May 20, 1992                HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                Vol. XLI  No. 40

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

I would like to bring to the attention of hon. members the presence in the Speaker's Gallery today of the High Commissioner of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States to Canada, His Excellency Dr. J. Bernard Yankey.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, once again I have questions for the Premier. Unfortunately he is not here. I kind of hoped he would be here today, and the Minister of Education won't be here until tomorrow, I guess, but it is an important question I want to ask so I will proceed to ask it of the acting Premier or the acting Minister of Education, the acting everything I guess, who happens to be the Government House Leader.

I want to refer the Government House Leader to some references in the Royal Commission, particularly in the appendix. One in particular, the legal opinion of George Furey, a well known name, who was the legal counsel to the Royal Commission on Education, wrote a section of the report, page 447 in particular, contained in appendix three, in which he says a number of the recommendations, I think it was number twenty-six and twenty-seven at least, concerning denominational schools violate constitutionally protected rights and privileges. I want to ask the acting Premier does he agree with Mr. Furey's opinion, and if so how does he or the government intend to proceed with dealing with those particular recommendations, the ones that Mr. Furey says violate constitutional rights?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it has been made clear that government will over the next while examine the report and make decisions with regards to recommendations of the Commission. I can't prejudge at this point in time what Cabinet's decision will be. However I will say to the hon. gentleman that I think it is fairly obvious that there are certain rights that are entrenched in the Constitution. I think that is an accepted fact all throughout the Province.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On a supplementary: I gather the acting Premier said that they are going to deal with it or consider the recommendations over the next little while. I believe I have heard the Minister of Education say publicly that they intended to consult with church groups and church leaderships and so on.

According to Mr. Furey again, the legal solicitor for the Royal Commission, the persons who have educational rights under term 17 of the constitution are those who are the adherents of the various denominations. In other words, not the church hierarchies which he says in the recommendation. I want to ask the acting Premier does he agree with that opinion specifically? Also, does he agree with Mr. Furey when he says, and I quote, 'Any attempts to amend term seventeen should involve direct input from the class or classes of people protected under the Constitution.'

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

MR. BAKER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, there has been a rather extensive consultation process going on up to this point, as the hon. member knows. There have been over 1,000 representations made to the Commission, and they did come up with certain recommendations. The Minister of Education has stated very clearly that - and other people, other stakeholders within the system have expressed this view - that a lot of these changes are better done through cooperation. I think that is the approach that the Minister of Education is taking.

However, I will say again that Cabinet has not considered this document. It was presented to us, we have presented it to the public, and after a period of time we will make decisions on certain recommendations. So I can only assume that the recommendations of legal counsel - Mr. Furey being an excellent lawyer - has proper conclusions in his recommendations.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to see that the acting Premier has indicated he agrees with Mr. Furey's opinion. The point I was trying to make is that it is the adherents of the denominational groups who are the people who should be dealt with and whose educational rights we are talking about, not the hierarchies of the church and the leadership of the churches. So the consultation needs to be much broader, I think is what Mr. Furey is saying.

Let me ask the acting Premier this question. Mr. Furey also says that there are other adherents of non-protected religious groups - those who do not have protection under the Constitution - as well as non-adherents, whose rights to an equal education and meaningful input into the educational system, must be addressed. I wanted to ask the acting Premier: how does the government propose to address the concerns of those particular groups of people?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I repeat. We have gone through the Royal Commission process, we have provided opportunity for a lot of input, and we now have the report before us. At an appropriate point in time, when government has considered the recommendations - we agree that everybody has a stake in this, that it is very important to all citizens of the Province, regardless of religious affiliation. At an appropriate time Cabinet will make decisions, and then these conclusions will be announced to the House, or if the House is not sitting, will be announced publicly.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, on a supplementary. I am pleased to see the acting Premier make this point and this commitment. Since it is being considered by the government, and since the Premier has said on many occasions that the Constitution belongs to the people, and that the people should have direct input into changes or modifications to the Constitution, I presume the acting Premier agrees that principle applies in this situation. Therefore I want to ask him directly: would the government consider holding a referendum or a plebescite in order to give the people who are going to be most affected by this, a direct say into this particular issue?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is a hypothetical question to start with; government has not decided what action is going to be taken on the recommendations. If government chooses to take no action then obviously nothing of the sort will be necessary, so it is a hypothetical situation up until the point at which government decides what it intends to do with the recommendations so, right now it is a hypothetical situation, but I would say to the hon. gentleman that we have shown in the years that we have been in office that we consult very widely and we are firm believers in getting the opinions of people all over this Province.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Development and Tourism.

Arising from some information the minister was good enough to table in the estimate committees last evening, being a list of projects funded by Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador for the year 1991. Would the minister first of all, Mr. Speaker, tell us why it took some five months to get that information from the time that it was first requested, what would take so long for the corporation to compile a list of 400 projects or 400 and some odd projects, and the amount of money that was made available to the individuals?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, as I said last night, it took some time to compile these lists. These lists had to come in from the regions, we had to double check to make sure authorization was in place and waivers were signed. I should tell the hon. members - as I did last night - perhaps this corporation, even though it is a young corporation, is perhaps the most transparent corporation that I know of in the country. We have been alive for twelve months, we have put all the facts on the table; every single company that has been helped in Newfoundland and Labrador has been laid on the table. The amounts have been laid on the table, the types of loans have been laid on the table and I promised the hon. member that in due course I will have backup statements on how these loans originated and why they were approved. But it took some time, the original request came from CBC Corporation and we set about in the regions compiling the lists. I do not know of any other development agency in the country that does what this government has done with its corporation.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the minister for that and we look forward to receiving the additional information, which he did certainly agree without hesitation he would provide us. Would he tell us, in the meantime, while we are waiting for this detailed documentation, has there been a change in policy of government, in other words, is the emphasis still on resource based industry, manufacturing industries, high tech, technology transfer, research and development, tourism, crafts and that sort of thing, in contrast to competitive sort of businesses - retail operations and the like? Would the minister tell us, is this policy still in effect?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I sound repetitive because at the estimates committee I addressed that issue last night. Every single businessman, every single businesswoman, in this Province who wants access to Enterprise Newfoundland and the various loan programs that we have in place, whether it is venture capital, the small enterprise loan, the conventional loans, or equity positions, every single businessperson, he or she, wherever they live in this Province, can access all of the programs any time. Now we deal with each one on their merit. Four hundred and twenty-two, I believe, were approved. There were probably hundreds turned down.

We try our best not to put money into companies that are in direct competition with companies across the street, unlike other agencies, some of them federal. We try our best to protect the market share. If there is room for expansion, and the business plans and the market studies show that there is room for expansion, well we deal with each on their own merit and we provide the money in that context.

Mr. Speaker, we have not drifted away. We are very tuned into the resource industries, and we want to help small business people, whether they are small fish plant owners, or tourism operators, as the hon. member says; but every single business, every single businessperson, ought to know that this public capital of $24 million, float out $2 million per month over twelve months, is available to everybody, and every single -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Sprung.

MR. FUREY: The hon. member mentions Sprung. Well we saw what was available to Sprung.

AN HON. MEMBER: That speaks for itself.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry for the distraction.

My point is that the money is available to every single businessperson, irrespective of where they live, irrespective of what their business is. We are not in the business of trying to fund money where there is direct competition, but every single one of them is dealt with on their own merit, whether they live in Mount Pearl or Grand Falls or St. Lawrence, as we have helped companies down there, in Torngat Mountains or over in Holyrood, in Port au Port - even in St. John's East, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister is coming to the point that I am trying to clarify. There are thousands of businesses out there today that are having serious financial difficulty. They would like to know now if they qualify for funding. I would like to know if I have been misleading many of my constituents who approached me and said: Is there government funding available? I told them, no, funding wouldn't be available.

Will the Minister confirm, Mr. Speaker, that things like retail clothing stores, grocery stores, chicken takeouts, games arcades, computer companies, building contractors, paving contractors, photofinishing studios, beauty salons, restaurants, flower shops, trucking companies, music stores, lounges and even community centers now qualify for this type of funding?

AN HON. MEMBER: Good question. Good question.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Development.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I cannot comment on whether the hon. member has been misleading his constituents. That is for him to decide. I can only tell him that if he takes the time and the trouble to find out what programs are available through Enterprise Newfoundland he will see that there are a number of programs provided.

One is the small enterprise loan which is the former rural development loan which gives all businesspeople across the Province access to loan money at three points below prime. There is the conventional loan which gives all businesspeople, irrespective of size, an opportunity to borrow, where they couldn't borrow from the banks or other places, for prime plus 3 per cent. Then, of course, there is the equity position which is a seven-year mirrored program, dollar-for-dollar matched over a seven-year period where there is waived interest for a period of seven years. That is the venture capital program. The equity position, of course, is where government goes in and takes a position with its eyes open and with a deal put in place where they back out if the company grows and becomes stronger.

Surely the hon. member advised his people in Mount Pearl: There is one company here that accessed $100,000; another one accessed $3700; another one, $15,000; another, $1530; another one, $250,000; $38,500; $20,000; and on and on it goes for Mount Pearl. We even helped juice companies, Sunnyland Juice, a little company in Mount Pearl that brings concentrates in here, marries it to fresh water from the streams of Newfoundland and is now exporting it to PEI.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, I wish we had a dozen more Sunnyland Juices, whether they be in Mount Pearl or where they be in this Province. That is the type of business that we should be funding, not chicken and rib takeouts and beauty salons and video stores.

Will the minister tell me, in view of his statement, Mr. Speaker, and in view of the Premier's statement of last week when he said that government would not be funding the competitive arms of Lundrigan's conglomerate, for example, how does he justify that statement, in light of the list of projects that the minister tabled last night?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if the hon. member is listening clearly or if he is just trying to convolute for a press story or what he is trying to do. Lundrigans or any company, any single company - let me make it quite clear - any single company, whether it is starting up to be a new company, whether it is an existing company that needs stabilization, whether it is a company that needs expansion, every single company in this Province, every single businessman and every single businesswoman, has access to Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador. Every single business person.

If you care to look at the district proportional breakout, it is almost incredible. Because every single district, every single company in every district, somehow has managed to spread itself out very evenly - unlike in the past, Mr. Speaker. There was never an arm's length in the past when I sat on that side of the House. It was governed by politics and politicians and the money was passed out. If you were Tory, you were okay, and if you were Liberal, you were denied. That day is gone, Mr. Speaker. Gone!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. You can see right through it, that's how transparent it is.

I have a question for the Minister of Fisheries, following up on my question yesterday about the shrimp fishery on the Northern Peninsula, particularly. As a result of that question and some press reports, I had a number of calls from the Northern Peninsula yesterday evening. I want to ask the minister: How many shrimp processing licenses are there out and about the Province? How many shrimp processing licenses has his department issued in the Province?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I can provide that information. I know there are plants in Anchor Point and Port-au-Choix, and, I think, in Harbour Grace. There are several shrimp processing plants around the Island.

I made some enquiries today with respect to the situation in the Great Northern Peninsula area. I think FPI is now buying shrimp from fishermen there. The plant in Anchor Point is not yet in operation. I said yesterday, we have requests in now from two different sources for processing licenses, well, not processing, but certainly, buying licenses: Clearwater, a company that is operating a plant in the town represented by the hon. gentleman, and the proposal to provide, or at least to reinstate, the plant in Trepassey, which has with it a very major shrimp harvesting component. So, I can find out, Mr. Speaker, and table if he wishes, the exact number of processing plants in the Province. I can do that tomorrow.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The minister must be aware that Clearwater is looking at buying shrimp from a shrimp fishery in Fortune Bay. I would be very surprised if Seafreez is looking at buying shrimp on the Northern Peninsula and trucking it across the Island, when it is going to cost about twenty cents a pound to truck it. Maybe they will be, but I would have to question the viability of that.

The concern on the Northern Peninsula, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to ask him: Is he aware that right now Fishery Products International - yes, they are buying shrimp, but they have restricted the boats to,I think, a 12,000-pound a week quota, about sixty, sixty-plus, boats. That is very restrictive on those shrimp fishermen because, with the downturn in the groundfish resource, these fishermen are not able to make ends meet.

So the question is: Will the minister seriously consider issuing another shrimp processing license, at least a buyer's license, to the Northern Peninsula area to help those fishermen who really need now to catch more shrimp to survive?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, we are certainly willing to have a look at it but I cannot say for sure that we will agree to doing that. Because, under normal circumstances, there doesn't appear to be any problem for the fishermen to dispose of their shrimp catches. Now, we have had times - I recall last year, two years ago, when the plant in Anchor Point had to engage the services of a mobile freezer, capable of freezing about 40,000 pounds of shrimp. They brought that up to the Anchor Point area. That helped solve the problem then.

I will admit, there are times when it is difficult for fishermen to sell their shrimp, but to issue new licenses, Mr. Speaker, I don't think, will be the answer, quite frankly. Nevertheless, we are looking at the request. The hon. gentleman mentioned about Seafreez, what their intentions are. I can tell him now that they are looking at shrimp from a number of sources, from the Barents Sea, provided by the Russians, and also looking at the possibility of buying shrimp up in the Northern area.

So it might well be that within a very short period of time there will be more buyers than there will be shrimp.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you again, Mr. Speaker.

My information, I say to the minister, is that there is really, I think, a maximum of two active shrimp processors right now in the Province, and there are probably between nine and twelve shrimp processing licences that are issued but are not active. I was wondering if the minister would consider having a look at how many shrimp processing licences are out and about the Province that are not being used. The question is: Would the minister not consider one of those licences for the Northern Peninsula to help those shrimp fishermen who can only now catch 12,000 pounds a week and are having a difficult time because of the problems with our fishery? Would he not consider looking at that to see how many shrimp processing licences are really active, with a view to providing another licence to the Northern Peninsula? He would not be increasing the number of licences in the Province. Would he consider that?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, we are willing to consider anything, I suppose, that makes sense; but I should inform the hon. gentleman, there is no reason to believe that the plant in Anchor Point will not be in operation soon. It has the capability of processing a lot of shrimp. It is a good, modern plant. They are having some problems now, I think, with respect to negotiating with the union, but that is a problem, I am sure, that will be resolved very shortly.

Certainly, we have to be very careful not to allow too many plants to be licensed around the Province, because in so doing then we might be jeopardizing the viability of the plants that are already there; but we will have a look at it.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Social Services.

At lunch hour, today, twelve agencies banded together to present to the public the crying need for counselling services for survivors of sexual abuse. At that time, figures obtained from the Department of Social Services were released, indicating that the number of reported child sexual abuse cases in the last year available, 1990-1991 was over 1200 - almost double from the year before.

My question to the Minister of Social Services is: What plans does he have for providing counselling services to ensure that these survivors of sexual abuse are able to get the kind of counselling that they need to deal with the aftereffects, some of which are long-term and require serious therapeutic counselling? What plans does he and his department have to provide for that need?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. GULLAGE: The groups that had the press conference today, of course, were speaking to the problem that we have with us, and the recommendations that we had from the Hughes report. I believe they made a comment that the Hughes report did not, in fact, go far enough with their recommendations.

In fact, the mandate of Hughes was not to deal with many of the questions that were raised by this working group, and the organizations that were represented today. However, the concerns were obviously very valid, and we are dealing with this matter in my department right now, looking at the Hughes recommendations, and reviewing the acts that are pertinent. Of course, as the member knows, we have faced-off many of our professionals, our social workers, against this problem. We are focusing on it in every region of the Province, and making sure that it is given top priority.

To answer the question more definitively, we are going to be working very closely with these community groups. They are obviously very important, because they mirror a lot of the concerns in the community. They point out quite accurately now that awareness has been heightened by the Hughes Enquiry in particular, and more cases are coming forward. More are being reported, which is good, which certainly we encourage, and we intend to work very closely to put in place better procedures to help this problem.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you.

As the minister knows, the Hughes Inquiry didn't really deal with this issue at all in the general way. I ask the minister, other than saying what he has said already, which is that he sympathizes with the problem, can he tell us what specific programs he has in mind, and is he prepared to acknowledge that his department does not, in fact, other than crisis intervention, have any programs right now that provide counselling to survivors of sexual abuse and provides direct services to people? Will he acknowledge that and tell us what he proposes to do about that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. GULLAGE: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

It is a good question. In fact, it was raised by the womens' organizations as well. The whole matter of sexual abuse, whether it be children or adult sexual abuse of women, has to be addressed and we are looking at that problem on a regional basis. The fact of counselling is a very pertinent question and we are going to ensure that counselling is put in place. We haven't decided yet how we are going to proceed with that because, obviously, counselling is required of various professionals, not just social workers.

So we are dealing with the overall picture of counselling and how best to put it in place in regions of the Province that are obviously different. It does present some problems in some regions versus others. That is where we have to change our procedures to procedures that bring the victims closer to the counselling that can be made available, whereas now, of course, many of the centers that we have in place and the resources we have in place operate, in many cases, in isolation to our offices. So that is the challenge we have ahead of us, to bring our services and other services that are available in the health care system, and professionals in that system as well, closer to the victims.

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

MR. HARRIS: My final supplementary, Mr. Speaker, is to the Minister of Health.

Would the Minister of Health be able to confirm, Mr. Speaker, that the original plans to expand the activities of adolescent counselling provided by the Thomas Anderson Center to five other areas of the Province have not been fulfilled? Could he also confirm that, in fact, of the thirteen positions that are available at the Thomas Anderson Center only five of them have been filled? Can he tell the House about that and what he plans to do to remedy that problem?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the Anderson Center was built as a pilot project and the intention was to expand throughout the Province. Unfortunately, the center has never really gotten off the ground and it is being reviewed. So the member is quite right, we have some vacant positions there, not entirely due to the fact that we can't recruit. There is a problem there. We just recently put the Anderson Center under the Janeway Hospital Board and there are some labour problems there which is making it difficult to recruit at this time. There is a dispute between two bargaining units of the same union. That is one of the problems we are having with recruiting.

There is not a whole lot of supply of the kind of people we need to work with the kind of qualifications that are required in the Anderson Center, Mr. Speaker. A minimum of a Masters Degree is required either in psychology or sociology or certain degrees in nursing. So there are not a whole lot of these people available.

As to whether or not we plan to expand into four or five more locations, Mr. Speaker, I have to tell the hon. member and the people of Newfoundland that the very arguments that are put forward in the member's question are making us review the wisdom of spreading throughout the Province with similar centers. This center has not been an outstanding success. We have to look at it and we have to ask ourselves whether or not we are going to expand. Also, Mr. Speaker, we are looking at more community-based mental health services which might be able to fulfill this need.

We recognize there is a problem there. There was an attempt made to solve the problem with an Anderson Center type building. To date it has not proven successful.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, recent media reports have suggested that the Department of Works, Services and Transportation have offered the town council of Happy Valley - Goose Bay $400,000 to do the winter maintenance on the Trans-Labrador Highway from Happy Valley - Goose Bay to Labrador City - Wabush. I wonder if he could confirm that that has occurred?

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

MR. GOVER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the Department of Works, Services and Transportation has indicated to the Town of Happy Valley - Goose Bay, if they can come up with a plan which would see winter maintenance from Labrador City - Wabush to Happy Valley - Goose Bay for the sum of $400,000, that sum of money would be made available.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, isn't the minister aware that this highway connects 10,000 people to the Trans-Canada Highway system in this country? Is this another downloading of provincial responsibility on municipalities? Is the minister sending signals to other municipalities not connected to the Trans-Canada Highway, such as Burgeo, Bonavista, or St. Anthony, that they too will be treated in a similar fashion? Or is this just plain, ordinary discrimination against Labrador?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. GOVER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

At a meeting with the joint councils with the Premier in Labrador, in Happy Valley - Goose Bay, the issue of winter maintenance on the Trans-Labrador Highway was raised. The councils indicated that the winter maintenance on the Trans-Labrador Highway, this is my information, could be done for a very nominal sum considering the distance involved and considering our experience with winter maintenance on the Island. In fact, I believe the figure that was suggested, although I do not have this confirmed, was $300,000.

I subsequently met with the Town Council of Happy Valley - Goose Bay and I indicated to them, that in the department's opinion, to winter maintain the Trans-Labrador Highway to a provincial standard would require the expenditure of several million dollars on current account. In addition, before that could even be considered, at a minimum, capital expenditure would have to be made on the Trans-Labrador Highway in the range of $7 million. In fact, in the Roads for Rails Agreement there was $9 million allocated for the Trans-Labrador Highway. Two million had been committed. That left $7 million in the agreement. I indicated to the council of Happy Valley - Goose Bay, before you could reasonably expect to do winter maintenance on the entire length of the Trans-Labrador Highway, an acceleration of that $7 million would have to be made.

Subsequent to that meeting I requested, of the federal Minister of Transportation, the acceleration of the remaining $7 million in the agreement to be spent this year. In addition, I instructed my staff to begin preparing plans to expend that $7 million this year. Some time went by and I received no answer from the federal minister. The construction season in Labrador is short - shorter than in the Island, and I again called him and I again wrote him on the urgency to expend the $7 million if winter maintenance was going to be done on the Trans-Labrador Highway.

Last week I received a written response from the federal minister, from the federal Conservative minister, that they could not find it within their financial capability to allocate the $7 million to Labrador this year. Consequently, winter maintenance cannot reasonably be performed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune - Hermitage.

MR. LANGDON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to report to the House that the resource committee has consented and passed without amendment, the estimates of expenditure of the following departments:

Department of Fisheries, Department of Forestry and Agriculture, Department of Mines and Energy and Department of Development and Tourism.

At this time I would like to thank the vice-chair, the Member for Humber Valley and the other members of the resource committee: the Member for Eagle River; the Member for St. John's South; the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay; the Member for Green Bay and the Member for Menihek and the other substitutes for the professional manner they exhibited in the estimates committee, and I would also like to thank the ministers and their officials for the professional way they responded to the committee's questioning and it was a pleasure to have chaired these meetings, Mr. Speaker, and I want to express my thanks to the members.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table the annual report for the fiscal year ending March 31st, 1991 of the Newfoundland Crimes Compensation Board.

Notices of Motion

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow move that the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole on Supply, to consider certain resolutions for the granting of further Supplementary Supply to Her Majesty.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the House, the Member for Grand Bank, questioned me about the 1992 crab fishery and I have some information here now indicating that the 1992 season officially opened for full-time crab fishermen on April 13th, in NAFO area 3L; on May 1st in area 3Ps; 3L is going to be opening on May 31st. The following plants have been licensed to process crab and have advised us of their intentions:

Argosy Seafoods Limited is not in production, Beothic Fish Processors Limited is in production; Breakwater Fisheries Limited, Cottlesville starting production tomorrow; Canada Bay Seafoods Limited, Roddickton will not be in production in 1992. FPI and Bonavista Seafoods Limited will be in production today, Fogo Island Co-Op Society Limited, will start production when the season opens in their area; Moorfish Limited, Port de Grave started production on May 19th; Notre Dame Seafoods Limited no commitment yet; P. Janes and Sons Limited, their plant is closed resolving some problems with the workers and the union. Quin-Sea Fisheries Limited, Old Perlican is not in production. Quinlan Brothers, Limited Bay de Verde started on May 18th. Sea Treat Limited, Little Bay Islands is not in production at this time. Shawmut Fisheries Limited, Witless Bay commences on May 19th; St. Mary's Bay Seafoods Limited in St. Mary's not in production and Terra Nova Fishery Company Limited, Trouty commenced production on May 19th.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member for Kilbride asked to table our expenses during the period that the bye-election was on in Baie Verte - White Bay. I am tabling these expenses, the ones that were at the taxpayers expense. My visit to Baie Verte - White Bay, Mr. Speaker, was paid for by the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador, unlike the bye-election in Windsor - Buchans when all the Cabinet went out and spent two weeks campaigning at government expense, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.


MR. FLIGHT: At the Mount Peyton Block.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has recognized the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. HOGAN: In answer to the questions that were put forward by the Member, Bob Aylward, MHA for Kilbride, Mr. Speaker, on the number of trips taken by the hon. minister for the period September 17, 1991 to October 15, 1991 inclusive, while he was Minister of Social Services, including dates, destinations and the duration of each trip.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HOGAN: Mr. Speaker, total of all expenses claimed as a charge against the taxpayer by the hon. the minister and persons accompanying him on all trips in (i) above, including air fare, accommodations, meals, gratuities, telephone, entertainment, et cetera.

Answer: no trips taken during the period in question.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Environment and Lands.

MS. COWAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To the question posed to me yesterday by the hon. Member for Torngat Mountains, regarding the big game licenses. Those should be in the mail sometime the middle of next week. So depending on where you live it may take a little longer to get the information.

Orders of the Day

MR. SPEAKER: It being Private Members' Day I call on the hon. the Member for St. John's East. Before recognising the hon. member, the Chair would make a ruling on a point of order on Friday. The Chair would have made it yesterday but some of the members were not present. They are not present today but the Chair does not want to leave it any longer.

It was a matter of unparliamentary language. In the first instance the Premier raised a matter of unparliamentary language with respect to the Member for Mount Pearl. The Chair would have addressed that at the end of Question Period but during the Premier's raising of the question, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition queried as to whether or not the Premier had made an unparliamentary utterance. The Chair has had an opportunity to look into it.

Before reading that the Chair would like to quote from Beauchesne, page 143, paragraph 486, with respect to unparliamentary language. This points out the difficulty with rulings on unparliamentary language. Paragraph 486(1) in Beauchesne says: "It is impossible to lay down any specific rules in regard to injurious reflections uttered in debate against particular Members, or to declare beforehand what expressions are or are not contrary to order; much depends upon the tone and manner, and intention, of the person speaking; sometimes upon the person to whom the words are addressed, as, whether that person is a public officer, or a private Member not in office, or whether the words are meant to be applied to public conduct or to private character; and sometimes upon the degree of provocation, which the Member speaking had received from the person alluded to...."

We had one Speaker who made a famous ruling on tit-for-tat. Under that particular sentence. That would have been the ruling made by this Chair had the Leader of the Opposition not intervened to comment on whether or not the Premier had made an unparliamentary utterance. Paragraph 486(1) goes on: "...and all these considerations must be attended to at the moment, as they are infinitely various and cannot possibly be foreseen in such a manner that precise rules can be adopted with respect to them."

In looking at the remark made by the Premier - "despicable" was the word in question, I think - but in checking Hansard the Premier makes some remarks and at the end says: despicable. Then some member says something that is inaudible and the Premier answers to the effect that: no, I just dislike despicable members. That is all. Of course in that instance he refers to a group. As all hon. members know, when we are talking about unparliamentary language we are talking about in the personal sense. When a person makes a reference to a personal member, and the Premier had been making a general statement in the sense referring to the whole group. So in that particular instance it was not unparliamentary.

In reference to the Premier's point of order, that again is inaudible in Hansard, so the Chair cannot make decisions on statements that are inaudible.

Private Members' Day

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am very pleased today to have an opportunity to have a full debate on the motion standing in my name on the Order Paper:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Assembly supports the recognition and designation of the 28th day of April in each year as a "Day of Mourning for Persons Killed or Injured in the Workplace" and directs the government to declare such day as an official day of mourning by such name without creating a legal holiday.

Mr. Speaker, as hon. members will know, there was an opportunity given on the 28th day of April for members to provide unanimous consent to such a declaration and such a resolution. And again on the next day, Mr. Speaker, when the resolution had, in fact, appeared on the Order Paper and all hon. members had had an opportunity to read it, once again, all hon. members were given an opportunity to provide their unanimous consent to the resolution. It was thought, Mr. Speaker, that there would be no difficulty in this regard, it being a matter that one would expect all hon. members to support, because it is something of such great significance across this country.

The federal government had done it through an act of the Parliament of Canada supported by all parties in that Legislature. Five other provinces have also done the same thing. But instead, Mr. Speaker, the reaction of the government, in particular, was to criticize, once again, the mover of the resolution, to suggest that this was an act of grandstanding, that this was absolutely unnecessary because there was already a day of mourning having been declared by Canada, and various other remarks, Mr. Speaker, that I won't refer to. But, Mr. Speaker, they were unworthy of members of this House and unworthy of the government of this Province and showed a distinct and direct lack of respect for an issue of great importance to working people in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, this resolution was brought forward at the request of a group which has worked very hard to achieve recognition for the day of mourning and for workplace health and safety, the St. John's and District Labour Council, who had asked me to put forth such a resolution to see if the Province would be prepared to declare it to be a day of mourning. I did so, Mr. Speaker. I drafted the resolution. I compared it with the federal resolution and put it forth as a friendly suggestion to the government and asked, as is clear from Hansard, for unanimous consent.

To be accused, Mr. Speaker, of grandstanding is to ignore that such a request is a legitimate request by legitimate people who are representative of working people in this Province and who want to emphasize and have a special day to do two things, Mr. Speaker: To mourn and to share their sense of loss for fellow working people who have lost their lives through workplace accidents; and also, Mr. Speaker, to place a public emphasis on the issue of worker and workplace health and safety. Mr. Speaker, those are the two things. These are legitimate objectives. They are a part of the concerns that are raised by working people, through the labour movement, through trade unions and collective agreements, through representations made to government, of serious concern about their own health and safety and the health and safety of fellow working people.

Mr. Speaker, to say that this is not a concern of the Province because the Government of Canada has already declared such a day is to ignore the fact that this Province has a very serious and direct responsibility for workplace health and safety under the provincial jurisdiction of the Labour Relations Act for government employees. Because of its requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety aspect in the provincial sphere of influence, labour relations and workplace health and safety is a constitutional responsibility of the Province, Mr. Speaker, and only indirectly does the federal government play a role under the Constitution in areas under their direct concern.

Mr. Speaker, the Province of British Columbia has proclaimed that April 28 be a day of mourning for workers who have suffered loss of life, or have been seriously injured on the job. The province of Alberta has not proclaimed such a day but they have in fact placed a plaque on the grounds of the legislative House to commemorate injured, disabled, and killed workers. The province of Saskatchewan has proclaimed such a day. They have in addition ordered that flags be flown at half-mast on all provincial buildings. This is another mark of respect for the issue of workplace injuries and death of workers. The province of Manitoba has also proclaimed the day of mourning and have ordered that flags be flown at half-mast in that province on the day of mourning to commemorate such a day. The province of Quebec has also made a proclamation of a day of mourning. They do not follow the same date. April 28 is the date followed in other provinces and in the parliament of Canada. The province of Quebec holds its day in the month of October. They have proclaimed it as a day of mourning and have ordered that all flags be flown at half-mast on that day.

This is an important, although symbolic, act of recognition by a government of this Province, and of other provinces, of this important issue. I think workers in this Province are getting sick and tired of being treated flippantly by this government. They are getting sick and tired of having a government that shows no respect for working people, by acknowledging the importance of such a matter, by taking collective agreements and ripping them up after they have signed them, by threatening to do the same thing with collective agreements when it comes to workers' compensation. These are a number of the issues that workers are continuing to see from this government.

Now let me talk about the extent of the difficulties with respect to workers. We know that there are a -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) civil servants, every family has somebody laid off, out of work (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has on several occasions reminded hon. members on both sides of the House as to the correct procedure for asking questions. In any event, members are not to interrupt another member speaking. I refer hon. members to Sir Erskine-May, one of the great authorities on parliamentary procedure. He says: members are not to disturb a member who is speaking by hissing, booing, exclamations or other interruption.

I have quoted that to hon. members on several occasions and have indicated that if a member wants to ask a question a member can stand in his or her place and ask the member speaking if he or she would permit a question. If the hon. member does not permit the question, well that is the end of it.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In the Province of Newfoundland the most recent labour force statistics show a total of 222,000 in our labour force, all of whom, in one way or another, are concerned with workplace health or safety, and may fall victim to injuries at the workplace. In some of the more dangerous occupations like - I know there are many people who are not in specifically dangerous occupations, such as members of this House. But there are people who do engage in dangerous occupations which quite often puts them at risk and results in serious injuries and fatalities.

For the benefit of hon. members I have obtained some information from the Department of Employment and Labour Relations which disclose that for the last year, in the year 1991, there were thirteen fatalities in this Province, a decrease from the year before, 1990, when there were twenty-eight fatalities. The year before that there were -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, in the year 1989, there were twenty-seven fatalities.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I know hon. members, Mr. Speaker, like to make gibes, but I consider this to be a serious matter. We are talking about the death of Newfoundlanders in workplace injuries. I know that hon. members may wish to make political points and to make political gibes, but this is a serious matter. I think, as I said, that the people of this Province and the workers of this Province are getting sick and tired of the attitude of this government toward issues that are of great importance and seriousness to workers.

As I was indicating, the Department of Employment and Labour Relations reports that in 1989 there were 10,584 lost time accidents. In 1990 there were 10,346. In 1991 there were 9,229. That is a very serious number of accidents. Not all of them would have been serious, only serious enough for a worker to lose time at work. I believe the statistic is probably related to not being able to show up for the next shift.

The fatalities are of great importance and great seriousness. Not a very long period goes by between the time when we are reminded of the danger of work activity. Just recently we all know of the tragic fatality at the Bull Arm site, the second at that site, although government and the company seem to like to ignore the fact that the first one was also a fatality. Not long goes by until we are reminded of the dangers of work, not only in this Province but in our neighbouring province, the Province of Nova Scotia, where two Newfoundlanders, or Newfoundland sons, were tragically killed as well.

All accidents at the workplace are equally important, that result in the death of a worker, whether it be in this Province or in the Province of Nova Scotia, or elsewhere throughout Canada.

Last year 1,137 workers in Canada were killed, with 618,000 on-the-job accidents. This does not count the hidden deaths, the premature deaths that occur as a result of exposure on-the-job to toxic substances, to radiation, to dust of various kinds. We have had that tragic experience in this Province with the St. Lawrence mines and the premature deaths of so many workers in St. Lawrence. One has only to go, as I have done, through the cemetery in St. Lawrence, and feel the sense of grief and tragedy in looking at the gravestones of so many men, and the ages of these men in their thirties and forties, who died as a result of the conditions in that mine in St. Lawrence. It is a sad and tragic event, and it is an event, along with other problems that we experience today.

We still have individuals suffering from asbestosis, from silicosis, as a result of mining activities in other parts of this Province, who will themselves suffer premature deaths as a result of their engaging in activity by which they hope to be able to provide a livelihood for themselves and their families.

It is a sad thing to reflect on that, and it is appropriate that one day be acknowledged and set aside by the Province to reflect on that, to acknowledge it as a provincial day of mourning as well as the federal jurisdiction, as the other provinces, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec have done to date.

I do not see it as a matter for great controversy really. I suppose it is unfortunate that we have to choose a whole afternoon to debate such an issue, because as the Member for Eagle River says, we have no difficulty passing it. I do not know if he speaks only for himself, or whether he speaks on behalf of the caucus. It may be that the Government House Leader's remarks in the House the other day, they have reflected upon them and have recognized them as being hasty and premature, and that they may have been shamed into a change in their position. That may be the case. If they have changed their position, I welcome that, Mr. Speaker, because my purpose is not to make political points here, my purpose is to achieve the objective set forth in the resolution that was presented in my name before this House.

So I would ask, Mr. Speaker - I suppose we have to wait and see what hon. members opposite may have to say about this. I know they are -

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

I am having difficulty hearing the hon. member for St. John's East. I would ask hon. members to my left and right to refrain from speaking so loudly while engaging in private conversation.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I know, and I am sure that hon. members opposite, individually, share the sorrow and grief of individuals who have been killed in workplace accidents, and I hope that that would be reflected in how they vote on this issue.

As I said yesterday, Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to have an opportunity to have this matter debated today because, although unanimous consent was refused by the Government House Leader on the 28th and 29th of April, I had expressed the view yesterday that perhaps a debate and a vote in this House might, at least, achieve a majority vote from the House of Assembly and see that this resolution might pass.

So I will say no more, Mr. Speaker. There appears that there may be a danger of provoking hon. members opposite to change their minds once again. I will resist any temptation to do that because I do hear, despite the political gibes and usual kinds of comments that you hear from members opposite, I do detect a potential interest on the part of hon. members to support the resolution. Even though I have a minute or so left, but I will sit down early and hear what they have to say and make my final remarks at the close of the debate as is normal under these circumstances.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I just might take a second, Mr. Speaker, to commend the hon. Member for St. John's East for placing this particular resolution on the Order Paper. In my remarks as well, in the fifteen or twenty minutes or so, I have to say, I suppose, just for the record, for Hansard and the record of this House if nothing else, because it is unfortunate that certain comments would be made in the debate today, in reference to previous actions, that would tend to move such a serious and worthwhile motion into the political sphere.

MR. SIMMS: Your colleagues are all (inaudible) on your own side.

MR. GRIMES: If hon. members would bear with me, Mr. Speaker, I will express clearly the point of view from the government side and make it clearly understood that it is the full intention of the government of the Province, having looked at the hon. member's resolution, having already participated fully and openly and very supportively in the national day of mourning designated on April 28th, because of the fact that we believe in it and we recognize that it has worth and it is contributing to things that the government itself is trying to promote co-operatively with workers, employers and the public generally - if I just take a couple of minutes to address the unfortunate politicizing of it and to indicate that in the last couple of weeks or so, Mr. Speaker, representatives of the Canadian Labour Congress and the District Labour Council for the St. John's area and so on have been in contact - not with me directly, because they have had some difficulty tracking me down, I have been on the run a bit. They have spoken with people in the Department of Employment and Labour Relations. There has been a good discussion. The exact intent and purpose of the passing along of the notion of bringing in the resolution to the Member for St. John's East has been made clear, that there was no intent on their part, as people involved in the labour movement in Newfoundland with the best interests of workers at heart, to politicize the issue in any way. They were just looking for an avenue to bring the issue forward so that it could get addressed. I appreciate and understand that completely.

The only thing, for the record, I think it has been made clear now that we have - this government has had its differences, particularly with the public sector unions. But in each of the meetings that I have been involved with in the eleven months or so that I have been minister, we have always indicated that even though we have differences of opinion on certain issues - and this is where I find it unfortunate that the member today would tie actions and decisions that this government has taken with respect to what we deem to be unfortunate but necessary and unavoidable wage restraint, to anything to do with mourning for deceased or injured workers. The two of those, to me, do not belong in the same sentence, the same debate, the same breath and so on. It is unfortunate that that kind of rhetoric gets involved with this.

The notion clearly is that we, having looked at this and understanding it, recognise that there are probably certain other actions that the government, representing all the people in Newfoundland and Labrador, can get involved in to be a little more active and a little more pro-active and a little more supportive of the day of mourning than we have been. The notion that in other provinces they make a point of flying the flags at half-mast and so on to bring attention to it, makes sense. We have been convinced in our study and in the conversations and discussions that have gone on since, between representatives of the labour movement and our department.

The only unfortunate aspect, I think, that was pointed out to those representatives, was that maybe instead of going to the Member for St. John's East or any other member, if the real thing was to ask the government to do something, why wouldn't they go to a minister of the government - in this case, being myself, with responsibility - and ask us to do it? Because the request never did, that I am aware of, come directly to me. I recognised that it surfaced. And then once - and again, we are willing to overlook that and say that - you know, I have always invited people, even if we have differences on other matters - when there are areas that we support and that we should support and that we agree on, come to us and see if we can implement these things. This is something that in the interim, because of, I suppose, the politically charged nature by the way it was introduced, there was certainly some objection raised by the Government House Leader on the basis of that itself. Nothing to do with the content or the intent, or what the issue is that we are dealing with, but the approach.

Since we have had further discussions in the interim we recognise that the efforts of the CLC across the country, with the local branches and so on, really are to be commended. Because they have been on the leading edge of this for some time now. We appreciate their efforts. They have made great efforts and great strides in bringing this to the forefront, to give it the attention that it needs, long before many other people were paying much attention to it. Certainly, they have received great support from workers and worker representatives in the Province. They have received and are receiving continuing and increasing support from employers in the Province who recognise that it really is a real responsibility of the employers to enhance the safety of the workplace, to make sure that workers who are providing a valuable service to an employer are not in any way jeopardized in terms of their own personal health and safety, when they are, in fact, providing that valuable service for the employer.

They are getting increasing support from the provincial government, from municipal governments, because most ceremonies have been organised here in the St. John's metropolitan area. I understand, as well, that part of the plan is to move out to other areas of the Province. I have encouraged them to do that. Because I know, in my own area of the Province, in Central Newfoundland, they hear of these things many times as news stories. But if there is an actual ceremony in Central Newfoundland and in Western Newfoundland and on the Northern Peninsula and in Labrador, which would get the equivalent type of attention in the local media as the ceremonies on a Province-wide basis get here locally, it would help all of us in bringing attention to the need for us to be more diligent, more vigilant and definitely more responsible in taking care of the great necessity of improving the workplace for everybody involved and making sure that there is an absolute decline.

The Member for St. John's East, referenced some of the numbers in terms of lost time injuries. The day of mourning is intended to focus on that but also to point out that lost time injury is one thing, it is serious, it is regrettable, but the day of mourning, I guess, really was spawned from the fact that some people don't lose time but they lose life, and it was only a week ago, I guess, that we were standing in this House answering questions about the latest publicly known tragedy at a work site in Newfoundland at Bull Arm, and it is from those kinds of things that there is always a heightened awareness for a period of time, people become more sensitive for a period of time and they have recognized the great need and then, I suppose, as in anything, life goes on and people tend to go back to what they normally do and maybe, the fear I think, amongst the representatives from the Canadian Labour Congress and all their supporters, in the labour movement, in particular, is that life goes on to the point that everybody forgets, and that is the greatest fear, that everybody forgets, so they are saying: Let us have the day of mourning which the federal government has, in fact, supported and implemented, and why not have the Province, as well, also indicate that even though it is questionable as to how much more value and work there is, if it is already federally declared, but at least, I think, we have now examined from the point of view that there are a couple of other options that the Province, itself, can get actively involved in if we, ourselves, also give it the designation in the Province as a day of mourning for deceased and injured workers.

So there is no doubt that the lost time injuries have shown in the last couple of years to be in decline and I will take the opportunity in this debate to indicate that it is a real decline, because there are two things contributing to it. One is that the statistics compiled from Employment and Immigration Canada and Stats Canada relating to the work force, the size of the labour force, the unemployment rate, how many people are actively involved, discouraged workers, and so on, show that during this period of recession, the work force in Newfoundland has actually declined. So you would automatically expect that if the work force declines in real numbers, then the number of lost time accidents and injuries, and so on, would also decline. That has occurred, but that rate of decline is somewhere in the 4 per cent range. The rate of decline in terms of lost time injuries is in the 11 per cent or 12 per cent range over each of the last couple of years now, the last full year and the first four months or so of recorded incidents for this year. So there is another 7 per cent or 8 per cent positive sign that employers, employees and everybody involved in the workplace are making a real conscious effort, to enhance and improve safety in the workplace. And we are pretty certain that the day of mourning very well may be a contributing factor in that, just as I heard the addresses at the ceremony that was held here at the Ocean Ranger memorial on the 28th, this year, in which I was very pleased to participate on behalf of the provincial government, and again, I commend the organizers for doing such a tremendous job.

That day, as was indicated, highlights it once a year, but the efforts of the group don't stop there. They want to make sure that people in the Occupational Health and Safety Division of the Department of Employment and Labour Relations, employers themselves and workers themselves, because a lot of the safety committees and a lot of the efforts of many of the unions, have gone into putting additional emphasis on workplace safety and they deal with these in their meetings at the work sites on a daily and weekly basis. And, on the agenda of the workers, I can tell, for a fact, from meetings I have had with the union representatives, that they have given it higher priority on their agenda, that on a regular basis in the meetings that the organized workers have at the work site, they deal with occupational health and safety matters. So some people might be inclined to believe that they are preoccupied with other matters but one of their great preoccupations has been occupational health and safety.

The day of mourning on the 28th helps, aids, and assists in that, because it does give public attention and profile and focus. We have examined it and looked at it, and are willing now to look at ways, with the passage of this resolution, we hope, unanimously in the House today, we will look at the ways then, arising from that, that the provincial government can make a positive contribution to the great efforts that largely, I guess, are attributed to the unionized workforce, has already made.

I am pleased to point out as well that it is evident that the government is about to announce some moves with respect to occupational health and safety on an ongoing basis, that probably arose from the statutory review of workers' compensation.

Yesterday, in the House the same hon. member, the Member for St. John's East, was asking questions about, Would the government guarantee that when changes are made in workers' compensation that there will be no reduction in benefits to injured workers? Would the government guarantee that there would be no interference in collective agreements that provide for full salary, or top-up provisions as they are commonly known?

I indicated to the hon. member, in response to those questions that, because of the precarious financial position that the Workers' Compensation Commission and the whole system finds itself in right now, the government will be announcing a wide range of initiatives covering all aspects of workers' compensation that will be necessary, as we see it, to rescue it from the brink of total collapse.

We will be discussing; we have had discussions; we know full well the point of view of representatives of the unionized workforce in the Province with respect to that. They have made it abundantly clear in meetings with us. We are fully aware of the position of employers in terms of what they feel should or should not happen, and even though there are differences of opinion in some areas, there is absolute unanimity in one area, and that is that everybody says that government, through the occupational health and safety division, which is funded by workers' compensation, must improve, increase and enhance its efforts in terms of ensuring the safety of the workplaces for the workforce in Newfoundland and Labrador.

We have given the signal in the Budget that there will be positions dedicated in the occupational health and safety division on three fronts, I guess, and we will be announcing those some time soon when we announce the total comprehensive changes. But it is clear that in terms of cleaning up workplaces, that the education aspect of making sure that everybody is aware of the importance of a safe workplace in the first place, will be emphasized, and government, through the occupational health and safety division, will be increasing its capability to deliver co-operative education programs at the workplace so that employers and employees, together, can understand and work towards what will be safer in their particular work environment.

We will also be looking at an increased research capacity from the point of view of being able to target our efforts where they are most greatly needed, because the latest statistics are a little bit alarming in the sense that a little over 30 per cent of the total number of claims in workers' compensation relate to sprains and strains, most notably, back injuries. The large bulk of those arise in the health care sector, and of all the claims in the health care sector, the publicly funded health care sector, over 50 per cent of them are related to strains and sprains, mostly with back injuries.

We have already instituted on a pilot basis, a back injury prevention program which will get again increased emphasis. It is already in several of the health care centres, several of the hospitals, and it is being evaluated. We will add additional resources to that program, the details of which will be announced shortly.

We are also looking at continuing research as to what other areas have been identified so that rather than having people going around just educating generally, as to improved safety in the workplace that we can target places where there has been higher incidence of injury, and where it is obvious that somewhere, either between the employers or the employees or in a shared way, that someone has done something less than what could have been done to decrease the number of accidents and lost time injuries. Because, unfortunately, some of them end up being not only lost time but permanently lost time injuries, which is a tragic death. So we will increase our research capability to target areas that need direct attention, and then we will also beef up our efforts in the areas of enforcement.

So, Mr. Speaker, in the enforcement area, we will be looking at going out and inspecting sites to make sure that they meet standards, and through the inspection process to encourage people to comply. But also we have indicated clearly that we will not hesitate to prosecute when people violate the standards. The record shows that we have done that increasingly. From the prosecution and enforcement side it is important, too, to point out in the context of this debate that the Department and government clearly spells out to everybody there is a responsibility not only for the employer but also for the employees.

It is most evident, I think, in the last prosecution that became publicly evident in the Province, where the contractor was found negligent, and was fined, the foreman - and I say "foreman" because it was a man on the job - the boss on the job was found negligent and was fined, but the worker, who worked in an unsafe environment, was also found negligent and was fined. I think that is the message that has been coming through loud and clear in meetings I have been having both with the employer representatives and with the representatives of the unionized work force, that in their education programs, particularly from all of the unions affiliated with the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, that they are pointing out to their workers: you have a responsibility, too, as a worker, that if you think it is unsafe, tell somebody. Don't agree to go and work somewhere if you think it is unsafe. You have a right to refuse. Exercise your right. Go to your employer. If your boss is telling you to do that and you think it is unsafe, bring it to their attention.

In the last case we had a point where the worker thought it was unsafe, knew it was unsafe, but still agreed to go and work in an unsafe environment. There was a problem, the job was shut down, everybody was found guilty, everybody was fined.

So we have shown and demonstrated the willingness to cover all aspects of it. From the education, from researching, so that we concentrate our efforts where needed, and to making sure that everybody understands their responsibility and exercises them properly. Because the goal is the same for all of us, in terms of diminishing the lost time, diminishing and reducing and if at all possible, which is probably not practical, totally eliminating the personal grief and tragedy that comes with injuries at the workplace. There is no doubt, in coming right back to the resolution at hand, that we would ask today that there be unanimous approval for this resolution. Because it is clear in our minds, upon study, reflection, recollection and research, that there probably are two or three other things that we can do, as a provincial government, that will add to and supplement and augment and increase and build upon the efforts that have been largely carried forward by the Canadian Labour Congress representatives, the District Labour Council representatives, and the representatives of organized workers.

So I ask all hon. members to join today in support for this so that we can see what other appropriate things we can do in the Province to encourage people to have safer workplaces, so that a day of mourning might become a thing of the past and might never have to be observed again, because we might live in an Utopian world sometime where there won't be any more lost lives in the workplace.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

The hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First, I am quite surprised that we would have to have this debate today. This resolution was brought forth on April 10, I think, on a Friday. On April 27 or April 28, a day or so prior to the day of mourning that had been declared by the federal government, the Opposition House Leader stood in his place in this House, not the Member for St. John's East, the Opposition House Leader. So it was unanimous on this side of the House that we would be very supportive of having this resolution put forth with just a two or three minute debate from each side of the House.

The reaction of the government side, the Premier and the President of Treasury Board, was very negative. In fact, if I remember what happened on that particular occasion, he accused the Member for St. John's East of grandstanding, of trying to get his name in the paper, and that was the sole focus. Now, after listening to some comments from the government, I hear that they are now supportive of this resolution, and the Minister of Labour, I suppose having had a chance to review Hansard to see what his colleague said -

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader on a point of order.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I hate to interrupt the hon. gentleman, and we will give him a few minutes at the end if he wants. I do not want to interfere with his time; however, he is ascribing motives and actions to me that are not correct, and I would simply like to point out that.

The subject of debate on that particular day was whether we would interrupt proceedings to handle an emergency situation. Our view was, because it was already declared in the Province, and because we had already previously taken part in the service and so on, that it was an after-the-fact kind of thing and it was not an emergency kind of situation that need interrupt the normal flow of the House, and we have agreed to deal with it today.

It is not that we disagreed with what was said. It is not that at all, as everybody in this hon. House knows. It was simply the attempt at grandstanding by the member for St. John's East that we were objecting to. It was not the wording of the resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader on the point of order.

MR. MATTHEWS: To that point of order, it is very clear. Anyone who reads Hansard of April 28 and April 29 can see for themselves what transpired here on that particular day. I rose that day under Notices of Motion and asked the House to give unanimous consent for the hon. Member for St. John's East for his resolution to be passed, declaring that day as a day of mourning. That day speaks for itself. The government was anything but supportive, and anything but co-operative, so that is all I have to say to the point of order. But it is good to see that there has been a change -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: No, you are wrong again.

It is good to see that they have had a change of heart for the right reason, I say to Government House Leader.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, the resolution was not proposed by the Government House Leader, or the Opposition House Leader, as an emergency resolution at all. Given that it was the day in question, it was asked for unanimous consent to pass it. The next day the Government House Leader called it a charade. So they had time to reflect for a day or so, and then the next day called it a charade.

With all due respect to the Government House Leader's comments, they are incorrect, and anyone who can read Hansard on the 28th and 29th of April will find that the words speak for themselves. I guess that is all I can say.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am glad that both hon. members agree that what I was objecting to was a charade by the part-time Member for St. John's East, and that I was not objecting to the words.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order. It is the hon. member using an opportunity to clarify a point.

The hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I do not know what sensitive note that this change of heart that the government has had has done to the Government House Leader, but he is certainly very sensitive about the remarks that he made on the 28th and 29th.

The fact of the matter was that on the 28th when the resolution was introduced, the government might have, because it was government's day, determined that they were not going to allow debate on it. On the 29th - on Wednesday, on Private Members' Day - we asked again to have unanimous leave of the House to do it, and without debate. The Leader of the Opposition responded on the 29th. The Member for St. John's East rose on a point of order and asked that we introduce this resolution.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, I did not interrupt the Member for Exploits when he was speaking for fifteen or twenty minutes. I ask the same courtesy of him.

It was these people, the government, who on the 28th and 29th refused to give unanimous consent to debate this resolution. We gave consent. We had no problem, so you know our position on it. We were supportive of that on the 28th and 29th and we are supportive today. It was the government which was not supportive of the action. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is the crux of the matter. On the 28th and 29th, the two days in question, we were very supportive of it. In fact, our House Leader rose to ask that we give leave, and the next day it was raised by the Leader of the Opposition.

So I do not know where the member is coming from, saying: am I for it or against it? We are obviously for it. Mr. Speaker -

MR. GRIMES: Never mind the old foolish politics of it (Inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Was very serious then.

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, I do not know what has happened to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations since the 28th or 29th. He suddenly thinks it is a serious issue. It was not serious to the government on that day. They accused the Member for St. John's East of grandstanding because he dared introduce this resolution to the House. But it is an important issue, because over the number of years literally thousands of Newfoundlanders -

AN HON. MEMBER: And Labradorians.

MR. WINSOR: - and Labradorians - have lost their lives in trying to improve and develop the economy of this Province. Because that is usually what it is all about. When people are killed in the work force it is because they are doing something to substantially change the way of life for other Newfoundlanders.

Mr. Speaker, it is only fitting that we have an official day of mourning. Whether the federal government has declared it, that does not mean that this Legislature cannot in this House take the resolution that the member had, and I will just read the 'be it resolved': "...that the House of Assembly supports the recognition and designation of the 28th day of April in each year as a 'Day of Mourning for Persons Killed or Injured in the Workplace' and directs the Government to declare such day as an official day of mourning by such name without creating a legal holiday."

Now that was a fairly simple, clear-cut resolution that should have been passed on the day prior to it. Since then we have had some significant events that have happened. As a matter of fact, two Newfoundlanders were among a list of people who just lost their lives in the Westray mining accident. Two more Newfoundlanders, in that two that were native, and one who lived out of the Province at the time. I do not think the third was a resident. There were two, one from Triton and one from Daniel's Harbour, and one I think from the Bay d'Espoir area, but he was not now a resident of the Province. Three totally, but two were actually residents of this Province. Again pointing out the danger and the price that people have to pay who work in such areas. My colleague for Grand Bank, who will speak in this debate later, I am sure he could tell many stories of people from the St. Lawrence area who have throughout the years lost their lives in the workplace.

The Minister of Labour Relations, when he spoke, spoke of the need to, in the workplace, make sure that this kind of thing does not happen. That we reduce the number of accidents and we reduce the number of deaths that occur. Just recently we had apparently the second fatality at the Bull Arm site. One has been declared not officially - well, they do not know what happened. The other one, we know the young man recently lost his life there. There have been twenty-two other fairly serious accidents that have occurred in that site in the last three months.

So the workplace is still not safe. Safety, I remember, when I worked in Labrador City some years ago, the safety inspector, his job and his opening line would be that all accidents are preventible. Perhaps they are, for the most part, perhaps they are. But it needs an effort on behalf, as the minister said, the employer, the government which enforces the legislation, and the employee, to see that it is.

Quite often (Inaudible) the minister made reference to the fact that in a case a while ago all three got prosecuted. That does not really do a whole lot for an employee. If you are in an unionized situation a person has a fair amount of leverage that he can use because his union will back him. Quite often in the private sector out there, there are a number of people who have to go to work in quite unsafe conditions and the fear of reprisals prevents them from making some kind of a complaint. It will be very difficult to get a case heard without someone to back him.

I kind of had to smile because I saw some of the equipment that the Department of Highways have used throughout the years. I recall being on council and getting a list of equipment that the Highways was putting up on tender, and this had gone on for a number of years. You would find out that it had just been taken out of the depot a week, two weeks, a month before, by the Department of Highways. Mr. Speaker, the equipment that I saw, if there was anything safe about that equipment, then I do not know why we have any inspection services at all in this Department or in this Province.

Because I am sure the condition of some of that - even recently I have seen pieces of highway equipment with as much as 400,000 kilometres on them. They are still being used on the roads today. The government should look at its own, and ensure that it does its own safety inspections to ensure that it lives up to the letter of the law.

But in the few brief remarks that I have, we on this side have no difficulty in supporting the resolution. It is regrettable that we have to do it today, that it was not done on the 27th or the 28th, whenever the resolution was asked to be brought in, before the official day of mourning, the federal one. It was because the government, for some reason, chose to ignore the resolution, accused the Member for St. John's East of playing politics. That is regrettable. I am glad today to see that they have changed their mind and they have come to their senses to realise that workers are important with this government. I am glad to see that they are now going to support this resolution.

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

The hon. Opposition House Leader.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to have a few words to say today on this private member's resolution put forward by the Member for St. John's East, a resolution that I am pleased we are debating today. I am pleased at the outset to say it is nice to hear from the Government House Leader and the Minister of Labour Relations and others opposite that they are going to support the resolution and we will have it passed. But as has been said by previous speakers, it makes me wonder why we had to come here today to debate this resolution when we could have dealt with it several weeks ago. Several weeks ago when the time probably would have been a little more appropriate - not that today is not appropriate - but it was a little more appropriate with dealing with the issue.

There has been a real change in the government's attitude towards this resolution which is good, but I am not surprised, I say to members. I am not surprised that the government has changed its attitude, its direction, because that is what happens with this government. It cannot make up its mind. All you have to do is reflect on Bill 16. Last year it was brought to the Legislature where government was going to freeze workers' wages for one year and the workers of the Province, as difficult as it was, believed that it would be for one year, after they just rolled back, tore up their agreements. But what did they do this year? They brought in Bill 17 which supersedes Bill 16 and we now have another two year extension to Bill 16.

So that is why I am not surprised to see the government change its mind the way it has on this resolution brought forward by the Member for St. John's East, which is really calling upon this Legislature to declare "the 28th day of April in each year as a 'Day of Mourning for Persons Killed or Injured in the Workplace".

Now the previous speakers have indicated the injuries and deaths that have occurred, and injuries that are still occurring. From my own area of the Province, the Member for St. John's East talked about St. Lawrence, and the terrible tragedies that have taken place there in the St. Lawrence fluorspar mines. Where we have seen a full generation of miners that have died as a result of industrial disease, a result of working in an unsafe workplace. No ventilation. Even in the last episode of St. Lawrence fluorspar, when it was re-activated by Minworth. There were significant improvements made to that fluorspar mine; there were still some occupational health and safety concerns with the operation then, I say in all seriousness to the Minister of Labour Relations.

The gentleman who is now president of the miners' union in St. Lawrence was front row and centre with occupational health and safety in St. Lawrence the last few years that the mine operated. He had many discussions with the department on that important issue. All was not well then, I say to members opposite. There were still some problems with getting safety inspectors down into the mine when the workers thought they should come down and look at the situation.

When you talk about deaths, in my home town of Grand Bank where we lost I do not know how many men, but we lost two full trawlers of men, of crews of two trawlers, the Blue Mist and the Blue Wave, who were fishing the Grand Banks in the winter storms of February. Both sunk for whatever reasons, ice and bad weather conditions, with a load of fish and a load of men. I can remember those days very, very well, and when you talk about a day of mourning, Mr. Speaker, any of us who have experienced such a tragedy in a small community can readily identify with days of mourning because we know the impact that it has on a small community.

Everyone in a small community feels the effects of one death, but can you imagine, in a town the size of Grand Bank, where you have thirteen or fourteen deaths and you get the news that the trawler is lost with all hands? We went through that twice in the town of Grand Bank, I say to members opposite, and it was a very sad day. But these people died doing their work and, yes, I think it is most fitting, Mr. Speaker.

We see what happened with the Ocean Ranger disaster, which perhaps more than anything else, highlighted the very serious problem and, I guess, highlighted the need to have a day designated as a day of mourning for persons injured or killed in the workplace. As previous speakers have said, there probably have been thousands of people who have lost their lives in their workplaces in this Province, and I think it is the least that we could ask. I commend the Member for St. John's East for bringing this resolution to the House of Assembly.

I don't think it was very much to ask, really, that all fifty-two of us here, provincial legislators, would agree to declare April 28th of each year a day of mourning for persons killed or injured in the workplace. I don't think, Mr. Speaker, it was very much to ask, that all members of this Legislature pass this resolution unanimously. Was that very much to ask? And what did we see on the particular couple of days when we dealt with this issue previously? - that the government was not willing to do it, because they said the federal government had done it, we were a part of Canada, and therefore, that should be satisfactory to us.

Mr. Speaker, this is the government and this is the Legislature closest to and most responsible for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and I think that the present government have a problem recognizing that. They have a problem recognizing their responsibility for and to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. So I am very pleased, Mr. Speaker, at having these few words today. I am pleased to hear that the government is going to support this resolution, I commend the Member for St. John's East for bringing it forward and we certainly will be supporting the resolution, when the time comes for the vote.

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

MR. K. AYLWARD: I will take five minutes, just five minutes or whatever it takes to express my support for the motion, and to indicate that there should not be any partisan politics involved in an issue like this. This matter is one of recognition of the injured worker and the worker who has developed the Province over the hundreds of years that it has taken to do that, and the history of the Province, in developing the many industries that we have had over the years, has been one where the worker has had to take many risks because of the types of industries that we have had to develop.

Our economy is based mostly on resource development, and because of that, many risks are involved in the different types of industries we have had to develop over the years. So I think it is important that the recognition be there, and that the House concur with it, and that over the next number of years as we further go towards the building the Province's economy and building the foundation for its people, that we understand and educate ourselves to occupational health and safety. It is extremely important in the workplace and the only way that the message can get through, is through education, through legislation that the government has and requirements for the employers, and so on, but education is a major factor.

There is always a tendency for anybody who is working, to keep working and work hard and sometimes not be as careful as he should be. So that theme, I think, should be pushed, and I know that the Province is attempting to do that in the workplace, and it has to continue. But this is a matter that affects this Province in many ways. Many of the people who work in industry, work in government in the health care sector, for example, and other sectors of the provincial public service are in positions where there is some risk involved to the physical being and, in that case, these people must be protected and we must have the proper recognition for the risks that they take in helping to develop this Province.

Over the years, we have seen the many benefits that have accrued to the people of our Province because of the risks that the workers have taken. Our job is to ensure that there is less risk and that the worker has the proper protection, and we have to continue to do that.

So, there is no partisanship involved in this then, Mr. Speaker. It is just a matter of people supporting this motion. I think the whole Province would. As the federal government have already brought it in, I, as the member for the Stephenville area, concur and I am sure all members of the House do.

It is a chance to highlight what the worker of the Province has done over the years, especially in this Province where we have a resource-based economy and there is very much risk involved at times in some of the things our people do. It is a recognition of that factor.

Those are my comments, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. A. SNOW: The hon. Speaker undoubtedly had a memory lapse in attempting to identify somebody who wanted to stand and speak on this resolution, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise and speak on what I feel is a very important resolution.

I wasn't surprised when the hon. the Member for St. John's East introduced this Private Member's Resolution, that the government members attempted to not allow it, not permit it. I wasn't surprised because the hallmark of this administration has to be, I believe anyway, very anti-labour. Whether that is your own employees or -

AN HON. MEMBER: That isn't relevant.

MR. A. SNOW: It is relevant, Mr. Speaker.

To not have respect for one's employees when they are working in the workplace, in a hospital, a government building, with the police force, in a fire hall or wherever they may be working, Mr. Speaker, and adequately compensating them, also sends signals to the private sector that they also shouldn't have respect and consideration for their employees, Mr. Speaker. That is what really, really disappoints and disgusts me with the attitude of this administration. As I suggested, I wasn't really surprised, but I was disgusted and disappointed with it.

I would suspect the reason they have changed their attitude now and are up speaking in favour of this resolution is because there are a lot of people in the galleries, and the people in the galleries have influenced the hon. members to start getting up and speaking. They will undoubtedly present other pieces of legislation in this House which will show to the people of this Province that they have absolutely no respect whatsoever for the rights of ordinary Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in the workplace, whether it is rolling back their wages or whether it is easing back on safety regulations in construction jobs or whatever it may be.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are playing to the people in the galleries, aren't you?

MR. A. SNOW: No, Mr. Speaker, I don't play to the galleries. I never have.

While I was a mayor of one of the most industrialized communities in this Province, the Town of Labrador City, I had the opportunity of participating in declaring a municipal holiday in respect for the people who had been injured and had lost their lives in the workplace. A lot of that, Mr. Speaker, was because of the respect that I have for the people who are in the workplace. Indeed, a lot of them don't go to work with the idea of having to put their lives on the line, so to speak, to earn a living, but it does occur, and it occurs every day throughout this country, probably moreso in this Province because of the economic mess that this Province is in.

Mr. Speaker, I have a friend who told me a story about when he got layed off in 1952, in St. Lawrence. He had the opportunity of either going underground in St. Lawrence, or going to work in the iron ore mines in Schefferville, Quebec. He decided to go to Quebec, albeit he could not speak French. It was a very similar wage rate, but all of his neighbours were saying, 'Boy, it is hard down there. It is rough. A lot of people are getting hurt, and a lot of people are dying.' He went off to Schefferville, Quebec, and worked up there since 1952. He subsequently got transferred to Labrador City and worked in the iron ore mines in Labrador City, and has retired.

But, Mr. Speaker, when he tells a story about how he walked through the graveyard, when he goes back to St. Lawrence, to his roots, with all the people that he worked with, the people that he grew up and went to school with, played soccer with - he does not meet them now to go fishing or have a yarn about what they did during their school days or their youth, playing soccer down on the Burin Peninsula, because they are all buried in the graveyard. I believe he says there are only two of the people that he went to school with who are still alive, because they left and went somewhere else to work. They had to go to another province, the Province of Quebec.

If we do not, as legislators, pass this resolution and be more respectful of the people who are endangered out in the workplace, I think we are not doing our job as government members or as legislators in this Province. The least a person could expect when he goes to work to earn a living to support his family is to be able to come home and enjoy the benefits that they have worked hard to get. That is the least.

If we can pass this resolution today, and bring more awareness to the responsibilities of employers and the rights of employees; the responsibility of employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace so that people can go to work and earn a living for their families - because not only must this resolution become a memorial to the people who have lost their lives, and to the people who have been injured in the workplace, but it also must be a highlight, a flag, something to bring more awareness to the plight of employees who have to go to work, that they have to go to work in an unsafe workplace to make a living - and they are going there every day - promoting awareness among people. Then people will start to speak up, saying it is unsafe. Because there are places out there in this Province where it is unsafe to work today. People are being injured every day, and what do we see this government do? They talk about cutting back workers' compensation benefits to employees, instead of looking at what the problem is in creating the accidents that these employees have to endure in the workplace. That is what they do. They are not interested in protecting the rights of workers as much as they are in protecting the bottom line for profit-minded, unscrupulous business people who want to take advantage of the ordinary workers. What they would want to do is roll back the clock on the rights of workers for I don't know how long. I suppose we would be back to the days of Charles Dickens, if you left them alone.

Other provinces have shown the way in recognizing that this should be done. The government of this country, Canada, has shown the way to do it. I am pleased to see that the hon. Member for St. John's East has seen fit to introduce this piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker, because I too, having had the opportunity of working in a heavy industry, the mining industry, in western Labrador, albeit it is not the only industry, there are other places where people can be and are injured in the workplace and, indeed, do lose their lives, I know how a family feels when a worker doesn't come home in the evening.

I have read poems and stories about the dilemma of the family staring out at sea when a ship doesn't return, but believe me, Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of trauma and personal grief when a miner doesn't come back from his shift in the mines in western Labrador. I know it, I have seen it. I have seen my friends get injured, having to be flown out. I am seen them get killed on the job. And, yes, it has made me more aware, and I hope that I will never forget, never ever forget, the grief that these families go through when one of their parents or their brothers or their friends don't come home from work, that they have been killed.

I believe that by passing resolutions such as this, it will make us all more aware of the problems in the workplace, that we all have a responsibility to ensure that the workplace is a better place, a safer place, for these people to go to work. So it is not just a memorial to those people who have had an injury and lost some time from work, it is not just that, it is also a memorial to the people that have lost their lives, Mr. Speaker.

I also believe that in the case of the Iron Ore Company of Canada and Wabush Mines who operate the mines in western Labrador, that they have operated a very safe mining operation, probably the safest place, I would possibly think, in the case of lost time from injuries, of any other industrial operation in eastern Canada, and probably in the country. I think it is largely due to pressure put on by the unions, but also through an awareness brought on to the company that you can improve your bottom line sometimes, you can improve your bottom line profits, so to speak, by making a place safer to work because the employee pays more attention. He feels more committed to the company and does work better because he feels that that company is not taking advantage of him. He has a loyalty as an employee to his employer or her employer. I believe a company can motivate employees to be more productive if, indeed, their workplace is a safer place to work.

While a government isn't necessarily motivated by bottom line or profit, they are concerned with costs. Instead of taking the attitude of cutting back benefits, such as in workers' compensation, to cut back benefits to make things harsher on employees, to lay off people to increase the burden on employees, the workload on employees, such as they are doing in the health care system, instead of doing that, they have to think what is causing the problems in the job-related injuries that are occurring in the public sector, especially in the health care sector, Mr. Speaker. There has been tremendous pressure put on this sector by the massive layoffs, and these people have to work harder and longer, and that is not working.

I would think that one of the reasons why the mines in western Labrador are one of the most productive mines in the world is because the employers treat their employees with a lot of respect. That respect then transfers to loyalty and creates more productivity, more work on the job, because the employee feels loyal to the employer.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is that why they voted for Brian Mulroney?

MR. A. SNOW: No, that is not why they voted for Brian Mulroney. They didn't vote for Brian Mulroney, they voted for Alex Snow in the last provincial election because they know he will be loyal to them and he will speak up for them. They didn't vote PC during the federal election, but, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to support the resolution and I commend the Member for St. John's East for the initiative to present it and I hope that this House will see fit to pass this resolution, to bring more awareness to the problem of the accidents and the deaths in the workplace and also, to make more people, more employers aware of the problem and hopefully correct the situation which causes these accidents and deaths.

I hope that the government not only supports the resolution by saying 'aye' this afternoon to vote yes for it, but also, in action, Mr. Speaker, more importantly than supporting the motion in saying yes to it, is in action, to treat their employees with respect and their employees will then treat them with more loyalty and produce more. Instead of increasing the work load and decreasing the benefits, what they should be doing is treating their employees with the respect that they earn. They have earned it, and if they do that I think that they can make a workplace, the public sector workplace, a safer place to work and thus create a better environment for them to work in and it will be a better place to live and work in this Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. DUMARESQUE: I would like to take a few minutes today, Mr. Speaker, to speak on this very important resolution. I want to say at the outset, Mr. Speaker, that we on this side of the House are supporting this resolution today because it is the right thing to do. It is the right thing to do because we believe that the mining disasters, fishing disasters or any disaster which results in a loss of life and untold damage to the families are of concern certainly to society in general.

For those reasons, Mr. Speaker, I think it is appropriate that the House recognizes and supports this particular day of mourning and I would echo the comments of previous members in commending the Member for St. John's East, in bringing this resolution to the House today. As we all know, the day of mourning is in place for the country and it is in place again for all the right reasons.

I would like to think that all hon. members of this House, on which ever side of the Legislature they may sit, have the same kind of commitment to workers health and safety, to the lives of people who go into our manufacturing plants or any other places where there is danger. Certainly all of us carry the same kind of commitment to see that legislation is put in place to enhance the workplace and to try and reduce the number of incidents that we have in injuries and certainly in deaths in the workplace.

As the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations has pointed out, Mr. Speaker, in recent years we are fortunate I guess to see a real downturn, a real decline in the deaths and injuries in the workplace in this Province. That is not a statistic I guess, that this government takes and says that is going to be the end of the day, and it is not a statistic that the government takes and says we have to take the full, unequivocal benefit for that for the last three years. It is not something that has resulted overnight and we would be the first to say it to the members opposite and to the people in the workplace, that the ideas and the energy that have been put into place by employee-employer groups, the health and safety committees that are so prevalent in the industry out there, that it is a commentary on everybody, the worker, the government of previous days, the commitment of the financial resources that the people are giving to the government to be able to spend in this way and you know, Mr. Speaker, it certainly is a time in this Legislature for the kind of solidarity, the kind of serious debate that must accompany a particular issue of this importance.

We are fortunate on this side of the House; I know, for myself, sitting next to the Member for St. John's South, a member who spent his lifetime, up to his time before he got into politics, in the fishing industry, in particular in the health and safety area of the fishing industry. So we are fortunate to have a member like the Member for St. John's South who is very familiar with the offshore fishing industry, which we know is a very dangerous place to work. It is a very high risk area for people to be working, and I think it is through his dedication and commitment to health and safety in this area that I know the hon. minister is being helped, and the government is being helped, in trying to make sure that we put in place the necessary commitments to this particular issue.

It is also no loss on the government; as a matter of fact it is a great benefit to the government to have the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, who spent a lifetime in the industrial sector of health and safety. I know, as a previous employee of the Iron Ore Company of Canada, as I was, that hon. member brings great awareness to the issue of health and safety in the industry, like the mining industry of Labrador West, or from the Long Harbour facility where I know he used to work, and other hon. members here.

I look again at the Member for Harbour Grace, another hon. member who spent considerable time working in the iron ore mines of Labrador West, and in the Long Harbour mines; a member who served on the union, I believe, as a steward in the union movement, who brings considerable commitment and considerable history of working within the union movement, within the health and safety committees, within the overall process of trying to see that whatever can be done to accommodate the safety of workers to try and prevent injuries.

Myself, I also spent seven years with the Iron Ore Company of Canada in all parts of that operation. I was aware, of course, being a previous member of the Steelworkers' Union in Labrador West. I also had the opportunity to work from the management side while I was there at the Iron Ore Company, so I was able, I guess, to see both sides of the issue. I was happy to see, and I am happy to say, as the Member for Menihek did, that the record that the Iron Ore Company has is one of which we should be proud.

It is not lost on people. It is not through luck. It is through commitment and through hard work by all people concerned, union, management and government. It is the kind of triparty arrangement that we would like to continue to see foster in this hon. House. Since this government has come to power, I believe we have nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to how we are dealing with the health and safety of the people in this Province.

As the hon. minister noted in his Budget allocations, this year we have $600,000 more for health and safety expenditures, so we are putting, I believe, the kind of commitment which we can reasonably commit to this particular area of government policy. We are seeing the members on this side of the House who have experience, who have understanding, who have continued commitment, counselling the government on ways that we can enhance the process. We see this year, or somewhere within the last year, we put in place the preventative mediation process where employers and employees now get together and try to resolve these kinds of issues. No doubt health and safety issues are amongst the issues that it is possible to resolve before there is some kind of another clash.

We have seen this government provide a full-time staff to see that this particular program is implemented, and all of this is being done, this $600,000 of extra money, this particular program, this is being done in our times. This is being done when there have to be reductions in spending. This is being done when we see other programs being cut. This is being done, Mr. Speaker, I believe because nobody on this side of the House is accepting the fact that our health and safety programs are as good as they can be. We are not accepting the fact that maybe our statistics at the Iron Ore Company of Canada and our records in other parts of the Province in industrial or manufacturing or the fishing industry - they may be low but we are certainly not lying back and saying: it is gone to the point where we don't have to put that extra money in, it is gone to the point where we don't have to come up with those creative ideas to try to get the employer and employee, unions and government together. We are not complacent, Mr. Speaker. We are very much progressive in dealing with this area.

I am very proud to be able to see the minister do the kinds of things that he has up to this point in time and very pleased knowing that we have hon. members on this side of the House who are giving their special understanding of various sectors of the industry to our government. I am sure that they are very useful in the policy development process of this particular area of our responsibility.

Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to say these things as somebody who is very concerned and who doesn't want to see politics, particularly partisan politics, become a part of this particular debate today. Sometimes, Mr. Speaker, we are all to quick to see the government as the bad element of our society. We are all too quick to say that they are unconcerned, that there is not enough, that we are dogmatic and, Mr. Speaker, that we are pursuing a certain way. At times we have to just hold back that partisan zealousness that we have, to hold back on some of that political posturing, because there are very, very important issues to be dealt with at a time when the people of the Province are looking to us for leadership.

So I think, Mr. Speaker, that, certainly on this side of the House, all members would know that we have a government, a minister, who is drawing on the assets of this particular caucus and, indeed, taking, I believe, very, very valuable dollars in an otherwise very difficult economic time, to see that these extra dollars are put into place and not just money being thrown at the problem. We are seeing creative ideas coming from this minister and this department and this government.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I want to say, that on this day I certainly join with the Member for St. John's East and commend him for bringing this resolution to the House. I certainly will support it wholeheartedly and, I am sure, that as the 28th of April comes by next year we will be happy knowing that we have done our bit to see that the people who were injured or deceased, as the result of a workplace accident, are remembered and rightfully thought about. Certainly the kind of ongoing work that needs to be done may be stimulated in some way by the recognition of this day of mourning.

So, Mr. Speaker, I wholeheartedly support it and I would encourage all other hon. members to do the same.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port au Port.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to take a few minutes to support the resolution put forward by the Member for St. John's East and to echo some of the comments that were made by members on both sides of the House.

Mr. Speaker, in particular, I would like to say that the Member for Menihek made one of the best speeches I have heard in the House for a long, long time. Obviously as a member who represents an area which has had mining accidents and which has a highly industrialized community, he certainly knows his subject and certainly what he said came from the heart.

I listened to the Member for Eagle River when he talked about how good his side was, or how good the minister was. I do not think we should ever take the attitude in a matter such as this that we are ever that good. We should always be questioning ourselves, and we should not sit back on our laurels.

At first when this debate came up today I thought: this could have been passed by an agreement to the resolution when it was first presented, as this side of the House unanimously wanted to do at the time. But I do think that it is a good opportunity for members to speak on this particular issue. I was a little bit concerned at first that some of the members on the other side were reluctant to get up. It does give members time to reflect. Most of us, I suspect, did not expect to be speaking today, because normally everybody speaks their twenty minutes. I think it is a good exercise that people can get up and speak for a few minutes and sit down again.

I think it gives us a chance to reflect on some of the problems. When I listen to members on both sides of the House speak of some of the tragedies that have happened, accidents that have happened in the workplace, in my own district in the time that I have been there, there have been a lot of accidents in the small boat fishing industry, which is a very hazardous fishery. I have known occasions where a person on his way back with a brand new long-liner was wrecked in the Member for St. George's district, back about four or five years ago. Various incidents that have happened with people trying to pursue their livelihood. It does not matter whether it is an industrialized area, such as Labrador City, or a town such as Grand Falls or Gander, or an outport. People who pursue their way of life, I think we should take time, at least once a year, to pay tribute and to reflect on the tragedies that have happened in our past. At the same time I think it is incumbent on the government, whichever government, to make sure that the regulations that they put in place are regulations that will prevent these sorts of things from happening.

I think that is the intent behind the member's resolution. That people stop and reflect on what has happened and those people who have suffered. As well, that we keep in our minds - because if you look back at the history of the work force, and the history of mankind, there was a period before and during the Industrial Revolution when workers were treated extremely poorly. These times have changed. But it was through legislation and the consciousness of people that child labour laws were changed in the late nineteenth century. It was through the consciousness of people and the legislators in a democratic society that many of the rules and regulations that are now in place - both in the mines and on the boats - are there.

I think that we, as legislators, as people who sit in this legislature - and particularly it is incumbent on the government, and I suppose on the Opposition as well - to keep health safety in the forefront. I have personally been involved in trying to - I mentioned the boat that sank. I happened to be the person who helped that person get that boat. On the way back, after he had purchased the boat with government help, he drowned. He lost his life. You cannot help but think that as a person who was in a position to try and help that particular person, that you wondered if you should have done it or what.

These sorts of thoughts go through your mind, but in a larger sense, as a group of people who are here in this Legislature, who can make a difference, who can be vigilant. For a long time Newfoundlanders did not wear life belts. A lot of Newfoundlanders still do not wear life belts. I think that we have to be vigilant as far as the enforcement of regulations is concerned. Because as long as people work, there is always the chance that some sort of an accident will happen. We can prevent that in large measure. We cannot prevent it totally, but we can prevent it in large measure.

Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to say those words, and I do congratulate the Member for St. John's East for bringing this resolution forward. I notice that the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island wants to speak, and I certainly do not want to take his time. I think everybody should try to have a few words, if they can.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island.

MR. WALSH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Allow me to begin by thanking my colleague from Port au Port for allowing me a few minutes of his time. I know he could have carried on right through until the Member for St. John's East stood again, so I want to thank him for a few minutes.

As a member who represents a district that has certainly seen tragedy when it comes to loss of life through industrial accidents, Bell Island, over the course of the DOSCO mines, and having worked on Bell Island, some 106 individuals lost their lives in the mines on Bell Island. That tragedy only came home to us even more so this past week as those of us on Bell Island, our hearts and our thoughts and our sympathies went out to the people from Plymouth, Nova Scotia. We fully understand what it is to see these kinds of disasters.

I want to say, on a personal basis, and I know there are other members who would like to speak so I am only going to stand for a few moments, as the Member for St. John's East might want to clue up his remarks, that our hearts and thoughts are fully behind this particular resolution.

We have to be ever conscious of the workplace. We have to be ever conscious, as those of us who were employers prior to coming into the House, and those of us who worked in the workplace, we must be ever conscious of problems and tragedies that can take place. I think that it is important for all of us, as members of this Legislature, to ensure that regardless of which side of the House we should sit on, that the best of rules are in place, and the best of regulations are in place to protect our workers.

The Member for St. John's East represented Bell Island for a brief period of time when he was the federal member. He is fully aware of the connection with Bell Island to the mining industry. One of the things we are doing this year on Bell Island is a memorial to those who lost their lives. We will be unveiling that this summer. We have created a monument on Bell Island to the 106 individuals who have lost their lives. We will be unveiling a mural within the next thirty days, depicting their names, and depicting a scene of the mining industry itself. It is something that we have been re-creating, a full murals project that shows the history of the mines. This, of course, will be the focal point of the murals that we have throughout the town. It is in town square. It will list the names of all 106 individuals who lost their lives to the mining industry.

I want to commend also, in the moment that I have left, the Member for St. John's East, for bringing this resolution forward. It is one that I am sure all of us in this Legislature will support wholeheartedly. I want to commend him for that, and join with him and assure him that those of us on this side of the House will support his resolution as well.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Member for Port au Port for allowing me those few moments, and somebody else may like to speak on this issue.

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My words will be brief, because I think the topic has been well covered, and we all support the resolution. I would just like to make a couple of points that I do not think have been made.

When we talk about the workplace, most of us have in mind the place where people go and get paid to work, but a large number of people in our economy work in the home. This is a place where many accidents occur. People fall down over the stairs and break their legs, and things like that. People fall off roofs when they are painting their house. A fellow up in my office today, a man was in the office today, who was up painting his house, caught his foot in the ladder, and broke his leg in three places. That is very common. Accidents in the workplace of the home are very common. I would just like to extend this to people also who get injured and who sometimes get killed in these situations.

So the workplace includes in my view the informal economy, as well as the formal part of the economy. But in the formal part of the economy too I think we should take into account, when we are looking at workmans' compensation - because we are looking at the question of workmans' compensation, we have had a report and things like that - we have to keep in mind though that some people are very seriously injured. The compensation has to be adequate. Not only for the person, but also, in the case of a death, for the surviving part of the family, for the spouse and even the children. Sometimes, in my view, that may not be as adequate as it should be.

So in supporting this resolution wholeheartedly, I think we should keep in mind a variety of things. Keeping our mind on the main aspects of the resolution, but also extending it to these other points. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. RAMSAY: Mr. Speaker, my comments will be also extremely brief. Representing a district which is the main ferry terminal I suppose for the Province, in Port aux Basques, a lot of workers from my own home town and the district in general, who have worked at the railway over the years and who have worked also with Marine Atlantic on the Marine Atlantic ferries, and other industries in the local area - fish plants, and fishermen, who have lost their lives. I know a fisherman from one community in my district last year, just prior to Christmas, and also some others who were killed in a fishing accident.

So it is certainly a worthwhile measure, one which I support and endorse. I offer congratulations to the hon. member on bringing this forward, so that now we can act on it and get on with the process of putting forward the right kinds of activities and educational programs that are necessary to make a day of remembrance something that works for the future, and hopefully in promoting better education for the workers of the Province. Also something that will work well to see that those who have died in the line of duty - whether it be people who have died directly on the job or because of job related safety concerns - are remembered and that their death on the job will not be in vain.

I suppose the timing of this with the recent Westray mining disaster is something that we... it being so close to that, I guess, all of us have had our heart in our hands somewhat over the last couple of weeks, because of the intense feelings of families and the country as a whole, I suppose, with regards to occupational health and safety. It is something that we should seek to rectify, any kind of - maybe search for the Utopia, as one member mentioned. But at least keep striving towards a safer workplace for all workers on the job, and also better services to be offered for those who are left behind.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I guess it is a time to be gracious in a way, with the support from both sides of the House, unanimously from the speakers, for the resolution. I want to thank all hon. members who have spoken for indicating their support for the resolution. As I have thought all along, it was a most important one, and one that I would have been surprised required the debate.

Mr. Speaker, I do want to make a couple of remarks about that. We have heard for the most part, nonpartisan speeches; I commend the hon. Member for Eagle River for making the first speech in this House that I have heard, wherein he did not engage in the usual rhetorical, political gibes that he is quite good at and also likes to engage in, but rather used his time to make a most gracious speech to the point at issue and one that we are all concerned about, that is, the health and safety of workers.

I note different members referring to particular concerns from their own districts, the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island, providing us with the information of which I was not aware, specifically, that in fact 106 miners over the years had lost their lives in Bell Island. That is a very large number of people to be killed in a mine that operated for I guess about sixty or seventy years - that is a very large number of people to have lost their lives and it is a grim statistic.

Of course, the Member for Fortune - Hermitage, mentioned the Blue Wave and the Blue Mist ocean disasters, Mr. Speaker, that I remember from my youth as great - I call them national tragedies for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, ones that we all felt affected everyone in this Province and of course the Ocean Ranger disaster as well, where some eighty-three Newfoundlanders and Labradorians lost their lives at sea while working on the Ocean Ranger. So we all have a connection through our own districts, through our own families, through our own work with the serious nature of this issue.

But I cannot let it go by, Mr. Speaker, without dealing with one aspect of the bringing forth of this motion that I still find distasteful and that is, the questioning of motives. For someone bringing forth such a serious resolution and I do this reluctantly because I know it is a sensitive issue, but, you know, politics and politicians today are under great scrutiny and criticism by the public and by other politicians, and I think we only contribute to it ourselves when we question the motives of other politicians and other members of this House, who are sincerely and seriously presenting resolutions either on behalf of their constituents, or matters that they see as being important for consideration by this House.

Mr. Speaker, I refer you to the Hansard of April 28th, when it was suggested by the Opposition House Leader, that this resolution be passed unanimously without debate, and, Mr. Speaker, let me just tell you some of the remarks that were made in response to that. It was referred to as: an example of the member trying to get his name in the paper and so on. The hon. member's little charade. I am not going to give unanimous consent to be a part of a little game being played by the Member for St. John's East - that was on April 28th.

The next day, Mr. Speaker, after full reflection, the same resolution, when again, without any partisan comment by anybody, it was suggested that it might be the focus of an unanimous resolution without debate on Private Members Day: simply grandstanding on his part. I do not want to personalize this to the Government House Leader, but this is what was said: the hon. member was doing some grandstanding, the member is playing silly little games. Even yesterday, in the House: I have nothing against the Member for St. John's East doing his little bit of grandstanding tomorrow.

Now, Mr. Speaker, as I say, it is a point where graciousness is called for and I want to be gracious and thank hon. members for indicating that they will be giving their support to this resolution, so I am delighted to hear that and I appreciate that, but I also want to say that hon. members in this House deserve to have respect for their motives, unless it is clear that their motives are purely partisan, or done with some other purpose other than the sincere attempt to put forth their issues on behalf of the people of this Province whom we are all elected to represent.

That having been said, I don't think we need to fill up the rest of the time just because time is available. I think all hon. members have indicated their support for the issue. I know the Minister of Labour has used some of his time to talk about Workers' Compensation and the plans that his government may have. So I will respond to that because I think it is something that is of grave concern to me and to workers in this Province, and particularly, to injured workers.

I think the government's approach to this is all wrong and is part of what the government calls restraint measures or economic measures or financial measures. But, really, efforts to make injured workers bear the burden and pay the cost of the system gone awry is really part of a co-ordinated strategy on the part of business to reduce the cost of their operations. That is evident. They have been acting in all governments across this Province, all provincial governments, they have been lobbying, they have been working them over, they have been emphasizing the problems. They have been saying: Well, we can't afford these costs, we are concerned about competitiveness, and all of those other issues.

But the response of the government is not to reduce the costs by a dedicated program that would relate health and safety at the workplace to the costs of Workers' Compensation premiums, by a dedicated program that is given sufficient time to have effect. Clearly, the best way to reduce cost of Workers' Compensation is to reduce accidents at work, to reduce lost time accidents, not to make the injured workers pay.

Mr. Speaker, there is another way of reducing costs of Workers' Compensation. I think we have all heard it said that the Workers' Compensation system may be abused by individuals. The response to that is to crack down on the abuse and to review those cases where abuse is suspected. We don't need to have a burdensome system that is not doing its job. If the system is being abused, stop the abuse, but do not make the injured worker pay by a loss of one's ability to support one's family. Rather, the attempt should be made and focused on reducing the cost of Workers' Compensation by reducing the need for Workers' Compensation benefits.

So I think the government's approach, Mr. Speaker, is all wrong. I will give notice now, although I don't suppose notice is necessary, because I am sure it must be obvious to all members, that I intend to do my best as an elected member of this House, to fight against changes to the Workers' Compensation system that would reduce benefits. I most certainly intend to fight against any efforts to legislate changes in collective agreements which workers have fought for to protect their incomes in cases where they are losing employment due to injury.

That having been said, I appreciate the fact that through fortuitous circumstances where the government wanted to do government business, and therefore did not want to do private members, that this made this time period available. I am quite pleased to have the opportunity to have this matter debated in the House, and treated for the most part, Mr. Speaker, in a nonpartisan way.

I thank all hon. members for their support and ask that we perhaps end the debate now and have the vote on the issue.

On motion, resolution carried.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to advise the House that tomorrow we will be going back to the finance bill that we have started. I believe there were two, Bills 14 and 16, left to do. This evening, in the House, the Social Services Committee will meet and examine, or finish, or continue examining, the Estimates of the Department of Environment and Lands.

On Thursday, in the evening, in the House, the Government Services Committee will examine the Estimates of Works, Services and Transportation, and in the Colonial Building, the Social Services Committee will examine the Estimates of Justice and Health.

Mr. Speaker, these are the meetings that have so far been scheduled. I guess that is it.

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