November 3, 1992               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS         Vol. XLI  No. 56

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Before proceeding to our routine business, on behalf of hon. members we would like to welcome a couple of groups to the House of Assembly today. Firstly, in attendance are the participants of the R.E.A.D.Y. Centre of the Community Services Council and their instructors: Bernadette Galgay, Rick Engram, Dana Diamond and Sarah Walsh, and program co-ordinator Darlene Scott and twenty-four students. Secondly, we would like to welcome to the House the following officials from the Town of Port Saunders: Mayor Tony Ryan, Councillor Gloria Parsons, and Town Manager Sean Park. We would like to extend a warm welcome to these groups.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I have some questions for the Premier today, first of all dealing with the Atlantic Provinces Procurement Agreement which this province entered into and signed, I think, on September 10th of this year. At the time of the signing the province committed to reducing the local preference protective barriers that were in place by at least 5 per cent, and then perhaps eliminate it, as I understand, by June of 1994. The 5 per cent, in fact, has already been eliminated with another 5 per cent to take place I think on March 31st of next year, a few months away.

That was done, Mr. Speaker, at a time when the level of taxation in the four Atlantic provinces already sloped the field greatly in favour of the three Maritime provinces. We already have higher taxes in just about every single tax category, and we are the only ones with a payroll tax.

I want to ask the Premier if he would not now admit, having had a couple of months to review this, that this agreement as it now stands, as it presently exists, not only puts local business at a disadvantage for government contracts here at home, but also ensures that they remain at a disadvantage when competing against the Maritime provinces. Why would any company want to get involved in this new $2 billion worth of business set up in this province in order to compete? Wouldn't it make more sense for them to go somewhere else, to Halifax, as it exists now?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I am happy to tell the Leader of the Opposition that he could not be more wrong, and for the good of Newfoundland he could not be more wrong. The simple fact is, Mr. Speaker, the first immediate benefit that came out of this procurement agreement when we signed it, was on condition that Newfoundland bidders would have access in an unrestricted way now to construction and government work in Nova Scotia, and Premier Cameron issued an instruction to amend a particular tender call right at the time and the Newfoundland contractor came in as the lowest bidder in Nova Scotia on a fair competing basis on a major contract, a major contract, so I just say to the Leader of the Opposition, he could not be more wrong. The construction industry, the manufacturing industry, the people of this Province are quite capable of competing and I have full confidence in their ability to compete.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SIMMS: As usual the Premier tries to camouflage the issue.

The point I am trying to make is that with respect to this procurement agreement Newfoundland companies presently are at a major disadvantage, because in every single tax category taxes in this Province are higher and we are the only Province that has a payroll tax, that is my point and, obviously, Mr. Speaker, it makes it more difficult not only for companies to compete here but also in the Maritimes.

I want to ask him then: how will this remaining 5 per cent, which he intends to leave in terms of the local preference policy, help locally based companies here in Newfoundland compete on the contracts in the other Maritime provinces, notwithstanding the one example that he gives? I mean how can it be easier for local companies to compete on contracts offered in the other provinces when they have to compete with things like tax breaks that exist in Nova Scotia? Why would a business, which wants to set itself up and establish itself in order to compete for this new $2 billion worth of business, bother to set up here in Newfoundland with our taxes the way they are, as high as they are? That is the question I am asking the Premier.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, just how wrong the hon. member is, is clear from the fact that the preference policy protected less than 3 per cent of the total amount awarded, less than 3 per cent. It was a useless tool, largely useless in terms of building the economy, it protected less than 3 per cent of the total value awarded. Those are what the figures indicated, Mr. Speaker.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we put this into effect, this agreement into effect on the basis of phasing out, 5 per cent first; next March another 5 per cent goes; and after next March it is reduced to 5 per cent. That does not go unless and until the equalization formula takes into account needs and cost, and so provides for more generous equalization to Newfoundland and Labrador so as to enable us to lower our tax and put us on the same tax basis as the Atlantic provinces.

Now that was an intelligent way to do it. That is exactly what was done. It is working and will work, I believe, terrifically to our benefit. There may be an instance here or there where it may not be beneficial - I do not know - but on the overall I am very encouraged by what I see ahead for us.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, the Premier continues to avoid answering the question. The question is: The taxes on the businesses in this Province far outweigh, in nearly every single category, the taxation regime in the other Maritime provinces. Plus, we have a payroll tax. No other Maritime province has a payroll tax. Surely you do not have to be brilliant to realize that puts the Newfoundland companies at a disadvantage.

I would like to ask him this, Mr. Speaker: Will he provide the House - we asked for this information before, by the way, and did not receive it when this matter was being debated in the House last spring - with the reservations that the business community provided to the government? Would he table in the House any submissions they received - the reservations that they received, and the concerns they have - so that we would be able to make a better judgement and a clearer judgement, and consider the points that he makes in his answer to the question?

Would he be prepared to consider, as businesses have requested us to ask in this Legislature, withdrawing Newfoundland support of this agreement until there is a more level playing field with respect to taxation? Would he consider that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Let me just correct this misstatement with respect to the taxes.

Mr. Speaker, if a Nova Scotia or a New Brunswick company comes and bids a contract to work here, they pay the same taxes as competing contractors here - exactly the same.

Now if you are looking at supplies from Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, and their level of taxation in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick, maybe they do not have a payroll tax, but they ruddy well have school taxes to support schools.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: That is right - property taxes to support schools; and the hon. members opposite do not like the fact that we abolished the school tax. I understand their aversion to our success in abolishing the school tax. I think everybody in the Province knows that they want school tax. I know that. Everybody in the Province understands it. Now we found a way of doing it fairly, and it is too bad that after seventeen years they couldn't do it but we have corrected it.

Now, the second part of the Leader's question, Mr. Speaker, was: would we table the exchange of letters and the representation? The answer is: yes, we will. And when that is done, it will be seen very clearly that we met every request and had the basic support of a broad sector of industry to carry out this program, and we will benefit from it in Newfoundland in the end.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I can't believe my ears. The Premier is now telling this House that a company in Nova Scotia that gets a contract here in Newfoundland pays the Newfoundland corporate income tax and pays the payroll tax in Newfoundland? That is totally misleading, and that is what he just said to this House, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: Now, I want to ask him this: Does the Province of Nova Scotia, which has a 10 per cent break for small businesses, have a better advantage over a Newfoundland business when competing in this market? Wouldn't he agree with that, or is that wrong, too?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I now have some figures, some statistics - the policies.

MR. TOBIN: Tell the truth this time.

PREMIER WELLS: For the 1990-1991 fiscal year, a total of 205,419 contracts, with a procurement value of $603 million, were awarded by all organizations covered by the Public Tender Act. That was everything the Province did, everybody covered by the Public Tender Act - 205,000 contracts totalling $603 million. During the same year, a total of 384 out of 205,419, worth a total of $16.3 million, were awarded as a result of the provincial preference policy. Now what value is that? What does that do for us, if it prevents bidders from Newfoundland from bidding in Nova Scotia at all?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: They can't see the forests for the trees. It is no wonder the economy is in the mess they left it in. It has taken us a long time to correct it, but we will get there, Mr. Speaker. In the end we will do it.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, as is typical of the Premier, he didn't answer the question at all and went off on some other area altogether.

Let me ask him some other questions related to an exchange we had in the House yesterday and what he said outside the House. Yesterday outside the House he said I was telling half-truths and using deceit, something that he often resorts to, by the way, when he can't respond in substance to an argument.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SIMMS: He said it was half-truths that I said the payroll tax was hurting the economy and costing jobs, because I did not mention that the school tax had been abolished this year. Now, the fact is, Mr. Speaker, it is the Premier of this Province who is trying to fool the people of this Province, by suggesting that the payroll tax simply replaced the school tax. It did not. The payroll tax was introduced by this government two years before the school tax was eliminated.

Now, I want to ask him this: This year, under the payroll tax, the revenue is estimated to be somewhere in the area of $69 million. Will the Premier tell the House how much of that payroll tax, how much of that $69 million, will come from businesses?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I don't have it off the top of my head, but I will get the information and pass it on.

Mr. Speaker, I don't like taxes any more than the Leader of the Opposition does. I wish we could abolish them all, but we can't. We have to provide for the public service and the needs of the public of this Province. We have to repay the $4 billion worth of debt that they built up in sixteen years. We need tax revenue to do it. We can't ignore that, we can't wipe that out, we have to deal with it.

We also, Mr. Speaker, have to try to find a fair balance between the tax burden on the individual and the tax burden on the business sector. We can't just place the burden totally on one sector. But - and this is the thrust of the Strategic Economic Plan - we have to be prepared, all of us, for the greater good of the Province, to start diminishing the taxes on the business and commercial sector so that they will be able to generate more economic activity. This is exactly what the Strategic Economic Plan has in mind. Mr. Speaker, in due course the government will announce in its budgets in the years ahead exactly what we intend to do to achieve that.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I find it absolutely incredible that the Premier of this Province is not able to tell the House how much of that $69 million, that they forecast in the last six months during their budget process, is going to come from business. He can't tell the House that. I find it incredible that the Premier wouldn't be aware of that. I understand from government sources that it is somewhere in the area of only $10 to $15 million out of that $69 million.

I want to ask the Premier this, because we have tried to find out the answer to this question and we can't get anybody over there to be straightforward with the answer: How much of that payroll tax is collected, in fact, from businesses; how much is collected from the federal government; how much is collected from government agencies, municipalities; and how much is collected from the non-profit sector? Will he provide the House with those figures in the next couple of days? Because surely the people in the Department of Finance must have that estimate broken down in those categories.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Of course they do, and I may even be able to get it before the day is out. If I can, I will, but I do not have the precise figures, I am not prepared to throw things out just to pretend that I know every single figure. I will get the figure and bring it before the House, of course I will, and provide the information.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, a final supplementary.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Premier told the media outside the House that he would like to cut the payroll tax and the corporate income tax. Very strange comments indeed because if you want to do that to stimulate economic activity, why on earth did you and your administration introduce the payroll tax in the first place and in addition increase the corporate income tax and the corporate capital tax? Is this not really an admission that the payroll tax is, in fact, a tax on jobs and does not do anything to create economic activity - something that we have been arguing for months - if he is going to help businesses in this Province if he wants to? If he does not want to do anything else, would he at least get off their backs and give them a commitment now, that yes, he will cut the payroll tax on business? Will he make that commitment here today?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker. I will not make any such commitment here today. The business community is quite satisfied with the commitments we have been making. I made a speech yesterday to the Associates Round Table, a collection of the major business sectors of this Province, they say: It is encouraging to see that the Premier clearly recognizes the challenges we have and his solutions to the problems are not political solutions - they recognize that we have the right economic and financial solutions.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Let me read on: I think we are very fortunate to have someone who seems to understand that we have to take some long-term approaches to the challenges that we have in the Province. That is the judgement of people who know and understand business; that is the business community. That is quite contrary to what the Leader of the Opposition is saying, Mr. Speaker, and I could go on and on, but modesty prevents me from doing it.


PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, people know the basis on which the payroll tax was brought in in the first instance. When the federal government cut back on the transfers to the provinces, when they cut back on-

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: If the Member for Mount Pearl listens only to his own voice -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: - he will remain as ill-informed as he is now, on a permanent basis.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, everybody knows that when the federal government cut back on these transfers, many provinces, led by Ontario - Ontario designed the tax in the first place, responded and got the substantial transfer from the federal government by putting in place a payroll tax. This Province did exactly the same, I think a year or two after Ontario did it. Then, Mr. Speaker, that was two years ago or two and a half years ago, then, Mr. Speaker, in this last Budget, when we abolished the school tax, we increased the payroll tax to in part make up for it from the business sector, and in fact, Mr. Speaker, many in the business sector were totally relieved from tax burden for schools altogether.

Anybody with less than a $100,000 payroll had no burden at all and if I recall correctly, any business is relieved for the first $100,000, so, Mr. Speaker, we are managing the economy as it ought to be managed in a sensible and responsible way.

That is why, Mr. Speaker, Moody's today, dropped Quebec's credit rating.

AN HON. MEMBER: Dropped it today?

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, dropped it from AA to an A. Moody's dropped it today in Quebec, but Newfoundland remains fairly stable because, Mr. Speaker, this government has the political courage to act responsibly and we are not, like the former government were, toadying to political opinion from time to time, just to get political support.

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.

The Minister announced late summer this government's plan on how they were going to deal with outstanding loans to fishermen affected by the cod moratorium. The President of the Fishermen's Union at that time, rightfully said it was a disincentive for people to work and for fishermen to fish. Why did the minister require fishermen, who are trying to make a living to keep a presence in the fishery by fishing species other that cod, to use 20 per cent of their earnings off the top to make payments to the Fisheries Loan Board, why did the minister do that, and has he since reconsidered dropping this 20 per cent requirement?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, the 20 per cent assignment of catch is something that has been in effect for quite some time. In fact, I believe it is there at the request of fishermen who are tied to the Fisheries Loan Board, because it makes it a lot easier for them to meet their commitments that way, rather than having to pay it out in one lump sum.

Under the forgiveness program, Mr. Speaker, fishermen who have only a groundfish licence and who fish for northern cod, and who are not taking part in any other fishery, will get a complete forgiveness of interest. If the need is there they will also get consideration with respect to deferring their payment on principal.

Now in cases where a fisherman who is receiving compensation, sometimes as high as $406 a week, in cases where that fisherman has a licence to fish other species - lobster, caplin, herring, or lump roe - then the government will be looking to that fisherman for a continuation of the assignment of catch, which amounts to 20 per cent of the harvest, the landings, as it relates to the amount of interest owing.

That is the policy, Mr. Speaker, and I have not had too many complaints about it.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader, a supplementary.

MR. MATTHEWS: The minister did not answer the second part of the question, whether or not he was giving consideration to eliminating the 20 per cent requirement, so I guess that he is not.

Can the minister confirm that the Fisheries Loan Board has recently invoiced fishermen for the principal amounts outstanding on their loans? Is that a fact, or can the minister confirm that for us, that they have invoiced fishermen for the principal amounts owing?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, I apologize for not addressing the second part of his question.

The Fishing Industry Advisory Council met with government a few days ago. Representatives from the union were in attendance, and others. We have agreed to sit down with the union and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans and take a look at it, and if it can be proven that what we are doing is a disincentive - as is the clawback, by the way, being imposed by the federal government, that we did not endorse.

AN HON. MEMBER: You endorsed it.

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, we did not endorse it, in fact the province was strongly opposed to the clawback as it applies to fisheries related income.

With respect to his last question, I do not know if they have sent out invoices. It seems to me that if a fisherman or anybody else owes money, it is not unusual for a statement to be sent out updating them on the balance owing. I do not know what action is being taken. I suspect there has been no firm action taken against fishermen who can prove that they have no income from the fishery and that they need help.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader, a supplementary.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

No wonder the minister smirked when he talked about not supporting the clawback, when it was his own Premier who started the very word clawback, and was referred to throughout the Province as 'clawback Clyde', as you recall.

As the minister is aware, there are fishermen who borrowed directly from the banks without seeking a guarantee from the Fisheries Loan Board. They went out on their own, took responsibility, borrowed money, and now of course they are left in a bad mess, not because of their own problems, but because of the cod moratorium, the same as those who had loans with the Fisheries Loan Board.

Has the minister given any consideration to offering the same assistance to those fishermen who went and borrowed directly from the banks themselves - to offer them the same package as he offered those with loans from the loan board?

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, yes, we have thought about it and I have to say that the government is not prepared to offer people who have negotiated private loans through private lending institutions, without any involvement on the part of the government - we are not contemplating taking any action in that regard at all.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to direct a question to the hon. the Minister of Education. Since the parental contribution tables for student aid have not been revised since the 1980's, and because of this there are considerable hardships being placed upon students, because their is a difference between their assessed need by this division of your department and between what they actually receive. What is the hon. minister going to do to overcome this shortfall and ensure that the students of this Province are not at a disadvantage because of that?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, maybe the hon. member will have more luck with his cousins in Ottawa than his predecessors did. The student loans, Mr. Speaker, are provided by the federal government. This province simply administers them. The hon. gentleman is quite correct, the amounts have not been revised since 1984 and I would suggest that he get after his cousins in Ottawa and tell them to rectify this problem immediately.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Ferryland on a supplementary.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, Mr. Speaker. When a student appeals the decision of the Student Aid Division, the Student Aid Division applies an inflationary factor to make up for the shortfall in income, and they apply this inflationary factor, your Student Aid Division, to the Canada Student Loan portion, but they do not apply this inflationary factor to the provincial grant portion.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Consequently, there are students experiencing shortfalls of up to $1,500 in a year, shortfall to meet the needs. And in one particular family there is a $2,700 shortfall. Is your department going to accept its share of the responsibility, follow the regulations that are set out here in the Newfoundland Student Aid Program and stop gypping the students of this Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the province is simply administering a student loans program which is supplied by the federal government. This province does not have to take -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, this province does not have to take the backstage to anyone when it comes to the co-operation and the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: - way we treat the students in this province. It is unfortunate that hon. members opposite continually try to back up their colleagues in Ottawa where the real problem rests. The reality is this: The student loan system is such in this province that a student cannot borrow enough money in order to pay his full expenses and go to university. The province has done all it can to try to help to make up this, but the reality is we cannot do it on our own. I would appeal to the new member, who is yet unscathed by the political realities that his friends are engaged in, to rise above this political nonsense and get on side with this administration and every other Minister of Education in the country, Mr. Speaker, and tell the federal government to straighten out the mess that they have caused in the student aid of this country.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is just as well to tear up the Newfoundland Student Aid Program because the minister is not following the regulations. It states the first $80 per week is in the Canada Student Loan, the second $70 per week is in a grant, and the remainder up to a maximum in student loan of $105. His department is giving students $105 per week in loan and no grant whatsoever. It is his department that is gypping the students of the grant portion of his loan.

AN HON. MEMBER: Some quick study!

MR. SULLIVAN: I advocate, and it is specified here in the regulations, and I ask him what is he going to do to correct this grave injustice that has been inflicted on the students of this Province?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the way to solve the problems with the Student Loan Program, I regret having to say this because I don't want to make this a political statement, but I regret very much to have to say that the only solution I see, a solution which is shared by ministers right across the country of all political stripes, the only solution is to flick out his cousins in Ottawa and put in place a government that is prepared to deal with the problems of students from Vancouver to St. John's, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. Yesterday in the House the minister said that the Emergency Employment Response Program would provide 3,500 jobs. My question, Mr. Speaker, is in relation to the other 90 per cent of the 40,000 people who are unemployed in the province at this time. Yesterday the minister said that the government could not alleviate or deal with the problem. Is the government - and I ask the minister - throwing up its hands and forgetting the needs of the 90 per cent of people unemployed? Of the 40,000 only 3,500 are being helped. What about the other 90 per cent?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Again, I appreciate the question because it gives us the opportunity to address what is recognised to be a very serious problem.

We indicated yesterday, and I state again today, that when we talk to people directly about their particular circumstance they understand that the situation that individuals find themselves in in this Province today is not the fault of this particular government. There is, and everybody understands that there is, an economic recession in the Province, in the country, throughout North America and globally. They recognise that the government will make sure that no individual is left in want or need or left destitute. There is always a social network that will take care of their basic needs.

From time to time, when there are people who have accessed some work and need a little bit of help from the provincial government on an emergency basis to make sure that they can qualify for funding for the rest of the year through another source of income, which is the unemployment insurance system, that we have put in place a program to the extent that we can afford at this time. We announced publicly and for everyone - not to try to disguise anything at the time - that this would not answer all the need. This, however, would help some people.

We're very proud of the fact that we have helped 3,500 people immediately. We've recognised that there is some great need for others. We've recognised the shortcomings, that we can't address all the problems through employment. But we have not left them destitute, we have not seen them thrown out of their homes and so on. They have been taken care of. It's just that they have not been put to work right away.

MR. SPEAKER: Time for a brief question and a correspondingly brief answer.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, the 20 per cent unemployment in this Province is not reflective of Canada's situation. The Premier suggested that his government had the political courage to act responsibly and bragged about Moody's bond rating service. I ask: is this government working for Moody's bond rating service or for the unemployed of Newfoundland? Let's hear the answer to that one.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think the question deserves an answer in the sense that everybody in Newfoundland and Labrador knows exactly who we are working for. We work on a daily basis in the best interests of the people who are our constituents, not only for members on this side of the House but for members on both sides of the House. They know that any time they try to contact us to make sure that we understand on a personal basis what their circumstance and what their need is, that we are accessible and available. We don't dodge tough questions. We answer directly and honestly. They know that if there's anything that's within our control that we can do we will do right away.

Other things have been spelled out. That for the long term we've indicated to the whole province that we have a plan that we intend to stay committed to for the long-term that will make sure that the best interests of the individuals are taken care of. Also, to point out, as was mentioned yesterday, that in the current short term the negative impacts of this recession have been less severe in this province because of the good management of this government than they have been in other provinces much more wealthy and with a much greater capacity to take care of their individual needs.

So we're not at all ashamed of what we've done on behalf of the people in Newfoundland and Labrador in the three and a half years that we've been here.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

Again, the Chair wants to make a couple of brief comments on Question Period. As hon. members know, the Chair tries not to intervene during Question Period unless it becomes absolutely necessary in order to maintain the crispness and the fluidity of Question Period. However, hon. members are falling into some bad habits, and the Chair wants to ensure that that doesn't happen.

As hon. members know, Question Period is not a period for debate. It is a period to solicit information and questions are very important in that respect because if questions get into debate they solicit a similar answer.

So I would ask hon. members, please, to observe the rules of the House knowing that it is only with the first question that we really permit a preamble, and after that members should get into the question. Invariably, I am finding members debating the answers and that is not permissible under our rules. It is the job of the Chair to enforce the rules but the duty of hon. members to follow them.

Thank you.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. CARTER: Mr. Speaker, as required under Section 14 of the Fisheries Loan Act, I table herewith the audited financial statement of the Fisheries Loan Board for the fiscal year 1991-1992.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wish to table, to meet the requirements of the Financial Administration Act, copies of five Special Warrants issued in the recent past. They relate to one Special Warrant of $4,560,000 to provide funds related to transfer of responsibility for school tax from tax authorities to the Crown. This was an interim financing amount which we will recover from the school tax collections, approximately $4.5 million.

Employment and Labour Relations, a Special Warrant for $5 million to cover expenditures for job creation initiatives; and a Special Warrant for $2.5 million to provide additional funds for employment generation strategy; Municipal and Provincial Affairs, a Special Warrant for $1 million to provide additional funds for job creation initiatives; and Social Services, a Special Warrant for $5 million to provide additional funds for job creation initiatives.

Mr. Speaker, I now wish to table these Special Warrants.

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

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wish to submit the report of the Privileges and Elections Committee on the mandate that we were given last spring to deal with the issue of special ballots, the issue of leadership conventions and the accessibility for the disabled. I would like to thank the members of the Committee, Mr. Speaker, for their work: the Member for Port au Port, the Member for Kilbride, the Member for Pleasantville and the Member for Carbonear.

In a minute, Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say that the Committee recommends that we use the special ballot in our Elections Act, but we recommend against doing anything with the leadership conventions and nomination process. We also recommend highly, Mr. Speaker, the introduction of a training program in the Chief Electoral Office for the accessibility of the disabled that must accompany the training of the new officers associated with the implementation of the Elections Act.

I think, Mr. Speaker, that if the special ballot is introduced, it will certainly enhance the progressive legislation that we have put forward in the new Elections bill. Thank you.

Orders of the Day

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, could we do Motions 2 through 8, please?

MR. SPEAKER: Motions 2 through 8, yes.

Motion, the hon. the Ministers of Finance; Works, Services and Transportation; Health; and Environment and Lands to introduce the following bills:

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Uniform Services Pensions Act, 1991." (Bill No. 44)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Service Pensions Act, 1991." (Bill No. 43)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act, The Horse Racing Regulation And Tax Act, The Liquor Control Act And The Retail Sales Tax Act." (Bill No. 45)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act (No. 2)." (Bill No. 41)

A bill, "An Act Respecting The Licensing And Inspection Of Health And Social Agencies." (Bill No. 46)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Medical Act;." (Bill No. 40)

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Waste Material Disposal Act (No. 2)." (Bill No. 42)

On motion, Bill Nos. (44) (43) (45) (41) (46) (40) and (42) read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

MR. ROBERTS: Order No. 1, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order No. 1.

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

Committee of the Whole

MR. CHAIRMAN (Snow): Order, please!

Bill No. 26.

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. ROBERTS: This is liable to take all day.

MR. MATTHEWS: All day, all night, maybe all week.

MR. TOBIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I tell the Government House Leader that we are in no big rush to clue up this bill. It is an opportunity for us, Mr. Chairman -


MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

The Chair has recognised the hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, I understand the Government House Leader needs some refresher courses in the House. As a matter of fact, after Question Period today, I think the Speaker was helping out the new members and the not-so-new members in terms of how to continue the debate in the House.

I want to get into some serious business today as it relates to this government. The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations stood today in this House and what he said, Mr. Chairman, was insulting to the intelligence of every Newfoundlander. No one, including himself, believes what he had to say today. When you see $30,000 spent for job creation and not one job created with that $30,000 or with $50,000, that is what he should be explaining to the House. That is what should be explained to this House.

The Minister of Social Services stood yesterday - I asked him the question: In making comparisons, will you tell us, Mr. Minister, how much the caseload of the Department of Social Services has increased in three years since this Administration came to power? He said: by 50 per cent. Now, if that is not a reflection on this Administration, what is? It is a total failure. Fifty per cent - and while the caseloads continue to rise, there are social workers in this Province who have been laid off.


MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, I will get to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. I will deal with the Minister of Municipal Affairs in due course. As a matter of fact, I wasn't sure it was the same fellow who was here the last time, when I had a look at him. The new hairstyle of the Minister of Municipal Affairs threw me off.

Mr. Chairman, there are other areas in this Province, in particular, Social Services - I know what the minister is going through. I know it is not easy for the minister. But it is time that his Cabinet colleagues gave him the support that is needed. It is time that the Cabinet say yes. Because I understand that every single region in this Province has asked for increased numbers of staff from the Department of Social Services. And I am just wondering what type of support the minister will have in Cabinet when it comes to getting additional social workers. I am just wondering, I am at a loss to know what is going to happen.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


MR. R. AYLWARD: Oh, go down and build your dump, boy, go on! Go and build your toxic dump down (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes, Mr. Chairman, there's a lot - and if the Minister of Municipal Affairs has his way there will be a lot of people losing a lifetime. That is why he is having such trouble in his district. That is why he is going to be easy pickings come the next election.

I want to talk about the economic conditions of this Province. If it were not for John Crosbie today, and the moratorium package, or the compensation package, there would be between 50 per cent and 60 per cent unemployment statistics showing up in this Province; and this government, and this Minister of Fisheries, in particular, have not done one iota for the Department of Fisheries or the fisherpeople in this Province since he became minister three years ago. He has not done anything, and there are probably a lot of reasons. One reason might be the former Minister of Finance - the old ultra conservative Minister of Finance. Now, hopefully, the new Minister of Finance - and I want to say to the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, if I could get his attention, instead of him listening to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation -

MR. MATTHEWS: The minister of ditches.

MR. TOBIN: The minister of ditches - he is the only fellow who dug a twelve-foot ditch and then, when they wanted guard rails, filled in the ditch again.

Let me say to the Minister of Finance that I am disappointed, for one, that the Premier fired him as the Government House Leader, because he was a good House Leader. And if the Premier hadn't fired the former Minister of Education, education would be in better hands than it is today.

I say that between the former Minister of Education, the Member for St. John's North, and the present minister, there is no comparison. There is no comparison, because today when the question was asked by my colleague from Ferryland, the minister, the Member for St. John's South, knew what he was talking about, and the present Minister of Education doesn't have a clue. The only thing the present Minister of Education is any good for is going from the bottom of the line to the top of the line without having to wait his turn. That is about the only thing he is any good for.

MR. MATTHEWS: He would do that in student aid if he were over there.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, and if we could only get him in student aid, Director of Student Aid, we could probably get some of our applications and appeals rushed up.

The minister today never once answered a question as it relates to the grant system in the Department of Education. I suspect the question today by my colleague from Ferryland was the first time the Minister of Education ever heard of it. It was the first time he ever heard of the structure of that system.

The Minister of Employment could advise him. He is the former educator in this Province who became so concerned about education that he went on the steps of Confederation Building and broke down and cried. That is how concerned he was about education in this Province, and to this day - he is not crying these days, when he is in Cabinet putting the boots to the Department of Education, putting the boots to the teachers of this Province, whom one time he put on strike because they were not getting a salary increase. And they have been three years now with a wage freeze, and he is part of it. That is what's happening in this Province. Mr. Chairman ifjustice were done, I know where the Member for St. John's South would be.

That is where the Minister of Employment has been a hypocrite. You can't have it both ways. For the teachers four years ago, a wage increase caused him to go out and cry on the steps of the Confederation Building. How can you be part of a wage freeze now for four years in a row?

There are other areas that I want to speak to, and I only have ten minutes. I want to talk about the financial mess that this government has brought upon the people of the Province. Twenty-nine people working in the Marystown Shipyard, I say to the Minister of Employment - the first time in twenty-five years that there was not some sort of a ship tied on at the Marystown Shipyard was this past week. And the Marystown Shipyard, Mr. Chairman, is not owned by Lundrigans or Crosbie's or the Norwegians. The Marystown Shipyard is owned and operated by the Newfoundland Government. And this minister and this government have turned their backs on the people of Marystown.

There are literally hundreds of former employees of the yard now living on mainland Canada. I spoke to two of them at lunch time today. They called me in my office wanting to know when they were going to come home. What is going on? When is Crosbie going to do something to get Texaco in place? We know. We don't need to ask. We know that the Newfoundland Government are not going to put in one nickel.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: They are not going to do one thing to help Texaco.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am just rising for a minute, and then the hon. member can get up and flame away again for another ten.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to correct an error that was made today in a statement. The Premier has asked me to make this correction. It has to do with the credit rating of the Province of Quebec. He attributed the drop in credit rating to, I believe, Moody's. In fact, it was the Canadian Bond Rating Service, CBRS. The Canadian Bond Rating Service had the Province of Quebec on credit watch and today announced that they were taking the province off credit watch and, at the same time, lowering their credit rating from AA to A.

So it was the Canadian Bond Rating Service that downgraded the Quebec debt and not, I believe, Moody's as mentioned by the Premier. So he has asked me to make that correction for the record.

Now, the hon. gentleman from Burin - Placentia West can get up and finish his rather entertaining speech.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, it is nothing new that the Premier has misled this House. It is nothing new that the Premier comes in here and misleads the House, gives misleading information, and I thank the Minister of Finance for correcting the misinformation that the Premier provided to the House.

Before I sat down I was speaking about the Marystown Shipyard. They are phoning, Mr. Chairman, to find out when they can come home. The question they are asking now is not, What is this government going to do to entice Texaco to become part of the deal? They have accepted the fact that this government is going to do absolutely nothing, have done nothing, Mr. Chairman, have sat back, have attended a few meetings, were briefed on what is taking place, and have done nothing else. And this Minister of Energy has done nothing else, Mr. Chairman, except sit back and watch what was happening. That's what is happening in this Province.

I can tell the Minister of Energy that all he did was go out and make a statement a few weeks ago that he had to backtrack on regarding Texaco. And the reason he made the statement and had to backtrack on it was because he knew nothing about what was taking place. That's what is happening. What they are asking is, Can Crosbie again come up with a couple of hundred million? He has come up with $5 billion. Crosbie got the federal government to come up with $5 billion for the project, so far, and now he is looking for another couple of hundred million.

This crowd over here, Mr. Chairman, are doing nothing except chasing around the cocktail circles to see if they can pick up a freebie when Crosbie makes a few announcements. That's what they have been doing.

AN HON. MEMBER: What a laugh!

MR. TOBIN: I don't care who laughs, but I can tell you one thing, that if you continue to laugh the way you have the last few days, the way you have the last three years, you will be still back against the wall. Jim Walsh, Bill Hogan, and all the rest of them, Tom Murphy, and Danny Dumaresque will all be in the front benches and you will still be up there. Now, I would give up laughing if I were you.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Well, why don't you get up and speak?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes, Mr. Chairman, I will be sitting down in five minutes and then he will have the opportunity to get up and speak.

AN HON. MEMBER: Go on! Get on with it!

MR. TOBIN: I will get on with it. I have been getting on with it in this House for the last eleven years. I didn't run away from the House, Mr. Chairman, I didn't run away from the Legislature, I stayed here. In good times and bad times, I was around. Mr. Chairman, I haven't left, but I can tell you there are only two ways to leave here, and that is on your own or the people kicking you out, and I am prepared to accept that if that is what happens. But as long as Clyde Wells goes back to the '60s and brings in Cabinet ministers, I think I will be around for a long while.

Now, let me talk about the issues in Municipal and Provincial Affairs, that this minister says he is going to deal with. He says he will have announcements made before Christmas dealing with capital works, and I sincerely hope he can keep that commitment, I really do. Because, Mr. Chairman, the minister said he will resign if he doesn't have all of the capital works announced before Christmas. Now, then, I wonder if the minister is going to keep his word.

AN HON. MEMBER: He will.

MR. TOBIN: He will. Well, I am delighted to hear that and I sincerely wish him luck. But I will say that if that minister made the commitment, he will keep it. That minister will keep that commitment to the municipalities if there is any way of keeping it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who will be the next Minister of Finance?

MR. TOBIN: The next Minister of Finance? He could do a good job in that, too, because it is not difficult to do. It is not difficult to do a job in Finance in this Province, all you have to do is blame things on the former Administration or on Ottawa and the recession - your books.

The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation - you talk about wasting money. I was driving yesterday morning when I heard an interview with some gentleman out in Mall Bay regarding a ditch, a twelve-foot ditch that the Department of Works, Services and Transportation had dug in Mall Bay. And he said, 'What we are asking for are guardrails.' Yesterday evening, I turned on the radio and I heard the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Well, Mr. Chairman, there is only one other way to fill in the twelve-foot hole.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation was on the radio saying he had the problem solved, they were going to fill in the ditch. Now, isn't that a waste of money, to dig a ditch and then fill in the ditch? I don't know if that makes sense or not.

I was in a meeting the other day which involved the Member for Bellevue, the Member for Placentia and myself and constituents, the people living in Davis Cove, from Arnold's Cove and a lot of people from Southern Harbour. They are having difficulty with a section of the road, but they are not asking for pavement and they are not asking for upgrading on all of the road; they are asking to have some fill put on that section of the road between Davis Cove and Monkstown. That is all they are asking.

AN HON. MEMBER: What are they asking for?

MR. TOBIN: They are asking for some fill. They are not asking for pavement.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Southern Harbour.

MR. TOBIN: Southern Harbour - people from Southern Harbour living in Davis Cove and Arnold's Cove. I hope that the two of you will probably talk to the Minister of Transportation about getting a few loads of fill. The fish buyer out there is from Arnold's Cove.

MR. BARRETT: Why didn't he come to me?

MR. TOBIN: Well, boy, I suspect it's like most of your other constituents, they can't get hold of you. I suspect that is the reason.

MR. BARRETT: I have an unlisted phone number now.

MR. TOBIN: Have you? Well, if the Member for Bellevue says he has an unlisted phone number let the record show that. I didn't say it. It's up to him. If he wants to have one, that's his business. I wouldn't have one, I couldn't operate that way. But if he can operate with an unlisted phone number, well, then, that's up to him. Good luck.

MR. BARRETT: I put in an extra line so I can hold them.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Hides away. Yes, (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes, I believe that, I would say he did.

MR. R. AYLWARD: He won't answer that one because he knows it is constituents. He won't answer it, he just answers the other one.

MR. TOBIN: But the Minister of Social Services -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: No, I want to say on his behalf to the rest of Cabinet, for the love of God, when he goes up with the request for additional social workers and front-line workers, give them to him, because he needs them. The social workers in this Province cannot, and they are not, coping with what is going on.

When I said the other day, there are people starving in this Province, waiting for a social worker to visit them - and I'm sure the Member for Port de Grave can relate to what I'm saying, about social workers being overworked. He knows, too, that right now, if someone wants to go on social assistance - and we all know the economic conditions of this Province - they have to go in to Social Services and they will say: Okay, a social worker will be there to visit you, say, on a Tuesday.

Tuesday comes, no social worker; Wednesday comes, no social worker. On Thursday, they phone back in, and are told: We are working - didn't get back in the office last night until 8:00 or 9:00 after being on the road. Yesterday was an office day and we had to see people. Today, again, I don't think I'm going to get to see you.

That's what is happening in this Province as it relates to social workers. I know of a person with a family who spent, I think it was five days, with nothing in the house, not a can of milk or anything, and had to wait for social workers to visit. And the only reason social workers were not there was because they were too busy. It is happening in Carbonear and it is happening in Placentia -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

Before recognising the hon. member I just want to remind all members of the House that when referring to hon. members, you should not use their name. I refer you to Beauchesne, section 8, 484(1): "It is the custom in the House that no Member should refer to another by name. Members should be referred to in the third person as 'the Honourable Member for...'" the district that he represents. "A Minister is normally designated by the portfolio held" and referred to as 'The hon. Minister of...'. Other office holders are similarly identified by their offices."

So I ask all hon. members to keep that in mind when referring to hon. members.

MR. TOBIN: A point of order, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West, on a point of order.

MR. TOBIN: In speaking in the debate, I think I did use the names of some hon. gentlemen opposite without referring to them by their district. I apologize to the House for that. It was certainly not done intentionally.

MR. CHAIRMAN: No, but the Chair just wanted to make that point clear so that it doesn't continue.

The hon. the Member for LaPoile.

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I wanted to get into the area that the hon. member was referring to in the debate. The matter we're debating here in Committee is the matter of supplementary supply, whereby we can resolve to utilize more money than was accounted for in the Budget that we passed the last time we sat.

In, I suppose, the generality of speaking about money that government raises and what we can speak about, is very broad-ranging. I just wonder to the members of the Opposition what would they do if they were saddled with the task that was put before us, as a government, over the last three years? - possibly something similar, or possibly increased borrowing, if you look at it from a standpoint of the way that this government has taken the fiscal situation of the Province and dealt with it in a prudent manner. The Opposition would have you believe that we have huge borrowing capacity, that we, as one of the smaller, maybe the smallest province, with the exception of Prince Edward Island, would be able to go to the market and borrow endlessly to pay for the programs that they espouse as being so important to the people of the Province. There is a balance there, I suppose, there is a balance of what is important to the people of the Province in comparison to just how far you can go in providing the funds to supply these public services.

Now, we have three choices in the way that we approach this. We have the choice of borrowing the money through the markets, we have the choice of cutting back on our expenditures as administrators of the government for the people and we also have the choice of increasing our tax burden to either our public sector employees, increasing the tax burden to businesses or increasing the tax burden to all citizens of the Province. So there are three ways that you can balance the books, so to speak.

Now, we had to look at it and come up with a balance. Now, this government has put forward a position to the people of the Province over the last three years that is a compromise of balance on all three. There has been some borrowing. Granted, the borrowing has provided a level of borrowing to the treasury that doesn't go beyond what the overall gross domestic product of the Province is able to sustain. We look at the amount of borrowing we have done and, as a percentage of the gross domestic product of the Province, we are now borrowing a lesser percentage than the Opposition were borrowing when they were the government. So, as a percentage of our overall output as an economy, we are borrowing less, although the debt continues to increase. This is something we still have to be concerned about, because even though we are borrowing less, there is still an increase in the overall deficit and the overall debt combined, the aggregate debt of the Province, as we continue on. It is continuing to grow in an actual dollar figure. Even though we find that offensive we are still left with no alternative but to continue to borrow to maintain the balance of public services necessary.

Now, if we, as a government, were to have the fiscal situation that the Opposition had when they were in government, if we were to have the $500 million, the equivalent loss that we have experienced by virtue of the changes to the equalization programs that the federal government has implemented whereby at one time, back four years ago, the federal government funds made up 50 per cent of our government budget. Currently they are down to 45 per cent in the upcoming budget. So, at that level, we can certainly see that we are dealing with the situation in a balanced manner, trying to effect some fairness on the business sector, the individual sector as far as the income taxes go and, also, we have had to make some changes to the public services of the Province in a reorganization that saw a number of public servants to be laid off. No one likes to see people laid off. We are certainly needing to make sure that things are done in a much better manner as far as the administration of the public services go. So that is the balance we have come to, Mr. Speaker.

Now, if we look back, over the last number of years the economy of Central Canada and some of the larger provinces have decreased. Their economies have gone down. They have not performed as we would have liked. Therefore, our equalization in the coming years, the next two years, maybe, will be down and maybe even as soon as this month, we will be experiencing drastic changes in equalization. What do we do if we end up this year with a $100 million shortfall? What do we, as a government, do? Do we go to borrow when borrowing may not be possible, in the first instance, but in the second instance, may jeopardize our credit rating? I would say that in that kind of situation, Mr. Chairman, regardless of the time of year, that we, as a government, will be left with no choice but to approach the public of the Province for a mandate to effect the changes that are necessary to maintain the financial integrity of the province. That is a situation wherein we could be in, I would submit, an election in the middle of the winter; but I think that would be certainly a necessity should equalization figures that come down every month put us into such a circumstance where we are in a position to have our hands tied and unable to balance the books of the province properly.

We budgeted this year for approximately a $30 million shortfall, and I think it was $29.5 million on our current account; so therefore we plan to have to borrow some money to run things, but the credit card government, if you wanted to look at it, the use of a credit card, or the use of your current account deficit for your operating expenses, is the kind of thing that would catch up with you very rapidly.

Lo and behold, with the fisheries situation as it stands now, we have had to make some corrections in midstream. We are expecting now somewhere on the order of $50 million to $60 million current account deficit - almost double what we had hoped to keep it to; and should the equalization change - I think I heard on the news $50 million to $60 million now?


MR. RAMSAY: Fifty to sixty is my guess. Now I say it is uninformed, but I am just going by the media reports. I have not seen any actual detail on it, but if that were to climb to $100 million, or 100 plus, where would we be? I ask the opposition: What would they do? Would they choose to borrow? Would they choose to cut some expenses? Or would they choose to increase taxes?

That is the kind of situation which might throw us into a bit of a quandary over the next month or so, but if we end up in a Christmas time election, or a January election, so be it. I am sure that the people of the Province would prefer a solution offered to them. You put your choice forward as to how you would handle it. We will put ours forward, and we will ask the public of the Province to judge us on the merit of those two proposals. I think that they would come in on our favour. Some of the opposition might think: Well, maybe they have had enough of this cutting expenses; maybe they have had enough of the situation where we have had to increase taxes; maybe they have had enough.

Well I submit to you that if they have had enough, then they have the right to choose to put the opposition in power and increase it that way. Somehow I think that they will accept that it is tough medicine for tough times, and would see to it that this government would be returned, and to handle it in the way that we have been handling it, with some creativity in some of the new programs that we have implemented through a variety of sources, such as Enterprise Newfoundland, and some of the other agencies of government.

I might point out, for the benefit of the House, that a development which is ongoing in my own district, which I want to bring to everyone's attention, which is going quite well at this point, a company has set up, called Atlantic Seaboard Industries, who hopefully will be able to return to the treasury of this Province some nice, tidy sums; getting some people to work on some environmental projects on which they plan to work, and as well in doing some work on the Hibernia project. So we are very excited about this opportunity for the near future in the district of LaPoile, and we certainly feel that this is the kind of thing that will probably set us on the road to not having to be as concerned about increasing taxes; about not having to be as concerned on having to cut expenses, and also not being as concerned about having to borrow.

When the private sector is pumping money into the treasury as well as into the economy, it improves for everybody. I would submit that we should take a close look at all the entrepreneurial activity that is ongoing, not only through individuals getting more interested in starting businesses, but also with the high school sector, with students throughout the Province who have certainly tried to benefit from the educational program that has been implemented in some districts, and are certainly interested in developing themselves as entrepreneurs -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. RAMSAY: - because a lot of people realize now there will be no jobs for them, but there will be jobs if they can educate themselves.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. Member for St. John's East Extern.

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Although I am to your rear, it is nice that you hear my voice. It is nice to be back, Mr. Chairman. With all the old rhetoric and some new adages, it still is pretty well the same old routine.

Yesterday, I must say, I sat down here in a bit of awe, because I think this is the ninth session that I have attended on opening day, and it is getting to be a bit of a ritual now. Yesterday we had a little bit of a change. We had the Premier getting up and welcoming the two new members. I suppose, one wasn't that new. I think this is his third - he is sort of a recycled candidate or was a candidate, now a recycled member.

Mr. Chairman, the other member here for Ferryland - a star among stars - is going to be around for the longest time, I hope. I have heard through the grapevine that the Liberal Government are not going to oppose that hon. gentleman for Ferryland, and I think they are right on.

Mr. Chairman, I can hear that young Minister of - I haven't even got his -

MS. VERGE: The Minister of IT.

MR. PARSONS: The Minister of what?


MR. PARSONS: Minister of IT. Yes, that is right. He was a fine young minister, but I had to give him a little slap this afternoon coming over because yesterday he seemed to be getting a bit aloof. He was sort of rising. I said: Now, hold it just a moment. I thought I was going to have to take him down a peg or two. I don't think now it is necessary, I think he is back in the seat and I think he is sort of relaxed. I think that was just the first day.

I was delighted, Mr. Chairman - and I will tie all this in to what I should be speaking on and that is the economic situation. Mr. Chairman, I will try to tie it all in. Yesterday I was delighted with our hon. leader who stood in his place and offered a few platitudes, I suppose, to the previous House Leader, the hon. Member for Gander. I must say I thought it was timed well because I too had a lot of respect for that hon. gentleman.

There were times he used to get a bit testy. There were times he would be upset with us. If he wanted to pass a piece of legislation that was a bit critical, he was over there all smiles and running back and forth to us. You could see his facial expression change when he was going to keep us in on a night session. But overall, he was really agreeable. Only for our House Leader who held him by the hand on several occasions - the old house leader I am speaking about, the previous House Leader - but our House Leader held him by the hand and on several occasions brought him over the rough spots. I hope that the new House Leader now will listen to what I am saying and anytime he wants help just look across to his counterpart and he will certainly answer his request and avail of the opportunity.

Mr. Chairman, I want to address a few remarks to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. I want to ask the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations how did he prioritize or how did he come up with the grants that he awarded under the emergency program? Mr. Chairman, I believe we had seven applications from my district. Mr. Chairman, the first thing the minister did was he sent around a circular letter to the hon. members, or I am sure at least to the Opposition members, asking them to prioritize the applications. Mr. Chairman, it would be just the same as going out and hanging on a limb in all that wind last night and the limb being very, very small, if I were to prioritize the applications that were received from my district. It would be suicide, Mr. Chairman. Shysters trying to get hon. members in trouble with their own constituents.

Mr. Chairman, I wrote back very simply and said that each community or each service club that applied applied because of the way they prioritized the needs in their respective areas. Mr. Chairman, I mentioned to the minister across the way yesterday that we received zero and he said: no, Torbay received $20,000. I said: I didn't know that Torbay had received that funding - twenty thousand dollars. I believe it's for four workers for ten weeks, and I believe that averages out to about $267 a week, plus the 4 per cent for additional cost, plus the 2 per cent for vacation pay and whatever. But anyway, the total amount was $20,000.

Afterwards, when I heard the hon. Member for Kilbride get up and say that people from the hon. minister's department said that there was going to be no funding to the Opposition, then I said: now that's not true. Because I said: Torbay, which is in my district, and a very large part of my district, did receive $20,000. It wasn't much. A community of 5,000 people. After I learned that a gentleman who had run for the Liberals had gone to see the minister on several occasions and it was through his prodding, and because of his allegiance and alliance with the Liberal Party, that's why Torbay got the $20,000.

I used to often hear an hon. gentleman here - and I won't mention his name; he's still in this hon. House - when I came up first he used to get up and he'd say: pork barrelling. All I could remember was down by Norm Downey's or up by Jack Savage's, seeing the old pork barrels out by the door. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what it was. The hon. gentleman is not here now but he sits in the chair to my left. He used to say: the PCs were pork barrelling, giving all the money to their own districts.

Finally I figured it out. The barrel alright belonged to the proprietor, which is that government, and all the pork that was in it they gave to their own. There was nothing for anyone else. Not one iota, not one cent, went to any other community in St. John's East Extern. Not another cent. I asked the minister today why. Those people have a right to employment, just the same right as any other Newfoundlander or Labradorian. They weren't even considered.

That minister spent a great portion of that $11 million - we know that three point some million dollars went into materials. But the other $9 million, I'd like to know the percentage that went to Liberal districts and what percentage went to PC districts.

AN HON. MEMBER: In what?

MR. PARSONS: In that $11 million emergency aid program.

AN HON. MEMBER: Fairness and balance, sir.

MR. PARSONS: Fairness and balance. I'm sorry that you weren't here when I started my few remarks because I said you were a real fine fellow. Now if you keep on I might have to retract that statement.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: What's the hon. Member for Port de Grave saying?

MR. EFFORD: Tory districts shouldn't get anything.

MS. VERGE: He's been very quiet lately.

MR. PARSONS: Very quiet. He's still trying to get to the front benches but I'm sorry, I'm very sorry - if I had my way you would get out in front, but the Premier is not taking you, so forget it. You can be as quiet as you like now -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. PARSONS: By leave?

MR. CHAIRMAN: Does the hon. member have leave?


MR. CHAIRMAN: By leave.

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Chairman, the other thing I'd like to address today is: the Premier yesterday, in answering some of the questions on the economic situation in Newfoundland and Labrador, which I might say is in a state of flux, the state of going nowhere, the hon. the Premier came up with a white book with green trimmings and he said: this is the federal report, the federal prosperity report. He said: it cost $20 million. He said: here is our economic report which cost half a million dollars. He said: really, what happened before was the old testament and this is the new testament.

But he forgot to mention one thing, that Dr. House's study in itself cost millions. Then he introduced the Economic Recovery Commission, which was a saver, which was going to eliminate all other studies which cost millions, so this final report in essence, cost millions of dollars and when you compare our 570,000 costing millions of dollars and 70,000 people on welfare in this Province, this other study - it did not cost a half million because there was supposed to be no other studies, the ERC was supposed to cover it all. I do not know if that ERC is still in being or not, I do not hear anything from them. I mean I always call it for the benefit of the hon. the Government House Leader, I always called that our commission of government.


MR. PARSONS: ERC, our commission of Government which was run by someone, not elected -

MR. ROBERTS: Will ERC answer it (inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: The ERC is a body in itself that is only answerable to one person and that is the Premier, and for the travelling that he has done outside the Province in the last couple of years he was answerable to no one because he kept roaming around the mainland for the last two years -


MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. PARSONS: He has much more power even more than the present House Leader. Mr. Chairman, I thank you for the time extended to me. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. HARRIS: I wanted to rise because I have to respond to some of the remarks of the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations in his speech today and what he is telling the members of this House. He expects us to really believe that the people of Newfoundland, particularly the unemployed people, are prepared to sit back with some dim hope in the future of maybe, possibly somehow getting a job, and that they are all to a person totally sympathetic with the government's position with respect to the bond rating services, of which the Premier does not seem to even know which one he is kowtowing to from one day to the next.

Mr. Chairman, the people whom I talk to who are unemployed are not at all sympathetic to the position of this government. They tell me that they want a job, they are not satisfied to live on unemployment insurance, they are not satisfied to live on welfare at $127 a month, they are not satisfied with that and they are not waiting patiently for some distant day when possibly some job might be forthcoming from this government. There is a complacency, Mr. Chairman, on that side of the House with the plight of the Newfoundland people, with the 40,000 people who are officially unemployed, with the additional 30,000 added to the caseload - that is not 30,000 people but 30,000 family units - added to the caseload of the Department of Social Services since this government took office.

Mr. Chairman, it is all very well to say we have an economic recession in Canada, we all know that but that does not disguise the fact that the unemployment rate in this Province is twice what it is nationally and much larger than many other provinces and that is the responsibility of this government.

The difference, Mr. Chairman, between the national unemployment rate of 10 per cent and the 20 per cent officially that this province tolerates, that is the responsibility of this government here and this government is not taking that responsibility. They are quite content to let the bond rating agencies tell them what their programs will be, let the bond rating agencies tell them what their response will be to the people of Newfoundland who are desperate for employment.

Now, Mr. Chairman, you know, I would like to know whether the woman whom I spoke to in September, who in fact was desperate for work and desperate for help from this government, how she spent a week or more trying to get in touch with someone from this government to help her in the following circumstances - now this is a good example of what kind of programs this government has and what ones it does not.

This woman, Mr. Chairman, was on unemployment insurance and that unemployment insurance expired, and for a year or more this woman, a single parent and her two children, were on social assistance. During that year, she sent out resumes and applications all across this country and after much, much effort on her part, she managed to get a job. She is living in St. John's, Mr. Chairman, her job happened to be on the other side of the Province, a very good paying job, Mr. Chairman, and she was trying to get the assistance of this government, of the Department of Social Services to allow her to move to the west coast of this province to take up this job, and the Department of Social Services was saying no, Mr. Chairman - 'No, we cannot help you. We don't have a program to help you get to a job that you had.' If you had a job in Ontario, off you go. Here is a ticket. Off you go. But if you want to move, Mr. Chairman, from the East Coast of Newfoundland to the West Coast of Newfoundland to take up a full-time paying job, not a minimum wage job, but a very respectable paying job, the Department of Social Services' answer, Mr. Chairman, was: 'We have no program. We have no program from social assistance to help people relocate in this Province to get a job.'

Now, Mr. Chairman, after several days of prodding by me and my office, the ministers - and I have to give full credit, they respond to this individual, because they know this is the kind of case in which the people of Newfoundland would be able to recognize the lack of programming in this government if it were exposed.

Now, Mr. Chairman, where are the programs that are designed to help people in those circumstances. They don't exist, Mr. Chairman. That woman is not sitting back complacently like the Minister of Social Services or the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations expects everybody to. She wasn't sitting back complacently and waiting for some nirvana in the future that the strategic economic plan was going to provide employment for her. She was out looking and fighting for employment for herself so she could look after herself and her family. That, Mr. Chairman, is the attitude of Newfoundlanders, not the complacency that this government has, not the complacency that is expressed by the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, but a determination not to give up hope. But they are not getting hope from this government, Mr. Chairman, not by getting up in this House like the Premier did today and saying we have the courage to be politically responsible or the political courage to be responsible and look after the coffers for the sake of the Canadian Bond Rating Service or Moody's Industrial Services. Whenever the Premier gets it right he will tell us what service he is talking about. But it is the Bond Rating Service, Mr. Chairman, that this government speaks to, not to the needs of the people of this Province.

Mr. Chairman, I don't think this House should tolerate the kind of remarks that the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations gets. It is all very well to get up and make these platitudinous remarks about how the people of Newfoundland, the individual person, realizes that they can accept unemployment, social assistance - no help from this government other than the $127 a month that they get on social assistance. 'We are not letting people starve,' he says. Well, Mr. Chairman, I would like to see the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations try to live on $127 a month. Mr. Chairman, you could hardly get enough from that to buy yourself a one-dollar meal for a period of a month. If he has talked to people who have had to live on that, he will not be able to get up in this House and make the kinds of statements that he makes about the people and their problems.

Mr. Chairman, I think the government ought to take seriously its responsibilities towards the people, and not just say: 'We can help one in ten of those who are officially unemployed. That is all we can do. That is the limit of our ability. That is all we have to offer to the people of this Province, one out of ten who can get some assistance and get some employment.' The Government of this Province, Mr. Chairman, has the responsibility to create a climate that provides for unemployment, and if there are short-term employment needs, to respond to those needs and to provide for them.

So I ask the minister to get up and recant, if he will - get up and recant, take it back. The people of Newfoundland are not satisfied to sit back - particularly those who are unemployed and don't have jobs - they are not satisfied to sit back and wait and hope that maybe in two or three or four or five or six years time that this strategic economic plan might get beyond the planning stages and might result in a job of some kind for an individual. They are not prepared to wait, Mr. Chairman, and they will be providing an answer in the next election. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I wasn't going to get up because I thought the Opposition was going to let this pass. So seeing it is -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. K. AYLWARD: Yes, I am going to do that, too, in a minute. But seeing that the Opposition was going to have another speaker, I said we might as well have five or ten minutes. It is very good to hear the social conscience of Newfoundland speaking again, you know, the potential leader for the NDP. Is he the leader yet? I am not sure. There is a race on, I assume.

AN HON. MEMBER: He may not be leader if somebody else runs.

MR. K. AYLWARD: Yes, if somebody else runs, but it is really good to see - he makes the comment about bond rating agencies determining what we are going to do, instead of us deciding for the people.

Now, unfortunately, Floyd Laughren and the NDP Government in Ontario -


MR. K. AYLWARD: Floyd - Laughren is his last name, I think - the NDP Treasury Minister.

Anyway, you would not believe - I was up in Toronto a few weeks ago and it is a different place than it used to be, I tell you that. I am telling you, the want ads are a lot less in the papers, and there are places closed down. It is just unreal.

When I hear all of that, when I see that situation and I look at what has occurred up there, and look at the Treasury Board Minister for Ontario having to go to Wall Street in New York to convince the bankers that lend the Ontario government money, that they are trying to do their best and that they are cutting this; they are cutting education; they are cutting health care; they are doing all of this to keep them happy, because they want to provide services, then I find it a little bit out of line to hear the NDP representative, the sole representative of the people in this House of Assembly, making those statements against this government.

This government has led the way in dealing with the financial problems - led the way across Canada for any provincial government in dealing with its financial problems. I am amazed that we have been able to hold the line as we have, from the bond rating agencies. I am absolutely amazed.

Our former Minister of Finance, our present Minister of Finance, and all of our officials deserve a lot of credit for doing what we have had to do, and for dealing with it up front and making sure that they understand - the people that we have to borrow the money from to keep all the services that we have - understand that this government is up front, dealing with it up front, and making sure that we are going to have a prosperous future.

Now, if it were in the hands of the sole member of the NDP for Newfoundland and Labrador here in the House of Assembly, where would we be? What is his option? I would like to know. Is it to go out and borrow the money that we can't borrow anymore? Is that the option?

AN HON. MEMBER: We have no plans (inaudible).

MR. K. AYLWARD: No plan? They have to have a plan. They can't condemn our plan and say it is no good. That is like George Bush in the U.S. saying: Hey, Bill Clinton, your plan is no good, but I don't have one. It is the same thing. So I cannot wait.

The Opposition can go out and develop their own plan. They can bring it in and table it in the House of Assembly, and they can say: Here is what we would like to do. I would like to see it. The Ontario government just brought out a plan, too, I hear, and it looks a lot like ours, as a matter of fact. Some of the ideas - some of their officials are back and forth.

I had an interesting discussion with a deputy minister for the Treasury Board in Ontario. I was sitting at a table with the person, and that person did not know, in Newfoundland and Labrador, that we do not have management over our fishery. The Deputy Minister of the Treasury Board of Ontario didn't know that we don't have management of our fishery. She thought we managed our fishery, so she didn't understand why we were having such a problem. When I explained what the problem was, she completely understood it.

I just point out that other parts of Canada don't understand that issue, and we have to do another job on the people of Canada to make them understand that is an important issue for us down here.

All I would wish is that if you are going to criticize, when it comes to the finances of the Province, then throw up a solution, throw up some credible arguments to make sure that we can listen to those arguments and then try to incorporate them. What I see is criticism, criticism, criticism, rip down, rip down, rip down, but there is nothing offered as a solution.

You can say all you want about the bond markets, but Newfoundland's reputation in the bond markets is probably the best of any Province of Canada right now, and thank God.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Commission of Government had money left over at the end.

MR. K. AYLWARD: Who is that?

AN HON. MEMBER: The Commission of Government - have you heard of them?

MR. K. AYLWARD: Oh, I have heard of them. Have you? What is your solution? Offer some solutions, my friend. You are up saying: Don't do this, don't do that, and your colleagues across Canada are doing the very same thing, and worse.

AN HON. MEMBER: They don't have money for (inaudible).

MR. K. AYLWARD: No, they don't. That is right, they don't, but I tell you, Ontario is working towards it. Ontario is in double digits now, my friend, they are in double and going up. But they are going to fix that problem, because when Bob Rae goes to the electorate we will see what happens there.

Offer some solutions, is all I say to you. This criticism - all it is is banging away at this wonderful social conscience. Let me say to you, Sir: We all have social consciences, as a matter of fact. When we get into politics we all do the best we can. This government has come under extreme pressure in a recession and is attempting to do what it can with its resources.

You are trying to put a slant on it, like, nobody cares about this, and nobody cares about that. This government here has a major social conscience, because it's trying to fix the financial problems so that people twenty years hence, the young people of this Province, are going to be able to do what they want, and won't have to be spending half the budget paying off interest, for cripes' sakes.

We have to get it together, my friend. So if you're going to criticize, go look at the finances and see where the books are.

MR. HARRIS: Why are you taking it so personally? Do you have a (Inaudible)?

MR. K. AYLWARD: I have a guilty conscience? I have a guilty conscience. I'm not the one - I won't say anything, Mr. Chairman, not what I would like to say. Anyway, I won't say anything.

What do you mean 'personal'? You know what is personal? When you say something back to the NDP, that's personal. When you go back and say: But could you back that up? That's personal? Boy, oh boy! I had better be careful. As a matter of fact, I am being too hard on him, I think.


MR. K. AYLWARD: I'm being too hard on him.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Very personal - he is the only member of the party.

MR. K. AYLWARD: Yes, that's true, too, I suppose. But let's get it real, let's be credible, that's all. We have some problems here we have to try to resolve. Some members of the Opposition - even the Member for Humber East, she's credible at times. At times she is very credible, when she wants to be.


MR. K. AYLWARD: Now, I know I am being kind. Okay, I'm being kind, but that depends.


MR. K. AYLWARD: Alright. But still, there are constructive criticisms, at times, that we will all take and heed, and other times maybe not. At least there is criticism that is constructive at times. So all we ask over here is that we look forward to the constructive criticism that we should have as a government, and then we will respond in kind and try to deal with the issues as we should.

I am sure the Minister of Finance when he sums up later on will be able to address the many issues that have been put forward, especially in dealing with the bond markets of the world, and what our reputation is there, and how well we have done considering these difficult times. So I have no problem with that, Mr. Chairman. I look forward to the many wonderful suggestions coming from the other side as to how to solve these economic problems. I can't wait to see the plan, I can't wait to see it tabled in the House, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson. The bill that is the subject of this debate - although listeners might have lost track - is a bill to patch up last year's Budget. It is a supplementary supply bill providing for approximately $20 million for the Budget of 1991-1992.

The need for such a measure is indicative of the Wells' Administration's shoddy management. The government has had great difficulty managing the affairs of the government. Occasionally it has come up with good ideas for policy changes or new programs, but almost invariably, has botched implementation. In other instances the attempts at change have backfired because they have been miscalculated from the beginning.

One of the more notorious examples of mismanagement and misguided policies has to do with municipal affairs. Shortly after this Administration took office, the minister of the day announced wholesale municipal amalgamation. The former minister, in July of 1989, decreed that more than 100 municipalities would be combined into larger groupings.

Now, to this day, some seventeen municipalities on that original hit list are still waiting to find out their fate. This is almost unbelievable. There have been repeated promises to resolve the matter next month, next season, next term of the House of Assembly. The current minister met with three of the municipalities which are awaiting their fate. I cite the municipalities of Corner Brook, Massey Drive and Mount Moriah. The current minister met with them over the last few months and promised to arrive at a decision before too much longer. He met with the city council of Corner Brook and the town council of Massey Drive this fall, saying that he would have a decision for them within a couple of weeks, by the middle of October, certainly, in time for preparation of the next budget.

Chairperson, there hasn't been a word from the minister or a signal from the government since. Those municipalities, in the meantime, have had to start planning for the next budget year. They have had to make arrangements for snow clearing for this winter, which is closing in, and still, no decision. For more than three years, this government has made those municipalities wait and wonder, has made the volunteers, who are so important to the running of the smaller municipalities, wonder if their reason for being would exist in another few months, in another year. This has been extremely frustrating for municipal leaders who have enough problems on their hands because of the poor economy.

Not only has this administration bungled the management of the government, itself, the government has introduced tax measures, tax hikes, and brought about other economic measures which have discouraged employment, business activity and investment in this Province. Earlier in the debate, my colleagues have talked about the harmful effects of the payroll tax, as well as other revenue-raising measures of this Administration. The payroll tax has been a disincentive to employment in this Province, and has contributed to the worsening of the economy. Yes, the economy Canada-wide is bad, but this Administration has made the problems much worse than they needed to be here in Newfoundland and Labrador.

We have, as the previous speaker on this side of the House, the Member for St. John's East, said, an unemployment rate of over 20 per cent, more than double the national average. But, Chairperson, that figure is misleading for more than one reason. It is misleading partly because the size of the labour force in Newfoundland and Labrador has contracted, has become much smaller, since the Wells Administration took office. When the Wells Administration moved in on May 5, 1989, according to Statistics Canada, there were 202,000 jobs in this Province. Three years later, in the spring of 1992, before the Northern cod moratorium, there had been a 20,000 job loss in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The size of the provincial labour force in May of 1992 had shrunk to only 182,000. We lost 20,000 jobs over the first three years of the Wells Administration, over the first three years of the Economic Recovery Commission. How ironic! The more the Economic Recovery Commission operated, the more money it spent, the worse our economy got, the more jobs we lost, the higher our unemployment rate rose.

Yesterday, in Question Period, there was a very revealing debate. The Leader of the Opposition slammed the Wells Administration for their mishandling of the economy, for their crippling tax burden on businesses. The Premier replied, saying that he has a plan. He likened the plan to the New Testament, saying that the earlier House Royal Commission report, completed during the Peckford Administration in 1987, was the Old Testament.

I suggest the Premier's analogy is apt, because he has no idea in this world how to implement either of those plans, how to reach the goals set out in those plans, and he is counting on divine intervention. If God does not intervene to help Newfoundland and Labrador we are in big trouble until after the next election.

The next questioner on our side, the Member for Burin - Placentia West, proceeded to ask the Minister of Social Services about the current welfare caseload, and the minister had to admit that in the three and a half years of his administration the social assistance rolls have increased by 50 per cent. Some economic recovery. Some plan. Twice as many people in Newfoundland and Labrador on welfare.

Chairperson, this government has had to get Supplementary Supply last year and again this year. One reason is because they have constantly underestimated their spending requirements for welfare. They are paying out more and more and more public funding for welfare. At the same time they have cut government spending on employment creation. Sure they have spent a lot of money consulting and planning and revising the House Royal Commission Report and coming up with a fancy strategic economic plan, but they have cut spending on employment creation.

If you look at this years spending estimates you will see in the Department of Social Services a $6 million cut. In the Department of Employment and Labour Relations a $4 million cut. Now in late September the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations announced an Emergency Employment Response Program. Evidently the economic depression in this province had taken him by surprise. It wasn't until late September when the good weather was ending that he came up with an employment program. Talk about a shell game. Cut in March and, panic fashion, put it back in late September.

Chairperson, the Premier has dismissed the idea of government make-work projects. Instead he has chosen to pay out more and more and more public funds in welfare. Evidently he would rather have people - now numbering 70,000 in the province - simply collecting social assistance cheques.

Chairperson, anyone who has any familiarity with social assistance recipients - and I realize the Premier has no such personal knowledge - he is far above the lives of the ordinary Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who are in receipt of social assistance. He doesn't cross paths with any of the 70,000 people depending on welfare today. But anyone who does understand their situation will realize that social assistance does not allow for the basic necessities of life. If you are depending solely on social assistance you are not eating a nutritious diet.

Chairperson, with all the needs for public works, with all the needs on the part of municipalities, on the part of local service districts, of rural development associations, community service groups, businesses, wouldn't it be better for this government to decrease spending on welfare and increase spending on employment creation?

The Premier may make light of government employment creation, but what is his alternative, paying out more for welfare and then in the Fall having emergency panic response programs? Chairperson, there is such a thing as good make-work, good government funded employment projects. To be good the projects have to involve genuinely needed, useful activity. To be good, projects have to be planned. To be good, projects have to have proper supervision.

What this government has chosen to do with its emergency employment response program is to wait so late in the year that proper planning cannot be done; proper supervision cannot be put in place; and in many instances, because of the climate, to wait until it is too cold to get maximum yield from the spending.

In the district I represent there was an application from one of the municipalities for upgrading of their outdoor swimming pool. That project has been passed from one office to another of the provincial government, and it is now too late for the work to be done before the winter closes in. There is still money left in the Social Services employment creation budget - not a lot, but there is money left there. Instead, the government is opting to pay more and more and more to healthy, able-bodied people who want to work, who can work, who have been used to working, to do genuinely needed work in their communities and in their areas.

Chairperson, the government has failed the people miserably.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.

I simply wish to, at this point in time, table something that was promised by the Premier a little earlier to the Leader of the Opposition. It has to do with the health and post-secondary education tax, commonly known as the payroll tax, and the complete breakdown by category of all the various sectors and all this kind of thing.

This is the information that relates to the 1992-'93 year - this current budget year.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: What year was the tax implemented?

MR. BAKER: What was asked for was simply a breakdown - the effect on all of the segments and sectors of the business community of the Province, exactly how much money was coming from each sector and all that kind of thing. It is the sort of thing that I have readily available, so I simply sent a message down and obtained it.

I would like to table it, if I could. There is a copy there for the Leader of the Opposition, and this could be passed to the finance critic, I guess, in his place.

I hope that the opposition appreciates the very quick response that they always get to requests of this nature, and how ready we are to provide them with all kinds of delicious information which they can then bang us over the heads with. I know that is what they want it for; however, we are so very confident in what we are doing that we don't mind giving them any information that they require. So, Mr. Chairman, I am very pleased, at this point in time, to be able to table that information.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Opposition Party Whip.

MR. DOYLE: Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to have a few words to say on this Interim Supply Bill, especially as it pertains to the Department of Health and the health care system right across Newfoundland and Labrador.

We do have a new Minister of Health, but we still have the same old health care system. The Minister of Health has yet to make his mark within that department, and I am certainly hoping that it is going to be a new Department of Health now that we have such a good, efficient minister as the former Minister of Finance.

Three million, I believe, has been designated in this Interim Supply Bill, for the Health Department. It does not say anything about where the money is going to be spent, Mr. Chairman, but it certainly does not seem to be going to hospitals in Newfoundland and Labrador, given the fact that we still have the very, very, long waiting periods, the very long lineups being experienced by people all across the Province, trying to get in for surgery at the various hospitals.

I remember, Mr. Chairman, questioning the former Minister of Health about the long waiting periods, especially as it pertained to heart surgery patients. I remember questioning the former Minister of Health on a half dozen different occasions, as a matter of fact, with respect to that very, very important issue, and really not getting anywhere with the minister. Sometimes there were eight- and ten- and twelve-month waiting periods for people trying to get heart surgery. But the former Minister of Health assured us on a number of different occasions that there was very little if any problem in that area. I believe at one point he told us that anyone who was waiting for a ten- or twelve-month period for a heart operation, he would question whether or not the individual needed the operation to begin with.

To the minister's credit, I have to say to him, that since he came to that department, the Department of Health, he made available just recently, I believe, around $600,000 to try and clear up some of the backlog that existed for heart surgery patients. I felt a little bit vindicated when the minister made that money available. Because it did show beyond the shadow of a doubt that the problem was very real and it wasn't one cooked up by members of the Opposition, as the former Minister of Health always said, that the Opposition was cooking up these problems, that the problems really didn't exist. So the minister came to that department and made available $600,000 to clear up some of the backlog for heart surgery patients. So I felt a little bit vindicated when he did that.

The waiting lines continue. Heart surgery, of course, is not the only area where government is falling down, where the hospitals are falling down, because of lack of funds. I'm hoping that the new Minister of Health will make his mark very, very quickly and make available to the hospitals which need this money very quickly the needed finances, because doctors are seriously overworked, nurses are seriously overworked, not only in the St. John's area but hospitals right across the Province. Doctors, nurses, personnel generally, are very seriously overworked, and government has done little if anything to address these problems.

The Minister of Health surely must be aware by now that you can't lay off 650 employees in the health care sector without affecting the level of care that people receive. Especially when the overall demand for health service continues to be on the increase. Six hundred and fifty people laid off in the health care sector and the government has done little if anything to address that problem. So I'm hoping that the minister is going to tackle that one and reinstate some of the people who have been laid off over the last one year, over the last year in particular.

More than 200 hospital beds right across the Province have been eliminated, a decrease of more than 9 per cent. These are the latest figures which I have, which are quite old, as a matter of fact, so there might be more hospital beds than that closed down. So I'm going to be very anxious over the next number of weeks to question the Minister of Health to see what he is going to do to solve that problem. I know that he must have some great plans ready to go on that one.

Also, I believe that very many of the problems that we have in the health care system, especially with regard to the lineups and people trying to get into hospital, are probably very closely related to the economic situation that we find in our province right now. I know personally, from my own point of view, I am getting roughly about thirty-five or forty phone calls a day right now and most if not all of these calls are related to employment, jobs, people looking for jobs, people who do not have enough unemployment insurance contributions to qualify and, Mr. Chairman, that is a very serious problem. I think this Christmas is going to come and go and a lot of people will not have enough unemployment insurance stamps to qualify for unemployment insurance, and I think the $11 million the government made available for the employment program was too little too late. It did help. I believe the minister mentioned 3,500 jobs, or something in that area, but when you have an unemployment rate in some communities in the province that is close to 50 or 60 or 70 per cent, then 3,500 jobs are really, too little too late. I could use probably 3,500 of these jobs right in my own district and that, Mr. Chairman, is a fact. Probably right in my own district these 3,500 jobs could be used so it is too little too late insofar as that is concerned.

Also, I want to place the Minister of Environment and Lands on notice as well that I will be having a few words to say to her. I am critic now for Environment and Lands as well as Health, so I am going to be quite busy over the next short while, so I want to place the minister on notice as well that -

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. DOYLE: - I have a few things I want to say to her.

Shall the resolution carry?

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

MR. TOBIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I want to continue to have a few words to say -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: What was that, who said that?

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, certainly yes, if the Minister of Finance, the former President of Council - he is still President of Council, is he?

MR. MATTHEWS: I do not know.

AN HON. MEMBER: You do not know what to say.

MR. TOBIN: If you want to stand up I will sit down.

AN HON. MEMBER: I was waiting for you. Do you have something to say or -

MR. TOBIN: Okay, good. Mr. Chairman, there are a couple of things I want to say that I never got to finish the last time. I think my colleague for Harbour Main just addressed one of the issues, which was basically the employment program and how it was too little too late, but the other thing that I found out about the employment program - what I have been told is that some of the monies that were announced, were approved prior to the programs being announced. Some of the projects that were announced had already been approved.

Now, I am wondering why something was not done in fisheries, why the Department of Fisheries has sat back, why this minister has sat back and let the government do nothing for this program. For example, the northeast coast, take from the top of Cape St. Mary's and do the whole northeast coast and you will find that it is Mr. Crosbie who came to the assistance of the fishermen and not this Minister of Fisheries -

MR. CARTER: Mr. Crosbie caused the problems.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Crosbie was not in Ottawa half as long as you were in Ottawa. You were in Ottawa and caused the problem and you came back here and finished it, that is the long and short of it. That is where the problems were caused. You caused the problems and as Minister of Fisheries you have done absolutely nothing to assist them. Now, I can tell you that I attended a rally or whatever you want to call it, one day in Grand Bank. Myself and my colleague and, Mr. Simmons, the MP was there and the fishermen over there got up that day and they spoke, I say to the Minister of Fisheries, and they talked about it. They said the problem in 3Ps, in that area, goes back to an agreement that was signed in 1972 by the federal government.

MR. CARTER: By Mr. Crosbie.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Crosbie was not there in 1972. The problem was caused and created in an agreement in 1972 that is causing problems for every fisherperson that depends on the 3Ps area. Because it was in 1972 that they signed the agreement that gave the French the rights to fish in Canadian waters forever. Is that right?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes, forever.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's not true.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes it is.

MR. TOBIN: It is true, Mr. Chairman. But there's one man in Ottawa who wouldn't know what the truth was if it hit him in the face. You hear him ranting and roaring and talking about the fisheries, and he never told the truth yet about the fisheries. I hope you don't take after him.

The fact of the matter was that in 1972 there was a Liberal government in Ottawa which signed an agreement that gave the French the right to fish in Canadian waters - forever! That's what happened. That's why there are problems with the fishing industry today. Then you hear some of the federal MPs coming out, particularly Mr. Baker and Mr. Simmons and a few of them, who were part and parcel of the government that gave to France - you get up and you rant and roar about the people of France, and they gave them the right to come in here. Gave them the rights to come in here.

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell the truth.

MR. TOBIN: It is true. Every time you hear a Baker he doesn't know what he's talking about. The only one I hear from the Liberals who knows what he's talking about is a Tobin. You got the Tobins in Ottawa telling the truth, and you got the Bakers telling lies. Now that's what you have.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: And they don't understand the fisheries. But I will say that the Baker provincially, Mr. Chairman, has great respect for the truth. I've always found him to be that type of an individual. But the unfortunate part about it, like his leader he knows nothing about the fisheries, so therefore anything he says about it you can't take seriously. I remember when we were in government - and it won't be too long till we'll be back in government - when this leader said we cannot have jurisdiction over our fisheries.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) warm water (Inaudible)

MR. TOBIN: If we want warm water there's a good place to get it, there's a good source.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: If we want warm water in this House, there's a good source, Mr. Chairman, to get a lot of warm things in this House, if we want warm water, I'll say to the Member for Naskaupi.

MR. MATTHEWS: What? Warm water?

MR. TOBIN: I said get him some warm water. I know where there is a good production, Mr. Chairman, of a lot of warm air as well. Now I was talking about the fisheries, and the Member for Naskaupi I understand doesn't know a lot about the fisheries either.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: The Member for Naskaupi doesn't know a lot about the fisheries either. I can tell the Member for Naskaupi that I know a lot more about the fisheries than he does. Yes, I do.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: I tell you, you know as much about the fisheries as whoever else was born inside the overpass, and that's not very much. Anyone who spent a lifetime practising law on Duckworth Street shouldn't even open their mouth about the fisheries.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: Your own crowd are listening to you.

MR. TOBIN: I don't care if my own crowd are listening to me, I want your crowd to listen to me. I want you to listen to me.

MR. MATTHEWS: We know everything about it.

MR. TOBIN: I want you to listen to me. Because we know all about the fisheries and you know nothing about it, and that's why we want you to listen.

MR. PARSONS: You know nothing about it, we're only enlightening you.

MR. TOBIN: We're trying to help the Member for Naskaupi, Mr. Chairman. Like the former leader of the Opposition, Mr. Neary, used to say: them Duckworth Street lawyers are the hardest persons I know off to educate about rural Newfoundland. I remember Mr. Neary saying that time and time again in this Legislature.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes, same thing. Time and time again Mr. Neary used to say that in the House, in reference to Mr. Marshall and Mr. Ottenheimer and the Member for Naskaupi, then. The Member for Naskaupi has the gall to get up in this House and shout across about the fisheries.

I was born and raised in Trepassey, a fishing community.

AN HON. MEMBER: You were (Inaudible).


AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: In Trepassey, Mr. Chairman, in Trepassey.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, let the record show that I'm continually being interrupted by the Government House Leader who, as the Premier would say, should be showing a better example in this House.

AN HON. MEMBER: Get on with it. Get on with it.

MR. TOBIN: I will. Probably they used to get on with it in the 1960s. I don't know much about what went on in the House in the 1960s, but I am sure you can tell us what went on in that period of time. You can tell us what went on in the 1960s. I can tell you what went on in the House in the 1980s and the 1990s. That is what I can tell you about. But what went on in the 1960s and 1970s I can't share that with you. The Minister of Fisheries can probably tell you about what went on for the last thirty years in both Houses.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, the only man in Placentia who was out waving for everybody in North America to dump their garbage in his district, and he has the gall to come in here. Out advocating, going around your district, telling the people that everybody from North America should bring their garbage to Placentia Bay. He should be ashamed of himself. That is what the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs should be.

Let me say, Mr. Chairman -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: It is really hard to speak here today. You're some testy today.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have been picking on me, so I (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: I am going to say one thing today, that the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island, since he became Minister of Tourism and Culture has done a pretty good job. That is what I am going to say today. I had the opportunity to discuss a problem with the Minister of Tourism and Culture and I can tell you that he returned my call, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: Late at night?

MR. TOBIN: Well, I don't know what the end result was.

AN HON. MEMBER: Late at night at your home.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, that is right, late at night at home. I think that is what we have to have instead of the arrogance down at the minister's office.

MS. COWAN: Did you ever call me?

AN HON. MEMBER: No, we won't get into that.

MR. TOBIN: No, Mr. Chairman, I really can't say that I have or have not called the minister. I don't know. But I do know that there are ministers I have set meetings up with that didn't show for the meetings.

AN HON. MEMBER: Name them. Name them.

MR. TOBIN: No, I won't name them. That is not important. The name of the minister is not important. I am not going to get into that because that is not important. There was good reason -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

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

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, certainly this bill is about money, money needed for this Province to survive, in the government's estimation, in these rough, rough times. But, Mr. Chairman, all I can hear coming from the government side if you bring up anything of substance, the first thing we hear from all the ministers, is it is Ottawa's fault. Everything is Ottawa's fault.

I see now, getting a handclap on his desk from the ex Minister of Finance, the old short and the curly. He has survived to come up and hit the desk again. Well, let me say this to you, that he hoodwinked the people for about three years saying the same thing, the same rhetoric, it is all the fault of the feds. But today in the House things changed.

When our critic for Education rose in his place and asked some questions of the Minister of Education, it was proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that the only renegers, the only people reneging on this educational system as it pertains to students is this province, not the feds, they are beyond what is needed, what is counted for them to pay in. It is the problem of the province and the province is not living up to what is required by the students. You are always getting up in your places and saying: This is the federal government's responsibility, the federal government. We are not getting enough money from the federal government.

If the Premier and all his group had stayed home from the Mainland on this last episode we would have millions in the coffers now to spend on the unemployed. If they would cash in that ERC, abolish it, abolish that part of commission of government, then we would have millions again to be spent. If they would go out and do the sides of the roads, if they would repair some of the bridges, if they would do the necessary work. They haven't got the sense of sucking ducks.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is an unparliamentary statement.

MR. PARSONS: That is not unparliamentary. Ducks are certainly not unparliamentary, and sucking ducks are not unparliamentary. That is within the realms of language - admissible.

Mr. Chairman, we have every road in the country where the sides of the roads -

MR. MURPHY: A point of order, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: A point of order.

MR. PARSONS: A point of order? I am sorry.

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I hate to get up and slow the member down in full flight, but he is half quacked. He is half quacked, getting on with what he is getting on with.

We were told in this House before about referring to hon. members as animals. I did not set the precedent, Mr. Chairman. The Chair set the precedent, and I would like to remind the hon. member and I would ask him, through you, to withdraw that statement.

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

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Chairman, there is no point of order. I was referring to the department, not to any individual. I was referring to the Department of Works, Services and Transportation - not to any individual, and certainly not to the minister.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Well the Chair rules that there is really no -

Order, please!

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, the Member for St. John's South is mistaken. A duck is not an animal. A duck is a bird. That point of order has nothing to do with ducks.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The Chair is ready to rule on the point of order raised by the Member for St. John's South.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The Chair has not recognized the hon. member.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. John's South, is he on another point of order?


MR. CHAIRMAN: Well the Chair has to rule on the point of order already raised by the hon. member.

There is no point of order. The hon. Member for St. John's East Extern explained the context in which the statement was made, and certainly there was really no point of order. There was no reference made to the hon. members of this House in his statement.

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

MR. PARSONS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

That was a wise ruling, and I knew what your ruling was going to be. I anticipated it, Mr. Chairman.

Now I am sure that the hon. Member for St. John's South is embarrassed, and more so because the hon. Member for St. John's East had to go up and tell him the difference between an animal and a duck.

AN HON. MEMBER: The difference between a bird and an animal (inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: - a bird and an animal. No wonder we call him 'one vote so-and-so' - the hon. Member for St. John's South.

Mr. Chairman, what I wanted to say today is that I was surprised yesterday when there was some reference made to the project that has been funded in Portugal Cove by the federal government, by the Department of Fisheries. When I heard the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island get to his feet and say: Look, what are they doing it for, because we have a moratorium?

I do not know where that hon. member was all his life. I do not know what office he is in. I certainly do know the office he is in over on the other side, but after that I do not know where he is headed, or what way his head is screwed on, Mr. Chairman.

Here we are in a Province where unemployment is rampant. Here are millions of dollars to be spent by the federal government, in a good area, an area that needs this work, that is crying for this work, and that hon. member - by the way, Mr. Chairman, I might add that I played a major role down in that area in getting that work done. Anyone who wants to can go down and ask the fishermen down there - ask the people responsible down there - and they will tell you that.

Mr. Reid, the PC Member for St. John's East, should be complimented, and the hon. Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island should get up and thank yours truly because I went down in his district and if that hon. member had been in his district I would not have had to go down. But I had to go down because I knew a lot of people down there, Mr. Chairman, and I went down and - again you know because the minister was a pretty good friend of mine and I said I was going to do him a favour. I am going to go down and get him something. I am going to go down. But now I am putting up a sign down there -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: People didn't know who he was. They used to call me and say - in fact I had three calls last week - they used to call me and say: You are the member. I said: No I am not the member for Portugal Cove and that area. Only for he was a friend of mine -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. PARSONS: The hon. the Minister of Recreation. He was a friend of mine. Yes, he was a friend of mine. He is not a bad fellow you know, but he does not visit his constituents. He does not know what is going on in his constituency. He does not know. He does not know, Mr. Chairman, and I pity him.

Now, Mr. Chairman, we have a recommendation from the fishermen's committee that my name and Ross Reid's - Ross Reid's on top naturally and mine secondary because I am the provincial member, and it is being federally funded - that we are going to have signs on that project. There is going to be a sign down there. This project came to fruition because of those two hon. members: the Member for St. John's East, and the hon. Member for St. John's East Extern. And we are going to also put smaller letters underneath that sign saying: We could not find the hon. Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island.

Anyway, Mr. Chairman, the ironic thing about this though is that gentleman gets up in his place and he says: We don't want it. Look, I want to say to the hon. gentleman, we have a moratorium for two years. Isn't it a prime time to do this type of work? Isn't it a prime time? You have no obstructions. The obstructions are not there from the fishermen, who if they were fishing during the summer the work would not be able to continue. So this is the right time to do this type of job.

Now apart from the fishermen in Portugal Cove - and I know the Minister of Fisheries will agree with me - is that service is for more than the fishermen in Portugal Cove. You have a congested area down there right now, even to the cars and other traffic travelling to Bell Island by the ferry, that this project when it is finished - I don't know if the hon. member saw the engineering studies or whatever -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. PARSONS: Anyway, Mr. Chairman, it is a plus and an addition to the economy in the whole area, and I say thank God to Mr. Reid. I hope that the hon. Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island will visit his constituents more often.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Member for Eagle River.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I wanted to rise today to say a few words on the fact that the members are back here in the House again, Mr. Chairman, and make a few observations about the current political situation. Mr. Chairman, it is certainly worth noting that a couple of days ago just before the House opened we got a thing in our mailbox from the Leader of the Opposition on the Shadow Cabinet responsibilities this coming term. Mr. Chairman, there is, unbeknownst to me and all members over on this side, there is now a new department of government.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is it?

MR. DUMARESQUE: A new department of government. Now, ordinarily with a new department of government you would have one member of the Opposition as the shadow for that department, but now they have a new department in government now that requires four members of the Opposition.


AN HON. MEMBER: Is it Tourism and Culture?

MR. DUMARESQUE: No, it is the 'at large department,' Mr. Chairman. The 'at large department.' Here they have now for the last two days been coming over here. I don't know why they have been wondering around here, but now I know. They can't find the 'at large department'. They can't find it, Mr. Chairman. Four members -

AN HON. MEMBER: They can't find the minister.

MR. DUMARESQUE: They have targeted one particular minister who they thought was responsible for that department, but, Mr. Speaker, to their confusion, they cannot find the at-large department. And I know the Member for Torngat Mountains is one of them, the Member for Kilbride, the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes and the Member for Port au Port. All the top guns of the Opposition have now zeroed in on the at-large department, Mr. Chairman.

Now, I know why they are targeting the at-large department, because the Member for Mount Pearl committed the unspeakable, yesterday. You know that maybe about six or eight months ago there used to be a thing in Ottawa where you could not say the 'r' word. If you said the 'r' word, you were damned by Mulroney. You couldn't say that there was a recession in the country, if you did, you were automatically cast out of the Tory caucus. Well, yesterday, the Member for Mount Pearl uttered the 'e' word, Mr. Chairman. Now, we have not heard the 'e' word today but yesterday, in the debate, there was an utterance, a low utterance now, mind you, there was no great cry for it but there was a low utterance: 'Now, if the Premier wants to get on like this, maybe he should have an election,' he said. Then, the Leader of the Opposition turned around on him and was ready to take him and throw him right out of the building because he had uttered the 'e' word. Oh, we don't want the 'e' word ever to rise in this Legislature, in this session, because we know that the 'e' word, if it is taken seriously and, of course, as the Premier justifiably said, give me the cause; if you want the 'e' word to be out there on all the billboards across this Province, we will do it.

We are proud of the record that we have to present to the people of this Province when she comes around. We are not about to be intimidated by the Opposition. We want to go to the electorate

Just give us the cause and we will go out there and show you exactly why the people put us here three-and-a-half years ago.

Right now, Mr. Chairman, there is a memorandum gone through the PC caucus like wildfire. The new Member for Ferryland is on guard as the chairman of caucus.

MR. MURPHY: Don't (inaudible).

MR. DUMARESQUE: If there is any utterance of the 'e' word during this session, you are banned from the Tory caucus, because they don't want any kind of a trickle even, to come to the government over here on the 'e' word, because the 'e' word then means that they are all going to be -

MR. MURPHY: Eliminated.

MR. DUMARESQUE: I was going to say the 'r' word would be in place then, retirement would be in place then for most members of the Opposition over there. So, between the pursuit of the at-large department, the new at-large department, and the fatal admission yesterday of the Member for Mount Pearl that 'he might want an election'- he didn't want to say it too hard.

MR. MATTHEWS: Election.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Election - something similar to the former leader of the party, the time he was out demonstrating the cucumbers. When he was out demonstrating the cucumbers, he said, 'From this long to that long, six days.' That was the kind of rhetoric that was coming from the Opposition. But we are not about to be intimidated by the 'e' word or the at-large department, or 'this long to that long, six days'. We are not about to be intimidated by that. If they want an election, they can have an election, any time they want it, anytime!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: Right on, let 'er go!

MR. DUMARESQUE: Just have the political courage to stand up and say, We want an election, we want the people to decide who is best to run this government, who can take this government and the people of this Province to their rightful course, Mr. Chairman. And we are very confident that on election day, they will be coming in -the Election Desk has declared, two minutes after she opens, another majority government for the Liberal Government. Another majority government, Mr. Chairman - we are very confident of that. We are very confident, no problem, Mr. Chairman.

So, I couldn't resist today, standing, as they come back again for the new session - six months of thorough research into Question Period and other things that the Opposition would do, and after six months, Mr. Chairman, one member uttered the 'e' word and the other four members pursued with vigour, but after two days, forty-eight hours, a thorough research on this side, and they found there was no at-large department. So now they have to go back to doing what they have always done, Mr. Chairman, and I am sure they will never utter the 'e' word again between now and the time when the 'r'word becomes appropriate.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, somebody uttered the words over there a few minutes ago, `Great speech! Good Speech! Great entertainment!' That is exactly what it was, great entertainment. On the Eighth Floor the Premier is up there saying, `Now, I am confirmed, I am correct again. I said it two years ago, and I am saying it again, he is not mature enough.' Going to have to get somebody else in. Going to have to bring in another Ed, going to have to bring in another one. If we can get somebody else now - who ran down in the Straits? Was it the Straits it was called in the 1960s? Who was down there then or before that? We will get somebody like that, somebody with a bit more maturity. But it is entertaining and maybe that is all it is supposed to be here in the House, entertaining, to some people. But other people are concerned about the economy and their jobs and about some of the things this government has done. They will look at that, what this government has done in the last three-and-a-half years.

The reason the Premier suggested he wasn't going to call an election, despite the haranguing and the entertainment put off by some hon. members, is that he says it isn't fair. It is not correct to go to the electorate today, because he still has a year-and-a-half to implement some of these economic measures that can help the people of this Province. He is quite correct in stating that. Maybe he should listen to the hon. Member for Eagle River and call an election. I think, if he does, the voters will tell him what they think of his calling an election, not only for the inopportune timing of it but also for what they have and have not done.

I don't think the people in my district are going to vote for this regime, this group of people. I don't think they will vote Liberal. They may vote NDP but they won't vote Liberal.

MR. WALSH: Why don't you all resign? If you resign that will force us into an election because there is no Opposition. Go ahead! Right now! Come on!

MR. A. SNOW: A bigger blow -


MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The Chair has recognized the hon. the Member for Menihek.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Chairman, if the hon. Minister of Tourism and Culture wants to get up and speak he should get up on his hind legs and speak, but not sit there and catcall from the backbenches. You were lucky to be pushed into the Cabinet now. Keep quiet and listen for a while.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I don't think we will have an election in this particular session. I am not apprehensive about mentioning the so-called "e" word. If we do, we, along with the other members, will take our chances with the electorate, which is part of the democratic process. We are probably going to see some party process occurring in the democratic world today. Some of us will be listening to TV tonight and watching the results coming in from the U.S. of A. I would suspect, if the pundits are correct, the party and the leader who suggested that what they should have is a policy and a motto that puts people first is going to come ahead in the polls in the United States.

Despite what the pundits were saying and the polls were saying several months ago, because of those policies I believe that Clinton will probably be the next President of the United States of America. I also think that we will have a different leader and a different Premier in this Province after the next election.

MR. ROBERTS: Wally is voting for Perot.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) twelve years of Bush.

MR. A. SNOW: Anyway, conservatism is on its way out, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. SNOW: But progressive conservatism is on its way in. You have to be progressive. You have to have a small L liberal. Yesterday we heard the Premier talk about how he was so proud to have the conservative philosophy that the federal government had, that they were hand-in-hand, cheek-to-cheek and bum-to-bum, Mr. Chairman, when they talked about economic policy. They were dancing together on economic policy. Only when it comes to restraint, that's what they are talking about then, restraint, or cutbacks.

Same as the cutbacks in Western Labrador that were brought about by this administration, the Provincial Court Judge. The reason why the people of Western Labrador will not vote Liberal in the next election is because they're disgusted with the fact that the mentality of this government is to look at Western Labrador as the mining camp that it was in the 1960s when the court judges or the magistrates just came in town with their suitcases, administered justice, and left town with the fines, and that was it.

MR. HOGAN: Do you remember the (inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Yes I do. And we paid the fines, Mr. Hogan.


MR. A. SNOW: But, Mr. Chairman, today, Western Labrador is a thriving, young, enterprising community that wants to grow and is being stifled by this government. It is not just a cash cow, it is not just a mining camp. You have to treat them as the thriving, young municipalities that they are, the towns of Labrador City and Wabush. You don't shut down the courthouse, remove the provincial court judge. You don't shut down the motor vehicle registration office, gut the Department of Development and move it all over to another part of Labrador. You don't do that. You create the opportunity for more investment, more economic activity, more employment opportunities for the younger people in this Province to move to Labrador and go to work.

Instead of that, what do we see? Instead of trying to create this new atmosphere we just see more and more restraint. Instead of using a Crown corporation as a public policy purpose of the government that would promote and stimulate development, what do we see this government do? We see them direct a Crown corporation, Newfoundland Hydro, to do nothing more than collect more money from the people of Western Labrador - not using it as a tool to create more opportunities for investment. We see it as a tool to collect more money - another poorly disguised tax grab.

That's how the people of Western Labrador saw Newfoundland Hydro being directed by this government, to go in and take over the distribution of electrical energy in Western Labrador. It is just merely a poorly disguised tax grab on the people of Western Labrador. I'm glad to see that the Minister of Mines and Energy is confirming, by nodding his head, that that's what they are doing up there, Mr. Chairman. And he is subsidizing the industry down in Sept-Iles, Quebec. He agrees with me, that is what the present Administration is advocating and that is why they are promoting. That's why he is shaking his head, nodding in affirmation that that is correct.

The other problem in Western Labrador - this Administration talked about abolishing the School Tax Authority. They were proud of it, that they were going to abolish it. In Western Labrador, that's what they did. They abolished the School Tax Authority and then slammed them, slammed them with a tremendous increase. Instead of paying $140 a year, now, they are paying about $500 a year. The miners in Western Labrador are paying it - all compliments of the Minister of Finance. And they are paying their taxes, too.

As the Premier suggested, nobody wants to pay too much taxes, but, in Western Labrador we find that we pay all the taxes, or the maximum amount of taxes, and they remove the benefits.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. A. SNOW: They have removed the benefits. That is why the people in western Labrador, when there is an election called, will not be voting Liberal. That is one of the reasons. There are several other reasons why they will not be voting Liberal.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Shall the resolution carry?

The hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: A big rush, Mr. Speaker. I want to have a few words, too.

I notice that the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is still in his place today, and I only wish that instead of debating Supplementary Supply for something that came about last year, I wish it was Supplementary Supply or a Special Warrant for some job creation in this Province today.

The minister indicated that he created 3,500 jobs, and having looked at the statistics for last month showing the number of unemployed in this Province, I think the minister should go back to his colleagues and see if he can convince them to find some more employment money for this Province, because now there are 6,000 more people unemployed than the month previous, and 11,000 have, in effect, gone out of the workforce completely. The number is 17,000 if you check with the stats for last month.

The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, in his recent announcement - if you remember last year when this same program arose, and I heard my colleague from St. John's East Extern today asking the breakdown of it - I remember all too well when this project got announced last year, how the ministers responsible were unwilling to table the list in the House of who got specific projects. We could not find the amount, and I guess we will not this year.

We see for example, in most of our districts, out of $11 million, expenditures in the range of $50,000 to $70,000 and the question is: What happened to the remainder of the money? How did it break down in districts - I saw the Member for Lewisporte had an announcement of some, I think, $86,000 at one point, with more funds to be announced shortly. We wonder where the fairness and balance that has been so much talked about in this regime played a part in the recent announcements. It would be interesting for the minister to table that list and just see where it went.

The minister's officials told me that the way they decided on it was that they had a map of Newfoundland and they stuck little pins in as they approved projects, so they scattered them geographically around the Province. That does not seem to me a very logical way to address an employment crisis - to stick little pins in a map. It seems to me that it would be more logical to look at the areas where we have the highest unemployment rate. The areas where we have the highest unemployment rates, that is where we would put the projects in place. No, Mr. Chairman, it didn't happen that way. The projects were done in a haphazard fashion. No thought process went into it. The only money that gets administered in a fairly reasonable way is through the Department of Social Services Community Development Funds, and that is because they respond to people who are on a caseload with social services.

In an attempt to get them off, Mr. Chairman, the minister got $5 million of which most has been spent. The minister knows and he admitted in this House yesterday that that is not nearly enough because the number on the caseload is increased from 1989 by 50 per cent, a full 50 per cent, Mr. Chairman.

In this particular bill the minister is looking for $12,700,000, Mr. Chairman. If he were to adequately address the needs of those Newfoundlanders who need services, I would suspect that amount would be much, much higher. The minister is going to have to do better. He is going to have to find more than $5 million because there is already that many out there looking for work. The minister is going to have to do much better.

In addition to that, Mr. Chairman, the minister has also in his department - and the minister knows it - cut back on services to those who are in receipt of social assistance. Earlier this year he passed all the responsibility of housing repairs over to RAP. Now, Mr. Chairman, the money is long gone, people are in need of roofing, of windows, and the minister's officials tell clients: you go to RAP, and RAP tells them there is no money. The money is all spent. Now, Mr. Chairman, where are these people to turn?

The clients of the minister's department have been neglected. The minister could not find adequate funding to get them through this employment crisis. Now, Mr. Chairman, the question is what does the minister intend to do for all the thousands out there who are unemployed? The Minister of Social Services and the Minister of Labour should get their act together because the two of them together are going to have to solve this problem. The two of them are going to have to collectively - the minister through his community development funds - find more money.

Mr. Chairman, for the first time in recent memory the minister has issued instructions that foremen for his projects have to come from the caseload as well. It was never specifically requested before, until now. The numbers have grown so large that the persons in charge now have to come from the caseload. Even with that the placement officers out there are finding that they cannot even come close to taking care of the number of people who are seeking assistance. It is increasing steadily.

Last year when the minister announced his emergency response program, he made a condition that people other than those on social assistance could avail of those community development funds. This year that criteria changed as well, and a person had to be in total receipt of social assistance in order to qualify. The people who are in between fall through the cracks and disappear.

In addition to that, when the minister announced his emergency response program, he excluded large numbers of people. Anyone who had any minimal contact with the fishery for the past three years have been basically excluded from the program. They do not qualify for the moratorium benefits. They cannot get social assistance. They cannot get on this response program. Where are these people to fit into the system?

The minister will have to, in the next number of days, find increased money, or else the Minister of Social Services had better find a larger budget, and when we see warrants next year for $12,700,000 - that amount will probably be doubled as a result of the inaction of this government in its attempt to stimulate this economy.

For the past three years the minister has constantly said that we are not going to have make-work programs. That is not the direction that this government is going to take. That is what the previous administration did, and they said it was wrong. Yet, each September -

MR. BAKER: That is not true.

MR. WINSOR: The President of Treasury Board says it is not true. Each September, after seeing the crisis from the summer, they put in an emergency response program.

This year there was a new catch on it. I found it amusing. The last line said that projects that fitted in with the government's Strategic Economic Plan would get priority. What a sham. There was no more analysis done of these projects, because if you had done it, Mr. Chairman, the minister would have approved the one that the council in Fogo submitted, the one that he's talking about. If the minister had analyzed the projects that's what he would have approved. Instead of saying to the council from Fogo: see if you can take some manpower from the one that we already approved.

Now that's the thought process that went into it. Fit it into a strategic economic plan. You took it and you doled out so much money to each district with no thoughts and no analysis of any program.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Are you saying my time is up? By leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: What's that?

It being 5:00, Mr. Chairman, I adjourn the debate.

MR. ROBERTS: He's learning.

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 have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report progress and ask leave to sit again.

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

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, in moving the adjournment may I simply remind members that tomorrow will be Private Member's Day and we'll be debating a motion which stands, I recollect, in the name of the gentleman from Ferryland.

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