May 21, 1992                HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS                Vol. XLI  No. 41

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Before calling Oral Questions, I want to bring to the attention of hon. members the presence of several groups of students in the public galleries today and wish them a warm welcome.

Firstly, we have twenty-five students from Whitbourne High School, Whitbourne; then we have sixteen students from Xavier Central High School, Placentia and lastly we have or supposed to have forty-four students from Dunne Memorial School, St. Mary's.

Accompanying the students from Xavier is their teacher, Mr. Adrian Norman and accompanying the students from St. Mary's are two chaperons, Ms. Marjorie Gibbons and Ms. Helen St. Croix. Also, we would like to extend a welcome to the Mayor of the Town of Twillingate, His Worship, Harry Cooper and the Town Manager.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. DOYLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the Minister of Health. The minister must be aware by now that the cardiology unit at the General Hospital is under very, very severe pressure. The unit is severely overcrowded and doctors are frustrated because of the overcrowding, it is impossible to admit new patients on a timely basis who are in dire need of treatment and the whole scene right now, I would say to the Minister of Health, has been described to us as being very, very volatile.

Now, when is the minister going to take this issue seriously because he has been informed of it on several occasions before, and make sure the cardiac patients in the Province get the treatment, the critical treatment that they need, when they need it?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I suppose the simple answer is that I have been taking it seriously for the last three years. However, about a month and a half ago - the hon. member is sort of behind as usual - but a month and a half ago I met with people from the General Hospital to work out a plan to deal with this problem.

Essentially there has been a buildup of demand over the past ten or fifteen years, as part of the old neglect which we saw, previous to the change in the administrations. There has been a buildup. Now this Province requires somewhere between 280 and 300 surgeries performed per year to meet the needs of our people. What has happened, there has been a backlog. So to address that backlog we would probably have to do well in excess of 300 procedures per year, for a number of years, to catch up on the backlog that the previous administration allowed to build up.

I have met with the General Hospital, and they have put in place a plan to deal with this. Now the plan is a detailed one, and I could certainly have it made available to the hon. member to do it. There are a lot of technical things here which, to be quite frank with you, as a layman, I do not really understand; but it is an issue which we are on top of and that we are dealing with, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. DOYLE: Mr. Speaker, if the minister is on top of it, he should be doing something about it, or something should be done about it, if he is on top of it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DOYLE: The Fraser Institute reported in February, and these are not my words; they are the words of an independent group. The Fraser Institute reported in February that there were seventy Newfoundlanders on a waiting list for bypass surgery, and that the average waiting time for these people was fifty-two weeks - a waiting time of fifty-two weeks. Twenty patients, on top of that, requiring other open heart surgery, were waiting on the average, thirty-three weeks. Now does the minister believe that is an acceptable situation? Is that the quality of care the critically ill Newfoundlanders can expect from this administration?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I read that same edition, that same article which the hon. member is talking about. That is the one where the Fraser Institute gave glowing praise to many aspects of the Newfoundland health care system. I have to admit that some of the praise they gave us was not warranted. The figures were off. We were not quite as good in some of the areas where they said we were. However, I also have to admit that we were not quite as bad in the cardiac area as they suggested that we were, so their figures are not quite accurate. Waiting lists are extremely difficult things to deal with. Lots of times the person would have gone somewhere else, or the person would not have required the surgery, so they are extremely difficult to deal with. However, the issue that the hon. member raises is certainly one about which this government is concerned.

One of the problems we have is with the intensive care units in the hospital. We have sufficient numbers of surgeons to deal with the required number of procedures, but there is a problem with the Intensive Care Unit. Just for an example. The nurses who work in the Intensive Care Unit are a highly skilled group of people. There are eleven or twelve nurses there in that unit. If a couple of nurses are off sick -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DECKER: If a couple of nurses are off sick, for that day cardiac surgery would have to be cancelled. There were fifteen or sixteen times in the past ten months when the Intensive Care was closed down because a couple of nurses were off sick. One of the things the hospital is looking at is training a new group of nurses to be on standby. So you cannot go and take a nurse off the second or third floor, because it is a very specialized type of work which has to be done. Mr. Speaker, these are some of the things we are doing.

It was thought in 1986 or 1987 when angioplasty was started in this Province that the need for cardiac surgery would go down. In actual fact, the need for angioplasty has gone up, and also the need for cardiac surgery has gone up. Which is almost a contradiction, but that is what has happened.

There are a whole lot of factors which are constantly, daily, being dealt with by the Department and the General Hospital. It is a matter that did not happen overnight. It is a matter which happened by ten, fifteen years of neglect, and it is going to take some time, Mr. Speaker, for us to deal with, but I can tell you we are making good efforts to deal with it.

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

MR. DOYLE: As usual, Mr. Speaker, you cannot get a straightforward answer from this minister. Let me remind him that no one is questioning the skill or commitment of the people who work in the cardiology unit. No one. Especially not on this side of the House. But the people of this Province want to know what government is going to do to solve that problem now. Will the minister commit now to the necessary resources needed to ensure that there is no delay in providing treatment for patients who need open heart surgery? Again I ask him that question.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how dense the hon. member is. He just can't seem to understand. I am pointing out to him, if this were a matter of, to quote Joey Smallwood, "mere money,' we could solve it. It is not a matter of mere money; it is a matter of organization. As I explained to the hon. member, there have been ten years when the health care system was going off in about twenty-five different directions. Ten years of neglect. Now the hon. member is asking too much if he wants us to wave a magic wand and solve all these problems in one or two months.

I have told the hon. member that the whole situation is under serious consideration. I have met with the General Hospital. We are dealing with the problem in the Intensive Care. We are dealing with the problem of the Intensive Care nurses. As I told the hon. member, if we brought ten more cardiac surgeons into Newfoundland tomorrow it would not solve the problem. It is not a problem with the surgeon, it is a problem with the organization, that is being dealt with, and I suggest to the hon. member that over the next few months, we should see the impact of the changes that have been made, Mr. Speaker. But, you know, it is not easy to correct all the wrongs we inherited. We can only do the best we can, and hon. members have to be patient and accept the fact that they helped cause this problem and now we are trying to solve it.

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

MR. DOYLE: Mr. Speaker, it is really too bad that the Minister of Health continues to play politics with such a very, very serious issue. It is really too bad.

Now, if I can't get an answer from him on these questions, maybe he will answer this: Is the minister aware of a very serious situation that has developed on Bell Island? He should be aware of it - he has a colleague there behind him who should have made him aware of it by now and who should have done something about it. And, if he is not aware of it, would he please do something about it?

Currently, at the Bell Island hospital, there is just one doctor, who has been there since April 30 - just one doctor since April 30 -

Now, if the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island wants to have a meeting with the Minister of Health, I suggest he wait until after I am finished. And if he wants to do something for the people of Bell Island, go over and do it.


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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! The hon. member, on a point of order.

MR. WALSH: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member would like an answer, I would be more than happy to give it. But, on the other side of the coin -

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

There is no point of order. I ask the hon. the Member for Harbour Main to please put his question.

MR. DOYLE: This is a new question, Mr. Speaker, so I guess some preamble is in order.

Now, is the minister aware of a situation that has developed on Bell Island recently -

MR. WALSH: (Inaudible).

MR. DOYLE: Mr. Speaker, would you please keep the Member for Bell Island quiet? Because this is a very serious situation, and if he doesn't treat it seriously, that is his problem.

Mr. Speaker, for the third time, is the Minister of Health aware of a very serious situation that has recently developed on Bell Island? Currently, at the Bell Island hospital, there is one doctor, and that has been the situation since the last of April. There are, generally, three doctors at the hospital, but two retired on April 30, and they haven't been replaced. People - many people - on Bell Island have been calling me about the situation. They are very, very upset.


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

I ask the hon. member, please, to ask the question and not make any extraneous remarks. He is aware of what Question Period should be. I ask the hon. member to get to the question, please.

MR. DOYLE: This is a new question, Mr. Speaker, so I guess some preamble is in order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DOYLE: Is the minister aware -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair decides what preambles are in order. I tell hon. members that. It is the Chair that decides what the question will be. So I ask the hon. member to get to the question quickly before I move to somebody else.

MR. DOYLE: Mr. Speaker, is the Minister of Health aware of a very serious situation that has developed on Bell Island? Is he aware that there are 4500 to 5000 people on Bell Island? Is he aware of the fact that as of April 30 there has only been one doctor operating on Bell Island because two retired as of April 30? Is he aware of the fact that there has been no clinic on Bell Island since May 1, just one doctor trying to cope with the whole situation and one doctor trying to handle 4500 to 5000 people? Why isn't he doing something about it, given the fact that the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island must surely have made him aware of it by now?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, two parts to the question. He is playing politics with the Department of Health. As my good friend, Dr. Twomey, used to say, that Liberal member who was surrounded by a bunch of dinosaurs for a number of years: You should never play politics with the Health Department, and I will not play politics with the Health Department.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DECKER: I can't say the same thing for my hon. friend from the Opposition, Mr. Speaker, who is attempting to play politics with this issue on Bell Island.

Now, the hon. Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island doesn't need anyone from across there to represent his district, Mr. Speaker. He brought this matter to my attention many, many, many week ago, Mr. Speaker.

Now, Mr. Speaker, to begin with, this is not the extremely serious situation that the hon. member is talking about. The Bell Island Hospital is under the jurisdiction of the St. Clare's Hospital Board, one of the top hospital boards in this Province, Mr. Speaker. The St. Clare's Hospital Board over the past few weeks has made provision to have the weekends covered when the resident doctor is not available. They have made time available so that the doctor can be off. So Bell Island is being covered.

Bell Island, like other rural parts of the Province, is having a difficult time recruiting physicians, Mr. Speaker. However, I have been advised by the hospital board that either they have one doctor hired and another about to be hired or they are in the process of doing it. What happened there was the people who were there, a man and wife team, both left at the same time. This is happening throughout the Province, doctors are resigning and moving on. Sometimes there is a gap between when the previous doctor leaves and the new doctor comes in. This is the case on Bell Island, there has been a gap there.

As the hon. member knows, Bell Island is being represented, I suppose better than it has been, certainly in recent history, by the present member who discussed this with me. But more importantly, the St. Clare's Hospital Board, Mr. Speaker, which is responsible for the delivery of health care on Bell Island, is doing an excellent job. They made sure that the off times were covered, and everything is well in hand, Mr. Speaker.

Now, the hon. Opposition Health critic does not want people to think that because he wants to play politics with it, but we are concerned with delivering health care, not scoring political points, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HEARN: My question is to the Minister of Environment and Lands but, in her absence, I will ask the acting minister, the Minister responsible for Forestry and Agriculture.

In the recent Budget, government announced the elimination of certain park fees in the provincial parks, such as seasonal vehicle entry permits, as well as the daily permits. I wonder if the minister will tell us if government has conceived any related way of making up for the loss in revenue?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture.

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, I think the decision by the Minister of Environment and Lands, the recommendation, and acceptance by Cabinet was out of concern to improve the lot of the people using the parks, senior citizens and others. It was done on a social needs basis. We are not so concerned about replacing the revenue that came from the park permits.

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wonder, then, if the minister can tell us why labourers in the park are being recalled one, two and three weeks later than usual this year, and have been given notice that they will be laid off at least a week or more earlier?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture.

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, there may be many reasons but one of the reasons, I would think - I would question the need to have had the parks open very much quicker than they were, a couple of days ago. The weather, itself, could have dictated the decision.

So, Mr. Speaker, I presume the people who manage the parks decided that the staff were not needed to be recalled until they were.

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

MR. HEARN: My supplementary, Mr. Speaker, has to be to a minister who can give an answer, that is, the Minister responsible for Tourism in the Province, the Minister of Development. I wonder if he will tell us what effect this is going to have on the physical condition of parks, parks that are already under the gun for not being up to standard in relation to the physical condition, when labourers are being called back, despite the fact the parks are open, one, two and three weeks later than usual and have been notice that they are going to be layed off a week or more earlier than on other occasions?

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I apologize. I didn't listen to the first couple of questions. I was talking to the acting Premier. I will take the question under advisement and seek the answer from the Minister of Environment and Lands.

I should tell you, while I am on my feet though, I expect tourism will pick up considerably in this Province this summer. Some of the operators -


MR. FUREY: As I was saying, tourism is expected to pick up considerably, Mr. Speaker. Some of the boat tour operators I have talked to have tripled their bookings this year. Bed and breakfasts are looking very good. The hotel and motel operators tell me things are looking good. I expect we are going to have booming banner year in tourism.

I will get the answer to the first part of the question when I get a chance.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WARREN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister of Health. As most people know, the Captain Jackman Memorial Hospital in Labrador West is operated by the Salvation Army, and over the number of years, I think, has been doing a good job delivering good health care to Labrador West. Would the minister advise if Grenfell Regional Health Services will be taking over the Captain Jackman Memorial Hospital in Labrador West?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, that is not a question to which I can say yes or no. As the hon. member knows, in the Budget, the Minister of Finance announced that over this year, government will be looking at ways to reduce the number of health care boards in the Province from twenty-five down to five, six, seven, or four or three, or whatever. Now, during the next few months, we have made arrangements to have a facilitator meet with all the hospital boards throughout the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and discuss with the local people and the hospital boards what direction we should take.

So it is a possibility that the hospital in Labrador West could end up as part of Grenfell Regional Health Services. But there is also a possibility that the Grenfell Regional Health Services could end up under the Captain William Jackman Memorial Hospital, which is run by the Salvation Army. These things have not yet been determined, but it is all being looked at. The reason it is all being looked at is because we want to improve the delivery of health care to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. If it can be improved by putting the Jackman under Grenfell, we will do it; if Grenfell can be improved by putting them under the Salvation Army, we will do that. We are going to do whatever we can to improve the health care system in this Province, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WARREN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I would say the minister's answer then, is yes, Grenfell will be taking over the Jackman Memorial Hospital. I ask the minister: If Grenfell Regional Health Services takes over the hospital in Labrador West, will the service improve more than presently, as administered by that particular board on the coast of Labrador?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, it is a hypothetical question so I really shouldn't fool around with answering it. But I should say this. I would have to word it a little differently. If we can improve the delivery of health care in Labrador City by putting them under Grenfell, then we will put them under Grenfell. If we can improve the delivery of health care by putting them under the Salvation Army, we will put them under the Salvation Army. If we can improve health care by making one board for all of Northern Newfoundland and Labrador, we will do that. The name of the game is to improve the delivery of health care for all of our people, whether they in live in Labrador West, or on coastal Labrador, or on LeMarchant Road, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Fisheries. Yesterday in responding to a question that had been previously asked of the minister, he went through a number of plants and the status with regard to processing crab in the Province. In that answer yesterday he said that Roddickton will not be in production in 1992. I am wondering if the minister could inform the House as to why Roddickton will not be in production this year?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, the plant in Roddickton was operated by Quinlan's, a company headed by Pat Quinlan. The plant was destroyed by fire two years ago. It was partially rebuilt but has not been fully rebuilt yet. The operators have not yet decided exactly what they are going to do with it. It might well be that there will be a decision made by the current operator and license-holder to reactivate the plant in Roddickton, but at this point in time, the plant is not working, and will require quite a bit of work on it before it will become capable of being operated. So that is what prompted my reply yesterday.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I am told by people from the area that the supply of crab is not a problem, that there is a trained, skilled work force there, and if the facility operated it would employ around 150 people. The other thing that has come to my attention, and perhaps the minister can answer for the House: Who owns that facility in Roddickton? There seems to be some question or dispute about ownership. Could the minister inform the House as to exactly who owns that facility?

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

MR. CARTER: The building that was initially built there I think by the Town of Roddickton and then it was leased to Quinlan Brothers or a company controlled by the Quinlans on some kind of a lease/purchase arrangement I understand, where, they were given the option to purchase the plant I think after a certain period -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CARTER: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: By whom?

MR. CARTER: I presume by the Town of Roddickton.

Mr. Speaker, we cannot tell these people, we cannot force these people to go down there and reactivated that plant. We can only talk to them and endeavour to get them to go in to reactivate the plant. Certainly we cannot tell a private sector company that they must go into Roddickton and spend another million dollars maybe, and reactivate the crab plant. I would like to see the crab plant back in operation, but we cannot force them to do it.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Will the minister undertake and bring an answer back to the House at the earliest opportunity, and try to determine the question of ownership of that facility? There seems to be some question since the fire took place; I am told there was not an investigation and there seems to be a whole lot of questions unanswered in the area, but would the minister undertake, for the House, to determine the ownership of that particular facility and bring the answer back for us?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I do not know really, the relevance of the gentleman's question. I would be very happy to get the answer for him but I think the information I have given is reasonably accurate, that the building was initially owned by the Town. I presume the operators have exercised their option, but I will find out and report back to the House tomorrow.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Certainly, the Province had to issue a processing licence to the facility I would think, and I would think also that the minister should know who owns the facility. There seems to be something in question here. A final supplementary to the minister, Mr. Speaker.

A week or so ago, the Leader of the Opposition asked the Premier about the pending problems with Fishery Products International, on the offshore plants and its trawlers and so on. Now that we have the news from Mr. Young, that it looks like all of the offshore plants are going to shut down; Fortune is going down at the end of this week, Harbour Breton is going down at the end of the month with its red fish operation.

At that time the Premier had not met with Mr. Young, he said government had not been informed by Fishery Products International of what the status was of that company. Can the minister inform the House if he has met with Fishery Products International or if the Premier did, and really, what does this mean for those communities in rural Newfoundland who are depending on the deep sea trawler fishery and processing plants, what does it mean, how many people will be affected, how many jobs are going to be lost and more importantly, what is the government going to do to try to help them?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I have been in contact with Mr. Young, I do not know if he has met the Premier, I think he has but that question would be better asked of the Premier I guess when he returns to the House, but Mr. Young did extend us the courtesy of telling us what his plans were before announcing it publicly. As to precisely how many jobs it is going to cost the Province I cannot say at this point in time, but the other part of his question as to what do we intend to do about it, I would suggest to him that he use his influence on his federal soul mate The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and let him start -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. CARTER: Oh, we will. Certainly you can be sure that we will be contacting the minister, but I would -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: What are you going to do?

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker it is no laughing matter. It is no laughing matter to see fish plants closing and people being thrown out of work by virtue of mismanagement on the part of the federal government, the government supported by these men opposite by the way, and I would suggest that if he has any real interest in those people and the people who will be affected by the plant closures, that he get on the phone after Question Period and call Mr. Crosbie, and alert him to the problem and ask him to do something about it, rather than try to pass the buck on the Province.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


MR. SPEAKER: I recognized the hon. Member for Fogo. I do not know whether other members have!

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Fisheries in an area the minister has exclusive jurisdiction.

A couple of months ago the minister announced in this House some changes or a policy for the Fisheries Loan Board with respect to fishermen who either had direct loans through the board or those that were guaranteed through the loan board through the bank. Could the minister tell us what specific criteria did he give the Fisheries Loan Board to assess the applications of fishermen who had loans with the bank under the bank guaranteed program?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, the Fisheries Loan Board has two programs. One is a direct loan program where we have about 5,000 clients, I suppose, and probably a loan portfolio of about $50 million. Then we have a bank guarantee loan program.

Under the former program, the direct loan, in 1991 we have decided to forgive interest on the loans. With respect to the bank guarantee loan program, if a fisherman can demonstrate to the board that his landings were low and that he does not have the ability to pay his or her loan, then the board will seriously consider writing off the interest, and that is the policy that is being followed.

Now I think I know what the hon. gentlemen is getting at, but there are cases where some of our larger boat fishermen, people who have a number of licences, a crab licence, or shrimp or caplin and so on, do not require that kind of assistance. But in cases where they can demonstrate beyond doubt that they are in need, that they have had a bad year and that they need special help, then they will get it.

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

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, is the minister aware that the guidelines that they have established is that you have to have 20 per cent landed value less than the previous two years, and 25 per cent of your income had to be used for payments last year? Is the minister aware that of 130 applications, only twelve, and possibly one more, have been approved for fishermen with loans with the bank program? That only twelve to this date have been approved, and that the Fisheries Loan Board has tentatively taken boats over fifty feet in length outside of that program altogether? Did the minister give these instructions?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, the Fisheries Loan Board is operating without any political interference, which is something that was almost unheard of before, by the way. They know what they are supposed to do.

Now he talked about the 20 and 25 per cent payment. That is the normal amount used in terms of where there is an assignment of catch; where the loan board makes a loan to a fisherman, and that fisherman will then undertake to instruct the fish plant to which he sells his fish to forward 20 - sometimes 25 per cent - to the loan board to cover the payment on his boat for that year.

I have no figures at the moment as to exactly how many loans have been forgiven or how much interest has been forgiven, but again I will certainly get the information for the hon. gentleman. That is a function that is being done by the loan board and its nine members who represent all sectors of the fishing industry, and government, by the way; and I think they are doing a pretty good job of it.

MR. SPEAKER: The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

Just before moving on to the next item, as a result of today's Question Period, the Chair would like to bring to hon. members' attention some of our rules or Standing Orders relating to Question Period. I am a firm believer in the fact that once people possess the knowledge and have the information, they will proceed to follow it.

Our own Standing Orders, Section 31(b) says: "In the discretion of Mr. Speaker" - not in the discretion of anybody else - "a reasonable number of supplementary questions arising out of a Minister's reply to an oral question may be asked by any Members."

The second part I would like to read is 31(c) which says: "In putting any oral questions, no argument or opinion is to be offered nor any facts stated except so far as may be necessary to explain the same; and in answering any such question, the minister is not to debate the matter to which it refers."

That, I say, is the rule most abused, because the more of a preamble, the more that a member prefaces a question, then the more open it becomes to a minister debating the preamble and debating the extra things, the extemporaneous things and sometimes the superfluous matters that have been introduced into the question, and it makes it very difficult. These rules are made for a purpose, because, as I have said so many times in the past, Question Period is not a period for debate.

Lastly, I want to bring to hon. members' attention that the Speaker's rulings related to Oral Questions are not debatable or subject to appeal. The Chair did not make the rules. The Chair is only enforcing the rules, and there is an equal obligation on members to follow them.

Thank you very much.

Orders of the Day

MR. BAKER: Motion 3, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion 3.

On motion, that the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole, Mr. Speaker left the Chair.

Committee of the Whole

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

Bill No. 14. The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

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

The President of Treasury Board, the Government House Leader, is a little bit anxious to get this bill through the House. Unfortunately, it is not going to happen as soon as he wants it to happen.

I want to have the opportunity to speak to this piece of legislation. It gives me the opportunity to talk about the way that government not only have been raising the money, but the way government have been spending their money throughout the districts of this Province.

In this Province, since this government came to office, less than three years ago, we have seen personal income tax increase by 6 percentage points. I believe that is the most significant increase over a three-year period that we have seen in the history of this Province. So this government is acting in a very deceitful manner - extremely deceitful. What they are doing is trying to leave the impression that they are not raising taxes when they are grabbing 6 per cent of personal income tax from the taxpayers of this Province.

They talk about the elimination of the school tax, and the replacement of the school tax with personal income tax. What they have done is they have cost the people of this Province who were paying school tax, in some cases, three times the amount they were paying before. That is what the Minister of Finance has done, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: More? More than three times, the Minister of Finance is saying, than what they were paying before.

Mr. Chairman, when one looks around this Province and sees how government have cut back - they have cut back in the education system, they have cut back in health care. As we have just heard, my colleague for Harbour Main raised questions about the fact that there are two doctors less on Bell Island than there were a year ago. We have known what has happened to hospitals, particularly the smaller hospitals throughout rural Newfoundland, in the Budget of the Minister of Finance last year. We know what has happened to the Social Services Department: this year, when we have the highest rate of unemployment that we have had in the past ten years in this Province, probably the highest rate that we have ever had, this government have seen fit to cut the budget of the Department of Social Services by some $5 million. The total budget for that Department has been reduced by some $5 million.

The Employment Opportunities Division, where there are 7,000 less jobs in this Province today than a year ago. There are 7,000 less Newfoundlanders and Labradorians working in this Province today than there were one year ago. At the same time, the Employment Opportunities budget of that department has been reduced from $22 million last year, which was to help train people and to help create work for those who were unemployed, who hopefully could qualify for some federal benefits or whatever the case may be. Last year this government spent $22 million; this year, with 7,000 less men and women working in this Province, the government has budgeted $16 million. That is $6 million less in the Employment Opportunities Division of that department.

Men and women in this Province are being thrown out of work. The fish plant in Catalina has been closed for several months, Ramea is closed, Marystown is down, Fortune is going down next week, Harbour Breton is going down in another two weeks; trawlers are tied up, men and women who work in the deep-sea fishing industry in this Province are unemployed; yet this government, while they have raised taxes, have refused -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes, you have raised taxes on the backs of the poor of this Province. That is what you have done! You have raised taxes on the back of the poor!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. TOBIN: You have attacked the poor, you have attacked the suffering, of this Province. You have attacked the poor, Sir, by cutting the budget of the Department of Social Services. By attacking health care you have attacked the suffering of this Province. That is what the Minister of Finance has done. He should hang his head in shame. You should hang your head in shame, the way you have attacked the underprivileged in this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: You have attacked the sick and the suffering -

AN HON. MEMBER: And the poor.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, Mr. Chairman, and the poor. How can you reduce the Social Services' budget by $5 million and say you are not balancing the books on the backs of the poor? Everyone can understand that except the Minister of Finance. Because you don't understand what it is to work with people who have to depend on that department. I worked there for ten years as a social worker, and I can tell you -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) pay school tax.

MR. TOBIN: I can tell you that when someone in this Province today has to live on $2.90 - and that is what this government is giving to single, able-bodied people in this Province, $2.93 a day. Now, Mr. Chairman, if that is something for the Minister of Finance to be proud about, then let him be proud. But the person who has to live on $2.90 a day is not extremely happy. No wonder - that is how you cut the Budget, that is where you balance the books, on the backs of people who are getting $2.90 a day.

MR. SMALL: How much did you give them?

MR. TOBIN: Well, I can tell you one thing, we treated people fairly. There was never a reduction in the Social Services' budget in this Province. I can further tell the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay that when we had to stand and vote on an issue in this Province, we didn't scurry through the door, as he did a few weeks ago, and is now appearing in the newspapers throughout this Province. You didn't have the courage of your convictions to stand up and support a resolution that would see support coming from Ottawa for plant workers and fishermen in your district last week. You should talk about what is going on in the Budget! It is this Minister of Finance who has balanced the Budget, who has increased taxes.


MR. TOBIN: Yes, you have increased taxes. What about the payroll tax throughout this Province? Do you think that is not affecting people who have to go out and buy clothing? You have increased personal income tax by 6 percentage points since you became the Minister of Finance.

MR. WINDSOR: That is true. That is true.

MR. TOBIN: That is what you have done in this Province. You have increased the payroll tax in this Province, brought it in as a new tax. My colleague from Mount Pearl has pointed out several times that it is a new tax. Yes, and at the same time now, you can loan out money to Enterprise Newfoundland to set up restaurants in competition with other restaurants in the same town. You can loan money out to people to set up small restaurants in this Province which will go in direct competition with other people. You are closing down industries in this Province. You are closing down the private sector in terms of small businesspeople in this Province who are being affected.

MR. DOYLE: And you don't care, that is the sin of it all.

MR. TOBIN: There is not a mine left on the Island portion of this Province since this crowd came to power. Hope Brook was opened last week with $6 million from Mr. Crosbie's budget, not a nickel from this group here, except to build a clinic. Every other mine on the Island portion of the Province has been closed since this government came to power.

For the first time ever - I heard Mr. Vic Young on CBC, I believe it was, this morning - all deep-sea plants in this Province will be closed in a couple of weeks time. The fishery is closed down, the mining industry is basically closed now, and now they are going to try to attack the small businesspeople who are trying to survive. They are doing that by the Minister of Finance imposing a payroll tax. That is a tax burden that is very difficult to support. They are doing it, Mr. Chairman, by setting up competition to small businesspeople in the Province, forcing some of them to close. That's what is happening.

It is time that the Minister of Finance realizes that the people in rural Newfoundland are being attacked, day in and day out, by this administration. They have no sense of responsibility to rural Newfoundland, and every single issue that this government faces and every single decision they make around the Cabinet Table have one common denominator, and that is the resettlement of rural Newfoundland. Make no mistake about it. They started off talking about -

AN HON. MEMBER: That is the plan, the economic plan.

MR. TOBIN: The economic plan, yes. They first talked about amalgamation, how they must amalgamate -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the member's time is up.

MR. TOBIN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I will get back to it after.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson.

Actually, I expected the Minister of Finance to take part in this debate since, from his seat, he was so vociferous there a few minutes ago. Perhaps when I sit down, in ten minutes time, he will rise and contribute in a direct way to the debate.

Chairperson, what we are discussing, of course, is yet another taxing measure from this government, a bill to increase, once again, the personal income tax rate. The government has resorted to a whole host of revenue-raising measures which, together, are having the effect of taking quite a bit of money from all our citizens, reducing the disposable income of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. That additional tax burden on our people is coinciding, of course, with a drop in employment and a decrease in income since public sector wages have been frozen through violations of collective agreements, public sector jobs have decreased because of the massive reduction in public sector employment that started last year when over 3,000 positions were eliminated, direct government jobs and jobs with provincial funded agencies, so a squeeze has been put on people in our Province.

The personal income tax was increased by this administration in their very first Budget three years ago. Now that was a Budget which included a current account surplus forecast, most of the work on that Budget had been done by the previous administration. This is the government that walked into the offices of power inheriting, inheriting a good financial position. Now the months that led up to the change of government included lavish promises by the Premier, then Opposition Leader who was campaigning for election. Of course, the Premier had access to the Province's financial statements, he was in the House of Assembly when the budget documents and the spending estimates were tabled in 1988 and 1987, so he was well aware of the financial position of the Province and on that basis in his campaigning, he said that the Provincial government, under his leadership should the Liberals win the election, would build new university campuses all over the Province, saying the first additional university campus would be in central Newfoundland.

My colleague, the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, hands me an Evening Telegram article from February of 1989. It is an account of a speech the present Premier, then Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Liberal Party, made to the Gander Chamber of Commerce. Now the Member for Gander was probably in that audience. The Member for Gander in fact, probably helped write that speech; it was a speech that attracted considerable attention at the time. Now in that speech, Chairperson, the present Premier promised that if he became Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, he would not stand for having just one university, no that was not good enough, he would insist on the construction of new university campuses, first in central Newfoundland, which of course is where he was speaking, but then he would proceed to build a university campus in southern Newfoundland, a university campus in northern Newfoundland and a university campus in Labrador.

He said at the same time, he would expand Grenfell College in Corner Brook, the campus of Memorial University in Corner Brook so that -

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

MR. CHAIRMAN: The Government House Leader on a point of order.

MR. BAKER: Maybe the hon. member does not want to let the facts get in the way of what she is saying, the truth, but I was present on that particular occasion and I do know what was said and if the hon. member is interested in the truth, I will now tell her.

The Premier to be, and we knew he was going to be Premier at that point in time, indicated that first of all, there would be a full four year program offered in Corner Brook. Secondly, he said that he wanted to see and at some point in time would build a campus in central Newfoundland and that these were the three locations, St. John's, Corner Brook and central Newfoundland. He did not say Gander at all, he said somewhere in central Newfoundland. He went on to mention that maybe in the distant future there might be other possibilities in the Province, and that the concept was to bring university education closer to where the people lived and where the students lived. So, Mr. Chairman, there was no promise to do all that; this was a vision of educational improvement in the Province. The hon. member used to be Minister of Education, and I am sure that she had somewhat the same vision as well when she was Minister of Education. Unfortunately, she did not do much about it.

MR. CHAIRMAN: No point of order. The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson.

Of course there is no point of order. It is simply a case of the Member for Gander being embarrassed because I am reminding everyone of what his Premier and he promised people when they hoodwinked the voters three years ago. Now they did not fool all the people, because only 47 per cent of the people voted Liberal; but the 47 per cent happened to be distributed in such a way as to give the Liberals more seats than the PC's, when 48 per cent of the people had voted PC.

So we now have as our Premier, as Premier of the Province, a man who promised, and this is a direct quote according to The Evening Telegram: "Let me tell Mr. Peckford that a second university is in the cards, and a third and fourth as soon as practical." Now the Liberals did form the government, and the man who made that promise became Premier. When he had realized that he was going to have to get real, he proceeded to prolong the conning of people in central Newfoundland by inviting groups there to make proposals for the location of the university campus in central Newfoundland, inciting the opposite member's constituents to make a bid for Gander as the ideal site for the central Newfoundland university. Then, of course, the Member for Exploits worked with his constituents to make a proposal.

AN HON. MEMBER: And the Member for Lewisporte.

MS. VERGE: And the Member for Lewisporte, and the Member - I do not know what the Member for Windsor - Buchans did, but they carried out the charade for a whole year. Town councils, community groups -

AN HON. MEMBER: He did not know about (inaudible).

MS. VERGE: The Member for St. Mary's - The Capes reminds me that the Member for Windsor - Buchans actually did not know about it, because he did not get a call.

At any rate, considerable time and money went into making proposals for the location of the central Newfoundland campus of the university. When finally the members opposite realized that they could not prolong this pretence any longer, they finally had to admit to the people that the whole idea had been crazy from the first place. There is no way the Province could afford it. But they managed to win the government on the strength of that promise and many other extravagant, ludicrous promises which the Premier knew he was not going to be able to deliver on.

He still tells people in western Newfoundland that he is going to expand Grenfell College. In the meantime, what is happening is that there has been a reduction in the number of personnel there, in the face of unprecedented enrolment. There are now twice as many students at Grenfell College as the facilities were designed to accommodate.

Here we have all kinds of measures on the part of the government to increase revenue. That is what we are talking about now. We have had cancellation of commitments that were made for various improvements in public services and construction projects, and this is largely because the government has mismanaged administering the affairs of the government and its agencies, and has worsened the climate for private business activity.

The mismanagement of government we have to fault them for unmercifully, because this is an area where they are in complete control. Now my colleague, the Member for Humber Valley -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MS. VERGE: I will have to speak again later, Chairperson.

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Chairman, I just had to have a few words, because there has been such terrible misrepresentation of what has been going on with respect to taxation.

We are debating a bill having to do with increasing the personal income tax, and hon. members opposite are suggesting we should not do that. That instead... I don't know what, there is no "instead" at all. Because they tell us on the one hand that we should not raise taxes, we should spend more money, and we should not increase the deficit.

Now there is a very simple equation out there that you take your revenue, take off your expenditures, and that is supposed to equal your surplus or deficit. If your deficit is fixed - as it is with us because we cannot increase our deficit any more because of our credit rating - and therefore, if we cannot increase taxes, we have to maintain expenditures at the same level. What we did this time, we increased taxes by $6 million. On a budget of about $3 billion, that is not a very great increase in taxes.

We had to get rid of the school tax because we were committed to do it. The school tax was blatantly unfair. If hon. members opposite think that we are going to reinstate the school tax, they are wrong. The school tax is dead, it will never be imposed in this Province again!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No matter (Inaudible)!

DR. KITCHEN: No matter!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. KITCHEN: It is no good wishful thinking on the school tax. That is a terribly unfair tax. Even yesterday a person came to me who worked with one of the school tax authorities, a person who has a part-time job, and who may make $7,000 this year, and may not. That person is being hounded unmercifully by school tax authorities. It is the sort of thing that makes your blood boil, to see poor people being hounded by school tax authorities. We are not going to come back with the school tax, it's gone! That is so.

Instead they say we should not raise income taxes. Now there is no fairer tax than the income tax. People who make money pay more taxes. They do not pay any more taxes than another person unless they make more money than another person. Simple as that. It is a fair tax. So don't object to the income tax. If we are going to collect revenue from individuals it is much fairer to do it through the personal income tax system than it is through the school tax system. That is gone. That regressive tax, where the poor were hit unmercifully. Some were even put in jail. We are not doing that. That is not going to happen any more in this Province, where people are being unmercifully hounded by school boards and their affiliates. We are not going to allow that to happen. That's gone. I want to make that point quite clear, we are not allowing that to happen any more.

The other point I want to make is this. The Opposition keeps telling us that the people in the Province are opposed to our budgetary measures. Mr. Chairman, the people in this Province realise the situation that this and every other province is faced with in Canada, and that we are being extremely responsible in the way we are operating. There is no public revulsion against our Budget. The hon. members opposite, the trio in the Opposition, the Len, Lynn, Glenn. Have you heard of the Len-Lynn-Glenn?


DR. KITCHEN: Oh yes. Len, Lynn, Glenn were out in Clarenville the other day. The hon. Members for Humber East, Grand Falls, and hon. Member for... Terra Nova?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

DR. KITCHEN: They were out in Clarenville. They had a public meeting: All those who are against the government please come to our meeting and tell us what is wrong. They had a throng, they came from all over the area. They came from Bonavista, Gander, the Burin Peninsula. They all congregated on Clarenville and had this big meeting. Seven people! Seven people showed up! Seven!

AN HON. MEMBER: That included them.

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Chairman, the public in Newfoundland are not listening to the Opposition, and God bless Glenn, Len and Lynn.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, I just want to make a few comments. The President of the Council disappeared a few minutes ago when he got up on a point of order suggesting that the Member for Humber East was misquoting the Premier in what he was saying about a second university in this Province. The Member for Humber East had an article from the Gander Beacon, I believe it was, on what the Premier actually said.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Evening Telegram.

MR. R. AYLWARD: From the Evening Telegram.

The Member for Gander seemed to say that the Member for Humber East was either misleading or misquoting what the Premier was saying about a second university.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I have a copy of what is called here, the Campaign '89 Policy Manual. "Liberal, A Real Change," is what it says. I am going to read a section from this, and I don't think the President of Treasury Board can say I am misquoting anyone, because I am going to be reading directly from Page 6. Page 6 refers specifically to education. It starts on Page 5 but there is no need for me to read through some of the earlier parts of it. It has to do with high school and elementary education policies.

Mr. Chairman, on Page 6 it starts of by saying: "Post-secondary facilities will be expanded to allow more students in rural areas to participate in career development without being penalized by high cost of accommodation and transportation." Mr. Chairman, this is a good goal. This certainly, if accomplished, would help out people in rural Newfoundland. I don't know how the Premier squares this with his statement on television the other night that he wouldn't mind seeing some resettlement done in this Province. Mr. Chairman, that seems to be completely against what he said in his policy manual of 1989 and what he said on television a couple of nights ago: If resettlement happens because people are not working in their communities, well sobeit. Now, that doesn't seem to me to square well with the policy of the Liberal Government which says that students in rural Newfoundland should participate in career development without being penalized by the high cost of accommodation and transportation. Mr. Chairman, that was one statement they made.

Here is how he was going to achieve it. There is no question of what is being said in this policy manual. This is how he is going to achieve it. "To achieve this, we will expand the curriculum of Grenfell College in Corner Brook to include third and fourth year courses." Also a good goal. Not accomplished yet, but also a good goal.

"So that in time, bachelor level degrees in basic arts and science disciplines can be obtained in Corner Brook, and Grenfell can become a degree granting institution on its own." That certainly is a good goal, Mr. Speaker. That is what the Liberal Government wanted to do. That is what they are going to do.

Here is what it goes on to say: "A Liberal Government will start immediately on the construction of a similar small university campus in central Newfoundland." There is no doubt about that. There is no misquote of what the Premier said. He didn't say when feasible or when possible. He said directly, "A Liberal Government will start immediately on the construction of a similar type university in central Newfoundland," to develop as Grenfell has in Corner Brook. Now, not in the future or not if we had more money. Immediately means immediately, as soon as he was elected. That is what I would say. I would say immediately that you put me in as Premier, this is where I am going to start. That certainly was the impression the Premier wanted to leave. I don't know if he changed his mind since he got in. He seems to have changed his mind on quite a few things.

This Liberal Policy Manual here seems to be quite liberal when you read through it. But the actions of the Premier and this government do not seem to be quite as liberal as this policy statement. He seems to have turned around quite - actually, he didn't turn around at all, he has always been very conservative. But when he is writing for election campaigns he seems to have a different frame of mind than when he is writing for budget speeches and throne speeches.

When I plant my strawberries I plant them immediately so the plants won't rot but, Mr. Chairman, I know that immediately when enough sun and enough nutrients have gone into that plant that immediately I will have strawberries. I know that immediately as soon as I plant them, if I look after them properly. Now, Mr. Chairman, immediately that I put those plants in the ground, immediately I know that I have to do a certain amount of undertakings to get those strawberries to develop.

Immediately that the Premier took office, as he said in his plan, he was going to start construction immediately on the university campus in central Newfoundland. Now, immediately was not five years down the road.

AN HON. MEMBER: He never said that, you know.

MR. R. AYLWARD: This is a direct quote from the Liberal Policy Manual. It says, "A Liberal Government will start immediately on construction." Not planning. They were not going to do any planning on this facility at all, they were not going to draw a plan, not a mark. The Department of Works, Services and Transportation weren't even going to let a tender, they were going to start immediately on construction, which has to be the most stupid statement. I don't know who, if anyone, ever really believed it. I guess some people must have believed it but most people I knew laughed at it when they heard it, because you just can't start immediately on the construction. Everyone knows you can't start immediately, but the Premier said, in his policy statement, that he was going to start immediately. Now, I don't understand what he meant. I certainly don't understand, seeing what he has done since he took office, why he would make such a statement, because he is very careful about the words he uses. This Premier is extremely careful about how he phrases any statement.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: My strawberries? No I have a u-pick, so other people pick them immediately after they are growing -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: After they are growing?

MR. R. AYLWARD: - immediately after they are ripened perfectly and immediately after the sun develops them, I open the u-pick and people immediately come in there, they rush in - actually, they are lined up on the road to try to get into it because they know how delicious they are. So immediately as those strawberries are ripened, people are in there in droves and they pick them and then they are so good, they can't put them in their freezers, they immediately eat them, and that's the best part because the next day they immediately want some more. Then they come back the next day and get some more because they loved them from eating them immediately as they pick them. But the berries that are eaten while they are picking are the ones I don't get paid for. I would have to weigh the people as they come in and as they go out, and if there is a difference in weight, then charge them for the cost of what they have eaten.

But I will let those few strawberries go for promotion, because they will immediately be back as soon as the sun comes up the next day, Mr. Chairman, just as the Premier is immediately going to start construction of his Central Newfoundland - but, Mr. Chairman, when I plant my strawberry plants, the immediacy of getting a strawberry off them is certainly about five years ahead of the immediacy of the Premier building a university campus in Central Newfoundland.

Now, Mr. Chairman, my definition of the word 'immediate' and 'immediately' as the Premier says, seems to be different from the Premier's and all Liberal members over there because they were going around saying, 'We are going to build a new campus. Our Premier told us we will have a new campus in Central Newfoundland immediately.' And I guess there were fellows out there buying lumber and buying boards, they were looking at pieces of land all over the place -

AN HON. MEMBER: Buying stone.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes. - seeing where they could get in on this. Well, if the Premier is going to build, we must have a piece of land, so everyone out there starts saying: 'Well, gee-whiz, I have a good piece of land.' Then they came in and it was not so immediate, they put out some kind of a White Paper or feelers around, 'Now, where can we put this?' and they got into the biggest kind of a war between the Grand Falls, Gander and Lewisporte area, so they had to cancel the whole works. There will be no university out there in Central Newfoundland because the Minister of Education, because he was a bit naive at the time, I guess - actually, what they wanted to do was delay the decision. They thought they could bury it for a while by saying, 'We will do a study and see where the best location will be.'

Then Springdale and Grand Falls got into the action and Bishop's Falls got in; they got into so much of a tangle, they said, 'If we had some way to take back all of these copies of the Liberal manifesto in 1989 - if we had a way to take them back and change that word 'immediately', to 'some time in the future', like it was said probably in that Telegram article there, that in time, when we can get a chance, when we get around to it, we take 'immediately' out of here as fast as we can, and then some time in the future, if we ever happen to get elected a second time, because we could probably use this. I would say, this fall or next spring when we have another election, there will be another page five and six, and it will not read: A Liberal government will start immediately on construction. That will not be in it, but there will be a university promised for Central Newfoundland again in the next election. But 'as soon as we can get our economy diversified,' is what it would read - 'as soon as we can get our economy diversified.'

Now, in the Central Newfoundland area, we have started diversifying our economy by giving out money to a fish and chips store, I think it was, or a chicken place. Now, we are really diversifying the economy for Gander -

AN HON. MEMBER: Chicken and ribs.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes. So we are leaning towards Gander to put this university as immediately as we can after the next election by diversifying the economy, by putting I don't know how much money it was - I can't remember now. We diversified the economy in the Gander area. Now we are finished with that. We have a ribs and chicken, or chicken and fish, or some - what was it?

AN HON. MEMBER: Chicken and ribs.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Chicken and ribs deal. The Newfoundland Recovery Commission and the Economic Recovery Commission and Enterprise Newfoundland got together for three years and wondered how they were going to fulfil this immediate promise. We have to diversify the economy first, so immediately we will give money to a fish and chips store or a chicken - immediately we will do that, because that will start the diversification in this Province.

Another thing they immediately did when they were going mad, in 1992, they immediately gave money, I noticed in here, to a -

AN HON. MEMBER: A beauty parlour.

MR. R. AYLWARD: - A beauty parlour. This was in the eastern region. They immediately gave money to a beauty parlour in the St. Mary's Bay area.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: No, there was one in St. Mary's Bay, too. They immediately gave it, and on the next line they immediately gave the woman more money to move to another location because she couldn't spend the money in the place she had. There certainly had to be a great feasibility study done into that one, because when they got the money approved immediately to open up a beauty salon somewhere down in St. Mary's Bay, immediately after that they had to give her more money so that she could get out of there because it was the wrong place to operate.

So, immediately, this university will be built, as soon as the beauty parlours around the Province get our economy diversified enough and get us back on schedule.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) eating strawberries.

MR. R. AYLWARD: I know what happens to me if I immediately eat too many of them.

Now, Mr. Chairman, that is what this government is going to do. Oh, the President of Council - maybe I can start again. I can get my time back again, Mr. Chairman, When the President of the Council -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

Is the House ready for the question?

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you.

It is a shame that the Member for Gander missed that fantastic speech by my colleague, the Member for Kilbride. He was just talking about the government's record, contrasting what they have done with what they had promised. They promised action. They were going to revitalize the economy. 'Recover' was the rallying cry. There was an Economic Recovery Commission set up a few months after they took over the government, and they brought together all kinds of sociologists and business people, and they consolidated and amalgamated various agencies of the government, and set up a new corporation which, after a couple of years, they called Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador.

So there was going to be recovery and enterprise and competition, and there was going to be immediate action to diversify the economy. They were going to do that as a means of delivering on their campaign promises to improve health care, to open more hospital beds, to boost university education, because one university definitely was not good enough for Newfoundland and Labrador. There was no way Clyde Wells was going to settle for one university. There had to be not one university, not two, not three, but four or five, and the Member for Gander helped him write that campaign speech that he delivered with such sincerity in February of 1989. That would have been vintage Clyde Wells on the subject of higher education.

He was saying that what Brian Peckford had done was wrong. He wasn't going to stand for that. He knew about the financial position of the Province. He, being a conscientious lawyer, had studied all the financial statements of the Province and he was convinced as a matter of principle that we had to have four or five universities. He was speaking to the Gander Chamber of Commerce with the Liberal candidate for Gander in the room, and his provincial campaign manager, whom he proceeded to name as vice-president of Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, the man who would have given the loan to the chicken and ribs restaurant in Gander because they were going to immediately diversify the economy.

These were the people in that room when Clyde Wells sincerely told the people of the Province that when he became Premier he was going to build the second university in Central Newfoundland.

Then, when he moved into the Premier's Office and met with various civil servants - he fired a few - but when he grouped the ones that he deigned to continue on the payroll, and got a thorough briefing, consulted his Minister of Finance, he proceeded to reiterate in the first Throne Speech - was it? - that the government was going to proceed with the construction of the Central Newfoundland university, and the expansion of Grenfell College in Corner Brook to offer full arts and science degrees, adding third and fourth year.

Now, they were forecasting a current account surplus. The months went on. They jettisoned a few programs - they cut single mothers. But they proceeded with the plans to have a Central Newfoundland university campus, and they got bids in from all kinds of communities and groups.

AN HON. MEMBER: Every crook and cranny in Central -

MS. VERGE: Yes, every crooked nanny in central Newfoundland took part in competing for that university campus - every nook and cranny. At any rate, they kept the charade going for at least a year, wasn't it?

MR. WINSOR: A full year.

MS. VERGE: A full year, the Member for Fogo says.

MR. WINSOR: And communities making proposals.

MS. VERGE: Yes, lots of business for consultants. Finally, they just couldn't keep it up any longer and they had to tell the truth - the whole thing was pie in the sky.

There hasn't been another word about the Premier's commitment to have universities in Southern Newfoundland or Northern Newfoundland or Labrador. The Premier, who finally got a district for himself, Bay of Islands, when he has been in that area, when he has been skiing at Marble Mountain, hasn't even talked about his promise to expand Grenfell College.

MR. FLIGHT: Humber East, next time.

MS. VERGE: Humber East next time. Well, I hope so. I am ready for any challenge. Why not?

MR. FLIGHT: He's got the ground work done now.

MS. VERGE: Why not? The people of Humber East passed judgement once, and I am sure they would be quite capable of passing judgement a second time.

Chairperson, I have talked about all the measures this government has taken to decrease the spending power of the citizens of the Province, to cut into the disposable income of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. They have jacked up the personal income tax rate not once, not twice, but three times. In their very first Budget, they increased the personal tax rate. Of course, that has been built in and that has continued to extract more and more money from the citizens of the Province. They have increased the business income tax rate.

They created a whole new tax, the payroll tax, and that is a tax which is a disincentive to do business in this Province. Our neighbouring provinces don't have the payroll tax. The payroll tax is a disincentive for businesses that are in the Province to employ people. The tax has no relationship to a business's profitability. The retail sales tax has been increased, the base has been broadened, and it has been piggybacked on the GST. Effectively this government is charging a 13 per cent sales tax.

Municipal taxes have been increased, quite drastically in some cases, and it is all because of the policies and actions of this government. This government has put the boots to municipalities. The government has slashed funding to municipalities. Pretending to redistribute funding, to take from the rich and give to the poor, they have taken from everyone. Sometimes they pretend to take from the small and give to the big. In the district I represent there is the City of Corner Brook, which has had the highest municipal tax rates in the Province for years. This government has reduced funding to that municipality. The government at the same time has reduced funding to every other municipality in the district I represent.

There has been a dramatic decrease in provincial funding to municipalities, and that decrease is quite out of proportion to the slowing in the rate of increase of federal transfers to the Province. Because contrary to what members opposite are saying, there hasn't been an absolute decrease in federal funding. Granted, the increase has not kept pace with the cost of doing business, the cost of providing services, the cost of operating the provincial government.

But yes, the Government House Leader is getting out his Budget document, as well he might. In the estimates document near the front there is a summary of revenue. I would draw to his attention page, Roman numeral, viii. My eyesight is deteriorating as I'm aging so it is harder for me to decipher this now. But I think it is page, Roman numeral, viii. We will see that revenue from the Government of Canada is projected to be more this year than last year, by a very slight margin.

Now granted, that doesn't allow the Province to meet all its former commitments and obligations, so there is a revenue crunch for the Province because of federal government fiscal policies. But the problem that is being passed from the federal government to the Province is not nearly as great as what is being passed by the Province to the municipalities. The municipal downloading is way out of whack with what is being done by the federal government to the Province. The Province's municipal affairs policies, or lack of policies and actions, have been done without proper planning, without consultation.

Now the new minister is listening. The new minister has signalled a desire to take a different approach and I welcome that. But that comes late in the going. This government has been in office for more than three years. They brought down four budgets. They have shafted municipalities through the reduction in the municipal operating grants, through the changes in the formula which hurt particularly -

MR. CHAIRMAN (Crane): Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MS. VERGE: Time is up. I will have to resume later. One of my colleagues will have to take over.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act." (Bill No. 14).

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

MR. BAKER: Motion 4, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Motion 4. Bill 16.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Shall Clause 1 carry?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. BAKER: I've now called motion 4, Bill 16. He is calling the first clause.

MR. CHAIRMAN: "An Act To Amend The Health And Post-Secondary Education Tax Act."

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

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

DR. KITCHEN: No, I would like, Mr. Chairman, to have a few words about the Bill so that hon. members then can have a few words as well. Then all hands will have a few words and then we will either pass it or reject it, whatever the wishes of the House are.

Mr. Chairman, we are proposing to increase the payroll tax by a half a per cent on all businesses which presently pay the payroll tax and to reduce the exemption from $300,000 worth of payroll per year to $100,000 worth of payroll per year and, to extend the tax to those industries which did not pay the tax last year, namely the fishing industry, the agriculture industry and the forestry industry both primary and secondary, but we propose that these newly taxed industries will be taxed at half the rate of the others. This will result in a 1 per cent tax on the renewable resource industries and a 2 per cent tax rate on all the others.

It was essential that we get rid of that school tax, and the school tax comprised two parts. One was the poll tax that individuals paid generally, and we were very glad to get rid of that poll tax, even though the members opposite would have very much wanted to retain it, however, nobody else except the members opposite wished to retain the poll tax except certain individuals who are collecting the tax and generally speaking that was well accepted in the Province as a proposal.

The other half of the school tax was a property tax assessment on businesses, and in order to eliminate the whole School Tax Authorities, we also eliminated the property tax for businesses. It is interesting about property taxes and whether they should be eliminated or not because we have to realize that the rate of property tax in this Province is the lowest in Canada. Our average rate is something like now about one-third of the national average on property taxes, so Newfoundlanders were not very heavily taxed as far as property taxes were concerned and they are less heavily taxed now as a result of our Budget, but not much less so, because the elimination of the business tax did not result in a great deal of funds for the government, but it is something that we have to face in the future whether we are going to keep with the low property tax or whether we should be like other provinces and have higher taxes on property.

We are out of step with the other Canadian provinces and while it is true that some of our taxes are higher than they are in Nova Scotia, it is also true that the property taxes that businesses pay in Newfoundland are much less than they are in the Atlantic Provinces and in fact much less than they are in Canada. The Province cannot impose a property tax at the moment, basically because all the property in the Province has not yet been assessed. We have some municipalities that have not had their properties assessed and there is non-incorporated areas where property has not been assessed as well, so it is impossible at the moment at least for the Province to proceed with a province-wide property tax even if we wanted to, and we don't, and also it is traditional in Newfoundland to be against property taxes.

That was one of the reasons why Confederation failed in the nineteenth century and was one of the main arguments against Confederation in the 1948 debates, the whole question of whether everything is to be taxed, so there is a feeling in the Province that property taxes should not be in place, but at the same time, they are in place in most provinces of Canada at a much higher rate than they are in Newfoundland and so this is something that people have to be considering.

In any event we decided to remove the school portion of the property tax when we removed the School Tax Authorities, and instead we had to recoup those funds and the fairest way to do it would be through the payroll tax, realizing though, that there are certain - even though when we did that, businesses would be less heavily taxed this year than they were last year, on the average. The total taxes on businesses this year are $2 million less than they were last year. However, let me say that some businesses will be paying more tax than they did last year. Particularly does that apply to businesses which have a large component of labour in their operation, and not much property. This applies particularly to labour contractors and people of that nature who basically provide labour for a variety of businesses; but usually these contracts are short-term for a year, and in the second term, by increasing their rates to the people they supply the labour to, they should be all right.

So overall we feel that the decision to increase the property tax is as fair as we could, under the circumstances, given our resolve to eliminate this very unfair tax, the school tax.

Hopefully, we were also thinking that possibly we would not have to replace the school tax. We could just eliminate it and hope that our increase in revenues that we would normally get from increased transfer payments, or the increased yield on taxes which were presently in place, would be able to cover it. Unfortunately, our predictions from the retail sales tax were down, so our taxes were not yielding, because of the projections in the economy, would not yield sufficient to replace the school tax. So we had no alternative but to increase the tax. The other alternative would have been to increase the budgetary deficit.

Our budgetary deficit this year on current account is something like $29 million or $30 million, if we are lucky. If things go fine we should be down about $30 million. Some people have suggested that we could increase our budgetary deficit. That is completely out of touch. If the economy were better and we could support more debt, perhaps we might be able to do it; but the fact remains that the fishing industry is not in very good shape at the moment, and unless steps are taken to improve fish stocks, we cannot count on that industry bouncing back very quickly.

The other perceived weakness in the economy is the need to get a partner for Hibernia. So it is very important for us not to increase our deficit. If we had increased our deficit, or planned to increase our deficit, we would have been in trouble with our creditors. I tell you, that is an ever present fear that we have about our credit rating. We feel that we have been managing the Province's finances reasonably prudently, as prudently as ever as possible, but the fact remains that the economy is not as strong as we would like it to be. So we cannot bear a great deal more debt. That is the basic problem that we have been facing in Newfoundland for a long time, and which we are facing even more seriously now than we did a couple of years ago. This is exacerbated by the federal government having to come to grips with their budgetary deficit. The latest reports are that the federal budgetary deficit will probably be greater this year than they had anticipated a month or so ago, so it does not seem that the federal government will be able to give us any great relief also.

We have had no alternative but to bring back, to increase the payroll tax slightly. My reading of events is that there are some businesses who will be hurt somewhat by that, but I do not think anyone will be hurt severely. The fact that the tax is 1 per cent in the case of most businesses, and 2 per cent in the case of other businesses, means that businesses will still hire labour. It is still profitable for businesses, if they are going to hire somebody, to hire them to increase their business. The fact that there is a 1 per cent tax on payroll is not a sufficient disincentive for that to happen.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

DR. KITCHEN: Any mouthings by the people opposite to indicate that the unemployment situation of this Province is caused by the payroll tax is sheer nonsense. It is sheer nonsense. The payroll tax is smaller than it is in Quebec. It is smaller in rate than in Manitoba, it is similar to what it is in Ontario. It is lower on some parts. There are 10,000 businesses out there which do not pay any payroll tax at all and also, for the first time, do not pay any school tax.

So this move is not against business. It is a prudent move and one which we should support. If there are any questions that members opposite have to raise about it, I would be glad to try to get their answers. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson. This payroll tax is a ridiculous tax which is causing the exact opposite result to what the government says is their objective. Now they talk about their objective in boosting the economy and increasing employment. This is a tax that is a disincentive to either. It is a disincentive to do business in Newfoundland and Labrador when the maritime provinces do not have a payroll tax, and when increasingly businesses have a choice of setting up an office in St. John's or in Halifax, in Corner Brook or in Moncton. It is a discouragement for businesses that are in the Province to add to their employment rolls.

This administration brought in the payroll tax before they made a decision about abolishing the school tax. Last year they introduced the payroll tax, this year they are expanding the payroll tax. This is a tax which has no relationship whatsoever to a business' profitability. Now not very many members opposite have ever been in business. The Member for Baie Verte would be one of the few exceptions, and I am sure he can understand what I am saying. Because of the modus operandi opposite, he is no more likely than the Member for Eagle River or anyone else to speak publicly in opposition to the government. Privately they are all grumbling, complaining, and backbiting, but out in public you will not find any one of them differing with the Premier or the Minister of Finance.

Now this payroll tax has no relationship whatsoever to a business' ability to pay. It is a tax on a business' payroll. The more a business' payroll, the more employees paid by the business, the greater the tax take. So why would a business that has a choice of setting up an office in Halifax versus St. John's choose St. John's? There is no payroll tax in Nova Scotia, but we have had a payroll tax here for the last year or two. Ever since the payroll tax came in the economy has been in decline in this Province.

Because the payroll tax has come on top of the increases in the personal income tax rate, the business income tax rate, the retail sales tax rate, and of course, the federal GST. This payroll tax has come on top of the drastic municipal tax increases, the electricity price increases, the increases in fines and licenses. So it is one more measure that is eating into business revenue, that is taking away from businesses' profits. Of course, many businesses in our Province haven't had an operating profit over the last couple of years, in particular, but nevertheless, they are expected to pay the payroll tax. They are expected to pay the income tax. They are expected to pay retail sales tax.

As I was saying earlier when I was speaking to the latest bill increasing the personal income tax rates, these revenue measures that have been chosen by this government have been necessitated because of their mismanagement of the government, and because of their failure to improve the business climate in the Province. In terms of government operation for matters directly within their control, they are failing, and failing miserably. This government is in charge of a multimillion dollar construction budget, highway construction, municipal capital works construction.

Now the government, after having made campaign promises for early tendering, for maximizing our short construction time, and for allowing orderly planning and construction activity, has allowed most of the month of May, 1992 to go by with very few tenders called. Now there have been millions of dollars worth of projects announced, but there have been delays because of lack of will, or because of bureaucratic inefficiency, in getting the tenders out, and getting the dollars out, and generating employment and producing construction.

The Member for Humber Valley has drawn this to people's attention over recent weeks. He has pointed out that despite announcements of the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, for millions and millions of dollars worth of municipal capital projects and road work, hardly any tenders have been called. Every Saturday we check the want ads in The Western Star and The Evening Telegram, and what have we seen so far? Hardly any tender calls.

What about the $50 million of municipal capital works funding the Minister of Municipal Affairs announced a month or so ago? What happened to all that? Is that another con job? Can the municipalities slated to get the money afford to take advantage of it with the onerous cost-sharing formula, and with the slashes of operating funding? Perhaps not, but out of that $50 million, a fair bit of it must be affordable to the municipalities for which it was pledged. Why have their projects not been tendered yet? In cases where municipalities cannot afford to take advantage of it, is the government going to face facts, admit to the truth, and reallocate that funding to municipalities who can afford to use it? This is May 21st. There is not a lot of time left for getting these contracts awarded and getting construction activity under way if we are going to take advantage of our short construction season. We have had good weather for the past couple of weeks. Or are we going to see tenders appearing in the papers in August and September? Are we going to see desperate, cobbled together attempts at construction in October and November? Is that what we are in for?

This is a government that presents itself as being orderly and logical. The Premier poses as a good manager, but the evidence on the ground is dead opposite. The government has not planned properly, or else the government is deliberately fooling people. There are two possibilities. Either they are mismanaging, failing to do their homework, neglecting research, and allowing things to happen in a haphazard fashion, reacting to crises as they develop, using their PR people to do damage control. That is one possibility, and that is what it looks like to me.

The other possibility involves a rather Machiavellian approach to governing. It involves a fairly elaborate, devious plan to announce multimillions of dollars worth of projects, and lead the people to believe that something is going to happen when in fact very little of that is happening. That is certainly the approach they took to providing university campuses.

So now the government has mismanaged the government. Point number one. In the case of the government capital works budget the government is not spending what is available to employ people and to get construction activity under way. The government is not allowing municipalities and other government funded agencies to proceed in an orderly way to operate efficiently.

In the case of school boards, to cite another example, another type of government funded agency, the government decided on drastically changing the financing arrangement by eliminating school taxation, but did not make that decision or announce it until partway through a school year and partway through a budget year. Then waited until the last minute to tell everyone how they were going to replace the lost revenue. This spring school boards are having to borrow large sums of money to get by during this interim period while school taxation is being phased out and the new funding arrangement begins. School boards are incurring hefty costs to borrow, and there will be no reimbursement for those interest charges.

School boards should not have to be spending money for nothing. Every cent a school board spends these days should go directly for the benefit of the students the school boards are charged to educate.

MR. CHAIRMAN (Barrett): Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Carbonear.

MR. REID: Mr. Chairman, I want to talk for a few minutes about the payroll tax. I want to do this publicly, because I want my colleagues on this side of the House, as well as the other side of the House, maybe together we could pressure my colleague, the Minister of Finance, into being maybe a little lenient towards, let's say, municipalities, for one.

I don't know if you realise it or not, but with the introduction of the payroll tax and the reduction from $300,000 down to $100,000, you are looking at the first of July. I would dare to guess there are around 200 communities in this Province that will be hit with that extra burden of having to pay 1 per cent on their payroll, now that it is set at $100,000. Whereas a lot of communities in the Province, because it was up to $300,000 before, were exempt from it. But now there are a number of communities that will be hit.

The problem with that, of course, is that with the - and I agree to a certain extent - that with the road component grant being discontinued this year and the grant system being changed somewhat for municipalities in the last couple of years, I would think that that was going to add an extra burden to a lot of communities in this Province on July 1. The problem with that is that municipalities have not budgeted this year for that increase for that payroll tax.

So what they do, I am not sure. They will have to come back to the minister I guess and readjust their budgets accordingly. But smaller towns in my area that are up above now the $100,000, one in particular, Small Point to Adam's Cove, was hit seriously with the changes in the component grant structure this year, and they lost $20,000. Now we are going to hit them again with another possible cost of... I don't know, maybe $2,000 or $3,000. For a small community that size $2,000 or $3,000 means a lot of money to them.

I would like to ask the minister to consider the possibility of relieving the municipalities in the Province, because they are on a budget, a budget that has been approved by the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. At least relieve them for that six month period and give them a chance then, as of January 1, 1993, to be able to cope with the increase in the tax and be able to budget accordingly for it. I hope that some of my colleagues over here as well as my colleagues in Opposition will maybe agree with me. Maybe the minister, from what he is going to collect in that period of time from municipalities, he could look at it and maybe change it for their benefit to the first of the year rather than bring it in in July.

A couple of brief comments. I never got a chance to speak on the Income Tax Bill. But it is relevant as far as I am concerned to a lot of Newfoundlanders. My hon. colleague for Humber East spoke about school taxes and income taxes, the taxes that people in the Province are paying. The hon. minister spoke before her and talked about the amount of tax, the overall tax, that communities have to pay and people living in communities. So I want to make just a few brief comments as well.

I have been listening to Opposition members rant and rave, I suppose, about the school tax disappearing and the increase in income tax. I took the time, I guess, some two months ago to get a breakdown - and I circulated it in the House - of exactly what it would mean to the ordinary resident of Newfoundland. The conclusion that I found and verified after, through finance and through income tax, was that basically anyone would have to be making in excess of $30,000 in order to be affected by this increase in the income tax, the changes in the income tax which would be affected by bringing in that 4 per cent.

Now, I have to say this to my hon. friend and to you, Mr. Chairman. I guess, Mr. Chairman, you are basically in the same situation I am in. There are very few people in my district and in rural Newfoundland who can honestly say they make $30,000 a year. You take the teachers, the doctors, the lawyers, the dentists, those people, out of that group in rural Newfoundland, you have a large percentage of people left who make less than $30,000.

If you are working in a mall in Carbonear or Clarenville chances are your hourly wage is somewhere between the minimum wage and six or seven dollars. I know people working in Carbonear, Mr. Chairman, who have worked in large chains in Carbonear and have been there for the last fifteen years and they are still only making seven dollars and seven dollars and fifty cents an hour. Now, if you multiply that by their wage per week and then by month, of course you end up with much less money than $30,000 a year. In fact, if you add it up you will find out that somebody who works for ten weeks a year and gets half decent unemployment stamps and then goes on unemployment insurance, usually ends up with even more money per year than somebody who is working for twelve months.

So, Mr. Chairman, I can honestly say that in my district, when it was announced by this government that the school tax had disappeared, and even when the announcement came in the budget that the personal income tax would increase, people still realized that there was a great saving to them. In a lot of cases, the saving was the amount of the school tax. So that is gone, that burden is gone. That affected too, Mr. Chairman, all the business community, I suppose. It didn't affect the municipalities as such, but it affected communities, businesses in the communities, because of the tax that was on property.

I have to honestly say that I am going to support this particular bill, Bill 16, because I really don't think that anyone in Newfoundland and Labrador today expects that we, as a Province, can afford to keep our schools, our education system at the level it is at or our health care system at the level it is at right now, without having to increase our revenue. In order to increase our revenue in the Province it basically means that we have to raise taxes. It is probably the most deplorable thing that an MHA or any member of the House, in the Opposition or government, has to do and has to argue, I guess, that raising taxes is a cardinal sin, when it comes to politics.

In this particular case and in this Province, at this particular time, when we are in such a dire economic state, I guess, Mr. Chairman, and the fact that the federal government has continuously in the last number of years decreased our transfer payments, our equalization payments and other payments, someone has to pick up the slack.

I do hope that the Minister of Finance, my good friend, will seriously look at the possibility of exempting municipalities in this Province from this payroll tax until the 1st of January, 1993 which would then relieve them of having to come up with extra dollars in the middle of the year, for which they did not budget and that will cause all kinds of headaches around the Province, and it will also cause headaches for my hon. colleague, the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, because budgets are going to have to be re-adjusted, re-examined and most of our municipalities out there today cannot, at this particular point in time, afford to lose one cent let alone a dollar or $5,000 or $10,000. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Before I recognize the hon. Member for Humber Valley, it being a little after four, I will announce the questions for the adjournment debate at 4:30.

Number one: I am dissatisfied with the answer from the Minister of Health on the Cardiology Unit - the hon. the opposition party whip, the hon. Member for Harbour Main.

Number two: I am not satisfied with the answers by the Minister of Environment and Lands to my questions regarding the opening and closing dates of provincial parks - the hon. Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

Number three: I am not satisfied with the answers given by the Minister of Fisheries in response to my question, re the Fisheries Loan Board - the hon. Member for Fogo.

The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would like to make a few comments on Bill 16, and in particular I would like to, I suppose echo some of the comments made by the Member for Carbonear, especially as it pertains to municipalities in the Province and small businesses as a whole, but more specifically to municipalities.

Mr. Chairman, in late 1990, the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs changed the MOG system, the Municipal Operating Grants, in late- well really it was after Boxing Day, the 28th of December, 1990. Municipalities in the Province are supposed to have their budgets in by December 31st, and they are supposed to present a balanced budget. They are not supposed to submit a budget with any deficit whatsoever, but most municipalities had their budgets sent in early in December of 1990. Then to add insult to injury, Mr. Chairman, they came out in late 1991, and I mean late 1991, with more changes to the Municipal Operating Grant to take effect in 1992. No I think it was January or February 1992 that was changed, telling municipalities that their roads component was knocked down from $1,949 per kilometer to $1,269 or something like that, and furthermore, in the next year it will be down to $859 or $849. Now, this is going to be done retroactively.

Municipalities who had their road components for 1991, were told in early 1992, after submitting a budget in December, the budgets submitted for the second year in a row, and told that there was going to be a cut for that year, and a cut for the previous year, so automatically, the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, went and cut the roads component and took it out of the monies that they were allocated for 1992. Every municipality in the Province that was hit with the roads component, they were told that they were cut and any adjustments made would be taken out of their cheque, and it was done after two budgets. Can you imagine?

There are three levels of government. There is municipal government, the provincial government and the federal government.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: That is right, because I can remember in Gander when poor old Hazel Newhook dropped the five cents, dropped the fifty cents on the dollar to forty-five cents. I tell you, the hon. the Member for Carbonear -

MR. WINSOR: He danced on the table.

MR. WOODFORD: I guarantee you, there was fire under his feet.

MR. MATTHEWS: He never cut back on his spending though.

MR. WOODFORD: I guarantee you, that was a memorable day in Gander. The poor lady was up on the stage there and, I guarantee you, if she ever got a grilling she got it that day.

Now, how anybody can sit down in another level of government in this Province - I mean, municipalities in the Province are pretty well all volunteers, the majority of them - and do the like of that to them and expect them to come up with dollars after the fact - it is bad enough when they are trying to bring in a budget. I know members opposite must have mentioned this to their colleagues around the caucus table. They had to, because they have municipalities in their districts that are bringing those concerns to them.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not a word.

MR. WOODFORD: Oh, yes! Oh, yes! I say to the hon. member, now, he may not, he only has two or three. He just might not. But the Member for St. Barbe, the Member for the Straits, the Minister of Health, the Member for Carbonear, anybody out in rural Newfoundland, guaranteed it had to be brought to their attention. It had to be because of the roads component in Municipal Affairs and some of the adjustments made to the municipal operating grant system, and when it was done after their budgets were in.

Now to come with the payroll tax, and not only to increase it but also to lower the ceiling from $300,000 down to $100,000, again, Mr. Chairman, after the budgets were submitted, after the fact. Now, it is one thing to do it and give people time to adjust. The Province itself obviously wanted time to adjust. They brought in changes to the registration fees, like Crown Lands, Department of Health inspections and so on. I agree with it, changes to drop the fees. But some of them are not applicable 'til April of 1993. So they needed time to adjust their budgets. Is it that hard for members opposite to afford municipalities the same kind of courtesy and give them time to submit their budgets and be able to do something, whether it be to raise taxes or not?

Municipalities around the Province have a tough time of it today, Mr. Chairman, a very tough time. It is one thing for the former Minister of Municipal Affairs and the current minister - I must say about the current minister today, at least he has a soft spot in his heart for municipalities in the Province. He has it.


MR. WOODFORD: The Member for Placentia.

MR. MATTHEWS: A soft spot for what?

MR. WOODFORD: For municipalities in the Province.

MR. DOYLE: And that is the soft spot right there.

MR. WOODFORD: I will guarantee you, he has his hands full. It is a good thing he is a big man, I will guarantee you that, because he has his hands full when he sits down around the Cabinet table with hon. colleagues opposite. I can see the Minister of Finance -

MR. WINSOR: The old slasher.

MR. WOODFORD: The old slasher, getting up and saying: No way, Hogan. We are not changing it.

MR. DOYLE: The only soft spot he has is on the top of his shoulders.

MR. MATTHEWS: You may be Hulk Hogan but I am not afraid of you.

MR. WOODFORD: And Hulk Hogan, Sir, I'll tell you will look over at him and give him some hard looks.

MR. MATTHEWS: Did you hear that they are setting up mud wrestling up in the Cabinet room now?

MR. WOODFORD: No, I didn't hear that.

MR. DOYLE: Hulk Hogan is like a sumo wrestler.

MR. WOODFORD: I tell you, the biggest job he is going to have is trying to convince his Cabinet colleagues, especially the St. John's members -

AN HON. MEMBER: How would the (inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Oh, the St. John's members are going to be the hardest. I can see now they are going to be the hardest to convince. There is no way in the world of getting through to them. They haven't had a call from council since they got elected. Never got a call from council. I venture to bet that the members opposite don't know what it is like to get a call from council.

AN HON. MEMBER: We did last Friday.

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, you did get a call from council last Friday. They all went down and had a cup of tea and a sit-in and a love-in at City Hall. Mr. Chairman, they have one municipality to deal with. The council looks after water and sewer, the streets, the lighting. They haven't got a worry. The Member for Windsor - Buchans - well he is not too bad, I suppose, but he still got it bad. The Member for Bonavista South, the Member for St. Barbe, they know what it is like to get calls from their constituents about water and sewer, I will guarantee you that, and about roads not being done.

It is all right for the Minister of Finance to get up and talk about property business and so on, but if there is ever a time when any government administration needs someone to help them out with jobs today, it is today. Who is going to help? Who is going to create the jobs in the Province? Is it going to be the businesspeople who are in business today, and there is going to be potential; the people who do get into business? Government is not. Government is getting out of the job of creating jobs, out of the responsibility of creating jobs, and how is a businessman today going to create a job when the first thing he looks at, right off the top there is 2 per cent for every man, woman, and child that he hires, because automatically by hiring someone he is going to add $20,000 to the payroll - automatically - so that goes up. Right away he pays a tax because he hired someone to go to work.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much?

MR. WOODFORD: Two per cent.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Two per cent on the ceiling, anything above $100,000. I have had businesses come to me, one in particular in Deer Lake now, a small business - I was surprised. He is a small businessman. Right now he is hiring seventy-five people. I consider it a small business, especially in the service industry. His payroll tax this year is going to go up $3,800. Now he is expected to hire another ten or fifteen people this summer, for summer help and so on, so before ever that is done he has to take into consideration the fact that he has to pay the extras. Now it is not only the 2 per cent, from 1.5 to 2, but to add insult to injury, they have the ceiling lowered. The ceiling is gone from $300,000 down to $100,000; making it tougher and harder on business people in the Province. That is regressive, when you are looking to businesses in the Province to try to take us out of the economic slump that we are in. That is regressive.

In municipalities, the same thing, only it is worse. It is worse because now they cannot go to the people. The government can go to the people. The government introduced an increase in income tax. Automatically that was kicked in in January or February month. When you go to file your income tax return, when you get your cheque on Friday evening, that is taken out. Have municipalities got that right? No. The only two levels of government that have the right and the access to take that out of your cheque are the provincial and the federal governments. The municipalities do not have that. Yet you are expecting them to put their mil rate up to cover the expenses in a municipality. They have to go to the people. They are the same people living in that municipality who almost have to go door-to-door to collect that tax, their own friends. 'Proper thing' the Minister of Finance says. I can see the mentality. I can see it now around the Cabinet table what is happening. I suppose there are not enough of the members from other areas to try to take them on and put the boots to them and tell them: look, enough is enough. Municipalities just cannot absorb it, and let the people out in rural Newfoundland explain to the Minister of Finance that a property in St. John's, if you put the mil rate up half a mil, or a mil, you could collect all kinds of money. Put it up in rural Newfoundland, in a municipality where the average property is around $38,000 or $40,000. You do not get it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: You can put the mil rate what you like. If you only have seven or eight -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Let me explain to the minister, because obviously he does not know how it works. I will explain to you.

If you have a municipality in the Province where you only have six or seven or eight properties that are worth a lot of money, we will say, most of the properties are down around $25,000 or $30,000, you can put the mil rate to the sky, you are not going to collect any more, you are only going to hit the five or six people in that municipality. Can the members understand that? Obviously, they do not. The minister does not -

MR. MATTHEWS: He does not know property is assessed (inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: - and the only way you are going to collect from people like that, Mr. Chairman, is to put up your poll tax. That is the only way, and I have a municipality now in my area where, we have to put the poll tax to $300, for a poll tax. You could say you will have to put a minimum on your property tax and that is usually carried out with regards to a (inaudible). Now, Mr. Chairman, it baffles me sometimes when I see some of the recommendations which come from Municipal and Provincial Affairs, because, I said it before, the member for Carbonear, the Member for Gander, the Member for Fortune - Hermitage, they are all people who understand municipalities -

MR. DOYLE: How can you do it?

MR. WOODFORD: - and they know how hard it is to collect. It is one thing to put it on, collect, is another matter, Mr. Chairman, and they cannot do it especially in those times and I am right, they know I am right in what I am talking about. The Minister of Finance might not know, I can see that, I can see him not understanding how it works but I can tell you, Mr. Chairman, that if there was ever a time when a payroll tax - it is one thing to bring it in and there is another thing to collect it and at the same time I wonder, did they do any surveys? I wonder how many polls were done to find out how many businesses are going to go out and how many businesses are not going hire anybody this year because of that regressive tax? I bet you not one. How many phone calls were made to municipalities around the Province asking them, are they going to be able to pay the payroll tax without - especially in the middle of the year, when their budgets are done, submitted, accepted and that's it. Where will they get the money? They cannot put their mil rate up in the middle of the year, they cannot put their poll tax up in the middle of the year, so what do they do?... they leave something. Something has to be left by the wayside. Maintenance, someone laid off, something has to stop and it should not be - I have two municipalities which were going to hire two people this summer, they are not doing it now, and that is not just because but is one of the reasons, the other reason is because their road components were cut and the other reason was because in their local revenue, there were changes in the Municipal Operating Grant altogether. Now that is the reason and that is only two of the small municipalities with two people talking about two councils.

Now how many more if you went through this Province, there is no trouble to pick up 300 or 400 jobs just on that, and I say to the minister, especially to the minister responsible for Treasury Board, I asked him the other day and he knows quite well what I am talking about. Any monies that are not spent or not even allocated, he should make sure, instead of money going back to the Treasury, I have a funny feeling, something tells me and I could be wrong on this one but I would say now that I am pretty dead on, that whatever funding is not spent in transportation and capital funding this year or municipal affairs is going back into the Treasury to make their credit rating look good. Now that is the only reason I can see for it, to look good -

AN HON. MEMBER: And what's wrong with that?

MR. WOODFORD: Nothing wrong with it, sir, but there are a lot of people out there today looking for bread and butter to put on the table. They are not worried about the credit rating. Municipalities provide jobs if you have the monies allocated, your credit rating was there when you had it allocated when you put your capital funding in; spend it. Spend it.

MR. DOYLE: He says no!

MR. WOODFORD: I know, he just admitted what I said was dead on. They are going to take the $20 million or the $15 million and put it right back into the Treasury. I know what is going to happen, I can tell him now, and you venture to bet, every member of the House take note of it today, unless the Minister responsible for Treasury Board changes it, I can venture to bet, you are going to come into this House next Spring, at Budget time and he is going to (inaudible) right here and the same Minister of Finance there, and I do not know (inaudible) because I will say he has that big an ego now, he won't be able to get a new pair of shoes to put on his feet when he goes out there, but I would venture to bet he is going to bring in a document where there was $59 million allocated last year in municipal affairs and municipal infrastructure. The minister can argue all he likes. Fifty-nine million dollars allocated this year, right here for anybody to see, is $43 million in municipal infrastructure. The Budget does not lie. Now whatever minister said otherwise, it is right here under municipal infrastructure, $48 million - revised estimate $48 million, spent $36 million. Now don't hon. members get up and tell me it was committed. I am committed to run again. I am committed to do a lot of things -

AN HON. MEMBER: You are committed to run again?

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, that is right sir, and I cannot wait to get at it.

There is only one man in this House today. The other one is gone. God is gone, and God the Son is sitting here.

AN HON. MEMBER: Little God.

MR. WOODFORD: Little God is sitting here, and that is the minister responsible for Treasury Board. He is the only one who can change this.

AN HON. MEMBER: Bud Hulan.

MR. WOODFORD: Bring over Bud Hulan. I am just waiting for him to start knocking on doors in Humber Valley, I can guarantee you that. There is nothing like a professor running against a farmer, brother, I tell you that! If you want to see something fly...

It is like I told Mr. Barry one time when I got in the House. The first speech in the House when Leo Barry - the Member for Gander will probably remember that. I got up one day and gave a speech not long after I got in the House, and Mr. Justice Barry got up and said: Mr. Speaker, I am some glad the member is sitting down. He was up long enough. He has been shooting off long enough. I said: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I will tell you. I just stopped shovelling what the hon. member has been shooting for years. He never said it anymore, I can assure you.

Anyway, there is only one person who can change this, and that is the Minister responsible for Treasury Board, because he has the clout. Around the Cabinet table they listen, and around the caucus table they listen. He has the clout, no question, and he is the only one that the Premier is going to listen to - guaranteed.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about Ed Roberts?

MR. WOODFORD: No, including Ed Roberts - including the minister, Roberts, because he is carrying the load. He is the one who has to bring in all this legislation. He is responsible for that. He is responsible for getting all the members on committees. He is responsible for getting everything through the House. He is responsible for getting every department, for labour, for all of the disputes he has, he is carrying the load. If there is anybody who deserves a holiday over there, he does.

If there is ever a time that we need that money spent, it is this year. Anything on capital funding next year I personally, as a member, certainly do not want to see any of it gone back, or go out. Reallocate it if you have to, and do it in time so that the money can be spent and tenders can be called. They can make sure now they treat municipalities properly in the Province, because never before, and I say it is frustration because of taxes like this, members opposite, the Member for Trinity North knows all about it. I know he does, and other members, about municipalities in trouble today with regard to conflict of interest.

Never before did I see, and it is out of frustration in trying to run a municipality and trying to do things properly. So if there was ever a time, it is now. Get the tendering out. We can do it on transportation with the federal-provincial agreements. I agree, even when we were there we did not have it out early enough. I was after our fellows about that. But the federal-provincial agreements on transportation are out nice and early. All the jobs are tendered. They are let. The boys are out there working now, and the women. The same thing can be done.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Yes. It is capital funding. The same thing can be done. The Premier spoke on it at the First Minsters' Conference, and rightly so, that we should get those capital projects out, and I think they should. It is one thing now to get all the tendering out and next year make sure the Minister of Transportation and the Minister responsible for Municipal Affairs get those monies committed, tendered and out so people can get to work.

Mr. Chairman, on the payroll tax, the only thing I say to the members opposite is, look at it, reassess what they have done to municipalities and small business in the Province. It is never too late to give the small businesspeople a break here in the Province today and let them create the jobs they want to create, and help the government and help everybody else in Newfoundland and Labrador at a time when we are sorely in need of jobs.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Chairman, I move that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

On motion, that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again, Mr. Speaker returned to the Chair.

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

MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole has considered the matters to it referred and has passed a certain resolution and recommends that a bill be introduced, Bill No. 14, to give effect to same.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole wishes to report progress and ask leave to sit again.


"That it is expedient to bring in a measure to amend The Income Tax Act.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the resolution and a bill consequent thereto, carried.

On motion, resolution read a first and second time.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act," read a first, second and third time, ordered passed and its title be as on the Order Paper.

On motion, report received and adopted, Committee ordered to sit again on tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: It is Thursday and four-thirty, and there is a motion to adjourn the House.

The first dissatisfaction arises from an answer given by the Minister of Health to a question posed by the hon. the Member for Harbour Main.

The hon. the Member for Harbour Main.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DOYLE: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that the Minister of Health made it back to the House of Assembly because I had two very important issues that I wanted to deal with today. I wish I had a little bit more time because I am not going to be able to deal with both issues. I will probably get some leave to deal with the Bell Island issue as well, because that is a very, very serious issue, Mr. Speaker.

I am surprised that the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island didn't have this issue solved and dealt with. I am really surprised, Mr. Speaker, given the fact that the Minister of Health is a colleague of the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island. All I get are calls, calls, calls from the people from Bell Island asking me to solve the problems that the member fails to deal with, Mr. Speaker. So I am really surprised that that particular issue hasn't been dealt with.

In any event, Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about something that is even much more important, as important as the Bell Island issue is. I want to deal with an issue that I raised with the minister today, the issue of the cardiology unit over at the Health Sciences Complex, and the minister continues to whistle past the graveyard -

AN HON. MEMBER: Literally.

MR. DOYLE: - literally whistle past the graveyard, in the hope that somebody is not going to die trying to get into the hospital, Mr. Speaker, for a bypass operation or open-heart surgery. The health care system in the Province is in a shambles. I heard the minister today, I heard his feature length interview, as a matter of fact. I stood outside the door and I couldn't help hearing the minister's interview.

AN HON. MEMBER: Eavesdropping, eh?

MR. DOYLE: I couldn't help hearing the minister's interview. He was grilled for a full twenty minutes by the press on this particular issue. He continues to blame the problems over at the Health Sciences Complex in the cardiology unit on scheduling. Scheduling is one of the main problems, he said, over there, and the fact that they do not have enough trained nurses in the Intensive Care Unit, that there is a shortage, and the backlog which goes back to years and years ago.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that is not good enough, when you get right down to it. This is a very serious situation. I can tell the minister this is a fact, and I told the press this afternoon, that we actually have people calling from hospital beds over in the Health Sciences Complex, people who have been sitting or lying in a hospital bed for six weeks waiting for an operation, who came in to the hospital for a bypass operation, or what have you. The operation was supposed to take place the next day, and six weeks after, they are still lying -

MS. VERGE: I've had a man in Pasadena who has been waiting since November. He's been called twice.

MR. DOYLE: The Member for Humber East has a person in Pasadena who has been waiting ever since November. Now, is that a scheduling problem, Mr. Speaker? Is that because we don't have enough nurses in the Intensive Care Unit who are properly trained? This is a very serious situation, people actually calling from hospital beds because they can't get in, who are all stressed out now because of it.

MR. TOBIN: I had a fellow who was called in from Marystown on January 8, brought in to go in hospital. When he was brought in, someone else went ahead of him. He is still home.

MR. DOYLE: On the stories go, Mr. Speaker. We are getting stories like this every day, people actually calling from hospital beds. As we do the open forums around the Province -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. DOYLE: - doctors come along saying that - I will deal with it tomorrow again, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, there is not enough focus to the question. I am not sure whether he wants to talk about the Bell Island situation, or the cardiac surgery problem, or whether or not the health care sector is in shambles, or whether or not the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island is doing a good job. So, in the brief time allotted to me, I will try to address all issues.

Now, Mr. Speaker, number one, the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island. I can stand here today and say without fear of contradiction that Bell Island is represented by the best member that they have ever been represented by in this House of Assembly. He is continually on top of the issues that concern his district. Hardly a day passes that I don't hear from this hon. member. He is continually in touch with me. He brought the issue to me about the expansion on the hospital in Bell Island. The member is continually in touch with me. He is a credit to the people of Mount Scio - Bell Island, a credit to this House of Assembly, a credit to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Now, the health care system is in shambles, the hon. member says. I will tell the hon. member this, that three years ago the health care system came that close to being in shambles. In the nick of time, the good people of Newfoundland and Labrador saw the problem, kicked out the previous administration and put us in to come just at the right time to salvage the health care system from being in shambles.

Now, those are two of the things he dealt with. The Bell Island situation: normally there are three doctors on Bell Island. Two are on salary, one is fee for service. The man and wife team retired after contributing years of their life to Bell Island. One has been replaced. The St. Clare's Hospital has been recruiting. They have one replaced, and that new doctor will be taking up residence in Bell Island in July. They are still recruiting for the second one, and I have every confidence that the St. Clare's Hospital Board will recruit the other one.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the other issue he raised had to do with open-heart surgery in the General Hospital in St. John's. I tell the hon. member that last year, there were 313 open-heart surgeries performed in the General Hospital, the most in the history of this Province. When the previous administration was in power, they could never do more than 250 or 260. Do you remember the bottlenecks then, Mr. Speaker? - jammed solid.

We are trying to deal with two problems. One problem is the normal one that arises from day to day; the other problem is a backlog which was unloaded on us three years ago. We are trying to deal with both, Mr. Speaker. We have brought the number up in excess of three hundred.

We are now in the process of reorganizing. As I explained to the House today, I met with the administrator of the hospital board. They have explained to me some of the things they are doing. They are trying to put another team of nurses in place. There are plenty of surgeons - there is not a problem with surgeons, Mr. Speaker. But the whole thing is being dealt with systematically. We are trying to reorganize it, Mr. Speaker. For the first time, I suppose, in recent years, the health care system has been given the attention it is being given today. There are some very difficult problems we have to deal with. We are not going to shy away from them. We are going to deal with them in due course.

This one is being dealt with from day to day, Mr. Speaker. I know the hon. member doesn't want to hear that. He wants me to give answers to the questions that would get people scared, tell them nothing is being done and go off with half-truths, Mr. Speaker. That is not the style of the Department of Health in the last three years. We do it systematically. We try to solve the problems, Mr. Speaker, and when we do it, we solve them once and for all.

That's what is being done, and I am sorry that the hon. member is not satisfied with the answer to the question. I believe he really was satisfied, Mr. Speaker, but he made such a mess of his questions today. He is hoping to get me to stumble this evening so I would somehow fool up. But I am sad to have to tell him, once again I didn't stumble; I answered the questions properly. Everybody else in the House is satisfied, I don't know why the hon. member isn't satisfied. There must be some motive other than a concern for health care.

MR. SPEAKER: The second matter of dissatisfaction arises from an answer given to a question raised by the hon. the Member for St. Mary's - the Capes.

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am not sure whether it is correct to say I was dissatisfied with the answer, because I don't think I got an answer to the question and perhaps, therein lies the root of my dissatisfaction.

It is unfortunate that the minister isn't here to answer the question directly, because it is quite apparent that the other people who attempted to answer the question - and it should be a government question - failed to do so. It comes from the fact that this year, certain fees were eliminated in relation to parks, and it made people think, Oh, well, this is tremendous. The government is really doing us a favour by saving us this money. It is only a pittance, in reality. But, on the other hand, government takes it back from the same people by taking away services. How do they do it? Do they close down a park or take out a few swings, or whatever? No, they don't - they take it out on the backs of the people who are employed in that department, the people who are employed directly in the parks.

Now, what makes it a little more serious is that over the last couple of years, the same people - their time has been reduced in parks. This year, in some parks, the labourers, the ones who do the hands-on tasks in the parks, have been told they will be coming to work two or three weeks later than usual, sometimes, well after the park opens, and will be laid off early again this year.

Now, what are some of the things you do in a park? What do the labourers do? And we don't have very many. In most parks, there are only one or two or three labourers, along with the person in charge of admittance and whatever else, superintendents, or whatever they are called. But you have all the campsites to prepare; you have the buildings to get ready, to be repainted; you have water supplies to check out and hook up; you have the cooking areas to paint and clean up and get back in place; you have the play areas to arrange for the children; you have the painting of the different signs; you have the clearing away of wood.

Especially this year, what has happened in a lot of parks, as has happened in a lot of woods areas, and as has happened in a lot of yards, there has been a lot of damage done to trees because of the extremely heavy freezing rain we had. A number of trees have been broken off. Limbs have been broken off. Trees themselves have been broken off and have fallen all over the place. It is messy to look at, and certainly in our parks a very untidy situation. This takes a fair amount of labour to tidy up and clean up. Over the last year or so we have been getting a lot of reports from people who are not happy at all with the physical conditions of our parks. We have established throughout the Province, a number of beautiful parks.


MR. HEARN: All over the place. One up in Chance Cove has the potential to be one of the best in the Province, but very little has been done with them. We have a tremendous amount of parks all over the place, if we can only keep them clean.

The Minister of Tourism said today that he hopes this year tourism will be up. I think he is right. Newfoundland has more to offer than any other place I have seen in this country, or I could say on the continent. We have something that nobody else has, and we have a lot of variety within a small radius of even the central city. People come to St. John's. Within two or three hours they can go through the districts of Cape Broyle, Ferryland, St. Mary's - The Capes, and Placentia, and see a variety of things they can see nowhere else in the world in that small area. So we have a tremendous amount to bring people here. But if they come in and see dirty, untidy, unkempt parks, or parks that are not prepared for visitors, then we are the losers. If we are going to take a chance on doing that, just by depriving hardworking, low paid labourers of a few weeks work so we can offset the goodies that we handed out in the Budget, I think it is extremely unfair. I think that the minister should look at it, and I think these people should be brought back to work on time, and kept on until the season is over and everything can be tidied up next year.

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

MR. FLIGHT: Every time that a question arises in this House on parks, it reminds me of the blatant way that the previous administration used the parks - the blatant pork barrelling they used. It reminds me of an incident in my own district in Catamaran Park. Catamaran is a park that Badger sees as the basis of its economy - thirteen student jobs created in Catamaran Park, four miles from Badger; thirteen students brought from thirty miles away, from a government member's district, to take those jobs. Those are the kind of blatant -

AN HON. MEMBER: Political pork barrelling.

MR. FLIGHT: They used the parks for political pork barrelling. It was reprehensible the way they used it.

Now the parks are under good management. As a matter of fact, let me tell the hon. member why Barachois Park was late opening, because this government is spending $500,000 in Barachois Park -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FLIGHT: - to upgrade the facilities so it will be more pleasing and better serve the interests of the people and the people that the Minister of Tourism is bringing in. That is one park. There is also, I might say, four feet of snow still in Barachois Park, Mr. Speaker. That might have some bearing on why it is opening a little late, as the hon. member from Cormack might know.

We have great confidence in our staff in the division of Parks. They are doing the maintenance that is required. They are under good management. As a matter of fact, one of the things we did for our people who are using the parks this year was cancel most of the parking fees, those silly charges that cost us more to administer than we collected. We are not putting them back. The school tax is not going back. Never is the school tax going back.

MR. DECKER: And Sprung is not going back.

MR. FLIGHT: Sprung is not coming back.

MR. DECKER: And the fees are not (Inaudible).

MR. FLIGHT: There will be no more cucumbers. Kenny Rogers will probably never come to this Province again as a result. (Inaudible) never get another invitation for Kenny Rogers to come to this Province again. I doubt if he will ever come again, Mr. Speaker.

So we are happy with our performance in the parks. We are happy with the progress being made in the parks. We are happy with what we perceive to be the participation and the occupancy rate we expect in the park, thanks to the efforts of the minister of tourism. Mr. Speaker, we continue to go on and make sure our parks are showplaces for the natural beauty of Newfoundland.

MR. SPEAKER: The third matter for debate relates to answers given by the Minister of Fisheries in response to questions raised by the Member for Fogo.

The hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is too bad the Minister of Fisheries is not here. I guess the President of Treasury Board is going to answer?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: I won't comment. Mr. Speaker, there has been quite some concern raised by fishermen throughout the Province. I happen to know that it is not only in my district, because I saw a letter that we received in our office today from a fisherman out in Port de Grave district, who voiced the same concerns with respect to the restructuring or the interest relief that was offered by government, or supposedly offered by government, to fishermen who had loans with the bank through the guaranteed loan program.

The Minister of Fisheries several months ago in this House announced that there would be an interest buy down by government for certain fishermen who qualified. The minister failed to give any criteria then of what would qualify a fisherman. Subsequently we learned that they initially had two sets of criteria. One, that the value of your landings for the previous two years had to be 20 per cent less than you landed in 1991; and that you would have had to have spent more than 25 per cent of your income in 1991 to pay on your loans, both principle and interest. Now, Mr. Speaker, many fishermen, as a matter of fact there are some 250 people who have loans with the banks through the guaranteed loan program, of these 250, some 150 have applied for assistance, for interest relief. To date, Mr. Speaker, as of yesterday, only twelve fishermen have qualified -

MR. DUMARESQUE: Who told you that?

MR. WINSOR: Who told me that? The Member for Eagle River would like to know. I can tell the Member for Eagle River, that is a fact. Twelve have applied and have qualified as of yesterday, a thirteenth is being reviewed, and I can tell the Member for Eagle River, that some in his area have been looked at but none has been processed yet because they have only done up to forty-five feet. They had initially thrown out all boats that were over fifty feet, now, apparently, they are throwing that back into the mix again, and, Mr. Speaker, fishermen are waiting, the banks are insisting that payments be made and we cannot get decisions from the Fisheries Loan Board.

Mr. Speaker, I have a number of constituents and as a matter of fact I have one who has gone through a second appeal and cannot get to square one because there does not seem to be any sense of direction. Now, Mr. Speaker, what appears to have happened in this program is that, the government quite willingly restructured all those with the direct loan program with the Fisheries Loan Board because it did not actually involve the spending of any money. It was just refinancing the existing debt over a longer period of time.

With the bank loan program, it meant that the Fisheries Loan Board was now going to have to come up with some money. They were actually going to have to pay money from the Fisheries Loan Board program to the banks and, Mr. Speaker, this is where it is falling down, because the government is quite unwilling, number one, that it underestimated the cost of this program. They expected to spend less than $2 million and it has already gone over $2 million and that is the real reason why fishermen have not been able to have their loans restructured by the Fisheries Loan Board.

Mr. Speaker, I understand they are going to meet again on Monday to examine a few more applications, but there are hundreds out there, hundreds of fishermen and several boat owners who have considerable pressure put on them by the banks to come up with this money. Now the Minister of Fisheries today, indicated that it was being addressed, but it is not being addressed fast enough and I look forward to the Minister of Development and Tourism, who is now going to enlighten us and tell us how this program is going to work.

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to compliment the Member for Humber East. She looked so good in the Leader's chair, she really looked so good in the leader's chair, just really looked so good in the leader's chair. I thought Len had levitated and Lynn had landed. She just looked so good in that chair. I know she is going to sit there some day as the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DECKER: Let's hope she's there for years.


MR. FUREY: No, she looks good in any chair, I agree with my colleague from Marystown. She looks good in any chair, no question about it, but especially good in that chair, so I wanted to comment.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, when the hon. member rises in his place I keep thinking of that show on television. I just forget the name of it, but it was this show about the fellow who used to be bursting out of his shirt and his muscles would get all popped up and -

AN HON. MEMBER: The Incredible Hulk.

MR. FUREY: The Incredible Tulk, that's it! I hope the hon. member is enjoying his term here, because when The Incredible Tulk gets at him in the next election, look out!

MR. TOBIN: You should not be attacking your colleague from Placentia.

MR. FUREY: You get over in your seat. Mr. Speaker, the hon. member says he was -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: I think we might have hit a nerve. Anyway, the hon. member raised some good points about the -


MR. FUREY: Now, as I heard the minister speak today, he gave a very satisfactory answer.

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).


MR. FUREY: We hit another nerve. We hit another little nerve over here, and a little nerve back there, and a little nerve - now Jack, what are you saying?

MR. HARRIS: You'll never be able to accuse me of grandstanding!

MR. FUREY: Get over, there, look, and jump up and down, so we can call you Jack-in-the-box, over in your own seat.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member asked a good question, and I heard the minister give a very good answer. His answer was that every single fisherman's concerns, particularly as it relates to that program, will be dealt with on its own merit. You cannot cast a blanket policy over everybody. You have to look at each one on its own merit and deal with it. That is what the minister said. I refer the hon. member to Hansard, and if he has trouble reading it I would be glad to sit down and read the answer for him.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Friday, at 9:00 a.m.