the loss of the automobile industry would be to Ontario, as detrimental as the end of the wheat crop to the Prairies, and as devastating as the loss of the forest industry to British Columbia. There is no question that Newfoundlanders are intimately aware of the common destiny of the fishery and our province's future, but as this government has been setting out to convince the world to take action against overfishing, we have been concerned that maybe we are standing alone in a country indifferent to a small province with a big problem.

Today I am pleased to report to the House that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are not alone. Canadians do care. Canadians understand the gravity of the problem, and they know that now is the time for action. In fact, our fight against overfishing is overwhelmingly supported by the people of Canada, and they are with us in calling on the federal government to take urgent action against the scourge of overfishing.

We know this because we asked Decima Research to poll Canadians on their attitudes towards the fishery in general, and foreign fishing in particular. The results which I will now share with the House are startling, encouraging, loud and clear.

Mr. Speaker, 82 per cent of Canadians are gravely concerned about the future of the fishery, and a majority blame foreign overfishing as the primary reason for depleted fish stocks.

The lack of enforcement of international quotas is also recognized as a significant contributor to the crises in the fishery.

Ninety percent of Canadians think that overfishing is a serious environmental problem. In fact, an impressive 84 per cent say that overfishing is as great an environmental threat as acid rain.

The survey also reveals that when Canadians think about overfishing, they are thinking not only about the environment, but they are also thinking about our economy. Indeed, 94 per cent of them think that overfishing is an economic problem.

When asked whether the depletion or possible extinction of the fish stock is primarily an economic or an environmental problem, 39 per cent said economic - that is a statistical tie with 36 per cent who said environment. One in four Canadians volunteered both as being of equal importance.

Mr. Speaker, let there be no doubt: the people of Canada understand that overfishing is a serious problem that menaces our environment, threatens our economy, and needs to be solved at the source.

Foreign overfishing is seen as a direct threat to Canadian sovereignty, which explains why the people of this country are virtually unanimous in their support for greater surveillance of the 200-mile boundary. That is why there is strong support for action, even for the use of the Canadian Navy.

The sentiment is so intense that the poll found support for fishermen themselves assuming some responsibility of forcing foreign fishing vessels out of the area around the 200-mile limit. This will come as welcome news to those who took the Newfoundland protest directly to the Europeans at sea a few weeks ago.

An overwhelming three-quarters of Canadians support unilateral extension of the management of fish stocks beyond the 200-mile boundary. Fifty-four percent agree with the specific statement that Canada should extend its management by "patrolling and enforcing fishing quotas outside the boundary." When told that five years of diplomatic negotiations have failed to solve the overfishing problem, support for this measure rises to an impressive 66 per cent.

Make no mistake, Mr. Speaker, this Government will be unrelenting in its efforts to put an end to foreign overfishing. Whether we are speaking up for action against overfishing in Ottawa, New York, Brussels, or even Spain and Portugal, we know that Canadians are pulling for us in Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montreal - places where the fishery isn't a way of life. They know that this problem isn't the parochial concern of one province. They know who's causing it, and they know that overfishing won't just go away by the waving of a diplomat's hand.

The Decima poll was conducted only last month, but before our ships set sail to protect the fish on the Nose and Tail, before the Minister of Environment and I went to Parliament Hill, and before the Premier went to the United Nations and to Europe to make our case to the world. Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt in my mind that the people of this country are with us now more than ever.

Foreign overfishing is taking place close to Newfoundland, but this catastrophe is close to the hearts of people right across our country. They are telling our federal government and all Canadians to stand up for Canada by taking a stand against foreign overfishing. The Government of Canada can feel confident that Canadians want foreign overfishing stopped, and they will support the federal government in unilateral action, if necessary.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

From the outset, I suppose it would be proper to say, that is penetrating insight into the obvious, I would think. Who today in this Legislature or anywhere else is surprised that Canadians think that foreign overfishing is a problem? Who today is surprised that Canadians, and specifically Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, think that it is a great economic problem for us? It is not a great economic problem for Canada because of the low percentage it is to the total economy of Canada, but for Newfoundland, I would suggest to the minister, it is probably a 99.9 per cent concern. So, Mr. Speaker, there are no big surprises here that the majority of people in Canada are concerned about foreign overfishing. There is no surprise that the people of Canada think, indeed, that it certainly is an environmental concern.

When you look at the government of the provinces engaging Decima Research to do a poll, the first question I would like to ask the minister is: How much did it cost the taxpayers of the Province to find out the obvious? How much did it cost the people of this Province to have Decima do a poll on Canadians to see if they were concerned about foreign overfishing - what the impact of foreign overfishing was in this country? It is unbelievable, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Twenty thousand dollars or something, I suppose.

MR. MATTHEWS: I would say it is probably $40,000 to $50,000. Then again, to see the reference in the statement the minister gave a few weeks ago about the diplomatic efforts over the past five or six years. What is the Premier of the Province doing today? Playing catch-up football diplomatically in Europe. Someone referred to it as an extended vacation, visiting the troops in Europe, eating Belgian chocolate. Is that not diplomatic effort, Mr. Speaker? If it has not worked, what is the Premier of the Province doing over in Europe today, if diplomatic efforts are no good whatsoever? I think the government has to make up its mind, either diplomatic efforts are no good totally, or they are partially good, or they are all good.

I say to the Minister of Fisheries, it is like his handling of the fisheries in this Province, talking about polls, where 70 per cent of the people in this Province say that this Minister of Fisheries and this government are handling the fisheries situation very poorly in this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Seventy per cent, Mr. Speaker. So I do not dispute the statistics in the poll that Decima has found, but I want to say that it is almost - the minister talked about statistical comparisons when he talked about the economy and he talked about the environment. He talks about 80 per cent of Canadians concerned about foreign overfishing. Seventy per cent of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are very concerned about what this Minister of Fisheries and this government are doing for the Newfoundland fishery.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is Volunteer Week. It started on April 26 and will end on Saturday, May 2. It is a week when we say thank you to the many individuals who contribute countless hours to making society a better place in which to live. The year's theme is: Volunteers - the Heart of the Community. If you look at the list of people who offer freely of their time, the list is truly the heart of the community: the firefighters, first-aid workers, coaches and officials involved in amateur sport, hospital auxiliaries, and people who offer their time to the various boards and committees. The corporate sector is also involved in voluntarism. Many companies encourage their employees to volunteer their time aiding community groups.

In 1987 a national survey showed the importance of volunteers. Around 13 million Canadians volunteer, either through community groups or by simply helping their neighbours. Each person contributes almost four hours a week, and that contribution is worth an estimated $13 billion annually. That's "billion".

There is also recent evidence indicating that volunteering contributes to a more healthy individual. According to a study from Ontario, volunteering can give a greater sense of self-worth, reduce heart rates and blood pressure, and give a boost to both the immune and the nervous system.

To conclude, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are known for their generosity and for their willingness to help others. On behalf of the government, I would like to thank all those who volunteer. I also encourage all residents of the Province to continue to give freely of their time and effort in helping their communities by continuing to volunteer. We will all be rich from their efforts.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I certainly want to stand and speak on behalf of our caucus, and say that we fully support, endorse and commend the efforts of the literally thousands of volunteers in this Province who have done tremendous work over the past number of years.

Mr. Speaker, never before has it been so important to have dedicated and committed volunteers, because to commit yourself in this Province today to become a volunteer to serve on a council, for example, you have to do it realizing that the grant structure in this Province is such that it is almost impossible to allow yourself to serve as a volunteer. Children are going around this Province, Mr. Speaker, as volunteers, knocking on doors to try to solicit funds to help purchase school books and school supplies because of the inaction of this minister and this government. We have volunteers, Mr. Speaker, going all over the Province trying to raise money for procedure rooms in hospitals. We have volunteers going all over the Province trying to raise money for everything because this government have basically cut out everything to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: You have the firefighters, Mr. Speaker, who are to be commended. You have this government closing up - as we have seen recently in Mount Pearl, Mr. Speaker, they couldn't get their act together. Volunteers throughout rural Newfoundland - yes, Mr. Speaker, in your district too - the firefighters, the councils, the people who work with the school boards, hospital committees, are to be commended, Mr. Speaker, because if it weren't for these men and women who volunteer many, many hours of work, there would be no services in this Province worth talking about.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the member's time is up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, it is not hard to tell that the cat is away. When he is away the mice continue to play.

Mr. Speaker, I have some questions that relate to the administration of justice in this Province and, quite frankly, I am not certain who to ask the questions of. The Minister of Justice does not have a seat in the House. The Premier, who is a lawyer, is away in Europe. The former Minister of Justice, who now occupies the Department of Transportation, is not the acting Minister of Justice so we don't even have a lawyer, apparently, acting as Minister of Justice. I presume I will ask the question of the Acting Premier. Maybe we don't have one of those either, but I will take the chance that it is the Government House Leader. If it isn't, I will ask him to answer the question.

Mr. Speaker, now that this government has released the Hughes Commission report after it has had the report for some eleven months, as we understand, I ask the Acting Premier, Will the government be immediately tabling it's response to the recommendations in that report in the next few days?

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The short answer is no. I would like to remind the Leader of the Opposition that up until the day that the report was released, members of Cabinet hadn't had copies nor seen, nor read copies of the Hughes Commission report. The reason it was held was obvious to anybody who understands the court system, and that is that the report could not be released simply because of a fear of interfering with the process of justice in terms of the court cases.

So, Mr. Speaker, for that reason, the report was kept under wraps. Very few people saw it. I believe three elected people and four or five officials had seen it up to that point.

Cabinet will, over the next short while, be examining the recommendations of the Hughes Commission report, and I am hoping, within a very short time, will make decisions with regard to a response. But it cannot be done immediately, simply because we have not had the time to examine the report up to this point in time.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I must say, I am quite surprised. Is the minister saying that the government have had the report now for eleven months but the Cabinet did not have a look at the report? Did he also say that three or four elected people did have access to the report? Well, if three or four elected people - we will assume they were all ministers, and perhaps he can confirm that for me in his answer - if three or four ministers had access and read the report, why did not the Cabinet have a chance to have a look at the report in the eleven-month period?

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This question, of course, has been answered a number of times - I don't know where the hon. member has been - and everybody is sick and tired of hearing the answer, but I will give it again.

Mr. Speaker, the reason is that the Hughes Commission report was submitted to government quite some time ago. At that point in time there were court cases ongoing, prospective trials and so on, and it was determined by the Minister of Justice at the time that to release the report could possibly interfere with the process of justice, could interfere with fair trials being carried out throughout the system, and that is the reason it was held.

Now, it is pretty obvious to anybody who knows anything about the court system that this was something that had to be done. Because that was being done, the only people who had access to the report were the Minister and his officials in Social Services, and the Minister and some officials in Justice. Beyond that, the report was kept under wraps and was not distributed until it was available to everybody. We will now consider the report and, in a fairly short time frame, make decisions with regard to the recommendations and publicly report them in this hon. House.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, again, let us try to get some clarification. The Cabinet operates under an oath of secrecy. Every minister in the Cabinet has given an oath of secrecy. I want to ask the minister this: Did Ed Roberts, who presently holds the portfolio of Minister of Justice but is not elected to this House, have access to this report? If so, then why didn't other Cabinet ministers who have been elected to this House not have access to the report?

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

MR. BAKER: Now I can see, Mr. Speaker, what he is getting at. What a silly approach!

Yes, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Roberts, when he became Minister of Justice, a Minister of the Crown, did, at that point in time, have access to the report. Certainly, it is obvious to all members of the House, it is obvious to everybody, that that was the situation. It is kind of a waste of a question in Question Period isn't it?

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It will be up to others to judge what questions are a waste, not up to the Government House Leader.

Let me ask him a specific question, Mr. Speaker, dealing with some of the recommendations in the Hughes Commission report. Mr. Hughes recommended the establishment of a police commission. I ask the Acting Premier, Will the government be moving in this spring sitting, to introduce legislation to create such a police commission? Because it, too, has certainly been considered by government, perhaps for longer than the eleven months they have been sitting on the Hughes Commission report?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out something that again should be obvious, and I am assuming that everybody understands, but in view of the member's question I sometimes wonder. I would like to explain that this was an examination into primarily the justice system during the 70s. This was primarily an examination into that justice system and a lot of recommendations that came out of the Hughes Commission relate to the way justice was administered in the 70s. I am very proud to report to hon. members that many of these recommendations were already implemented in the normal course of events.

Now, there are two or three outstanding items. The police commission was one, and I believe the solicitor general position is another recommendation, and so on. These will be taken into account by Cabinet and we will very shortly be discussing these recommendations and notifying the House as to what the position of government is. Mr. Speaker, that is where it stands. I don't know how many times I have to repeat this to the hon. member. He just doesn't understand.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the acting Premier and the acting Minister of Justice, I guess, which again pertains to the Hughes report. In Recommendation 33, Justice Hughes made a strong inference that government is liable to those complainants who are wards of the Director of Child Welfare. I ask the minister, Does government acknowledge liability in this case?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, inferences that may be there are things that the hon. gentleman gets out of it, so I cannot respond to his interpretation of something that is in the report.

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

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

Therein lies the problem -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: - and until it is dealt with by the Premier, we are going to continue having a problem, like we have a Minister of Justice who does not sit in this House and is not answerable to the elected representatives of the people.

Now, Mr. Speaker, Justice Hughes recommends that government set up a compensation fund for victims of child abuse who were wards of the Director of Child Welfare. Government recently cancelled the crimes compensation program, from which I understand these individuals could have received compensation. Will government now reinstate these programs?

MR. SIMMS: A good question.

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I keep repeating that Cabinet will, in the very near future, consider the outstanding recommendations that have not been dealt with in the last number of years, the outstanding recommendations from the Hughes Commission report, and when we have made up our minds we will then report to this House as to exactly what the position is. I would suggest that some of the inferences the hon. member is getting at, some of those recommendations, simply do not exist.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, this is not an inference, this is a specific recommendation from Justice Hughes, and recently government cancelled that particular program. The minister, in answering the Leader of the Opposition, said that government had already enacted some of the recommendations of the Hughes report, so I guess my supplementary is, Was the cancellation of that particular compensation fund for victims of child abuse, one of government's reactions to the Hughes report? Can the minister answer that? Is that why that program was cancelled, in anticipation of a response to the Hughes report?

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

MR. BAKER: First of all, there was no such fund set up that the hon. gentleman just described. It just simply did not exist. There was a crimes compensation fund which was instituted by - and I will repeat it several times - by the federal government, the federal government, the federal government, Mr. Speaker, where there was a small contribution made by the provincial government towards that particular program. Then, Mr. Speaker, a year ago the federal government cancelled the program - the federal government cancelled the program. I will repeat it again for the hon. member if he does not understand plain English. The Tory federal government cancelled the program. Now, Mr. Speaker, what did we do in response? Did we cut off our funding to that whole program as a provincial government? No. There is $1 million in this year's Budget. There is not enough to fund the total federal program - the federal program, so we are phasing out that program and we are putting our money where we feel it is most effective and that is in the direction of counselling, and so on, and getting people through the very difficult trial period and after the trial period, Mr. Speaker. So we are stepping in, trying to fill, as best we can, the void created by the federal government, who started the program and then cancelled it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, the President of the Council can squirm all he likes, but the two or three people whom he already told the House had the copy of the Hughes report -

AN HON. MEMBER: Ministers.

MR. MATTHEWS: - ministers, some elected and one not, knew the contents of the report and were sitting around the table and made the decision to wipe out this compensation program for victims.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Right, right on!

MR. MATTHEWS: - Mr. Speaker, the minister can squirm all he likes, but those people who had the information sat around the table and made the decision to cancel that program. He can say all he wants but that is the truth of it.

MR. SIMMS: Right on!


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MATTHEWS: - Now, I want to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary: Is government prepared to submit claims for compensation to arbitration, as recommended by Justice Hughes? Will they do that?

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is interesting to see the hon. member squirm and try to turn the blame around from the federal government to the provincial. It is amazing. He always does it. He has done the same thing in the fishery, tried to turn things around so that all of a sudden, a federal program that was brought in and cancelled, now, all of a sudden was cancelled by the provincial government, but, Mr. Speaker, that simply will not wash.

Now, in answer to the question he asked, I will repeat again, in case he didn't hear me the first four or five times. The outstanding recommendations of the Hughes' Commission will be considered by Cabinet and an announcement will be made, our position will be made clear, as soon as the Cabinet decision is made. But, Mr. Speaker, we are not, on the spur of the moment, going to be stampeded into making decisions by the tirades of the members opposite.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I had a question for the Premier, but in his absence, I will ask the acting Premier, the President of Treasury Board. Does the minister consider the fact that the wife of the Minister of Justice is a partner in a law firm which holds a substantial contract for providing legal services to an agency of the government, Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador Corporation, to be a conflict of interest under the current conflict of interest guidelines?

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

MR. BAKER: No, Mr. Speaker. As far as I know, the law firm of Halley, Hunt was given a contract to handle the legal business of Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, in a normal process whereby every four or five years we change the law firms which are providing the services to government agencies. No, Mr. Speaker, we do not see that as a conflict.

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

MR. WINSOR: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

Several ministers were directed by the Premier to divest themselves of various interests they had. The Minister of Forestry and Agriculture for example, was directed by the Premier to get rid of a particular business he had. On this particular matter, the Premier took a completely different position from the one he took then. My question is, why the distinction between that and what appears to be a more serious violation, and why is he showing such favouritism to the Minister of Justice in light of the fact that the present contract says: a contract for the supply of goods and services? The present one already covers that.

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I believe the hon. member is confused, because his original facts are not correct. His premises are not correct, therefore his conclusion, obviously, cannot be correct.

Mr. Speaker, the contract to provide legal services to Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador rests with that particular law firm. It was awarded some time ago, it will not be re-awarded to that same firm and if, for instance, the contract had been awarded while the present Minister of Justice was in Cabinet or had an interest in that firm, then it could be conceived as being a conflict, I suppose. But there will be no award to that firm when the normal time is up, when the contract comes to an end.

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

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like the minister to explain how it was different, that the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture had entered into an agreement, I think it was with Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation, prior to his becoming a minister, the Premier said that he had to get rid of it, and the same type of contract had been entered into prior to Mr. Roberts becoming a minister. Now, how is that different? One, he supplied a building, the other, the firm supplies a service. How is it different? Can the minister explain how that's different?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The hon. gentleman can assume it is the same, I don't. I don't know the exact circumstances that he refers to. I do not specifically recall the exact circumstances he referred to in the beginning with the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture. I believe that the minister was renting a building, or part of a building, to the Liquor Corporation?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Yes. The minister was in the process of either selling the building or divesting himself and so on. That happened over a period of time, Mr. Speaker. It was not that the Premier ordered him right away to get rid of it. That is not what happened. In this instance the determination is made that when that normal period comes to an end that that contract will not be re-awarded to Halley, Hunt. In following our policy we will rotate the government business to other law firms so that will not be re-awarded.

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

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, this just doesn't wash. What he is saying for one does not apply for the other. Given the fact that during the 1989 election campaign the Premier said: I consider it totally incompatible for a minister or a member of his family or company in which the minister or a member of his family has any interest to carry out work for the government. Why has the Premier reduced his standards in the case of Mr. Roberts? We have two petitions: one, the current regulations; also, the Premier's 1989 commitment. Why has it been reduced for Mr. Roberts? What is the explanation?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice is being treated exactly as anybody else would be treated, in accordance with the conflict of interest guidelines, and all procedures have been followed. I could check into the total situation in terms of Mr. Roberts and perhaps the Premier could deal with that when he gets back. As far as I am concerned he has been dealt with exactly the same as anybody else would be dealt with under the current legislation, and that is dealt with properly.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It is very difficult to deal with questions relating to the Hughes report, I guess, or anything else, when you have a Minister of Justice who is not elected in this House and a Premier who has only been here five days since the House opened this year. So I will ask the deputy Premier. Maybe he can answer this question, maybe he could explain to the people of this Province and to the House why it is taking so long to get a seat for the Minister of Justice, a non-elected Minister of Justice?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, in light of his preamble, that is a strange question, because -

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

I remind hon. members this is Question Period. In order for the Question Period to flow smoothly, hon. members should at least maintain a modicum of decorum. I say to hon. members to my right, particularly, if they are not satisfied with the answer, that the time will come again.

The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In light of his preamble the question is surprising. He said: because the Minister of Justice is not - he cannot ask the question to the Minister of Justice because he is not in the House. The obvious statement, how could he possibly ask the question of the Minister of Justice if he was in the House?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice - it takes you a while to follow that, doesn't it? I understand that. It'll sink in about ten minutes from now.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice will take his seat in this House as soon as a seat becomes available for him to run in. We cannot create an extra seat. In the normal course of events seats generally come open every so often. The next seat that comes open I assume that the Minister of Justice will perhaps run in that seat, or if not the next one that comes open, then the one after. He will soon get a seat.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I do notice the backbenchers over there laughing that we have a non-elected Minister of Justice. The backbenchers over there are the ones who should be embarrassed. Because they are incompetent. The Premier thinks they are too incompetent to go in Cabinet.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, maybe the acting Premier can answer this. It has been 165 days now since the Premier announced in this House - 168, I believe it is, or 165 - that he was going to put a non-elected person as Minister of Justice, that his own backbenchers were too incompetent to handle the portfolio, and he would bring in a non-elected person.

Mr. Speaker, can the Acting Premier once again answer, for the people of this Province, and relate to them, why arrangements were not made in the time between the announcement of Mr. Robert's appointment and the time that he cleared up his law practice, which took a couple of months, I believe, why weren't arrangements made in that time to allow for a seat for him so he could be an elected member of this House of Assembly and answer for the responsibilities that he is given?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the hon. gentleman that the people of the Province decided that they weren't capable of coming over here.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: I have forgotten what the question was now. Mr. Speaker, I know what the question was. I was just kidding.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind members opposite that times have changed, that there is a new government in power in this Province and there is a new approach to politics. In other words, Mr. Speaker, we don't -


SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: - we don't turn around and point a finger at someone and say: you resign. We don't control those things. Mr. Speaker, they speak as if you could easily arrange for that. In other words, you could order someone to resign or something. Mr. Speaker, that is not the proper way to do things. What you do is you wait until a seat comes open, and seats come open for a variety of reasons I have heard. So, Mr. Speaker, you wait until a seat comes open and, when a seat comes open, then you expect that within the next seat or two seats that come open that the Minister of Justice will then run and get elected and sit in the House. That is the normal course of events, Mr. Speaker, and that normal course will be followed. It is as simple as that.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, there is a new era in politics, no doubt about that, and we do have a real change in this Province. Mr. Speaker, we have a Premier over talking to the Armed Forces in Lahr in Germany. I don't know if he is trying to start a coup or something like that and appoint more of his Cabinet -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I have reminded hon. members on several occasions that supplementaries are to get into the question. Hon. members are continuously taking advantage. The Chair does not mind the odd occasion but when it becomes a practice then the Chair must intercede. So I ask hon. members, please, to get to the question.

MR. R. AYLWARD: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Acting Premier: Why was it that the Member for Windsor - Buchans at one time had to give up his seat to find a seat for the Premier? Mr. Speaker, why is it that the Member for Bay of Islands had to give up his seat when the Premier couldn't get elected in the last election? And why was the Member for St. George's asked to give up his seat, and he wouldn't give up his seat? Can the Acting Premier answer these questions, Mr. Speaker, and can he also answer the question as to what happened to the Member for Naskaupi, if we have one or if we don't have one? The sick Member for Naskaupi, I guess it is right now, who announced he was in and announced he was out, Mr. Speaker, what happened to him after the Premier went up and begged the Liberal Association to allow Ed Roberts to run there, had to beg them? What happened to the Member for Naskaupi who backed out on the Premier, Mr. Speaker, and did not resign?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, again I will say to the hon. member that he is still living in the past, obviously. He has an interpretation of events, Mr. Speaker, and he tends to rewrite history every time he opens his mouth. He has his own version of events, Mr. Speaker, and all of these versions of events that he just gave this hon. House, every single one of them, are totally wrong, every one of them without exception.

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

MR. DOYLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DOYLE: I have a question for the Minister of Health.

As the Minister is aware, Mr. Speaker, over the last three-month period three cases of meningitis have occurred in the Labrador West portion of the Province. One person has died just recently and another died last year. That indicates, as the minister said in his press statement of April 24, that there is active transmission occurring within that affected age group.

Is the government considering, in light of this most recent tragedy in Labrador, a province-wide vaccination program?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, it is refreshing to have a sensible question asked for a change. I thought the whole Question Period was going to be a total waste.

I tell the hon. member that the meningococcal disease is being dealt with in Labrador West. The professionals who are dealing with this matter have advised me that it is not necessary, nor is it appropriate, to embark on a full-scale vaccination for the whole Province. The way this particular disease is treated, normally the doctors isolate the region where the meningococcal disease is found, and the first thing they do is give an antibiotic which is given to the people who are in close contact with the person who has it. If it continues to cluster around a community or a school or what have you, then as a last and final resort they vaccinate. They tend to avoid vaccinations because vaccinations are only 60 per cent effective, and there is the danger that people might feel that everything is just great after they have the vaccination, which is not the case.

So there are a whole lot of approaches taken to deal with this particular disease, and they are all being taken in Labrador West. There is an orderly trail to be followed, and that is being done by the professionals who know much better than I do how to do it.

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

MR. DOYLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A supplementary.

In view of the fact that this is the fourth case now that has occurred in Labrador West, is it reasonable to assume, let me ask the minister, that had government moved some months ago on this vaccination program in Labrador West, instead of waiting until now, that these tragedies could have been avoided? In other words, is there a lesson for us to have learned in all of this, and why has government waited until now on this vaccination program in Labrador West? And is there any danger that if they do the same thing on a province-wide vaccination that there might very well be a very hard lesson for us to learn?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is raising some questions which are probably the trap that the layman will fall into every time.

Now the advice that I am getting is that vaccinations are to be used only as a last resort. As I pointed out earlier, there is no such thing as a safe vaccination against meningococcal disease. Now people might not like to hear that, but it is the reality. The reality is that there are certain diseases which there are no absolute vaccinations against. Cancer is one, and meningococcal disease is another one. Sixty per cent of the time it is accurate. To embark on a full-scale vaccination of the Province could have made matters worse because we would have given 570,000 people a vaccination which would only have been 60 per cent accurate. Five hundred and seventy thousand people would have felt that they were absolutely, totally safe. They could well have shared the same bottle to drink out of, the same glass to drink out of. They could have continued to share cigarettes, and probably would not have been as careful as they have been without being vaccinated. So, Mr. Speaker, the advice I am getting is that it was not the proper thing to do. I am advised that the only time to vaccinate is in very, very special cases.

The hon. member will recall that we vaccinated the children in a school in Mount Pearl, I think it was last year or the year before, in a special case; but the full-scale vaccination - my advice is that this would not have been the way to go.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired. The Speaker has too - just about.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to present to the House the 1990-91 Annual Report of the Newfoundland and Labrador Public Service Commission.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. WARREN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Tomorrow on the Order Paper I have a notice of motion there, and with the concurrence of the House if it is in order, and if the House Leader would agree, I would like to change the Be It Resolved to read: Be It Resolved that the government take necessary constitutional steps to change the name of the Province of Newfoundland to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

MR. SPEAKER: I am not sure. Is the hon. member introducing an amendment to his resolution?

The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, what I am asking is for the concurrence of the House to remove the Be It Resolved and replace it with this particular Be It Resolved.

MR. SPEAKER: I would assume that should be done in tomorrows debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: He is asking for the concurrence of the House. I realize that. Obviously he does not have the concurrence of the House.

The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow move that the following members - and I am not going to read out the members, Mr. Speaker - what I want to do is give notice of the formation of the Estimates Committees, the Government Services Committees to handle Finance, Works and Services, Employment and Labour Relations, Municipal and Provincial Affairs, the Housing Corporation, and the Social Services Committee to handle Social Services, Education, Health, Environment and Lands, and Justice, and the Resource Committee to handle Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture, Mines and Energy, and Development, and of course the Executive Council and Consolidated Revenue and so on will be done in the House in the normal manner. I would like to give notice of this for tomorrow.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I rise here under Notices of Motion. I may be out of order. The last day we sat, I believe it was Friday, April 10, the hon. Member for St. John's East gave notice that he would on tomorrow move the following resolution, and the last resolve is 'Be It Therefore Resolved that the House of Assembly supports the recognition of designation of the 28th of April of each year as a day of mourning for persons killed or injured in the workplace and directs the government to declare such a day as an official day of mourning by such name without creating a legal holiday.

Now of course a technicality kept this from being on the Order Paper, I believe, Mr. Speaker. It was not printed for some reason. So I am just wondering if the Government House Leader might concur and we could deal with the hon. member's resolution by unanimous consent. It does not need a debate. Since today is the 28th we thought it would have been on the Order Paper today, but for some technicality or something to do with printing it is not. The notice was given, I believe, on the 10th of April, the last Friday that we were here before we recessed.

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, this particular notice that was given, in my view, is totally unnecessary. The Government of Canada has already declared all across Canada that this day be a day of mourning for persons killed or injured in the workplace. The Government of Canada has done this for all across Canada. Now the last time I looked we were still a province of Canada. We are still part of that country, Mr. Speaker, and what we do or do not do has no bearing on the situation because it has already been declared for all parts of Canada, and, Mr. Speaker, we support that. So there is nothing else that we have to do because it has already been done. It is just an example of the member trying to get his name in the paper and so on. That is generally what it is.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I believe this matter was raised as a point of order and I may speak to it as such. The fact that the Parliament of Canada has designated today as a day of mourning doesn't necessarily imply anything other than the federal government has, on behalf of itself and the federal jurisdiction, done so. Obviously we have provincial holidays and there are federal holidays, and the Province has a jurisdiction in workplace safety and health just as the federal government does in its federal jurisdiction. So I think the Government House Leader is splitting hairs here and trying to avoid action by his government in, what it says here, supporting and the recognition and designation of that day as a day of mourning for persons killed or injured in the workplace. Now, if the government supports it, then presumably they will give unanimous consent to such a resolution. If they don't support it, then they won't.

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

MR. BAKER: No, Mr. Speaker, I am not going to give unanimous consent for the hon. member's little charade. It is obvious to everybody that this has already been done by the federal government, number one. Number two, we support that, we are part of Canada and it has already been declared for this Province, as for every other province in Canada. Because if it weren't that way - and you don't need to shake your head - the federal government would have no jurisdiction anywhere and it wouldn't apply anywhere in the country. So it doesn't make sense. So, Mr. Speaker, it has already been done for the country and I am not going to give unanimous consent to be part of a little game being played by the Member for St. John's East.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order. The hon. member asked that there be unanimous consent and there is not unanimous consent.

Just to point out one thing for hon. members, as I understand it I believe the Opposition House Leader indicated that maybe the resolution wasn't on the Order Paper today. It is my understanding that it is a private member's resolution and it wouldn't be on the Order Paper today anyway, it would only be on Wednesday's. That has been a procedure of the House for some time.

Orders of the Day

MR. BAKER: Order 10, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order 10.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Extend Restraint Of Compensation In The Public Sector Of The Province." (Bill No. 17)

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair is not aware whether this is the first time or whether it is the picking up of an adjourned debate. Is it adjourned debate?

AN HON. MEMBER: Adjourned debate.

MR. SPEAKER: Adjourned debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order 10. The Chair was asking whether this was the first introduction of the bill or whether it was a debate that was adjourned.

MR. BAKER: Adjourned debate.

MR. SPEAKER: Adjourned debate, yes.

The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I introduced the bill. If I speak now, that finishes second reading.

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Well, get up then.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair has been waiting for some time just to tell hon. members that, please, they should stand in their places. If the Chair had recognized the hon. the President of Treasury Board, that precisely would have been the procedure, but the Chair was not quite aware who introduced the debate. So I ask hon. members, please, to co-operate in that respect.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

I apologize for not getting up fast, but, Mr. Speaker, I was aware that somebody on that side had adjourned the debate at the last sitting. I was not sure which one of them adjourned the debate and I was waiting for that person to conclude their debate. But I understand it was the Minister of Development and he is not here to be able to conclude the debate. So I will have a few words to say on Bill 17, Mr. Speaker.

The numbering of it as 17, Mr. Speaker, is ironic as last year we had 16 in just about exactly the same type of bill. I think I described Bill 16 as the 'Putting the boots to the public servants bill', Mr. Speaker. That would be a more apt name for the bill.

Mr. Speaker, what I saw happening last year in Bill 16 and this year in Bill 17, and most likely next year in probably a Bill 18 - it depends on whether the Premier wants to call an election next year or not - we still could have Bill 18 because I don't think the Premier would mind.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is taking away rights that people have worked very hard for over quite a few number of years. Public servants in this Province put a lot of work into establishing their association, as it was called at one time, now it is called a union. NAPE is the union for the public servants of this Province, the major one. They also have a union for the nurses. Different unions in the health care system. We have CUPE representing some of the public servants in this Province. Each and every one of those groups has worked very hard over the years to try to negotiate with different governments. Not only this one but with different governments. To get some benefits for their members, or for themselves, I guess. Their union is only a collection of themselves and they have someone to speak for them.

So they work very hard to try to get these rights in an agreement, negotiated rights. Governments of this Province negotiated with the unions representing public service. The governments of this Province agreed to give these union and representatives of the public servants certain rights and privileges and certain benefits, which a bill like Bill 17 wipes out in one fell swoop, without any consideration of negotiations, without any consideration of what has gone on in the past. A bill like Bill 17 shows the unfairness of having an employer who holds the big stick. It shows the difficulty that public service unions have in negotiating with their employer, when if the employer cannot get what it wants at the bargaining table, it always has another step, to come to the House of Assembly to do whatever it wanted to do in the first place.

The public service unions, or the members of the public service, have only one option. They can go and bargain and if they do not agree, if they cannot agree on some kind of a collective agreement, they have one option that is to either drop it, I suppose, or to go on strike. That is the option the public service has. If the government of the day does not like the fact that they could be legally striking, what governments of the day usually do - including one that I served with - is to bring in a bill in this House of Assembly and legislate these people back to work.

I do not think it is very fair for governments to be able to use this avenue in collective bargaining. I heard the president of the teachers' union suggesting that there is no collective bargaining in this Province any more. He called it collective begging. That would more aptly describe what you would have to do with this government to get some types of concessions.

By doing what this government has done for two years in a row creates among the public servants of this Province a destruction of their morale. It certainly would destroy any productivity that might be necessary in our public service. It certainly builds up a lack of trust between the government, which is running this Province, and the people who have to do the day-to-day work. When that happens, when you have this lack of trust, when you have this affect on productivity, and when you have people so dissatisfied with what the government is doing to them, it affects the services that go out to every Newfoundlander and Labradorian in this Province.

I do not blame the public service in this Province for being disillusioned and disappointed in what this government is doing to them. Quite a few of them, I would say, quite a few of those people -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)?

MR. R. AYLWARD: They reacted probably the way they should react when we gave them a dart, Mr. Speaker, they did what they should have done. Both the union leadership and the members did exactly what they should have done. I might not have agreed with it at the time, I might not have liked what they were doing, and I certainly did not like the fact that they worked extremely hard to elect the 'real change'. I argued with many of them while I was doing my door-to-door campaign about this 'real change' and I argued vehemently with a lot of them who were friends of mine who were members of NAPE and who were upset with the PC's of the Province at the time. I said to most of them, if you want to put in a new government, try to realize what you are putting in.

First of all, you are putting in a man who cannot afford to be Leader of the Opposition of this Province. You are putting in a person who has to have a bonus cheque sent to him every month to a total of $50,000 or $55,000 while he was Leader of the Opposition - sent to him secretly so that no one in the Province knew where it was coming from or who was giving it. We know now who was giving it, Mr. Speaker. We know now that it had to be Tom Hickman who got these hospital contracts for - oh, it is going to cost the Province some $18 or $19 million over the term - the twenty-five year term of the contract. So we know at least one person who was giving the $50,000 or $55,000 a year now - probably a great contributor, but I say to him, it was money well invested. I say to him, it was money well invested from his point of view, because if he gave a third, or maybe even one half of that fifty odd thousand dollars a year, he has his money back more than tenfold in one simple little contract. Mr. Speaker, not only does he get his money back in that contract, but he did not even have to be the lowest bidder on the contract, which is quite convenient.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Scio on a point of order.

MR. WALSH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, no one should be allowed to make those kind of scurrilous attacks and hide behind the privilege of the House. Go outside if the member wants to make those kind of statements. He has no proof of the allegations, but I guess he has been spending too much time in his tomato patches and he is sunstroked. No one should be allowed to do that.

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

If the Member for Kilbride is speaking to the point of order, there is no point of order. I call on the Member for Kilbride to continue his remarks.

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

I am glad to see that the rookie Member for Mount Scio in his only term in this House of Assembly wants to get up and participate in points of order. I do not think yet, in all the times that he has raised a point of order, that the Speaker of the time has ever ruled it to be a correct point of order. So I guess he will learn eventually by trial and error what is a point of order and what is not a point of order.

But if he did follow the media over the last little while, I think he would see that I was not shy in saying the same things on the public airwaves, in my office, in this building, outside of this building, whenever I was asked, because I firmly believe that the contracts that were given out for the three hospitals were a complete waste of public funds, and it was illegal to do so.

According to our Public Tendering Act it was illegal to give out these contracts the way they were given out, but in this Province now when you have a dictator running it, it does not matter I guess what is legal and what is illegal. It is whatever the Premier wants that is going to happen, and if that be a Minister of Justice who does not have to be elected, well sobeit, because our Premier would like to have a Minister of Justice who is not elected - besides the fact that he does not have anyone competent enough in his back benches to fill the post. I guess that would only be a sidebar to the Premier, but I guess that is up to the backbenchers on that side if they want to put up with the embarrassment of working for a Premier who has absolutely no confidence in their abilities to carry out any functions in the Cabinet that he represents.

AN HON. MEMBER: When does he comes back off holidays?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: That is where he is.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, maybe one of these days when he does get back off holidays, with him and his wife travelling around Europe on taxpayers dollars, we might get some answers to some of the questions that are being raised in this House of Assembly.

It is obvious that the acting Premier, or the Government House Leader, has no intention of giving any answers to any of the questions that we have to ask, and it is very obvious that the Minister of Justice is not going to go seek very quickly a seat in this House of Assembly.

I would really like to know what the Member for Naskaupi is holding out for. What plum is he looking for? What job does he want? Maybe we could accommodate him. If you would tell us what job he is looking to get, or what blackmail he is -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I bring to the hon. member's attention the requirement relating to relevancy in a debate. We are talking about Bill 17 and though the Chair does not want to become too restrictive it is the job of the Chair to expedite the business of the House and when a member seems to be into some area that has no apparent relation to the bill the Chair has no choice but to bring it to the attention of the member.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

I was talking about a former Cabinet minister who at one time made a decision on Bill 16 which is exactly the same as this Bill 17, and if Cabinet ministers who make these decisions on the bills and who bring them before this House when they write them up, are not relevant to the bill, Mr. Speaker, I do not know really who is. The present Member for Naskaupi was a member of the Cabinet that brought in Bill 16 and the present non-elected Minister of Justice is a member of Cabinet now who is presenting to this House of Assembly this bill, so I guess a few comments on the ministers of this House would not be totally irrelevant from the bill.

I am very concerned about the Cabinet ministers and how they make their decisions in this Province, whether it is held over their heads that they, like the Member for Port de Grave, would be thrown out of Cabinet for very little reason and somebody would replace him again. Maybe the rest of the Cabinet ministers are being threatened with this, too, and the Premier will replace the member as he did the Member for Port de Grave, with some other non-elected person. The Member for Port de Grave did not get replaced at the time with an non-elected person but he was the one who made room for some of the changes.

Was the Member for Humber West, when he resigned, threatened to do something at the time by the Premier to force him to resign so that we could get an non-elected member put in Cabinet? I am not sure if that is correct or not. I had some statistics when I was asking these questions today about non-elected members of this House of Assembly. From the time of the announcement of the present Minister of Justice I think it has been some 165 or 168 days since that announcement. One might remember that throughout our history we have had, on different occasions, people put in Cabinet who were not elected. It is not totally unacceptable, I guess, it is not totally unusual that non-elected people be put in Cabinet, but you would expect that within a reasonable time after being put in Cabinet they would try to find a seat. I guess defining reasonable would be - the President of Treasury has a question.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. R. AYLWARD: Maybe he could call a general election next week. That certainly is an option for the Premier at any time. That is his call and I have no problem with that, if that is what he wants to do. What he has done now is put a non-elected person in the Cabinet for 165 days and over our history some of the people who were put in Cabinet and some of the times they did serve - I have a list of them here, I think the first one was in 1952 and it was a man named Arthur Johnson. I do not even know the name.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair again finds it an obligation to remind the member that the Chair does not want to restrict the member but we do have to follow the rules. We are talking about Bill 17, "An Act To Extend Restraint Of Compensation In The Public Sector Of The Province." The Chair may not be following the hon. member's line of argument but the Chair sees no connection between Bill 17 right now, "An Act To Extend Restraint Of Compensation In The Public Sector Of The Province," and in the present line the hon. member is pursuing. He could do it on a money bill but where we are talking about, "An Act To Extend Restraint Of Compensation In The Public Sector Of The Province," the Chair, unfortunately, sees no relationship. If the hon. member can convince the Chair there is a relationship, the Chair will allow it to continue, but the Chair sees no relationship between Bill 17 and what the hon. member is now doing.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I will try to relate a bit closer what I was trying to do by showing the fact that the Premier has non-elected people in his Cabinet, and that it has been done in the past. We are talking about wage restraints in this bill. Mr. Speaker, we have an unnecessary salary in that Cabinet, as far as I am concerned. We have a non-elected person put into the Cabinet of this Province who is drawing a salary the same as the public service. Mr. Speaker, he has a MHAs pension presently in his pocket. Every time he comes in to receive his pay cheque he has a MHAs pension that he is receiving already. Mr. Speaker, we ask the public servants of this Province to restrain, and yet we can put non-elected people in the Cabinet. How many are in the back benches over there? There must be ten to fourteen of them over there who are getting salaries from the public service, anyway. Why don't you pick one of them and put him in there so we don't have extra salaries in the Cabinet, so we don't have to be paying out? We can restrain them. You could, Mr. Speaker, say maybe to the public servants of this Province if we did by example what we ask them to do. We have three other people on that side of the House who receive pensions in this House of Assembly, Mr. Speaker, two who receive pensions from a public -

AN HON. MEMBER: A public-funded institution.

MR. R. AYLWARD: It is a public-funded institution. I don't know how the pension fund is funded, Mr. Speaker, but we have two people in this House of Assembly receiving pensions from Memorial University.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who are they?

MR. R. AYLWARD: We have another person in this House of Assembly receiving a federal MPs pension, as far as I know. We have a Minister of Justice who doesn't have to be elected receiving a MHAs pension, and then we ask the public servants of this Province to restrain. I think it is very relevant, Mr. Speaker, that we be able to relate. We have the Member for Naskaupi who is not even working, who is not doing anything, who has admitted twice that he wanted to resign from this House of Assembly, and who changed his mind. He changed his mind, Mr. Speaker, and now he will not resign. He wants to go on sick leave. There is no such thing as sick leave as a MHA. I don't think there are any sick days that MHAs are given in a collective agreement. We are trying to take sick leave away from the managers in this House of Assembly as a restraint measure, yet we have the Member for Naskaupi in this House of Assembly who can put his feet up on his coffee table and look at television all day for - how much would he be getting? - $60.000 or $70,000 a year to put his feet up on his coffee table. And we ask the public service of this Province to restrain. Now if that is not the biggest joke that ever was, Mr. Speaker, I don't know what is.

I have been told that on the news today, some people in the Naskaupi area, particularly some of the leaders in the Naskaupi area, have the same misgivings about what is happening there as I do. We know that the Member for Eagle River has taken on the responsibilities and we congratulate him for it. He is a great, fine, energetic young man who can't even handle his own district, and now he has two districts, Mr. Speaker! He is trying hard but his own Premier called him an immature little fellow and could put him in Cabinet, so now he gives him two districts to look after. And then again we asked the public servants of this Province to restrain. I am surprised they are not up in the galleries here going off their rocker, Mr. Speaker, about -

MR. MURPHY: You drove them out of it.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Probably. Maybe I did, Mr. Speaker. Maybe I did drive them out of it.

MR. MATTHEWS: Maybe you will have them back, too.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, they might be back here in shorter time than the hon. the Member for St. John's South might like to realize. They will be around. But, Mr. Speaker, what do we have going on now? A government should show by example, if they are going to bring in bills like this. The example of this government is to pay out an unnecessary salary for someone who has admitted he is not going to do any work for his constituents, and then put an non-elected person in Cabinet, which is another unnecessary salary this government is paying out to someone who can't even get a seat in this House of Assembly.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Town Council in the District of Naskaupi today raised the concern of not having representation in this House of Assembly. Now, I don't know if the Member for Eagle River has written them yet and told them that he is looking after it. Probably he has written and told them he will be looking after that district. I am sure that will alleviate immediately all of their concerns, Mr. Speaker, because they know the Member for Eagle River will be looking after his -

AN HON. MEMBER: He will be looking after them from Ottawa.

MR. R. AYLWARD: - the member who could not make Cabinet as the Labrador Cabinet minister; it is fairly common in this House of Assembly, to have someone in Cabinet to represent Labrador, but he could not make that grade. And he will eventually, I have no doubt that eventually he will mature enough to get the Premier's confidence to put him in Cabinet but he may have to go through two or three elections yet and by that time probably there will be no Cabinets around for this Premier to be able to put him in Cabinet. But I would say, once the Member for Eagle River cools his heels over here in Opposition for a few years, he will be looking to cross the floor to join the Tories when they are over on that side and try to get a shot at Cabinet.

But if he does what I would like to do in the Elections Act, we should put in a clause that nobody anymore crosses the floor one way or the other and he would not be able to come over.

Mr. Speaker, what we have to look at is what we asked the public servants in this Province to do and what the Government of this Province is doing by example. It is very obvious, the example this government is giving the public servants, and it is no wonder there would be unrest. It is no wonder they would feel slighted by having this type of legislation shoved down their throats every year.

AN HON. MEMBER: Shove billy knockers down their throats.

MR. R. AYLWARD: I wish they would shove one down your throat sometime. Mr. Speaker, this Bill 17 -

AN HON. MEMBER: Is that parliamentary?

MR. R. AYLWARD: - It is probably not parliamentary, Mr. Speaker and I withdraw it. I would not want to see a billy knocker down his throat, he would swallow it and he wouldn't even miss it.

Last year we had Bill 16, and it was my opinion at the time that not enough fuss was made of Bill 16. And I believe while I was speaking in this House of Assembly at the time, I suggested if someone, whomever, the public service union leaders or the public service, themselves do not take a very forceful stand on Bill 16 - I think if you research Hansard, I said you will have another Bill 16 this year. Well, Mr. Speaker, we have it; we have another Bill 16 and I can only make another recommendation to the public servants of this Province and it looks like they might heed some recommendations this time around. I would make another recommendation to the public servants, that if they do not take a very, very strong stand on Bill 17, we will have a Bill 18 next year.

Now, I think the public service leadership of this Province realizes now that they certainly have to do something very forceful with this government in order to make the point that they are not going to stand for this year after year after year. They are not going to stand for this type of legislation, they are going to have to make a stand and force this government into a collective bargaining era, they have to get back to the table.

Now, if the government has an agenda for wage freezes or for zero and zero or for minimum raises, let them put it on the table before the public service unions so they can negotiate it. If they are going to get a zero and zero or you are going to get a zero and three, let the public service unions negotiate something else on the other side of the bargain, maybe a work security might be a reasonable saw off for giving up some wages or benefits. I think the public service of this Province might wish to listen to that because there were some 2,000 or 3,000 of them laid off last year. I think most public servants felt fairly secure in their positions until this government took over, but last year we supposedly had lay offs of between 2,000 and 3,000 people, so obviously there is no job security with the present public service in this Province, so that if the government wanted some concessions on wages and benefits, if there was, truly a problem as bad as the government says with the finances of this Province, why do they not go back to the bargaining table and bargain with the public service sector unions so that if they have to give up on one side they might be able to gain on some other issues?

But, Mr. Speaker, what this government does is go out and sign contracts with them, as they did last year, sign contracts only days before they brought in their Bill 16, and then come into this House of Assembly and rip up every contract, every agreement, that they had with the public servants of this Province.

Talking about government showing by example, we also had a Minister of Transportation in this House a few months ago who said he would not be Minister of Transportation for awhile until certain private things happen. But he had no ministerial responsibilities, he was not doing the work of the Department of Transportation at the time, admittedly so, and the Premier admitted that he was not. So we can only assume at the time that he would not have been paid as a minister for those few months before he resigned as minister, and while he was not serving the duties of Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

We would assume he was not getting paid, because they are asking public servants to restrain. So, certainly, if a Minister of the Crown is not doing his job, not living up to his responsibilities, he would not be paid for it. Now, I believe he was being paid for it. As a matter of fact, the Premier told us in this House that he was being paid for it.

Another restraint we have, an example of what government is doing in this House, is that we have a non-elected Minister of Justice in this House of Assembly today who has an executive assistant. Now, what for? He does not have a district. Why does he have an executive assistant? Is that not another savings, is that not another restraint that government could show the public servants of this Province? No wonder they are upset when they see that this government who preach restraint and preach cutbacks, preach for everyone except themselves. They will not show by example.

We have conflict of interest legislation that the Premier interprets differently day by day. How can the Public Service Commission or even the general public have confidence in governments which bring in this type of legislation, when we see what the government is doing in this Province by example?

We have a Member for Naskaupi who is admittedly not going to do his district work, said so, wanted to resign, on two different occasions said he would resign, yet he wants to stay around now and get paid as the Member for Naskaupi.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board, on a point of order.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I was not intending to get up, but I would like to say to the hon. House and to the Opposition House Leader that I regret statements that are being made by members opposite in terms of the Member for Naskaupi being sick and not doing his job and all this kind of thing.

I would like to remind members opposite, in this point of order, this is a two-edged sword. The Member for Naskaupi is maybe one of the few members in this House who is actually following the Standing Orders of the House. Any time - and Your Honour knows what I am talking about - the member could not be in the House, he wrote and explained the reason why he could not be in attendance in the House. Standing Order 80 says: "Every member is bound to attend the service of the House, unless leave of absence has been given to him."

That is a Standing Order that perhaps all members here should pay attention to. The Member for Naskaupi has indicated to His Honour that at the preset time he is ill and somebody else is picking up his duties - as he should, as he is bound to do by the Standing Orders, to explain why he is not present in the House. Like I said, there is a two-edged sword here.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: There is a two-edged sword, and both edges are being shoved down the public servants' throats, Mr. Speaker, by Bill 17. The Government House Leader can say what he likes, get up here and try to justify what he likes. The Member for Naskaupi wanted to resign. He came to me, personally, and told me he wanted to resign. He came to me and told me! That is what he wanted to do! And the reason he didn't resign until April was because he couldn't get his severance! Now, put it up front and say it! That is why he didn't resign until April! Now I don't know what has happened since April 20, that he won't resign. That is the truth, that is not made up.

Mr. Speaker, the public servants in this Province have to live with what this government says. So do the members of this House of Assembly and so do the members of that government, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Was the hon. the Member for Kilbride speaking to the point of order?

MR. R. AYLWARD: No, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Member for Fogo.

Just before the hon. the Member for Fogo speaks, the Chair thought it an appropriate place to read the Standing Order with respect to relevancy. I don't think I have spoken too much about relevancy and I think it is probably an appropriate time to do it. Hon. members would know that when we are speaking to certain bills, some bills are a little bit more flexible than others. The matter of relevancy is always difficult to call but hon. members will know it is there for a particular reason, to expedite the business of the House so that members cannot delay by just simply talking about anything under the sun.

I remind hon. members, as well, that the Speaker is speaking and when the Speaker speaks no one else is supposed to, because what the Speaker is now about to say has something in it for all hon. members.

Talking about the matter of relevancy, I refer hon. members to 51 (b) in our own Standing Orders which says, "Mr. Speaker or the Chairman, after having called the attention of the House, or of the Committee, to the conduct of a member who persists in irrelevance or needless repetition, may direct him to discontinue his speech, and if the member continues to speak, Mr. Speaker may name him, or, if in Committee, the Chairman shall report him to the House."

So the Chair just wanted to remind hon. members of that rather important ruling.

The hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to have a few words on Bill 17, part 2 of the government's restraint legislation. As my colleague said, it is interesting to wonder if next year we will see stage three of this particular restraint bill.

Mr. Speaker, in my few remarks, I want to first go back and look at what the President of Treasury Board said on, I guess, Friday, April 10, when he introduced Bill 17. He looked at the history of why Bill 16 had to come as a prelude to Bill 17. He said at the time, and I quote him, "As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, year after year, notifications would be received from Ottawa that equalization payments would be higher than expected and the previous governments lived pretty high off the hog on those amounts of money that every now and then they would be notified would be coming from Ottawa over and above what was expected." He goes on to say that he expected there would be a reasonable expansion of the economy.

Mr. Speaker, as I recall, most of this work that was going on, most of these nogotiations with the public sector unions, didn't take place in 1989 when the government assumed office. It was close to the end of March of 1990 - 1991 when negotiations were ongoing. I think they inherited one year of contracts. Then it took just about another year to get negotiations completed. I think the first one they completed, as an administration, was the one for the nurses' union. There might have been one or two small bargaining units, but I think the first substantial one that was completed was the contract that was given to the nurses' union which, if my memory serves me correctly, might have come about as the result of an arbitration award. It was about to go to arbitration to negotiate a conciliation board report or something. Anyway, they negotiated a settlement -

MR. BAKER: There was no conciliation board.

MR. WINSOR: Okay, the government negotiated a settlement. It was with some other group they had an arbitration award, the firefighters I think. The firefighters?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: The uniformed services people.

Anyway, the minister entered into an agreement, and that was the first one. Then there was a fairly significant period of time between the expiration of the other agreements that had already been in place from years previous. Mr. Speaker, I guess it was March of 1991 that many of them were really signed but they covered the year previous, and the precedent had already been established, what government was giving. It had been decided earlier in the nurse's union that raises were to the tune of perhaps anywhere from 7 to 10 per cent a year depending on what the union was.

AN HON. MEMBER: A lot of support on your side.

MR. WINSOR: You do not have to worry about support on this side. That is not a consideration. The hon. Member for Eagle River should not worry about what support is on this side.

MR. WALSH: (Inaudible)

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, can you silence the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island. I do not know what he has had today but if you could silence him so I can continue I would very much appreciate it.

Most of these agreements were signed around February and March 1991, in fact one was signed seven days prior to the minister introducing the Budget, the highway workers. I think it was MOT. It was only a small number of days. Some of them were even signed after, Mr. Speaker, so what the minister did prior to his introducing Bill 16 was sign contracts saying he was going to give workers this and knowing that a few days later he was going to introduce a piece of legislation taking it away from them. The minister nods that is right. Most of it was retroactive pay. I happen to know because some of my friends thought they were doing really well because they would get this retroactive money for the year previous. Then they discovered that in March when the Budget was approved for 1991 the wage freeze was going to affect them for that year. What I am saying to the minister is that he knew in advance prior to negotiating these agreements that this was going to come. It is not as the minister said a result of something that mysteriously happened from Ottawa, that we had cutbacks in transfer and equalization payments and a whole series of things. The minister knew in advance and that is fundamentally what most people find so objectionable to Bill 17. It is not that Government introduced a wage restraint. That is not the problem that most people have.

AN HON. MEMBER: Union leaders knew in advance.

MR. WINSOR: The minster says union leaders knew in advance. I am not sure what union leaders knew because I was not privy to the meeting but if the minister says it I will accept his word for it. Is the minister saying that at the time the contracts were signed that union leaders knew?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. WINSOR: All of them?

MR. GRIMES: Two of them.

MR. WINSOR: Two of them knew but only of the last contracts that were signed because some were signed several months before. They possibly knew when the highway workers or the MOT workers contracts were being negotiated, they possibly knew at that time, those two contracts, but not the bulk of them. The membership certainly did not know. Anyway, the point is that the minister in his answer on Page 740 does not tell it all. What Bill 17 is about, and I guess what upsets most people, is that part two of the wage restraint bill throws collective bargaining out the window. That is what it does, Mr. Speaker, and the minister alluded to that fact towards the end of his introduction of the bill: I introduce this bill with a lot of sadness, sadness for having to break some collective agreements, with a lot of sadness for the people in the Province, he goes on to say, so the minister acknowledges that what he has done is to break the collective agreements that were entered into.

AN HON. MEMBER: I have to tell the truth.

MR. WINSOR: The minister says he has to tell the truth. What I would like to know is why the minister did not make it abundantly clear, because if he did it was only to a small number of people, that in March of 1991 when the Budget was delivered, why did the minister not tell the people that I told your leaders this months and months ago. The first time I ever heard the minister say it was in this House today, that the union leaders were aware and signed contracts knowing that a wage restraint was coming. Two contracts the minister says. Could I ask the minister if they were covering large groups of people or small bargaining units?

AN HON. MEMBER: The NAPE one was a bargaining unit (Inaudible)

MR. WINSOR: So one was a large one and one was a smaller one. Mr. Speaker, Bill 16 came last year and however the minister managed to do it, I have to tell the minister he did a good job because he had convinced a large number of people in the public sector wage bargaining units that this year they were going to get an increase. They believed - many of them told me they had been told they were going to get 3 per cent. I was actually surprised that the 3 per cent was for next year, because they were led to believe by someone - maybe some of the minister's friends had floated it around - that they were going to get 3 per cent this year, and were going to restore to normal times in the following year. Now, Mr. Speaker, that did not occur, and we have nothing in this piece of legislation to indicate that it will not occur next spring - that when the government of the day introduces a piece of legislation, we will not say if the same Premier or not is going to be there because he could be other places - that we might not have another bill similar to Bill 17, call it Bill 18 or Bill 19. I suspect that they will change the number. They could not have sequential bills like this - 17, 18 and 19. It could not go on forever, but what it is saying is that collective bargaining has effectively ended. Now I note that the minister made mention of the fact that the NTA, in its contract, had an option to reopen. Now what are we going to reopen on? I wonder why anyone would want to enter into a negotiation process when you already know that you have been given zero.

AN HON. MEMBER: We? Are you saying we (inaudible)?


AN HON. MEMBER: I am sure you said, what are the unions (inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: As a union I am saying, what are we going to negotiate for? The unions should be saying, what are we going to negotiate when we already know that we got zero - that we got zero, and that the following year it is going to be 3 per cent as maximum total compensation. Now there are some questions that need to be asked about the 3 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, the 3 per cent that the minister talks about, and I would like for the minister to listen, because several groups in the Province are starting to ask. The 3 per cent that the minister proposes as the cap for next year, would that include a total compensation package, including say a government's portion of any share of increase in pension premiums? Would that be the case? The President of Treasury Board I know was not listening. The 3 per cent total compensation package in the next year of the wage restraint, would that include, for example, if a settlement has been for pensions where employees have to increase by say 1 per cent, that 1 per cent would come off the 3 per cent, and then government matches with a 1 per cent? Would that come off the total?

AN HON. MEMBER: Total compensation (inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: So the minister is saying that in effect if there is a negotiated pension increase in the next year of the contract, then the members of that particular union will get, if it is 1 per cent, only a 1 per cent pay increase, because government would match it with one?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Well you have to make up your mind. We have two sources.

AN HON. MEMBER: Three per cent total compensation.

MR. WINSOR: Three per cent total compensation which would include -

MR. BAKER: You are right. If you decide 2 per cent is going somewhere else, then there is only 1 per cent left for salary, yes.

MR. WINSOR: Okay, so the government's share of the pension would be included in the total possible 3 per cent?

AN HON. MEMBER: Sure. Yes. Cost (inaudible)

MR. WINSOR: That is what the minister is saying? Because several union members have asked me, because some of them have pension increases slated and they are saying, okay if -

AN HON. MEMBER: Teachers.

MR. WINSOR: Teachers are one, and with the report of several other bargaining units in the Province with the pension, I would not be surprised that we might see some pension increases there as well. In addition to that, we have already seen this year, an increase in the insurance plans of the public sector unions in the Province, and because members pay a portion, government pays a potion towards it. Is that a part of the 3 per cent total package too?

AN HON. MEMBER: Government's portion would be - yes.

MR. WINSOR: Okay, that is all I wanted to know. The minister is saying then that any financial consideration is part of the 3 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, what we are looking at then, because of the elimination of the school tax, which for many public sector people results in their paying more -

AN HON. MEMBER: Teachers (inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Teachers - a number of people. Several hospital workers, nurses, x-ray, lab. Yes, there are a fair number of people who will be affected adversely by the imposition of this increase in income tax. Add to that the fact that no pay increases come about for the last two years; inflation has run 2.5 per cent or 3 per cent - it is difficult to determine what it is, and where you live is certainly a factor. For people who live in isolated coastal communities the real inflation rate is much higher than if you -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: The minister might say no, but if you have to get a chopper and get on and off an island and that kind of thing, it becomes much more expensive.

Anyway, the minister has answered my question, that the total package will come basically off the backs of the worker. If you are going to get the 3 per cent, then you are going to have to pay.

AN HON. MEMBER: No. The backs of the government.

MR. WINSOR: Backs of the government, the minister likes to say. Now, Mr. Speaker, what happened in this Legislature a few days ago is the Leader of the Opposition asked the Minister of Labour if this type of thing were to occur in the private sector? For example, if Abitibi-Price had done what government has done, decided that it is going to tear up contracts that had been fairly bargained with its employees, what would government do?

I think the minister responded something to the effect: well, that has not happened. It's not allowed to happen. It is passing strange that it cannot happen for the private sector but it can happen for the public sector. That is an anomaly that certainly needs to be addressed. Because you cannot have -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: He won't need it any more, the minister won't need it any more, you see.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: He's okay. The minister won't need it any more. You don't have to worry about the minister. Besides that, the minister is so concerned with the public well-being that he certainly would not be so concerned and selfish as to think about his own pension that might come at some time down the road. That is not the minister's concern and I am well aware of that.

Mr. Speaker, I want to get back to what I was saying about this strange twist that we are going to have in the public sector and the private sector. Because we have two standards set up now. We have a set of rules that is going to govern collective bargaining in the private sector, which says that a contract is a contract is a contract. Then we have a set of negotiations for the public sector that says a contract is a contract until the legislation changes it. We can do that with the introduction of every budget.

Now that is pretty difficult to accept.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Legislature (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: The Legislature can do it, but the Legislature chooses not to do so. Mr. Speaker, we have to look no further than the present crisis in the fishery. Many of the fish plants in this Province are in great trouble from a number of things. Market, resources, a whole number of things. I refer specifically to one that has caught my attention in the past few days, the one with respect to the crab fishing industry.

Last year it was fairly abundant, the evidence was fairly clear to the fish processors in this Province, that if they continued to pay the price that they were paying for crab, and if the supplies were to continue as they were, then they were going to be in a serious situation this year. They were going to have large inventories of crab that they were not going to be able to sell. But they could not go back to fishermen and say: we are going to pay you forty cents a pound, instead of sixty or sixty-five cents, because we have a negotiated agreement.

They did not do it. They went and bought crab all last fall, late last summer, fishermen requested and got extensions to the season to buy more crab at the sixty to sixty-five cents. Now what happens? It works fine for a year. Now this year we are told that the prices are going to be in the range of thirty to thirty-five cents a pound. Caused by last year having to live up to those agreements has given them this inventory.

Now plants that I know of that service the northeast coast, I know one plant that has $1 million worth of inventory of crab that it bought last year. It cannot get the prices, but it could not tear up the collective agreement it signed with the union either. It had to live by that agreement. The question is: why doesn't the government that negotiated with its employees? I suspect if a private sector company had attempted to do what government had done it would be drawn before the Labour Relations Board, it would have been raked over the coals, and it would have been ordered by the Labour Relations Board to pay.

Then, undoubtedly, that would have been challenged in court. No doubt the courts would have upheld the contract. Because one of the principles of our law is a contract is a contract. Now I fail to see why government has not used the same rule in dealing with its employees.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Yes, I want to know (Inaudible), because the minister did not explain it. I went through everything that the minister had said, and the minister did not explain it. The reason I want to know why - and I am not accepting the minister that: things happened, that we have less money now than we had before, because the minister knew when he entered into these contracts that he was going to have less money. The minister knew when he signed contracts last February that he was going to have less money, and yet he proceeded to sign, to offer contracts of 5, 6 or 7 per cent to employees when he knew there was no intention of living up to that signed agreement.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that is what I find wrong with Bill 17. We have had wage restraints before in this country, and I suspect we will have them again too, Mr. Speaker. In fact it was interesting, last year I was on a flight going to Gander with a Cabinet minister and I said to him: Why did you introduce Bill 16 as it was? Why didn't you do what the other governments have done because you are intending to do the same thing again next year. You are intending to have Bill 17 or Bill 18 or impose this for another year. He scratched his head and he said: Yes, I think we should have gone with the two years, take all this suffering in one year instead of having to do it in two. And the President of Treasury Board smiles. He probably thought the same thing too, that we should have done this last year and had it over with because we have rekindled, we have relit that fire now. The protest movement has been relit. We knew this last year. We knew this when we did it last year. We had no intention of living up to this commitment that we had made, that we are going to break that collective agreement that we entered into back in March of 1990 or 89, whenever they entered into them.

Now, Mr. Speaker, a key word in this one that is going to allow them a way out next year is: to a maximum of 3 per cent. Now, Mr. Speaker, the maximum could be zero too just as easily. And I don't think we will need a Bill 18 next year. We might need a little slip thing, an amendment to Bill 17 or something to call for zero again.

AN HON. MEMBER: Negotiate.

MR. WINSOR: Negotiate the minister says. Yes, because the contracts all expire next year. If the contracts expire at that point in time it will be all meaningless anyway because a number of them will expire. There are going to be very few -

AN HON. MEMBER: What did you do when the teachers went on strike?

MR. WINSOR: What did I do when the teachers went on strike? I did the same thing as you colleague sitting next to you did. I did exactly the same thing that your colleague did.

AN HON. MEMBER: What did you do?

MR. WINSOR: Ask your colleague what he did.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Well I did the same thing. I protested like the minister did. I am just telling you what I did. I did the same thing he did. He was a front leader in protesting and I did the same thing.

AN HON. MEMBER: Against the Tory Government?

MR. WINSOR: Yes, against the Tory Government, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear.

MR. WINSOR: Yes, Mr. Speaker, against the Tory Government. And I expect the number of teachers I saw in this Province who protest -

AN HON. MEMBER: Did you say: We will remember?

MR. WINSOR: Did I say: we will remember? No, Mr. Speaker, I did not say we will remember. I was one who forgot, Mr. Speaker, because in 1985 I was one of those who did work for the Tory party in Newfoundland too - and I make no bones about it - as a campaign manager in 1989, but I did not forget. And I made every occasion when I met a government member, I let them know that I did not like what they had done.

AN HON. MEMBER: Then you ran for them.

MR. WINSOR: Now, Mr. Speaker, the minister should not talk about running because I will tell what happened at the NTA meeting when a minister didn't run and chose not to attend a certain function that he was invited to. Two ministers, Mr. Speaker, chose not to attend, and I will even tell the reason they quoted. I can even tell the reason. So the minister should not get me going on that tangent because I will tell a lot of things that happened at the meeting about the applause that the minister got and so on, and the statement that someone made after. Mr. Speaker, I did not attend the convention, but there were a lot of people I have talked to since who have made sure they let me know what the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Environment said and did, and I think television told us all how the Minister of Education felt at the convention. But that is getting away from the matter at hand, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) standing ovation.

MR. WINSOR: No, Mr. Speaker, I do not want to be detracted. I want to talk about Bill 17 because I think it is important that we get back -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: That is another issue, Mr. Speaker, and we cannot get sidetracked into it, and the Minister of Education agrees with me. Now, Mr. Speaker, I have to keep on the good side of the Minister of Education because I requested a little favour of him today. So I will save my remarks on the Minister of Education for much, much later into the debate.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what's wrong with this Bill 17 is not the wage restraint. I think if you talk to union leaders, and if you talk to the people throughout the Province it is not Bill 17, it is not the wage restraint, it is what has happened to the collective bargaining process in the Province. Mr. Speaker, that is the issue that we have to keep focused on because I think there is a recognition by everyone that governments of all stripes in all parts of this country are experiencing tough financial times. What we have to look at in this bill though, are the methods that have been employed in collective bargaining and the things that are happening to collective bargaining as a result of Bill 16 and Bill 17, because I am not sure at this point in time what the value is of coming to an agreement, a collective agreement with government in this Province.

If you entered into a contract, and contracts were always held to be sacred, but no more, and that is where this process breaks down, that the things which had been agreed to in previous contracts, nothing is sacred anymore because tomorrow morning, this administration could wake up and say: I think we are going to attack another sector.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: The minister says it is nonsense. The minister is intending to do it in workers' compensation in a few days time. The minister in fact has done it. He has already done it - to changes to the Workers' Compensation Act without anyone even knowing anything about it. The Minister has already done it.

The Act has not changed but regulations have changed and changed within the last two or three days too, some of them have and the minister should be aware of it, but things could happen - tomorrow morning someone could wake up and say I can see how we can save a number of dollars if we would do this to a collective agreement, and there is nothing to prevent them. The minister says it is nonsense.

There is nothing to prevent the piece of legislation from coming to the House of Assembly and saying that we are going to do away with this or restrict replacement employees to half the wage they had formerly, substitute teachers to a third and the list can go on, because once you have started, once this process is started, where does it end? There is no end in sight to what could go on here and I think what is really important in this, is for the government to recognize that collective bargaining for the government should be the same as collective bargaining or bargaining for any employer in this Province and I find it regrettable that the Minister of Employment and Labour can sit around the Cabinet table and allow a bill like this to come forth saying that we are going to make a distinction now in labour negotiations in the Province, we are going to write one set of rules that govern the public sector and we are going to write another one that governs the private sector, because contracts are contracts, and the minister as a minister I think, has been derelict in his duties, in allowing this piece of legislation to come forth as the Minister of Employment and Labour, it is his responsibility to protect all, public sector and private sector. I think the minister has failed to do it.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is a former President of the NTA.

MR. WINSOR: I promised the minister that I would not bring up anything about his former involvement in the NTA, so I have chosen to take the high road and we are going to ignore that because I think the minister has been told in spades - the minister has been told in spades and I will not say where, but he was told in spades what people thought of his involvement and how he performed as a minister in protecting the interests of the public sector unions in this Province. The minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: No (inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: Who, Mr. Warren?

MR. WINSOR: No, Roger Simmons was.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) and Grimes and who else?

MR. WINSOR: I do not know. It is interesting to note the former President, Mr. Simmons, was one of the very few former Presidents who were teachers, who attended a certain banquet, a certain function at the annual meeting and every other year, they show up in swarms but this year, two, were noticeably absent from the meeting. One just drifted in late in the night, nine or ten o'clock on Friday night and they even forgot and gave him slight applause, but someone reminded them that there was some indication of how tired they were because they even gave the minister a slight round of applause, so Mr. Speaker, I think that is in its - that will take care of itself, what the labour unions have to say about this.

I just have a few minutes left. I want to look back at Bill 17. Bill 16 was the beginning, Bill 17 has been a continuation, and Bill 18 or 19 or 20, that could possibly come next year, and any other arrangements. Because -

AN HON. MEMBER: No, that will be an election year.

MR. WINSOR: No, Mr. Speaker, I do not think that matters. Because I think a part of the plan of this administration is to destroy the union movement in this Province. They have now planted some seeds. They cannot fight government any more, so you know what unions are resorting to?... fighting among themselves. They cannot fight government, because government is going to use the heavy hand of legislation. They have resorted to having to start to fight among themselves.

So I ask the people opposite when they vote, as there will be a vote on Bill 17 next week or next month or next year, ask them to reconsider what they are voting for. You are voting for the end of democracy - or the true collective bargaining process. It no longer is applicable in this Province. Because what you sign one day need not be what you'll get the next day. We had a situation within days after government signed a contract with employees in this Province, it turned around and tore up the contract and basically wrote a new one.

You hear the President of Treasury Board saying: what else could we do? What would we do? We would lay off some other people, is that what we would do, lay off some other people? Well, Mr. Speaker, you did both. You gave no wage increases -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave! By leave!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Got him up.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to make some comments with respect to Bill 17. I might mention, before I begin my comments, in respect to some of the statements made by the hon. Member for Fogo, I did have the great privilege of attending part of the annual general meeting of the Newfoundland Teachers Association just this past week. Due to the fact, actually, that I was out of the Province at a meeting of labour ministers in Toronto, I missed the annual dinner for the first time in thirteen years. I explained a week before that to the executive that I regretted I could not attend. That I had every intention of being there.

Because the one thing that teachers always did, and still do understand, from their dealings with me, is that there will be no hiding away or no excusing any behaviour. Any actions that you take you have to be willing to defend them. That was always the modus operandi that we used within the Newfoundland Teachers Association when I had the great privilege of being part of their executive and being president for a while. At the time I had also the great privilege of being a leader for a period of time to represent the collective views of teachers specifically.

Some members of that organization have written me, others have spoken to me, and asked about: what about a change in face, what about a change in position, how can you do this and how can you do that? I have indicated to them that there has been no change in the things I believe in. There are different decisions to be made. Right now I have the great privilege of representing one of fifty-two constituencies in this Province. We are charged with the responsibility of making decisions for all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, including teachers. When we make decisions now we make decisions on behalf of everybody. We do not have the luxury to be saying: what would be best for any one group at any one time?

The decisions are made collectively in the best interest of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians at all times. I do not apologise to anybody for any of the decisions that I have been part of in this administration. I indicated to them the only thing that I regret is that today I did forget my button. Because at the Newfoundland Teachers Association annual meeting, the President of the NTA came to me with a badge similar to the one that the Member for St. John's East is wearing now, where they had 17 with a cross through it, showing their objection to Bill 17, and he said, 'Well, you wear that button.'

MR. HARRIS: A point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. John's East, on a point of order.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, the member referred to the button. I can give him an extra copy if he wants to wear it in the House as he did on Friday night.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I was about to indicate, the President of the NTA gave me a copy of this badge and I promptly, without hesitation, took the badge and put it in my lapel. I was wearing a raglan at the time because I had just come back from the airport upon returning from Toronto. And he said, in presenting it to me, 'You are not going to wear it?' I said, 'But why wouldn't I wear it? All the button symbolizes to me is that you people, as teachers, wish there was no Bill 17 in Newfoundland.' I said, 'I agree. I wish there was no Bill 17 in Newfoundland.'

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GRIMES: I said, 'Everybody on this side of the House - every single soul in here - every single soul on this side of the House wishes there was no Bill 17 in Newfoundland.

AN HON. MEMBER: Exactly!

MR. GRIMES: As a matter of fact, we wish there was no Bill 16. We wish there was no Bill 16.'


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: Like you did in 83 and 84 and 85.

AN HON. MEMBER: The devil made him do it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, just so that I could finish the story of the evening a little before I get into my remarks about the bill, when I then took off my outside garment and hung it up, with the courtesy of some members of the executive who even showed me where to hang the garment and so on, they were expressing their discontent over the decisions, but they are not bad friends of mine. They disagree with a decision that we have been part of, and wish we had made another decision, but that does not mean - we have always learned, most people, by the way, who rise to certain positions and so on, learn to differentiate between the issues that you debate and the decisions that you have to make, and people. Just because you disagree with a decision that is made does not mean you think it is a bad person making the decision, and it does not mean that you don't like the people. It doesn't mean you have to be bad friends or anything else.

The hon. the Member for Fogo, in his remarks, indicated, as a teacher in 1983 during the lockout, when the provincial Progressive Conservative Government locked the teachers of Newfoundland and Labrador out of their classrooms, that he supported the protest of the association that he was a member of at the time, but the first thing he did when he got back in the classroom was work for the same government. So he went out and protested. He showed that he did not like the action at the time, but he chose his political allegiances despite the fact that he did not like that decision; he did not like that action; he did not like being locked out; but as soon as he got a chance again to show which political party he supported, he went out and supported, and ran for and organized for the same Progressive Conservative administration that forced him out on the street, the only time there has ever been a total lockout of teachers in Newfoundland and Labrador in the history of the Province, done by the previous administration.

Anyhow, to finish the story, I then went into the main assembly hall, the main meeting room for the annual general meeting, with my suit jacket on, and someone said, 'You don't have your button on anymore.' I said, 'Well, give me another one.' I said, 'If you want me to wear a button with 'I don't like Bill 17' on it' - and again, whoever passed me the second one said, 'Aren't you being hypocritical? You are part of a government that brought in this bill.' I said, 'No, I understand what the badge means.' I said, 'If it means something different to you, then let me know. I understand, this badge means that the teachers of Newfoundland, as one group who were assembled at their annual meeting, were suggesting that they did not agree that there should be a Bill 17 in Newfoundland.' I said, 'That is what this government would like to have. We would like to have no Bill 17, but that does not stop us and does not allow us to be totally blind to the decision we had to make.' I said, 'If you want the decision to be couched in terms of education, then that is a very clear choice for me and,' I said, 'If you sat in the same room, I challenge any one of those people and any teacher to make a different decision, because the choice is clearly this, if you look at education, and it is the same thing in health and other services, in education the choice is very clear.' The choices were that we could have honoured the contract; had no Bill 17; paid increases to teachers, but in the school that I left after the last election, and that I may go back to at some point in time - and if I do I will not regret it, because I love teaching. It is a great experience, a great profession to be involved in, but I tell you one thing, we had a K to XII school, one class of each grade. The reality for that school board was that if the increases were paid, probably grades V and VI would have to be taught in the same room, instead of in different room. We would not make that decision, because our concern was for the education of the students. And we said: 'We have, for the first time ever, put more funding in education, directly impacting on students and the curriculum and the courses that they will have. In places that I came from, in Bishop's Falls, they will be better off than ever because of decisions made by this government.

But in order for that to happen, so there would not have to be cutbacks, Bill 17 was necessary. I said: 'Given that range of choice in education, health care, social services, it was a very easy decision for me to make.' Because we questioned everybody. We questioned all the financial experts. We questioned everybody you could question, asking: 'Is there some choice?'

Now, we could look at the Opposition, either the official Opposition or the - whatever Opposition down in the corner, the other kind of Opposition, that talks about borrowing money, 'Go borrow some money. You didn't have to have Bill 16, you didn't have to have Bill 17, you could have honoured these contracts.' Sure we could have. But all the information was that what would have happened is we probably would have lost our credit rating and then we would end up honouring nothing ever again, because we wouldn't even be able to borrow money.

Now, there is not much point in paying out a bunch of money in these couple of years, losing a credit rating, and jeopardizing forever and a day. It has happened in other provinces, in the same two years, their credit rating has been lowered. One of the only things that has maintained our single A rating in this Province has been the proper fiscal management and the leadership demonstrated by the Minister of Finance and the government. That is one of the strongest things we have going for us in terms of the whole issue relating to the financial capabilities of the Province.

So it is easy to say: let's honour the contracts, oh it's the death of collective bargaining. That is absolute nonsense! It is no such thing. There is absolutely nothing in terms of collective bargaining that has been interfered with for any of the public sector unions except their salary increase. And when you ask people: Is there anything else in there that is impacted in any way, shape or form by what Bill 16 did or what Bill 17 does, the answer is no. Each one of the public sector organizations is free to go in and talk with this government at any time about what is different in Bill 17 over Bill 16, which is about their total compensation.

Now, a lot of people have not bothered to start asking the questions yet, about what does that mean? Last year it was a salary freeze. The salary scales were frozen in Bill 16. This year, that language is not used in Bill 17. There is a freeze on total compensation. Anyone who is in private business or in the public sector knows that of the total compensation, any range anywhere from 15 per cent to 30 per cent of the total cost is tied up in benefits other than salary. Each one of these groups now has totally in their own hands, totally of their own volition, only if they want to do it, they can enter into - they can enter into a negotiated agreement to trade off some other cost benefits for salary, if they wish, as long as the total compensation does not go beyond a certain level.

Be the truth known, in each group there are things that the membership, if they were to look at it - and maybe at some point in time after the protest is over, because there is one thing about them. I can fully understand the disappointment of anyone in the public sector covered by - not getting the increases that were negotiated. I can even understand the bit of anger and I can understand them protesting. You don't expect anybody to agree to these things and say: It's wonderful, it's great, take away my money I thought I had. But, in the meantime, they are faced with a series of choices, in which, so far they have not even turned any attention to looking at what they are. So far, the total emphasis, as I understand it, has been to indicate the disappointment, the degree to which they are upset, and to protest.

But one of the elements anytime if you are elected to represent a group of people, is to sooner or later look around and say: If I am supposed to be here with the best interests of these 8,000, 10,000 or 15,000 people, is there anything possible here that I can do to get them what they want? So far, what I have heard from a lot of people is: We would really like to find a way we can - because even the hon. the Member for Fogo said, people understand things like the freeze; they understand the need for a freeze but they don't like this death of collective bargaining. Well, if they understand the freeze, how could we freeze anything if we didn't, in some way, bring something in here to say that the current negotiated salaries were going to be stopped? Because we cannot, as I indicated before, go ahead and pay now, lose our credit rating and then never be able to pay again. We couldn't do that and we would not make the choice to double up classes or lay off teachers or more health care workers or other people in the public sector. We would not make those choices.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that the difference I was addressing was this notion of total compensation versus wages or salaries. It is my hope, and I really firmly hope that people in this House will take some leadership, as well, when they are speaking with their friends in the public sector unions and so on, to ask them to really look at this bill and see what is possible there, if they want to engage in it. It is their choice. The government is not saying you must come in and do anything, but the government is offering through Bill 17, an opportunity for any bargaining agent for any one of the public sector groups covered by the bill, to enter into discussions with the government to see whether or not they want to make some trade-offs in terms of the cost benefits in their contract and trade them for salary, because we understand and we recognize that cost of living is increasing and that people didn't get a raise last year because we introduced a freeze; they are not likely to get a raise this year, but if that is the overriding concern for the membership in any one bargaining unit, small or large, if their number one concern is: We really don't think we have enough money, and we would like for our leaders to find a way with the government to get us a 1 per cent or a 2 per cent raise or a 3 per cent raise, there are ways in Bill 17 for them to explore that.

So far, it is my understanding that nobody has even come to the government and asked about it, they are too busy protesting, and as I indicated, I understand the protest. We understand that. There is nobody here who is going to stand up and say that under a different set of circumstances we should have a Bill 17, anyway, because it is the right kind of legislation that should be in the Province regardless of the economic circumstances. You will not hear that, and it is on that basis that I did not have any hesitation at an NTA annual meeting, in wearing Bill 17 with the 'X' through it, or whatever it is, so that people will come to me and say, 'Why are you wearing that?' and I say, 'Well, as long as you understand why you are wearing it, I understand why I am wearing it, because I wish there was no Bill 17, but I am going to go around the Province and I am going to tell every teacher and every other person that I meet why I will stand at the end of this debate and support Bill 17.'

The other thing I wanted to spend a few minutes speaking about, Mr. Speaker, in my comments, was this idea that each of the representatives of the public sector unions had an opportunity to engage in some discussion beforehand with the President of Treasury Board and the Premier, as to whether they could suggest to government - because we don't have all the answers lots of times - but could they suggest to government some alternative, some realistic alternative to something other than a wage freeze or reductions in salaries, and so on, or layoffs, to help us through a period of time when there is financial difficulty. And people will banter back and forth about it, but I even understand and I am pretty certain from my previous experience, why they would not engage in any real meaningful dialogue before the Budget because for one thing, they would have had to go to their own membership and I was part of a membership at a point in time where, if we had gone back voluntarily and said, we are going to agree with the government, we are not going to force them to do anything, we are going to agree with the government to forgo our raises, they probably would have said we are crazy.

They would have said, 'Why would you agree with that? You have to be off the head!' So I can understand why they would not agree up front and they would force the government to make the decision that we have had to make in Bill 17, but now the opportunity is there for them in Bill 17, to come in and do the kinds of things that they have always claimed they could do. They have said repeatedly that they could show this government how to save millions of dollars, millions of dollars without touching the salary scales; millions of dollars and I am convinced that they can; there is an opportunity there for them to do it in Bill 17. So far, so far everybody has been so consumed with the notion of protest and showing their disapproval that they haven't yet even questioned what is possible under Bill 17.

I certainly would expect that the responsible leadership for all of these groups will, at some point in time, go to the government and say: Under Bill 17, under this concept of total compensation, what is possible that we can do this year? Can we actually get a salary increase for our members of 1 per cent? Not great. Can we get 2 per cent? If we do this, if we show that we are better in managing this or that or something else, and we can show how the government can save some money, can we have that in salary? They will be surprised at the answer they will get.

I am sure the President of Treasury Board would wish that someone would come knocking on their door to say: Let's discuss what we can do under Bill 17. Because the salary scales, by Bill 17, are not frozen. The total cost of compensation for any one group is frozen. Then it is just a matter of each membership deciding: Out of the benefits that we have that cost money - salary plus the other several things that cost the other anywhere from 15 per cent to 35 per cent of the total benefits, the total package - is it now a time when our members would consider trading some of these? Or just putting them on hold for a couple of years so that maybe we can take home some money?

Those things can be entertained. I am convinced that at a point in time, people with a little bit of creativity, ingenuity and showing real concern for what their members want, will probably enter into that kind of dialogue. The whole notion that the big guys, that the freeze we understand - but it is the death of collective bargaining. That is all just a pile of mumbo-jumbo. There is full and total collective bargaining possible under Bill 17. The only thing that happens is that this legislation puts parameters on the total compensation in a legislative form the same way that the previous administration in bargaining did by just making public statements by the premier and so on. Because they introduced 765, 654, 32, 00, okay? So they did not bring a bill in the House. But the groups in negotiating knew full well that they were wasting their breath to come in and ask for anything other than that.

This just spells it out and says that in total compensation you can do what you like. You can come in and talk to us about arranging the total compensation in any number of ways. It is not an idea, by the way, that is foreign to members opposite. There are members opposite who were in positions of Minister of Education and President of Treasury Board when I was involved in negotiations on behalf of the teachers of Newfoundland. They would come to us and say: Here is how much money you can have. When we would get down to just the money issue, they would say: You can have $19 million. And we would say: Well, how are we going to do it? Does that mean 2 per cent or 3 per cent? They said: You can do what you like with it. If you want, you can give it all to one teacher. They said: you can give the - we won't, this is negotiation. They said: you can give the money to one teacher if you want, and freeze everybody else's salary. We are just telling you that there is a limit on how much money we can spend.

All that has happened here, the same bargaining can and should occur under Bill 17. The government has just indicated that the total compensation will not increase in this fiscal year, will not increase by any more than 3 per cent total in the next fiscal year, but that any bargaining unit can come in and enter into open, free dialogue with this government as to how they want to arrange or rearrange their benefits in the best interest of their membership. At a point in time, I firmly believe, that the responsible leadership that is there for the different bargaining units in Newfoundland and Labrador, will go back and ask their members: Do you want to entertain this kind of bargaining?

Now, if their members say: No, we want to spend all our time protesting and that is all we want to do, that is fair enough. Then they are guaranteed one thing. They are guaranteed 0 per cent increase this year, and maybe up to 3 per cent next year if they come in and negotiate. But if they enter into discussions with the government in terms of total compensation, groups this year, if that is what they want to do for their members, can get them a salary increase. Groups next year, if that is what they want to do for their members, can get salary increases beyond 3 per cent. This bill does not say that salary increases are frozen at 0 and at 3 next year. That is what I wanted to point out, the difference between the whole issue here and the whole notion of total compensation versus wages that were indicated in Bill 16 last year, wages and salary.

So I fully understand, Mr. Speaker, in concluding my remarks, I understand why the groups are upset and why they are disappointed. We are disappointed. We would rather not be doing this. If the Province, if the country, if the world was in a better financial situation this would not be here.

AN HON. MEMBER: Exactly.

MR. GRIMES: This would not be here. And we understand that fully. People on the other side say: we understand the need for a freeze. Well if you understand the need for a freeze, you know we have no money. If we have no money, the choice is how are you going to go about dealing with that. And this group has dealt with it in a meaningful way up front today so that everybody knows, and they know this year and next year what the perimeters are.

Mr. Speaker, I understand as well why the leadership of the union would not come in and volunteer suggestions and ideas directly impacting on what kind of money their members might get before they force the government to make a decision. The government has made a decision. I am going to stand and support Bill 17 in this House and everywhere that I speak in this Province, and tell people why it is here and why it is necessary. My hope is, and I believe this will happen because I have great confidence in the leadership of the Public Service Unions in Newfoundland and Labrador, all of them, every one of them because I believe that regardless of the rhetoric that the only thing that motivates each and every one of them is to do something in the best interest of their members. If it becomes obvious that their members want a salary increase, then they should be instructed by their members to come in and talk to this government about: within the total compensation package how can I get a raise for my members? Then they will have to go back to their members with choices in a collective bargaining system that is alive, and well, and functioning. The only thing that has been tampered with out of total necessity and out of lack of any other choice is the fact that negotiated increases to salary could not be paid without running the risk of losing the credit rating and coming close to bankrupting the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. GRIMES: So, Mr. Speaker, based on that and with that rationale I will have no difficulty whatsoever. As a matter of fact I have asked of the NTA an opportunity, because of my close affiliation with teachers, to go and speak to the teachers group. I have asked to go back to the branch from which I came where I was the local president. I have asked to be invited to every school in the district that I represent, and I have no qualms whatsoever in looking every single teacher or anyone else straight in the eye and telling them what this government is doing and why, and why I have no shame and nothing to be ashamed of in terms of supporting an instrument by which this government will make sure that the Province is in better shape and everybody is better served. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Go on. You should be ashamed of yourself.

MR. HEARN: Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I just have a few short words on Bill 17. I was interested that time to hear the former speaker say that he has asked to go speak to the teachers. He has asked to speak to the branch from which he came, and he has asked to speak to the teachers in his school. It is interesting to note that he has not been asked to go speak to the teachers or to the branch or to the school. The President of Treasury Board apparently has been asked, and I would say there would be a warm reception for him when he does attend.

Then again I wonder, because as we deal with a piece of regressive legislation which affects so many people in the bargaining units around the Province, the public sector bargaining units, Newfoundland Teachers Association, NAPE and others, and we look around the galleries and we wonder where the concern is, because if the members of the unions were as concerned about Bill 17 as some of them seem to say they are, you would think that at least they would be in to see what the respective members are saying about it and to lend support to those who are against Bill 17. So you know it is strange sometimes how unions work.

We have a couple or three of them right now who are probably under very severe scrutiny themselves. Maybe that is what is keeping them from a united front on Bill 17. The members of the unions, the rank and file are the people who I am extremely concerned with and when we see legislation like this coming in we are of course more concerned. Not only are we talking about a freeze. People accept that. In time of restraint when there is no money to go around at least if we can hold our jobs and if we have to settle with the same amount of pay for a year or two we might be able to live with that, but as we have seen from this government, not only are we asked to hold the line but a number of us are losing our jobs. If we look at the Budget again this year, if you go through the different departments, you go through the different headings, you will find that in many, many sections of the different departments and agencies that the salary votes are considerably less than they were the year before. That means only one thing, that means there are going to be positions lost again this year in the public service.

When we are asked to hold the line when we are going to lose jobs but above and beyond all of this the main reason why many of us will be against this legislation is the fact that government is wiping out contracts arrived at in good faith. The whole fundamental process of free collective bargaining is at risk here because what government intends to do by passing this piece of legislation, and undoubtedly pass it will, when we look at members opposite. They have the numbers and unfortunately a lot of them do not have the will or the intestinal fortitude to stand up and oppose this piece of legislation with which they do not fundamentally agree themselves.

A freeze, as I said, is one thing, but asking people, or telling people that the contract you negotiated last year, the agreement at which we arrived, agreements which we signed, agreements in which we told you we were going to deliver a certain increase in your wages, or certain other benefits, these contracts are now not worth the paper they are written on. Mr. Speaker, that is the real concern of the rank and file of the unions and that is the real concern of a lot of Newfoundlanders.

Somebody else just raised an extremely important question when speaking and that is if the private sector takes the lead from government, a government that makes the laws and rules about labour legislation in this Province, then if the private sector is going to follow that, what is going to happen to free collective bargaining in the Province? How can a government turn around and tell a large corporation which has negotiated a contract, turn around six months later and say to the membership, we are not going to honour this contract? How can the Department of Employment and Labour Relations and how can the minister, who just after making the speech he made, turn around to any private employer and say you must honour your agreements? How can anyone say it when the example is set by the minister and by the government that the arriving at agreements and the signing of contracts means absolutely nothing?

If the government wants to tear it up it can tear it up so what makes it illegal for anybody else to do the same thing? That is the major concern about this piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker, that what it has done is sent a message to employers generally that no more have we got to worry about honouring collective agreements. If you want to get on the side of the employees, if approaching an election you want to get on the side of the public servants you can promise them what you want, you can give them what you want on paper because you know full well that shortly afterwards you can bring into the Legislature a piece of legislation which throws out any commitments that have been made. That is an extremely dangerous piece of legislation because there will never be any trust again in government, not only this government but any other government to come, when you get people coming in to bargain. How can you talk about bargaining in good faith. There was a time in this Province when deals could be made on a handshake, when the leaders of unions and professional associations could come in and talk to the President of Treasury Board, and could talk to other ministers directly involved, and arrive at an agreement with a handshake - an agreement that then would be finalized by the people tidying up the wording, etcetera, with each taking the other's word and knowing that the people would deliver on the agreements made. I can quote examples of that.

I see the Minister of Education listening intently. I do not know where the Minister of Education is in all of this debate, because in relation to the involvement of the Newfoundland Teachers Association he should be front and centre. Ministers like to slough off their responsibilities by saying it is not an education problem, or it is not a forestry problem; it is not an environment and lands problem; it is a labour problem. These employees who are in your department, the employees who are with the boards and agencies, the teachers in the field, the health workers and so on in the field, are part of the contingent that make up your respective departments. Surely God, as minister you have concerns for the people who work for you, and especially when it comes to teachers.

The minister responsible for teachers in this Province is the Minister of Education. If teachers have concerns, then if the Minister of Education is not going to be the one to champion their cause, who is going to do it? The answer there might be, well it should be the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, being a former teacher himself, and a person who lead their fight for so long is now leading the fight against them. It is extremely hard to fathom how a minister can stand up in this House and talk about defending Bill 17 - a minister who for years championed the cause of the teacher, and is now saying to them: We sucked you in. We gave commitments; we signed agreements, and now we are going to throw them out. That is certainly not the way to gain the respect of the average person in the great Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I mentioned that I was going to say something about unions. I got talking about the rank and file and the concerns I had for the rank and file. I am not sure whether I have the same concerns for the hierarchy of the different unions.

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell us about it (inaudible).

MR. HEARN: I will tell you about it. I certainly will, and you tell me if you agree with me or not.

We have at least three major unions right now going under severe scrutiny by the membership. The Newfoundland Teachers Association membership are asking, or the members are asking: What is our executive '?' doing for us? What have they done to us? What have they done for us?' And what is happening now? We have seen an about-face by some of the top brass in the Newfoundland Teachers Association in recent days when the pressure has come on. But the thing that interests me most about the Newfoundland Teachers Association is back about three, four, or five years ago when a number of things were happening in the field of education, unlike today, when a number of advances were being made, when a number of new programs were being brought in, when the teachers' pension plan was improved so significantly, when the teacher aid program, the teacher assistant program was developed and brought in, when equalization programs were developed; when all of these programs were being developed, every single - when most of all an agreement was signed with the Newfoundland Teachers Association, a collective agreement before the old one ran out - the first time in history when there was complete faith and trust between the teachers of this Province and the government and Treasury Board of the day. When these things were happening, very positive things, there was not a day when the President then of the Newfoundland Teachers Association, the present Minister of Environment and Lands, was not on the radio berating government. There was not a time when teachers were not going around the Province, once again pushed by the hierarchy, wearing their little pin with the ripped book, whatever, 'a fair share'(?). There was not an issue of the NTA bulletin where the editor or if it were not the editor it was one of the chief people behind the scenes over in the office, an non-elected official, would not have a scathing attack on government. When the Budget came done government ripped to pieces. The next issue would be a follow-up and then there would be several issues on government programs, mainly on lack of funding during years when increases came year, after year, after year, when programs were developed and improved year, after year, after year, when teacher benefits, benefits not developed by the teachers and brought in for approval but benefits developed within Treasury Board to the teachers pension plan and yet editorial after editorial scathing attacks on government.

Despite the fact that teachers in the field today regret this piece of legislation and are extremely upset with government I ask you to check the Newfoundland Teachers Association Bulletin and I ask you to listen to the radio, expect for the last few days where there has been a few semi-attacks when the pressure came on, how many direct attacks have been made on government by the Newfoundland Teachers Association, so you wonder what is going on? Are the hierarchies within the unions really concerned about the membership or are they concerned about themselves and their buddies?

It is extremely important and the membership is getting wise because they are asking what is happening? I was ashamed to see the Minister of Education being snubbed at the NTA conference. I do not think the minister deserved it for two reasons. Government deserved to be nailed at the Newfoundland Teachers Association meeting as governments in the past deserved to be nailed when we were doing things with which they did not agree, and governments deserve to be praised when they are doing things where they deserved to be praised, but a minister who as an individual is a fine outstanding, interested person, perhaps not having the powers no other minister has over there to influence the Premier in decision making, but certainly nobody can say that the Minister of Education has not been interested in education in this Province over the years, and the other thing is he is the Minister of Education in this Province. He is responsible for education. To see a person in that position, regardless of who the person is, being completely ignored and snubbed by teachers in this Province, I think is an insult, not to the minister, it is an insult to the teaching profession of this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEARN: Then we might leave the Newfoundland Teachers Association alone and we might go to NAPE and we might ask what is happening there?... because there are some weird and wonderful things going on within the union there also. But the point is that regardless of what - and the ignoring maybe of membership that has gone on by the hierarchies - the members of the rank and file, the majority of the people have very little say in what happens within their union. It is amazing how little say people really have in what happens in their own union. How many teachers were in to elect an executive this year? One out of every hundred teachers in the Province, you know, and each year they can keep electing the same thing. How many people go to the NAPE conventions? How many people are wined and dined at the hotels with everything paid for and so on? Very few. But these, unfortunately, are the ones who elect the officials.

The FFAW is the real beaut. How many people are really involved with electing the hierarchies there and how much concern is being placed upon the issues in the Province? It is only when an awareness was created by the Member for Port de Grave, giving credit where credit is due. Now he went a little far and got carried away with it, but the point is he created an awareness within union membership and he got some people to buck up simply because unions have become big business and the elected hierarchies are selected. I won't say elected. Selected hierarchies have lost touch with their memberships, and the people who should be really concerned, members, the people who pay every week and every month out of their cheques are the ones who are supposed to get the benefits. I question whether or not these are the ones. It has become big business. It is look after us now, us being the management, more so than worrying about the ranks.

So, Mr. Speaker, it is strange what is happening. When we look around at empty galleries when there is such an important piece of legislation it makes one wonder what is it really all about, and who is, except the people over here on this side, who is really looking after the rights of the rank and file? Nobody can say that we did not look after them when we were government. They can say: you had a freeze. We did, but how many jobs were lost? How many contracts were thrown out? There were none. They know that, and they are aware of that today. The rank and file will tell you: we did not know how good we had it. One of the reasons they did not know how good they had it was because they had some of their own selected officials telling them how bad that government was, and we must get rid of that government, because if you do not stir up trouble then you are not being perceived as being worthy of the salaries, the great salaries and benefits that you are paid. Maybe we should ask each one of us in this House irrespective of side, at the end of the year can read in The Evening Telegram or any other publication or see on tv, how much money you spent, and if you go out tonight and spend twenty dollars, you are accountable for it publicly tomorrow. Every benefit you receive is touted across the pages right across the country, whether they are factual, comparatively or not.

How often do you see these benefits and the costs that the heads of different unions in this Province have incurred, how often do you read about them? Even their members do not know, so there are some strange things happening in the field of labour in this Province and what has happened, both the government and I also think some of the union leaders, have lost track of what is happening to the membership and they are not showing the concerns that they should, because, when people out there depend upon people to negotiate contracts for them, they expect that once they deliver, that the contract will be honoured and when we have arrangements that can throw out negotiated contracts, then we are living in a very, very sad and sorry Province and certainly the Province itself is going to be the worst off for it, because these are the people who actually do the work.

The people whom we have snubbed with this piece of legislation, the people we have rejected are the people who keep the wheels grinding day after day after day. The minister responsible, in his remarks said the new piece of legislation does not say anything about a freeze; he said we talk about no increase in benefits type of thing, but it does not say there cannot be an increase monetarily, provided we are within the same framework in total, and I ask him, if you are talking about dealing with the Newfoundland Teachers Association, or you do not have any overtime or double overtime or call back time to worry about -

I heard an interesting story the other day. I do not know how factual it is, but it illustrates some of the real concerns in relation to what is happening in the field of labour, where a switch went in a fish plant and an electrician had to be called in, somebody there could have easily fixed it as it was a very minor job but an electrician had to be called in for three or four hours pay, or whatever, and when he was there a second switch went and as he was only called in to fix one he had to go outside the gate and be recalled for double the amount of time, whatever, in order to fix the second switch. When you hear about things like that happening you wonder how can anybody, how can private companies, how can private (?) government funded companies, or how can government operate if we are going to get into that kind of stuff?

The day has arrived in this Province when if you are going to get a days pay you are going to have to do a days work. When it comes to teachers, when you do not have that kind of benefit, when you do not have any overtime to worry about, you have not got callback, the only thing you have is probably whatever you pay a substitute. Is the minister saying that if the teachers of this Province want an increase they have to save money? Quickly, without thinking in any great detail, I suppose, there are only two ways that I can think of that teachers can arrive at receiving some increase in salary this year. One would be to agree to layoffs within their ranks and the other one would be to agree to do something about the substitute teacher's bill which, I do not know, is $12 or $14 million I guess. That is about the only flexibility I would think the Minister of Education in his budget would have in relation to teachers.

You cannot say we are going to take away benefits because any benefits they have there are no cost building type of thing. A teachers salary is sort of a basic lump sum and there is no way to play around with it as far as I know, so if they are going to get an increase then they must say to their substitute teachers who are also teachers and waiting many of them for full-time jobs, many of them making a living at it and all of them filling the need to be there when the regular teacher is not, they are either saying we will wipe that out so that the children are left unattended or somebody picks up the slack as they used to do years ago, or either that you must agree to layoffs.

Maybe what the minister has in mind is to block fund boards and then let the boards make the decisions and government will get of with doing the dirty work, or without doing the dirty work I should say. When the minister really says there is flexibility within the block for teachers, there is not any flexibility within the block at all unless, as I say, you are asking them to give up jobs. The other agencies in the public service compared to maybe the Fishermens Union or whatever, there is not a tremendous amount of flexibility within a lot of these areas either.

So it seems that government is just trying to look good. They said before, nobody has come to talk to us. Those who have come have been snubbed, so there is no reason I suppose to wonder why they should come again. Those who have come in have been snubbed by government, so if they had anything, I guess, that they could offer without affecting their membership, they would or should have offered it. The thing is, government is just looking good by saying, oh, let them provide the answers. You are the employer. You are the ones who shafted them by bringing in this piece of legislation, so consequently you should have some ideas, if there are any ideas, as to how you can get away without hurting them financially. We know that probably you have already made a decision on that anyway.

Mr. Speaker, we are rapidly approaching 5:00 p.m. I just want to say that we are against Bill 17 for two reasons - not necessarily because it is imposing restraint during the period of restraint. That would be very hard to argue with. It would be hypocritical to argue with it because we did it ourselves; but we are certainly against retroactive legislation whereby we see governments in particular, because of the trend that it is setting, where we see governments sign collective agreements, settle disputes -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: We did not do the same thing. Let's make it quite clear. We never, we never, we did not at any time tear up contracts. When the former government brought in a wage restraint period, we honoured all existing contracts until they ran out. Then whoever was coming in during that period started the freeze, but there was no contract which we had signed, however great, there was not one contract torn up. That is what makes the difference, because we saw a few of these contracts that are presently being thrown out the door, signed when pretty heated disputes were occurring and then everybody was pacified by what seemed to be this unbelievably good contract - and government, in its own heart, knowing that they were just fooling the people. Well maybe we can say to them there is an old statement that says: You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. A lot of the people in this Province are getting very wise to the way this government is operating.

Mr. Speaker, with that I adjourn the debate.

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the Private Member's Resolution tomorrow, if we don't have another blackout, is the Member for Torngat Mountain's resolution. On Thursday it is my intention to continue with Bill 17 and hopefully finish it off.

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