May 5, 1992                 HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                 Vol. XLI  No. 30

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Oral Questions

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have questions for the Premier. Practically every day there is at least one news story about a case of child assault, mostly child sexual assault. This media coverage reflects the reality which has been too long covered up or ignored, that child abuse is a chronic problem in our society. Mr. Speaker, the number of disclosures and convictions of child abuse is continuing to rise, yet, despite all of this, government's response is far short of what is required to assist victims to become survivors. I ask the Premier, What is his strategy to deal with the chronic and pervasive problems of child abuse?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the chronic and pervasive problem of child abuse didn't arise in the last six months, the last three years, or the last six years. I don't know that there is any greater level now than there has been in the past but that doesn't diminish the responsibility to deal with child abuse wherever we encounter it, and to make sure we put in place effective means of dealing with it. A better means of dealing with child sexual abuse, in particular, in recent years, is the kind of disclosure that came about as a result of the Mount Cashel cover-up that took place in 1975. As a result of that disclosure, the inquiry that came out of it and the variety of trials that came out of it, there has been a greater awareness and that, itself, has had a positive impact in reducing the incidence of it to some degree. Government will be announcing shortly its response to the Hughes Commission recommendations. It will be done fairly quickly, in fact. Some of the recommendations are already in effect, and the government will be announcing positions it will be taking on the others very shortly.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. What would the Premier say to the community worker in Stephenville who stated to me this morning that the child sexual abuse problem in the Bay St. George region is simply out of control? What would the Premier say to the school teacher in Stephenville Crossing, the town where he grew up, who stated to me this morning that once the court process is over there is nothing for the victims?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I would say to both the worker in Stephenville and the worker in Stephenville Crossing to whom the hon. member referred that if they wanted to draw the matter specifically to the attention of the minister concerned or another minister, I am sure they would get a more immediate and effective reaction than by raising it through the member of the Opposition. However, if they want to raise it through a member of the Opposition they get more public attention about it. That is what I would say.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The people in Stephenville and Stephenville Crossing are saying that there is a major need for counselling to assist the large and growing number of child abuse victims, children, adolescents, adults who are just now coming to terms with childhood abuse that happened many years ago. What is the Premier going to do to provide for that counselling?

In the town of Stephenville Crossing, in one school, alone, approximately sixty victims of two offenders are known about. What is the Premier going to do to provide the intensive counselling required to assist all those victims become survivors?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I am quite sure that the Minister of Social Services, the Minister of Justice, and other ministers responsible will fully discharge their responsibilities to make sure that the maximum level of effort is made to provide for counselling and guidance and assistance to the victims of child sexual abuse. I, personally, in my capacity as Premier, have no capability to provide for such counselling, but the government, in its normal operations, will do everything it possibly can to provide for counselling. That is what will be done. But I, personally, Mr. Speaker, have no capability and no expertise in the field, so I, personally, will not be providing that counselling.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Premier, as the head of the government, is in charge of budgeting and allocating resources. I ask the Premier, Will he reconsider his decision to terminate completely the Province's Criminal Injuries Compensation program which provided the only means for many child abuse victims, particularly children in rural areas, to have counselling? In cutting the program, the government said that the Victim Service program would be substituted. Is the Premier aware that the Victim Service program only operates in a few urban areas? It does not serve De Grau, Lourdes, Cape St. George, Stephenville Crossing -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member has asked the question.

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Just to set the record straight, Mr. Speaker, I, as head of the government, am not responsible for government funding and government budgeting. That is normally done through Treasury Board, the Ministry of Finance, and the Cabinet as a whole. I have a responsibility as Premier to make sure the government performs properly and fully and I have complete confidence in the ministers that I have named to do that. Contrary to the image the hon. members opposite frequently want to portray, this is not a one-man show. This is a competent team of people making sound decisions.

Now, with respect to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, we were quite willing to participate in this when the federal government was a participant, but it was the federal government that cancelled. So maybe what the hon. member should do is ask her political colleagues in Ottawa why they cut out this program. They were the ones that cut out the program, not the provincial government, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. What efforts has the Premier made to pressure the federal government to resume participation in the Crimes Compensation program? Will the Premier consider following the lead of Nova Scotia, which did not eliminate the program? It scaled it down, but continues to provide compensation to cover counselling costs and to reimburse victims for out-of-pocket-expenses.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, when the federal government cut out its special funding for this, the provincial government merged the two programs. I believe there is a substantial sum in the budget this year -

MR. BAKER: About $1 million.

PREMIER WELLS: About $1 million to provide for Victim Services. Now that is there, and the funding is there to provide for the counselling, aid and guidance. If that is not is not enough, I can assure hon. members that the government, through the officials of the Department of Social Services, and through other officials, will provide the maximum level of counselling and guidance that the government can, and to meet the legitimate needs of the people who have been abused in this way. Mr. Speaker, the government will respond properly on this issue and the hon. member has no reason to suggest that the government is not adequately responding to this issue.

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

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

My question is to the Minister responsible for Mines and Energy.

Last night at the Budget Estimates he confirmed that talks with Quebec on development of the Lower Churchill had broken down or they have not met over the last two months -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Not true. Not true.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, last night at the Budget Estimates, the minister confirmed that they have not met with Hydro Quebec over the past two months -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Rompu.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, that is a significant departure from the series of meetings that this government has had with Hydro Quebec over the past three years. Now, have the negotiators agreed on a schedule for future meetings, and when will these negotiations resume?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, correct for one thing, it is not the government's meetings and it is not government to government meetings and in the past there was never a schedule of meetings except that, at a particular meeting, they would set a tentative date or two and then they would confirm when they would be ready to meet. Now this time it has been a couple of months since the last meeting of the two negotiating teams on March 3, and as I have said earlier, our negotiating team received a proposal from the Hydro Quebec team on November 24, and it took almost four months before our team was ready to have another meeting on March 3. It was a substantial document that was tabled in November, it took time for our negotiating team to assess it. Our team tabled a significant document on March 3 and I have no problem with the time it is taking the Hydro Quebec negotiating team to do its assessment and prepare for its next meeting, and in due course there will be a next meeting.

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

MR. A. SNOW: The minister said that Hydro Quebec is considering a new proposal. Is this new proposal more favourable to Hydro Quebec and what is the government prepared to give up to Hydro Quebec to make a deal?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I did not say that the negotiating team was considering a new proposal. The process for the last two and a half years has been proposal and counterproposal, continuing for thirty meetings and the last meeting on March 3 was the thirtieth meeting and that process -

AN HON. MEMBER: How many?

DR. GIBBONS: Thirty. And that process will continue and I am not going to get into the details of what is being negotiated; we have agreed not to discuss details, that is a process for the negotiating teams. In due course, if we do reach an agreement, what is reached will be made public and will be discussed and debated publicly.

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

MR. A. SNOW: The people of this Province are wondering why the government will not tell them what is happening - what is occurring at these so-called negotiations. Is this Province considering, or the negotiating team considering, giving in to the hard-nosed bargaining of Quebec? Are we once again going to trade off long-term economic gain for short-term construction jobs in the Lower Churchill development? Is that what you are considering?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that both teams are negotiating in good faith, and are trying to work out the best agreement they can from each side's perspective. Nobody is in a hurry to do this in such a way that we are going to have something with which we are not satisfied. When we are satisfied and when the other side is satisfied, there may be an agreement. There is no urgency.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As my colleague from Menihek mentioned, last night we had the Estimates Committee on Mines and Energy, and the minister was relatively upbeat and positive with regard to the prospects for the Hibernia project. However, the Royal Bank says in a recent report a couple of days ago, and I quote: Weak world oil markets may mean the end, or at least the indefinite postponement of the Hibernia project.

Would the Premier agree with the bank's assessment of the situation?

PREMIER WELLS: I was not really listening. I thought he was asking the question to the minister.

MR. HEWLETT: I will repeat the question, if I may.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay repeating his question.

MR. HEWLETT: Weak world oil prices may mean the end, or at least the indefinite postponement of the Hibernia project says the Royal Bank. What does the Premier have to say about that assessment?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: To the best of my knowledge the Royal Bank is expressing its armchair expertise on the issue. It is not the banker involved. As far as I know it is not in any manner involved in it. It is sitting back on the sidelines, like the hon. member viewing it, and expressing an opinion, and I do not give it any more credibility than that, really.

I suppose you could speculate that it will not be successful. You could speculate that it will be wildly successful, and you could go anywhere in between. It has no substantial basis that I know of.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: A supplementary to the Premier, Mr. Speaker.

The bank, in its predictions, indicates that they believe that oil prices will be weak through the decade. Would this be the reason that Gulf Oil has withdrawn and why Petro Canada seems to want to get out as well?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the oil companies who invest in these kinds of projects don't invest for the next five to ten years. They know that a project of this magnitude takes five to seven years to bring into operation. They know that for the balance of the next decade there might be low oil prices but, after that they speculate on what the oil prices will be. So they don't make their decisions on that basis. I have just been advised that the representative of the Royal Bank who made that statement admitted in an interview that he was just going on rumours that he had been hearing around, he had no real knowledge. So, that is the value of the statement.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

Further to the rumours, Mr. Speaker: In that same report the bank is quoted as saying that the declining consumption and more attractive projects "make it more difficult, if not impossible, to find new partners for Hibernia." Is that the message that the government is getting from the Hibernia partners in their search around the world?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker. Those are the rumours that this man from the Royal Bank is relying on. That is not the message we are getting from the Hibernia partners, no.

MR. HEWLETT: One final supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay, final supplementary.

MR. HEWLETT: Does the government agree with the bank's assessment that "prudent business planning in the Province should assume that Hibernia will be shelved?"

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: If you were the Royal Bank, sitting back and sitting on your millions and you didn't have these kinds of dedicated objectives of building on Hibernia and making sure that Hibernia came into operation and you didn't really care about it, you may act cautiously and say: Well, let's do our planning on the basis that it won't be realized. But, no, the government does not agree with that. That man is operating on the rumours that he admitted he was operating on, and his judgement has the soundness of that. So I don't give it much credibility.

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister of Environment and Lands, but in her absence I will ask the Premier.

Government has received an application for permission to start a caribou ranch in the Peter's River - St. Stephen's area. I wonder if the Premier will advise the House the status of that application?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I don't know the details, but I know in general where matters lie on it. There is a substantial difference of opinion. There are a variety of opinions that would say: This is a good, sound idea. Let's gather together a stock of native caribou and let's ranch or farm the caribou in a confined area and produce caribou meat. Some wildlife experts, wildlife biologists, take an entirely different view. They say when you take animals like that into a confined area you develop disease which they are not capable of warding off. They do not have the natural or biological ability to cope with the diseases that are more common to farm animals, and if they then escape into the wild they can infect the wild herd totally and you could have the effect of destroying the whole herd. Now, that is an argument that is made. Exactly how sound that is I do not know but those are the kinds of arguments and counterarguments that are being raised in relation to this particular application so the government has to act fairly prudently in any decision it makes. We would like to see the development take place. He is an enterprising young man who has an idea he wants to put into effect to create economic opportunity and employment and create a business and I can only be very encouraging of his effort from that point of view, but government must also take into account the other considerations as well.

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

MR. HEARN: Mr. Speaker, the Premier has basically answered the second question I was going to ask about why it has taken so long, because I presume they are pursuing both sides of it. However, I say to the Premier that the people of the area are generally unaware of all the implications of this situation. As undoubtedly government is trying to gather the information, will the Premier then guarantee that before any final decision is made provision will be made for open public discussion and involvement, because as I said, nobody in the area has had the facts from either side. There has been absolutely no public involvement so I wonder if government will guarantee that there will be public hearings or discussion in the area before any final decision is made.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I do not know that it is the kind of decision that will require a public hearing approach. I think we should make clear - and we can do it through debate in this assembly or a variety of statements in this assembly - of what is at stake or what is at issue. I have given you some indication today of the kinds of concerns that government are taking into account and no doubt there are others about which I have little or no familiarity, but government is taking a cautious approach and making sure that if it makes a decision to permit this that we are not likely to put the whole caribou herd in the Province at risk, or we are not likely to cause an adverse environmental impact in some other direction. So, to the extend that there may be a need for a public discussion I can assure the hon. member that government will provide for it, but not if there is no substantial need.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the Minister of Health. The minister will be aware of the results of blood tests conducted on some residents of the Placentia area undertaken recently by a Dr. Bertell of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health in Toronto. Mr. Speaker, Dr. Bertell said that the results showed a low lymphocyte count for the ten cases, which is an abnormally high percentage of 40 per cent, and among the possible causes that were cited were airborne toxic substances. Mr. Speaker, can the minister tell the House whether he will be instruction officials of his department to conduct a further series of tests in the Placentia area as recommended by Dr. Bertell.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, it is a little premature for us to embark on a full investigation at this time but I have instructed officials in my department to try to get more information on the matter. The only thing we have at the moment is a media report which tells about a very small sample of ten people who were tested. We cannot exactly suggest how this test was carried out or what was done there but I have instructed officials from my department, and I can tell the hon. member that we intend to also involve some of the expertise we have at the university to assist us as we first analyze just what this is all about and see if there is any reason which would warrant further investigation. I am not going to go straight in and do an investigation until I get more facts as to what this study was actually about.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My supplementary concerns the recent reports as well, Mr. Speaker, of abnormally high instances of certain types of cancers in the Placentia area, and is the minister in a position at this time to clarify the position with respect to these, these whether or not he is aware of these reports, and can he offer any opinion as to whether or not there may be any connection between these particular illnesses and Dr. Bertell's findings?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, there is all kinds of room in this matter for speculation, assumption and this sort of thing. If I were to run the department in that manner I would be practically every day calling in consultants and investigators and that sort of thing. That is not the way we run the department. I have heard the reports that the hon. member talks about.

Again they were carried in the media and in general terms we try to collect preliminary information and see if it is worth pursuing with a further study or is it just some news reporter who tries to make a front page for his daily paper. We are trying to see if there is any real basis there for some concern. When and if that is found to be the case we will leave no stone unturned to deal with the matter, but we can't deal in speculation or assumption.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To move on from possible speculation as the minister says to the environmental impact statement by Albright and Wilson on the decommissioning of the phosphorous plant at Long Harbour. Has the minister reviewed the findings of this statement, and is he aware of the statements of the findings of certain levels of contaminant in the sealed containers on the site, and of the nature and levels of radiation from the slag heap left over? Is he concerned, Mr. Speaker, as a minister about the potential connection between the radiation contaminant and the possibility that connects it between that and the initial blood test results conducted by Dr. Bertell?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I listen to the news as the hon. Member for St. John's East does. Now if there is any environmental concern here, which I am sure is being dealt with by the Department of Health, but I am not sure this kind of questioning is really serving any great purpose other than to try to get people all excited and concerned about some potential danger. We cannot deal in speculations. I told the hon. member the report which came out of Toronto from Dr. Bertell, we are trying to get some background to see exactly what is being said, and we want to find out the qualifications of the person who is making the reports and just what is going on there. If there is any basis whatsoever which would warrant a further investigation then we will go ahead with it, but if there is not any need of it, we are not going to try to scare people unless there is some basis to warn people of a potential hazard.

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

MR. HARRIS: Yes, Mr. Speaker. This is my final supplementary. Three areas of concern, one identified by the EIS, the potential problem with respect to abnormally high levels of certain cancers, and the findings of Dr. Bertell would give rise to a certain level of concern of people in the Placentia area, not prompted by me, Mr. Speaker, but by these reports.

What guarantee can the minister give that the people of the Placentia area will not fall victim to the contamination that may result from the decommissioning of Long Harbour. Is the minister prepared to give the kind of guarantee that might be required to satisfy people that this government is taking the issue seriously?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, we can guarantee the people of Placentia as we can guarantee the people of Newfoundland and Labrador that we will continue to deal in facts. If there is a problem there this government will leave no stone unturned to deal with it, as we have proven on other matters since we have been in government, Mr. Speaker. We will deal in facts, and when we get the truth of the matter we will leave no stone unturned to advise the people of the area and to take whatever action is necessary, Mr. Speaker, but we are not going to fly off the handle with the silly nonsense the hon. member is getting on with in an attempt to try to make a few political points on hearsay and speculation.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have questions for the Premier. Yesterday in Question Period the Premier showed his ignorance of the Province's public libraries. That lack of knowledge might have been understandable if the Premier had not resorted to accusing the Public Libraries Board of mismanagement and insinuating that they are trying to somehow blackmail the government.

One of the Premier's statements was, quote: "On a per capita basis I suspect we are pretty high by comparison with the rest of Canada. I am having it checked and I will report to the House of Assembly, hopefully by tomorrow, exactly what the situation is." My question, Mr. Speaker, is has the Premier checked, and if so will he confirm that this Province is certainly not on a par with the rest of Canada in providing public funding to public libraries? In fact we are the worst of all the provinces. We are far below half the national average. We are more than -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS. VERGE: - 15 per cent below -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS. VERGE: - the next lowest province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member has asked the question. The hon. member is not supposed to answer it. It is the Premier who is to answer it.

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: There are two parts to the question, or two issues raised with respect to the question, Mr. Speaker. The first was with respect to her comment about an insult to the Public Libraries Board. I told the House yesterday that the comment was based on newspaper reports, which, I may say, I cannot verify at this stage. But they specifically quote Mr. Penney as making this statement: we can close down at a time of least importance, or when libraries are most important to the public, to make a greater statement.

I can say to Mr. Penney, the government is not going to respond to that kind of blackmail or mismanagement by the Public Libraries Board. Now if they were to close down at a time when the libraries are busiest for the purpose of trying to bring pressure on the government, I consider that mismanagement. That is the basis on which I make the statement. So I make it very clear that that is the position that I take.

Now, I have to say that I am having a thorough assessment of the full situation with the Libraries Board being done. It is not yet complete, but as soon as it is, I will advise the House of the full state of affairs. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Does the Premier realise that the Public Libraries Board has decided not simply to close for two weeks on top of the three or four weeks they were faced with closing anyway, but taking all their employees - Mr. Penney on down - off the payroll for two weeks? Does the Premier realise that? Why won't the Premier talk directly to Mr. Penney instead of wondering if he was quoted correctly or misquoted by The Evening Telegram?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: If Mr. Penney wants to talk to me I am sure he will place a call. I would be quite happy to talk to him. I talk to all kinds of people - members of the Opposition, members of the general public, all kinds of people I talk to. So I have no hesitation speaking with Mr. Penney. As a matter of fact, I might like to speak with Mr. Penney, because I would like him to answer that statement and explain the basis on which he made such a statement. But the minister responsible is speaking with Mr. Penney and will deal directly with Mr. Penney. It is not necessary for me to contact him.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

Order, please!

I want to bring to the attention of hon. members the presence in the Speaker's Gallery today of His Excellency, Jacques Lecomte, Ambassador and head of the Delegation of Commission of European Communities. His Excellency is accompanied by Dr. Lanita Carter, Associate Dean, External Affairs, Faculty of Business Administration, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is my pleasure to submit the report on the Elections Act. As you know, Mr. Speaker, some months ago this House asked the committee to go over Bill 1, An Act Respecting Elections, Controverted Elections And Elections Financing.

I will just take a couple of minutes, Mr. Speaker, to briefly say that the committee worked hard, having thirteen meetings with sixteen witnesses representing thousands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. We have concluded that there are some thirty-two recommendations, which we have put forward. The vast majority of these, Mr. Speaker, are technical, but we have made a couple of substantial recommendations.

Two in particular, Mr. Speaker: To see that the proxy vote not be used but be replaced by a special write-in ballot that would cure a lot of the problems that were brought before the committee; and, also, Mr. Speaker, we have made an extra effort to make sure that this legislation and the election process is more accessible to the disabled community, and we have made a number of recommendations along these lines.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to conclude by thanking the committee: The hon. the Member for Port au Port, who is the Vice-Chair, the Member for Pleasantville, the Member for Carbonear and the Member for Kilbride. Also, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Clerk of the Committee for doing an excellent job and seeing that this very important piece of legislation is brought to the House for approval.

Thank you.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure of the procedure but I believe it is acceptable that the Vice-Chair would have a few comments on this.

MR. SPEAKER: No, no.

MR. R. AYLWARD: By leave? Just one minute?

MR. SPEAKER: By leave?


MR. SPEAKER: By leave. I want to make it straight that there is no provision for this and that it is done by leave.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank all hon. members opposite for this.

Mr. Speaker, the Vice-Chair of the committee is not here but I just want to say, on his behalf, that it was a pleasure working with the committee. It was a hard act to review. It certainly is revolutionary, I suppose, for this Province. The committee generally supports the act that was presented.

I would just implore that the government take a serious look at our recommendations. I think if most of these recommendations are followed, it probably would be reasonable to assume, I don't know about unanimous acceptance of this act, but certainly I think we could give full support to the act from this side of the House, as well as I am sure will happen over there. I do implore that the government take a very serious look at the recommendations that we did make because we had a lot of very good, top-rate presentations on this act from the people who showed up. Not nearly enough, not nearly as many as I thought would show up, but the ones who did come made very good presentations.

Once again I want to say that it was a pleasure working with the committee members on this committee.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Kilbride placed a question on the Order Paper of April 30 asking for information concerning the number of trips taken by the Minister of Education for the period September 17, 1991 to October 4, 1991, the dates and the duration, all charges, and if he was accompanied on these trips.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education took four trips in that period:

On the seventeenth, a one-day trip to Arnold's Cove accompanied by the Executive Assistant to have meetings concerning the training of people in the Hibernia area. The cost was $55.91.

The minister went to Calgary for five days beginning September 21, accompanied by his Deputy Minister. The cost of that five-day trip to Calgary to the voters, the public of this Province, $98.00. All other expenses were paid by the Council of Ministers, and we contribute to that council. They paid all the other expenses.

The third trip was a one-day trip to Gander. The minister travelled alone on that, and the cost was $348.10 for air fare and $23 for other expenses, taxis and parking.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

DR. WARREN: Yes, it would have been cheaper - and I wondered why the question was asked in the deadlines. Then the minister went to Baie Verte for a one-day trip on November 7. The minister was unaccompanied on that trip, and the total cost to the government was zero.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. WARREN: Zero. No charge to government, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Orders of the Day

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I think we will call, today, Order No. 10.

MR. SPEAKER: Order No. 10.

Is this the resumption of the adjourned debate on Bill 17?

The hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is a debate now on an amendment to Bill 17 asking that a six-month hoist go into effect in which a committee of the House would conduct public hearings to the effects and ramifications of Bill 17 on the public sector unions in this Province.

When I concluded debate yesterday, the Minister of Labour had indicated that what was happening in this one was not contract stripping. The minister rose on a point of order to address the concerns that I raised. It was ruled there was no point of order.

The minister, when he spoke in debate on April 28, said that the total cost of compensation ranges anywhere between 15 per cent and 30 per cent of the total cost as tied up in benefits other than salary. Each one of these groups knows it is totally in their own hands, totally of their own volition. Only if they want to they can enter into negotiated agreements and change them.

Mr. Speaker, I asked the minister the other day what was it that it was referring to? Where is the 15 to 30 per cent that he could save? The minister did not indicate where. A range such as that, 15 to 30 per cent, must take substantially from other areas of a contract. Significant changes - I asked the minister if he was referring to changes in substitute teacher pay in the case of the NTA, or sick leave benefits for the public service unions. The minister didn't indicate what, and I am really curious as to what the minister could find to give such a high range, 15 to 30 per cent, other than straight salary. What else is there in a contract that you could take away, as he says later on, that might be able to give a 1 per cent, or 2 per cent, or 3 per cent raise? There are ways in Bill 17 for them to explore that.

Mr. Speaker, I am kind of at a loss as to what labour unions could do in this Province to negotiate with government to find that kind of raise that the minister refers to, if it is not to take away previously negotiated benefits. That seems a substantial amount of money.

The minister also said that we understand and recognize that the cost of living is increasing, and people didn't get a raise last year because we introduced a freeze. He did not say that we have introduced one this year, as well, and that next year is set to a total maximum of 3 per cent.

What this bill is about - it has been said on many occasions, and I will not belabour it. This bill is not about wage restraint, it is about the inability of a government to deal fairly with its public sector unions.

This government entered into contracts knowing that what they signed with a felt pen was going to be destroyed in the Legislature in a day or two, or three or four days shortly after. The President of Treasury Board has, on a couple of occasions, confirmed that this, indeed, was the case, that government had no intention of living up to the agreements they had entered into.

Mr. Speaker, in addition to that, what we see here is that contracts that have been written in law no longer have any validity in this Province. If the government, through the Legislature, decides that it is going to destroy all collective bargaining, then it will do so, as it has done with Bill 16 and now Bill 17, Mr. Speaker.

What is really interesting about this, is, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations has told us that if this occurred in the private sector, if some private sector union had attempted to do this, the government would use the powers of the Labour Relations Act to deal with that union.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it hasn't happened with government and I hope the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations will respond to the questions I have asked him: How are unions to come to government with proposals that can save anywhere from 15 per cent to 30 per cent, so that there can be a compensation package for them. I hope the President of Treasury Board, when he gets up to conclude the debate some time next week or next month, whenever it is, will explain where, in their collective agreements now, are there benefits that can give 15 per cent to 30 per cent? What do unions have to give up so that they can have those benefits accrue to them? What would it amount to in a salary increase? - and spill it out, Mr. Speaker. Let's not go around talking in circles saying that there is something there for them if the total compensation package is zero.

If the Premier or the President of Treasury Board and the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations know how unions can arrive at this, tell us how it is going to be done and what has to happen. Does it mean the end of substitute teacher pay in the Province? Is that one of the areas he is talking about, Mr. Speaker, or are the the President of Treasury Board and the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations talking about stripping contracts, existing contracts, through negotiations or perhaps through legislation?

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to the answers to these questions.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity of speaking on the amendment proposed to Bill 17, this piece of legislation that attempts to balance the books of this Province on the backs of its employees, and by doing so, I believe, sends signals out to the larger private corporations of this Province, that they should be attempting to do the same thing, take advantage of employees. And that, to me, Mr. Speaker, is a bad piece of legislation.

It is bad because it singles out public employees as those who are at fault for the mismanagement of this government. Because really, Mr. Speaker, this government is at fault. When they took over the reins of administration of power in 1989, they had presented a first Budget with a surplus and because of their mismanagement we have seen Budgets brought down since then which signifies the inefficiency, mismanagement and bungling that has never been seen before in this Province, Mr. Speaker, because of things they have done and also because of things they have not done. I am talking about the increased taxes, one of the things they have done.

I heard the hon. the Member for Pleasantville talking the other day about how the federal administration has increased federal government taxes by 10 per cent since 1984. My goodness, Mr. Speaker, this regime has seen fit to do that since 1989 in this Province and already we were the most taxed in this whole country. Not only that, they have downloaded services on municipalities and forced them to drastically increase the municipal taxes in this Province. That is one of the things they have done.

They brought in the previous Bill 16, that was just as distasteful as this one, but, Mr. Speaker, what they have not done is, they haven't proposed any new ideas to stimulate the economy. They have been completely void of any new ideas, other than appointing somebody from Memorial University to go out and say: 'Well, you study it now for three or four years and see what you can come up with.' The infamous Economic Recovery Commission, Mr. Speaker, now, what have they done? - absolutely nothing that people can see to stimulate the economy. We have seen nothing but pieces of legislation come before this House that attempt to either download on municipalities -

MR. BAKER: (Inaudible) 3,000 jobs.

MR. A. SNOW: The President of Treasury Board, the hon. the Member for Gander says: Well, one thing we have done is lay off 3,000 people. Now, he calls that stimulating the economy. Last year the minister laid off 3,000 people and he is proud of that. He thought that was going to stimulate the economy. Now, that is how much they know about what occurs in the economy when you lay off 3,000 people. They thought they were going to balance the books last year on freezing wages and laying off 3,000 people, Mr. Speaker.

The President of Treasury Board thought that was going to work last year. It didn't work. They got themselves into a bigger mess than they were in the year previous. Now, he feels they are going to be able to do it again by freezing wages. No, I want to tell him right up front that it is not going to work. You can't balance your books with this piggy bank mentality of bookkeeping. It won't work. They have to be more creative and imaginative.

We all know it is hard times out there, Mr. Speaker, but we can't just pull our head back into the shell and say: What we are going to do now is just lay off a few more public employees, freeze their wages, and things will get better, because they are only going to get worse if you keep doing that. All they ever do is talk about cutting. The three options they always talk about are that either they tax more, they cut, or they say: 'We can borrow.'

They fail to see that there is a fourth option. That fourth option is to be a little more creative. They should be more creative in attempting to stimulate the economy.

MR. NOEL: You have to stimulate your own members (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, they are probably in researching some of the comments that the hon. the Member for Pleasantville made last week. In his speech, when he talked about Bill 17, he blamed it all on the federal government. He thought they should be able to do it by having a Triple E Senate. That was going to solve everything in this Province. Now, here is a member who is supposed to be the - he speaks as if he were the right-wing zealot over there, he is the economist from Water Street. Success has never been seen before on Water Street. He articulates it so well, doing away with marketing boards, shutting down breweries. He is the spokesman for, I guess you would have to call them the industrialists or the merchants of Water Street.

He says that the Triple E Senate is going to cure all the economic ills. Now can you imagine? He says that with one voice, and then with another voice he says: Of course, it is the private sector that drives the economy, it is not the government. The private sector is going to be the engine of recovery. We have to let the private sector be able to perform more. We have to do away with the marketing boards and all that. We shouldn't be protecting them. We have to do away with all that.

Then, on the other side of his voice, he says the Triple E Senate will solve it all. That level, that new federal institution that we will get, will solve the economic woes of this Province. By electing two people or twenty or fifty, maybe it would, if we enlarged the Senate to include the 20 per cent of the people of this Province who are unemployed. The Senate could be Triple E and we would elect all those. Maybe that would help. I am not sure. Now maybe that is why he feels that is going to solve all the economic problems of this Province. But I don't think it will, Mr. Speaker.

MR. NOEL: You know the best solution? Persuade your friend Mulroney to quit and call an election. That would be the best way to solve all of Canada's problems!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker -

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

I want to bring to hon. members attention that they are not to speak from other members' seats. As undesirable as it might be, it should be from their own.

The hon. the Member for Menihek.

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We know that the Member for Pleasantville wouldn't want to be recorded as making such remarks as that, because he knows what is going to happen when there is a federal election called and he decides to run for the Reform Party, because the crowd he is with now are not far enough right for him. So he can only find the philosophy over on the extreme right with Preston Manning to run with, to jump in bed with, and that is where he will be. So he knows he has to do it quietly and in the underground. He doesn't want it recorded in Hansard so that people will be aware of it, Mr. Speaker, because he knows that the people down in Pleasantville are not really that right wing yet. He has to subject them to a lot of propaganda first. So he is going to do it quietly, use the tactic of speaking about it in the underground, getting it out that way.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in this Bill 17, what really disappoints me is that being a supporter of the labour movement, being a member of the labour movement as a steelworker - I must say, I am proud to speak as a steelworker. It really disappoints me to see that this government, this regime, has attacked the labour movement, Mr. Speaker. They have sent out signals that really are a violation of trust.

Mr. Speaker, in the public sector, it is very, very important, when a union sits down and, nose to nose across the table, negotiates a deal, and then the government says, `We will sign here. It is tough but we will sign. You are hard negotiators, we will sign, though, because you have talked us into it, you have convinced us.' That is what they say at the bargaining table and they sign a deal. Then they go out, walk through the door and into the Cabinet room, close the doors, laugh up their sleeves and say, `Tear it up.' That is what they are doing, Mr. Speaker.

Now, can you imagine what that says to the ordinary working person in the hospitals, Mr. Speaker, or the nurse down at the Janeway or the teacher up in Labrador City Collegiate? Can you imagine how they feel? Can you imagine how the people working in the forestry feel, after their elected representatives that they campaigned for, Mr. Speaker, got them elected in the union - and they also went out and campaigned for some of these people who are now in the Cabinet. Mr. Speaker, they were proud when they voted in April of 1989 and said, `We have a Liberal Government now and they are going to treat us fairly.' What did they do, Mr. Speaker? They put the screws to them, Mr. Speaker, that is what they did. That is what they did, Mr. Speaker. They tore up the agreement. They bargained in good faith and, then, what did they do?

I suppose the ultimate insult, Mr. Speaker, was having a former labour leader going around sporting a button with Bill 17. I mean, people said to me, `I can't believe it, that a former labour leader in this Province would be doing that.' People came in and they would sneak a look in through the gallery, Mr. Speaker, and they saw him up speaking and he had the button on. They couldn't believe it. He was up supporting Bill 17, wearing a button saying he was in favour of Bill 17, after telling them that Bill 17, this terrible piece of legislation, was unprecedented in this country.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No, it wasn't.

MR. A. SNOW: Well, not really, because they set the precedent in previous legislation, did they not? So he corrected himself there. But he said, `Having established a precedent, we thought we would do it again.'

Mr. Speaker, what they have really done is they have established a precedent for a violation of public trust. After sitting down negotiating a hard-nosed agreement, sitting down nose to nose with old Penny Pincher himself, Mr. Speaker, the hon. the President of Treasury Board, who they thought would be fair to them, Mr. Speaker, because such as myself he has some leanings towards the public sector employees, being a bit of a socialist himself, having his roots in the NDP party such as myself. They thought he would remember his roots, but no, he didn't remember the roots. He only remembered being part of the board. He is now in the board room, Mr. Speaker. He moved up to the board room. So having been part of the board room for, I guess he was probably only there a couple of months and he could put the shaft to the brothers down in the streets, that hit the bricks with them, Mr. Speaker. I certainly hope that when people on this side of the House get over there, Mr. Speaker, and get the opportunity to sit in the Cabinet room that they won't be doing it, and I don't think that they will.

Mr. Speaker, I suppose if I were to be political about this I could say that it is probably good for our side, for the Progressive Conservative Party to see what the government is doing, because it really undermines their credibility and the fact that you can't trust them when they get in there because of what they do. They signed an agreement knowing full well what they were going to have to do down the road. That is what they did with the NTA, knowing full well what they were going to do.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: The hon. Minister of Forestry and Agriculture shakes his head, Mr. Speaker, and suggests yes, that I am correct because he knows that the teachers have told him that. He says yes, and he is nodding in the affirmative again now, Mr. Speaker, the hon. the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture. He is saying that the Premier made them do it, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: But, Mr. Speaker, it is also a reflection of how people perceive this House of Assembly. There is no doubt that people having the opportunity of participating in public forums for our party over the last couple of months, Mr. Speaker, felt that there is a feeling out there that there is not a lot of faith in the public process, if you will, not a lot of faith in politicians in general in any elected forums, Mr. Speaker. That is largely due to some of the things that have occurred nationally, and also some of the things that have been occurring provincially, Mr. Speaker, things such as passing legislation like this Bill 17. The elected representatives representing employees sit down with other elected representatives. The same people voted in different forums, Mr. Speaker, different ballot boxes. They elected two people to go in. One to represent them in government, another one to represent them in a union. They worked out a good deal through a process called collective bargaining. Then they see that the one they voted for in the political forum, Mr. Speaker, shafted them. You can't trust them.

The minister agrees. He shakes his head and he is disappointed in himself. I know, Mr. Speaker. The hon. Member for Gander says that he is disappointed in himself. So he should be disappointed in himself. Mr. Speaker, the public employees of this Province are going to remember it too, that this government can't be trusted because of making deals and breaking them, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Now they are going to say that they saved jobs, Mr. Speaker, after laying off 3,000 people last year the hon. Minister responsible for Forestry and Agriculture said that should be 10,000. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is wrong. You know, I mean for a minister of the Crown to be suggesting that there should be 10,000 people laid off, it is terrible, but that is the mentality we have in this Province. That is the mentality of the people who are supposed to be running this Province, and that is why we are in the shape we are in. They have never exercised any sense of responsibility of what we are going to do to stimulate the economy, Mr. Speaker. All they have ever said is the only thing we can do is either tax, cut or borrow. That is all we can do. You never hear them out talking about what they can do to stimulate the economy.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) job security.

MR. A. SNOW: Job security, Mr. Speaker, there are ten or twelve teachers in western Labrador who do not have job security this year because of what this government is doing. I believe there are ten or twelve getting laid off.


MR. A. SNOW: I may indeed not have much job security in this particular position I have now but I am sure that as long as this government continues treating the people in western Labrador in this fashion it will either be a Progressive Conservative member elected down there, an NDP member, a Rhinoceros party member, or a reform party member, but there is one thing for sure it will not be a Liberal Party member elected for Menihek. That is for sure, Mr. Speaker, because they feel they are being taken advantage of, not by just this piece of legislation but they have been taken advantage of when the cuts were made to the Captain William Jackman Memorial Hospital. After contributing so much to the economy of this Province they now feel they are being taken advantage of even more because of cuts made to the Captain William Jackman Memorial Hospital and the fact that they cannot deliver an adequate health care service to the people of Labrador City, Wabush and Fermont, Mr. Speaker, because they have an added responsibility there.

Having suffered through those cuts the workers in that hospital - I am not talking about the bricks and mortar, Mr. Speaker, I am talking about the people working in that hospital. The members know I am talking about people because that is the type of person I am. I am concerned about the people. They are concerned down there because of the fact that they are being taken advantage of by this regime, by this regime who only increases taxes and cuts services in western Labrador. Last year they cut over $800,000 out of that hospital's budget, a 14 per cent cut, and having to endure that, this year they were again threatened with further cuts, the highest cuts of any hospital delivering the level of services of any hospital in this Province. Why? One should ask why, Mr. Speaker, they were singled out to be attacked. We lost a provincial court judge and this government says the only reason why they did it was to save jobs, save money. Imagine, coming out and saying that our policy is to save money. We are not elected to govern. We are only elected to save money. That is all you ever hear out of them, we are elected to save money. We cannot go spending money, we cannot create any. That is what they think, Mr. Speaker, that they cannot create any wealth. They do not understand how an economy works, they just cannot understand it, Mr. Speaker.

It was only last night I listened to the Minister responsible for Mines and Energy talking about how it does not matter if a company in the United States goes bankrupt, that they own 1400 or 1500 service stations. It does not matter if they go bankrupt, he said, they only consume 94 per cent of the production of Come by Chance. That is all they do, they only consume. They will still be able to go on in Come by Chance, there is no problem there. Come by Chance could still go on producing. I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, he corrected me, it is only 96 per cent. That is the understanding they have of an economy. They hide their heads in the sand and say: give me my $130,000 a year and I will travel around and do the cocktail circuits here in St. John's, go out to the banquets in rural Newfoundland, smile and look pretty, and every now and then we will send the boss over to Europe to see how he looks up on a soap box in the different forums over there. We know they are not doing anything. Whenever times get rough at home off he goes again to Ottawa or Vancouver, or they send him back to Europe, but they sure as heck will not do anything here, Mr. Speaker, to stimulate the economy. They will not do a thing. We have seen that in western Labrador. What do they do up there? Come in and take more money by taxes, or they will use a Crown corporation and take more money out of them that way. That is all they think of - tax, tax, tax, or cut, cut, cut. That is all they think of. They never think of doing anything in a positive manner, to do something to stimulate the economy. They are completely devoid of any ideas - any ideas. They are completely devoid of any ideas to stimulate the economy.

They talk about the number of things that they have done in western Labrador that are positive. I heard somebody muttering over there, but how about when we shut down the motor vehicle registration office, the Minister responsible for Public Works and Services said. How about that for positive? Now, Mr. Speaker, wasn't that something? What a terrific reform that was. They shut down an office in Clarenville, and one in western Labrador, and they thought it was reform. They laid off two or three people in Labrador City and Wabush, and said, well that is great reform, the minister said. And look at the service. Sure we have improved service. We have improved service. Anybody who lives up there knows that it is not improved service. It is terrible. People are waiting as long as six to eight weeks now to get a licence.

But because this government is completely devoid of any ideas to stimulate the economy, and you would feel that they are supposed to be the free marketers that they espouse to be on one hand, like the Triple E shoe salesman from Water Street - that Triple E Economist from Water Street, the right wing zealot over there - you would feel that they are the free marketers like you would not believe. You would figure they would be up holding Brian's hand, running around, but that is not true. All they do is they have that one mentality of tax more on the businesses. That is what they do. They do not create a better environment out there to allow investors to invest more money. They drive them out of the Province. I recognized it in western Labrador. The people up there recognize it too, and it is occurring here within the Island portion of the Province - completely void of any ideas to stimulate the economy.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: The resignation of a Member for Pleasantville, now that would help.


MR. A. SNOW: The resignation of a Member for Pleasantville, and three of four more St. John's seats, that would help. Get them down then so you could not have such a huge majority and be able to ram bills like this through the House. So that then you would not be so arrogant. You would not be so arrogant then with the workers, the employees of this Province, of this government. You would not be running them into the ground because you would be a little nervous. That is what would happen to you.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Yes, I am looking forward to the next election, Mr. Speaker - looking forward to it, because I feel that there are going to be some changes, a lot of changes in this House.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: And the hon. Member for Pleasantville suggested that he is going to run, because he wants to qualify for a pension. Now I think that he should have a pension now. He should have a pension now.

AN HON. MEMBER: With the contribution that he made to this Legislature.

MR. A. SNOW: He deserves - he has earned a pension. He has. He has. He should have a pension. Most states in the civilized world agree with pensions for disabled people and people of that mentality. It would be cheaper for the state to pension off somebody like that, who offers his contribution to the people of this Province. They would do less damage by being pensioned off, Mr. Speaker. - the whole lot of them over there, I would say. No, not all of them, but they would do a lot less damage to the Province, to the country as a whole, if we could get them qualified for a pension early. They would do less damage.

MR. NOEL: Is this the most substantial criticism you can make to this bill?

MR. A. SNOW: No. I have to admit I did digress just a little in speaking on this bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: The member forced you to.

MR. A. SNOW: Having been forced to respond by the goads and comments made by the hon. Member for Pleasantville.

I have to say that I am disappointed that this regime has seen fit to propose again for the second time to bring legislation into this House of Assembly to attempt to balance the books simply by freezing the wages of its public employees. It shows a piggy bank mentality that this government has exercised since they were elected in 1989, and which is a disappointment to me and thousands of other Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

It shows that this government cannot be trusted to negotiate within the collective bargaining process and it shows that this government has no consideration for the people of this Province. It disappoints me as a member of the Legislature, as a member of a labour movement, as a citizen of Labrador City, and a citizen of this Province. Mr. Speaker, this Province should think of ways to develop the economy of this Province, not attack it's people and it's employees. Thank you.

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to take a few minutes to speak on this Bill. I am going to say from the outset, quite honestly, that I have not read the complete Bill, because I don't think it is necessary to read it and understand all the clauses. I think it is the principle of the Bill we have to deal with and, regardless of its politics, a decision that a government must make.

Listening to my hon. friend over there from Labrador making some remarks as to what should be done and what should not be done regarding the teachers and the nurses and the other public service sector, and where they should get a commitment on the monies that they should receive. My only concern, from the very outset, is that in order to pay monies out you must be taking monies in. My question to all the people who are looking for an increase in wages and an increase in remuneration, whether it be pension plans or whatever: where can you get the monies to pay out if you are not receiving those monies?

The former speaker has been a successful businessman all of his life, as he was saying to my friend for Pleasantville about his success in business, he too was a successful businessman, probably still is.

AN HON. MEMBER: More successful than you?

MR. EFFORD: I wouldn't say more successful than I, no, but certainly very successful. I don't know, with my number of years in business, where I could have gotten the money to pay out had I not taken the revenues in. So it is basic economics and I am sure he well understands that but he has to make his point as an Opposition member.

But I tell you very seriously, and very honestly -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: That was the major lesson he gave to the other hon. member.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: I will tell you very seriously and very honestly, Mr. Speaker, I am not up here to make cracks at the Opposition or to make cracks at anybody. I am up here speaking as a member of the House of Assembly for the district of Port de Grave, and I am speaking in a very frightened manner. I am very serious about what I am going to say. A very frightened manner.

Because what I am experiencing in my district now is enough to frighten the soul out of any person in this Province, whether you are in politics or whether you are not. We have eight fish plants in the small district of Port de Grave, with a population of about 14,000 people, total, men, women and children, and eight fish plants closed, with no prospects of one fish plant opening this year. No prospects at all. If that is not enough to frighten any person out of their wits I do not know what is.

Here I turn on the news in the evening, and you sit down and watch it and you hear the president of the NTA making threats against the government as they are not satisfied because they are not going to get an increase in salary this year. I understand him, everybody would like to have more money. That is human nature, that is human greed and that is a human trait, we all would like to have more money. I would like to be making ten times the salary I am making and I would like to be making ten times that, I mean it is only natural, but realistically it is not possible in the economy that we are facing today. Realistically, anybody using any degree of common sense, knows it is not possible for a government to be able to pay out the wage increases that people need today.

Where are they going to get the money? If all these union leaders and all the people involved in this union organization would like to take on the government of today and try to get more money in a forceful and militant manner, fine. Why do they not put those same energies and directions towards getting the economy of the Province back into a stable and viable condition, where, when government receives the amount of taxes every year from people who are working, they then can give the increases that people need. It is a very simple process. You do not have to be a mathematician, you do not have to be a genius in economics to understand this. The reality is that you must take money in, and in order to take money in the economy must be such that people are working on a regular basis, and as we know in Newfoundland and Labrador it is a regular seasonal basis. Not 365 days a year, we accept the reality that we depend on the resource around our shores around our oceans to give us that employment on a seasonal basis.

Mr. Speaker, we are losing that resource drastically and my scare is not the fact that the rest of the world does not realize that, that the rest of Canada does not realize that, my fear and my scare and my worry, as my experience in the last year as Chairperson of the United Fishermen, is that 90 per cent of the population of Newfoundland and Labrador still do not accept the realization of how serious the fisheries crisis is in this Province and that is the biggest problem we are facing today. We do not understand the seriousness of what is about to take place. Let me tell you one thing, Lundrigan's Limited going bankrupt, 2,500 people out of work is only going to be the tip of the iceberg, that is what we are not realizing, that is what the people in this Province are not realizing; that is what the business community, that is what the trade unions, the public service sector and everybody else is not realizing. What happens if the fishery goes into a total collapse? Where is the business going to come from to employ people, and let me give you a couple of numbers, Mr. Speaker, of what I am talking about.

Simple mathematics, a simple multiplication, 30,000 people employed in the fishing industry, earning on an average of $300 a week, total income earned in the fishery and supplemented by UI, works out to approximately $468 million. The spin-off factor, another 4,500 averaging $200 a week, Mr. Speaker, works out to a yearly average of another $468 million. In other words we are talking about in excess of $1 billion earned income lost if the fishing industry totally collapses. $1 billion and nobody is concerned about it. Now, if the government of the day loses the tax revenues on $1 billion, you talk about wage restraints, you talk about cutbacks and hospital beds closed and school teachers laid off and nurses and everybody else, where, in the name of God is the money going to come from?

You take the forestry out of British Columbia, Mr. Speaker, what do you have left? A total collapse of the economy. You take the manufacturing industry out of Ontario and you have a total collapse of the economy. You take the fishing industry out of Newfoundland and you have a total collapse of the economy. We are afraid to admit the reality of what is going to happen and it is not a political statement that somebody is getting up and beating off his mouth and trying to frighten people, it is a reality.

I can tell you that in the last four weeks there have been twelve to fifteen boats sail out from my community, 200 miles on the Grand Banks for six days; listen to what I am going to tell you and if you do not believe me, check it out. Six days on the Grand Banks and came back without one fish! They have the electronics, they have all the technology, they have the expertise, they have the strength, and they have the equipment to catch fish. There is just no fish there, Mr. Speaker! There is no fish in the water to catch in those areas. If there is no fish, there is nobody working. Still nobody cares about it. Still nobody is willing to say: Enough is enough. We have to do something drastic to motivate Ottawa or to move Ottawa into taking control before the fishery is completely gone.

I got a copy of a press statement sent over this morning from Iceland by fax. Let me tell you what Portugal did this week over in Iceland. They were over there trying to sell 540 tons of fish caught out on the Grand Banks. Do you know why they were over there trying to sell them? They were too small to process. Five hundred and forty tons of fish taken out here this last month. I have it up in my office quoted by the Icelandic people. They sent it over to me in their press. They would not buy them because they were too small. They called them junk fish. Nobody cares enough to say: Ottawa, if you don't do it, we will do it!

There is an example, Mr. Speaker, a prime example right there. A prime example of what is happening in Newfoundland.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is right.

MR. EFFORD: You speak anywhere in this Province and it is the same thing. You go out and you talk to the business community, you talk to the Chamber of Commerce. I have done it a number of times this year. They pat you on the back and then say: Efford, boy you made a great speech. The minute you leave and they go back to their little offices or their own personal businesses it is all forgotten about. What do you need to do to wake up the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador that we are close to complete economic collapse? You can't put a gun to people's heads.

Patience. Dear God, how much patience do you need? I don't know, Mr. Speaker. I really don't know.

AN HON. MEMBER: One scenario after another.

MR. EFFORD: I would really just as soon sit down in my seat and say the devil take it, and give up, because who cares? You know, there is a prime example of what is going on.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: We have a seal population, Mr. Speaker, that we haven't got the guts to deal with, that we, as a Province, don't have the guts to deal with. We have a seal population of 6 million seals. In March 10 of this year there was approximately -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) because there is none left.

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I will sit down in my seat, and when the hon. gentleman who is going to carry on a conversation is finished I will rise and take my place and finish my twenty minutes.

Mr. Speaker, we have a population - I will repeat again - of 6 million seals in the water. On March 10 of every year, that is when the seals, what we call in the fishing industry, pup. This year there were 700,000 new pup seals born. From what I have been told in listening to the news media last night there is going to be approximately 50,000 seals harvested this year. In other words we have another increase this year of 650,000 new seals born. Now if they only eat one pound of fish a day, Mr. Speaker, one pound of fish per day is not very much is it?... that is 650,000 pounds of fish will be eaten each day this year by the new population just pupped this year.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's no matter what kind of fish they eat.

MR. EFFORD: That is absolutely right. No matter what kind of fish they eat, Mr. Speaker. Six hundred and fifty thousand pounds.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, if that 650,000 pounds of fish were allowed to grow and mature and be harvested in the fish plants every day, can you imagine how many jobs could be created in the Provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador with the harvesting of those fish? And we are afraid of Greenpeace. We are afraid of the animal rights groups. We are afraid that we might upset the political groups across the world, and they might come down here and turn on us. Well I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, we don't have much choice in this matter. We don't have much choice in allowing that to happen, because what we are going to have in the next year or two is instead of the greenpeace down here we are going to be having 95 per cent of the population of this Province who depend now on the fishing industry out of work on social services.

Where is the money going to come from in the Department of Social Services if there is no money being taken in? So you are going to have, instead of half the population as it is quoted now of the school children now going hungry, you are going to have the greater majority of the population of school kids going hungry because there are going to be no jobs for people. I don't know where the jobs are going to come from. You can have all the ideas you like to start businesses but if there is no basis for the economy what can you do?

I do not know why we cannot have a seal harvest in this Province. I cannot believe that we cannot have a successful seal harvest in this Province where we can harvest a million seals, sell the meat, give it to the hungry people, and do something with the by-products. At least we would be protecting the future of the industry in both ways. The realization of doing it makes all the common sense in the world, and still we cannot convince our federal government in Ottawa; we cannot convince the people who make the decisions to do what is necessary to be done in order to protect the future of this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I do not care what anybody is saying. I do not care what anybody is saying. We have no other choice. We have no other choice but to have a seal harvest. We have no other choice but to stop the foreigners overfishing, and if Bill 17 is to become a reality it is because of the circumstances that are taking place, because there is no money to pay out. If the economy of this Province is going to survive, we have no choice in making those decisions. We have no choice in stopping people out there destroying our stocks.

I got a letter here today from Stephenville, from a fishermen's committee. They are talking about where the union and DFO have gotten together and they are talking about cutting out 22,000 part-time fishermen in this Province. It's there. They now have that in the process - cutting out 22,000 part-time fishermen. In the name of God, when you take them out of the fishing boat, what are they going to do? This has been a way of life in this Province all over the years. A fisherman will go out in the Spring of the year and catch some lobster, and if the fish come into his community he will catch some fish. Then he will go into the logging camps and he will cut some logs, or he will go and build a boat, or build a house, or do something else to supplement his income. It has been a way of life for Newfoundlanders. There is no other way to do it, and here is a case in point where we are agreeing with cutting out 22,000 people.

Well the only thing I can tell the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the union, and anybody else who agrees with it, when you cut out those 22,000 fishermen, pack their suitcases and give them a subsidy to move up to Ontario where there are no jobs so they can go on welfare up there, because there is going to be no money to pay welfare in this Province, and if you do not give people a right to earn a living, if you take that away from them, they have one choice. You move them or you let them starve. You move them, Mr. Speaker, or you let them starve.

At the same time we have this crisis on our hands, we have Bill 17. Bill 17 is going to be voted on in this House of Assembly, and I have no doubt it is going to pass. I have no doubt it is going to pass, and there are going to be a lot of people personally affected by it who will be upset - very upset. They are going to be upset because they cannot get any money, any increases, but they can be thankful under the circumstances today, that they have a job. I am not saying they are going to have a job tomorrow or next week or next month, but at least I have a salary coming in now, and at least they have a salary. What about the tens of thousands of people in the fishing industry in this Province who do not have any salary coming in? Who do not have any income and will not have any income, and who have to feed their families, have to pay their bills and pay their mortgages and try to keep their heads above water.

It is like the business community. The people in business now are not making money. Ninety per cent of the people in the business community are not making money. It is a case of survival - trying to hang on and hope and pray that things are going to get better. Mr. Speaker, there is only one way things are going to improve in this Province. We have to get back our fishing industry, and there is only one way that is going to happen. The people of this Province have to realize and understand the seriousness of the crisis that is facing the Province. They have to feel it, they have to understand it, and they have to work with it. We have to work together as a Province, unions and trade associations, NTA's, nurses, firemen, police, every man, woman and child, with the same energy in the one direction, and then there will be returns, increases, and no wage restraints for anybody.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I must say, it is too bad that more people were not around to listen to the great speech we just heard from the Member for Port de Grave. Despite the fact that he might be using it a little bit to colour the effect of Bill 17 and what it is really doing, there was a tremendous amount of truth in what the gentleman said. I will comment on that, perhaps, as we get on a little bit. But we are speaking, really, on the amendment to the bill.

We still have to emphasize the fact that Bill 17 is a disastrous bill. We can say what we like about the present financial condition of the Province, or of the government, and to some degree we are justified when we say that we are going through hard times. We don't have to impress that on anybody, but we have gone through hard times before in this Province. We have gone through much harder times than we are going through right now. The only thing about it, I suppose, is back when we went through the really hard times we were used to it and we were prepared for it whether we were fishing, whether we were farming, or whether we were in business. But now we have grown to expect to be helped along when we run into hard times. We have grown used to the easy way of life and we are not really used, perhaps, to rolling up our sleeves and doing that bit extra when hard times strike.

If we look at the Budget, if we look at the bottom line in successive Budgets, we don't see a tremendous drop in revenues. In fact, each year we see increased revenues. A lot of people out there think government is in such hard shape that they have no money. They say to you, 'Well, how can government do it? They can't do anything else because they have no money.' They have more money than they had last year, and last year they had more money than they had the year before, and the year before they had more money than they had the year before that, so, consequently, if government have the same amount, or more money, at least they should be able to provide the same amount of services.

Mr. Speaker, the big concern with this legislation is not that it addresses the fact that we are in a time of financial restraint. That to a degree is acceptable, but this bill goes beyond the acceptable. It not only freezes wages, it takes away the wages that were given and along with that the legislation rolls back agreements that were made, or salaries that were made, and the most important thing it does, unfortunately, is it destroys completely the collective bargaining process. We talk about freezes, we have to freeze salaries. Well, salaries were frozen before in times of restraint and the people who were employed by government were upset as anybody would be. If a private entrepreneur businessman goes out and tells his employees that there is going to be a freeze and they are not going to get an increase for a certain year, they are going to be upset about it, everybody is, but when they realize the freeze must come in order to protect jobs then, disagree as they may, they would, as the former speaker said, rather have a job than have an increase. But, on the other hand, when the freeze becomes a cut, then it hurts even more. Now, you may ask, What are you talking about, 'when the freeze becomes a cut'? Well, the wages of the public servants were frozen this year, and frozen for another year, but along with that, they have been hit with an increase in their personal income tax, up to 6 per cent if you consider the 2 per cent over the last couple of years. So, if you only get the same amount of money you got last year but you have to pay an extra 6 per cent in taxes, then that means a cut in your take-home pay. The serious side is with the breaking of agreements because when you meet a group of your employees and over successive months discuss with them their concerns and bargain, and it takes time and it costs money, and it gets people upset, or it plays on the emotions whether it be pleasurably or not so, and finally, you arrive at an agreement and you go back to your membership, or you go back to the employer and say, we have reached an agreement with these people, and if they ratify it and sign it, everybody is happy. Then you find out shortly after that, you have been led down the garden path simply because the agreement that you have signed has now been taken into the House of Assembly and destroyed by the same government that signed it.

That, Mr. Speaker, is what is thoroughly unacceptable, it is precedent-setting, and certainly this violation of trust cannot be allowed to continue in this Province. Because if it does - and we have said it before - then nobody will have any faith in the collective bargaining process, certainly will have no faith in governments.

There are a number of things here on the - (Inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEARN: There are a number of things here on collective bargaining and the dishonesty that has taken place, and the blatant use of the power of numbers in the House to destroy contracts that we would like to get into. But every member in this House realises that. Members who speak - especially the backbenchers - from the opposite side admit it is not a good bill, that they do not like it. In fact, I would say the section where it freezes or prohibits any increase could be acceptable and supported by the government, perhaps, in time of restraint. But I cannot see how any backbencher representing workers around the Province can stand up and see a government by sheer dictatorship rip up contracts that have been signed. Hopefully, when the vote comes, whenever it comes, in the next few weeks or months, we will see people who have indicated they are displeased with the bill then stand up and vote against it.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to get back to some of the remarks made by the previous speaker when he talked about the need to bring money in before we can start paying money out. Now, we all realize that in this Province we have, because of our geography mainly, the need to have a great number of public servants.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEARN: To service a province like Newfoundland and Labrador, we have to have a tremendous number of public servants, simply by geography, not because of the numbers of people with which we deal. But geography beats us again. It beats us when we go to build roads, when we go to install water and sewer, when we go to erect recreational facilities, when we talk about servicing in relation to travelling co-ordinators visiting schools or health inspectors going out into the field, or forestry people travelling around the Province, or municipal affairs people visiting the offices. You can go on and on. Whichever way we turn around we are beaten by geography. Our whole educational system has been affected from day one by geography more so than anything else.

But here, in the sheer numbers of public servants needed to properly service our Province, as I say, we are beaten again by geography. There is nothing we can do about it. The need is there. Now, if we are going to bring in these extra dollars that the Member for Port de Grave talks about, then they must be new dollars. There is no good regenerating old dollars. We have to increase the new dollars that we bring in. We can only do this through the resource sectors.

We see our forestry in trouble right now, with the Minister of Forestry announcing that he is going to cut back the number of people employed at the seedling centre in Grand Falls because he figures that nature does a better job than humans - and that has been proven entirely incorrect. We must have an aggressive forestry reforestation program, a replanting program, if we are going to gain at all upon the severe losses over the years.

The forestry is much like the fishery. We took away and we didn't care. And we put very little back, until recently, both companies and governments are starting to see that if we are going to continue to take away the woods, especially with the new technology we are using, then we must also start replanting and reseeding. And, at this time, in particular, when the companies that use our forests, the paper mills, in particular, and pulp mills - when we see that the forests are getting into trouble, it is no time to start cutting back upon the people who are there to do something about that very problem.

If you look at our other resources, our mines, many of our mines, as you know, are becoming depleted, several are closing down; we don't hear of any big, new mines opening up to employ the numbers of people who are being laid off in the old ones.

Of course, besides the depletion of our resources in that area, we are running into advanced technology. A few days ago, I had the opportunity to tour the paper mill in Grand Falls, and the thing that amazed me most, because I have been in paper mills before, was the effect that computers have had on the work place. Where, before, all the checking and testing and labelling was done by humans, now it is a matter of one person sitting at a computer and everything is done. So that is another battle we have to fight.

So, here we have our resources that create jobs because of advanced technology. In the woods, where you had x number of loggers cutting down and trimming and piling the wood, now you have one fellow on a machine going through clear-cutting the works, trimming it to specifics, stacking it, everything happens by machinery, so we are beaten all around. But the sorrowful thing about that, is that some of our resources, such as our mines, as we take away our oil and our minerals - our minerals in particular, oil will regenerate, I guess, over a number of centuries, but the minerals, in particular, are non-replaceable. If a gold mine is discovered, after x number of years, all the gold is taken out and that is it. It is not the same way with our forestry. Our forests can regenerate provided some assistance is given and some direction is taken, but in order to do that we must have the proper personnel involved.

However, the big resource in Newfoundland that can keep us going is the one that started us here, as I have said several times, and is the one which, undoubtedly, will keep us here if we are to stay here in the future, and that is the fishery.

There is no way, Mr. Speaker, that the oceans can withstand the pressures that are being placed upon them by men, and once again, we can look at technology. Now, technology is wonderful if it is handled properly, but if it is not handled properly, then it can be extremely destructive, and this is what we are seeing with the fishery. And we don't have to talk about advanced technology, about the fish finder where, now, you can go out and set it on top of your trap and it tells you whether you have to haul it or not, to find out whether you have any fish.

When we were trapping some years ago, you went out in the morning and unless the tide was exceptionally heavy, you had to haul up the heavy cod trap to see if there was any fish in it and when you had it up so far, when all the heavy work was done, you realized that, yes, you had some, or no, you had none. Now, you sail in on top of the trap and you check your fish finder and it will tell you whether or not you have any fish. That is okay, it can be an asset to man; it saves a lot of time and effort and work, but, the technology, mainly, that I am talking about is the type of boat and the type of gear that we use, and I am going to draw a comparison with something else before I finish, if we have time.

If we - and I have said this before. I think last night I was watching the news and they showed some clippings on CBC - maybe it is the regular thing, but every evening they show a few notes of things that happened in years gone by. One of the things they highlighted last night was the White Fleet tied up around Water Street, and they showed all the Portuguese moving around town. They showed the time that the 4,000 or 5,000 Portuguese marched through the city and brought the statue up to the Basilica. They showed them going in buying shoes downtown, they showed them doing several things. But it showed fishermen from other countries coming in using our port, using our dockyard, which is now practically on the brink of destruction, buying at our shops, buying supplies for their boats; whether it be water, oil or food supplies, everything was purchased here. The whole economy of St. John's, in particular, was improved because of the foreign fleets that came here. Now, we kicked them out because they were overfishing on the Nose and Tail. If that had been beneficial, then it would be acceptable, but it didn't keep them from overfishing. All it did was take away the benefits they had brought to the Province. Be that as it may, when these people were fishing, our own people fishing side by side with them, what technology were they using? Of course, on the Grand Banks and on the other inshore banks, the inshore shoals around the Province, they were using hook and line, mainly, or as we call them, trawls -long line, with the shorter lines and the hooks for the townies and the Central Newfoundland people who don't understand what trawls are all about. You baited the hooks, you set the lines, you hauled them in each day and you removed the fish, and mainly, you had prime, quality, fresh product, only taking the proper fish, extremely fresh product, which was then brought to market or salted aboard the boat, or whatever.

Then, we got too advanced for that and we invented the draggers and we got the purse seines and the otter seines, and we went out and towed these huge contraptions over the bottoms. First of all, before regulation, we towed them over wherever we could tow them, whether it be in the harbours or near the headlands before restrictions and limits were placed upon their operation. And we took everything that was in the path of that contraption whether it be the type of fish we wanted or whether it be any other type of fish or life that existed on or near the bottom in the areas. We had fleets of them.

I can remember looking out through the window of my home years ago seeing the lights in the fall, in particular, when the inshore boats gave up fishing for the year. Then the draggers and the trawlers, the small ones and large ones, moved in and raped the grounds all around the inshore communities. In the nighttime it was like looking out at another city, not to say a community. All you could see were lights, where these boats were dragging over the bottom, taking everything, and it is still happening today. We can talk about the foreigners destroying our fish, and we can talk about the overfishing, and we can blame the Portuguese and we can blame the Spaniards, and we can blame whoever we like. To a great degree they are at fault, but they are no more at fault than ourselves, because we have been just as guilty as anybody, and the funny thing about it is, we haven't improved one iota.

Now, we are limited by quotas because there is no fish. But how are we catching it? We are still going out scraping up everything that is there, no concern for by-catch. Until we started bringing in the enforcement mechanisms, people just went out, caught whatever they wanted, threw away what they didn't want and destroyed everything in their path, and it is still happening today, Mr. Speaker.

If you want to add to the draggers, you can throw in gill nets. When the original gill nets came out some years ago, I heard some older fishermen say, 'There goes the end of the fishery,' because they were realizing - then, of course, they only had old cotton nets that after a short time, rotted, and if the fish got in by the end of the summer, the fish was falling out because the twine was rotting. But when they developed the nylon and then the monofilament nets these, the monofilament ones in particular, last for years, maybe for centuries.

We saw companies coming in. In order to get boats they gave out free gill nets so the crew came up and they were loaded up with gill nets, and the company kept supplying them so it didn't matter how many you lost. We saw company boats. They went out and set their fleets of gill nets, and a storm came on. They went back and they couldn't find them. It didn't matter. They went in and got more and more and kept setting them, and hauled then in when they got a chance and if they lost them they could not care less. Today there are thousands and thousands of gill nets around the virgin rocks and around the coast of Newfoundland and any other place where it is fit, or half fit to set a gill net. What are they doing, Mr. Speaker? They are fishing. Despite what people say, you will find others, and research has been done, to show that nets retrieved after having been in the ocean for years still contained live fish. Some get rolled up and undoubtedly are not in a fishing condition but others, once they are filled with fish, and when the fish rot parts of the net even, rise again to continue holding fish, so when we add this to the dragging technology, to the raping of the breeding grounds, to the destruction of the ocean beds and the homes of the fish in the ocean, disturbing the environment in which they live, to the seals that the former member also mentioned, and to our lack of ability to address the seal population.

I can challenge any member in this House to go back over the speeches made in the House during the last ten years and they will see that every time the fishery was discussed, and sometimes when it was not even a fisheries topic, that I raised the issue of seals over and over and over. I agree fully with the Member for Port de Grave that if that situation is not addressed that is one aspect of the fishery and the destruction of the cod fishery and other fish in the ocean, that will always be there to haunt us and it is becoming a greater problem. It is not a matter of running around Europe and looking good, and getting coverage, as the Premier did, by blaming the foreigners. The Premier followed along on the footsteps of the Minister of Fisheries and the Prime Minister. They went over and the foreigners, the EEC counties, and the diplomats there talked to the leaders of the country. They were talking to the Prime Minister and to the Minister of Fisheries, and to the federal diplomats.

The Premier of the Province to them, despite what he came back and said, all he talked about was the reaction that was given to the issue, the issue that had been raised by the feds and by the diplomats, by the country. The Premier was talking to civil servants who, because he was Premier of a Province, acknowledged the fact undoubtedly he was there and told him basically what they had been doing with the diplomats from the country. The Premier is really just a pimple on the backside of the major diplomats and of the country who were over there negotiating on our behalf. We should not fool ourselves by thinking the Premier is going to make any great initiatives, or dents, in what is going on. He certainly has to play his part, we have to assure them that we agree with what is happening, the stand that is being taken by the leaders of our country on this issue, and we have to keep emphasizing the fact that it must continue, but just addressing the overfishing by the EEC countries is only a very small part of the problem. It is the part that can get attention and make us all look good but if we do not look at the seal population, if we keep running away from Green Peace then that whole section is going to have a disastrous effect on the fishery.

If we do not look at ourselves in the mirror, and if we do not address the technology we are using then we are going to be just as bad of. Even if we get the foreign countries completely off the Nose and Tail, if we kill every seal that is out there, and then if we turn our own fishermen loose again to do the same thing they have done in the past, in a few years time we are right back to square one. Surely God there must be a learning process here, and we have to learn from the past. Why did the fishery last for hundreds and hundreds of years, and there was a fair amount of fishing going on?

The key word in it all was technology, and unless we address that and unless we look ahead, and maybe get back to working a little bit harder to catching or retrieving that resource, whatever that resource might be, whether it be fish or forest, or fowl, then we are never going to have it. And, while I am on the word fowl let me make one comparison because I think my time is running out. A few nights ago I was present at a meeting where a pubic servant, a member of one of your departments, showed a number of slides talking about the environment and all of them were pretty hard-hitting because they described our own environment, the Province in which we live. They showed examples of what it was like several years ago, the peace and tranquillity and the undisturbed natural elements that you will find in a few places in Newfoundland still,

and comparing it with what we have today. I challenge every one of you to just think back to your childhood and what it was like in the communities or towns in which you grew up and compare it to what it is like today, and ask yourself what has made the difference? The answer is, the difference has been made by us, and our lack of concern and our lack of caring.

The comparison I wanted to make to the draggers was the use of trikes. When we look at the countryside that was once beautiful, being destroyed completely by trikes. They have a place also, but if we are just going to do what we did with the draggers, and let them run wild and let them run over the countryside, not only are we destroying the terrain; we are also encouraging the destruction of wildlife that is around. Now the Minister of Forestry, who was involved with the wildlife section for quite some time, knows full well that by the use of, once again, advanced technology, trikes or terra jets or whatever, we have people getting into areas where they never got before. The wildlife that had some protection now has none. What chance does a covey of partridge have against three or four fellows on trikes, with dogs and automatic guns? The answer is none. What chance do moose have from people on skidoos or trikes? The answer is none. What chance do the trout in the ponds that we might go to twice a year because it was too far to walk on a regular basis, but we knew we could get a good strap of trout if we spent a couple of hours walking in, now what chance do they have?


MR. HEARN: Gone. Why? Because people who would never walk there are now driving up, throwing their garbage on the side of the bank, catching the trout, depleting the pond, and then destroying the marshes as they come out on their trikes. Now I am not exaggerating when I say that, because all we have to do is look around us. You might counter with the question, what about the poor old fellow who always wanted to go trouting, now has arthritis and has a job to get there? There are exceptions and there are provisions, and fellows like that are not going to destroy the countryside, because they have been around long enough to know the value. But unless we take a stand on these things we are not going to have the resources that the hon. member talks about. We are not going to have the resources to generate those dollars that are going to be needed to pay those people.

The reverse of that is that if we keep laying off good public servants we are not going to have the ones to create the necessary rules and regulations, and more important, to enforce them. Where are the wardens? Why is it we take the wardens off the rivers after ten weeks when they get their stamps, when it is prime time in relation to the amount of salmon that is in the river. It is a tremendous chance for people who want to poach, and we still have them around, who do not care about our resources. Here we have the wardens, because we are laying them off, or cutting them back, we are taking them off the river. Why is it our wildlife officers have such large geographic areas to cover? They cannot look after the herds, neither in relation to their strength or their health, or in relation to the illegalities that might be going on, because of cutbacks and because of layoffs. So we are cutting off our nose to spite our face, as they say.

We must address the problems, and we can be penny wise and pound foolish. By a bill such as Bill 17 I suggest that we are certainly being very, very foolish, because not only are we upsetting the public service, not because we asked them to hold the line, they might not like that, but that is and can be acceptable. But to sign a contract and praise them up and make them feel good, and then go laugh at them, because when legislation is brought in so shortly after contracts have been signed, there is no way that you can convince anybody that the people who signed these contracts did not know, or at least the ministers had to know, what they intended to do. Mr. Speaker, that is thoroughly unacceptable in a civilized society.

Hopefully reason will prevail, and if people have concern that they will vote against the Bill. Maybe things will turn around, maybe our public servants will do the type of work they can.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MS. VERGE: By leave!

MR. HEARN: I will finish up, Mr. Speaker, by saying that perhaps they will get a chance to do the work they can so our resources will be protected so they will generate the dollars, so that we will not have to worry about bringing in bills such as Bill 17 in the future. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to support the amendment proposed by the Member for Harbour Main, that this Bill we are debating, Bill 17, be referred to a standing committee of the House for public hearings. I will address the amendment and speak later on the main motion, although in addressing the amendment of course I will be dealing with the contents of the Bill also.

The reason this Bill should be referred to a committee of the House for public hearings is that the Bill is so radical and represents such a departure from the established labour-management practices that were developed during the nineteen-seventies and nineteen-eighties, and because the Bill is fundamentally at odds with the election campaign platform on which this administration came to office.

This is May 5, 1992, exactly three years from the date when this 'real change' administration assumed office. May 5, 1989, will go down in our history as a black day indeed. The 'real change' which the minority of voters, which the 47 per cent who voted Liberal in the last election, expected, was a change for the better. What has happened of course is a drastic change for the worse. We have suffered reductions and reversals on virtually every front.

The topic at hand is the public service and is labour-management relations. What did the Liberals have to say on those subjects when they were campaigning for election three years ago? I would like to refresh the memories of hon. members. I have consulted my file labelled 'Liberal Propaganda' and I have here the glossy colour brochure distributed to every household in the Province, bearing a picture of his eminence, the leader, the present Premier. What the Liberals had to say was: this election is about change. We must change direction in Newfoundland and Labrador. We must stop our downward economic slide and growing unemployment. We must stop the draining of our people to other parts of Canada.

On the subject of labour: a Liberal government will create an atmosphere of rational cooperation in developing labour legislation and in dealing with public service unions.

How ironic. What they have done is the exact opposite. They have presided over a reversal of the three or four years of economic growth that preceded their taking office, they have made a bad situation worse, they have allowed the economy to slide further and further downward, they have allowed unemployment to worsen, they have allowed the social assistance rolls to swell to an all-time high and they are abdicating their responsibility by blaming everyone but themselves. The Premier is saying: there is nothing we can do, it is because of the previous administration, it is because of the federal government, it is because of international conditions, it is because of the business community. There is nothing that we can do.

Now the Province has a Budget this year of $3.5 billion. There is a lot the provincial government can do.

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals promised economic growth. They promised a substantial increase in spending on hospitals and health care. They promised to establish university campuses throughout Newfoundland, several university campuses starting with a third campus in Central Newfoundland and then on to a fourth in Northern Newfoundland, a fifth in Labrador, and perhaps a sixth on the Burin Peninsula. That is what the present Premier was preaching in the winter of 1989, three short years ago.

Now the Premier today throws up his hands and says: We have no choice. We just don't have money to deliver our promises. We just don't have money to keep our word. We just don't have money to honour our commitments and fulfil our obligations under signed collective agreements. We have no choice. Well, Mr. Speaker, did the Premier have a choice when he was campaigning for election three years ago when he made the extravagant promises of increasing the economy, expanding the number of jobs, bringing mothers sons home from the mainland, opening more hospital beds, building more university campuses? Did the Premier have a choice then?

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the Premier hadn't stopped to do some research. If he had he could have examined the financial statements of the provincial government. He could have read the Budget for the fiscal year 1988-89 or 1987-88, or 1986-87 to see what the debt problem was, to see what the deficit challenge was. He could have refrained from bitterly denouncing the restraint measures that were taken by the Peckford administration. He could have resisted the temptation to lie to people when he was campaigning.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS. VERGE: He could have done that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to withdraw.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Because the word 'lie' is unparliamentary I withdraw that word.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier had a choice three years ago. The Premier could have told the truth to the people of the Province. The Premier has a choice today. He has the power to keep his word, to honour his contracts. He has that choice.

Mr. Speaker, not only did the Premier get elected on a platform of misleading and false promises, but then in his first year or so in office he proceeded to raise expectations, to plunge into negotiations with public service unions, signalling a willingness to agree to hefty increases. Agreements were signed. Some went out to arbitration. Settlements were reached. More contracts were signed. This happened up to the early Winter of last year, of 1991. Well, on Budget Day reality set in. The 'Real Change' reared its ugly head when the announcement was made that the government was going to wipe out all those agreements. The government was going to use the power of the Legislature, to use the power of the majority in the Legislature to renege on all those contracts, to suspend all those contracts for a year and also to wipe out the retroactive implementation of pay equity, which had been negotiated and agreed to.

I remember being on a television panel shortly after last years Budget, a panel along with the present Minister of Works, Services and Transportation and the Member for St. John's East, I believe it was. We were talking about remuneration for MHAs and about whether members were subject to the same restraint as members of the public service. I remember the minister appearing shocked when I said this is going to last for more than one year. What makes you think it will be limited to one year? There is every sign it will be extended into a second year.

Last year we had Bill 16. Now we have Bill 17. The moral in all this, the moral of the story, Mr. Speaker, is that this is an immoral administration. This is an administration that deceives the people. That negotiates, that signs contracts, and then simply comes to the Legislature and uses the rule of law to cancel the contracts. The government as employer has a power that no other employer has. This government has abused that power.

The contempt of this administration for commitments, for contracts, for collective agreements, is being copied by government funded institutions and agencies. The other day I had a conversation with one of the employees of the provincial nurses' union. He said to me: I do not have much of a reason for working any more. There is no more collective bargaining. He said: when our members, when our nurses, grieve, and show legitimate cause for a grievance, point to an obvious infraction of a collective agreement, what is happening is that hospital administrators are saying: well, yes, you might have a case, but by the time you take it to arbitration two years will have gone by, maybe we will be in better shape by then, but in the meantime, whistle Dixie. We are going to go ahead and have nursing assistants do nurses' work.

At the Springdale - Green Bay Health Care centre there are nursing positions vacant, there are unemployed nurses able and willing to go to work in the immediate area, but to save money, to live within its budget, that institution is hiring nursing assistants.

What kind of a signal has the government sent hospital boards, school boards, the people of the Province generally? What kind of an example has this government set? I acknowledge that times are tough. I was part of an administration in the early- and mid-eighties that had to cope with a very severe economic recession when interest rates went up over 20 per cent. I am pleased to say that administration took a different approach to managing. We honoured our collective agreements but we announced up front that when signed agreements expired we would impose a period of restraint, and that included two years of freeze.

Now, many of the members opposite then serving in the House in Opposition howled. They bitterly denounced that restraint program. Others, who were in private life, including a couple of presidents of the NTA, fought against those measures. The present Minister of Environment and Lands and President of the Status of Women left the office of president of the NTA prematurely to run for the Liberal Party, leading teachers and others to believe that she was going to try to implement some of the goals that she had espoused as president of the NTA. The Member for Exploits was in a similar situation, having been the NTA past president.

Now they are part of this 'real change' administration that has betrayed the teachers, that has done exactly opposite to what they preached when they were union leaders.

MR. WINSOR: He doesn't like to hear it.

MS. VERGE: No, he doesn't like it when he hears it, the truth hurts. Basically what I am pointing out, Mr. Speaker, is that these particular politicians have no principles. If they had any principles, if they had any self-respect, they would have resigned rather than continue in an administration that has violated the signed agreements with the NTA and other public service unions.

Mr. Speaker, this Bill which compounds the betrayal, should be referred to a standing committee for public hearings so that people all around the Province, whom the government has to serve, can have a say about it, so that they can voice their preferences. Difficult choices have to be made. Difficult choices had to be made back in the 80's. Difficult decisions had to be made in 1989 - 1990, and this administration avoided the difficult choices. Basically they led people to believe that everything was fine. They contributed to the illusion of a paradise, a fool's paradise, and then when reality set in, of course they realized - perhaps they knew all along and were deliberately conning people - that they simply could not deliver the election campaign promises that they had made.

This platform on the slick brochure that the Liberals sent to every household in the Province, this was pie in the sky, Mr. Speaker, pie in the sky: A Liberal government will create an atmosphere of rational co-operation in developing labour legislation and in dealing with public service unions. So this labour legislation, Bill 17, is not the legislation that Fraser March had in mind when they conned him into supporting them. I don't think it was the type of labour legislation most of the teachers had in mind when they saw three of their presidents run for the Liberals.

The betrayal that has been perpetrated by the administration has caused severe disillusionment among many people in the Province. Mr. Speaker, many of the 47 per cent who voted Liberal are very sorry they made that choice. Now for some it has been painful to admit that they made a mistake. It has been difficult to concede that they were guilty of an error in judgement. But, Mr. Speaker, the present Premier is slick. No question. I have often compared him to TV evangelists. He has many of the same skills of presentation before the cameras, of public speaking, he is a real master of presentation, Mr. Speaker, the same as the Jimmy Swaggarts and - who are some of the other TV evangelists?

AN HON. MEMBER: Jimmy Bakker.

MS. VERGE: Jimmy Bakker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Clyde Wells.

MS. VERGE: Yes. I see many similarities in presentation. The same as a TV evangelist, the Premier can sound very appealing. When he was campaigning three years ago with his modulated voice and posing in front of the cameras, he told people what they wanted to hear. He said he was going to expand the economy and bring the mothers' sons home from the mainland, and that is what people wanted to hear. Now some of us have some concerns about the daughters on the mainland, but this is a Premier from a previous era and sexism doesn't dissolve easily. Old habits are hard to break. But this was a Premier who was going to create more jobs and bring the mothers' sons home from the mainland.

You remember the famous speech the Premier made on the West Coast and he repeated it when he was addressing students at the university? He talked about a woman on the St. Barbe Coast who said she would kiss his feet if he became Premier and brought her children home from the mainland. Obviously that appealed to him, this whole image of one of the peasants, as he would conceive this woman, kissing his feet. That appealed to him. He kept using that story in his campaign rhetoric because this is a Premier who sees himself a big cut above the rest of us, a big cut above his caucus. He does not have much time for most of the members of the caucus. The Member for Port de Grave knows that. To his credit he has at least shown some spirit in rebelling against that patronizing attitude of the Premier, but the rest of them, for the most part, kowtow to his eminence. They complain about him in private conversations, even with members of the opposition, but in public, in the House of Assembly, and in front of the cameras they defer to the Premier. They go right along with whatever it is the Premier is doing, with the real changes the Premier is making to really downgrade Newfoundland and Labrador society, to really shaft rural Newfoundland, to really aggravate and worsen the gaps between men and women. They go along with that. Even the former education labour leaders, the teachers' presidents, and the education professors from the University go right along with what their Premier is doing to downgrade the economy and to weaken our education system.

Mr. Speaker, what else did the Liberals have to say when they were campaigning? Let me see. Health: a Liberal government will keep hospital beds open as long as the demand exists; will give financial priority to the upgrading and improvement of our health care system. Well what have we seen? Just the opposite of that.

Municipal Affairs: a Liberal government will create a provincial water and sewer corporation. That was a flaky promise. Now they did concede, after a year or so in office, that that was impractical, so they were officially jettisoning that part of their platform.

Nothing about amalgamation though - not a word in their election propaganda about municipal amalgamation, but they barely had moved into their offices when the government announced that they were going to brutally force the amalgamation of over 100 municipalities in the Province. Well we have seen a steady retreat from that move. What else did they promise?

Social Services: a Liberal government will provide the professional resources needed to deal with child abuse and family violence. Mr. Speaker, I raised concerns about the chronic problems of child abuse in Question Period today. The Premier tried to abdicate responsibility. Now in this instance he could not blame the private sector. He could not blame the previous administration. He tried to say that he, the Premier, is not responsible. It is one of his ministers or one of the departments. He tried to suggest some kind of a fragmentation between him and social services. Now he is the Premier. He has to answer for the whole of the provincial government, for every department, for every provincial area of responsibility, and there is no more important area of responsibility today than the welfare of our children.

Over the last several years there has been a steady increase in the number of disclosures and criminal prosecutions of child abuse, mostly child sexual abuse. Now the problem has been somewhat skewed because of the publicity given to the Mount Cashel tragedy. In all this it is easy for people to lose perspective and to fail to appreciate that the bulk of the problem is occurring within families, within households throughout our Province. Just about every day for the last several weeks and months the news has reported at least one case. Sometimes on the evening television news I notice there are three different cases reported in sequence, of child sexual abuse. Nobody seems to know if the actual incidents of child abuse is increasing, but it is clear that the number of reports is on the rise. In some cases the reports are of abuse that happened many years ago, but the system has not been reformed to deal with the chronic problems of child abuse. What has to happen must begin with an appreciation of the magnitude of the problem by the Premier, by the head of the government. The Premier has to show leadership in combatting child abuse, in implementing measures to develop an understanding of the root causes, to attacking the root causes, to preventing child abuse. For the cases that are coming to light the government has to provide supports, including counselling, to assist the victims to recover, to heal, to become self-confident and self-sufficient and go on to lead well balanced and productive lives.

It is a chronic problem. There have been offenders uncovered and convicted who have victimized several young people. In the case of Stephenville Crossing, which happens to be the town where the Premier grew up, approximately sixty children have been identified as the child sexual abuse victims of two offenders. There was a television story last evening about one of them. But there is no counselling program in place to assist those people. There is no Crimes Compensation program to provide any money for those young people going to Corner Brook for counselling. The nearest suitable counselling is in Corner Brook, which is about sixty miles away.

The government in this Budget, without any warning, without any consultation with victims or advocates for victims, cut out completely the Crimes Compensation program. The excuse given was the withdrawal of federal funding, and I accept that as a legitimate problem. I fault the federal government for that. But the Province did not signal any unhappiness with the federal withdrawal. The Province did not lobby the federal government to carry on the support. Then the government said they were substituting a Victim Service program.

The Victim Service program consists of five people: two in St. John's, one in Gander, one in Corner Brook, one in Happy Valley. The one in Corner Brook only deals with victims in the immediate Corner Brook area. That worker is not mandated to help Stephenville Crossing, De Grau, Lourdes, Cape St. George or Codroy. The people who are most disadvantaged are people in rural Newfoundland, that happens to be the majority of our population.

What I have been talking about in my remarks supporting the amendment for public hearings on Bill 17 is the government's betrayal of the people. A betrayal that began when they made extravagant promises to people three years ago in the election campaign, promises about: enlightened labour legislation, about creating more jobs, about bringing mothers' sons home from the mainland, about opening more hospital beds and treating health care as a priority, about building additional university campuses, about putting in place the resources needed to deal with child abuse and family violence. Those are all direct quotes. Colour pictures of the Premier associated. Direct quotes.

What have they done? The dead opposite. They have done it in a callous, cold, arrogant, unfeeling, uncaring way. We would all concede that this is a difficult time to govern Newfoundland and Labrador. That is for many reasons, but this government has compounded the difficulties. They have made a bad situation worse by ignoring the realities when they were campaigning, by ignoring the realities in those exciting first months when they built expectations further than they had when they were campaigning. Then there were abrupt reversals, abrupt cancellations, abrupt violations. Those violations have been compounded with Bill 17.

People were always sceptical of politicians but there is no reason any more to believe anything any politician says, after all, if this Premier who looks so sincere on television, the same as Jimmy Swaggart, the same as Jimmy Bakker -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MS. VERGE: - can let them down so badly, what can people believe anymore.

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

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

First of all, I want to congratulate the Minister of Education on being the first one to answer the question that I asked several weeks ago. He did a very good job today.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Oh, I see, I must not have been here for the minister's answer. Well, the second one for answering that question and I must say that the Minister of Education impressed me as being very frugal and conscientious about the money he is spending. I probably got him a week too early or a week too late, I am not sure what way I have my dates in, but sincerely, he probably watches the way he spends his money, but from some information I have, that is not the case for everyone over there, and by the time we get fifteen answers to that question, we will see what can become of it.

But, Mr. Speaker, I gave a speech on the debate on Bill 17, I have a copy of it somewhere and will have a look at it again now, but today I am going to have a few words to say on the amendment moved by the Member for Harbour Main on this bill, and I find that I had not thought about it before the Member for Harbour Main moved this amendment to forward this bill to the Government Services Legislative Review Committee. I do not know why we do not do that, that is -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: - yes, that is what we have done with pretty well all the legislation. That was touted in this House of Assembly as being a major reform of the new government when they came in in 1989 and this side of the House congratulated them on bringing in that reform. It is good legislation; it is a good practice to put legislation before a legislative review committee. It has worked fairly well in this House of Assembly since 1989. I guess a prime example of how it is working was a report delivered today by the Member for Eagle River on the Elections Act, and that is a prime example of how well the legislative review committees can work in this House of Assembly, if all members have the will to make it work, and I think most members in this House of Assembly, except for the odd rebel in the House, and every now and then someone might have a difference but generally, Mr. Speaker, I think all members of this House of Assembly have tried to make that process work.

There has only been one minority report presented in this House, presented improperly at the time, and legitimately so at the time, and this legislation on the Elections Act, probably would have had a minority report also, but we did talk about it in the committee and we did get an agreement on all the issues that were presented to the House of Assembly today, but, Mr. Speaker, that example in itself would be a good reason to forward this legislation to a legislative review committee. Let the MHAs on the committees bring back a report to this government and see if there are alternatives, see how the people are affected by this. I do not only say that about the labour leaders of this Province who had a shot at it, we were told that they did not agree with anything, we were told by the President of Treasury Board and the Premier that they had no legitimate presentations to make and we were told by those people that the labour leaders did not treat this as seriously as the Premier wanted them to, so maybe we should. It would be a really good idea if we put this out to the Legislative Review Committee and see what the members of these unions would present to us.

Maybe some of the rank and file union members who work daily within the confines of this building and others, maybe they have better ideas. Maybe they can come and present to the Legislative Review Committee some alternatives. Maybe they could help the government out in the position that they say they are in, and maybe they could come up with some imaginative ideas. I am sure they could. They pretty well run this Province. They have been running it, particularly since this government took over, because the Premier has been away all the time. Nobody is allowed to do anything unless he is here. So the public servants of the Province have to be doing 98 per cent of the running of the Province, at least, because the ministers are not allowed to make any decisions, from what we can understand.

Mr. Speaker, I think it would be an excellent idea, and I even have more confidence in having this set out to the Government Services Legislative Review Committee because I know the Chairperson of that committee is a very fair Chairperson. I served on a committee with him, the Member for St. John's South. I am sure when he gets an opportunity to speak to this amendment - I am not sure if he did yet or not.

AN HON. MEMBER: He spoke yesterday on the bill.

MR. R. AYLWARD: On the bill, yes. But if he wanted to speak to the amendment I am sure you would support the idea of having this forwarded to your committee because I believe you are Chairperson of the Government Services Legislative.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, and I found it a bit strange too because I understood that our standing committees on legislation were supposed to do the Budget estimates this year too. There were some changes made. Mr. Speaker, in that case I am not sure who would be Chairperson of the Legislative Review Committee. I understood the Member for St. John's South still was, but I didn't see any other -

AN HON. MEMBER: The Member for Pleasantville.

MR. R. AYLWARD: I didn't see any other committees appointed yet so I still assume that the Legislative Review Committees that we have that were standing committees are still in place until somebody else is put in place. So I guess the Member for St. John's South is still the Chairperson of that Government Services Legislative Review Committee. I understand that to be. And I also understood from last year when we made these Legislative Review Standing Committees that these committees were supposed to also do the estimates.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, Mr. Noel is.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Maybe the President of Treasury Board might want to make a comment on that because when we made these Legislative Review Committees Standing Committees they were to be the Estimates Committees and the Legislative Review Committees: Social Services, Resource and Elections and Privileges, I guess, is the one that I am on. But things have changed. It did not work for the estimates anyway.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: First time ever. I guess it has been changed because the estimates committees now are not the same as the legislative review committees that I knew last fall when we had them because I know that I was at one time vice-chairperson of the Government Services Legislative Review Committee. Then I was taken off that and somebody else went in my place. I am not sure who. One of our members went into my place, and then the committees were made standing committees. I don't know what happened since that time. And those standing committees were supposed to do the Budget Estimates plus the legislation as it came. I don't know why that was changed because now again I am on the Government Services Estimates Committee. I guess there were new committees struck for the estimates because it could not work. What the Government House Leader wanted to do last year made it impossible for it to work, I guess, or he could not get his members to serve on the committee for whatever reason. I am not sure.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, there should be - I guess there is somewhere in the books, but I don't know who is on it anymore - a Government Services Legislative Review Committee because this was a reform of this government, and a good reform. I congratulate them for doing them. But it is no good having that reform if we are not going to refer the bills to the committees.

Mr. Speaker, if we have committees in place and members eager to do the work, because the couple I sat on, certainly the members who served with me on those committees were eager to get at the legislation. Because the people in the backbenches over there are told no more than the Opposition is told over here. So they are delighted to get their hands on this legislation, because usually it is the first time they have ever heard of it, the same as it is for us.

So they too have a different focus on it. They want to make sure it is good legislation because they do not trust their cabinet ministers.

MR. WINSOR: The new election act, for example.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes. Their own cabinet ministers do not give them any information, so they want to make sure themselves that they get a good handle on the legislation as it is going through this House of Assembly.

So, Mr. Speaker, I am sure that if the Member for St. John's South did have a chance to get up and speak that he would support the Member for Harbour Main in having this Bill put before the Government Services Legislation Review Committee, have it looked at. I am sure we could get some kind of an agreement. I am sure we could make some recommendations to the government that would be helpful to the government, the same as we did with the elections and privileges act. I think the recommendations that we made there were helpful. They were not designed to obstruct or to interfere with the legislation as it is going through the House. If government listens to some of these recommendations I am sure it will improve the legislation.

There is no worse piece of legislation going to go through this Legislature this session than Bill 17. I do not believe there was a worse one that went through the last Legislature as Bill 16. Bill 16 was even worse than Bill 17, because the week before Bill 16 came in they were still negotiating and signing contracts. That made that one extra especially wrong.

If we have legislation review committees in place and they are eager to do the work, and the backbenchers, the members of those committees from government side, and the Opposition members of those committees, are willing to do the work - you could even set time limits on it if there is a time constraint. You could set time limits on it and probably save time. Because if there was a committee report that came back unanimously, well, the Opposition would have a very hard time arguing against the Bill that a government brings in if it takes into consideration the recommendations of the committees.

So I would suggest, and I wholeheartedly support, the amendment from the Member for Harbour Main, to have this legislation put before the Government Services Legislation Review Committee. I see the Member for St. John's South is working on the Government House Leader to try to convince him to have this put before him. I congratulate him. He wants to find out more about this because he knows all the public servants in his district - and both he and I have many public servants in our districts. We have quite a few hospital workers, in particular, in both of our districts and a lot of them work at the Waterford Hospital. Mr. Speaker, the Member for St. John's South is desperately trying to convince the Government House Leader to do this because he knows he is in trouble. He is after losing his two-vote majority. He has at least public servants in his district, Mr. Speaker, and I know two of them voted for him the last time, but they have changed their mind. Now, Mr. Speaker, we have a tie seat in St. John's South and that is why he is desperately begging the Government House Leader to put this legislation before the Government Services Legislation Review Committee. I commend him for that, and stay in that seat as long as you can. Keep the other fellow out of it if you can. Stay in that seat as long as you can and keep working on him.

I will try to convince the rest of your colleagues to support you in convincing the Government House Leader to have this legislation put before your committee. I consider it to be your committee anyway, because you did a good job on it. So you keep at it and I will try to convince the rest of them. Now, I don't think I am going to get the Member for St. John's Centre on our side. I can't seem to get through to him. He is not overly interested in any kind of democracy.

AN HON. MEMBER: Did you see him on television last night?

MR. R. AYLWARD: No, I didn't see him on television last night. I missed it last night.

Mr. Speaker, I will leave the Member for St. John's South to convince the Government House Leader to get the legislation put before the committee.

I just want to point out one other thing in the committee, and I pointed it out last year in Bill 16. I thought the government would at least have enough sense to look at it so they wouldn't be embarrassed again, but obviously they just reprinted Bill 16 as Bill 17. They have included in Schedule A here, people who are affected by the government restraint order, the Bill 17, they have people included in it working for the Newfoundland Chicken Marketing Board. Now, why would the people working for the Newfoundland Chicken Marketing Board be restrained in raise increases if the farmers who pay their salaries wish to give them one? I don't understand why they would come under such legislation. These salaries have absolutely no impact on the government's budget.

They also have included here, people working at the Newfoundland Egg Marketing Board. Why would you want to restrain the people at the Newfoundland Egg Marketing Board from getting a salary increase? The farmers might have been doing that this past five years, I don't know. Maybe their increases were restrained for some time, Mr. Speaker, I don't know. But I do not know why the government would want to put them under Bill 17, it doesn't make sense to me at all. Obviously, they gave no thought to it. Newfoundland Farm Products Corporation - I can see them bringing that into it because Newfoundland Farm Products Corporation will impact on their budget, the salaries down there. Newfoundland Hardwoods Limited, I am not sure what impact that might have, but, Mr. Speaker, they have the Newfoundland Hog Marketing Board included in the legislation and I cannot understand for the life of me why - there are only two people working for the Newfoundland Hog Marketing Board and one of them is shared with the Newfoundland Chicken Marketing Board, and all of their salaries are paid by the farmers, not by the government; the government doesn't put one nickel into those salaries, they don't have anything to do with it.

The salaries are paid by a check-off system from the farmers; as they sell their eggs or their hogs or their milk, whatever it is, they pay so much in membership fees to the board and that is what pays the salaries, so I do not know what impact a raise for a secretary at the Newfoundland Hog Marketing Board will have on government's Budget, it doesn't make sense to me. And, obviously, the whole bill was given about as much thought as that, Mr. Speaker.

The Newfoundland Arts Council - I imagine that would have a direct impact.

There was another one last year, Newfoundland Hydro Corporation. Newfoundland Hydro, if they give their employees a wage increase, I do not think, I am pretty sure that it will not affect government's Budget, that will come out of Newfoundland Hydro's own revenues however they get it, either through Light and Power or through their own domestic customers. So I don't know why the Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro Corporation was included, unless it was for consistency, because it is a Crown corporation. It can't affect government's Budget, I don't think, but it could be for consistency. And if it is for consistency, why is it during last year's Bill 16, that the management people at Hydro got an increase?

Last year, the management people at Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, who came under Bill 16 at the time, were given their increases in salaries; I do not understand why you would have it in this Act if - maybe the only reason is that by putting it in this Act you can only restrict the unionized workers at Newfoundland Hydro and keep them from getting an increase in their salaries, whereas the management at Newfoundland Hydro can continue to get their increases. I believe it was 6 per cent or 7 per cent they got last year, separate from Bill 16 at the time. I don't understand it. I don't understand why it is included in this bill, because it has no impact on the government's Budget. Apart from that, if it is included here for consistency, why is not the management included also? Why is it only the unionized workers at Hydro who are having their wages frozen, and the management people at Hydro are not having their wages frozen?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Well, the Minister of Mines and Energy - or mines and little energy - is saying that I don't know what I am talking about, and he could be correct. He could very well be correct, because he won't stand on his feet in this House and justify why these are in here. He won't explain to the people of the Province why these people are included in Bill 17. Why is Newfoundland Hydro included? Does Newfoundland Hydro have any effect on the Department of Mines and Energy's budget?

AN HON. MEMBER: It is a way to keep the electricity rate down.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Well, that is a good reason. Yes, I agree with that. That is a good reason. I say you are freezing the wages of Newfoundland Hydro to keep the electricity rates in the Province down. That is what the Minister of Energy said. I don't disagree with that, but you should also keep the management increases down the same as you keep the employees increases down, not like last year when the management got their increases and the employees didn't get their increases. That has been reported several times already, and last year they did get their increases. Now, I know the Minister of Environment is fully aware of what happened down at Hydro last year. That is why she is making comments on it.

AN HON. MEMBER: She would know what happened at Cumberland Farms.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, she would probably give us a rundown on Cumberland Farms, too, now that they are in business, or out of business.

Mr. Speaker, we have another one here, the Newfoundland Egg Marketing Board. I don't know if I did that one before. Yes, I did that page. The Newfoundland Egg Marketing Board employees have their wages frozen by this bill. That should save about one cent per 100,000 dozen eggs that are going to be sold in this Province. That might save one cent, Mr. Speaker. But the bottom line of it is, it has no impact on the government's Budget whatsoever. If the person at Newfoundland Egg Marketing Board gets a raise or does not get a raise it will have no effect on your Budget, so why are they included in this bill? It doesn't make sense. It didn't make sense in Bill 16, it doesn't make sense in Bill 17, but it just shows the amount of thought that the government has put into this bill once again, Mr. Speaker.

There are probably others here. The Newfoundland Milk Marketing Board, I see here. The Milk Marketing Board has three employees, I believe. I believe there are three over there, a manager, a secretary and an assistant, and not one cent of their salaries comes out of government funds, not a nickel, so I don't understand why they would be included in this bill. It doesn't seem to make sense to me. And nobody explained it in Bill 16, so I don't expect anyone will jump up and explain it in Bill 17. When I mentioned it in Bill 16, the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture at the time appeared to be a bit embarrassed about it because he didn't have an answer. He still doesn't have an answer and maybe that is why he is not here now, because he is still embarrassed about it.

Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to point out those few things in Bill 17, but just before time runs out, I do want to say that everyone on that side - there were only two or three of them who got up - every one of them said, 'We don't want to do this, we don't like having to do this, we don't support it. We don't want to have to do this,' but every one of them is going to vote for it. Now, how can you not want to do something in this House of Assembly, and do it? Who is forcing you to vote for this bill? Who is forcing the Member for St. John's South to vote for this bill?

Mr. Speaker, I will adjourn debate for today.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Estimates Committee meeting here in the House tonight will be the Social Services Committee with the Department of Education. The meeting with the Department of Fisheries tentatively scheduled for the Colonial Building tonight has been cancelled at the request of the Opposition, and that has been rescheduled now for a week from Thursday - that is not this coming Thursday but the next Thursday evening. So, Mr. Speaker, that is the ongoing saga of the Estimates Committees for today. I intend to continue on with Bill 17. I don't think we will come back tonight, but on Thursday we will continue on with Bill 17 and tomorrow, of course, is Private Member's Day.

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

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